Category: marketing

How to create a simple and consistent marketing plan

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Marketing works best when you do it consistently. That means marketing yourself (your company, products, services, solutions, offers, etc.) daily, weekly and monthly. There are many experts (books, websites, services, newsletters, blogs…) that offer great advice on how self-employed professionals can improve their marketing efforts.

The best marketing advice and tools are whatever work best for you. Again, marketing only works when you do it consistently. Here are my suggestions on finding and executing the best marketing plan for you.

Discover what drives you

Identify the factors that propel you to action, as well as the factors that prevent you from moving forward. Also, associate non-action with pain. For example, the consequences of not marketing include having fewer clients, long downtimes, less income, difficulty attracting new clients, etc. Each consequence has a price to pay:

  • It’s harder to pay bills.
  • You have to work harder and longer to find clients.
  • You have to cut back on expenses.
  • You have to go out and get a “real” job.
  • You can’t buy nice (or essential) things.

Find what motivates you, and use it to drive your marketing efforts.

Create a marketing plan that aligns with your goals

Find and apply a marketing method that has worked in the past. Go through your list of clients and note how you found them (or how they found you):

  • Referrals
  • Email marketing
  • Networking
  • Cold / warm calls

The method that worked the best is your best marketing tool because it worked for you, and you are familiar (and likely comfortable) with using this method.

Take action based on your intrinsic drive

  • Treat marketing like a client project that will pay off. Set deadlines, plan a schedule, and make yourself accountable for getting it done on time.
  • Focus on DAILY, not weekly or monthly, effort.
  • Create EFFORT goals, not OUTCOME goals. That means focus on doing the marketing task (effort) rather than achieving something specific (outcome). For example, “I will email a new potential client every day.”
  • Set goals that speak to YOU. Tie the goals to your core values and vision. For example, “My goal is to make $100,000 per year, so I need to find 3 new clients this year.”
  • Get an accountability partner. Find someone to listen to your goals, and help you to ensure hat you take action.
  • Wake up earlier (or don’t watch TV / play games) to focus strictly on prospecting.
  • Turn the process into a game. Assign points for different marketing actions (e.g., writing a blog post = 5 points, sending a prospecting email = 10 points). Reward yourself for hitting a points goal, or beating your previous week’s score.

Again, the goal is to find marketing strategies that work for you so that you will repeat the actions. Make marketing part of your daily routine. Find what works for you, that is easiest for you to repeat. Keep it simple and do it consistently.

Need help with creating a simple marketing plan? Let me know –

David Gargaro

How can you position yourself as an authority to prospects and clients?

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People want to work with professionals who are experts in their field. We don’t want to work with amateur lawyers, doctors, bookkeepers, plumbers, financial planners – we want to work with people who know what they are doing. Working with knowledgeable and experienced people gives us the feeling that things will be done right (although this does not always happen).

If you are sole proprietor (like myself), consultant, self-employed, sole business owner, etc., then you should position yourself as an authority. You’ve been running your business for some time, and you obviously have the skills and experience to do the job. But you have to prove to your clients that you are capable of doing the job because you are an authority in your field.

The first step is to focus on who you are, rather than what you are. You are not just a professional writer or consultant or generic service provider. This will sound odd, but you are the only you there is. There are many writers, but you are the only writer who has your specific experience, skills and authority. Change your perception in the market’s mind. Don’t focus just on your skill level, but who you are and what makes you different.

Who you are will influence your prospects and clients. If you are an authority, then you will become in greater demand, which means you can also charge more. Your client list also affects your value. Working with high-profile clients means that you are worth more by association. They chose you because you are an authority; therefore, others will want to work with you as well.

Do not wait for the market or others to tell you that you are an expert or that you are an authority in this field or that. Your authority depends upon your mindset. Realize that you are skilled and bring value, and that you are an authority in your field. Then present yourself in this manner. This will determine how others view you.

As an authority, you know more about your given topic than anyone else. Make sure that you make this fact known – on your website, in your social media, when you talk to prospects and clients. That does not mean bragging “I am the best.” It means demonstrating your knowledge when required. Focus on where your business is seen, and how prospects perceive your business.

To be viewed as an authority, associate with other authorities. Interview experts in your field, and related areas, and give them exposure – this will allow you to be seen as an expert as well. Are you a marketing writer? Interview marketing experts, and authors with marketing books. Every field has its published experts and authorities. It’s up to you to find them, and ask them to speak about what they do best. Share these best practices with your clients and prospects. Now you’re an authority.

Do you need help with becoming an authority – writing articles, blog posts, etc.? Are you an authority in your field, and want to talk about what you know? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Two shortcuts to writing better headlines for articles and blog posts

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Whether you want to write an article, a newsletter, a blog post or even an email, your goal is to ensure that it gets read by as many people as possible. Creating an effective headline is the best way to achieve this goal. A well-written headline will increase the likelihood of your content being read. You could have amazing content, but if the headline does not attract the reader, what’s the point?

I’ve written several posts on writing more effective headlines:

Even with all that great content, here are two shortcuts that can help you to be more efficient at writing headlines.

Follow a formula or template to write a headline

This enables you to stick to an effective structure and will make it more efficient when putting together headings. Here is one formula for writing list-type articles: X ways / things / ideas to [achieve a desired result / rid yourself of undesired result] in [given time period].

For example:

  • 10 ways to write emails that sell within 10 days
  • 10 ways to double your sales in one month

Write 10-15 different headlines for the same topic

Repetition will help you to find new and interesting ways to say the same thing, and will uncover the key points that will attract your reader. It will enable you to discard the bad ideas when better ideas come along. Practice makes perfect, and coming up with multiple headlines for each article will make you a better writer.


These shortcuts will help you to write more effective headlines in less time. Once you get the hang of writing headlines, you will become an expert at it, and will definitely an increase in reader response.

Do you have any suggestions on writing better headlines? Do you want help with writing more effective headlines? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Contacting potential clients with short prospecting emails

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Sending cold emails to potential clients is an effective way of marketing your services and attracting clients. There are three essential elements that will help to make your prospecting emails more effective:

  1. Personalization: Speak directly to the person you are trying to reach. Don’t send the same email to every person. Customize your email for that one person.
  2. Relevance: Ensure that the content of your email is important to the recipient. Focus on what is important and what you are trying to achieve.
  3. Brevity: Keep your email short and on point.

Effective prospecting emails should also do the following:

  • Begin with a strong subject line. Make a meaningful connection to your reader. The statement should tie what you do to something you noticed about the prospect (i.e., their problem, needs, what they do).
  • Tie the body of the email to your subject heading. Make that meaningful connection that continues from the heading through the rest of your content. Include a value statement, which explains what you do, for whom, and what makes you different.
  • Provide a link to your website (a specific page is best). The reader should be able to learn about you, find relevant samples of what you do, testimonials, success stories, etc.
  • Make a soft invitation to connect – do not make a hard sell.
  • Wrap up your email with a solid email signature that ties into the subject heading.

Do you need help with writing prospecting emails? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Five ways to build your personal brand

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Most successful businesses have a recognizable brand. Their customers think of them when they need a particular product or service, and associate that company’s image or brand with what they need to buy. Freelancers, solopreneurs, consultants, one-person businesses, and other “one-person” operations can also differentiate themselves by developing a personal brand. The goal is to stand out and be remembered, so your clients and potential clients will think of you first.

So, how do you go about building a personal brand?

Identify your key challenge

What difficulties or hardships did you have to overcome to get to where you are today? How did you decide to provide the product or service that your clients want? Tell your personal story of challenge and triumph. As with every story, start at the beginning (the obstacle), describe how you overcame it, and show where you are today.

State what you learned

Your challenges should have taught you something – how to overcome difficulties, how to do things better, how to be better at what you do, how to solve other’s problems. Take what you learned and share it with others. Show your passion to others, and they will want to know more about you, and work with you as well.

Show how you are qualified to do what you do

What characteristics did you develop in overcoming the obstacle? Are you more efficient, tenacious, creative, intelligent, experienced, etc.? State how these qualities have made you better – as a person and as a business person. Identify your energy – what drives you to be better? Show how you give back, and are part of the community you serve.

Identify your clients’ key challenges

Know your audience and what motivates them. Do they face the same challenges you did? Show them how to overcome those obstacles. Understand your clients’ struggles, and how they feel, as well as what they want to achieve. Use your story to show how you overcame similar challenges, and use your energy and knowledge to help them get past those obstacles.

Create an identifiable tagline

Your tagline, slogan, message, etc. should express your knowledge, energy, abilities and/or skills. It should summarize your essence and how you feel after overcoming your obstacles. It should also be genuine and true to who you are. Keep the tagline short – a few words to a sentence.


You have a personal style, as well as experiences that are unique to you. Creating a personal brand is an extension of who you are, and can help to differentiate you in the minds of your clients. Show your clients that you understand what is important to them, and that you have the experience to help them meet their needs.

What is your personal brand? How did you create your brand? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Eleven ways to make the most of your marketing emails

pexels-photo-1005638There are many ways to reach out to potential or existing clients to market yourself, your business, your products and services, or just to make yourself known. Consider the following ideas when writing your marketing emails.

  1. Introductory email: Introduce yourself to potential clients without selling anything. Explain who you are and what you do. You can state that you are a fan of the client’s company, and that you want to connect on social media. This is a good way to build the relationship and get to know each other.
  2. Hard sell email: This is the opposite of the first email. The goal of your email is to sell your product or service, and encourage the reader to buy from you.
  3. Soft sell email: This email goes a little further than #1, but not as far as #2. Introduce yourself in the email and discuss what you do.
  4. Social media email: Ask the recipient to connect with you on LinkedIn, Facebook or wherever you happen to want to connect. Make sure to introduce yourself and ask/provide an email address/way to connect.
  5. Blog post email: Mention a blog post or article you wrote, and why it would interest the reader. It is a great way to share information and show your knowledge.
  6. In the area email: Tell the reader that you are meeting other clients in the area, and that you would like to pay them a visit. (This is akin to the company doing contracting work in your area.)
  7. Name drop email: Mention a common acquaintance, and why it matters.
  8. Ask for advice email: Ask direct questions to get feedback on a topic. It helps to establish the relationship in a different way, and it might get them to contact you.
  9. Free help email: Offer the prospect free advice or assistance on an issue that matters to them. It enables you to introduce yourself and explain your expertise. You can then describe the help you are offering and how it will be delivered.
  10. Meet my friend email: Offer to connect/refer a person who can help them with their business. The goal is to help others (you help two parties with one email). Make sure to check in later to see how it went, and build your relationship further.
  11. I think we met email: Mention to the reader that you met at an event. Reintroduce yourself and the circumstances, and explain what you do, how to help and so on.

Do you have suggestions on other types of marketing emails? Let me know –

David Gargaro

What drives your content?

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What is the driving force behind the content in your organization? Who or what is responsible for your sales and marketing materials, website content, newsletters, email campaigns, press releases, case studies, etc.?

You might answer that your creative team or your marketing department determines this content. Or you might say that the owner, management or other member of the leadership group is responsible for overall content direction. Perhaps you’re a one-person show, and you write every word that leaves your business.

The best answer is: the market. Your market (your target audience, your clients, etc.) should determine your content. Your market will provide a better response to content that they desire and demand. You should be developing content that responds to your market’s wants and needs. Let the market tell you want it wants to read, and then provide it to them.

You choose the market to service – the market chooses the content it wants to purchase. If you choose to write for a niche, then let that niche tell you what you should write.

If you need help with determining what content to develop, or if you need help with writing or editing the content that you have, let me know –

David Gargaro

What is that content doing for your business?

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When was the last time you reviewed your company’s client-facing documents? In addition to updating the look of your marketing content, you should determine whether it’s still doing the job for which it was intended. It’s OK to remove pieces from your marketing kit, website, etc. and either replace it or delete it entirely.

Ask yourself the following questions before you make a decision to replace or update an existing document:

  • What is the purpose of the document?
  • Who is the audience?
  • Is the message clear?
  • Is the design up to date?
  • Is the message consistent with your current business?
  • Is there a call to action? Does the document ask the reader to do something?
  • Does it produce the response you want?
  • Can it be improved?
  • Is it redundant? Is another document doing the same job better?
  • Is it still necessary? Does the document refer to cancelled products or services?

If the document no longer works, then get rid of it. It’s likely that you won’t miss it, and you can probably improve on the message. If you need help with adding, deleting or updating content, let me know –

David Gargaro

Market your services differently to different stages of clients

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All freelancers and businesses should market their products and services to potential and existing clients. However, you should market to different types of clients in different ways. Catering your marketing activities enables you to turn suspects (i.e., potential prospects) into prospects and then turn prospects into customers. You can then turn customers into premium clients, who will pay more for your services, and eventually become champions.

Following this marketing plan produces a number of benefits, including:

  • Qualifying your prospects
  • Getting permission from prospects to market to them
  • Providing low barriers to try products and services
  • Focusing on over-delivering on purchases
  • Getting clients to try new products and services
  • Generating referrals and exposure

One of the best ways to market to suspects is to provide free information, such as articles, reports, case studies, white papers, ebooks, newsletters, etc. Once they accept your offer, they become prospects and provide permission for you to market introductory services and products that enable them to try you out and see if they want to proceed with your other services.

Once a prospect has become a client, your goal should be to identify and market to your premium clients – those who are willing to pay for more premium and exclusive products and services. They may become repeat customers, or pay higher rates for customized services. The ultimate goal is to turn premium clients into champions who will refer other clients to you and serve as part of your sales and marketing team. You can encourage referrals with rewards and loyalty programs that pay back referrals with some sort of benefit (e.g., membership, discounts, points, finders’ fees).

How do you market to prospects and clients? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Turn your processes into a marketing tool

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An interesting way to market your services (as I learned from John Jantsch’s book Duct Tape Marketing) is to turn your processes as a marketing tool. All of your marketing, fulfillment, delivery, and customer service processes or systems can become parts of your marketing toolbox.

Naming those systems produces several positive results:

  • It forces you to document and use those systems.
  • Since the system has a name, your clients will assume that you will deliver as promised.
  • It helps to establish a level of professionalism and consistency.
  • You will get buy-in from other team members, including yourself.
  • It will help to reinforce your core message.
  • You can write articles to promote your systems and processes.
  • It will help with developing complementary products and services.

I worked with a company that helps their clients to become more efficient and develop publicity by naming their systems, services and processes. Named processes were also trademarked, so they were given extra credence and weight. It’s part of their marketing package, and it has been very effective. Their goals are much the same as the ones listed above, and they’ve grown their business by helping other businesses name their processes. The ultimate goal was to become “famous” for the named process so that people would contact them because of that process. The process became the brand.

Give your system or process a name, and people will remember it. Who would you call – a generic freelance editor who provides a range of editing services, or an editor who offers “The Five Star Review”?

What would you call your branded service? Let me know –

David Gargaro