Infographic: Elements of a Marketing Strategy

Infographic: Elements of a Marketing Strategy

Earlier this week, I dropped some hard truths about your marketing strategy and why it’s failing. Today, I wanted to share some other essential elements your strategy needs to be a fully developed, comprehensive plan of action.

Keep in mind the elements listed below are not the only things you’ll need to incorporate into your marketing strategy, but they’re the key pieces you’ll need to include to run a successful campaign. Need help developing your annual strategy for 2021? Shoot me an email today to learn about my strategic services.

This May Be Why Your Strategy Is Failing

This May Be Why Your Strategy Is Failing

You’ve done the work. You’ve identified your business goals and developed a strategy (with flawless execution) but you aren’t seeing results. After hours of work and planning to build a strategy that will yield results, you scrap your entire the entire thing and consider it a failure. Now you’re discouraged and convinced digital marketing just doesn’t work for your business and go back to your old business model and marketing plan because having some plan – any plan – is better than having nothing at all.

Sound familiar?

Too often marketing strategies fail to yield any return on investment. But before you scrap your entire strategy, or give up on digital marketing altogether, take a second and think about this.

Your target audience is probably wrong.

You read that right. Many times business owners focus on their ideal target market instead of their actual customer demographics. I’ve touched on this in previous posts before, but it is so important as freelancers and small business owners to separate the idea of what your target audience should be from who your target audience actually is.

Fortunately, with a little market research you can pinpoint your primary target audience to ensure your marketing strategy yield positive results. If your marketing strategy isn’t hacking it in terms of sales, take a look at the market research you conducted while developing your strategy and consider if you had the right target audience.

Do you need help assessing whether or not your marketing strategy is operating successfully? Shoot me an email today to schedule your free one on one consultation.

For Freelancers: Get Clients Without Cold Calling

For Freelancers: Get Clients Without Cold Calling

Cold calling sucks. There, I said it. For me, there is nothing more anxiety inducing than calling strangers on the phone to ask them to meet for a pitch. In fact, knowing that I would likely have to cold call clients was the one thing that kept me from starting my business a year earlier than I did. When I finally took the leap and started my freelancing business, I knew that pitching was inevitable, but I was determined to avoid cold calling at all costs. Thankfully, with a bit of creativity, I’ve managed to sign every client I currently work with WITHOUT cold calling.

Today I am sharing some of my favorite sales tactics to pitch my services without making a single cold call.

Offer Referral Discounts to Current Clients

Referral based marketing tactics can vary, but at its core, it’s a way to get your biggest fans to help spread the word about your brand. Unintentionally, when I started my business referral based marketing was the most popular way I earned new clients. In fact, 8 months into starting my business, a good 85% of my clients are referrals.

How did I earn referrals from clients? I asked them, plain and simple. Any time I am ready to scale my business and expand my client roster I let me current clients know that I am taking on new clients and I offer them a one time discount on their monthly services for any business they refer that ends up becoming a client.

If you are confident about the client relationships you have and the services you’ve offered, feel free to mention to clients that you are looking to expand your client list – but don’t harass them for referrals either. Personally, I choose to notify clients about referral discounts in the initial welcome packet I send out at the beginning of our contract term, and in quarterly newsletters/emails. After that, I only bring it up if they specifically mention that they know someone in need of the services I offer. (Though if clients are looking for a way to save some money on their monthly bill, I will notify them of discounts they can take advantage of, referrals being one of them.)

Search Job Listings

This is one of my favorite ways to earn clients. I spend a couple of hours every week on LinkedIn searching job postings for part time marketing opportunities. Utilizing this tactic is not 100% guaranteed, as some companies will ultimately decide to hire someone in house for their marketing needs, but it is a good way to get your foot in the door with the hiring business to start a dialogue about your freelance services. A lot of companies that are looking for part time work have limited budgets and are often open to a discussion about the services you offer and your monthly rates. Pro Tip: Depending on their monthly needs, your freelance rates are often comparable or lower than what they would need to pay someone as a company hire, mention that in your cover letter to peak their interest.

Utilize Third Party Platforms

No doubt you’ve heard about Fiverr before. Sites like Fiverr connect businesses with freelancers. These sites are a great way to get your foot in the door when you don’t have a large client base to rely on referral marketing. I personally choose to use third part platforms to connect with non-profits to offer my services pro-bono. Because I offer my services for free to non-profits, I don’t immediately earn income from these projects, HOWEVER, after a project is completed I send one final email closing the project where I mention opportunities to refer clients, and review my services. Taking on these pro-bono short term projects means that down the road I will have the opportunity to pitch them long term paid services or ask them to refer me to anyone in their network that may be in need of marketing services.

Scale your business this year by getting creative with your pitching and sales tactics. The tactics I’ve outlined above are just a few ways I’ve learned to scale my business without the stress of cold calling. What is your favorite way to search for clients to scale your business?

Keep Your Customers During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Keep Your Customers During the Coronavirus Outbreak

As an introvert who works from home, social distancing in light of the Coronavirus epidemic is a piece of cake. But as a small business owner, the negative impact this epidemic can have on your business is likely looming over your head and causing severe anxiety.

While these are definitely scary times, this is also an opportunity for you to utilize the time you are given to make a plan for your business and consider different pivots you may be able to make during this time to help keep your business afloat while clients and customers are staying in.

Your hands may be tied in regards to a lot concerning your business right now, but how you spend your time is totally up to you – so today I am sharing a few different tactics you may consider implementing immediately, or in the coming weeks, to help maintain relationships with clients and generate sales.

Promote Gift Cards

If you don’t already, make gift cards available for purchase online. While your clients may not be able to utilize them immediately, gift cards often have no expiration date, meaning they can be used for future goods/services once business resumes as normal.

Get Digital

This is a great option for those that offer educational services (dog trainers, nutritionists, etc). There are a couple of different options for digital streaming, the first being recording videos of lessons in advance and hosting them online. For a small fee, your members can “unlock” your video content to consume at their leisure. Another option is to take to social media and live stream a training session, host a Q+A, or share information about a subject you consider yourself an expert in. Not only will you keep clients engaged with your business, but you’ll give them something to do while they practice social distancing.

Sell Merchandise

Similarly to gift cards, if you have merchandise on hand, you may consider selling it to customers still utilizing your business or offering it for sale online. Shipping isn’t currently affected by CVOID-19, but be sure to keep that in mind when you consider whether or not you want to sell products online.

Plan an Event

I’ll say it again. The best thing we can do right now is utilize the time we are given. So plan for the future! It’s never too early to begin planning and preparing for the time when you get the green light to operate your business as normal, and with quarantines going into effect and business slowing, you have the time, take advantage of it! Start thinking about ways you can really give your business a boost once the dust starts to settle and things begin to resume as normal.

The key to all these tactics is being candid with your clientele about how participating and taking advantage of your offerings directly affects your business and your team during these difficult times. Make sure your messaging is clear when promoting any new tactics you begin to implement and answer any questions your clients may have in a timely manner and be as direct/open/honest as possible or as you feel comfortable.

The Social Media Trend You NEED to Take Advantage of

The Social Media Trend You NEED to Take Advantage of

Share your opinions and educate your followers.

That’s it. That’s the trend. Sound too good to be true? Educating followers has been more challenging for brands than you might think! Internet trolls are lurking everywhere on social media these days, so it can be really tough for some brands to see value in opening themselves up to negative engagement by voicing an opinion others may not share.

The good news is that people following the pet industry on social are craving dialogue about potentially controversial subjects in hopes to find others (people and businesses alike) whose beliefs and opinions align with their own.

We’re deep into the #furbaby movement, and cultural changes have impacted the pet industry in a big way. Social media users that are active followers of the pet industry on social media are also active followers of the pet industry itself, and they pay attention to the rising trends the industry creates.

While they’re paying attention, they’re also initiating an important conversations among themselves, and business owners in the pet industry. If you’ve been on Instagram, I’m sure you’ve seen topics such as leash laws, raw feeding, and training tools (e-collars) floating around.

Here’s a fun fact: 44% of pet owning millennials see their pets as children. Those pet owners prioritize the well-being of their pets like never before, researching the best nutrition, healthcare, and accessories for their pets. Naturally, that research leads to conversations – especially on Instagram.

I’ve already mentioned a few current hot topics within the Pet IG community, but there are several others, and as a pet industry professional, I can guarantee you have expert knowledge in regards to at least one of them. Don’t shy away from sharing that knowledge!

Use what you know to educate your community on social media and start a conversation with your followers. You may be a R+ Trainer who strongly opposes corrective tools like prong collars or e-collars. Or maybe you’re a veterinarian that thinks people are spaying/neutering their pets too early – whoever you are and whatever you do in the pet industry, there is a topic you can discuss with your audience.

Don’t shy away from sharing your opinion just because people may disagree. The pet community on social media is largely looking for experts, just like you, to share your insight so that they can feel better about the decisions they make for their pets. You may get people who disagree, and that’s okay! Those people may not be your people, but for every one person who disagrees with your opinion, there are several others who respect your opinion – potentially converting into paying clients.

What hot topic in the pet industry would you address on your social media platforms?

Stand Out From Your Competitors in 2020

Stand Out From Your Competitors in 2020

If you read my most recent post, you now have a clear goal defined for 2020. Congrats! You are well on your way to amplifying your businesses success this year, but there are still a few key things to explore in your business to guarantee success.

Today, I’m going to tell you how to determine what your USP is. Unique Selling Proposition, or Unique Selling Point, is the special sauce that helps your business stand apart from other businesses selling a similar product or service. Simply put, it’s what makes your business unique. And it can play a pivotal role in your brand voice and marketing message.

Your Unique Selling Point may be subtle, or it may have jumped out at you as a strength in the SWOT analysis you completed after reading my most recent blog, but every business has one. The good news is that your USP is relatively easy to discover with just a few steps.

Identify benefits of your product or service.

Does your restaurant prepare authentic Italian fare in an area full of burger joints? Maybe your dry cleaning business delivers. Take some time right now to write a list of different ways your ideal customer benefits from your product or service.

How does your product or service make people feel?

Maybe you sell Italian food a half mile away from Little Italy, or every dry cleaner in your area delivers. It happens. So now think about how your product or service makes your customer feel. Do you pride yourself on treating everyone who walks through the door like family? That could be your Unique Selling Point! Take another minute and add every emotional need your product or service meets to the list you started.

What do you do that your competition doesn’t?

Take the list you created, and narrow it down to things that your competitors don’t, or can’t, do. This is where the market analysis you’ve conducted will come in handy as it will give you a reference to determine what your competition is doing already.

What is left on your list that stands out or is important to you? What can be maintained, or even elevated? There is your Unique Selling Point.

Once you know you’re Unique Selling Point you can leverage it in all forms of marketing to help you achieve your business goals in 2020.

What business large or small has a USP that you immediately recognize? The one that immediately comes to mind for me is: Expect more. Pay less. What business uses that as their USP?

Setting Better Business Goals in 2020

Setting Better Business Goals in 2020

January, 2020. A time to start fresh, plan your year, and set resolutions to get healthy, spend time with family, etc etc. Personal resolutions are all the rage in the New Year, but what about resolutions for your business? Well, if you’re doing it right, you set resolutions for your business every year. These resolutions are your business goals.

Ideally, these are a collection of thoughtfully developed micro goals that result in successfully achieving a large macro goal. But more often than not when I ask clients what their goals are, their responses go like this:

“I want to increase sales.”

“I want to make more money.”

“I want to grow my audience.”

These are NOT good goals for your business. This year, I am challenging you to change your mindset around your business goals so that you can think in terms of simple steps that you can take throughout the year so that you can meet your defined, achievable macro goal by 2021. To do that, let’s take a look at how you can define a clear goal for your business TODAY.

Know The Ins and Outs of Your Business

First thing’s first. Take some time today to reacquaint yourself with the inner workings of your business. Determine what worked last year, what didn’t, and where your main opportunities for growth are.

  • Conduct a SWOT Analysis. If you aren’t already familiar, your SWOT analysis is an analysis of your businesses Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. If you have a leadership team, or trusted individuals that are familiar with the ins and outs of your business, ask them to do the same. As the owner of your business, your opinions may differ from team members. Asking someone on your team to conduct a SWOT analysis may shed some light on things you may not be aware of yet.
  • Run an internal audit. After you’ve run a SWOT analysis and evaluated it, run an internal audit and crunch some numbers. This step will help you determine what tools lent a hand to your strengths, and what tools contributed to your weaknesses. If you didn’t have a system for analytics or goals in place for 2019, take a look at social tools like Facebook Insights (assuming you have a social presence) to get some insight in regards to your social performance as a starting point and shoot me an email to discuss different options for tracking your goals in 2020.
  • Analyze individual performance in 2019. What did you do, personally, to help grow your business in 2019? What worked, and what didn’t? How can you utilize your time in 2020 more effectively to scale your business? These are all questions you need to ask yourself to determine how you can play an effective, and efficient role in growing your company in the New Year. Also consider how much you WANT to do in your business in 2020. As a small business owner, my guess is you currently play a huge role in everything relating to your business. Maybe you’d like to scale back to spend more time with your family, or maybe your passion lies in the client/customer facing side of your business and not the internal side of your company. If that’s the case, it may be time to consider if you have the capacity to hire a team member to delegate some of the business items you don’t enjoy as much.

Do a Market Analysis

This is one step I’m sure you’ve done before, even if you don’t realize it. Business owners are always keeping one eye on their competitors and what tactics they utilize in their marketing and business efforts. Look at the list below, and take some time to identify these key points to determine the state of your market/industry currently.

  • Who are your current competitors?
  • What is their price point?
  • Where are they selling?
  • What content are they sharing?
  • How is their content performing?

Brainstorm your new goals

This is the fun part! Brainstorming is a mental technique that allows you to develop ideas without judgement. It can be tricky for some people, especially if it’s not something you do often. One way to brainstorm that I’ve found to be challenging, but effective is to write one idea for a goal on a piece of paper every minute, for as many minutes as you set aside for the exercise. (Keep in mind, this is essentially a brain dump, and not every goal you jot on paper is going to work for you and your business.) After that time is up, look at all the ideas you wrote down and build them out. Here’s an example:

Say that you wrote “Increase sales” on a piece of paper during the exercise. Now look at internal audit you conducted in step two to see what your business did in sales during 2019 – say you did $100k in sales. Maybe you decide your goal for 2020 is $200k in sales. Now, ask yourself these three things:

  • Is that goal realistic? Based on your internal audit, SWOT analysis, and personal audit, is doubling your sales in 2020 a realistic goal to set? If you answer yes, proceed to the next question.
  • Is your goal too broad? Your goal will likely be broad if you are thinking of goals in terms of one year – so break your goals down to quarterly, and then break them into monthly goals. These will be your micro goals that will allow you to determine how close you are to achieving that $200k sales goal throughout the year.
  • Is this a measurable goal? Once you’ve determined what micro goals you are going to track to gauge whether you’re on track to meet your macro or annual goal, you will need to determine if your goal is measurable, and what tools you are going to use to track your success. This is typically where marketing comes in for business owners. A marketing strategy and built out tactics will provide you with measurable ways to monitor your goals on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.

If you’ve worked through those three questions and found a refined, measurable goal for your business that excites you, then congratulations, you’ve established a goal for your business in 2020. Now you have a clear direction for the year when determining what actions your business takes in the New Year and whether those actions make sense in terms of meeting your Macro goal at the end of 2020.

Now what?

Now that you’ve established your goal for the year it’s time to determine what tools you need to help you achieve your macro (and micro) goals. Build out your business plan for the year and start taking action! Click here to get started.

How I Got My Client a Free Feature on a Large Social Account

How I Got My Client a Free Feature on a Large Social Account

This week one of my client’s reached a new milestone in their social media strategy – they were featured on an account with over 450,000 followers FOR FREE! This is a huge win for us, it’s something my client has been trying to do since before we began working together and we were able to accomplish her goal together in just TWO DAYS. Keep on reading to find out how we were able to accomplish her goal.

We had relevant, quality content.

Props to my client for keeping her goal in mind and jumping at the opportunity to take a great photo while out on a walk that we could use to post on our social media accounts. She sent me two photo options, and we chose the best one to share.

We paired the image with a quick, snappy caption that played on the holiday season to make our post relevant to our followers (and to the large account) and utilized relevant hashtags with both large and small followings to ensure our post was seen.

We shared the post with our audience.

By posting the photo we wanted to be featured during a time frame when our audience was most active. We also leveraged the tag feature to share our post with local accounts to help increase our organic reach and bump up our engagement.

We shared our post with the large account.

But not just on social media. While we did tag the account (and their sister account) in our photo, I also did just a bit of research to find out who managed the account. I tagged them in the photo as well, and emailed the photo to the customer service account. Because large accounts get so inundated with tagged content, most of which is usually irrelevant to their account, it’s easy for tags to get missed so multiple points of contact is crucial when it comes to guaranteeing that your post gets seen.

What were the results?

In the first 24 hours, our featured post got over 17,000 likes and a good amount of comments from individuals living in Grand Rapids – that is awesome for a national account like the one we were featured on. That combined with our own post’s performance has helped us increase awareness exponentially in just a matter of two days and no ad budget to speak of.

Now what?

Now that our post was successfully featured, it’s up to us to leverage that feature in a way that is beneficial for us. That means I’ll be hopping on that featured image and returning comments to everyone who commented on that post and lives locally. We’ll also come up with a brief MMP (mini marketing plan) to drive some of this new traffic to the website and monitor performance through Google Analytics.

Do you have a goal to be featured on a large account or to amp up your social presence in 2020? Click here to connect with me and explore some fun opportunities!

Ask Yourself These Things Before Hiring a Marketer

Ask Yourself These Things Before Hiring a Marketer

You’ve made the decision to contract a marketer for your business. That’s great! Before you meet with your candidates, there are a few things to consider to ensure your interviews go off without a hitch and you find the perfect professional to help you grow your business and your brand. Often times, business owners establish a need for marketing before they determine why they need it. Don’t make that mistake. Read on to find out why, and learn some questions you should consider prior to meeting with marketing professionals.

Think of your business in terms of health. Say you have had knee pain for the past few months and you go to your doctor for an exam. Your doctor will likely ask you if you’ve taken any medications to help your pain, if your pain is chronic, and what your activity levels are like. You likely know the answers to those questions because you’ve thought about them prior to your appointment.

The same applies to your marketing needs. In order for someone to successfully help you develop your marketing plans, they need to know as much information as possible first. Below I’ve outlined 4 things that you absolutely need to consider before meeting with any marketing professional to discuss your needs.

Have you identified your business’s biggest problem? Have you tried solving it internally?

It’s important to know your company’s pain points prior to interviewing someone to help guide your marketing efforts. Be as detailed as possible when identifying your issues, so that when the time comes, your marketer has all the information necessary to establish a strategy that addresses your problem directly. It’s also helpful for potential marketers to know what you’ve tried before in an effort to fix your problem by yourself.

If you have many problems outlined or are unsure of how to identify your issue, you may benefit more from a consultation than a full time marketer to begin. Get the ball rolling today with your free 60 minute consultation.

Do you have a clear goal for your business in mind?

Let’s just get this out of the way – “make as much money as possible” is not a clear goal. Everyone wants to grow (aka make more money). When establishing a goal ask yourself how much you want to grow, and how quickly you want to get there.

Setting up a successful campaign that yields more money can be a total disaster if that growth happens too quickly and your business doesn’t have a capacity to fulfill those sales. While a marketer can certainly help you establish whether or not your goal is realistic (after a thorough analysis of your current marketing/business presence), it’s up to you to voice your expectations up front so that everyone enters the partnership with clear guidelines.

An example of a good goal is: “Last year we did X amount in sales, this year our goal is to do Y.” This goal will give your potential marketer an idea of where you’re going, and when you want to get there, and you provide real numbers that your marketer can use to break into micro (quarterly or monthly) sales goals to establish whether or not a campaign is working well and you are on track to meet your goal.

Do you have set expectations for a marketing role?

This seems like a given, but often times isn’t discussed. Please consider what expectations you have for a marketing professional prior to contracting an expert to help you, especially in terms of communication. Do you want someone who can join weekly team meetings to provide updates? Are you looking for a weekly report, or monthly? What do you want the approval process to look like?

Those are all things to consider so that when the time comes, you can address those expectations immediately and establish whether or not the person you are meeting with will mesh well with your current business practices.

Have you established a marketing budget?

Every single marketer you meet with will ask you this question because it keeps them a jumping point to start a proposal and begin planning a strategy.

It is 100% okay if you don’t have a solid budget established at the time of your interview. Having a price range in mind is often enough for a marketer to get the ball rolling. However, you should consider your marketing budget, and your ad budget and whether or not you will establish an ad budget, or run an organic (unpaid) campaign.

Ad budgets are often charged in addition to your marketing budget, both should be considered prior to your interview. Keep in mind: the marketer you hire will be able to determine whether or not your ad budget is reasonable during the analysis phase of strategy development and may change month to month.

Have you considered these questions and are ready to take the next step in growing your business? Let’s chat today and get the ball rolling!