Ok, so you have an awesome product and service and you’re ready to market it. Sounds easy, right? Even with 20 years of advertising & marketing experience under my belt, I still was not prepared when it came time to market my own consulting and coaching business.
Sure, I executed a zillion strategies for multi-channel marketing organizations and I know how to make someone else’s product look good and sell but why do I get so stuck when trying to market my own services?
To help all you independent small business owners like me, I have provided some strategies and tips that I’ve learned over the years:
First, you must have a positive and empowering attitude! Thanks to the Best Year Yet® program, I transformed my mindset from one of “I don’t know how to sell”, “Why would people want to listen to me”, “They don’t want what I have to offer” to a motivating mindset of ” I have a valuable product that customers want”. It’s up to you, you get either get lost negativity or you can align your attitude with the actions you want to achieve. With this as a foundation, you can begin planning a business that will support you, your goals, and your future.
Second, you must have a marketing strategy and a plan of action! Determine the vision of your business and develop SMART goals to focus on for the year. Ensure that goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bounded. In order to achieve goals by yearend, identify the monthly and even weekly milestones needed to accomplish your goals.
Know your product inside and out! You have already established a vision for your business; now make sure you have a clear picture of your product(s) and service(s).
- What does it do?
- What are the benefits to the customers?
- What problem does it solve?
- What are the proven results?
- What makes your product different from the competition?
- What is you price+value equation?
- What is your selling price?
Develop and be your Brand! Determine the perceptions, feelings and thoughts you want others to have about you, your products, your business. Develop your unique selling position. Ask yourself what you have that is different and more valuable than the competition.
Create effective communications! Market your business using communication materials that appeal to the needs and desires of your target audience and establishes your credibility. This includes your website and other branded marketing materials.
- Look and feel should reflect your brand identity
- Ensure your message is clear and concise
- Focus on benefits to the customer
- Speak the language they understand
- Use keywords they are searching
- Provide expert information and educate them.
- Use impactful visuals they can relate to or aspire to be
- Use a strong call-to-action based on objective of the piece
Yes, target! Identify the kind of customers or industry you want to work with and market to them. This niche approach will focus your efforts. In most cases the foundation of your business is rooted in something you know well and in which you already have some expertise. In my case, I have years of experience and connections in the direct marketing industry; therefore my target is marketing/creative teams. Educate yourself on how your customers think. Familiarize yourself with their challenges, opportunities and issues they are facing. Customize products and services to meet their changing needs. Listen to customer feedback and tweak your offering to ensure customer satisfaction. Also, use positive testimonials to communicate to others the power of your product. Invite happy customers to share their positive results with friends, colleagues and family. Remember, your best customers have value behind the initial sale. Be sure to also thank them for referrals and loyalty.
Find Your Market! Now you ask, where do I find customers? You need to be where they are. Yes, that does include the dreaded “networking”. If you’re like me, you rather stick a sharp needle in your eye, then go out talk to people you don’t know. Get over it! It’s time to embrace your audience and have fun. Shift that negative mindset to “I love networking because my customers are eager to learn about my service.” Get that 30-second commercial ready and use it. But first listen and ask questions of others. Learn about their business and ask how you may help them.
In today’s world we also must network through social sites like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. If you’re not set up with one or all of these accounts, get set up and start tweeting! Build your network, friends and followers. It’s an easy way to get and deliver messages, get people to know who you are and what you do. You can even advertise on these sites.
Explore various ways to meet prospects and find what works for you. I attend chamber, association meetings, and specific industry events whenever possible. I also volunteer my services as a way for colleagues to get to know me and see the value I offer. Build your reputation –it’s your brand.
Another piece of advice, follow up immediately whether that be a “nice meeting you” email, a linkedin invitation, or an invite to have coffee and learn about each other’s businesses.
Share your passion and get them to experience your product! Create an opportunity for your prospect to experience your product. Give them a “taste”, a trial, a free service. Any opportunity to connect and be in front of your target market is a chance for you to show them how much you believe in your product. Every touch point is an opportunity for you to develop the relationship and paint a picture of how your product can solve their problem. Share your expertise through stories, testimonials, articles, whitepapers, blogs, and other educational materials etc. Be a guest speaker at an industry specific event and provide some give-aways. We all have different styles and approaches that suit who we are. Just remember to be authentic and real.
Develop a prospect list and track your progress! Starting a business and developing a prospect list at the same time can be difficult so remember to leverage relationships you already have to cultivate new prospects. Your friends, family or past business associates may not be in need of your services now, but they may have a friend or business associate that does.
Not all prospects are equal. Some are worth more effort than others. Consider rating them “A-C” from high interest to casual interest. Once you know where all prospects stand you can determine the best way, frequency and length of time to contact each. Track each contact and where your stand in your sales cycle.
Test various approaches! Marketing is all about testing. After sending a mailing, doing a sales presentation or what ever part of the process you are not getting the results you want, evaluate what worked and what didn’t work to create guidelines for your future marketing strategies.
Go ahead and start marketing like a master!
Donna King, Best Year Yet!® Coach Marketing Consultant
Donna King works with individuals, businesses, and organizations to improve personal and team performance. With over 20 years of diverse experience, Donna has brought vision and innovation to the companies where she has worked. She has an excellent track record in developing successful teams and business initiatives. Donna started her career in the Advertising & Marketing Industry and gained extensive experience in both creative marketing and organizational business development at Shasho Jones Direct, Inc, NYC, a direct marketing agency that she cofounded.
Donna moved to the Midwest in 2001 after accepting position as Director of Creative Services at Oriental Trading Company. It was at Oriental Trading Company that Donna was introduced to the BEST YEAR YET Program, a proven process that helps individuals and companies get the results they need to move their business to higher levels of performance. She and the marketing executives utilized the program for three years and implemented the cascade program to their next management level. Donna was so
impressed with the benefits and results of the program that she trained to
be a coach and now shares the program with others. Together with her partners at Results Coaching LLC, Donna helps to align and focus teams on the results that will make a difference to their businesses.
Along with Donna’s positive energy and natural ability to prompt ideas and inspire, she utilizes her coaching skills and the Best Year Yet process to help businesses develop marketing strategies and translate them into on-target creative solutions. Both Creative Counts and the Best Year Yet program dovetails beautifully with her interest in helping others reach their true potential. Visit Donna at www.creativecounts.com
Donna began her career in NYC, at AGA, a catalog marketing & production firm. She graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts & Communications. Donna King is a member of ASTD and the Heartland Coaches Association, where she volunteers her services as the website manager. She enjoys gardening, the arts, yoga and kickboxing not to mention hanging out with her charismatic Terrier, Elvis.