Sometimes it takes an objective observer to point out the obvious.
A few months ago, I was at a dinner with some fellow PROFIT columnists, when two of them, Jacquelyn Cyr and Laura Williams, asked me what type of marketing I did for my gift wrapping consultancy. "None," I said.
I then proceeded to mention that I have a gift wrapping blog; am on Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn; and publish a gift wrapping newsletter. Jacquelyn and Laura pointed out that all of that, everything I had just mentioned, plus writing this column, was marketing.
Ever since I launched my company, I considered my blog a means to promote my skills and establish my expertise. As a freelance writer, I'd even worked with businesses to utilize social media for their marketing. But saying it out loud, hearing myself talk about my own activities, shone a spotlight on how little I'd been harnessing the potential of those very tools. Sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes to see what you're already doing right—and how to do it even better.
Blogging, Twitter, and Pinterest all come very naturally to me. I've been writing various blogs since 2007; I joined Twitter in February 2009 and Pinterest in December 2010. I "get" these tools. I enjoy using them. I may even be addicted to them. They are all seamlessly part of both my personal and professional lives. But that doesn't mean I can't use them better.
Up to now, I've been blogging when I have something to share. I try to post at least three times a week, but often don't hit this mark. I believe the quality is there, but also that I could improve on the frequency and regularity. And I know that I could use my blog more to promote my work and services. To this end, I have created an editorial calendar and made a list of objectives. I am no longer blogging for its own sake—I am now blogging with purpose.
Likewise, I am trying to tweet more often about things related to gift wrapping, as well as tweeting links to my blog more frequently. For example, instead of relying solely on an auto tweet every time I publish a blog post, I try to tweet a teaser or two, telling my followers what's coming up, plus following up with additional tweets at various times that link back to older posts.
As for Pinterest, I continue to use it as a source of inspiration and content for my blog and maintain a board showcasing my own work. For me, this is the most important factor—after all, it was because one of my clients saw my work on Pinterest that she first contacted me.
The two areas where I struggle are LinkedIn and my newsletter. I know many entrepreneurs have found LinkedIn to be very useful for networking and generating leads, but I still haven't mastered it. For now, I keep my profile relatively up to date, but I don't do much more. I'll be doing more research and exploration to figure out how I can use LinkedIn for my business.
For my newsletter, I have grand plans that includes providing free downloads for subscribers and selling advertising. But for now, I'm working on developing a format that balances my big ideas with the amount of time I can actually afford to give them.
Among this mix, you'll notice one gaping hole: I haven't mentioned Facebook. While Facebook is a very powerful and excellent marketing tool for many brands—it even makes a lot of sense for my own—I'm not prepared to spend the extra time on it. I don't like Facebook for various reasons, and only have so much time for social media marketing—there's no point in doing something halfway. I'd rather not be in the space than do it badly.
I think overall, that's the key: while some marketing strategies may make sense for your brand, to do them well you need to be willing to dedicate the resources to them. Perhaps the best place to start is by looking at what you're already doing and tweaking it to work for you even better. Maybe an objective observer can even help you see your business through fresh eyes.
Corinna vanGerwen is a creative gift-wrapping consultant, the sole owner and only employee of her eponymous home-based startup, which provides gift-wrapping services, training and workshops, as well as packaging services for marketing and events.
Read more of Corinna vanGerwen's adventures in solopreneurship.