Keeping a small business afloat is hard enough without having to worry about marketing online and connecting with audiences on social media. I get it, you’re swamped and you probably don’t know the first thing about marketing. But what if I told you that this was a sure fire way to rapidly scale if not double your business?
In a report released by Telstra last year, they stated that 48% of Australians would stop considering a business if they couldn’t find it online. A further 68% read about eight online reviews and blog posts before making a decision to shop.
So, if we go on statistics alone and you’re serious about growing your small business this year, you need to be online. Here’s what works and where you should be focusing your efforts.
Help, don’t hustle
These days “hustle” is the go-to word for influencer marketers. Everybody who’s winning in business is hustling, and the sentiment is that if your business isn’t snowballing, you’re just not hustling hard enough.
What if I told you that helping prospects was the key to scaling your business? Let me break it down for you.
People shop because they have a problem that needs solving orthey want to feel good. So, for example, if they want to lose weight they might look for a dietician or a personal trainer or weight loss tablets. The problem is they want to change how they look and the outcome is they’ll be happier or have more energy or whatever. But and this is a big but, if they don’t know who you are or how good your service is, simply offering them a good deal is not going to result in a sale. You need to prove yourself, and that’s why I say be helpful.
Sticking with the theme, you could offer a free consultation or a weeklong meal planner, it’s up to you. Once they begin to see results, they trust that you know what you’re doing, they’re probably starting to like you which means they’re more likely to buy from you.
So what you want to be doing is to use your social media platforms, your blog, your e-newsletter, whatever, to offer helpful, engaging and insightful advice. This way you’re actually showing how good your product or service is, and you’re beginning to build a relationship of trust. Now you’re someone that people want to come to, to help solve their problems. And before you know it, they’ll pay you to do it.
Focus on strategy not ‘the next big thing’
Many business owners think that a little marketing here and there will help solve all their problems. But if you don’t know what you’re doing or who your target audience or where they consume media random acts of marketing are only going to cost you money.
It’s easy to get caught up with the next big thing in online marketing. Last year it was Facebook advertising this year it’s Instagram and who knows what 2020 holds in store for us. So in trying to keep up you now have a presence on all these social platforms. You’re active on them, but are you active enough? You see experts tell us that we need to be posting at specific times and on particular days, putting spend behind our posts and so much more. If we’re being honest here, we need to be creating fun or informative videos because according to a report by Buzzsumo they get 59% more engagement than other types of posts.
But the problem with jumping on the bandwagon is that without a strategy behind you, you’re just going to be wasting time and watching your hard-earned cash whittle away.
Before opening another social account, go back to basics. What is your overall strategy? Who are you trying to attract? What is your message? What do you want to get out of your followers? Figure this out first, then take a look at your current social pages. Now think of them as employees. What are you employing it to do? You need to set KPIs upfront and then monitor the performance of your posts. This will show you what works and then deliver more of what your followers want.
Build a tribe, not transactions
Last year the Yellow Social Media Report found that nearly 60% of Australians connect on social media every day, with 59% checking their social pages first thing in the morning and 61% checking at night. So to not have a social presence is just madness, but a common mistake that many SMEs make is to prioritise sales above all else. So every post focuses on selling.
Now I want you to think of your social account like a party. Would you pitch up at a mate’s barbeque and spend the entire afternoon telling partygoers about how good it is and how they have to buy one and that you can give them a good deal? I didn’t think so. It’s just not done. It’s a social setting, so be social.
This is your opportunity to build a tribe where you’re the president. And as president your job is to take care of those in your tribe. Everything that you create, whether it be a free report, newsletter, or social media post, needs to be created with the intention of helping. Ask yourself, what value does it give my tribe? If there is no value to what you have to share, don’t share it.
Once you begin to build goodwill, the sales will come. As an example, I had a guy on my mailing list for two years before he bought my MBA programme. That’s two years of goodwill and free advice given before making a sale, but it was worth the wait.
Prioritise quality over quantity
These days there is so much information online that knowing what is good and what is mediocre can be really difficult. Everybody wants to be heard but because the online world has become so overcrowded standing out requires creating and sharing fresh, new or knockout ideas.
Many people think that to be innovative you need to create something; that’s simply not true. Innovation can be in how you deliver it. You could for example create a fun and interactive series of videos showing prospects how to use your product or you could deal specifically with the burning questions they have.
The key is to deliver value with everything you create. In the past writing a small army of blog posts each month was a guaranteed way to boost traffic to your site. But times are changing. SEO bloated articles are no longer perceived favourably by Google and simply having a website doesn’t give you credibility as a business.
It’s not about how much you’re creating, but rather about the message your delivering. Less is definitely more, as long as what you have to say or how you say it, is perceived as valuable.
Care about your prospects, the sales will come
As owners it’s tough not to focus on selling, it keeps our doors open afterall. But while sales are vital to any business, all the steps leading up to sealing a deal are far more important. If you haven’t thought through the customer journey, you’ll lose more sales than close.
And this is why I find so many marketing and advertising messages to be wrong. We tend to focus on the physical problem.
It you’re in IT, for example, your message might be, “We fix broken computers,” but every other IT company is saying precisely the same thing. The only way to differentiate yourself is then on cost and trust me when I say this is never a good idea.
To stand out you need to be thinking about how the broken computer affects a prospects business. They can’t get their work done, which will cost them money. They’re frustrated and stressed and this can affect colleagues. So this is what I mean about caring about your prospective customer. Don’t just talk about how you fix computers. Your message could be, “We get you up and running fast so your sales keep coming in.” Now you’re standing out.
In closing, our job as entrepreneurs is to solve problems, that’s what we do right? But we need to first and foremost care. Start with creating goodwill amongst your following, be helpful. Look at how your service or product improves their lives for the better and then show them without selling. The sales will come if you create quality content, deliver value and build trusting relationships.
Allan Dib is an Australian entrepreneurial success story. He’s started, grown and exited several companies including a telecommunications company which was named in 2011 in Business Review Weekly’s Fast 100 list. The 1-Page Marketing Plan is his first book. Through his company Successwise, he provides clear and simple marketing frameworks for success.