We all choose to go out on our own for various reasons. And it’s exciting to be at the helm of your own business, even if you’re ‘just’ a one-person-band!
But one of the hardest parts of working for yourself is having to wear so many ‘hats’ - you’re the decision-maker and the doer, the account manager and the sales rep, the complaints department and the customer rep. And amongst all this, you’re supposed to keep up with all the current marketing trends.
Or do you?
We hosted the amazing Kendyl Haultain on a recent webinar, and she said that there is actually plenty of value that comes from covering off the basics. She also shared lots of other great insights too, along with our main man Jason Tiller - so here’s a roundup of all the good stuff!
Be very intentional about your ideal customer
Marketing success is easier to achieve if you ensure you set up the fundamental building blocks of your marketing journey, and this includes two key things you need to ask yourself:
- Who are you attracting?
- Why should they choose you?
So let's cover off the first point, well, first. This is about being very intentional about who your ideal customer is. This is so critically important because before you even start on the path of creating and planning marketing activities, you need to have a clear picture in your mind of who you’re marketing to - as this will guide all the choices you’ll need to make, like what you say and how you talk to them.
You might already know who your ‘ideal client’ is. Or you might need to do some digging around to work it out. So you could look at which clients have naturally come to you because of the work you do and your skills/interest in a particular area. Or perhaps you want to make an effort to connect with certain industries or businesses?
Creating a customer persona is a great way to put together a really tangible, intentional plan of who you want to work with. And this doesn’t just have to be about demographics (i.e. women between the ages of 25 and 45) but is also about aligning values and behaviours (for example, organisations who partner with not-for-profits).
Act like a magnet
Once you know who you want to work with on a more regular basis, the next step is acting like a magnet. Helping to attract those who reflect you and your business, and politely detracting those who don’t fit.
This comes down to telling your story, and of course your website is a great qualification tool for this. Ultimately, this is where most of your leads will come from and convert (aside from word of mouth customers). It is absolutely vital that it helps to present your brand in the best way possible - your website is your store front, and if you’re not attracting the clients you want, reviewing what you’re portraying is essential.
Of course you also need to cover off why people should choose you and get down to the nitty gritty - what makes you, you? - otherwise you’ll be saying the same stuff as everyone else. If you don’t want to be chosen on price, then what value will you bring to the process?
Knowing what you have that others don’t will mean potential clients won’t have to try and figure that out themselves (especially important when they are faced with choosing one graphic designer out of a pool of 10 or more). So make sure that messaging is used in your marketing activities, as again, it will help to attract the clients who value those elements.
Create content (that is relevant to your customer)
Posting regular content is still an important marketing tool. And it’s probably not going away anytime soon. But it certainly isn’t about posting stuff just for the sake of it. It HAS to be relevant to your clients and potential customers, otherwise it won’t get likes/interactions, and then the silly old algorithm will likely penalise you for it (not show it in people’s feeds as often).
But there’s no question creating content on a regular basis is a struggle for many people. Heck - even the best marketers get stuck trying to stick to a posting schedule.
For some, once a month batch creation of content works well. But there is always the worry that you might create a whole heap of posts that end up being irrelevant for some reason or another. So to make it easier on yourself, you could consider content themes/pillars to cover off. For example, each week you might want to do a post that is inspirational, a post that is educational and one that is ‘behind-the-scenes’ of what you do. Having this kind of flexi-plan allows you to post things that are relevant to what is happening in that moment. Have some content that is for your current clients (so they feel loved and cared for) and content for those who may only be new to your brand and are not ready to buy yet.
And, don’t forget to show your face. This is hard for most, but it is also the quickest way to build trust. It’s easier for people to get to know you if they can see the person behind the business, and it is also a great way to let your personality and overall ‘vibe’ show through.
While you want your content to share who you are and what makes you so great, be mindful that you don’t go overboard. Showcase other points too, like your relationships with other clients and how you’re adding to their business. You’re not just designing a business card, you’re also talking about their future plans and aspirations.
Have a marketing plan (that aligns with your strategy)
The only way you’ll see real success from your day-to-day marketing activities is to have an overall plan (that guides what you do) and one that aligns with your business strategy - otherwise how will you know what you actually want to achieve?
So once you have figured out your niche, strengths and weaknesses, create a marketing plan that allows you to follow a process for a period of three to six months. Marketing is a moving target (especially with how quickly things change in the world of social media) so you do need to check in on it every so often to make sure it is still working as it should.
It doesn’t need to be big, or overwhelming. But it is a great idea to have something in place. See it as an exciting way to plan all the ways your business can grow and how you can continue to do the things you most enjoy.
Fish where the fish are
When you know who your ideal customer is, then you can ‘fish’ where they tend to hang out. And you certainly don’t have to be here, there and everywhere - it’s better to pick one or two channels and do them well, rather than spreading yourself too thin across them all. Remember, this is about the channels you like to use, but the ones your clients and leads will be on.
It’s important to stay on top of trends as well (just on the platforms you’re using) to make sure you’re maximising your potential reach. Try not to resist the changes, but go with it. However, at the end of the day, always think about the customer and how you’re serving them best on the channel they are using. And also - have in mind how they use those channels to find a graphic designer or website designer?
People aren’t always problem aware. So you need to be really clear on how you get your messaging across. Imagine a lead is someone who has done their website themselves and they don’t even know it doesn’t look good. So perhaps you’re gently suggesting what does or doesn’t work, through befores and after. Show them a problem, so they realise that perhaps their DIY website isn’t working as best as it could be, and then show them the solution - you!
You might be tempted to check out what other designers and people in your field are up to, especially the ones who seem to be knocking it out of the park. But be mindful of how often you’re doing this, and how it impacts on you. There is the risk of falling into being unconsciously influenced by what you’re seeing and panicking that you’re not doing the same thing! But that’s good.
Of course, offline marketing opportunities are great too! People are still out being people in the real world. So don’t put all your eggs in the social media basket.
Keep the clients you have
It’s always easier and cheaper to keep the clients you have, than trying to get new ones all the time. As a current customer, it is always frustrating to see businesses using incentives to get new people to buy from them. And Kendyl has a funny way of describing this activity. It’s like having a room full of engaged people ready to listen to you, while you’re standing at the window and yelling across the street at someone.
So our marketing needs to include value for those who are already there, rather than worrying about always trying to attract new, new, new.
A great investment for your business could be a basic CRM system to provide you with reminders to touch base with clients, notes about their life (kids, favourite coffee, birthday) and other activities to help keep your current clients engaged. This will not only increase the likelihood of upselling, cross selling and repeat business, it will also continue to build your referral base, feeding back into the machine with people you already enjoy working with and who will put you in touch with other like-minded businesses. It’s a win-win.
What’s also amazing about focusing on your current clients is that they can often become your own personal sales rep. Having them tell your story and your value is far more powerful than you doing that yourself.
Measure, edit and refresh
There’s little point in engaging in marketing if you don’t have a good handle on what is and isn’t working. You could be wasting plenty of time and energy (and money) if you’re not ensuring that what you’re doing is actually worthwhile!
So understand how to measure your marketing. It could be about metrics, but it also needs to be about how many people you’re actually getting through the door of your business.
Have some goals in mind (remember that marketing strategy you created?) and track your path to reaching them. And if something isn’t working, find out why, and make changes where needed.
Maximise your potential in Google
When people are using Google, they are searching with intent. And as a service provider, you should be doing all you can to capture that.
When you think about investing in marketing - you may spend money on Google Ads, Facebook/Instagram etc - which is passively showcasing your business to people who may or may not be interested. But there is no question that organic traffic is one of the best ways to capture leads of people who are actually looking for help, right now. From blogs to on page SEO, there are a variety of ways you can harness the power of ranking on Google to be there where someone needs you and your expertise (as well as plant seeds for the future).
Phew, well done to you if you’ve made it here! This was a long one - marketing is a biggy! But as we said at the start, it’s all about getting the basic foundations right and once you’ve done that, you’ll find the rest flows a lot easier.
P.S. Don’t run yourself ragged by trying to do everything all at once. That’s the path to overwhelm and inaction. Take it bit by bit, accept you won’t get it right all the time (and that’s okay) and try your best to not compare yourself to others.
10 quick-fire marketing tips:
- Networking can be an incredible way to build important business relationships. But it’s incredibly scary for many of us! So teaming up with a friend to go along to in person events is always helpful, and don’t feel you have to talk to the whole room - set a goal of just meeting one new person each time you attend.
- Videos are powerful. You don’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be tv production quality. The more you do it, the easier it will become. And it is worth it.
- Be authentic and honest about who you are. If you’re just one person, don’t use ‘we/us’. Be proud of being ‘I’.
- LinkedIn can be a great way to network online. Connect with others, join in conversations and don’t try to sell. Above all else, be you.
- On Instagram, a story is what goes out to those who already follow you. So speak to those who are already in your room. A reel can be discovered by anyone, so this is about creating a hook and/or curiosity.
- It’s all a moving target. What works now may not be relevant in a year (or even six months), so regularly check in on this.
- If you’re asking questions on your socials but only getting crickets, you could always DM people. They might just be shy about speaking out! They are following you for a reason, and it can actually be really valuable for them to know you do care about what they have to say.
- Engaging in ‘like’ or ‘follower’ building activity is rarely successful (i.e. competitions). You will get people to like your page just for the sake of it (or to win something) and once you go back to regular programming, they will either unfollow or it will impact negatively on your post reach. Having more followers doesn’t make you more successful. Real, genuine engagement does.
- Make sure everything from your website to your social media and all of the stuff in between is cohesive. Nothing is more confusing if a brand doesn’t have the same look, feel and messaging across all of its channels. It can make it feel inauthentic and untrustworthy.
- Be true to yourself. In everything you do, online and off. It will make your marketing so much easier, and allow you to fill your pipeline with clients who are choosing you because of who you are.