Building Your Brand: Part 2 – 10 Tips on Marketing Your Practice For Free

Now that you’ve created a brand for yourself, you need to get your message out to people.  There are certainly plenty of ways to do this by spending money, but what’s really awesome about marketing today is that the internet has made it possible to get that message out for free.

Below are my top 10 tips for marketing your brand when you’re just getting started and looking to save some cash:

1.    Start small.  Don't try to start a Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat all at once.  One thing done well will get you a lot further than 5 things done sloppily.  I'd suggest starting with a blog.  Once you get that up and running, you can use that to build your social content. 

2.    Be strategic.  Decide on when you're going to blog and stick to it.  Start with bi-monthly or weekly and increase it as you get in a groove.  Plan out your blog posts at least 3 months in advance.  You can always add in more content but when life gets busy, as it always does, you'll be thankful that you have at least the bare minimum done.  Make sure to think about holidays, special promotions, and current events when planning things out.  If the Olympics or the Presidential election are going on during the time you're scheduling your content, don't ignore them.  Find a way to relate your content to things people are already talking about, you’ll gain more traction.

3.    Use a scheduler.  You can typically schedule your blog posts via your website.  You can do the same with your social posts. It might seem super simple to just post a tweet or submit a blog but we all know that's so much easier said than done.  Don't take any chances and do it ahead of time.  There are so many tools out there to help you: Hootsuite, If This Then That, ScheduGram, Buffer, etc. 

4.    Research.  Use free tools like Buzzsumo, Google Trends, News Whip, etc. to see what your community is talking about and to make sure that your content will resonate.  If there's something online that your people are really interested in there's definitely a way you can spin it to relate to your brand, even if it's just your opinion on what everyone is talking about.  Don’t try and start the conversation, join the one that’s already happening!   

5.    Choose 1 social platform.  I know I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s so important to keep in mind as you continue to build your social presence.  Once you've got a good thing going with your blog, choose a social platform to share your content on.  Really think about what would represent your brand best.  If you're community likes images, consider Instagram or Pinterest, if you have a younger market, go with Snapchat. Twitter is good for those that like to read articles or are into news, Facebook has a general appeal to everyone (although younger audiences are moving away from it).  Once you've got a successful strategy and have a good handle on one channel, expand to another.

6.    Find your people.  Social channels have a ton of ways to reach your people, you just need to learn what they are.   Twitter has hashtags # and hangouts.  Facebook has groups and is slowly rolling out Facebook live.  Instagram has meet ups and hashtags as well.  Your customers are out there; you just have to find them.  Do some googling "How to find my customers on Pinterest", there are endless ways!

7.    Listen.  Believe it or not, being a good listener on social is so important.  We're at the point where social isn't new. You don't need to reinvent the wheel.  Find brands in your industry, some that are similar in size, and some that are different from yours but have something in common with you. As long as your customers would be interested in them, it's worth it.  For example, as an RD you could follow fitness brands because those looking to improve their nutrition are also likely to improve their fitness.  Follow these companies and see what they're doing.  How are they talking to their (your) audience, and what resonates well with the audience?  Figure out how you can do the same, but add your own flare to it.  You never want to copy, but emulating something that’s working is gold. 

8.    Connect.   Once you find those brands that are doing awesome things on social, figure out how you can connect with them.  What value can you offer their audience?  Going back to the fitness brand, as an RD you can likely offer them some meal plan ideas or tips on improving one part of their nutrition.  Write up a blog post and reach out to the brands asking to share it with their community and include a link back to your website.   They've already built a following so have them help you build yours by offering their community value.  I want to be clear about this, don't try and share something that only talks about your brand or only benefits your specific audience, offer something super targeted to their community and they'll be open to it. 

9.    Stay true to your story.  You’ve already come up with the story you want to tell when you created your brand guide, so make sure that shines through in your blog & social strategy.  It’s okay if this story changes over time, lots of companies re-brand, but until that happens, stick to continually telling the story your brand was built on. 

10. Have fun.  Social is such a great way to connect with your community and it needs to be done thoughtfully, but it doesn’t have to always be serious.  Show your people who you really are by sharing your quirks.