5 Steps to get noticed as a small business

I often get asked about facebook ads, using social media to get clients etc. While I'm not a marketing strategist I have learned a few things over the years so here are my thoughts... 

Lets back up a little…. 

In the world of getting sales it can vary from business to business how long it takes from people to move from “awareness” of you as a business to purchasing from you. And for some businesses it starts before that… awareness that your service even exists and that they need it.

I know you understand this… you know how long it takes you to decide to buy something thats not an everyday item!  Maybe you look at the item, compare it, maybe research it, get a feel for the company or person behind it, wait for a coupon, see what your friends think, wait until you have the money, have a gut feel that its the right time to buy, see if something better is going to be offered and a whole host of other factors. 

 

Put yourself in your customers shoes.

What questions would you have about you? What would help you decide?  For most customers it take several interactions until they decide to make a purchase from you.  Why do I know this? Because I have spent many years of my career in sales. I understand what it takes for a customer to say yes – whether its for a multimillion dollar purchase or a $24.99 item. 

People buy from people they like more often than those they don’t know...So for this reason the decision to advertise is a multi step plan…

1st

Know who you are trying to reach.

Who is your ideal customer?

2nd

Know what you will offer.

How can you best support them. What will you say? 

3rd

Have a communication plan.

Have a reliable way to reach out multiple times.

 

4th

Make a plan to find your potential customers.

Use your time and resources efficiently.

5th

Be consistent in your communications.

 

This is not a transactional sale - you are building a relationship

Why can’t I just start to advertise in the paper /Social Media etc?

Short answer: you can! However, like most entrepreneurs you are probably trying to make your budget stretch as far as it can. Having a plan will help ensure you spend your time and resources in the most effective way. 

Why can’t I just use facebook or instagram?

You can…. but then the Social Media Platform owns your list of contacts and controls when and how they see your information. It’s not that it doesn’t work, people can see your posts but its possible its 3 hours after you expected, or lower down in their newsfeed, or only a percentage of your friends see it.

E-mail is still the most seen and opened way to reaching people. 

Email Marketing has the highest open rate, the highest conversion rate. So if want to start advertising, I recommend that you will want a way to collect peoples emails so even if you love social media you have a way to reaching out to them on email.

“Opt ins” are a fantastic way to get peoples emails… An opt in is an offer from you of something of value in exchange for their email and the right to contact them on it. Most companies do this… Sign up for:  a coupon…get insider information… be the first to know… my free guide to… join my newsletter… etc.

The advantage of this is:

  • you have a way to follow up with them
  • you have an opportunity to further provide value to them
  • you have a way to make offers to them
  • you have a way for them to get to know you.

You don’t need to have a fancy opt-in on your website to do this – one of my clients also has a paper sign up sheet in their store. As long as you keep a record…To state the obvious… as an ethical legal business you will want permission from people to add their email to your email list and give them a way to unsubscribe! 

BTW –  don’t add friends you your email address because you’re sure they’re interested… not only is it illegal most places, its just being a bad friend… you can invite them to sign up but do not sign them up yourself!

 

Do I have to have an email list - Can’t I just post to a local FB group page - I don’t really care if I own the list - I want to get started!

Yes, of course!  Just be aware of how often you post and that not everyone may have the page as a priority to see first in their newsfeed. Don’t expect the same response rate as email.

Have a plan…know who you want to reach, what you want to say.

Time and again I see people posting to Facebook with no call to action, no follow up with people who respond, even no information about where their business is as if local people should know that they are the owner of a specific store.

Choose what and where you post thoughtfully. The key question being: Are your ideal customers in the group/on the page?

Other considerations are…is it a very active page? how often are others posting? are you completing with many other business? 

I would suggest joining Facebook groups where people maybe have need of your service/product as you will already be talking to more interested parties. 

Like joining a Hockey Moms group page if you specialize in customized mouth guards.

Or joining a page offering advise for the over 40’s woman if you have a miracle cure for hot flashes!

Always listen and offer advise and answer questions – don’t advertise your company all the time… be of value and people are more likely to come to you when they are ready to buy.

What about other ways to get known?

There are dozens of ways to do this and what you do really depends on your specific business. The question to ask your self is always – who is your customer, where are they, how can you  provide value to them?

You could: 

  • Put a flyer up in your local grocery store / library telling people of your offer
  • Write an article for local magazine/ newpaper
  • Host a free webinar
  • Get an existing customer to host a “party” invite 5 friends over to learn about your service/product
  • Run a BOGO offer or discount coupon
  • Collaborate with a colleague and run a joint Q&A session
  • Join Meetup groups in your area
  • Run a refer a friend program
  • Join forces with local business to cross advertise to your list
  • Write a guest post on a related blog 

How do I pick what content to share?

Assuming you are emailing them or even if you are just posting to online locations you will need something to say to regularly…you need useful content. Brainstorm a list of all the things you would ask yourself if you were your customer. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what would be useful to know.

Here are some ideas  to get you started:

  • 5 things you must know about x before you y
  • 10 proved ways that x helps y
  • 3 quick ways to feel x fast
  • the Number 1 thing I wish I knew about x
  • Discover how to x without y
  • reduce x in 3 weeks
  • My step by step guide to x
  • Starting to x, a beginners handbook
  • How I found out I was x
  • The insiders guide to xxx
  • Top 7 ways to improve x
  • 10 signs to watch out for if you / your x is age y

 

Get writing - generate content, provide value - show your potential customers what you have to offer the world!