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A Marketing Checklist for Freelancers and Consultants

Marketing can be as simple as engaging in a one minute conversation with another person or as complex as a $3,000 direct mail advertising campaign. Everyone has done some type of marketing in their lives — including you. You may have sold things at a garage sell — that's marketing. Maybe you recommended a friend to see a movie, which she did. That, too, is marketing. At your last job interview, you talked about yourself and how you and your experience could benefit the company — and you got the job. That's marketing.

But marketing is more than selling a product or service or yourself — basically, it's getting the person or prospect interested in what you're selling. And that's not so easy — unless you know exactly how to do it.

Most people know how to market — but not everyone knows how to market effectively. When you mail a prospective client a piece of your promotional material advertising your availability as a commercial copywriter who is seeking work and don't get a response, then that's marketing. But when the prospective client responds to your promotional material and requests additional information that leads up to work, then that's marketing effectively.

Marketing is probably the most ignored and neglected function of operating a profitable commercial copywriting business. Copywriters ignore or neglect marketing because of the following reasons:

Marketing must be done on a continuous — if not daily — basis. That eats away 20-30% of your time each day. Instead of working eight hours each day for clients, you really work five or six hours each day for clients.

Marketing is non-billable time. When a freelancer stops working on his client's project to do his own marketing, he does not get paid for his time.

Marketing costs money and can exhaust your time. A popular complaint among freelancers is the lack of time to shoehorn daily marketing into their daily schedules. Working on lengthy projects, meeting deadlines, keeping in touch with clients and managing a business can place a lot of strain on the writer. Because of time constraints, many copywriters market their services in short, quick "spurts" — that is, they mail out huge amounts of promotional material at one time when only necessary.

Beginners often quit their marketing efforts too soon because they're not soliciting responses immediately. And established professionals neglect daily marketing because it's non-billable time and their existing client-base may be funneling in referrals and repeat work, so why market? Whatever you do, never stop your marketing, even if you have plenty of clients, lots of work and several paychecks in the mail. Stopping your marketing at any time can cause sluggish sales, lack of clients, and, potentially, a bankrupt business, in the coming weeks or in the future.

Marketing is the lifeblood of your business. Your business does not grow, flourish or live without marketing. Once you understand how to market effectively, you'll increase your chances of running a successful, profitable copywriting business (or any business), guaranteed.

Here's a checklist to market any service or product effectively:

Marketing is repetitious. For your marketing to create impact, build rapport and establish relationships with your prospects, your marketing must be repetitious — there is simply no other way. Plan on promoting yourself to the same prospect at least five times before you anticipate a response.

Marketing must interest the prospect about your product or service, not just sell it. If you can't stir up interest about your service or product, the prospect will junk your promotional material in the garbage.

Marketing must be performed continuously, not infrequently. Avoid marketing in spurts. "Marketing, to be effective, must be done on a continuous basis — not when you feel like it or when you need to do so," says corporate copywriter, Joan Berk. "When you market in spurts, you put yourself at a risk of having to wait for the results and scrambling around to find work to meet payments. If you market each day — or at least every other day — it's much easier to manage, keep track of your results, and you won't put yourself in a state of panic when you lose a client or fall short of a project. You'll have many inquiries, leads and referrals on tap."

Marketing creates impact gradually — not immediately. Anticipate sluggish results the first time you market your services, but don't quit due to poor results. Marketing, to create impact, builds up gradually, over time, not overnight.

Marketing does not focus on the product or service — but focuses on the benefits of the product or service, or, in essence, how the service or product can benefit the prospect.

Marketing focuses on soliciting a response from the prospect, not just the work. If all you do is ask for work, most likely you will not get it the first time around, no matter how qualified you are. To increase the chances of the prospect outsourcing work to you, you must also try to solicit a response, not just the work. Have the prospect contact you to receive your free business newsletter, or a free consultation, or to review a piece of his material for free. When you solicit a response, it brings you closer to securing work from the prospect. Responses are nearly as important as getting the work itself.

Marketing sells solutions, never your writing services. Prospects don't care how creative and professional you write. They only care about one thing: how your skills can solve their problems. That's it. If you can't help the prospect solve his problem, you won't get the work.

As you put together an effective marketing plan for your business, remember the following key points:

First, all marketing strategies come down to one type of marketing: networking (or some form of networking). Securing a client is a person-to- person confrontation. It involves finding out the prospect's problems and needs, and then fulfilling them. That's one reason why networking is the best type of marketing around.

Secondly, you never sell your services to prospects — you sell solutions to their problems. They don't care how well you do something — they only care what type of results you can produce for them that'll solve their problem(s).

Finally, marketing must be repetitious to create rapport and establish a relationship — these are two essential elements that turn prospects into paying clients.

 

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Brian Konradt is the owner and operator of FreelanceWriting.com (http://www.freelancewriting.com), a free web site for writers who want to master the creative and business sides of freelance writing. Mr. Konradt is also the owner of BSK Communications and Associates, a communications and mail-order business based in New Jersey that operates MasterFreelancer Web Store

 

 

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