Let’s face it, marketing is the Achilles heel for most of us solopreneurs, who would rather spend our time doing pretty much anything else in our business. Marketing can feel stressful, confusing, and can often seem like a lot of work for very little ROI.
In fact, I would dare say that most small business owners and entrepreneurs spend the majority of their time marketing their business. From content creation such as writing blog articles and designing social media posts, to spending hours upon hours engaging online, as well as at in-person networking events, to the latest trend of launching your own podcast (and as a podcast producer myself, I can tell you this is a time-consuming task), it is easy to understand why so many of us are overwhelmed by the amount of effort it takes to market our businesses.
However, marketing can be much easier if you take the time to create a marketing plan, which defines your marketing goals and why you want to achieve them (for instance setting specific revenue or customer acquisition goals), and what steps you need to take to achieve these goals. It will also help you gain clarity and focus around what you should be doing to market your business, and what tasks are a waste of your time.
Here are a few ways to make your marketing easier and more effective:
Have a Niche Market
A common mistake I see among small business owners is a “marketing to all” approach, rather than getting very specific about their target or niche market. When you’re a small business with limited resources and you try to market to everyone, or even to a large segment of the population, you immediately get lost in the crowd. If this happens you will work really hard to get discovered, but hardly ever be found.
Instead, sit down and create a list of specific characteristics that define your ideal client. This can include what industry they work in, or even their personality traits. For example, while I am a business strategist, I specifically work with clients who offer creative, consumer, or professional services, who often have bold personalities, are creative, fun, confident, and consistently strive to grow and improve. By knowing who my ideal client is, I am able to better identify them among the crowd, and they can find me easier as well, because when I speak, I speak directly to them.
Know Your Marketing Goals
Don’t market for the sake of marketing, and don’t just throw content all over the place. Ask yourself “why” you are marketing? Are you trying to get new clients, and if so, how many? Do you want to sell an online course, a book, or an in-person event? Do you want to go from providing a service to a few people, to selling a product to thousands of people? What are your goals? Don’t make the mistake of simply saying “brand awareness.” Without a specific goal, brand awareness means nothing.
Don’t make the mistake of simply saying “brand awareness.” Without a specific goal, brand awareness means nothing.
Once you’ve defined your goals, you will be able to have a better understanding of what actions you need to take in your business to achieve those goals. For example, if your goal is to get 10 new clients this year, then you know you need to attempt to get around one new client every month. Ask yourself how can you best achieve this? Would the answer be attending in-person networking events, speaking at industry events, engaging with your target market in Facebook groups, educating your audience through weekly blog articles, or offering a video series on YouTube, among other things.
Be Consistent with Your Content
You will have better luck being found online, and earning new business, if people clearly understand who you are and what you offer. If your marketing content doesn’t maintain a consistent focus, it won’t be clear what you offer, and again, your marketing efforts will be lost in the crowd.
As a small business owner, you need to stand out by creating a niche and defining your brand, and your marketing needs to communicate that niche and brand. If you’re writing blog articles, make sure they are all on-topic. If you’re creating videos, make sure the branding is consistent, and so is the message. Show yourself as an expert in your area, rather than discussing a long list of topics.
Again, using myself as an example, my content is all about business strategy. I mix it up by discussing marketing, revenue, and operations, but it’s all about strategy. If I wrote about how to decorate your home office one week, and how to freshen up your LinkedIn profile the next week, no one would know what I actually do!
Create a Marketing Schedule
Take time once a month, if not quarterly, to create a marketing schedule for yourself based on your goals. This includes having a content calendar, where you map out all of your content including blogs, podcasts, email newsletters, and social shares. It also includes scheduling in-person coffee/lunch meetings to follow up with leads and nurture business relationships, as well as signing up to attend in-person networking events.
Taking the time to identify your niche market, define your business goals and what you hope to gain from marketing, as well as creating consistent content that clearly communicates your brand and offerings while having a plan to implement your marketing strategies, are all key to making marketing easier and more effective.