A reader asked me to address how freelancers can market their business. Here is an article I wrote a while ago on the topic.
Most freelancers are talented, hard-working, creative, and do great work. Their one Achilles heel? Marketing!
our business can be divided into two segments-service and marketing. If you are reading this article, then the assumption is that you care about your service and about improving your business. The second part of any business is marketing. Don’t shy away from tooting your own horn. A lot of freelancers I know are not comfortable with marketing because they feel like “Slick Willy” a typical car salesmen stereotype. But marketing doesn’t have to be underhanded. In fact, marketing is really about being an excellent communicator. Create a strong message, and then communicate it with confidence so that the people who are in need of your service can know who you are. They want you as much as you want them!
Marketing is often one of the most misunderstood concepts in the world, and most people flat out hate it. And, I have an inbox full of queries to prove it.
So, let’s look at what marketing is not-
• It is NOT unethical.
• It is NOT limited to certain people.
• It is NOT getting someone to buy something they don’t need.
• It is NOT by any means begging for work or showing desperation.
What IS marketing?
• It IS offering someone a fix to their problem.
• It IS solution based.
• It IS more about listening than talking.
• It IS about knowing and communicating your own value.
Marketing Tips for Freelancers
Now that we have defined what good marketing means, let’s look at how you as a freelancer can market yourself and your business easily and efficiently.
Create a Remarkable Platform
It does not matter if your business is online or offline-you need to have a fantastic platform. Your platform is what you stand for, what you represent. It is what separates you from all the rest in your field and lends you credibility. Your platform is a mixture of your personality, your target audience, and your strong selling points. You can convey your platform through a website if you are an online business. The best example of a fantastic platform is Starbucks. Everything in their coffee shop from the high priced lattes to the comfortable chairs conveys what they stand for. It is their platform. What is yours? What is your business all about? There are thousands of graphic designers, web developers, and consultants out there. What makes you stand out? And furthermore-can people tell what that difference is?
Figure out your Marketing Message and Stay Consistent
Marketing and marketing well should be at the core of your business. Although there are many mediums you can use to market yourself, always keep your message consistent and simple. This is especially true if you have a small marketing budget. Best Example-Southwest Airlines and their message of being a low-cost provider. They don’t try to be the most comfortable airlines with the best service, biggest seats, and best food. They are simply the low-cost airlines, and that is their marketing message. All their television, newspaper, and radio ads convey the same message. While you may definitely want to be all things to everyone, that strategy will not pan out in the long run.
Leverage Current Clients
It is very easy to forget existing clients while soliciting new ones but remember that in this case old is definitely gold. Strong marketing will bring you new clients, but the quality of your service is what will keep them coming back-and keep them talking about you.
Also remember that most people can’t wait to brag about a good thing, but don’t leave it to chance. Make sure your current clients and customers know that you always appreciate new business. And when they do refer someone to you, make sure you thank them. Offer them a discount on their next project, or send them a hand-written thank you card in the mail. These things do go a far away.
Measure your Efforts-
Marketing is a process, and you have to remember two very important things about this process.
1. It takes time.
2. You should be able to measure results.
One of the most common marketing mistakes I see people make is that they don’t give their marketing campaign time to really kick in. Marketing does take time. It takes time to catch on, and it takes time to reveal results.
That being said, you also have to be able to tangibly measure the results. You can measure the results of your online marketing by seeing the traffic numbers go up or down. You can measure the results of an offline marketing campaign by asking new clients how they found you.
Main takeaway-Don’t market blindly or impulsively.
Remember-You are Always Marketing
…even when you are not. Your personality, dress, and attitude speak volumes about your business. As a freelancer, this becomes dually important because often you are the business.
Whether you think it’s a one- time project or that you will never see a particular person again, don’t burn bridges. Always work with the highest integrity and that will be your greatest marketing weapon yet.