You have set yourself up as a freelancer, you have a name, viable product or service and basic resources such as business cards and a website. You know what you offer and who is likely to buy from you. So how do you set about connecting yourself with your audience and making some sales?
Know your audience: Your marketing plan depends greatly on what products or services you are offering. It hinges on who is likely to buy from you and how they behave, where they’re based, what they do and what they have in common as a group. You need to really understand who your customers are. Write down your audience profile and target your efforts carefully so you don’t waste money by using a scattergun approach, missing the mark and communicating with the wrong people. You can update this as you learn more.
Julie is a freelance children’s portrait photographer.
To keep it focused and manageable, she has limited her business to a 10-mile radius initially with plans to extend this out at a later stage.
Her chosen target audience includes parents of primary school age children, heads of schools, nurseries, play groups and sports clubs.
Once you know who might buy your products, you have to get right under their noses as often as you can. You can do this by using a variety of methods but always with your customers in mind. Don’t make the mistake of firing out social media posts into the ether and hoping it’ll stick. You need to start with good quality content that your audience will engage with. In other words, don’t tell them what you want to tell them, tell them things they might like to hear. Think about why someone would buy and not what you want to sell. It sounds incredibly obvious but it’s a common marketing mistake. Understand what benefits you bring someone and focus on those. Look at the emotion your product provides.
Don’t tell them what you want to tell them, tell them things they might like to hear.
If you are a self-employed auditor, your skills are assumed; your benefit is that you can be utilised as required, you provide a no-hassle, reliable and efficient service. Watch car adverts – they are almost never based on fulfilling a requirement for transport, they are purposely aspirational to create a ‘want’ and desire to purchase. Decide how this kind of approach works for your business.
Instead of saying ‘I’m a great children’s photographer – book me in November as I have appointments available’, you could try ‘Book no later than 15 November to enjoy beautiful portraits for perfect Christmas gifts. Bring a friend for £10 off both orders’
Don’t be afraid to repeat your messages. It takes time for them to stick and, often, a buying moment is all down to timing. What wasn’t interesting to someone yesterday might be interesting next week. Persevere.
Maintaining your brand is vital. When you are planning on popping up all over the place, it is important that your business is easily identifiable. Same logo, colours, typefaces, even style of content, tone of voice and so on. Make it easy for people to recognise you so you gain some brand traction – it counts for a lot and builds trust and credibility.
Use a mix of activities in a planned way.
Make a list for each week or month that might look something like this:
Facebook special offer x 1
Blog article on website (useful, educational, never salesy)
Link to blog article on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In
Write newsletter to send next week, include new blog
Join 2 new, relevant groups or forums on social media
Make 25 direct approaches to prospects by email or phone
You will see from the above imaginary marketing outline that one blog will go a long way. Make the most of anything you write and recycle it as much as possible, it saves lots of time and every different platform you use it on is likely to extend the numbers of people you reach. For example, one well-written article can be used on every social media platform you are on, it will update and refresh your website content (important for SEO) and it can go in a monthly newsletter.
Measure your actions: Know what you want to achieve and measure this as closely as possible. Do you want to build up your followers, likes and shares? Do you want to see your efforts converted into profit? Do you want to hit a certain sales target? Understand that marketing will take you most of the way but you still have to identify and convert sales opportunities whenever you can. You can maximise this by getting into dialogue, personalising your approach and building relationships as people show an interest in what you are offering.
Finally, we end on a financial note! Know your budget – understand what you can afford to invest in marketing and stay within your limits. Don’t be tempted to veer off your plan by some tempting last-minute advertising space if it isn’t within your means or part of your plan.
Refer to this article in conjunction with our other blogs on setting up your business:
Part 1: Things to consider before becoming a freelancer HERE
Part 2: The freelancer's financial checklist HERE
Part 3: How to brand your freelance business HERE