As a sole proprietor, I pay attention to how other “can’t-get-any-smaller” businesses market themselves. Some do it expertly. Others just seem stuck and do very little.
This post is for the non-marketers, and let’s get one thing clear: a mix of channels is mandatory. That said, here are 6 easy ways to market your own little business:
- Your website. It’s the first place we’ll go to check you out. You don’t need a deep one, but it should be professionally designed, and it must accurately reflect your specialty. Products and services must be easy to find (and understand). Infuse your site with your personality so it’s the opposite of a boilerplate site. Make sure there’s a brand ID with enough color and visuals to make it memorable. This theme should be used in all of your other marketing channels.
- Email marketing. This is the horse’s mouth talking: email marketing works. I’m not saying it’s easy to figure out, but if you deliver value to people who’ve opted in to your regular emails, you’ll grow your business. It is my #1 marketing tool. I’m always striving to improve, but when all is said and done, solid email content will expand your community and build your reputation. (I like this post, which is basically a cluster of infographics about the value of email marketing.)
- LinkedIn. My personal opinion is that this is the #1 site for all small businesspeople to use, not only so others can learn about you, but as important: so you can learn about and from other businesspeople. The research function is terrific. Be an active (not annoying) poster, and if you’re a writer, take advantage of the Publishing function, which I’ve been using for a year with great success.
- A blog. In many ways, blogging is easier than email marketing. You’re an expert in your field and surely have ideas, suggestions, insights and stories to share that will help your audience (market). You should write a regular blog – monthly is fine – and upload it to your site, then share it in your social channels. Practice makes perfect. A blog can be short or long (400 to 1000 words).
- Use real mail. Nothing gets one’s attention like a card, postcard or letter that’s clearly not a bill or a piece of junk mail. I enjoy getting real mail so much that I’ve amassed quite a collection of note cards to send out regularly. Use cards to send to new clients, to people you’ve met networking, to someone who’s done you a favor such as a referral, to a person who hired you to present, to an industry influencer you admire – and so on.
- Make the most of your email signature. Set up your business email account to include the obvious: name, email, URL, address, and phone/s. But go further by adding your social media handles if you’re on Twitter and LinkedIn, for example. I also added a shortened URL for my own blog.
Chances are – with the exception of building a decent website – you can do all of this other marketing by yourself. What matters is that you’re actively marketing your business in different channels. Don’t give up. It will become a habit you enjoy.
* This Forbes post from 2013 has great statistics about SBAs.
(c) 2015 Margie Dana.