Even if you are a one-woman (or one-man) show and receive most business through word-of-mouth, you still need a strategy for getting new business and generating buzz. Let’s face it, even “tiny businesses” need to grow.
At the December 9 Freelance Austin meeting, Sierra Bailey, a tiny business expert and CEO of Doers Shakers Makers, explained the five most common marketing mistakes freelancers make, how to fix them, and how to maximize your time and dollars.
Five most common marketing mistakes and how to fix them
- Not knowing who your client is. Always know and understand exactly who you are talking to. Too many people make themselves and their services front and center when creating their marketing pitches, but “everything in your marketing needs to be about your person,” Sierra emphasized.
- Trying to do too much and spreading yourself too thin. Keep it simple. Your goal is for “people to immediately understand what you do and how it applies to them,” Sierra explained.
- Not having a Call to Action (CTA) in all marketing touchpoints. Don’t make it difficult for your client to know what to do next. Use strong command verbs to get them to take action – for example, “Join the group” or “Sign up now.”
- Not having a unique selling proposition and not answering “what’s in it for them?” for clients. It’s essential for people to know what makes you special and how you can solve their problem. “You want clients who are excited about what you are offering, not people you have to convince to buy from you,” Sierra explained. Use their language, not your industry jargon.
- Lack of strategy, data and testing. Instead of “spraying and praying” when marketing, Sierra recommends collecting data to be sure what is working. “You want to make sure that if you are spending the time, your work is being seen,” she said.
How do you know where to market effectively?
It is not enough to know and understand your target clients. As Sierra explained, “Not only do you need to be crystal clear on your person, you need to know where your person is.”
Finding out what matters to your clients doesn’t require spending an afternoon with Survey Monkey. Sierra suggested that it can be as simple as “having an organic conversation with clients” and asking, for example, about their favorite social media sites or where they buy outfits for a fancy event.
Demographics are important, but you also need to understand your client’s buying behaviors. For example, younger people want to shop brands whose values align with theirs. If your person spends a lot of time on Instagram or reads Oprah magazine every month, this information will help you tailor your marketing to them.
Strategy is simple, and essential
Knowing your desired outcomes will help drive your marketing strategies. Whether you want sales, followers, attendance, or eyeballs, each of these desired outcomes requires a strategy. At the core of each strategy is a simple formula for achieving a specific goal:
- Create – Set your goals, plan your strategy, and mark your deadlines.
- Implement – Take the actions to achieve your goals.
- Test – Analyze and measure your results.
- Repeat – Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Sierra recommends getting an accountability buddy if you are not good at setting goals.
Tips for developing marketing superpowers
Most small businesses focus their marketing efforts in these three areas:
- Social media
Social media prowess
When using social media, Sierra suggested “engaging with your people – like their stuff and ask questions.” She also recommends keeping marketing to three platforms at most and making a habit of testing content with your targets.
What not to do? “Do not put your same content everywhere at the same time because every channel has a different tone,” she explained. You can re-purpose content and post it at separate times and in different channels, but try to mix up your content to keep it fresh.
She also discouraged posting too frequently (“Do not post 20 times a day!”) or using every post as an opportunity to sell (“Eight of 10 posts should not be selling”).
Networking is not just for extroverts
One of the most effective, tried-and-true marketing techniques is networking. As Sierra said, “The best way to develop business is to meet other people who can talk about how great you are then you don’t have to.”
You don’t have to be an extreme extrovert to succeed at it either; it simply requires having conversations with other people. “I have had the coolest projects coming to me from connecting with others and having good conversations,” she explained.
The source of relationships can come from anywhere. Sierra recommended joining committees, associations, or Facebook groups or connecting with people through volunteering or church. The key is to “join and show up,” she said.
Content is king (or is it queen?)
Content marketing can be anything from podcasts and blog posts to articles and newsletters. Some of Sierra’s tips for strong content marketing include choosing a medium you are most comfortable in; creating a schedule and sticking to it; and ensuring that everything you post “educates, inspires, or entertains.”
Practices to steer clear of include creating new content before you have exhausted all opportunities for recycling old – and still effective – content; posting content that is not of value to your targets; and not maximizing any links and cross-promotion opportunities that tie back to your CTA.