Marketing Your One-Person Business: The Basics
Marketing Your One-Person Business: The Basics
I get excited when my friends tell me they have their own side business or that they've gone all in on working for themselves. I often have the same conversations with those people about how they could be marketing themselves for free and, after a long monologue, I see the glazed over look in their eyes and realize that I've just done a massive info dump of tips I've gathered over my decade-long jaunt through marketing.
For this purpose, I've written this very basic introduction into online marketing essentials for your personal business. If this guide is too basic for you, stick around. I'll publish more in-depth articles soon.
You might think you're going to rely on your Facebook page or some industry specific site for your online existence, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm still talking about SEO. Remember that you are working to spread your existence out across the internet in a consistent way so that search engine's recognize you as a credible player in your industry.
It's great if you're going to rely on Facebook or Thumbtack for leads, but if you want to scale your business in a way that increases credibility and value, you're going to need to play the SEO game. Doing this will increase the closing rate of your sales efforts and allow you to charge more for your services.
Step 1: Planning
There are several tasks that you'll do while marketing your business that will be a thousand times easier and more effective if you plan and document a few items first.
- Open Google Drive
- Make a folder called Marketing
- Start a document called Marketing Plan.
- Answer the following questions ↓
What problem do you solve?
This may be obvious to you if your service is necessary like real estate, consulting, or health related. It may not if it's a luxury or entertainment service like photography, coaching, or novelty retail. Either way, you'll need to spend some time to write out all the ways that you solve problems for your customers.
Keep this question in your mind and continue to evolve your answer as ideas come.
Who benefits most from your product or service?
Of course everyone in the whole world should pay you for your great product!
But let's get real. If you had no shortage of leads and customers, which are your favorite? Which ones never need to be hard-sold? Which ones are always happy after working with you? If you could describe those people who are most prepared to succumb to your sales efforts, what does that persona look like?
Example of details to compile:
- Income Level
- Marital Status
- Parental Status
- Education Level
- Geographic Region
- Life Stage
- Entertainment Preferences
- Other Lifestyle Notes
What changed in your audience before and after they use you?
Now that you've acknowledged who your audience is, and what problem you solve, it's time to put those together and describe what your audience is before and after working with you.
Make a two-column table in your document and fill out the before and after!
Obviously, that's a terrible example. I don't know your business. You do. "Flesh it out," as they say.
What you now have...
... is a hub for all your marketing material. You're going to need to write blogs, social content, product descriptions, and sales pitches. The three answers you gave here should be the foundation of all that. Continue to grow and refine your answers as you get more familiar with your business and customers.
Step 2: Basic SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimizing. It's the online marketing effort that helps you rank in search engines like Google and Bing by telling them, in their language, who you are, what you do, and if people like you.
Search Engine Optimization is an entire industry with ever-changing tactics, but there are basic things that you can do to set yourself up for success without hiring help.
NAP & URL
NAP stands for Name Address Phone. It's an SEO term and is the cornerstone of your online existence. You need to define these items including capitalization, punctuation, and spacing. Here's another section for your Marketing Plan document:
If your business name can include the following items, you'll have a leg up with your SEO:
- business type
- service you offer
- city or state your service
I'm not going to say that this is an indicator of a "good" or "bad" brand. It's just an indicator of the level of difficulty you'll have with your SEO. For Example:
|Phoenix Local Plumbing||Easy Peasy|
|Glendale Tax Prep||Easy Peasy|
|Jack's Consulting For Startups||Medium|
|ACME Real Estate||Medium|
|Christopher DeSilva||Nearly Impossible|
If your business has an address, it's best to verify how the postal service recognizes it. Use that version of the address including punctuation and line breaks. If your address is consistently represented online, search engines are more likely to recognize all mentions of it as credibility points for YOU.
If you don't have an address or don't want people coming to your location, skipping this part is optional. Note that an address will be required for some services you use including LLC registration and payment providers. I would recommend seriously considering claiming your home or office as your business address even if you don't want foot traffic. You can always claim a Google listing and "hide" the address part. That's how Google accommodates what they call "Service Area Businesses".
Decide on one of the following formats and stick with it.
|(555) 555-5555||Most common and easiest to remember. Used by most online listing sites.|
|555-555-5555||Acceptable, but less common.|
|555.555.5555||Rarely used by official business listings, so I would avoid this since you probably won't be able to maintain consistency.|
|Adding +1||Recommended for international businesses.|
Your website will be the hub of your online existence and everything else you do online will be an effort meant to encourage search engines to prefer delivering your website higher on the page for the most relevant search results.
If you already have a website, you need to decide on the format that you're going to show it in. Really, you're going to decide if you're going to use the www. or not. This might change in the future, but I prefer to use www. in my domain because it's my name and doesn't sound like a website while I say it outloud unless I start with www. That's very subjective and may very well not be true, but I've made my decision and so should too.
Does your target audience say the "www" when verbalizing a website? If they do, you might consider using it.
If you don't have a website yet, consider the exercise you just did while planning your business name. If possible, your domain name should be exactly your business name. It's always an extra challenge to market your business when your domain isn't your brand.
Go to godaddy.com or domains.google.com and start searching for domain names. You'll see a lot of options for websites with alternative endings to .com, but those add some difficulty to your SEO efforts since your marketing audience most likely hasn't become as comfortable with that yet.
Keeping your URL short has many benefits. For one, search engines won't display the entire URL if it's longer than 50 characters. Also, when you eventually want to run ads, you'll want to add what are called "vanity URL's" to your domain name. For example: joeconsulting.com/services or prettyweddingcakes.com/mesa-arizona. That is more effective if your domain is shorter as opposed to this: smithqualityautorepairphoenix.com/oil-change. See the difference?
Upcoming Articles In This Series
- Website Necessities For One-Person Businesses
- Existing Online: Business Listings & Citations
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