Ah, the lure of being your own boss -- the freedom, the flexibility, and frankly, the fear. If you’re seriously considering joining the swelling ranks of the self-employed, you already know that you need a solid marketing plan for attracting and engaging customers. As you flesh out your plan, here are five marketing “must haves” before you quit your day job.
Email contact list. The two non-negotiable principles of email marketing are that it’s permission based and quality supersedes quantity. Specifically, you need to obtain your customer’s permission before you email them.
To entice customers to subscribe, highlight what’s in it for them. When you provide valuable content, you’ll be able to grow your contact list through engaged, enthusiastic customers.
Content. Map out the content of your email newsletters at least one quarter in advance. Yet be sure to build in flexibility so that you can respond to feedback and jump on current trends. Three additional best practices are:
- Establish a regular time to send out your email and let your readers know when they can expect your weekly, bimonthly or monthly email.
- Balance your content with 70 percent being information that’s not widely known and the remaining 30 percent dedicated to offers.
- Include a social-sharing bar so readers can easily forward the content and inspire others to subscribe.
Determine where your target audience is most active online and then focus your efforts on the two social media channels that attract the majority of them. This will enable you to fully engage customers and prospects as opposed to having a scant presence on a lot of different social channels.
As added assurance that your customers will find you, use tools that ensure your business appears on all the appropriate online directories. This way you don’t have to go site-to-site hunting down opportunities and filling out your profile.
Online and offline event calendar. You can cost effectively reach your audience through online and offline events. Consider taking advantage of low cost and/or no cost event management tools that allow you to manage your in person events as well as host and record online webinars that support real-time interactions with attendees.
Partners. Align with other small businesses in the Chicago area and join forces to create compelling, complementary offers for customers. This will help grow your presence and your customer list through an established and successful local business.
Steve Robinson is Constant Contact’s educational marketing expert in the Midwestern United States (IL, IN, KY, OH, & MI). He has over 30 years experience supporting small business, with a background in small business marketing, management & development. He has helped thousands of small businesses, associations, and nonprofits develop and implement effective email marketing, social media, online survey and engagement marketing strategies. Steve has twice been named to Crain’s Chicago Business’ Who’s Who in Non-Profit Management and currently writes a guest blog for nbcchicago.com’s Inc.well Blog. Steve draws from this experience to be a valuable resource to Midwestern small businesses, nonprofits, and associations. Steve has educated more than 40,000 small businesses on behalf of Constant Contact since joining the team in 2007 and has presented at @Midwest, Techweek Chicago, & for the City of Chicago Treasurer’s Office Online Marketing Contest to name just a few.