What’s the best way to market your WordPress-based services in your local community?
Recently, I read an article that said there were 52 different types of marketing. Another article I found another upped that number to 159!
For many WordPress users, marketing is just as confusion or even more so than coding. It’s not too difficult to see why!
There are many different approaches to learning either topic. You can go to school, read a book or take a few courses. If you go that route, you’ll learn the basics of “how things work.” Then, it’s up to you to apply what you’ve learned with your own projects.
That’s where you’ll experience your first challenges.
For example, with websites, sooner or later conflicts happen. Something won’t work correctly even though you’ve done everything right. Maybe it’s the combination of plugins your site is running? In that case, you can turn them all off and then restart them one by one until you find the one that’s causing the problem.
If you know where to start looking and a bit about troubleshooting, it goes a long way towards keeping frustration levels from going through the roof.
The same is true in marketing.
Maybe you’ve read a book or two and have taken a course? Then, you try to use what you’ve learned on your own website… but you don’t get the results you’re looking for.
Can you identify with that?
The Problem: Too Many Choices
From shades of blue to flavors of ice cream, – what do all these things have in common? They present us with a lot of choices. Sometimes, too many.
Some choices require commitment. The decision is not so easy to undo so you might find yourself putting more thought into it. Other choices are easier to pull back from. If that’s the case, you maybe be able to test many different options before finally settling on one.
With marketing, it’s usually easy to pull back, but you really need to think it through before you do. That’s because – you’re still drilling through rock if you have yet to build your business’s foundation. What that means is, when no one knows you, that’s when you have to keep on keeping on with a focused strategy.
Usually, you don’t build awareness overnight. Not the good kind, anyway. Let’s say you create videos for an entire year. You upload them every week on YouTube, embed them on your blog, and get a handful of listeners. When someone who’s a good fit for you comes along and discovers your work, what you’ve created can represent a goldmine of value to them.
Then, others watch your videos and feel the same way. Eventually, you’ll probably land an interview or be invited to be a guest on a podcast of some kind. That’s when a whole new group of people will discover who you are and what you have to offer.
That’s how the growth process seems to play out most of the time. Each harvest contains the seeds for the next harvest and so on.
In other words, you don’t create a video or two, or a post or two, and then give up with people don’t assign “celebrity status” to you.
Business Growth Must Happen
The plant that’s not growing is dying. It’s true in nature and it’s true in business. Nothing stays the same. You’re either moving forward or falling behind. It would be great if we could freeze-frame certain things and keep them as is.
It seems that many find it hard to go “all in” on their marketing efforts. They have one foot on the gas and another on the brake.
I think a major contributor to this is the way marketing is commonly done these days. If you don’t feel comfortable with an approach, it’s hard to go all in with it.
If that’s you, you’re not alone. Some see marketing as a form of manipulation, and for good reason. We’ve all been on the receiving end of manipulative tactics more than just a few times.
You can market effectively, with integrity, simply by connecting the right people with the right solutions. In your own experience, has anyone ever sold you exactly what you wanted or needed without manipulation or high pressure? Sure, they have. So yes, it can be done.
What Is Direct Marketing?
If I could only practice one “style” of marketing, it would be direct marketing. Direct marketing is defined as the business of selling products or services directly to the public, e.g., by mail order or telephone selling, rather than through retailers. If you sell a service to the public using your website or email, that’s direct marketing, too.
In other words, there aren’t any middlemen in the process.
When I was first starting, marketing seemed like a superpower to me. I thought that, if done correctly, I could sell anything to anyone.
Back then, I used the terms marketing and sales synonymously. I didn’t realize that, although they often worked together, they were two different things.
Rather than bog you down with long, drawn-out, explanations detailing all of the things I did wrong, let me leapfrog over all of that and get right to the solutions.
- Marketing myself as a personal brand was much easier than building a business brand. So, I became the train engine that pulled the business cars (not the other way around.
- “Making friends” was easier than “making clients.” So, that’s what I focused on doing.
- My way of doing things was a little bit different than the traditional approach. Rather than adjust my approach, I decided to keep it “as is.”
- Through email and video (and sometimes by phone), I kept a dialog going with my clients throughout the year.
Those are the pieces that worked and continue to work for me. I don’t even have to think about it much these days. It all comes pretty naturally because there aren’t many moving pieces to worry about. Nothing fancy. Just content and links for the most part.
Direct Marketing (With Links)
Sometimes, I have a lot to say to a client. I don’t want to be misunderstood, and I don’t want to send a two-thousand-word email.
So, I turn on my screen recorder and talk. I upload the video to YouTube as unlisted and then send them the link.
It’s a great way to get everyone on the same page if you’re all working on a project together. This is also a direct marketing concept at its core. You’re communicating directly with the person via mail, email, newsletter, TV, etc.
Direct Marketing from a Freelancer’s Perspective
Now, let’s talk about direct marketing from a freelancer’s perspective. The main difference I see between freelancing today and freelancing in the past (10-20 years ago) are the tools we have available. Today, you can practically replace a small team using automated processes and systems. In other words, time-consuming, manual work is no longer the norm.
Plugging the direct marketing approach into this mix makes it easier to apply the next step.
Direct marketing (going directly to prospects) helps you build new relationships and strengthen existing ones. It lets you test new ideas before committing to projects that could end up being huge time wasters. With direct marketing, you’re getting valuable feedback that can help you course-correct on the fly and take advantage of windows of opportunity as they open to you.
Here’s an example; let’s say you’re connecting with a group of people and they’re starting to get excited about a project and potentially doing business with you.
As the conversation continues, it brings all parties to the place where a decision is finally made.
If you’re familiar with this process, you know what an important part the conversation plays in the whole process from start to finish. The CONVERSATION is direct marketing in action.
You begin the conversation on your website, on social media, through audios, videos, articles, email, etc.
The conversations lead to each subsequent step in the process. Sometimes, people will want to get started right away. Other times, they won’t be able to get started until months down the road.
Timing plays a part, sometimes a big part.
This is where some of the more aggressive marketers might try to influence the buyers by making the offer time sensitive. The price or offer, for example, may only be good for a day, week, month, etc.
If you want to build long-term business relationships, you’re probably not going to say, “This deal goes away if I walk out that door without a signed contract and check for the down payment.”
You’re on Your Own, But You Have a Community, Too
WordPress became a foundational tool for myself and my clients back in 2008. Not only has its impact in the online world been nothing short of phenomenal, but a huge, supportive community of people has also grown up around the product as well.
As a freelancer, there’s a certain degree of isolation to content with. Some thrive on their own. Others look for more interaction.
Whether you’re a copywriter, marketer, developer, designer, writer, editor, videographer, or anything else, WordPress is a common thread linking us all together. Just about all of us use WordPress along with other specialty tools and services that integrate well with it.
I have a few quick thoughts to add to this “freelance lifestyle” as some call it. As I’ve said in other articles and podcasts, I don’t like to put too much emphasis on certain labels.
I think the real question here is – what’s it going to take to make you profitable? What kind of income do you need or want? Once you have that answer, you build around that. You can call it whatever you’d like to call it.
I’ve been distancing myself a bit from the “agency” tag for the last few years for one major reason. Here in the USA, ad and marketing agencies are seen by many executive-level decision makers as being “on their way out.” Instead, creating an in-house team is now seen as a more viable alternative.
If you want to know more about this trend, this article from Business Insider is a quick read – https://www.businessinsider.com/companies-are-cutting-out-ad-agencies-and-going-in-house-2017-6
Your Value is Increasing Exponentially
Let me leave you with a few words of encouragement. Whether you realize it or not, your knowledge will increase exponentially over time. The average freelancer knows more about marketing in general TODAY than at any other time in history.
Between the courses you’ve taken, the eBooks you’ve read, and your personal experiences, you’re a goldmine of information and guidance to the right people.
Believing that can be a game-changer for you.
If you’re spending much of your time around others similar to yourself, you may not see it in that light. Let me put it this way, if everyone had wings, people flying wouldn’t be a big deal. In the business world, you have wings. The kind of wings you have, aren’t as common as you may think. They’re only common when you’re among your own.
So, snap out of it. You have specialized knowledge. Not only do you have your primary skill set to bring to the table, but as a website owner yourself, you have experience with how all the pieces work together.
You may be thinking, “But Jim, I’m not really an expert at anything?” There we go with the labels again. The simplest approach is to share what you know based upon what you’ve learned and experienced. What if someone walked up to you on the street and said, “Do you know where I can get good Italian food around here?” Would you say, “I’m sorry, I can’t answer that question, I’m not an expert on Italian food?”
No, you’d give them your opinion.
If you’re living, working, and moving forward in the online business space, your opinions as valid as anyone else’s.
Sure, it’s easier to have more confidence after some people validate you… but I assure you, you’ll be the same person after the validation as you were before. The problem is, if you wait until you have the confidence you’re looking for before doing certain things, you may never do much of anything.
Anyway, that’s all I have to say about that.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your thoughts and insights on this topic below.
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