Marketing never seems to get easier. You can be the brightest, most creative/talented crayon in the box, but if your marketing foundation is shaky, it'll be really hard to grow. If you know your product or service is pointed in the right direction, and you've stopped or restarted a few times, then this blog is intended for you. Much of what I recommend is intended to keep a business owner in a low-tech, messaging-centric marketing path. I'm going to outline marketing foundation essentials for:
business owners whose clients depend upon them for creative thinking and insightful observations and whose business includes billable, one-on-one client coaching
While I'm a teacher at heart, my services aren't created or priced for the novice blogger (more power to you if you fall in that category, though!). I'm regularly in the trenches with business owners who have already hit the ground running and have a growing network -- and need a functional, semi-automated way to grow and maintain that network with insight about their target audience. Let's dive in...
1. You need a home base.
If you're selling something, you need a place where the people who already buy your service and people who might want to buy your service can gather around you and stay in touch. Your home base is your website, and it should be irresistible, full of your insights and non-salesy offerings and it should reflect who you claim to be elsewhere on the Internet.
2. You need at least three ways to stay in touch with your target audience.
People are fickle, and technology gives them even more power to be even fickler. This means that where you find your audience and how you stay in touch with them needs to be diverse. If you think of your website as your boat, these are ways you cast your net to bring new and established people alike into the boat. Casting your net should be authentic and as natural as possible to you, the business owner. You can stay in touch through insightful content, all of which is "cast out" via channels that are most effective for your audience.
3. You need to have a serious relationship with your target audience.
This is a non-negotiable for marketing to succeed: you must know and care about who you're marketing to. If you're marketing to everyone, then you'll never reach anyone. You must narrow down who most needs your service and who you most enjoy working with. I help business owners organize all of their acquired audience knowledge via a marketing persona. Every six months, we revisit it and ask if our assumptions were proven true or false -- and we add new insights that emerged. From there, we correct course on our messaging and marketing channels, if necessary.
What a marketing foundation might look like for you
If I had a bag of magic tricks, it would include any of these marketing essentials below:
- website (I use Squarespace for my site and all my clients)
- editorial calendar (with up to 6 months' worth of topics)
- monthly or quarterly newsletter template
- graphics for your blog, newsletter, social media to use in cross-publishing
- conversion recommendations (ways to turn website visitors into clients) and graphics/landing pages that correspond to them
- industry-standard automation tools (I use MailChimp, Google Analytics and Hootsuite, to name a few)
- a blogger who can interview you, create content and post to social media in your voice
- an online and on-the-ground networking plan
Some marketing foundation samples
I've included a few samples of a marketing persona and editorial calendar because they're the easiest to keep anonymous. I'd be glad to privately share links to websites I've created with my designer counterpart.
How long does it take?
The goal is to get your marketing foundation up and running in less than 3 months. Once the foundation is set, I transition my marketing plan either to you to maintain on your own, or I can source a trusted blogger to work inside the content plan I create. (This is usually a good fit for most people because a blogger's hourly rate is typically half of what I charge during foundational activities.)
How much does it cost?
Marketing foundations have a $3,000 minimum and require at least 25 billable hours on my part, plus the cost of a website. To give you an idea of how far I can get in an hour's time, I created an editorial calendar for a client in two hours and generated 150 topics, organized by blog series, that also included questions for the business owner to answer. I then handed this editorial calendar over to an experienced blogger for him to interview my client and maintain a consistent content rhythm.
If you're looking for and enjoy working with someone who obsesses over target audience intel, I'm your gal. All of the things I recommend in a marketing foundation are built with a target audience in mind -- for example, I won't force you on Pinterest if there's no data showing your target audience uses Pinterest in the first place. After a short phone call, I can usually point you in the right direction, whether or not that involves working together (I've got a great marketing network). You can reach me at aBray85@gmail.com. Just drop me a line with "marketing foundation" in the subject line and I'll be in touch soon.
Interested in learning more about me? Here are some blogs where I talk about other marketing stuff: