A basic definition of marketing is the practice of communicating what you do and how your services will solve a problem for a group of people. There are several strategies that solopreneurs can practice to effectively market their services. One important factor to remember about marketing is that it is a continuous process. The "Rule of Seven" in marketing means that it takes an average of seven times before a prospective client will buy from you. It's simply not enough to print up some business cards and brochures to hand out, build a website, and wait for business to come. There is much more to do to effectively market your business and attract customers.
When you think about selling a product in a store, people can see it, touch it, and sometimes sample it. It's easier to experience a product than it is to experience a service. As a birth professional, you should develop a marketing plan that allows people to get to know you, like you and trust you.
C.J. Hayden, author of the book Get Clients Now!, has identified six strategies businesses need to take when marketing their businesses. She also points out that these are listed in order of effectiveness:
- Direct Contact and Follow-Up (O)- contact by phone, in person, e-mail and Skype
- Networking and Referral Building (O,C) - making contact with others who can help you to promote your business, in person, on the phone, or online through forums and social media groups. Word-of-mouth referrals can come from past clients and business colleagues.
- Public Speaking (V,C)- making a presentation; serving on a panel; leading a meeting, workshop or webinar; creating YouTube videos; live streaming with Periscope, Google Hangouts
- Writing and Publicity (V,C)- articles featured in print publications, on your website, blog or article directories, having articles written about you or being interviewed on radio, tv, or online through podcasts, tele-gatherings or YouTube.
- Promotional Events (V) - participation in trade shows, free demonstrations or workshops, an event you co-sponsor, or networking events.
- Advertising (V) - includes all the various ways one can promote a business in print, online, or other forms of media.
C.J. also identifies three types of impact each of these marketing strategies gives to you - Outreach, Visibility, and Credibility. In the list above, I have put the type of impact each strategy gives you in parentheses.
The Marketing Cycle
All businesses have a marketing cycle that goes like this:
- You fill your "pipeline" with prospective clients (O, V)
- You follow up with prospective clients (O)
- You get a presentation - i.e.,: personal interview or they see or hear you at a workshop or class (O, V, C)
- You close sales (O, C, V)
Throughout this cycle, you utilize various marketing strategies that generate a particular impact. You'll notice I put the type of impact required for each step in parentheses.
For example, you may do a combination of all six marketing strategies to attract new clients. Your prospective clients may be referrals from someone you have networked with. They may have found an article you wrote for a local paper, saw an interview done on you on a local news program, or perhaps they discovered your website through a Google search. You follow up with them in person, by phone or email. You build a relationship and build credibility through an interview, or they see you present as a guest speaker or read articles you have written. Finally, you close a sale through direct follow-up.
Create a Marketing Plan
To successfully and continually attract prospective clients and close sales, it is wise to create a marketing plan that includes a combination of the six marketing strategies. C.J. Hayden offers free downloadable worksheets at her website, which can help you devise a 28-day marketing plan and tracking worksheet to help keep you on track during the month. This worksheet will help you identify your marketing goals for the next 28 days, the marketing areas that you feel need the most work, and the specific tasks you need to take to meet your goals. The tracking worksheet will help you track your marketing activities to help keep you inspired.
An additional resource that may be helpful for you is her book, Get Clients Now! to learn effective ways to implement these strategies and make the most of those free worksheets. If your local library does not carry this book, but has online access to NetLibrary, you may be able to get free access with your library account to read an older edition of this book online.
- Go to the Get Clients Now! website and download the free worksheets to create your marketing plan for the next 28 days.
- Think about the strategies that you're weakest in and decide on one activity you can do over the next 28 days to strengthen that marketing strategy.
- Complete the marketing worksheets and start building your pipeline!