The idea of marketing can be overwhelming for a business of any size but perhaps even more so for a solo operation and for one good reason. There’s only one of you to do everything. That’s right. From beating the bushes for new prospects to taking care of paperwork to doing the actual work that brings in money, it’s all you, baby. The good news is that if you recognize the particular challenges of a one-person business, you have every chance to be as successful as you want to be. Here are 5 tips to market your business as a solopreneur.
Joint Venture Marketing: You may have heard the term before but not realized the leverage power inherent in it. A joint venture for example would be if an MCAT tutor, teamed up with the coffeehouse down the block – pooled your resources – for a marketing purposes. It’s this kind of synergy a solo business operator needs to be on the lookout for.
Marketing to Work Ratio: Here’s the big question. How much time should you spend on marketing activities? Entrepreneur.com claims that about 40 percent of your time each week should be devoted to these tasks. Seems like a lot, right? Maybe, but maybe not. How long will your business last if you don’t have customers? Thinking of it like that should impress upon you the importance of spending the appropriate amount of time in visibility-raising efforts. Understandably, this may prove difficult as a lot of time is required when processing the data that you receive through analyzing your consumer and market research. A simple solution to this is investing in multivariate data analysis software, which examines your data considering all factors, allowing you to spend more time on marketing. Visit camo.com to learn more about multivariate analysis and the various software that is available. You could also look into hiring a market research company such as Circle Research. This will allow you to focus on other aspects of your business and they can handle your market research.
Know Your Target Market: This is a critical idea to understand. You’re not Wal-mart. While everyone’s favorite retail giant can literally say with accuracy that anyone breathing is part of their target market, the chances are good you should not do the same. You can’t afford to market to the world. The audience is too big. You need to target your efforts precisely at the market segment that is your bread and butter. How do you figure that out? Research, my friend. And then research some more.
Marketing is Not Advertising: It might be a surprise to some, but marketing does not strictly equate to advertising. It’s a much deeper, more varied topic. Anyone can go out and throw a handful of money at their favorite local media outlet (newspaper, radio, television) and think they’ve completed a good round of marketing. Sorry, it’s not so simple.
Advertising is a fairly limited topic that mainly involves, as we mentioned, handing over money in return for time or space on a media outlet platform. Marketing, on the other hand, can be achieved literally hundreds of different ways. If you find yourself at a creative loss for how to get started, check out these 20 ways to market on a shoestring budget. There’s plenty of value in there for a solopreneur.
Failure to Plan is…You Know the Rest: All together now. A failure to plan is a plan to fail. It doesn’t matter how small or large your business is. You need to sit down at the beginning and put together a marketing plan. This doesn’t need to be a 100 page document but it does need to include a step-by-step strategy for what you’re going to do, how much it will cost, and when you’re going to do it. The SBA has lots of free information on the topic of creating a marketing plan and promoting your small business.
The Bottom Line
As a one-person business, there are some factors working against you. Resources, time, and financial limitations can make it difficult to achieve the sprawling vision in your head. On the plus side, you’re a leaner version of a corporate organization and should be nimble enough to change course quickly when a new opportunity arises. There’s also the fact that you don’t have to run every decision by a group of managers. Just ask yourself for permission. If you say “yes,” then you’re good to go. The preceding information about small business marketing should help you to hit the ground running. Now get out there and market!