The first step in creating an effective marketing plan is to make sure that you are putting your best face forward. Some monetary investment should go into this, but it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Before contacting anyone, take the time to prepare a few things:
a) Create an online presence. This is an area where having a limited marketing budget can be frustrating, but it can be done. You may not end up with your dream website, but something with simple, solid design and striking images can work well. If you can’t afford a designer, research companies that provide templates (such as http://www.bludomain.com/). Or, use something like Lightroom to create an online portfolio that you can upload to your website address.
b) Create a brand. You are selling your services as a professional, so you’d better look like one. Do you have a logo? Do you have a font that you will use consistently throughout your campaigns? What colors will you use? Do you have a design in mind for mailers that you can use again and again? If you can, have someone design a logo and mailer template for you. This will go a long way toward consistent branding. If you can’t afford a designer, check with design schools to see if anyone needs work for their portfolio or would be willing to trade services.
c) Dress the part. Showing up for a client meeting in sneakers and a t-shirt is questionable form. And even if other people do it, why not stand apart and show up dressed well? Invest in a simple, stylish outfit and good shoes. Don’t forget to shave and brush your teeth and hair. Seriously. It doesn’t take a lot of cash and you will make a great first impression.
Marketing campaigns involve investments of money and time. Even if you start out with a few 4×6 mailers and phone calls (the calls are basically free, mind you…), you will see a greater return if you are well prepared.