Don’t buy into the Hollywood fantasy that if you build it, they will come.

I know it’s easy to get stars in your eyes when you see the “internet stars” who appear to have achieved stardom overnight. But if you dig deeper, you might learn that 99% of them worked for 10-20 years without anyone noticing their work. One day they caught a break, and in a few weeks they were suddenly the big name you know today.

Now good things seem to happen to them all the time. They get all the opportunities with little work, and they just keep rocking it.

The reality for average people like you and me is, just because we build it, they may not come. But, you can increase your chances of getting that big break by being strategic in building your business. That strategy starts with two things.

First, have a plan. You can’t expect that throwing things around haphazardly is going to yield the results you want.

The second thing you need is a routine so that you can actually get things done. That routine of writing 1,000 words a day is going to position you above your peers because they can’t do it.

Once you can commit to those two things, you can move on to three specific activities that will help you market your business.

1. Blog

The primary thing you need to do is blog. Write for your own site at least weekly. You write because when people have issues, what do they do? An internet search. And search engines index your writing. People will land on your site and start to get to know you. Getting to know you is the start of the sales process.

If you’re good writing on your site weekly, then add some guest posts on other sites. Posting for others lets you leverage their audience. The biggest mistake people make is to only look for the benefit they can get. When you go to a site and try to guest post, make sure you bring huge value for the audience. The benefit to you should be a side thing — focus on serving them first.

As you look at guest posting, don’t just fire off a blanket list of possible posts to everyone. Choose a few sites you’d like to write for and spend some time reading through their content. Do a bit of work to figure out what their audience wants and then write a custom post for them that addresses the needs of their audience. Then send them the content along with a nice email about how you love their content, and highlight one article in particular.

2. Podcast

Some of you aren’t writers, but maybe you’re a podcaster. I think podcasting is a higher trust activity than writing because people hear your voice and start to feel like they’ve met you in person. They feel like they’re your friend.

Just like with blogging, start by doing one show a week. It doesn’t need to be fancy. I purchased a Blue Snowball years ago and a Logitech HD webcam. I use Screenflow to record The Smart Business Show, and don’t do any editing outside of trimming the beginning and the end.

One great thing you can do is interview people in your potential client pool. This usually gets them sharing the links to your show, and will bring other potential clients to your show.

Once you can handle the once a week format, start looking for opportunities to become a guest on other shows. Much like guest posting, make sure that you have value to provide for their audience. Having some free giveaway, like a PDF of your 8 best tips, will help bring that value and possibly collect you some email addresses, depending on how you set up the giveaway.

Also just like guest posting, make sure you do some research. Listen to a number of the shows and when you reach out, make reference to them. Tell the podcaster what you liked about past guests. Then tell them what you think you bring to their audience. Almost every time I reach out to a podcast and offer to speak about a certain topic I get thanks for actually having a topic because most guests just offer to be a guest and have no talking points.

3. Meet people

Yes, we live in a digital age which means I can sit in a fairly small town in British Columbia and reach people all over the world. This is amazing, yet also a downfall for so many people. Far too often, online businesses rely only on digital communication and leave off the in-person aspect they can leverage. The highest trust you can build fast is to meet someone in person and have a great chat with them about what interests them.

[Tweet “There’s no better way to build trust than to chat with someone in person about what interests them.”]

You can find local people in your field by attending meet-ups, and local business groups. Both of these groups are looking for local speakers as well, so offer to speak for them.

After that, look at conferences. First, they are great education for you and second, you get to meet a bunch of people in your field that can be a source of referrals. As with everything, make sure you show up to bring benefit to others. Don’t walk into a group and pepper people with your business cards. Walk in and have a great conversation about the topics that interest them. You’re going to be one of the only people that does this and thus you’re going to be memorable.

Marketing your business is hard work but if you put these three things into action and keep it at for the long haul, you’re going to build a business with lots of referrals and marketing that works while you sleep.

Sounds like a business I’d like to run. How about you?

Check out my book Finding and Marketing to Your Niche for even more ways to make marketing your business easy.

photo credit: edwicks_toybox cc