As a solo entrepreneur, building a marketing plan can be tough, especially when you’re working with limited time and a tiny budget. You’re working with a limited amount of time and have what appears to be an overwhelming number of options and choices before you. The big picture is clear. You must promote your business to attract new customers and grow your brand.
Today, I want to do two things to hopefully help you identify what you have, what’s missing, and what to do next. Let’s start by looking at a step-by-step guide on how to build a marketing plan for your business with limited time and budget. Then, we can look at how all the pieces might possibly fit together using a case study.
Step 1: Define your target audience
Everything starts (or re-starts) here. Before starting any new marketing activities, you need to understand who your target audience is. I know what it’s like to know who they were in the past, while at the same time struggling to identify who they are today! It’s easy for your thinking to get stuck in the past. Sometimes, you have to approach this topic with a fresh perspective and forget everything you think you know about your ideal client or customer. For example, what if your ideal client is burned out and mentally exhausted? That fact alone changes quite a few things, doesn’t it? And when you consider the fact that every marketer in the world is going to define their “ideal client” more or less the way it has always been done, it makes more sense than ever to consider changing your approach a bit. Doesn’t it?
Step 2: Choose your marketing channels
Based on the above, choose the marketing channels you believe will reach your target audience effectively. As your audience spends less time on social media, consider focusing on creating videos or a podcast. Videos and podcasts can be shared on different platforms, such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Apple Podcasts, to help you reach a wider audience.
Step 3: Create valuable content
To attract and engage your audience, you’ll have to create content that addresses their current pain points or interests. For example, you can create videos or podcasts that educate, entertain, or inspire your audience. You can use Canva to create professional-looking graphics that complement your content. Canva has templates for every type of visual project imaginable. Your visuals will (hopefully) be high-quality and reflect your brand’s personality. Text-based content (blogging) is still an effective method for SEO. Because many have abandoned blog-based content in favor of social media, it’s arguably more effective than in the past because fewer people are doing it regularly.
Step 4: Build your mailing list
Email marketing is still an effective way to reach your audience and promote your business. Offer a freebie, such as an e-book or a guide, in exchange for your audience’s email addresses. You can create a landing page using WordPress and/or services like Mailchimp or ConvertKit. Make sure your freebie provides value to your audience and is relevant to your business. You can also link to your freebie through videos, podcasts, or blog posts.
Step 5: Promote your content
To promote your content, it’s still easy to use social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, to share your videos or podcasts. You can also use hashtags and tag relevant accounts to increase your reach. Encourage your audience to share your content with their network. Additionally, you can participate in online communities, such as Facebook groups or forums, where your target audience is still active. I like to think about it like this – does it take hundreds or thousands of people to change your life for the better? Isn’t it true that in some cases, it only takes one?
Step 6: Analyze your results
To measure the effectiveness of your marketing plan, track your results regularly. I use Google Analytics along with Google Search Console to track website traffic and see which content performs better. I’ve always enjoyed analyzing how things are playing out by viewing the stats on the back end. That said, it can be agonizing when it takes 6-12 months before you see the numbers starting to shift in your favor. Sure, it can happen faster – but you have to be ready in case it doesn’t.
Those Are The Basics – But This is Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Everything I’ve just shared with you can be filed under Marketing 101. But, there’s often a disconnect between how marketing works on paper and how it really plays out in the real world. For example, most people are severely limited in terms of their time and their budget. You have a business to run and you don’t exactly have deep pockets.
With that in mind, I recommend focusing on two activities: creating valuable content and building your mailing list. For example, you can write a blog post every week, turn it into a script for a podcast episode or a video, and share it on different platforms. That’s doable. Add AI to the creation process to speed everything up. Use the free version of Grammarly or another tool to proofread before publishing. Long form content (articles of 1,000 words or more) can be shortened to create podcast episodes or video scripts.
Additionally, you can create a downloadable freebie, such as a checklist or a template, that complements your content and encourages your audience to sign up for your mailing list. Personally, I find that a newsletter works just as well with certain audiences.
By focusing on these two activities, you can execute your marketing plan in a minimal amount of time. Okay, let’s flesh this out a bit more by examining how this would look in a real-life case study.
Sarah – The Freelance Writer
Meet Sarah, a solo entrepreneur who provides freelance writing services to small businesses. Sarah has just launched her business and wants to build a strong online presence to attract new clients. She has limited time and budget, so she needs to be strategic about her marketing efforts.
Sarah starts by creating her personal brand domain name, sarahswriting.com, and building her website using WordPress. She chooses a simple and elegant theme that reflects her brand’s personality. She creates an “About Me” page that tells her story and showcases her expertise. She also adds a “Services” page that outlines her writing services and rates. She adds a contact form to make it easy for potential clients to get in touch with her.
Sarah also sets up her blog on her website. She plans to create valuable content that addresses her target audience’s pain points and interests. She chooses a content calendar tool, Trello, to plan and organize her blog posts. She adds ideas for blog posts and schedules them for publishing.
Building Her Mailing List
To build her mailing list, Sarah uses various email marketing tools. Here are some of the tools she uses:
Mailchimp is a popular email marketing tool that offers a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers. Sarah signs up for the free plan and creates an email list for her business. She adds a sign-up form to her website and blog to encourage visitors to subscribe to her mailing list. She also creates an automated welcome email that introduces her business and services to new subscribers.
ConvertKit is a powerful email marketing tool that offers advanced features for building and managing email lists. Sarah decides to upgrade to ConvertKit once she reaches 2,000 subscribers. She uses ConvertKit’s landing page feature to create a freebie, a writing guide, that she offers to her subscribers in exchange for their email addresses. She creates a landing page on her website that promotes her freebie and encourages visitors to subscribe to her mailing list.
Sumo: Sumo is a lead generation tool that offers various features, including list building tools such as pop-ups and welcome mats. Sarah adds a pop-up form to her website that offers a discount on her writing services in exchange for visitors’ email addresses. She also creates a welcome mat that promotes her free writing guide and encourages visitors to subscribe to her mailing list.
OptinMonster is another powerful lead generation tool that offers various features, including pop-ups, welcome mats, and exit-intent pop-ups. Sarah adds an exit-intent pop-up to her website that offers a free consultation in exchange for visitors’ email addresses. The pop-up appears when visitors are about to leave her website, encouraging them to stay and sign up for her mailing list.
By using various email marketing tools, Sarah was able to build her mailing list efficiently and effectively. She started with a free plan on Mailchimp and upgraded to ConvertKit once she reached 2,000 subscribers. She used Sumo and OptinMonster to add pop-ups and welcome mats to her website, encouraging visitors to sign up for her mailing list. With a strong mailing list, Sarah was able to promote her business and attract new clients.
Sarah’s Content Strategy
Next, Sarah chooses a few marketing channels that are effective and affordable given her limited time and budget. These include her blog, email marketing, and social media.
Sarah’s content strategy revolves around creating valuable content that addresses her target audience’s pain points and interests. She uses her blog as a platform to showcase her writing skills and knowledge of the industry. She plans to publish a new blog post every week to keep her audience engaged and informed.
To promote her blog posts and attract new readers, Sarah uses social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. She shares her blog posts on her social media accounts and engages with her followers to build relationships.
Sarah also uses email marketing to stay in touch with her subscribers and promote her services. She sends out a monthly newsletter that features her latest blog posts, writing tips, and updates about her business. She also sends out promotional emails that offer discounts on her services or promote her free writing guide.
In addition to her blog and email marketing, Sarah uses other content formats to reach her audience. She creates videos and podcasts that showcase her writing skills and share her expertise. Since she doesn’t have time to conduct interviews on an ongoing basis, she creates solo podcasts that focus on writing tips and industry insights.
Overall, Sarah’s content strategy is focused on creating valuable content that establishes her as an expert in her field and builds relationships with her target audience. She uses various marketing channels to promote her content and stay in touch with her subscribers.
Sarah understands the importance of analyzing her marketing efforts to see what’s working and what’s not. She uses various tools and metrics to measure her results, such as Google Analytics to track website traffic, email marketing software to track open and click-through rates, and social media analytics to track engagement and reach.
By analyzing these metrics, Sarah can see which marketing channels are performing well and which ones need improvement. She can adjust her content strategy accordingly and focus on the channels that are driving the most traffic and engagement.
To earn additional revenue, Sarah chooses to participate in affiliate programs. Affiliate programs are a form of marketing where an affiliate (Sarah in this case) promotes a product or service and receives a commission for any sales made through their unique referral link.
Sarah chooses to participate in affiliate programs that align with her brand and are relevant to her audience. She chooses to promote Grammarly, a writing tool that helps writers improve their grammar and writing skills. She also chooses to promote Bluehost, a web hosting service that is popular among bloggers and online entrepreneurs.
Sarah selects these programs because they offer products that her target audience can benefit from, and the commission rates are generous. She also uses these tools herself and can confidently recommend them to her audience.
In summary, Sarah analyzes her marketing efforts using various tools and metrics to see what’s working and what’s not. She participates in affiliate programs that align with her brand and are relevant to her audience, such as Grammarly and Bluehost. She chooses these programs based on their relevance to her audience and the commission rates they offer.
In conclusion, building a marketing plan as a solo entrepreneur with limited time and budget can seem overwhelming. However, with the right tools and strategies, it can be done. By following the step-by-step instructions outlined in this guide, you can create a marketing plan that attracts and engages your target audience, measures success, and generates additional revenue.
Remember, these tips and strategies can be adapted to your own business needs and goals. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. And if you want to stay on top of the latest digital marketing trends and strategies, be sure to subscribe to The Digital Strategist Newsletter. Our newsletter provides valuable insights and tips to help you grow your business and succeed in the digital world.