Q: As a freelancer, do I need a marketing plan or can I just wing it?
A: Indeed, you do need a marketing plan.
Marketing is vital for your business success. You cannot hope to succeed in your creative enterprise without one. In order for your business to do well, you, as the owner, need to (in Freelance Road Trip terms) map out your trip before you get behind the wheel. In a sense, your marketing plan is more important than your business plan, since you cannot acquire clients and earn revenue without letting people know about you. That’s the essence of marketing.
Many freelancers — and I count myself among them — do not like marketing. We find it easier to create things for other to use in their marketing than to market our own work.
Marketing is not selling.
This is something we need to get over. Marketing is not selling. If we understand that we are always marketing on a daily basis in terms of influencing others and building our reputations, it’s a quick translation to marketing our work.
You can’t earn income if you have no clients.
To get clients, you need to attract them to you.
The activities you do to attract clients is marketing.
Why Freelancers Should Use A Marketing Plan
A marketing plan removes many of the unknowns in attracting clients. It puts you in control of when, where and how your work will be seen and who will see it. Creating a plan helps you hone in on the kinds of clients you want to work with so that you don’t waste your efforts chasing those who are not a good fit for you.
A marketing plan solidifies your hoped-for future. You have methods and strategies in place that you can follow up on. The key here is to do the follow-up — to execute the plan.
A marketing plan clarifies your brand and messaging, so that you do not create confusion for your prospective clients.
A marketing plan provides a way to measure the effectiveness of your promotional efforts. You can differentiate between what works and what doesn’t, and adjust your actions accordingly.
A marketing plan, when written, makes it more likely that you will follow through and execute the plan. When you have calendared the days you will send your email promotions, attend a networking meeting, or post work on Behance, you are more likely to actually do it.
A marketing plan allows you include a variety of activities and spread them out over a specific time period. It gives you a big-picture point of view.
A marketing plan reduces your need for referrals. While referrals and recommendations say a lot about your expertise and professionalism, relying solely or mostly on referrals means you’re letting others control your workflow and your client base. That’s very risky for your business. When you create and implement a plan that includes a variety of channels and platforms, you take the wheel, driving your “vehicle” where you want it to go. You choose your clients. And if something does not work well, you can omit or replace it and still carry on with the successful channels.
And the really big reason we need a marketing plan? Having one reduces our risk of failing. When you begin executing your plan, you should soon notice an increase in traffic, in responses, in connections, and in influence, all of which will help attract new clients and retain the existing ones. That slight change will grow over time, which means your influence and renown will increase.
Create your plan and do it
One last note: Marketing is effective over time if you’re consistent. You may not see immediate results. Be reasonable in your expectations and continue to take action on your plan every week. Over time, you should start noticing a difference in your work flow and cash flow.
Don’t have a marketing plan yet? Get my 5-point guide to creating a simple, workable marketing plan you can put into practice right away.
What is your favorite marketing activity? Share in the comments.