I bet a lot of people have never paid for an ad.
It is one of the most basic forms of marketing yet many small business and especially freelancers have never done it. If done properly, it is extremely effective and value for money. So how do you go about placing an ad for your services? Well, this is easiest to explain with an example so I am going to use writers/rewriters as an example.
Who do you want to sell to? Online, writers and re writers are likely to do a lot of their work for websites/website designers/affiliate marketers. This is a target market. So where are they? Where do they hang out online? One place is the site Black Hat World (I have no affiliation with that site). A small ad on that site can cost as little as $20-30/week yet this is, as they accurately call themselves, the home of internet marketing. It is where web designers, SEO people and affiliate marketers go to find info on the best way to promote themselves. There are many other similar places which could be cheaper so look around and see what suits you.
Consistency: When you choose to advertise as a small business, it is important that you are consistent in what you do and specifically in two ways.
- Where and when you advertise is important. Being consistent builds trust and familiarity with your audience
- Your message: Don’t constantly change what you offer such as huge discounts now and then. Broadcast a message of value rather than “cheapness”. Sure, offering a discount is ok but give it a purpose such as Black Friday/Cyber Monday, holidays etc. The target market for most freelancers are constantly bombarded with “super discount deals” and are usually immune to them. Those who do jump at them will leave as soon as your discount ends.
Measurable: When advertising, you need to be able to track results. If you don’t then how do you know what works? This can be done in a number of ways but a very effective way is to offer an extra for mentioning where they saw you. Eg. On your ad, say “Extra 10% free when you mention http://www.example.site. Asking your clients how they found you it is difficult and often inaccurate but not a bad idea either.
Affordable (Money): There are no guarantees with advertising. You may not get back what you invest so financially, do not throw a big budget at something new and never spend more than you can afford.
Direct: When you buy advertising space etc, it is not the time to be subtle. We are not Coca-Cola, we are simply not at a point where our advertising should be based on “giving people a good feeling” like Coke’s holiday advertising. It needs to catch attention and get your message across, it needs to be appealing to your audience and make an impact in a short space of time. Look at your service – as a general rule – if it is text based then your ad can be text based, if it is graphic/image based then you need to include graphics/images. Nobody is interested in a graphic designer who writes well or a writer who takes beautiful photos.
Consistent: Even more important here than in advertising. This method of marketing requires complete consistency. You need to do it regularly and count it as part of your workday/week. There is no point announcing yourself on a forum and then not returning for 2 months. Wherever you choose to engage, you need to commit to visiting a couple of times per week. This applies to all forms of social media including blogs and forums.
If you create a blog or site then you need to commit to updating it regularly. Your content needs to be consistent and regular. Some find it worthwhile to spend one day per month creating 4-6 blog posts and then posting them weekly – others prefer to write them each week.
Note: If you prewrite blogs, always check for current events that may connect to your post in a positive or negative way! Highlight the positive ways, remove the negative ways!
Personal: This method works best if you are you! Think like you, post like you (appropriately!), react like you (professionally). Engage with people, ask good questions, inquire about what others do, think, believe, hope for etc. When asked, answer. Answer questions about things you know about, not about things you don’t but be interested and willing to learn. In this way, when you DO post something, people will listen as they have seen that you only answer things you know about. Nobody likes a know-it-all but everyone hates a thinks-he-knows-it-all.
Indirect: Do not directly offer your services to people on social media, blogs, forums etc. The world is full of, and sick of, people doing this. It doesn’t work and is a huge turn off. People will simply ignore you. Despite what social media companies want shareholders and advertisers want us to believe, SM is still mainly social. If you go around showing off, promoting, pushing etc, people will view you as anti-social and that is not what they are on that platform to see. Instead, you want to be the person that people are interested in enough to find out what you do, by asking or checking your profile. Then, when you have been consistent, people will seek you out when they need your advice/service. You can give some advice away freely but always charge for your services.
Knowledge based: Do you know what you are talking about? This is the subconscious question people will ask every time they see something you write or hear something you say. If you do then they will listen, if you don’t then they will laugh at you. It is that simple. It is vital to know what you are talking about, that you research any “facts” you think you know, that any stats you quote are accurate. This builds credibility and over time it builds trust which leads to reliance on you. When people rely on you, they will pay for your knowledge.
Note: Do not get drawn too deeply into arguments. It never looks good. Make your points, listen to the others’ points, be prepared to learn/accept opinions. You are not out to change the world one post at a time – some people love arguments but for the drama, not to learn.
So that’s it. Two different approaches to marketing that you can begin today to improve your sales. Yes, Advertising should be done in moderation but when you get good results, keep doing it. Relational marketing takes time and effort but the reward is much greater as it becomes easier over time. You are also much more likely to get referrals through relational marketing. What’s stopping you?
Why not commit to spending $50 on advertising this month – choose the target carefully and just go for it!
How about you decide to allocate just 1 hour per week to Relational Marketing? You can afford that I’m sure – split it into 3-4 slots of 15-20 minutes over a week and you will see results but don’t forget to come back here too or I’ll miss you!
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