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.
1. Build Your Personal Brand
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
- 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? Ask yourself these questions:
- What does my business stand for?
- What are my areas of expertise?
- What solutions do I provide that really make a difference?
Take the time to build your brand, be authentic in how you communicate it, and carry that message throughout your marketing plan.
2. Make a Professional Website
If you don’t already have a professional website, now is the time to create one, especially because technology today allows you to create a low cost website for less than $20 per month.
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. Buyers want to be well informed before they buy so create a website that provides them answers to their most common questions – who you are, what you do, and what value you offer.
A professional website will also help 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.
3. Write a Blog
Blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise, reach your target audience, and engage with your current clients. Creating a blog on your professional website can help drive traffic and new clients your way. However, blog posts should be published regularly to grab attention and should be on relevant topics that showcase your expertise.
To make sure you stay on a publishing cadence, 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.
4. Contribute Content
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.
5. Go Local
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.
6. Use Social Networks
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.
Liking, commenting, and sharing other people’s posts also provides you visiblity and helps you build relationships with others. If you comment, make sure your comments are meaningful and insightful in order to build your reputation and establish yourself as a thought leader.
7. Ask for Referrals
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.
8. Experiment with Video
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.
Creating videos does not have to be an expensive endeavor. With today’s technology, you can create high-quality videos with your phone, use low cost editing software to trim and edit your videos, and then post and share them online. Videos give you a great opportunity to personalize your pitch and add personality to what you offer.
9. Stay in Touch Through Email
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.
10. Take Your Efforts Offline
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: Marketing and Branding for Independent Professionals
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