Time to build traffic and prospects with a simple marketing plan.

I work with firms of all sizes, including individual professionals just starting or branching out. They build a website, sit back, and wait for clients. I hate to be the one to break the bad news, but launching your website is like placing your business sign on your basement wall. No one will show up unless you market your firm.

Marketing doesn’t have to be a complex or expensive exercise, but it does require some initial and ongoing effort. I focused on keeping this as simple as possible, choosing just a few tactics that will generate interest without relying on expensive and unpredictable advertising options.

Ever receive a message that’s timely, relevant, and interesting? Makes you feel good about the person who sent it, right? You’re going to be that person. Here’s a four step plan:

  1. Make a list. Who do you know today? Think about your friends and family, neighbors, other business contacts, associations, and any lists to which you may have access. Set a goal. If you know 100 people, challenge yourself to build an email list of 150. Remember that each name doesn’t have to be the perfect prospect. You’re going to provide an educational message which those folks will want share with other relevant contacts. Starting to get it?
  2. Send something. The only ground rule is to keep it relevant and educational – never a sales pitch! Write a short article on a timely topic, or comment on someone else’s article. Start a blog, with short, witty commentary and recommendations. Combine two blogs into a more formal newsletter. Send via email, the LinkedIn Update feature, LinkedIn Groups, Twitter, etc. Just pick one idea to start.
  3. Grow your list. Set a goal to add 10 new contacts each week. Could be prospective clients, new LinkedIn contacts, respondents to your messages, peers, neighbors, people you meet at business events, etc. Everyone you meet is a direct or indirect source of business.
  4. Repeat. Sending something out a couple of times a month is fine. Start simple, but you’ll need to allocate time each week or you’ll suffer the “one-and-done” fate of 90+% of the folks who try this.Try blocking a recurring time slot on your calendar.

Don’t expect overwhelming results with your first message, but you’ll see improvement as your readers come to expect your interesting and educational content. Use Google Analytics to track the increase in website visitors over time.

What’s the total cost for this business building plan? $0-$10 per month, depending whether you want to use an email marketing tool that allows you to maintain your list and see who opened your messages. Hopefully that won’t break the budget.

I’m sure some of you will think of other simple and inexpensive ideas to augment this plan. Please share them and I’ll send out a follow-up post.

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.

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