It’s a challenge faced by many small businesses. You’re really good at what you do — landscaping, event planning, graphic design — and it’s a big part of why you decided to become an entrepreneur. You know there’s a market for what you do. The question is, how do you reach potential customers and convert them into clients?
- The first step in any marketing plan is to identify your potential customers. What defines the consumers or businesses that you believe will buy your product? One way to do this is to reach out to some of those people to find out what their needs are in terms of the product or service you offer, and what kind of budget they have for those products. Always focus on what customers want to buy, not just on what services you’re offering.
- Develop a content strategy. By now you know that your business needs a web presence and that the heart and soul of its web presence is content. Content is king. And that’s true. But it can’t be just any content. You need a strategy for how you will use content to achieve your objectives and meet the needs of your customers. To do this, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are lots of resources available to help you develop your strategy. One place to start is with Copyblogger’s free worksheet designed to help you draft a winning content strategy.
- Combine passive and active marketing efforts. Passive activities include things like Facebook posts, newsletters, blog posts, and answering emails. They are things you do to stay connected with your existing customers and reach out to prospective customers. Active marketing refers to promotions, contacting clients (by phone, email, or in person), making presentations, submitting proposals, and special deals, like coupons. In today’s business environment, you need to be doing both.
- Network. Networking these days is more than attending conferences and business meetings, although those are still important. To connect with a wider audience of both people in your line of work as well as potential customers, you must leverage social media. Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups. A surprisingly effective way to get noticed is by participating in “link parties” where a call goes out from a social media group inviting business owners to post links to their website, Facebook page, or a blog post. With 1.5 billion active monthly Facebook users, there are countless opportunities for exposure on that platform alone.
- Find other businesses to partner with. If you’re a graphic designer, chances are you’re looking to bring in the same clients as a freelance copywriter, public relations professional, or software developer. Reach out to other businesses who target the same types of clients, and team up with them to maximize your marketing results. It can be the ultimate win-win strategy.