If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed and lost when considering how to market your business, you’re not alone. Think about it – marketing is a large enough subject that people get college and graduate degrees in it! As a Solopreneur it is just one part of your business and yet such a crucial part of your success. And most of us don’t have those degrees in the subject to make us feel confident that we know what we are doing.
I won’t pretend to have one of those degrees either or to be able to cover all aspects of marketing in this short page. However, I can share with you a few basic essentials to get you started on the right path.
- Take a Look Around You
Spend at least an afternoon checking out your competition. Do a Google search to see who else is out there. Take notes on what they are saying about their services. If your business is online, compare yourself at least to what comes up on the first page of your search. If your business is brick and mortar, or local, search the services like yours in your local area and also compare yourself to the first page of results. (Be sure to pay attention because sometimes the first few are paid ads. Make note of who is paying for ads and keep scrolling till you get past them).
Jot down the claims your competitors make about why you should buy from them.
2. Take a Look at Yourself
Now spend some time thinking about your own business. What do you offer? What is unique about you or your products? Do you have special expertise? Do your products have unique features? Is your delivery quick? Are your prices super low? What makes your business unique?
Write down at least 3 things that separate you from the competition that your potential customers should know about.
3. Brand Yourself
Once you have decided what is unique about your services or products, think about the image that your unique qualities conjure in your mind. For instance, if what makes your product unique is that it is a new, exciting, educational product for children your branding will want to reflect that with bright colors, fonts that appeal to parents and children, energetic images and photos of families or children using your product. Your business name should also be clear and reflect that same mood. On the other hand, if you are a grief counselor selling your unique listening and empathic abilities, your brand will look quite different – soothing, warm colors, more formality, images that evoke people having intimate discussions, etc.
This may seem like common sense but we have all experienced websites that are horrendously planned for their audiences.
4. Find Your Customers
Make a list of the essential qualities of your target audience. Include aspects like:
- Average age
- Places they likely gather
- Publications they likely read
- Groups they likely participate in
- Average income
5. Plan Where You Will Reach Them
From the above list make an informed decision about how and where you might best reach your audience. For instance, if they are parents interested in education of their children, think about publications for parents both in print and online, ads in school publications, parenting podcasts, parenting blogs. If they are grieving family members your information might go to doctors’ offices, law enforcement, online grief support forums, estate planning attorneys etc.
Create a spreadsheet of the possible places you might reach your audience and begin researching specific publications, events, etc. that you have identified. Write down costs, deadlines, reach of publications, so that you can easily compare where your time and money will be best spent.
6. The Twist – Position Yourself as the Preeminent Expert of Your Field
Think about it, whether you are investing in a major high-priced service like executive coaching or surgical care, or whether you are simply shopping for a new lock on your front door, are you more likely to choose a run of the mill service/product that simply advertises features and prices? Or are you more likely to choose the service/product of a business that shows they truly understand their field and are expert at what they are providing?
While you must personally know and understand your unique features and price points, you marketing must focus on positioning yourself as the best of class in your field.
How do you do this? First, by becoming well educated in your field, what you offer, and how you compare to others out there. Selling door locks? Read everything you can not only about locks but related subjects like home security, what people are concerned about when thinking of robbery, etc.
As you gather information consider how you might share this with your audience. There are many possibilities. Some will be more/less appropriate given your own business:
- Blog posts – your own or guest blogs
- Web site content pages
- Social media posts/memes/comments
- YouTube videos
- Live stream on social media
- In person talks/speeches
- Drip email campaigns (you’ve accessed this article through mine!)
Begin brainstorming topics in your area of expertise that might lend themselves to one of these options and then create a strategic plan for the next year as to how you will position yourself as THE expert in your area.
There is so much more to be said about marketing, and truly each of these steps could become a class in itself. For now, I will leave you with these 6 step ideas. Consider joining a group or finding a mentor to maintain momentum on your marketing plan.