Make That $$$
Chances are you're always looking for ways to market your services to bring in more clients. What business owner isn’t? As a freelance writer, I'm constantly marketing my skills and seeking more connections that can lead to more work.
Doing this, however, is a constant process as you figure out who your target clients are and how to reach them — not to mention the best way to get these people to actually buy what you're selling. To help your business grow, we've asked marketing professionals and entrepreneurs for their top client-grabbing tips.
Find Your Niche, Then Understand Them
First you have to properly position yourself and know exactly which potential clients you're targeting. Remember that your demographic is not "everybody," says Christine Cha, founder of CAREERdeck. Even smaller niches can be hundreds of thousands of people.
Once you've found your niche, get to know them, says Jill Celeste, MA, marketing coach and expert in personal branding. "You need a full understanding of what your ideal clients see, hear, think, and feel; their pain points; their struggles; and what goals they have," she explains. "Then look for the marketing tactics that will reach your ideal clients in the largest numbers. For example, if your ideal customers are married women with children, then try reaching them via Pinterest, baby expos, or parenting magazines. You always want to fish where the fish are."
Become the Expert
Devon Petersmeyer Johnson, director of marketing for HourlyNerd, advises positioning yourself as an expert by creating and sharing valuable content to your target customer with a blog, guest blogging for websites, writing a newsletter, or posting to social media. "This will help you generate new leads as well as strengthen your relationship with existing customers," she says.
Other tools and resources, like e-books and webinars, can further develop your platform and increase credibility. By showing that you can can speak to trends, related news, and advancements in your industry, you become a trusted resource.
How to Create Interesting Content
Of course, in order to be effective, the content you create must be packaged in the right way to speak to your client base. "Many businesses today fail to target their content appropriately, optimize it for search engines and make it shareable via imagery, graphics, and design elements that break up the text," says Casey Meehan, founder of digital marketing agency Epic Presence. "You'd be surprised how many people click 'share' based solely on the topic, the headline, and whether or not it 'looks' interesting."
The key to making an email newsletter compelling is to include something valuable, not just plug your business. "For example, if you're a Realtor, add decorating or home repair tips to your newsletter — don't just tell readers which houses are for sale," says Peggy Farren, a professional photographer, speaker, and educator in Naples, Florida.
While typically a marketing department might handle something like this, as the company owner you could even share tips, insights, or opinions that are relevant to your industry once a month to provide added value to your newsletters.
Follow the KISS rule — "keep it simple, sweetie" — says Tya Bolton of Exceptional Business Solutions, LLC. "No one has a ton of time to read your emails, so keep them short and sweet, with juicy content they can implement immediately. And make it easy for them to share it," she says.
Be Consistent and Test
"One common mistake I see businesses, especially smaller ones, make is [having a] lack of consistency," says Rob Rohena, CEO of DIR Incorporated. "For example, if they write 10 blogs in a row, and experience zero readers, they stop and say, 'Blogging does not work,' instead of testing and tweaking until they find the right formula."
If you feel like your efforts aren’t paying off after a few days, keep at it. You’ll be able to measure which types of posts were successful and which ones bombed after about three months of regular content.
And since not every client-reaching tactic will work for every business, all the time, you have to make marketing a continuous learning process. When targeting prospective customers, it is critical that you frequently test, measure, and refine your tactics, says Johnson: "Leverage A/B testing across your website, digital advertising, email marketing, and so on to enhance your language, as well as the look and feel of those assets. Even small changes can have a big impact on results."
What You Need to Know About Google AdWords
Spending money on online ads without understanding them can burn your budget fast. Do your research before employing tactics like Google AdWords. “A campaign that brings little results because you don’t fully understand how to capitalize it is not a failed campaign but failure in preparedness," says James Sinclair, principal at EnterpriseJungle, Inc.
For example, before using AdWords, be sure to have the following, advises Serhat Pala, president and founder of Internet marketing agency RhinoForce:
- A great landing page for your website, with an effective call to action
- Customer support for your marketing activity — answer phones, check emails, or otherwise follow up promptly on incoming leads
- A professional AdWords campaign manager who can find pertinent keywords, write and test effective ads, and manage bids
Don't Forget about Bing and Social Media Advertising
While AdWords might be the more popular online advertising tool, don't discount Bing, says Brian Gatti, partner and senior marketing consultant at Inspire Business Concepts. It can be about 30 percent less expensive than Google, if you know what you're doing.
Facebook ads work well for targeting specific clients. "You can use hundreds of category options and location-based ads in Facebook, but the best-kept secret for Facebook ads is that you can target by your customer email list," Gatti explains. "If you have an email list of your customers, subscribers, and prospects that you can use, you can use Facebook Custom Audience–based advertising that can go hand in hand with Web Retargeting Ads, showing your ads to people who have visited your site before but did not complete a purchase or lead."
Finally, don't forget about Twitter and LinkedIn. Twitter focuses on user profiles and conversations with their networks, and LinkedIn analyzes user profile information such as title, industry, location, and company name, says Matt Pfluger, VP of digital strategy at Garfield Group, an integrated marketing agency. Better yet, these pay-per-click advertising options have daily spend limits to manage your budget effectively, so you'll pay only for the actual clicks that drive to your site.
Don’t Forget About Mobile
For your strategies to be effective, you must be able to offer a consistent experience to the multi-channel, multi-device consumer of 2015, says Kristin Proctor, VP of marketing for Weebly. "For example, a customer may discover your business on Yelp, read reviews, and then visit your website from a smartphone before calling to make an appointment," she explains.
To make this process as seamless as possible, she suggests making sure your website works perfectly on both smartphones and tablets, in addition to traditional computer browsers. "Choose a Web design that’s responsive — meaning it can be easily viewed and navigated across devices — so your site always looks its best," she adds. "Don't underestimate the impact of a subpar mobile experience when it comes to attracting new customers and growing your business."
Maintain Customer Loyalty
To build word of mouth and bring in new business, it's important to nurture the customers you already have. Quality customer service is a cornerstone for getting more clients.
Happy customers also lead to positive reviews, which influence 79 percent of consumers' decisions, according to Chris Campbell, CEO of ReviewTrackers. "Reputation, much like everything else, has moved online," he says. "And while much of the social media focus has been on Facebook and Twitter, recent trends and studies indicate that user-generated online reviews on Yelp, Google+ Local, and Angie's List can be far more powerful marketing tools."