Talking to Your Neighbours in the Days of Facebook

chatting across the fence

Static websites are so last year

Why You Have to Try Online Marketing No Matter How Small Your Business Is

chatting across the fence Online marketing is where it’s at and I believe no business, micro, small, medium or large can afford to ignore it anymore.

I know that there are still lots of business owners who haven’t come to terms with it fully, but if you still want to be around in a few years you’d better be online and you’d better be engaged.

In 2015 I would be surprised if I still need to spend energy convincing business owners to have a website, but just having a website is not enough anymore.

I met a web developer the other day at a networking event and he sold websites to small businesses. He told me that: “We create websites for small business and a basic site starts at $750 including design and hosting for a year.” On my questioning he explained that the websites his company sold were mostly what is referred to as static sites. Static sites are essentially brochures put online and once they’re up, they’re actually not that easy to change, they’re designed to be static


I suppose you’d have to say that having a brochure up on the web is better than not having anything at all, but only just. Unless 100% of your new business comes from direct word of mouth (“My favorite aunt told me to give you a call to supply me this widget or do this thing for me, please deliver it to my door tomorrow, I don’t care about the cost or anything else, because i trust anything my favorite aunt tells me”), every business is dependent on being found online and most importantly starting and maintaining a relationship with current and future customers online. And if you want to be able to do that at all, a static website is not going to cut it.

There are a bunch of reasons for that… Here are just a few:

  • Your customers want to be able to put your business name into their Google maps and get driving directions to your business, directly from their phone
  • Your customers want to look at testimonials from other people who have engaged with your business
  • Your customers want to be able to compare your product or services with those of others, directly online
  • Your customers don’t use the yellow pages anymore
  • Your customers spend more and more time online on social media of various forms, and they want to interact with business in the places they spend time (BTW that’s why advertising on the walls of urinals in pubs can be so effective… talk to your customers where they hang out!)
  • The big search engines and social media organisations will not rate websites that are ‘static’ well at all, meaning you will not be found if all you have is a brochure website
  • Static/ brochure websites start to look dated and sleepy very quickly, you can always tell a brochure website, they’re usually boring.

So what does that mean for you?

It’s hard to be too prescriptive of course, a local carpet cleaning business has different needs than a PR firm in the city, or a restaurant or a manufacturing business that operates nationally or internationally.

The principles

But let me give you some of the principles of online engagement and marketing to think about.

  • Mobile is getting more and more important for everything. More than 50% of searches on Google are done via handheld devices now and that trend is set to continue strongly.
  • Video is getting more and more important.
  • People spend time on Social Media, not necessarily to buy stuff. Just like you don’t spend time in the pub to buy anything else besides drinks and food. Anyone who walks up to you in a pub when you are hanging out with your friends to sell you something is generally not welcome
  • Your customers want to trust you before they will buy from you. Focus on getting them to trust you, and the rest will follow
  • Your customers will look for you where they are, they will not go looking for you elsewhere if they can help it. So if your customer is on Facebook and he wants an electrician and he can find one directly on Facebook recommended by a friend, they won’t even bother going to Google and find you there.

The backfence

Scary stuff right? But you know I’ve heard it said that there’s actually nothing new under the sun. In the old days we used to hang across the fence chatting to the neighbours and getting our recommendations and introductions that way, now we hang over the fence at Facebook and do exactly the same.

The analogy isn’t totally accurate because in the old days, your fence didn’t have any pay per click advertising stuck all over it, but it’s not that far off. It’s all about trust and being where the customers are.

And they’re online, all the time.

So you better be talking to them there… don’t you think?

PS: If it’s all too scary… drop me a line and I’ll connect you to the right people to help you get on top of this stuff… you probably shouldnt try and do it all yourself anyway


Marketing and the Golden Rule of Business

Throwing the switch to vaudeville

A lesson from getting personal

My last newsletter was rather personal. I was a bit nervous sending it out as one of my newsletters… after all, I’m a business coach, not a life coach, and besides, when I sat down to write the article I had an entirely different article in mind, something about small business support programs in Holland. But when I sat down to write it, an article about death and change and fear and sadness and frustration came out instead.

Well I sent it and it has been an amazing experience. Where normally I might get one or two comments from people, this time I had a flood of comments, emails and phone calls. Two weeks after publishing it I’m still getting the occasional comment. People coming up to me across a crowded room, just to give me some feedback, and often to thank me for writing it.

hugging It’s been simply heart-warming.

Initially I decided not to put it on my blog because it felt strange to do so, but I’ve put it up there now, so if you haven’t seen it or you’d like to forward it to someone, you can do so from here:

To everyone who went to the trouble of thanking me and letting me know how much they appreciated the article, thank you. I can’t tell you what a lovely feeling it has been to get such a flood encouragement.

Lessons for a business coach

But I’m still a business coach, so although there are some very clear lessons for my future writing (more about that later), I think it is worth reflecting on some business lessons from the experience.

The lesson I took is this:

We are all hungry for personal connection. As I’ve said before and many before me, the Golden Rule of Business is this: People want to do business with people they know like and trust.

That means that even though I am a business coach and can write all kinds of really clever things about business, people want to get to Know me, Like me and Trust me first and foremost.

Plenty of information available already

And it makes sense. If you want to know something about business, it’s not hard to look it up. The bookshops are full of books about business. Search for the word business in Amazon and just see how many titles come back; Also, there are millions and, millions of videos about business on Youtube and more business blogs than you could ever read in a life time. Nobody’s actually waiting for my cleverness about business.

ten truths for fun And what’s more, I’ve already written some very clever books (!) about business (and if you’d like them in E-book or Audio book form, you can download them for free via my download page here: There is actually less and less of a point to keep adding to the mountains of business information that all of us are bombarded with and have at our finger tips.

The same can be said for many fields of interest I think. Unless we truly have something new and different to say, we should ask ourselves if we are actually doing the world a favour by pouring out our words of wisdom that mostly repeat what many others (think Micheal Gerber, Seth Godin, Peter Drucker, Jim Collins) have said before us, in slightly different form.

Personal stories are different

But personal stuff… now that’s different. I think the people who enjoyed my article about Death and tough questions had generally two reactions:

  • They might have said something like: “I’m so glad to hear that others have these experiences and these fears and these frustrations… I’m not alone.”
  • Or they might have said to themselves: “That’s nice, that shows me a side of Roland I hadn’t seen before, and I feel I can relate to him a bit better now.”

Both reactions are lovely of course. (By the way, there were obviously also some people who didn’t enjoy the article, I had a few ‘unsubscribes’, but that’s fine, people who didn’t enjoy what I wrote are probably people I shouldn’t be talking to anyway.) And if the purpose of my newsletter (and most business newsletters) is to engage with people over a time frame so that those people get to “Know, Like and Trust” me, I couldn’t ask for a more positive outcome.

paul_keatingPaul Keating

I’m reminded of former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating’s remark when asked how he might make himself electable after his years as Bob Hawke’s very serious treasurer: “Oh don’t worry, I can flick the switch to Vaudeville when I have to” was his quip (I do miss Paul Keating, love him or hate him, there was a lot more fun in politics in those days it seems to me).

And so will I, well maybe not quite Vaudeville, but it’s clearly time to share more of my personal journeys with my readership.

It means allowing more of my vulnerabilities and foibles to be on display a bit more and that’s not a bad thing I think. Please do give me your feedback from time to time, positive and negative, I promise I won’t crumple.

What about you?

So let me ask you: Are you at risk of trying to convince your audience how brilliant you are before you’ve allowed them to get to Know, Like and Trust you?

How can you share more of your personal story with your audience?

roland Thanks for listening,

Speak soon

Roland Hanekroot

PS: My mother seems to have perked up a bit again in the last two weeks, maybe Death wasn’t actually in the room after all and it was just my fears coming through.

PPS: I didn’t get a business class upgrade from Singapore Airlines and worse than that they made me miss my connection in Singapore, so I’m not sure what the message in that is.