For many small businesses, navigating the world of online marketing is a task best left to the pros. If this is something you can’t afford to outsource, you either try to do it on your own or not at all. But the thing is, according to the 2018 Telstra Small Business Intelligence Report, 48% of Australians will stop considering a business if they can’t find it online. That’s almost half of your prospective customers.
So, if you’re serious about growing your small business in 2019, you need to be online. What you’ll quickly find is everyone has advice on how to rapidly scale your business and not all of its good. Here’s what not to do and why.
1. Stop hustling, start helping
Hustle: the new buzzword that so many influencer marketers are using. You can’t go online these days without reading it or hearing it. And the sentiment is that if your business isn’t snowballing, you’re just not hustling hard enough.
Winning in business is not about how hard you work, it’s about how smart you work. Stop hustling and start helping. Not every interaction with a person is going to lead to a sale, and you need to stop thinking that it should because it’s a losing strategy.
In fact, at any given moment only 3% of your target market is ready and willing to buy from you. That means 97% either don’t want to buy from you or don’t want to buy from you right now.
So what you want to be doing is using 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. Remember, when you educate and teach, you’re seen as an expert.
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.
2. Forget ‘shiny tactics’, think overall strategy
It’s very easy to become mesmerised by the next big thing in online marketing. We think that to remain relevant to our audience or tap into a new one that we have to be active on every platform that takes off. In past years it was Facebook, now we’re being told to be on Instagram. And simply being active on these platforms is not enough, we need to be posting at specific times and on particular days, putting spend behind our posts and so much more.
Reports such as Buzzsumo’s 2019 Ultimate Guide to Facebook Engagement is telling us we need to scale back on what we’ve been doing for the last few years and focus on video because it’s king. Not only does it get 59% more engagement than other types of posts, but it also outperformed photos by 73%.
But the problem with jumping on the bandwagon is that without a strategy behind you, you’re just going to be wasting time and throwing away your hard-earned cash.
Before opening another social account, take a look at your current social pages. Now think of them as employees. What are you employing it to do? Who are you trying to attract? What is your message? What do you want to get out of your followers? You need to set KPIs upfront and then monitor the performance of your posts. This will show you what works and what doesn’t. But remember, if you haven’t firmed up your content strategy, you’re not going to get the results you want.
3. Build a tribe, not transactions
The Yellow Social Media Report 2018 found nearly 60% of Australians connect on social 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 the problem that many small-to-medium businesses make is they use these platforms only to sell.
Think of your social account like a party. You wouldn’t rock up at a mate’s place product in tow and start waxing lyrically about how it’s going to change partygoers lives. 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 of that tribe. You need to take care of those in your tribe. With everything you create, whether it be a free report, newsletter, or social media posts, you need to be thinking, how is this going to help my tribe? What value does it give? Once you begin to build goodwill, the sales will come.
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.
4. Create quality content, not quantity
These days everybody is fighting for their five seconds of fame. But the online world is an overcrowded space and to stand out, you really need to be creating and sharing new or knockout ideas. It doesn’t necessarily need to be fresh, the innovation can be in how you deliver it.
Now, this is different from years gone by. In the past, creating a small army of blog posts each month was the thing to do. The more new content that you placed on your site, the higher your ranking in Google, the more likely you were to be seen. And to prospective customers having an online presence like a website, immediately gave you credibility as a business.
But times are changing. SEO-bloated articles are no longer perceived favourably by the search engine. 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.
5. Stop selling, start caring
Take a moment to let that sink in. As entrepreneurs, we want to get to the big sale, because that’s where the money is, right? But in thinking this way we missed out on the entire process leading up to a sale. And this is why I find so many marketing and advertising messages to be wrong.
If you’re a chiropractor your message might be ‘we fix back pain’, but every other chiropractor is saying precisely the same thing. So for one, you’re not going to stand out, and two, you’re not taking into account how the customer suffering from back pain is feeling, and how it affects their life.
Perhaps they’ve stopped doing their favourite dance class because their back hurts too much. So they’re in pain, and they’re miserable because they’re missing out on something that brings them real joy. And this is what I mean about caring about your prospective customer. Don’t just talk about how you crack and whack backs into place. Your message could be ‘we get you dancing again’. Now you’re standing out.
In closing, our job as entrepreneurs is to solve problems, that’s what we do, right? Whether we’re selling yoga pants or a BMW or IT solutions, whatever, we’re solving a problem, but we need to first and foremost care. We need to create goodwill among our following, and we need to be helpful. What we shouldn’t focus on is hustling, outright selling and implementing every new shiny marketing tactic. The sales will come if you create quality content and build trusting relationships.