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Marketing freelance and consulting services to the one-person business

In the marketing of services, the distinction between B2B and B2C—business-to-business versus business-to-consumer—is widely recognized. However, in marketing freelance and consulting services, an even finer distinction is helpful.

Marketing to the single-person (or one person plus part-time support personnel) business is quite a bit different from marketing to a larger operation. I’ve found that the single-person business behaves much more like an individual consumer than a larger organization so that B2singleB is rather similar to marketing to a single consumer.

I serve two audiences: I am a freelance writer serving insurance and asset management companies as well as other businesses, plus I write for and coach freelancers and consultants trying to land more assignments. In addition, I follow online (and sometimes work with) other coaches and consultants who work with small businesses (such as mine) on marketing, social media and related topics. So I am seeing what works and what doesn’t work.

Here are key differences I see between the two audiences:

  1. Single-person businesses respond to mouth watering, magnetic messages; larger businesses want just the facts (and they are quite comfortable with a reasonable level of industry jargon). In my experience, individuals are intrigued by exciting marketing that elicits an emotional response from them, such as That’s what I want! or How do you do it? Large-company professionals believe there is no big idea that they haven’t yet heard. Just tell them in plain English, they say, so they can place you in the correct, established category.

  2. Single-person businesses tend to be highly price sensitive; larger businesses are more likely to be in touch with the marketplace and expect to pay higher rates. Not coincidentally, one-person businesses tend to pay for freelance and consulting services from the family bank account (or a separate business account that is at the mercy of the family budget), while larger businesses forward invoices to the Accounting people on another floor.

  3. Single-person businesses tend to be open to warmer personal relationships with their freelancers and consultants; larger businesses are apt to be more distant in their relationships, especially if the freelancer / consultant interfaces with them only via phone and the internet.

The ultimate test is when you actually engage in marketing. Try out different approaches and see which ones your prospects best respond to.

Telephoning is especially suitable for testing because you can adjust your message with every single call. It’s not like setting up a website, or worse yet, printing off brochures—it’s as if the website is committed to pencil and the brochure is committed to indelible ink. You simply have what you have.

When telephoning, it’s best to make the calls yourself because you can pick up subtle clues to how the person you are calling reacts to what you are saying and adjust the conversation accordingly as you go.


Originally posted 12-10-13

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