As a solopreneur it can be really hard to find time for strategy. After all, you’re already wearing multiple hats. Sometimes strategy feels like an afterthought.
But doing marketing without strategy is like trying to build a home without an architect’s house plan. You can hire the very best carpenter, electrician, and plumber, but without a plan you’ll probably end up with a mess.
The same goes for marketing. Sure, you can find a great graphic designer, web developer, content writer and social media manager. But if you don’t have a strategy you can waste money and time very quickly without any results to show for it.
Follow these 7 steps to develop your marketing strategy.
Notice this starts with understanding your Market and your Customer, not your Product.
The first four steps help you build a detailed picture of your ideal customer.
Then understand their needs and pain points… That allows you to properly message your Product to serve their needs.
Finally, the communications strategy is just about identifying the best way to reach your ideal customer where they are looking for solutions.
As a solopreneur, your niche Audience will determine the Channel you use.
Today I want to talk about the difference between Audience and Channel. I see an awful lot of people I work with confuse the two, and there’s really a big difference, particularly when you’re a small business owner or a solo business owner.
You really cannot forget the importance of your Audience.
A lot of people, when they think about a new business idea, they think “Okay, this is what I want to sell”, or “I have this idea for a product or service”, and then they immediately think about Channel: selling their product on Etsy, or starting a consulting business and selling services in person to local small businesses…
They are thinking Channel.
But you can’t think about Channel until you know first and foremost who your Audience is. Audience is the most important thing. What do I mean by that? Really what it comes down to is Focus: it’s so important to be laser focused on your ideal target customer – having a detailed image (Persona) of the ideal person for your product. Who’s the perfect person that you envision using it? If you’re offering a service – who’s your ideal client? Who are the ones not only that can use your service, but who are going to be super excited about it, who can’t wait for your new product or service. Who are going to be the brand ambassadors because they love it so much?
As a solo business owner there is nothing more valuable than your time and your focus. So know who your ideal customer is, and always be delivering and speaking to THAT person. This is just so important. You might think that because you have a service or product that works for anyone, why shouldn’t you try to appeal to absolutely everyone? And that sounds great at the beginning, because that does sound like that makes your audience larger. Isn’t it better if your potential audience is larger? But the truth is it’s actually not, which I know sounds contradictory. As a solo or small business owner, if you try to target absolutely everyone… there’s no way you can compete with the big companies out there. There’s no way you can compete with the brands who have access to big budget marketing and advertising.
So how can you compete as a solo business owner or a small business? It’s by really knowing your niche, really knowing who that ideal customer is. Get in their head… Know what they want… Know what they care about… Deliver that to them.
Never forget that your business is to serve that Target Customer. Make your audience believe that you care about them and their needs. That is what will differentiate your small business from the big brands. Really only after you know exactly who your target Audience is can you then start thinking about Channel. Because then you can say… Okay, my ideal target customer is this person – where are they online? Are they buying things on Etsy? Are they buying freelance services on UpWork? Are they on Google searching for something and if they are then what keywords are they using? Are they on YouTube? Are they looking for videos on how to do whatever it is they want done, or how to solve a particular problem? Then that’s where you need to be. But until you know your Audience you don’t have enough information to decide on the right Channel. Also, don’t necessarily limit your business to a single Channel. And definitely don’t define your business by the channel. Don’t say “I have an Etsy business” or “I am an UpWork freelancer”. It might be that those are your primary platforms, but first and foremost think of your audience, think of everything that they need and want, and then give that to them. So instead, describe your business as “I deliver XYZ products to ABC customers” or “I solve XYZ problem for ABC clients”. Give your target customers (Audience) what they need and want (Products), where they are looking for it (Channels). So you might have a product that you sell on Etsy, but maybe there’s a service around that product that you can sell on a freelancing platform, and then maybe you also have your own website where you have ebooks that provide helpful tips for that same audience, etc.
So these are just a couple of points to keep in mind when it comes to Audience versus Channel:
Focus on your Audience first (target customer persona), then Channel second.
Don’t define your business by your Channel (eg, “I have an Etsy business” or “I am a Youtuber”), but define it by your Audience, and deliver what they need across multiple Channels.
Need some help figuring out your target audience, or narrowing down your marketing channels? Feel free to contact me.
A successful launch can be a critical ingredient to the long-term viability of your product or service. Here are some ideas to help you plan a successful launch to really boost your product or company’s success. You can also use our Go-to-Market Toolkit to plan your go-to-market strategy for launch.
Having a strong go-to-market or launch plan will not only help ramp your sales once you do launch. It can also give you a feel for the marketplace. The reaction of potential customers to your product pre-launch marketing can help you complete final tweaks or positioning of your product before launch rather than scrambling after.
The Go-to-Market Toolkit includes a go to market strategy template, “How to Launch Your Product” guide, checklists and go-to-market plans that you can use to make sure your new product or service introduction is as successful as possible.
These are just some of the benefits for your Go-to-Market plan:
Easily create a professional plan to launch your product or service.
Save time by using our templates – the hard work is done for you!
No more headaches not knowing how to plan your marketing.
Free up your focus for important product development tasks rather than worrying about promotion.
Target your messages to the best prospects and channels to maximize your launch impact.
I’ve worked with a lot of software and online companies over the past 25 years, from very small to very large and everything in between, mostly helping them with marketing or planning.
Over the years, sometimes I find all it takes is a different perspective or some questions answered to make all the difference in marketing results. That’s true for any company, whether a tech business or not.
If you need a little help with planning or marketing your solo business (software / lifestyle / services / online), but you’re not sure where to start, I make it easy to get started on your journey to more effective marketing and planning. I can help with marketing planning, strategy or project management, or just help give you the nudge you need to easily apply strong marketing principles to your small business.
With a strong inbound marketing strategy, your content and your website will pull in prospective customers, rather than you having to make cold calls or send mass emails to get buyers (outbound marketing).
Inbound marketing is increasingly important, since it’s more cost-effective and more targeted than traditional outbound techniques.
Traditional outbound marketing is increasingly challenged by higher costs, privacy regulations, ad “blindness” and ad blocking tech, and an inability to target your customer to the degree that buyers expect in today’s market.
On the other hand, inbound marketing allows you to establish more trust with your customers by sharing helpful content “for free”, providing information on their terms (when they are searching for it on Google, rather that interrupting them with a phone call), and an ability to target niche sub-markets with personalized messaging.
If you’re trying to get leads for your small business, do you focus on inbound or outbound marketing?
Outbound is traditional marketing: cold calling, sending blanket emails to email lists, direct mail and broad-based advertising like TV or radio.
Inbound marketing is all about finding ways to encourage customers to find you, via links to your website and other content.
As a small business, your focus should be on inbound marketing: it’s cheaper, establishes trust with your prospects, and automatically increases the visibility of your website in the search engines.
Inbound marketing is all about understanding your customer, and delivering them what they’re looking for and what they need (customer-centric). Outbound marketing is all about pushing your product features to get customers to sign up (product-centric).