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The ease and success with which any of us manage a task often comes down to the quality of our tools, even in business. If you’re just starting out as a freelance trainer or you want to give your training business an overhaul, there are seven tools that you should aim to have in your marketing toolbox.
A clear brand
The Business Dictionary defines a brand as “Unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer’s mind”.
We could dedicate a whole post to creating a brand as it’s an essential part of defining your offering and one that will shape the future direction of your business. As an overview, think about what your brand will look like:
- What are your brand colours?
- What fonts will you use?
- What will your logo look like?
- What sort of images will you use?
- What benefits does your brand offer your clients?
- What values do you want your brand to be associated with?
- How will you speak to your clients?
- How do you want to be recognised within your industry?
- Are there areas in which you want to be seen as an authority?
- How will your brand appeal to your target clients?
These are all questions to ask to help you shape your brand. It’s important to think about everything from the visual aspects of your brand to the words you use. For example, people associate different colours with different qualities – red is energetic, blue is dependable, purple sparks the imagination, orange is creative and confident – so which colours would speak to your target market? Check out this blog from the Logo Company about the psychology of colour in logo design for more thoughts on this topic.
Website domain, host and website
Once you understand what your brand should look and sound like, it is far easier to create a website about your training services, whether you do it yourself or brief a web designer.
According to a survey by Clutch in 2016, only 54% of small businesses currently have a website, and yet a study by the Acquity Group in 2014 found that 94% of business buyers do some form of online research before contacting a company, with 84.3% checking the website first. More recent figures are hard to come by but, with the growing use of mobile devices, this figure is likely to have increased.
Knowing this, having a website can help you stand out from almost 50% of your competitors. For this reason, securing the best web domain for your business and having a website to mark your presence in the marketplace is number two in our essential marketing toolbox.
A professional email address
People can make sweeping assumptions about you and your business based on your email address. For example, call yourself Catlady77@yahoo.com and you’re telling your clients about the big love of your life – your feline companions – and that, in all likelihood, you were born in 1977. Are these the first things you want your clients to know about you? Although there’s nothing wrong with being a cat lover with a milestone birthday in 2017, are these details relevant to what makes you a great trainer? Probably not.
You might also want to rethink using ISP domains in your email address. People associate AOL addresses with the 40-60-year-old age group, while Hotmail and Yahoo are predominantly associated with 40-somethings and, according to recruitment website Monster, suggest that your “understanding of technology is stuck in 1999”. If you must go for an ISP domain email address, Gmail is probably safest.
The better option, in my experience, is to create an email address that mirrors your website domain, e.g. Sharon@thetrainerstrainingcompany.co.uk as it shows consistency across your online presence and control of your brand.
It may sound like a suggestion from the dark ages, but it’s worth having a batch of business cards on hand, especially if you’re likely to attend face-to-face networking events, such as Trainer Talk Live.
You never know who you might meet in the course of an average day – a friend of a friend, a parent in the school playground, or the person in front of you at the supermarket checkout could all potentially be someone you want to tell about your business. Having business cards to hand means that you always have a way of spreading the word about your services.
Customer relationship management (CRM) processes
I recommend having procedures in place to reach out to potential clients or follow-up on enquiries. For example, if someone emails you about your services, you could send an immediate response but then send a follow-up email two to three days later to ask if the enquirer received your response and whether they have any further questions or whether they would like to schedule a time to chat about their training needs over the phone.
Having a procedure in place for each stage in the client journey, from initial enquiry until after the training has been delivered, can help to ensure that you don’t lose potential customers to your competitors. There are a number of CRM systems, free and paid-for, that help you manage these processes.
Mailing list/lead capture
We recently wrote about how and why you should grow your mailing list as a freelance trainer. Every business should cultivate a mailing list. This is data that you own with contact details for people who have given permission for you to tell them about your services. It is far easier to sell to people on your mailing list than to someone who has never heard of your business before. Growing your mailing list should always be a marketing priority, therefore aim to always have some form of lead capture mechanism that you can use in your marketing.
Social media presence
Finally, given that 74% of people rely on social media to guide their purchasing decisions and 60% of us interact with brands we buy from on social media, it makes sense to equip your marketing toolbox with a social media presence. The platforms you choose to occupy will depend on your audience and where they’re likely to hang out online – as the most popular platform, Facebook is always a good starting point.
Is there anything else that you consider to be a marketing toolbox essential for start-up freelance trainers or trainers who are keen to grow their business? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments below.