The ease and success with which any of us manage a task often come down to the quality of our tools, even in business. If you’re just starting 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:

Marketing toolbox essential #1: A clear brand

Branding is a way of identifying your training business. It’s more than just a logo. Your brand should reach to every aspect of your business, reflecting your values and being how your customers recognise and experience working with you.

To work, a brand needs to have a clear and consistent look and tone of voice. People need to recognise the qualities, strengths and personality of your business in a way that resonates with them.

You’ll find several posts dedicated to creating a brand here on the blog (check out the branding and marketing blueprint for freelance trainers) 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 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?
  • What are your brand colours?
  • Which fonts will you use?
  • What will your logo look like?
  • What sort of images will you use?

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.

Marketing toolbox essential #2: 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 stats from 2019, only 64% of small businesses currently have a website, and yet it’s believed that up to 80% of potential customers do some form of online research before contacting a company.

Knowing this, having a website can help you stand out from more than a third 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.

If you can’t afford a completely bespoke website, you could always look at free or inexpensive platforms such as WordPress, Wix or Squarespace.

Another reason to have a website, if you still need convincing, is that you have complete control over the content. While a social media presence is important too, the truth is that all of your social media posts, data and followers belong to the platform you’re on. If the rules or algorithms change, you could suddenly find your training business losing visibility. A website is yours to shape as you want.

Marketing toolbox essential #3: A professional email address

People can make sweeping assumptions about you and your business based on your email address. For example, call yourself 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 2027, 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 safest.

The better option, in my experience, is to create an email address that mirrors your website domain, e.g. as it shows consistency across your online presence and control of your brand.

Marketing toolbox essential #4: Business cards

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 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.

Marketing toolbox essential #5: 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 several CRM systems, free and paid-for, that help you manage these processes.

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree & I will spend four sharpening the axe." Quote by Abraham Lincoln

Marketing toolbox essential #6: Mailing list/lead capture

Every business should cultivate a mailing list. This is data that you own with contact details for people who have permitted 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.

Marketing toolbox essential #7: Social media presence

Finally, given that 90% of people connect with brands and businesses 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. You can check out my social media marketing hub for articles specifically focused on how to use social media as a freelance trainer.

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? What did you think you’d need but haven’t used? What wouldn’t you be without? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

(This article was first published in 2017 and was updated in June 2020)



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