Set Up a Marketing Plan that Works for You
Not too long ago, I wrote about creating a business plan for your web-writing business, and I promised you then that I’d be back to give you an in-depth look at creating a marketing strategy that works for you.
As a freelance professional service provider, your marketing plan is probably the lengthiest — and arguably, the most important — part of your business plan.
Most freelance web writers I’ve talked to take one of two approaches to their marketing: they either use a random, haphazard, a-little-bit-here-a-little-bit-there approach, or they do hardly anything at all because they don’t know where to start.
Needless to say, both of these marketing approaches will leave you feeling frustrated. And neither will build the kind of financial security you’re looking for.
A better way to approach your marketing is systematically and consistently. It’s not something to dread or avoid or resist. It’s something you do a little bit of every day … and if you do it right, you’ll even find yourself looking forward to it.
I know you don’t believe me about that last part, but let’s dive in and see if I can change your mind.
Laying a Strong Foundation
Before you can successfully market anything to anyone, you need to thoroughly understand three very important things:
- Who you are marketing to.
- What their needs are.
- How exactly you fulfill those needs.
With a clear understanding of those things, you’ll be ready to establish your voice, create a core message, present your benefits, and package your services.
Let’s start with who you are marketing to. What industry do you plan to focus on? It doesn’t have to be just one. You could have two or three, but you’ll want to create a tailored marketing message for each niche.
The best niche market is one that you are both passionate about and experienced in. You can make it work with one or the other, but it may not be as easy or as fun. The other thing to ask yourself about any niche you’re considering is how much work is available.
You can read more about choosing a niche that’s a good fit for you in Attract Clients Like Magic When You Overcome This Stumbling Block.
Once you’ve figured out your niche, the next thing to do to prepare to market yourself is to articulate the needs of your niche. There are a lot of ways you can get clear on what your market needs. My personal favorite is to talk to a few people within your market.
You can also surf industry websites, read industry news, follow industry magazines, and attend industry events. All of these will help you stay on top of the struggles your target market faces. And, when you know their struggles, you can clearly convey how you and your services can help ease them.
Next, make a list of the specific services you offer, and the results your services deliver.
These are the solutions to the problems members of your target market face. Get specific here on exactly how you can provide solutions to fulfill their needs. Don’t just write
down “web writing” as the service you offer. Think about what exactly you do. Do you write landing pages, e-letter copy, blog posts, optimized content … what? Make a list of all the specific services you offer. Then, describe the results of each.
Once you’ve completed these three steps, you’ll have a clear idea of your marketing message and who to send it to.
Then, it’s time to start doing marketing instead of just preparing for marketing.
When it comes to how you market yourself, your imagination is really the limit. You can use tried-and-true strategies like sending direct-response packages to decision-makers at companies in your chosen industry. Or, you can use more creative strategies like a video brochure or a contest or a survey.
It’s up to you to come up with a winning mix. I’d love to be able to give you a formula and guarantee it will work, but there are variables in your marketing plan. What might work in one industry may flop in another. A strategy I might love to use may give you the cold sweats.
So, since there is no magic, one-size-fits-all formula, here’s what I suggest …
First, make a well-maintained, professional website one of your strategies. You have to have a website. You’re a web writer. If you want to approach prospects, you need to be able to send them somewhere to learn more. If you don’t have a website, where will that be? And, if you don’t have a website, how will you convince prospects to invest in their own sites? You’ve GOT to have a website.
Second, read a lot. Search this site for marketing strategies. Subscribe to a few free e-letters on marketing. Read through the marketing advice in your AWAI programs. Think about how the different strategies you read about might apply to your market and your message.
Third, pick three strategies you’re excited about. Make time to prepare the materials you’ll need for them. This should be easy because you know who you’re marketing to, what they need, and how you can meet their needs. Your message is ready to go — you just need to package it. Don’t give yourself too much time to do this … you’ll keep putting it off otherwise. Get it done as quickly and professionally as possible.
Fourth, implement your three strategies religiously over the next month. Get a system in place so you’re automating as much as possible. Set a goal to reach a specific number of people with each method every day, and then make it a priority to accomplish your marketing each day.
Fifth, at the end of the month, evaluate what you’ve done, what kind of responses you’ve gotten, and what you enjoyed doing and what you resisted.
Sixth, pick a new strategy to replace your weakest strategy and repeat steps three through five.
Keep doing this month-by-month — contacting new prospects day-by-day. It will just be a matter of time before you start seeing conversions. Keep this up after your conversions start happening, and you’ll build a steady stream of work.
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »