If you’ve been trying to increase the visibility (and in the process, credibility) of your brand and Freelance consulting business, you’ve probably realized that standing out against competitors is difficult to achieve. The noise level in the marketplace is deafening and big fish grab nearly all the PR. But all is not lost. There are a few smart moves that will help us little fish to make a splash. Below are a half-dozen mostly low-cost and often successful marketing tactics that you can consider and maybe enact over the next four quarters.
Get On a “Best of” list
PR pros love the fast pay-off and long-tail benefits that getting added to a “best of” list brings. Every business that’s won a “best-of” award over the last 5 years (or more) shouts it to the rooftops. The citation is placed above the fold on website and social media landing pages.
Investigate local or regional “best of” lists, especially those featured in popular or prestigious publications. Some choose candidates by an open nomination process. Touting your inclusion on a “best of” list is cat nip when promoting any other of your marketing tactics—-speaking at a business or professional associations, teaching a class, appearing as a panel speaker or moderator, becoming a guest blogger or a guest spot in a webinar or podcast.
A “best of” list is a great opportunity to be discovered by people who’ve probably never heard of you and your business. Receiving a “best of” award allows you to reach and attain instant credibility among a whole new group of potential customers. “Best of” list readers customarily browse list categories when they’re looking to do business, from finding the best ice cream parlor to the best five best business blogs in your area.
Now listen to this— if you are a contributor to a particular publication, with your publisher’s or editor’s approval, you can launch your own annual “best of” list! While you’re at it, you can also create an advertising campaign around it and make your editor or publisher twice as happy. Creating a “best of” list has the potential to facilitate building and sustaining relationships with ambitious movers and shakers and greatly expand your influence and credibility.
Enter a business award competition
This tactic has a not insignificant cost of time and money, but it’s often a reasonable avenue to pursue because there are more ways to win than you might think. Sponsoring organizations are typically generous with the number of awards and categories they choose to honor. More awards and more categories are an incentive for business owners and leaders to become contestants because there will be more opportunities to win.
Be advised that as with any marketing campaign, there are expenses involved. You’ll be required to join the sponsoring organization. You must pay the award entry fee for every award category that your company pursues—-best new product launch, business of the year, best workplace, social responsibility award and so on. You must buy one or more tickets to the ceremony (even when it’s virtual). The awards process could represent the entirety of your outfit’s annual marketing budget.
After compiling a draft list of possibilities, check the award entry criteria. It’s likely that candidates must join the organization in order to compete for an award and that will be your first expense. Annual dues may run from a few hundred dollars to $1000 or more, depending on the sponsor. Confirm also when new members will be eligible to compete for an award. Next, investigate other entry facts—-the entry application deadline, the fees and whether candidates must be nominated to compete for the award.
Be a podcast guest
There are dozens of podcasts popping up like wildflowers after a summer rain and every host is on the lookout for smart, savvy and entertaining guests. That can be you!
So how can you make that happen? Keyword search podcasters that cover topics you can address. Listen to a few episodes to get a feel for the host’s interview style, listening audience and guests. Instead of sending an email to make your pitch to the host, devise a personal and impactful appeal by creating a video or audio clip to present your proposal. Tell the host:
- Topics you’d like to cover
- Why you think podcast listeners will find the information relevant and the insights and benefits that will be derived
- Elevator Pitch-style info about you to communicate your credibility—-expertise, experience, noteworthy clients and popularity—- you’ve written a book, your blog has 5000 followers, you’re a contributing writer for a respected publication, you’ve won a business award
Identify podcasts that maintain an online archive of episodes, to increase the long term accessibility of your appearance. As well, you should post the link of your podcast guest appearance on your website landing page and on the landing pages of your social media accounts. Because you’ll have the program link, you’ll add to some impressive, trust-building audio content that you can edit or serve up in its entirety.
Podcasts, whether you are the host or the guest, deliver numerous benefits to your brand and business. On the most basic level, it’s a networking and relationship opportunity for you and your host. As you negotiate your way through scheduling and topic selection, to say nothing of the interview itself, you and your host get to know one another and learn about one another’s capabilities. Potentially, a mutual referral source can ensue.
During the interview, podcast guests speak in depth about the product or service you provide, without becoming sales- y. You also describe the customers you usually sell to or work with and explain what motivates prospects to come to you and present a broad-brush overview of how you provide the solutions your customers need.
Communicate the story well and you’ll establish yourself as an industry expert, a thought leader who’s a cut above competitors. You’ll position yourself as a highly capable and dependable professional. You’ll build both brand awareness and brand trust.
Two final preparation steps for your podcast (or webinar) guest appearance will ensure communications. First, be certain that helpful technical equipment is in hand— you’ll need a decent microphone and headphones so that host, you and audience members can clearly hear one another.
Second, you’ll be expected to promote your guest spot and help your host to do so as well. Four weeks ahead of your appearance, post the podcast notice on your website and social media accounts. Help the host to promote and also introduce you to the listening audience and send a media kit three to six weeks in advance of the show.
Since 2014, I’ve been a staff writer at Lioness Magazine , an online publication whose primarily female target readers (75%) are entrepreneurs, self- employed professionals and corporate or not-for-profit sector executives. How did I do it?
Starting in about 2012, once a week I posted a business how- to article on a large self- publishing website Ezine Articles. As luck would have it, the co- founder and Managing Editor of Lioness Magazine was using the site as a place to buy good content for the new magazine. There are perhaps 100,000 articles posted in the business category and by some miracle, my articles were discovered. After purchasing several of my articles from Ezine, the Managing Editor contacted me and asked to buy articles directly.
Building a solid online reputation is essential for your business (unless you are very well connected and don’t need it. I know such people). First, when prospective clients search you online, you want them to find good content. You present yourself to prospective clients as an expert and your articles are one persuasive way to back up that claim.
Second, the Google EAT algorithm (expertise, authority, trustworthiness) still impacts our SEO ranking in 2022. When you publish presumably useful, accurate articles on a regular basis, it’s a favorable act in the eyes of powerful opinion maKer Google.
Do you read business publications— local, regional , or national? If not, I recommend that you do. There is sometimes an appeal to recruit aspiring contributors. If you’re a reasonably competent writer, give it a try.
Speak (or moderate) on a panel
Appearing on a panel as either a speaker or moderator is a golden opportunity, a wonderful way to demonstrate your expertise and ability to think on your feet. Appearing on a panel is also a gateway to receiving featured and keynote speaking engagements. Seeking out programs where panel discussions are regularly featured is an excellent marketing strategy.
There is an art to panel discussions, whether you are the moderator or a speaker and if you want to be invited to participate a second time, make sure that you perform well the first time.
Make sure that you know the subject. You’re invited to join the panel to share your deep knowledge and experience and/or your intriguing and compelling perspectives regarding the subject matter. You are there to inform and enlighten the audience.
Donate to a charity auction
Many charitable organizations auction off products and services donated by local businesses to raise money at their annual fundraiser, which in most cases will draw a minimum of 100 supporters. If I might, I’ll apply the surprisingly accurate Pareto’s Principle here, commonly known as the 80/20 Rule, and predict that for every 100 guests at the charity’s fundraiser, 20 will be your prospects.
Much will depend upon your product or service line and B2C goods and services have the advantage. Research the online auction items available at any 501(C)3 fundraiser and get an idea of what bidders find interesting and what Development Directors tend to accept. You may be able to create a special service that you only offer through your charity auction marketing campaigns.
Contact the Development Office after you’ve checked the organization website to learn the approximate date of the next fundraiser and ensure that its mission aligns with your brand and values. If your in-kind donation receives a couple of auction bids, the organization may contact you to donate again next year.
Thanks for reading,
Image: © Slim Aarons/ Hulton Archive (1955) Paintings on sale at the Portobello Road Market, London