Introduction to marketing for freelancers

Marketing is described as being "The process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of goods, services and ideas to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organisation objectives."

Or a simpler version could be "The process of identifying and reaching specific segments of a population for the purposes of selling them a product or service."

Either way do not get confused between sales and marketing, as many small businesses do, tactics for the two disciplines may overlap but they are not the same.

Marketing, and within that discipline, market research, is the first step whereby you research the market by defining who might buy your product or service and on what basis and for what cost in order to return a viable profit, before creating awareness and motivating demand for it. Market research, at its fundamental level, will indicate whether there is a market for an existing product or service, or not, or if that service needs to be adapted to suit demand. The successful sales process then meets that demand.

Over the years marketing has become a multi-faceted discipline. Not only do UK businesses operate globally, but methods of communicating with potential buyers has exploded as technology advances. Direct, viral, relationship, affiliate, ‘social marketing, the list seems endless. It's a fairly well known fact that each of us is bombarded with 3,000 marketing messages each day by a variety of media. It makes reaching your customer a more skilful business. However, taking centre stage in the marketing arena in recent years is the progression of accountability. Sophisticated mechanisms for tracking interest and sales provide the science aspect of marketing while honing the ever-evolving creativity in dreaming up attention-grabbing marketing and advertising remains the art.

Your sales and marketing efforts will need to continuously evolve if you're to remain successful. As well as customer acquisition, you need to think about customer retention. Also, to keep customers you need to continue to research and monitor (or better still pre-empt) changing demands from those customers, to stay a step ahead of your competitors.

To increase profit you need to either streamline your outgoing costs or increase turnover. To increase your turnover you need to sell more of your services, either more often, or to more people, or for more money.

More on sales and marketing for freelancers.