Even the most well-run company with outstanding services doesn’t count for much if people don’t have a way to find out about it. As an independent contractor, marketing your business can be a tough road. You’re working with limited time and resources and competition with bigger companies can be intimidating.
But you don’t need a big budget to stand out. With some creativity and strategy, an effective marketing plan can help you get your name out there, bring in new leads, and outshine your competition. Browse these 10 marketing strategies for ideas on how to take your business promotion to the next level.
Before investing in any sort of marketing effort, it is first important to create and build a strong personal brand. You need to be able to clearly explain what you do, embody what sets you apart from your competition, and craft uniform messaging. Take a step back and try to see your business through the eyes of your target audience. What will draw them in, engage them, and keep them coming back? Take the time to build your brand, be authentic in how you communicate it, and carry that message throughout your marketing plan.
If you don’t already have a professional website, now is the time to create one. When potential clients are searching for consultants who provide the services you offer or are simply looking for more information about you, they will search online.
A professional website will help to identify who you are, what you have to offer, and spread brand awareness. Most importantly, it will help you show up in search results. Follow-along templates, guides, and designs make it easy to create your own website. Check out our website guide for step-by-step instructions.
Blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise, reach your target audience, and engage with your current clients. Running a blog through your professional website can help drive traffic and new clients your way.
Create a content calendar and stick to a publishing schedule—remember, posting quality content consistently is better than posting sub-par content frequently. Give your readers industry advice and updates; write about what you know and what is relevant in your industry to show readers why they should choose you for their next project.
If you haven’t caught on yet, creating content is one of the easiest and most effective ways to market your business. Look for other publications, websites, or blogs that share your target audience and pitch relevant topics that you can write about.
This is where having a professional website and blog come in handy—you’ll already have content that you can share when you pitch ideas. Getting your name, and the name of your business, in other publications will help drive traffic back to your website, expand the visibility of your company, and boost your credibility.
Getting your name out in your community can help bring your business to the forefront of people’s minds. Seek out a local newspaper and offer to write a Q&A or how-to column in your area of expertise. Give back to your community by leading a free class or workshop, seek out local sponsorship opportunities, or volunteer your services where they are needed.
Maintaining a social media presence is a great way to connect with current and prospective clients. Create a company page on LinkedIn or Facebook and post relevant industry updates or link to new blog posts. Just be sure to maintain a sense of professionalism. Rather than spamming your social network contacts with whatever is on your mind, find a balance between sharing what is interesting to you personally and what is related to your business.
Referrals are an important but often overlooked part of marketing. When clients hear about your business from people they trust, it lends credibility to your skills. When asking for a recommendation, start by demonstrating value to a client and then wait for the right time to bring up the question. Be sure to put extra effort into maintaining relationships with repeat clients—these are the people who bring stability to your business and attract future customers. Taking time to say thank you and letting them know how much you appreciate their business will go far.
As a medium, video content can help give your target audience a more authentic sense of who you are. There are many different ways you can use video in marketing efforts. Post videos on your blog or create a YouTube channel where you offer advice, answer frequently asked questions, or interview others in your industry.
Email marketing can help maintain and advance relationships with your current and prospective clients. Create a form on your website where visitors can sign up to receive emails from you and then utilize an email service such as Constant Contact, AWeber, or MailChimp to easily write, track, and send emails to a list of contacts. Consider writing a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter that includes recent news, insider tips, or information about your services. Just be sure to give your contacts the ability to opt in or out at any time.
Networking offline is just as important as the many online efforts described above. Remember, you are the best representative of your brand. Get involved in your industry by mentoring someone new to independent consulting. Spread the word about your business by attending conferences, local meet-ups, and promotional events. Offline marketing efforts add a personal touch and give you a unique chance to share your story person-to-person.
For more advice on how to create a strong and visible brand for your business, download our guide on Marketing and Branding for Independent Professionals.
Market your consulting services with these five tips for blogging your way to expert status.
Part two of a series about the value of a professional website. Here are five easy steps to create a site yourself.