While there are obviously numerous ways to market a business, my own experience has shown me that striving for expertise in a market and sharing that expertise in a constructive way is crucial- and it's often enough to build a steady stream of referrals. After all, the "product" of a business consultant is really their expertise in the area they're consulting in- clients are paying for their expertise for the betterment of their own firm. The same goes for someone in sales- prospects need to be confident in your expertise in order to trust the product(s) that you're selling.
Step 1- Have a Professional Website With a Blog
If you're working for a bigger company, they probably already have a website. That's fine- but you should still have your own blog where you share your thoughts related to the industry with prospects and current customers. Think of the blog as your communication touch point with the marketplace. This is your "conversation", so it's important that it look professional and have a steady flow of good content- similar to how you would be sure to dress professional for an offline event and contribute to the conversation of attendees.
For the person that wants to whip together their website in a weekend, Weebly is the way to go.
Step 2- Create Interesting Content
Once you have your website and blog completed, it's time to start creating content. By "content", I'm simply referring to blog posts like the one you're ready here. By creating content about topics that are of interest to your prospects and customers, you will gradually build expertise in your market and become known as the go-to-guy (or gal of course) in your local industry.
Here's a few tips to make content creation easier:
- Organize your ideas for content in a Google Spreadsheet (or anywhere) so that you have a list of topics readily available. That way, you don't have to write the post right when you think of the idea- just add it to your list.
- Look at other companies and bloggers in your niche for ideas on content- here's a quick search on Google in the "CRM Software" niche that you can modify for your industry. While this might sound a bit odd, most of the ideas for content that you have exist somewhere else- why not leverage other people's content in your brainstorming work.
- Publish at least once blog post per week. That may sound like a lot, but if you work it into your weekly schedule you'll find that it becomes easier over time.
- In order to bulk up the amount of content you have on your blog without having to write "full posts" too frequently, consider summarizing other people's blog posts. Check out the post here for more info on that tactic.
Step 3- Distribute and Share Your Content
Now that you're creating all this content, it's time to share it with people...after all, your work is in vain if no one is reading your content, right?
There are a range of ways to share your content, but below are the basic foundational ways that you can use to easily share your content with your customers and prospects from day 1.
- Reference new blog posts in your email signature. I've found that quite a bit of traffic comes from my email signature. Make sure you leverage all those emails that you're already sending out each day.
- Create an email newsletter at Mailchimp.com- it's free for an account that doesn't do huge volume (i.e. 1,000's of emails per month) and pretty simple to setup using one of their templates. Sending out a monthly email newsletter, which is basically a quick summary of your favorite blog post for the month and a link to the post on your blog, will help you keep in touch with people that you may not otherwise contact throughout the month in your normal emails. You can even import existing contacts that you have, which is why Mailchimp can get you off to a great start- but be careful with who you consider "interested" in your newsletter as you are technically not allowed to import people who haven't actually given you permission to be added to your newsletter list according to MailChimp's terms of service. See the Can Spam Act for more info on email marketing. Shameless plug- You can signup for my agency's newsletter here to use as an example if you'd like.
- Refer people to the blog when relevant, such as if you have a conversation with them about a topic you've already written about. Hint- take a mental note of the questions people ask you throughout the month and consider writing blog posts about the questions that many people seem to be interested in.
Step X- Measure All of It
This isn't crucial at the early stages, it may service to motivate you to continue to write content if you see people are interacting with it (i.e. "it's working!").
- You can measure the number of visitors to your website or blog by using Google Analytics- here's a pretty simplesetup guide for Analytics in Weebly websites
- MailChimp has metrics built in so that you can see how many people are on your email list, how many new subsribers you've received, the number of people who open and read your emails, and much more.
- This is a bit more advanced, but you can "tag" the links to your blog (i.e. a link in your email signature) so that you'll know which website visitors came from your website through the link. For example, you may see that 100 visitors came this month from your email signature links while only 77 came from your newsletter.
Get Started- Let Me Know If You Have Questions
In short, marketing for consultants or sales reps basically comes down to fostering your expertise in the marketplace. The above tactics will help you build a good initial foundation for marketing yourself or your products, and all of them are free- it just takes a bit of your time.
Looking forward to discussing your questions in the comments below