Several times this year, you will be presented with opportunities to advertise your Freelance consulting services in a print or online publication. You probably belong to at least one professional networking organization, whether it’s one that caters to peers in your field, or a local business association. The organization will have a newsletter and a directory and you will be asked to make the decision about buying an ad. What should you do?
The answer is to confirm your budget after checking out the rate card and jump on it if you’re able. Consider the advertising opportunity as an extension of whatever content marketing you produce. If you don’t write a blog or newsletter, then ads are your content marketing and you must make the most of them.
Consider who will see the ad. If potential clients are members of the organization, then you definitely want to advertise in newsletter and directory. Additionally, there is a second audience for your advertisement, the organization big shots.
Placing ads with the newsletter and/or directory of the right organization will cause the big shots to look upon you more favorably. They will likely reward you with valuable opportunities for exposure. In exchange for your ad, you can expect to be invited to moderate or speak on a panel or receive some other showcasing opportunity. You may even be nominated to become an organization big shot yourself. It’s a political thing and if you can scrape together the budget, you are advised to join in.
Frame your approach to the ad in terms of content marketing, that ubiquitous new term for advertising copy. Content marketer and ex- advertising executive Barry Feldman says that first, determine what potential clients need to know about where and how your services fit into their business needs and then decide what action you want them to take on the road to hiring you to solve those needs. Those pillars shape your ad copy, i.e. the content marketing message.
Your content must be compelling, communicating the story and providing information that matters to prospective clients, even if the audience consists of your peers and not prospects. Peer organization big shots may be good referral sources, so take the time to produce persuasive content. Because life has become a barrage of marketing messages emanating from various media, create content that makes your ad pop. Spotlight three or four primary services maximum, so potential clients and referrers will not become confused about what you do. Hire a graphic artist to design a sleek and eye-catching ad.
Be authoritative, never arrogant, and perhaps be a bit provocative as you concisely describe the challenges that cause clients to hire you and the unfailingly excellent results that you deliver. Weave in terminology that clients use, so that content will resonate. Remember the call to action, to inspire prospects to call you when in need of your kind of services. After they’ve read your ad and decided they might want more info, what do they do? You must tell them.
Maybe they send you an email or give you a call, which gets a conversation going. Maybe they go to your website and fill out a short questionnaire to get the ball rolling. Generating prospective client follow-up, also known as in-bound marketing, entices prospects to commit to evaluating the fit between your services and their needs. Most ad viewers won’t take the plunge, but if even one does you will be on the road to good ROI for ad dollars spent. If you get invited to a meeting with your prospect, you will be 85% of the way to a contract.
As I’ve said before, social media gets all the headlines, but tried and true forms of advertising are still able to deliver results. Advertisers must approach ad copy as content marketing now and aim to teach as much as sell. From the Mad Men era to the new millennium, if you tell the story in a way that grabs prospective clients, you will get the sale.
Thanks for reading,