Are you confused when it comes to find effective marketing strategies for your small business? You keep marketing your small business day in and day out, but you are struggling to find clients. We know it is a tough one to crack. Let me tell you that you are not alone.
For some strange reason many entrepreneurs think that starting and running a business is easy – a bit like running a 200m sprint sport event. No offense sprinters, I know there is a huge preparation before the sprint competition happens.
When it comes to implement an effective marketing strategy you need planning, resources based upon your goals. Let’s put this into perpective.
If you are familiar with Heptathlon (which consists of seven track and field events over two days) and the Pentathlon (consists of five events in one day.) you soon realise that is a long competition. In business terms its the same thing, but here you’re taking financial risks in the hope of making a profit – so… you’re running a marathon or Decathlon ( consists of ten track and field events ) but with two big differences. First: you do whatever it takes and hope to get the gold medal and secondly, you’ll push on and on for months and months or maybe years.
So, what are the typical questions we ask ourselves when we start a business?
Would that be: How do I market my small business? Where do I start? How do I plan? What to plan first and stay focussed? Which strategic channel should I use?, etc.
These questions also work for freelancers as they’re faced with very similar business challenges. Both share the same big struggle – which is:
How to plan a strategy and stick with your daily actions!
Marketing strategies to market your small business [sample]
In this post I’ll share simple ways to plan your marketing.
This will include:
- structure your mission,
- define and discover your audience,
- set SMART goals,
- how, where to find your first client and get them to try your skills,
- followed by how to turn completed work into referrals.
- tips and proven recommendations
Bonus tips: I’ll also share some extra great marketing ideas from others! So if you’re ready stay tuned, continue reading and let’s build your client base!
Let’s imagine you’re just getting started and you need to work out fine marketing strategies to get some quick results.
Define your mission
Step one: Write down your mission for the next six – twelve months. The draft should include:
What you’re aiming to achieve, What is the voice of the business (V.O.B), the resources needed, what your success looks like and how you’ll get there etc.
For many this step seems unnecessary, but trust me, later you’ll see why it is so crucial.
So, your first step is the most important of all. Now you can either – grab a computer and open a word document or stick to good old fashioned note paper.
Define your target market
Step two: Who is your audience? What needs do they have? Know their pain points and associate them with your start-up/freelance goals. Create and tailor your initial campaigns based on your audience’s problems and offer a solution.
You should dig deeper into your target market and by that I mean segment your clients:
You visit a manufacturer webiste selling middle range shoes – they’ve got basic images and it’s not mobile user friendly.
So if you’re an App designer what do you do? You create a simple demo and show it to them to spark their interest.
You can also sell market innovation and how to improve their brand awareness. You want to be the guy who can turn dreams into reality, so go find who is in charge and what immediate needs they have. If they agree it’s a foot on the door. Then invite relevant people and show them how you’d like to work with them.
Let’s assume you don’t know which target market to go to first. No problem, this is what I’d recommend you do. Offer your main skill set. Even if you’re just good at just one thing, focus and do it well.
Google offer many search operators to help you save time and go much quicker – Just Google your area of expertise to figure out how others are presenting themselves. How many are in your area? What skills set are they selling? It is useful to figure out which keywords they’re using, whose commenting etc.
You can try these: related: example: related:http://www.yourcompetitor.com – very useful indeed and/or – try date range, The daterange: operator can restrict the search results to pages recently added or updated within the specified date range. Unfortunately, it only accepts Julian dates, but you can convert them to Gregorian dates online. here: http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/calendar.
See the idea?
Setting SMART goals
You have some big ideas, and want to go live as quickly as possible. First, lets figure out what your SMART goals are.
Get into the habit of using S.M.A.R.T when planning your main goals.
Test SMART yourself:
Instead of writing “I need to find more web projects” try the following:
- Identify 5-10 local business websites that aren’t mobile friendly. Include heading topics: I will email to inform or educate them about my skills and services.
- Search for Web agencies in my region with 5-10 employees specialised in App development. Then I introduce myself, what I do and ask if they have any occasional work or run-off I can help with.
These actionable tasks (above) will improve productivity, help you stay focussed and feel positive on the long run.
Often we think more is better, it is, but only if it’s well planned. That is why SMART will leave you with this great energy to tackle the goals ahead.
How to find your first clients?
Wouldn’t it be great if clients were calling or emailing to give you work?
Believe it or not, this is possible, but you’ll need to show them great content, work examples, and one or two case studies etc.. You need to show the prospect what they’ll get from your business.
But until then, you have to do some brain work. Bear in mind that your prospects aren’t going to know you unless you start getting your services out there in front of them.
How to promote your business without getting stuck?
In the first few months don’t even bother promoting yourself, if you haven’t written at least 10-15 pieces of content.
Use free social media to listen and curate other people’s content.
Here I listed some social media listening tools that I think would help SMB’s – but it also gives you extra great insight in other departments.
Pros: BuzzSumo is a must have social web platform for SMBs looking to track daily to monthly shares, but with an edge, as it will work more effectively than any other platform. I love it. It trows content alerts if you need it or simply schedule real-time brand monitoring. Plus side: Finding industry influencers, what they said; sharing great metrics and its real-time social monitoring
Cons: Can’t find one.
Pros: I heard good things such as listening capacity.
Cons: Can’t comment as not tested yet.
Pros: Perfect tool for marketers who are new to the social media. Uncomplicated.
Cons: Not trully tested yet.
There is a plethora of free social media analytics on the web, such as: Social mention, Followerwonk, Buffer, SumAll, etc. I would suggest to try them yourselves and see which ones suits your business better. You can also find them through recommended sources. Social media examiner post showing 4 free tools to spy on your competitors.
Take time to listen, analyse what others are doing, test and take notes. Then, get your brand/name in front of your audience. Pic a steady pace, introduce and ask them to read your blog posts, share fun or relevant content.
From here you get to know your influencers better, take part in their blog posts, leave a nice comment and repeat. Go where they talk, share and comment. At later stage you get to ask them to RT your stuff. Don’t be a stalker. But what if I don’t have any proper work examples to show?
We will get there.
Your prospect’s have got needs, you just have to figure out what’s in it for you. Just keep adjusting your plan and stick with it.
Do not cold call – Email them instead
Guy Kawasaki once said that before you write an email you should provide just enough information to answer the following five questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you want?
- Why are you asking me?
- Why should I do what you’re asking?
- What is the next step?
I use this framework and it works just fine.
There are three basic approaches to cold email
- Email someone high up in the business to introduce you to the right person
- Email the decision maker if you can – ask for 20-30 minute call/meeting/etc
- You can email someone who wrote a blog post and tell him you like it and that you can help/add alternative.
How to achieve that in four simple steps:
- Find the right person.. search his/her profile. Research well your prospects.
- Find accurate email information. You can use emailhunter.co or use http://rocketreach.co
- Compile and segment lists
- Create/use epic email template.
My winning tips for email outreach:
- Keep it simple (Start with Hi, Hello instead of Dear Mrs/Mr)
- First sentence is your prime-time ( Do not waste it – go for powerful stats, or a question about their assets)
- Write as if you were talking to them face-to-face
- Focus on one benefit/pain point /offer (per outreach email)
- Use plain English and kick the adjective superlatives out for example: “We offer you the best security app on the market” Instead try this: “You will be protecting your business assets but also your peer’s confidentiality”
- Use your best active voice for example: “Our software is used by Hundreds of thousands” instead of “Our software was used by many”
- Add a sprinkle of emotional/value or even fear (these elements are crucial for email strategy )
- Build trust – Add compelling stories/testimonials etc
- Keep it friendly and professional (but not to friendly either).
Next time we’ll go through email examples.
Feel free to comment or add any questions/ideas. It will be very much appreciated.