I thought marketing was as simple as posting on Instagram a few times a week.
Oh, boy, was I wrong – and honestly, I’m so glad that I was.
As a creative small business owner, it can feel devastating to think that you are required to build a massive following on social media in order to be successful. After all, you’re sharing your work (and by extension a piece of yourself) publicly; just hoping that people will resonate with it.
There’s an absolutely massive misconception that a large follower count automatically converts into an equally massive bank balance.
If that’s not true for everyone, then how do you successfully build a creative small business?
Let’s Start With the Basics
Hubspot defines marketing as “any actions a company takes to attract an audience to the company's product or services through high-quality messaging”.
In short, marketing is communication with a purpose.
Clearly, marketing takes many different forms: posting on social media, sending emails, even handing out a business card (if that’s your thing). Taking into consideration where your clients spend their time allows you to decide where your marketing message will be best received. Some of the most popular marketing types include:
- Social Media Marketing is probably the form of marketing that you’re most familiar with! Posting on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more are great ways to communicate your message. These platforms also offer paid options for promoting your posts or advertising directly to your community.
- Email Marketing can be really effective for engaging with people right in their inbox. You’ll have a direct line of communication with someone, so long as you have the right address.
- Blog Marketing is a fantastic way to increase your presence on the web. By creating engaging content that people will be interested in, you can easily drive traffic to your website and promote your message.
- Print Marketing might seem a little outdated to some, but billboards, business cards, and branded flyers are still used by small businesses all over the world.
While this is not an exhaustive list, it speaks to the wide range of opportunities that your business has to get your message out to potential customers! The important thing to remember is that, while your message can have many different outlets, it’s up to you to control and convert message observers into actual customers.
What is Lead Generation?
A lead is someone who has shown interest in your business and could become a potential customer. Leads are the building blocks of your business.
People interact with your brand through thousands of different avenues – whether that’s through Instagram, a contact form on your website, subscribing to your newsletter, and more. The possibilities are endless! When someone shows interest in your business, they are essentially giving you an entry point into their lives and an opportunity to help solve the problems that they face; it’s the start of a brand new relationship!
Being able to effectively generate potential customers is one of the most difficult parts of growing a business, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need to do is give someone the opportunity to express interest in exchange for information!
For example, as a wedding photographer, you could easily create a guide for potential brides on simple outfit guidelines for their engagement shoot in exchange for their email address. For commercial videographers, you could offer up free training on how to look natural on camera in exchange for a quick 15-minute Zoom call. As a graphic designer, you might be offering a free design audit or consultation in exchange for a phone number!
Whatever your industry or service, offering something for free is a great way to give an enticing value to your customers in exchange for their information. Lead generation and the process of sales are how you can grow your business to new heights!
The Easiest Way to Find Leads
Building your list can feel like a daunting task.
By giving away something of value that the people you want to work with will actually use, you’ve already done most of the hard work! To fill your list, you’ll need to actually get the word out about the free resources you’re giving away.
Website pop-ups and Instagram posts can be a great way of building interest, but if you don’t have much traffic heading to your website or people actively following your social media accounts in the first place, you’ll need another option. One that can be consistently effective in creating traffic. One that allows you to get people’s attention about your free gift! Building your list is a great time to start leveraging the power of paid marketing.
Running small advertising campaigns is a great way to effectively (and cheaply) fill up your email list. Putting some money behind your free resources allows you to reach more people, get more downloads, and ultimately build the power of your list.
Leveraging Your Email List
Most people don’t realize the power of emails.
When you have access to an email address, you’ve got a direct line of communication with another person right in front of you. If you’re building a following, leveraging an email list is essential to keeping communication open.
Most small business owners think that posting on social media alone is a sufficient way to make an announcement or communicate with their customers. In reality, posting on social media is more complex than ever. Besides, the American Psychological Association actually found that people need to hear a message between 10-20 times before the maximum effect of that message is felt.
That means just posting isn’t enough.
If there are announcements to be made in your business, you should be using every outlet possible to get your message out there. Emailing your list is a fantastic way to create a stronger buzz!
Similar to announcing a sale or a brand new release of something, email marketing is an incredibly effective sales tool. You can easily craft automation that sends emails to prospective customers who newly subscribe to your list to make selling even more automatic and less of a painful process.
Keeping People Engaged
The most effective way to turn someone who has absolutely no association with your business into a raving ambassador is by creating a relationship with them.
Offering a free guide or an opportunity to engage with your business is a great way to open that relationship up, but it’s impossible to build a relationship off just one interaction.
Think about it.
You don’t instantly become best friends with someone if you just meet once and never talk to them again. You certainly don’t ask that person for money the first time you’ve met them! Instead, building a relationship takes time.
This is where things like newsletters can be extremely helpful. Things like blogs, consistent social media posting, and more are all simple ways to continually engage with the people that you’re building relationships in order to remind them that you’re still around!
You can engage with your clients in thousands of ways and easily build relationships. Once you’ve got a firm foundation, it’s time to shift.
Using Marketing to Make Sales Easier
As you build relationships with your prospective clients, it’s important to remind them why they started talking to you in the first place. Don’t let them go cold.
Selling your service is much easier when you’re speaking to someone who’s already familiar with your work than with someone who has never heard of you. This is why marketing is so crucial: creating relationships makes selling a breeze.
Everyone is forgetful. Just don’t let them forget about you.