The purpose of this guidance is to help you in completing “The marketing plan” template.


NOTE: before you can complete your marketing plan, you will need to have a business plan. I promise, it’s not scary and it’s really simple. I’ve even created a template to help you get started.


Make continuous professional development (CPD) a priority

To ensure you’re always improving and refining your skillset you need to invest in yourself. Striving to be the best you can possibly be is what’s going to set you apart from the content mill chancers who are out to make a quick buck, and enable you to charge more for your services.

There are several ways to do this…

Embrace the freelance community in all its glory:

Freelance Heroes

A fabulous community of diverse freelancers from across the UK. It boasts nearly 7,000 members who are genuinely there to help and support you with your business. Get involved:

Being Freelance

A fun community of creative freelancers that is run by the incredible Steve Folland. Get involved:

Join the wider community:

There will be other communities of people that are relevant to your specific creative discipline.

In the wonderful world of copywriting, this includes:

  • ProCopywriters
    • Blogs
    • Twitter – including a monthly Twitter chat using the hashtag #ProCopyChat
    • Webinars
    • Annual conference
  • #ContentClubUK: a Twitter chat every Tuesday at 11am with some of the most wonderful copywriters you could ever wish to meet.

Going it alone

There are plenty of ways to learn alone from the comfort of your sofa:

  • Reading books and blogs.
  • Listening to podcasts.
  • Registering for webinars.
  • Taking online training courses.
  • Booking a course, or studying towards a qualification.
  • Attending events.
  • Getting involved in social media to join in the conversation – you will learn a lot from your peers.
  • Becoming a member of your industry’s institutions.
    • As a copywriter, you could look into the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM) or the Content Marketing Association (CMA).

Marketing tactics

I started my career in marketing after graduating with a degree in business and marketing. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time on both sides of the fence – working in-house as a marketing manager, and sitting agency-side as a marketing consultant.

I’ve pretty much tried anything and everything to generate leads – because that’s what marketing is all about; you try things, test their success and learn how to improve over time.

And I’ve also made my fair share of mistakes, as well as absolute and total failures. But I’ve learned from every one and hope to never repeat the bad times.

But if I can offer one piece of advice…

Always do what’s best FOR YOUR BUSINESS; never feel like you have to do what someone else is doing, follow the latest trend or attempt to do everything all at once.

You know your business. You know your sector. You know your audience. So choose to only engage in the activities that you know give you the best chance of success, and that you have the time/money to invest into executing them well.

The following is not an exhaustive list; it’s designed to get you thinking about what you could try for your business…

Your personal network

Think about friends, family, neighbours, previous employers, colleagues, LinkedIn connections…tell everyone you know that you’re a freelance X, ask them if they need help, and if they know anyone that needs help…

And then keep reminding them that you’re looking for recommendations.

BUT…

Never feel obligated to accept work through recommendation. Treat it as another source of leads and evaluate each one as you would a cold lead, otherwise you risk taking on work you really don’t want.

Events

Identify networking events and meet ups where you can talk to like-minded people who might be able to recommend you, or use your services.

Look for conferences in your sector and register to attend. You’ll learn lots about the market and there will be ample networking opportunities with potential clients.

Attend exhibitions in your sector, say hello to the people on the stands and leave your business card.

Offer to speak at local events in your area.

Or host your own. This can be particularly effective if you’re targeting SMEs, as you could organise something at your local co-working space/business park.

Finally, think about hosting a webinar online – if record it, you will have some valuable content to share and promote afterwards.

Direct

Use Google to identify the companies you actually want to work for.

Then click on to all the interesting results and review their website. Think about:

  • Do they have an interesting proposition?
  • What is the messaging like?
  • What’s the value proposition?
  • What marketing activities are they engaging with?
  • Who are their clients?
  • What’s missing from their current promotional efforts?
  • Where do I think I can add value?

If you genuinely believe you have something to offer, put them on the list. Then, if you can’t get the information from the company’s website, use LinkedIn to identify the specific person you need to speak to.

Yes, it’s hard work, but these are the people you really want to work with, so put the effort in.

Then think about how you’re going to introduce yourself and say hello. Think about:

  • Sending a handwritten letter.
  • Sending them a gift (e.g. branded merchandise, a book, chocolate).
  • Sending an email (if you can find their personal address).
  • Sending a LinkedIn connection request with accompanying note.
  • Identify whether you know anyone that could make a personal introduction.
  • Turning up to say ‘hello!’ (yes, it’s old school, but I’ve done it, and it works really well)

Website

Never make a website because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do. Define its purpose first:

  • Business card: to share information about your business.
  • Portfolio: to act as a resource to promote your work.
  • Knowledge centre: to educate your audience on your creative discipline.
  • Entertainment channel: great for generating high volumes of traffic.
  • Lead generation: geared towards driving people to contact you.
  • …or a mix of all of the above.

And don’t forget, it’s ok to not have a website. Having a website is a big responsibility (I should know, I’ve just had to rebuild this one because I didn’t properly take care of my last one so it was hacked to death!), so if you start it, you need to ensure you can afford the time and effort to keep up the maintenance.

Things to think about:

  • Logistics: your domain, hosting and platform.
  • Design: the look and feel, structure, user journey and imagery.
  • Content: what do you need to tell people to engage them and make them want to take your next step.
  • Keywords: the exact phrases that people are actually searching for to help you get found.
  • SEO: giving you the best possible chance of being found online.
  • Security: protect your business, your data and your clients online.
  • The bigger picture: how does your website fit into your wider marketing activities.
  • Support: can you do everything yourself? Or do you need to find external help?

Social media

Again, what are you using social media for? Is it for lead generation? Continuous personal development? Or both?

And what platforms are going to help you achieve these objectives?

You don’t need to be present on every one. And you certainly shouldn’t blast the same content across all channels – in fact, you should never blast your content on social media full stop.

Each platform is a community of like-minded individuals. So think about what you can bring to the party, decide what you’d like to take from it, and join in the conversation.

Content

Content is ANY form of communication (not just writing!) that you use to share your message with the outside world, such as blogs, articles, ebooks, videos, illustration, podcasts, infographic, presentations. It could be long-form, such as a sales letter or white paper. Or it could be short-form, such as a Tweet or email.

Think about how you will use content to build your portfolio. And if you can’t link to work directly, think about whether you can create a short case study or secure a testimonial to use alongside some graphics.

And blogging is great for numerous reasons: educating your prospects/clients, giving back to your community, positioning, SEO…

Think about how you could incorporate the following into your content generation:

  • Myths: challenge the status quo.
  • Controversial: be outspoken on something you’re passionate about.
  • Guides: share your knowledge and experience.
  • ‘Ultimate’ post: a detailed, deep-dive into a specific area.
  • Success/failure: highlight when things go right/wrong with lessons learned.
  • Trends: comment on what’s topical in your industry.
  • Curated content: a roundup post on everything connected to a specific topic.
  • Useful tools: something you’ve discovered that could make your audiences’ lives easier.
  • Questions: what do your clients want to know, that everyone else is afraid to answer?
  • Interviews: align yourself with the industry ‘experts’ and thought leaders.

PR

Public relations (PR) is a great way of getting your message in front of hundreds/thousands of people to give your brand awareness a boost. And it’s relatively simple to turn the content you produce into something that’s media-worthy.

If you’re in the PR profession, there are databases that are worth subscribing to with contacts for editors and journalists. However, these databases are costly, so might not be worth the expense if it’s just for you.

The alternative is to ask you clients and see where they get their news from, and then target these publications.

In addition, you could look at blogs within your sector and ask if you could contribute a guest post on a particular subject you feel would be relevant/interesting/useful to the target audience.

Newsworthy topics include:

  • Announcements about your company/services.
  • Credentials/awards.
  • New customers.
  • Speaking engagements/events.
  • Response to industry trends.
  • Market predictions.
  • Publishing a guide/hosting a webinar.
  • Launching a survey/publishing survey results.

Advertising

In contrast to PR, which is free, you can pay to get your message in front of people. Your audience will determine the right place to do this.

Think about:

  • Magazine adverts.
  • Advertising in the local paper – particularly the business section.
  • Radio.
  • Sponsoring a local event or network meet-up.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) – on Google, social media, online publications.

Tip! Of all the marketing tactics, advertising is the one that’s likely to cost you the most. To make sure you get the return you deserve make sure you’ve done your research first so you know it’s the right channel, you know what you’re doing (particularly PPC) and you hire the appropriate specialists to craft and promote your message (copywriters, designers, digital marketers).

Awards

Winning an award is great for boosting your credentials, overcoming the dreaded imposter syndrome and recognising all your hard work.

Boost Marketing produces an amazing, comprehensive list of all the award ceremonies in the UK: https://awards-list.co.uk/

Need some help?

I’m weird so I love strategy. And I have a soft spot for small businesses. So if it’s all still feeling a bit overwhelming, please get in touch. I’m always happy to help a fellow freelancer or entrepreneur in their quest to live the dream!


Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash