There is an infinite amount of advice on the Internet about how to market a service or product. But what if you are the product? If you’re an author, a freelancer, a motivational speaker or a consultant, then you have services, yes. But sometimes, it helps if you are also your brand. In that case, you’re marketing yourself just as much as your product. For the sake of this blog post, we’ll call this process “You Marketing.”
As you’ll see below, some elements of You Marketing are identical to marketing an organization. Content is, and always will be, king. Social media should be used as a tool for engagement and not as a billboard. However, because You Marketing is so completely wrapped up in a single person, the level of engagement should be much higher. Greater emphasis should also be put on thought leadership as opposed to customer reviews. So … how do you market you?
Become an expert:
It’s important to point out that this should have already happened, long before you begin the marketing process. In order for people to begin to respect and hire you, you have to be the best. Or at least pretty darn close to it. Read as much news as you can about your industry. Talk to seasoned professionals. Write down all the reasons that someone should hire you, including past experience and successful case studies.
You Marketing means being able to “walk the walk” as well as you “talk the talk.” To do that, you’ll need to have a strong sense of the hot topics in your industry so that you can talk coherently about how you are either fixing or making use of those topics. This process is crucial; it’s going to be your material from now on.
Find your audience on social media:
While a segment of your audience is on every social media platform, it’s extraordinarily tedious to manage upwards of seven different platforms. Instead devote your energy to the three platforms that most cater to your audience. There’s a little trial and error to this, but in general use this outline as to help pick your platforms:
- Facebook: Most of the population has a Facebook, but it’s especially important if your audience consists of moms, or your industry is food or retail.
- Twitter: Nearly every techie is on Twitter. This is the one tool I believe is essential for any self-promoter because it’s really oriented toward thought leadership (more on that later). Also, if you have a strong personality, Twitter will most easily help you tie that personality with your brand.
- Instagram/Pinterest: If you’re a designer, fashionista, cook, or work with any visual medium, these platforms will work well for you.
- LinkedIn: Every consultant should have a LinkedIn. I also think every motivational speaker should as well; it’s helpful to show that you’ve got plenty of experience in the field. Also, because LinkedIn caters to professional discussions, you can join groups and demonstrate your expertise (see Step 1) in the discussions.
- Google Plus: If you’re a blogger, videographer, author or similar artist, Google Plus is a good choice. It really helps with SEO, and there are plenty of niche groups (from photography to song writing), in which you’ll be able to find other experts in your industry who are willing to provide advice.
- YouTube: If you’ve got a strong personality, you may be very adept at shining in front of a camera. You could also consider a podcast to keep in touch with your followers. This is a good idea for consultants wishing to provide quick advice (see Step 3).
Develop excellent content:
As you can guess, this step isn’t that different from how a typical organization should behave online. And just like a typical organization, it’s one of the most important steps you can take. Why on earth would anyone spend money on your product if all they see from you is spammy, unorganized, or unhelpful content? Your social media presence will likely help people form their first impressions of you, so you should make the most of that opportunity.
If you don’t know what kind of content to produce, here are some ideas:
- Authors: Weekly updates on how your latest work is going. Tips on how to develop plot lines, characters, themes, etc. Advice on how to get published.
- Motivational Speakers: Snippets from your presentations. Public speaking tips. Your most embarrassing public speaking story. A white paper filled with details from your latest presentation.
- Consultant: Tips for making a process more efficient. Contests for one-hour sessions at half-price or free. Your comments on a latest industry trend or discovery.
A common theme here is value. If you sincerely help people with your content, they’ll be much more likely to engage with you on a transactional level.
Reach out to bloggers and other influencers:
Thought leadership is huge in You Marketing. Essentially, by becoming a “thought leader,” you’ve earned the respect of your community, which includes customers, business partners, and the media. The thought leaders in your industry are the “experts” you see mentioned in blog posts or media articles. Cultivate thought leadership by providing great content and then reaching out to media influencers to help show off that content. Offer to become a source for an article. Write guest posts. Editorialize things. Then use analytics programs (such as Google Analytics) to see if you’ve gotten any increases in website traffic from these sources. If you have, you’ve got a relationship you’ll want to cultivate.
Respond, respond, respond:
This is one of the key differences between marketing a small business and You Marketing. The expected level of engagement is much higher because you’re a person instead of a business, and people naturally expect you to act differently. Respond like a person would: engaging with every comment, answering all questions, thanking people for complimenting you or your service. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s an important step. Remember from Step 1 that you need to be the best. Impress your customers with high levels of engagement, and you’ll be right on track.
Other ways to engage include contests, Twitter chats, Facebook questions and polls, Google Hangouts, and podcasts. Don’t limit yourself to one social media outlet either. You could ask people a question on Twitter and answer it in your next YouTube video. You can summarize a Google Hangout on Facebook. Insights from LinkedIn discussions make excellent blog posts.
Putting it together:
Remember, you have to 1) Be the best, or close to it, 2) Create excellent content, 3) Establish yourself as a thought leader by reaching out to influencers in your industry, and 4) Spur high levels of engagement by responding to all posts from your audience. Do this, and who knows? You may become a thought leader in You Marketing.