Written by Elaine Kapogines
Service providers tend to rely heavily on referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. While these are a great starting point for building your business, it’s going to take more than that to grow your business.
Ultimately, the goal of creating a marketing plan is that you’ll get to have more control of your messaging — it’s a slippery slope when you’re exclusively relying on the kindness of others to sing your praises to their friends.
But, marketing can be extremely overwhelming! I find this especially true for practitioners and other specialists who spend their time honing the skills of their trade, not learning how to market a business.
This is why the idea of “minimalist marketing” resonates with many service-based business owners. Minimalist marketing means strategically selecting two or three tools that make the most sense for your overall business goals, rather than doing a bit of everything.
To get you started on your own minimalist marketing journey, I’m providing you with 5 free marketing tools you can start using right now.
With social media, you’ll want streamline your efforts to increase the efficiency (ex. batch creation and automation), but the key for an effective minimalist social media plan is to be really selective of which platforms you’re going invest your time and energy into, especially if you’re a solo practitioner.
Your time is not a renewable resource, so use it wisely. If you set your sights on all the platforms, I believe you’re setting yourself up for failure (unless you’re willing to hire a dedicated social media person). You’re much better to dedicate yourself to one to three platforms that make the most sense for your business, rather than dabbling in all of them.
While some marketers will group Pinterest in the category of “social media,” I disagree with this. Pinterest is a search engine that functions more like Google than a social network like Facebook or Instagram. The strategies are different, the content is different, the mindset of the user is different — therefore, you need to approach this platform differently from your social media networks.
Pinterest is a beast, but continues to prove itself as one of the most effective selling tools available, and is worth considering for your overall marketing plan — especially if you’re selling any type of online product or service (ex. virtual consultations, online classes) or utilizing other marketing tools, like a YouTube channel or podcast.
The stats around email marketing are undeniable. According to a study done by McKinsey & Company, email marketing is up to 40 times more effective than social media, and the buying process happens three times faster than in social media. With social media, you’re relying on the “algorithm” to show potential customers your content; with email marketing, your list is made up of people who you know are already interested in your services. There are so many benefits to creating and executing a solid email marketing plan, especially for regional service providers!
Lead magnets and email marketing really do go hand-in-hand. I would never encourage a client to create a lead magnet before they had an email marketing plan in place. If you’re not familiar with the term, lead magnets are those free resources you give in exchange for someone’s email address. They can be a downloadable PDF, a free webinar, a quiz — anything really — but the key is that they provide something valuable enough that someone is willing to give you there email address and, most importantly, consent to receive further e-communication. These can be an incredibly effective way to grow your email list with a group of subscribers that you know are already interested in learning more about you or your offerings.
If there’s anything that I would encourage you to do today, its start a blog! I could write a book on how effective blogging is for your business. But it really does boil down to these key facts:
• Blogging will have a positive effect on your SEO
• Blog posts will become a content hub for all of your marketing and PR efforts
• Blogging allows you to share your voice in a really authentic way
• Blogging will help build trust with your audience, clients and potential clients
• Blogging with help to build your subscriber list with strong sales leads
The real marketing magic will happen when you choose the most effective tools to augment your business goals and then make those tools work together to create on comprehensive and cohesive strategy.
Elaine Kapogines worked media and journalism for over a decade before she took the leap into full-time entrepreneurship in 2014 after the birth of her first daughter. She is the founder of Wiltshire Media, a PR and content marketing firm for entrepreneurs, business owners and other professionals to create real, sustainable business growth. She is also the creator of Pitch Class, a digital training platform dedicated to educating and empowering entrepreneurs to find their voice in the media.
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