Compiled and Edited by Meredith Wood Bahuriak, NuZoo Media
Marketing ideas can be big or small, short term or long term. They may lead to a marketing plan or to the trial of an idea but either way they take you forward. Going forward is essential to business life. To mis-quote Bob Dylan if your business is not getting ideas and busy being born it is busy dying.
Small business marketing ideas come at you at all times of the day and night. While many small business owners may not have hearts that beat faster at the thought of a marketing plan, a marketing idea can be like the spark of a firework and energize you.
Make your creative juices flow.
The key here is to find what works for you so the next time you are stuck, you can immediately turn to the thing that helps you get things going.
• Take a walk Get outside and change the scenery. When you do this, you will stimulate your senses, get your blood flowing, increase the oxygen to your brain, and before you know it, you may find the ideas start flowing as well.
• Keep a journal When you keep a journal going and log ideas, you will be processing the information differently. This will help with sparking new ideas. Plus, you can always go back to older pages, which can also spark new ideas.
• Do something different You need to stimulate your mind, and one of the best ways to do that is to change things up. Take a couple of hours to go to a museum, sit in the park and people watch, or go to the local library or bookstore and just walk the aisles, looking at the books.
• Take a media break Sometimes you need to take a break and let your mind work rather than to continuously process all this “stuff.” Shut all the media outlets off and just be with your own thoughts for a while.
• Clean your office Many people believe that with an uncluttered office you will have an uncluttered mind. Start with a blank slate and see what happens. If you are having a difficult time drumming up ideas, it is worth giving it a chance to see if it produces any results.
The most successful freelancers are excellent communicators.
Is it enough to have great communication skills to succeed as a freelancer?
However, it’s nearly impossible to succeed as a freelancer without effective communication skills. We’ve seen many talented designers on crowdSPRING and elsewhere fail to grow successful freelance businesses because they were poor communicators.
1.) Have a system or process There are plenty of good CRM products for this purpose or you also can keep folders in email, separated by client, so that you can easily keep track of your communications. Develop a process where you communicate with clients periodically to inform them about your progress and a system for presenting proofs. Your clients should never be worried about the work you’re doing for them.
2.) Listen The most successful freelancers – and people generally – listen more than they talk.
3.) Ask questions Ambiguity and misunderstanding will result in wasted time and frustration. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify important points. Freelancers are not mind readers – be sure you fully understand what the client needs/wants. Keep in mind that your clients and potential clients are busy and may often be in a hurry. Make sure your clients and potential clients know that you respect their time.
4.) Be patient Many clients don’t understand design or copywriting. There’s a reason they’re looking for help. The most successful freelancers invest the time to educate clients and potential clients, and by taking the time, build credibility with those clients and potential clients.
5.) Avoid jargon Keep in mind that your clients and potential clients don’t understand design or writing as well as you do. There may be many industry terms that will easily confuse them – be sensitive to this and communicate in a simple style and take opportunities to define terms you think might be confusing. For example, if you submit an EPS file in a design project, you should explain what an EPS file is, how they will be able to view it, and why you’ve included it.
6.) Set appropriate expectations Clients often expect you to respond within a few hours when they send you a message. In a global marketplace, this could be difficult. Make sure your client understands your time zone and times that you’re generally working and know when you’ll be unavailable for a day or more (such as when you’re taking a personal or business trip). Clients quickly become frustrated when they can’t reach their freelancers – you can easily eliminate their frustration by making sure they know when you will and will not be available.
7.) Be honest at all times Impress your clients with your work, not your words. When you’re discussing deadlines, consider potential problems and promise reasonable deadlines. Always under-promise and over-deliver. By doing the opposite, you risk alienating the client and undermining your credibility with that client.
8.) Don’t be afraid of the phone or Skype Clients appreciate the ability to have a conversation by telephone or via Skype. It’s easier to resolve misunderstandings by telephone and also sometimes more effective at moving projects forward without delays. There’s also the added benefit that voice conversations develop more personal relationships and build more credibility with your clients.
9.) Be consistent and responsive When you respond to clients, be certain you’ve responded to the questions they asked. It’s frustrating for clients – just like it is for you – when your responses to them fail to answer their questions. Additionally, make sure that your communications are consistent and responses are quick.
10.) Be professional at all times This is important even if the client doesn’t stay professional. Unless you maintain your professionalism, you’ll end up bickering like little kids. You will not only lose your credibility with that client – but this will affect your communications with and work for other clients.
Give your customers a voice
Creating ready made ways to amplify your customer’s desire to promote is one of the secrets to extending your reach and impact into new customer opportunities.
• Let me introduce you If you hold events, either in person or online, consider getting one your champion customers to introduce you or stand up at some point and tell their story about working with you.
• Video testimonials Capturing your best client’s success story on video is a great way to create compelling content and provide 3rd party proof that your business does produce as promised and, as a bonus, record some nice promotional video that the client could use for their own as well.
• Peer to peer events Take a client or two that really want to help and ask them to facilitate a panel discussion on some topic related to their industry (and not necessarily related to your business.) and invite other hot prospects to participate and then simply host and moderate the discussion among peers.
Clearly, the ability to get along with your customer, charm them over and over again is largely based on deciding to make it happen, and renewing that decision as often as possible. Use all your creative resources to connect with your customer on an ongoing basis.