So that full-page glossy ad in the latest trade publication didn’t get you the ROI you were hoping for. Now what? Don’t get frustrated – there are effective advertising and marketing options out there for professionals in every industry. As executives and entrepreneurs, we each have our own unique ways of building our books of business, networks, and managing our personal contacts. It only stands to reason that our marketing tools should complement those efforts.
Below are 10 suggestions that you can implement on your next marketing plan that may help generate better results. Whether you tackle these tasks on your own or partner with a marketing professional to assist you, keeping your name out there and equipping yourself with the right tools to complement your networking efforts and reputation is key. Finding the right balance is also important. Marketing rarely works well as an all-or-nothing effort. Figure out what budget will work for you and how much time you can commit on a regular basis. Then use that as the foundation for moving forward.
1. Create/find a brand image that suits you. Whether you are building a brand image for your company or looking for the right Fortune 500 company to work alongside, it is important that your brand reflect your professional character and style. The company name, logo, mantra, business cards, etc. are all accessories to your overall professional image, so make sure all the pieces are sending the right message.
2. Start a blog. Create content that is searchable, shareable, and rich in keywords related to your field and experience. The more complete, more useful, or more entertaining your content is, the more people will want to share it. The best content includes tips, lists, and eye-grabbing photos or images. A blog can be a powerful too — building credibility, awareness, and skills through repeated public exposure.
3. Take control of your personal SEO. Make sure the online search results for your brand are what you want them to be. It is inevitable that people will search your name or company after meeting or working with you. Ensure that your online image matches the professional reputation you have worked so hard to build. Try this tool to get started: https://brandyourself.com/
4. Build a group of brand ambassadors. Cultivating a group of influencers for your brand is a powerful tool. Recognize those clients, colleagues, and friends that naturally gravitate towards your brand and services, and are regular social connectors. Nurture those relationships by keeping them up-to-date on your latest accomplishments, and regularly connect with them over lunch or at other social engagements — word of your great service and reputation will naturally spread! For more on the subject read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.
5. Be social. When people are talking about your business, take the time to join in and answer or thank them. Reply to comments on your website, blog, answer emails or reply to Facebook posts. Get cozy with LinkedIn – the biggest site focused on professional networking. Being active in social media means promoting yourself as an expert, creating connections and finding new ideas, all of which help to build your brand.
6. Build a portfolio of case studies. Documenting your successes is great not only for creating a personal roadmap to build upon, but also as a vital tool, a resume in helping land new business. Create a branded document that quickly and effectively outlines positive results for past clients. Keep this document up-to-date and handy to share with new leads.
7. Send hand written notes. Create customized branded stationery and use it to thank someone or let them know how nice it was to meet them. In the day and age of overloaded inboxes, blasting off an email follow-up is not as effective as it used to be. Stand out from the crowd and really say, “You matter to me” by personalizing a note.
8. Be a media source. Get to know a few local journalists or subscribe to a service that connects journalists to expert sources, such as ProfNet. Providing value to a story or industry report adds credibility to your name and gets it out there – invaluable PR!
9. Speak at conferences. Conferences are not only a great way to showcase your knowledge and position yourself as an expert, but also a fantastic way to build your network. Make sure to vet each engagement before committing, and prepare well in advance by having marketing tools at the ready for follow up.
10. Get involved with a local charity. Charitable giving is not only a great thing to do, but can also be very rewarding for your business. Whether you donate your time or sponsor an event, make sure to choose your charity wisely. Look for synergies between your business, the charity and some of the people already involved with the organization. Donating your time is a great way to build strong, long-term relationships with other business leaders in the community. If you donate your services to a silent auction, make sure your gift does not get lost in a sea of items (know and attend the event, be selective).