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Putting the pieces together into a plan

Not sure how to put together a marketing plan for your creative business? In this article Dr Steven Sparling shows you a simple and effective way.
KSA Screen printing equipment, a hand of the individual using the screen print can be seen holding a sponge. White paper has been laid on the surface of the machine.
© Kingston University

In the previous steps this week we have considered a number of components to finding clients and marketing your creative freelance business. Now we are going to talk about putting it together into a plan that you can action.

If you only take one thing away from this week, I’d like it to be this:

Marketing is a verb, not a noun.

By that I mean that marketing is an activity, it is active, and it never stops.

You need to embrace a mindset of marketing as an on-going and essential part of your business. Time for marketing must be found on a regular basis and you will be well-served to set up some systems for yourself to allow you to automate parts of your marketing.

What marketing isn’t, is something you do once or twice a year. Or do when business is slow.

It’s true that once or twice a year you might do an email blast to previous customers or have a blitz of advertising your services.

It’s also true that if your business is slow, you might pick up the phone and do some cold calling in order to try to drum up the next business. These are marketing activities.

But you also want to think of marketing as a slow and steady drum beat in the back of your business. It’s regular drip-feeding of relevant information to your target audience.

So, what might that look like?

First, accept that you can’t do everything. So, pick 1-3 marketing activities to focus on for the next year. Changing your marketing tactics every month is a waste of time. For example, there’s not a lot of value in picking say Google adwords, doing it for a month and then abandoning it to focus on Instagram. That isn’t enough time to find out whether it is truly working for you or not. So, you want to pick 1-3 marketing activities and commit to them for a year.

Going back to our previous lesson, let’s say you pick one outbound, one inbound and one indirect method.

Outbound – warm email calling (emailing target customers with information and following up with a phone call). Set yourself a goal to do 5 every week.

Inbound – develop your website so it clearly articulates your services and the value they offer customers. Collect some testimonials to share on your website. Focus on search engine optimisation (SEO) using keyword rich blog posts that address customer problems. Commit to posting 1 blog post every two weeks.

Indirect – focus on giving and getting referrals from other freelancers in your local area. This probably means going to networking events, joining your local small business association, perhaps doing some pro-bono or charitable work in your community. Look to connect with other freelancers and small business owners. Learn about what they do and how you can refer business to them. Clearly explain the services you provide and ask them to pass referrals on to you. Focus on giving referrals to others in the hope they will reciprocate and give referrals to you. Keep in touch with other freelancers you meet, perhaps arranging a coffee with one every two weeks.

If you commit to do that consistently over 1 year, you would have an excellent marketing plan with a very high probability of it helping your business to grow and prosper. You would be committing to:

5 warm email calls to target customers per week
1 keyword rich blog post every two weeks (plus ongoing work on your website)
1 coffee with another local freelancer every two weeks (plus going to networking events and keeping up with your network).

That’s at least a couple of hours every week of marketing work. But it is essential for keeping your pipeline of customers flowing.

I want you to think about how you can put together a marketing plan for yourself.

© Kingston University
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