All businesses look at solving a problem through a solution. So why should freelancers be any different? If you’re in business for yourself or want to be, you need to think about what kind of solution you’re offering. If you’re solving a problem, that’s a good start. If you’re just “doing stuff,” you may need to rethink. If you are a freelancer, it is important to look at yourself as a solution provider.
“As a freelancer, you should do the same – offer a solution. Of course, you need to promote your services so that clients can find you to offer them a solution. You can offer solutions, but there are many different problems, so it is difficult to say that you solve them all. You can pick one (or three or four) and say, “I can help you do XX,” says David Gargaro, Consulting Editor.
Offer a solution through your service
It is important to understand a basic difference here. As a freelancer, you might be offering a service to your customer. But through that service you need to address a need or solve the problem of your customer.
“My business coach would say this is the difference between the features of a business and the benefits. I’ve conditioned myself to think that I offer solutions – through my services. I think it does bring a different perspective, seeing my company through customers’ eyes as opposed to my own,” says Diane Hall, Virtual Right-Hand Woman.
Understanding customer needs is the first step
“Freelancers are engineers and artists who use words to create strategic masterpieces that speak. Bearing this in mind, we freelancers are responsible for understanding the client’s need and strategizing a path forward that helps the client sell their product/service, maintain and keep happy clients/customers,” says Nazareen Ebrahim, Owner at Naz Consulting.
Keeping this in mind, as a freelancer it is important to understand what you customer wants. This holds true for any profession. If you are in the business of offering a solution then you have to know what the problem is or what the need is. Engaging with your customer in understanding, strategizing and then offering the solution is the core of a freelancer’s job.
Solution centric approach means more ‘moolah’
“I think that if your services are offered in anyway in exchange for dollars for hours – get a different business model. By offering solutions you can vary the delivery channels – increasing your income streams: info products, classes, tutorials, coaching, etc. This way, you’re in the drivers’ seat instead of the client meaning you make money whether they decide to hire you or not,” opines Barbara S., Creative Director, Publisher at IASECP Magazine.
Relook at the way you are freelancing. Offering a solution not only increases your credibility in the market, it also helps you interact more with the client. The result is: regular work and greater client confidence. The client starts taking you more seriously and values you time and effort more than before. Also a solution centric approach helps you look at your business from the eyes of the customer instead of just yours.
Use your experience to offer a solution
“I deliver seminars on starting your own small business as well as how to write your book proposal and sell it through the traditional route – are our expertise and lessons learned, which we are sharing. I used to give my time away for free – but people take it all much more seriously if they commit, and our clients’ hard earned money is a great incentive to do something with their gained knowledge,” says Tanya F., Mentor Helping Transform Your Ideas Into Publication at Book Proposal Mentor.
Helping customers with online seminars on starting your own small business or how to write your book proposal are just some examples of how you can help your customer address a need. You can effectively use your experience and expertise to solve your customer’s problems and also get paid for it.
To conclude: All customers out there are hungry for solutions and someone who can help ‘fix things’. A Businessweek article argues the case of freelancers as solution provider in the best possible way. It says “Service providers come and go, but solution providers stick around.”
Some companies have brilliantly used social media to gain visibility and market their products. Coca Cola was recently named as the brand “making the best use of Facebook”. ‘Expedition 206’ was the largest social media project ever by Coca Cola. In the B2Bspace, Dell has effectively used Twitter to connect with its customers. Even the ‘Go Green’ campaign by Dell is an excellent example of using Facebook to generate interest.
Today, if your business is not on the social network you are losing out on a huge marketing opportunity that exists in the online world. If your target audience is there, then doesn’t it make sense for you to be there too?
Why should your business be on the social network?
- Reach out to a global audience: Today’s customers are not location based. They could be in Kolkata or California. As a marketer you need to reach out to all like-minded people in the most cost effective and impactful way.
- Create the hype: Remember the Zoozoo campaign by Vodafone and the hype it created? It was one of the most successful online campaigns that was carried out and had a fan following of millions residing on the internet. It is also one of the best campaigns that used print, electronic and social media in the most integrated fashion. You can easily achieve faster word-of-mouth publicity with social media campaigns.
- Connect with and motivate customers: Launching schemes, running online contests, awarding loyal customers. The interactivity of the online world has a lot to offer. A marketer can easily use this to connect with customers.
- Create brand awareness: Especially for B2B companies Linked In, Twitter and targeted groups can help in creating brand value in the cheapest and the most effective ways.
- Thought leadership: Blogs, communities, forums are some of the best means to position your company as a thought leader. These are the segments where you can tap your potential customer. By genuinely and intelligently answering in the numerous online conversations and sending out informative articles, you can build thought leadership in your domain.
- More visitors to your website/blog: By posting informative links on your social media accounts, you can garner move views, click-throughs, and conversions. Google now takes social media into account too and will do it even more in future. Having your relevant keywords in the posts will help.
- Lead generation: At the end of the day, everything boils down to sales. Social media has proved to be an effective approach to generate leads. Especially Search Engine Monetization and optimization are tools which are beneficial in this.
Even though it is a relatively new medium, the battle for consumer attention has become tough already. Using it intelligently can get you the right benefits.
Some social media goof ups:
- Not having a dedicated social media objective: Every company cannot just generate leads through social media. The objectives could be related to number of conversations, positive comments, brand impact, and so on. What is it that you want at the end of the campaign? What do you want to achieve? This must be clearly defined right at the beginning.
- Providing delayed or no response: Your audience is on the internet all the time. You cannot afford to have a lazy approach to response. In the online world prompt response speaks volumes about the brand.
- Not deploying dedicated resources: Social media as a space is relatively new and is constantly emerging. It’s important to have a dedicated specialist executing and monitoring the activity. No seriousness, insufficient content, no tactics to attract people, delayed responses – will only aid failure of your social media efforts. You should have a genuine attitude to help customers and give intelligent info to them.
- Only dictating and not interacting: Social media is all about interactions and conversations. Communication has to be two-way to create an impact. Participate and succeed.
- Not monitoring your brand name online: One negative comment can have a ripple effect and spoil your efforts, but if you are in the loop, you can give it a positive twist to negative comments and also learn what your competitors are doing on the online social space.
To conclude: Social media is a medium that cannot be ignored. To achieve best results marketers have to look at using all pillars: print, electronic and social media in tandem to get the maximum return on investment.
Article submitted by: Swati Swayamprava
As an Internet marketer, what is the first step you need to take to get your business offerings noticed? Many of you will definitely emphasize on providing useful, value added content because nothing draws audience (and future clients) better than content. And with this content are built certain connections or relationships, which may last long enough to lead to a financial transaction or short enough to make a good impact (to say the least). The time-span of the relationship also depends on your actions. To go by industrial statistics, 70-80% of the cases who consistently provided good content have had their efforts paid off, quite richly.
Building those great relationships is not rocket science either! It is surprising, how simply certain taken-for-granted human rules can be nurtured to bear the fruit of successful sales or even referrals for your business, recommendations for your products or retweets to your events. Here are some insights into those human attributes:
1. Connections Through Reciprocation
Conversation – an ingrained human trait. A good marketer believes in taking advantage of this and offers worth, which in future forms something as colossal as a large profit margin. Experts call it, “the fine art of reciprocation”. Start and encourage dialogues, participate in ongoing conversations, offer and accept advice through all online and offline channels.
In today’s marketing parlance, content that rewards its readers with profits even before they know that a sale is in the picture, is called value addition. The content provider who makes a mark gets a due return. So if your reader knows a lot about how the use of blue tooth technology can help him, from the content he has read on your blog, he will make sure to buy that blue-tooth enabled handset you are offering.
2. Connections Through Comparison
Evaluation against a competitor is not the only comparison that is made in the marketing arena. Sometimes the buyer compares himself with the successful role model that the seller flaunts in order to grab attention! It is fairly common that the buyer compares himself with that winner and wonders if he has a similar streak.
It is here that a marketer must pitch in, and set right that comparison. During marketing to a large organization, the seller must have a larger and more successful firm as the example whereas selling to a startup does not require that elaborate a case study. For the latter, some morale boosting supplemented with a good pitch will suffice to make the required impact.
3. Connections Through Attention
Most humans crave for it and some successful ones are able to actually get it. A thriving marketer consistently needs to be in the latter category for making sales happen. After all, successful brands are those who have grabbed the much required eyeballs at the right time and managed to stay in the limelight for years together. Paying attention to customer needs and offering valuable content is essential.
4. Connections Through Recurrence
After getting the vital publicity, the usual tendency to bask in the glory of the achievement could be fatal. During building a relationship that blossoms from valuable content, a marketer must ensure that he nurtures it through steady, constant follow-up with literature that continues to add value and make sense. Be it a webinar, a podcast, a free email newsletter, blog feeds – the prospect should get used to your subject matter and start looking forward to the difference your content makes in his life even before he has paid you anything.
This builds trust and reliability that is definitely not going away anywhere.
5. Connections Through Expression
Extremely essential as well as delicate is the science of expression, especially when it comes to promotional literature. The tremendous importance of maintaining the thin line, between problem sharing and cribbing; transparency and over-sharing; describing and boasting; scrutinizing and criticizing in your content cannot be over emphasized. A tad gone wrong and all those carefully cultivated relationships go down the drain, instantaneously. Your content must give out the right message in the right way.
By reminiscing over these aspects of human relationships and building your content upon any one (your forte) or even all of them, could make a significant difference in your business. All said and done, haven’t these age old societal connections met with successes time and again?
Are you struggling with getting the right inputs from your clients? A good brief from the client is half the job done, but if your client is unable to put his thoughts together, here are some questions that you can ask to get the information that will help you write content that cannot get rejected. These questions are for sub-webpages that are related to a specific service, but many of these questions are useful for any other kind of marketing content writing requirements. So, here are the top 10 questions to ask while collecting information for service/product related webpages:
1. Service name
2. Overview of the service
3. Details of sub-offerings that would go under this service
4. What are the possible requirements of the customers looking for this service? What are the business challenges faced by the visitors for which they are looking for a solution?
5. How are your services different from others in this domain? Why should a visitor select your service?
6. How would the customer benefit through your offerings?
7. Do you follow any standards/framework/methodologies to deliver your service?
8. Do you have any industry alliances/accolades/certifications/recognitions for this service?
9. What are the infrastructure related advantages that you have for this offering – company size, locations, geographies, facilities, tools and technology, etc.?
10. What is the level of expertise that you have in this service domain? What are the strengths of your company’s team in this domain – range of skills, experience, training, background, numbers, etc.?
Feel free to add more questions to this list.