No Time for Marketing? Hire a Freelancer.
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If you run one of the nearly 30 million small businesses in America, there's a pretty good chance that after the bills are paid, the customer is satisfied, and next month's supplies are ordered, there's very little time left for you to think about, and act on, the gaps in your marketing. For many small businesses, investing in marketing is an afterthought, and one they think they can do on their own without outside help. In fact, one in five small businesses don't even use digital marketing yet. But, if the leads dry up, the bills start going unpaid and customers are lining up on review sites to bad-mouth your business, ignoring your marketing strategy starts to look less like a smart way to save money and more like a great way to lose it.
Insert the freelance marketer.
Freelance marketers help small businesses find their voice, build their brand and close deals, leaving owners more time to focus on growing their business and nursing important client relationships. Finding the right marketer is a must for small businesses looking to stand out from competitors and take their business to the next level. If that sounds like what you're in the (pun intended) market for, read on.
The case for hiring a freelance marketer
Freelance marketers: Doing the work you can't
Whether it's not having enough bandwidth or (let's face it) talent to put together a marketing strategy that's right for your company goals, small-business owners often rely on outdated or start-and-stop tactics to get their message across. But, when the average consumer relies on 10-plus sources of information to inform a purchase decision, can you continue to afford to hope that your offline reputation, or marketing degree from 1980, will carry you to ongoing success?
According to a survey conducted by Xcellimark Agency, a digital marketing firm based out of Orlando, the No. 1 challenge facing small-business owners is content creation and marketing. As part of a conversation with Scott Lambert, president of Xcellimark Agency (and LinkedIn Pro Finder member), about how small businesses can leverage freelancers he said, "while small-business owners know their industry, they either lack the bandwidth, resources or expertise to get in front of their target audience online with the content their ideal buyers seek as part of their research, education and decision-making process."
If your company blog hasn't had a post in over a month (or, worse, if your social media pages are using outdated branding), or your website hasn't featured updated landing page content since the Bush administration, or you're one of the 29 percent of small businesses who don't even have a website yet, you're falling behind in the marketing game. And, complicating matters further is the fact that many small-business owners are approaching their marketing strategy with incomplete knowledge. "A lot of small businesses think content is just on the website. But, a good freelance marketer realizes that is just one place. You need to look at other tools out there to publish content such as social media, email, video, online press releases, ebooks, guides, white papers and case studies," says Lambert. Hiring a marketer is the surest way to ensure that you're staying on top of crucial content needs and getting in front of the audiences that matter most to your business in places they're already looking for you.
Thinking like your customers -- not like you
If creating enough content to satisfy the average B2B and B2C consumer isn't convincing enough, the other reason why small and medium-sized business owners should consider contracting a freelance marketer is because marketers know how to think like your audience. You know your business inside-and-out; but what your audience wants to know is, "Can this company solve my problem?" And chances are good that the way your audience defines your product or service isn't the same way you do. Good marketers know how to position your brand as the solution to your customers' problems by using terminology that's familiar and natural to them -- not you -- saving you a lot of time in the long run.
How to land your first freelance marketer
Prioritize your marketing needs.
While the case for why you should hire a marketer is pretty easy to make (see above!), going about getting one can be difficult if you've never hired a freelancer before, or live in a part of the country where freelance marketers are in high demand. We recommend starting your search for a freelance marketer by asking yourself what kind of work you need done immediately and zeroing in your search from there (see below!).
Additionally, when you begin reaching out to prospective freelancers, make sure that you're as clear about your timeline for deliverables as you are your goals. Having an agreed upon timeline in writing will help ensure that you and your freelancer are coming to the table with the same expectations, and help you avoid turning a blossoming professional relationship into one that's DOA.
Types of freelance marketing work: What's right for you?
Some small-business owners choose to enlist a freelance marketer for project-based needs. For example, let's say you're ready to change your website content and want to knock the whole site out in one big chunk. By hiring a freelancer for project-based work, you can save money up front and limit your exposure if for some reason the freelancer doesn't work out. Testing a freelancer with one project is common for small businesses hiring their first freelancer, and one that most freelancers are more than happy to accommodate.
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
Once you get comfortable with a freelancer, though, it may make more sense to put him or her on retainer, knowing that you have someone you can go to immediately with help on content strategy or creation, social media or anything else that may fall under your freelancer's skill set. If you're a small-business owner with ongoing content needs, then this might be the best long-term approach for you.
No matter how you slice it -- go with a real pro.
At the end of the day, finding a vetted professional to take on your small business marketing needs is all about leveraging the right creative and strategic partner who can help elevate the way you think about your business and your audience. If that's not music to the ears of overworked small-business owners everywhere, we don't know what is.