Ask any small business owner about their most challenging business task and at the top of that list will be "marketing" or "promoting their business." Whether you are a start-up or an established business, the question remains the same: "How do I attract more clients?"
Independent agents or consultants have an additional set of challenges--time, money and resources. As a one-person show, you don't have the luxury of relying on employees to assist you in your marketing efforts or spending thousands of dollars on advertising. To maximize your exposure, you have to be a little more unconventional and creative in your marketing methods. Read the tips below to help you attract more clients and get people talking about your products or services--all without breaking the bank.
First, decide which marketing methods will work best with your personality. If you are not a natural-born speaker, you might want to steer away from giving presentations and workshops. Conversely, if you love talking and teaching others, you might want to start a podcast or teach a seminar. You will appear more authentic when you enjoy what you are doing. Prospects can easily recognize when someone is not comfortable or being fake. Therefore, assessing your natural talents and abilities beforehand will dramatically improve the effectiveness of your marketing campaign.
Second, build your list of email subscribers. Marketing is a numbers game: the more readers you have, the more people you can reach. If you are looking to increase your email list, start by offering an incentive for signing up for your e-newsletter such as a free e-book or special report. Also, consider creating a partnership with complimentary businesses. For example, an e-book consultant might collaborate with a marketing consultant, or a social media consultant might team up with a business coach. You can write an article for their ezine or offer a free giveaway on their teleseminar.
Third, write articles to strengthen your credibility. Your ability to sell services often comes down to your reputation. When you are credible, people view you as a leader and "authority figure" in your industry. Demonstrate your expertise by writing informational articles for your local Chamber of Commerce newsletter, the website of a professional organization you belong to, or your community newspaper. You can also submit articles online to free article content directories.
Lastly, build a community to support your brand. The success of popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn proves that people are looking to interact with others and share their opinions. Starting your own community will not only generate word-of-mouth referrals, but it will also create a platform for you to promote your services. Sites like Facebook and Ning.com allow you to create online communities, according to your topic of choice. For example, if you are a career transition consultant, launch a group for career changers or "moonlighters." You can also organize meetings in your local community through sites like Meetup.com.
Marketing your services does not mean you have to spend a fortune on expensive ads or elaborate advertising campaigns. The goal--regardless of your budget--is to work smarter and maximize the resources that are available to you. With a little creativity, you can make a name for yourself and carve out your own niche in the marketplace.