Old fashioned marketing principles in the digital world
How to grow your business with social media
I wrote an article titled “Talking to your neighbours in the days of Facebook” a while ago about how to engage with your target market online and why static websites don’t cut it anymore.
What I wrote then is just as true today, but more so… Much more so.
Because no longer is it just about your website and how good it looks, it’s all about online engagement and integration with the social media outlets. The old saying holds just as true today as it did 50 years ago: “People do business with people they Know, Like and Trust”. If there is no Trust, there will be no business. The quickest way we build trust is through word-of-mouth (that’s when someone I trust, a friend or family member, assures me that I can trust you). And these days, online and specifically on social media is where word-of-mouth marketing happens. Social media is where people get to Know, Like and Trust you.
Sure Google searches to your website are still important. You do have to be able to be found on Google and you’ve got to have an active and well laid out website, but your clients are going to be looking for you on Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn and Tripadvisor and Yelp and TikTok and Reddit and any number of other social channels. They want to see that your star rating is way up there, they want to see that others have done business with you, they want to see that you are solid, credible and experienced.
My clients know what I had for dinner
For years I have been a member of a business networking and referral group (First BNI and later BNAA). We get together for the purpose of referring business to each other every week. Most of my new clients used to came to me through this group for more than 10 years. But in the last few of years, that started changing. 5 years ago, more than half of new business came to me via my business referral group and the rest came to me via Google searches for the keyword: “Business Coach”. But now, nearly all my enquiries come to me online and I’ve noticed that even if people find me on Google rather than social media, they read my reviews and my Facebook and Linkedin interactions and check out my testimonials before they even contact me. By the time they actually send me an email or pick up the phone, they know what I had for dinner last night, and by then, they’re ready to buy.
In the old days (the dim distant past before 2014) it sometimes took several years between meeting people for the first time, getting to “Know, Like and Trust” and being engaged. Now, my last 6 new clients all signed up within six weeks from our first contact.
Bricks and mortar is so last year
I got serious about the internet as a marketing channel around the end of the nineties. (We were still mostly using dial up modems). In those days, people were happy to find your details online, but you had to have a bricks and mortar presence to be taken seriously. Unless your business had walls, a roof and a door, you were not to be trusted. In 2020 it’s the other way round. People want to know that you’re all over the digital world. If you don’t have lots of reviews and star ratings and videos, eBooks, white-papers, blog posts and every other damn thing, you’re obviously flaky.
At the same time, the social media companies are looking for opportunities to generate more money. Increasingly organisations like Facebook are making it difficult for your business to be found unless you pay them. So far I’ve managed to avoid paying Facebook, Linkedin, Google and Twitter, but I know it won’t last. I predict I’ll start having to pay for the privilege of being found this year or certainly next. The thought annoys me intensely, and I’ll resist it as long as I can, but Mark Zuckerberg is going to end up with some of my hard-earned dollars in his pocket, as sure as night follows day.
Don’t get left behind in 2020
So I think 2020 is the year we, the small business owners of the world, must come to terms with online marketing, properly. Soon you’ll simply be left behind unless you start to take online marketing for your business seriously. And I think you should consider engaging an online marketing assistant. It’s starting to become too complicated to do it all yourself and it’s arguably not your best use of time anyway.
The hard part of online marketing for business, is working out how best to engage with your audience, so that they get to “Know, Like and Trust” you as quickly as possible. How do you start the conversations? What can you offer your audience that is useful for them and that engages them?
I’ve experimented with every kind of content you can imagine (Have a look at my website and you’ll see what I mean) and I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t.
One-Minute Business Tips
One experiment that looks to be working well, is a weekly email I send out called the “One-Minute-Business-Tips”. (You can sign up to receive my weekly tips yourself on my website here). They’re super short emails that take no more than a minute to read with a tip for a small simple action that will make a difference to your business, if you go and carry it out. The whole of each weekly tip can be read and acted upon there and then. Clicking through to a website or a blog is not required.
It’s too early to know if it’s going to work for me over time, but for now I am getting feedback that tells me the tips are hitting the right note.
Another online marketing experiment
As of the beginning of 2020 I have also started another experiment. I’ve created a group in Facebook called Small Business Masterminds (Come and join us here). The idea is to encourage discussions and questions and build a supportive community of small business owners in Australia especially. The theory being that by being in the middle of this community, being the hub of the community as it were, I demonstrate my bona fides and credibility, increase my visibility and ultimately gain some of the people in the community as new clients. Again, it’s an experiment and far too early to tell if or how it’s going to work.
The reason I am telling you about these two recent experiments of mine, is not to impress you with my brilliance, but rather to illustrate that online marketing for business is all about experimenting, and change. What worked last year may not work so well anymore this year, and what works for one business won’t necessarily work for another. But these are the facts:
- Your clients are time poor and overwhelmed with information every day.
- Your clients are online and on various social media outlets, every day if not all day.
- Your clients want to get to Know, Like and Trust you and your business before they’ll spend any money with you.
- They want to do so online.
In 2020 and beyond, your most important marketing job is to make that last one as easy as possible for them… I Promise you.
Marketing and the 7 Big Questions of Small Business
Business owners frequently ask 7 Big Questions about how to Build a Beautiful Business and Life.
The first of these Big Questions is: How do I grow my business?
To answer that question I have identified the 11 most important strategies to create Business Growth.
The third of those strategies is Grow your business with Marketing, and the fourth of the strategies is Grow your business with Online Marketing. This article explains how Marketing, Online Marketing and Growth hang together, in some depth.
We’re a private group of small business owners that tackles challenges and problems together. We lean on each other, give advice, share connections and do business with each other when appropriate. It’s very much peer-to-peer mentoring and if your request to join is lucky enough to get approved, you will most likely see a marked change in yourself and your business!