Overwhelming is an understatement when describing the amount of marketing tips and best practices that are available online, in books, at conferences, and from consultants, colleagues and competitors. As a solopreneur, I get dizzy pouring over all the tools and techniques that I should try. If it’s working for someone else, maybe I should be doing it. And so speaks the self-criticism from my internal marketing task master voice…”Why are you not doing that?! You should be!”
But should I really? Should you be?
As good as any marketing idea may be, it’s only as good as your ability to launch and maintain it. And that requires three fundamental resources…
Time – With many free online opportunities to raise awareness of your brand, generate interest from prospective clients, and build relationships, time may arguably be the most important consideration. Do you have time to start and maintain a business presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Quora, LinkedIn, or whatever new social site seems to be the latest, greatest thing? Do you know how much time the various social networks demand in order to gain traction and see results? If, “No,” seek out others who have been using the platform for at least a year and who are generating more leads, sales, and referrals as a result. Ask them what sort of time commitment they’re putting in. That will be a pretty good “real world” way to gauge how much time you might need to devote to the cause.
Money – While some marketing endeavors require an investment of time only, others can take a chunk of change from your business’s piggy bank.
Do you need a website? Absolutely! And if you haven’t got the skills to design one yourself, you’ll need to pay someone to do it for you. Costs can vary considerably depending on who you hire to develop your site and what features and functionality you want on it. There are also the repeat costs of annual domain name registration and web hosting.
Online advertising can run up a tab, but pay-per-click options like Google Adwords can be a viable way to reach prospects who are specifically interested in the types of products or services you’re offering. If you’re looking to get a lot of bang for your buck, Facebook ads might be worth a look with their ability to target messages at users with very specific interests and in very specific geographic locations. Another plus about online advertising in general is that you’re not left wondering how many people visited your website as a result of your ad – performance reports are automatically generated to monitor performance.
Print marketing can get steep, but having tangible, touchable collateral or ads might be an effective way to differentiate your business as more competitors focus on online efforts. Factor in design, printing, and postage (if doing direct mail) costs into the equation. And realize that you’ll need to have a strategy in place to track the success of print marketing campaigns.
And then there’s outdoor advertising, TV, radio…Sure, it would be fantastic to be able to do it all, but there’s this little thing called “a budget.”
Know-how – Different marketing initiatives require varying degrees of writing skills and technical adeptness. If you can do it all – and do it well – on your own, fantastic! But chances are you’ll need to either invest some time to learn and hone your skills, or you’ll need to find professionals who can do a great job for you. Seriously consider outsourcing some of the elements of marketing to freelancers if you don’t feel completely confident in your ability to get the right message across or to implement them technologically.
What are your biggest challenges in marketing as a solopreneur? Do you do it all on your own, or have you enlisted the help of other professionals?
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