Advertising sales had been my career for years. I had learned so much about the art and science of how marketing worked. I loved it. Creating pictures, stories or simply 8 words that convince people to think differently is like having a superpower. I didn't even have to get bit by a radioactive spider but I do wish I could've worn a cape to work.
The day finally came where I found myself needing to leave advertising sales. I had worked in several markets saturated with small businesses and they simply didn't have the advertising dollars to properly buy what I was selling. It was frustrating for both sides, I'm sure. A cheaper, better alternative to traditional advertising was needed in 90% of my clients' businesses.
Were they even using social media and was it done properly? I didn't really know.
A puzzle piece was definitely missing. I was always focused on one aspect of the marketing plan, which was the ad that I had to produce. Things in the advertising world had majorly shifted in the last 5 years. I could feel it. I got the feeling that small businesses were not keeping up with the shift.
Now unemployed, I pondered for weeks about my next career move. I knew I didn't want to sell advertising spots for big media companies anymore. One night, 3 glasses into a bottle of red wine, I asked the media gods for some sort of sign to drop down from the heavens.
Time to focus. What was missing from the usual marketing plan?
What were the complaints I was hearing over and over?
Business owners were frustrated because the ads I was selling were too expensive. The ROI was hard to calculate. Nobody had said , "I saw your ad, so I called you". I found myself repeating the same explanation about being consistent with advertising and sticking with it for at least a year before you see any return.
With any marketing, it does take time, however, I could sense the tension with traditional advertising and the trust in it was fading quickly. I took a closer look at social media and what had been going on in that world while I was busy selling ads.
Luckily for me, advertising clients had asked me to help with some social media graphics here and there. Then it was questions on how often to post on each social media platform. Again, no problem. We got it figured out. As I looked back, I realized that what I had done for them at no charge, not even in my field of advertising, was outperforming what I was supposed to be selling them.
I was attracting better and more customers by being a virtual social butterfly than spending hours coming up with a bold digital ad or hilarious radio commercial.
This is what I wanted to do in my new career. Help small businesses achieve big results by sharing their stories, being social and I had to do it in an extremely affordable way.
Which meant...you guessed it....I had to find my future clients by sharing my story, being social and spending practically nothing.
You have to understand what you're selling but I didn't have a lot of time to get this business off the ground. There was no paycheque coming in for "thinking" about or "planning" my business. I had to start. Today. I needed leads. Yesterday.
I know what you're thinking, "Alright, Lil Miss Marketing, so what did you do?".
I went for it.
1. Decide on Your Brand
I remember feeling guilty spending my unpaid time literally sitting on the couch and thinking. Don't. Think about what you want your brand to say to the world. It should be an extension of you. Don't fake a personality or love for something if it's not there. It will show. People are smarter than you think.
What colours, style and words will you use to describe your business? Is the voice of your brand going to be fun, serious, funky, quirky, classic? This is crucial to figure out because your brand will propel your business if it's done correctly. It will tell your story to the world, sometimes without even saying a word.
2. Build The Website
I spent a few weeks building a website. Learned about keywords, how to search for them and how to place them throughout my website. I am NOT a website developer. Do not ask me to build you one. My computer almost took a three story dive out the window. But I know some really awesome people who DO build websites and we will get it done for you.
I got mine done and I spend time on it still almost every day making sure links are working correctly and updating info. Google loves when you update your website so show it lots of love.
Add. A. Blog.
We'll get to this more in a minute but make sure whatever website you're going to build, it has an option to blog. This is imperative for generating leads and your website is going to be your best salesperson. Plus, you need somewhere for people to "land" and connect with you.
3. Get Social (Media)
Choose your social media platforms. I chose LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. I sell to business owners. They want to be educated, yet be entertained. I find a good mix among these three platforms.
When you've done your research on each platform's demographic, you need to decide on what to post on these suckers. Each one will require different sized photos for the profile, cover and posts themselves. Yes, I think they all got together one night and said "Facebook, you go with these sizes for photos. Twitter, just slightly different. Now Pinterest, go long! Let's see how much we can screw with people." Thanks guys for keeping it simple!
Before you start posting willy-nilly, I suggest a social media calendar. Even a paper one will do just fine. Look at the next 6 months and pick out holidays and circle them on the calendar. Identify events whether they're global, national or local that relate to your business. Now, when you see Earth Day is around the corner, you can focus your posts on that topic, talk about how green your office is and so on.
There are endless articles on how to do social media properly like this one or this one. But I'm talking about how I got a qualified lead within 2 weeks of starting my business so if you follow no other piece of advice, please listen to this one. Follow people like crazy! Somewhere out there on the internet, someone once said to be a snob and not follow people back. I'm sorry. I don't agree with this person, at all. If you have 2000 followers on Twitter and you're only following 5, this is a problem.
How on earth are you being social and interacting with people? You can only see what 5 people are up to.
This isn't high school and the popularity contest has changed its rules. Follow everyone you can find. Search through your followers. Search through their followers. They obviously run in the same circles and may have the same interests. What you're trying to do is show up on the radar. Social media is much different than traditional media, like your radio or newspaper. In those cases, yes, you have to talk AT people. There's no reciprocation. In social media, you can lure customers simply by being friendly. Keep popping up on the radar screen. Put in the effort. Constantly.
You don't have to post every cute photo or interesting article you find right away. On Facebook, I will see a business who obviously had some time on their hands and blurted out 10 posts within an hour. But then weeks go by until the next post. It's scattered and inconsistent. It looks messy and there's no strategy involved. Use some kind of social media management tool like this or this to save interesting articles, quotes, videos and schedule them to match your content marketing strategy.
The social media portion of this article is now over. It's long. But I'm not apologizing because this has almost everything to do with getting my lead within 2 weeks of starting my website.
4. Write Helpful Content
Start with learning what kind of information your future customers are needing. There is a huge difference between knowing what your future customers are searching for on Google and what you want to tell your customers. Write, produce, photograph, and record content to match these interests. Answer questions that are common among your customers and show them you're helpful.
One form of content is a blog. I told you I'd mention this again. When you write blog posts, this adds more urls into the search engine. The more urls you have answering common questions searched in Google, the better chance you have of someone visiting your website.
Now, there are other factors to consider like what your landing page looks like, what the call to action is, but generally speaking, if you've got more urls showing up, you'll get more traffic to your website.
Google loves blogging. Make sure it's high quality, original content. Do not buy from a content mill. These are companies that write content and may sell it to you as a subscription. Too many of the same articles "written" by different people will send Google red flags and could get your site penalized for plagiarism. Update the content within your website every few weeks with original work.
There are many ways to find out what people are searching for regarding your business but here's an easy and best of all, free way to find some general info:
Go to Google's search bar and type in the beginnings of questions that may be asked about your business. Google's auto-fill will give you suggestions based on that beginning. Now, type in the whole question and go to the results (SERP). Scroll down to the bottom. Do you see other suggestions on what people may be searching for related to that question?
Use all of this to build a content library.
A content library is everything including blog posts, social media quotes and articles. Post 80% content that you found online written by someone else and 20% of your posts should be your original content. Content is anything you can send out into internet world and having different forms of content will benefit you greatly.
Before I even published my website I had 5 blog posts done and uploaded onto my site.
With my content library started, I'd had something to promote on my social media platforms instead of just "Hey, my name is Danielle and I sell marketing".
I was ready. I unblocked all my pages for the world to see.
I checked Google Analytics every hour. Nothing. Day number 2. Still nothing. Media gods, I might need another favour!
Google takes a while to find you. Don't be impatient like I was. Clicks will start coming. You're going to be promoting on Social Media and adding urls with your blog. This will all help to get found and help your page rank (SEO) as well.
I decided to stop staring at the analytics pages and work on something more productive. Yup! Marketing of said website. I followed more and more people I wanted to do business with and some random people I just found damn interesting. I followed influencers who could teach me about content marketing and social media management.
I liked and shared.
I broke open my content library and reposted the articles and photos numerous times. They're still in my content marketing mix today.
Take a look at Twitter, the news feed goes by so quickly. I posted 5-6 times a day and I bet the same person only saw one of my posts every few days. That's still good frequency. When you buy any other media such as radio or television, you're aiming at reaching the same person 3 times within a week. Same idea here. Facebook works a little different and one post per day is usually sufficient. LinkedIn, 2-3 times per week is good.
Just 12 days after I published my website pages and took to social media like a drunken hurricane, a direct message was received by my website and it read, "I really like the content you've been putting out on Twitter and this is something I'm struggling with in my business. Could you call me to discuss your services?". Well what do we have here? A quality lead. A real human needing my services.
You don't need to spend thousands on ads and have 200,000 clicks coming to your website. Don't get me wrong, that all is wonderful but when you're a small business starting out, you need good content and social media management to earn quality clicks to your website. In this case, I needed one click to my website in two short weeks. It was all free. Ok, except my website and the wine I drink when I pray to the media gods.
All those years selling advertising space had taught me the basics of marketing. Now, I had to put those skills to new use and react to how the marketing world had shifted. I do know a lot about marketing and the art mixed with science. What to post, how to get people engaged and how to write comes easily to me. I've spent thousands of hours as a professional social media creeper stalking accounts and there are a lot of things going very wrong out there.
If you don't have the time to stay consistent with your social media and content marketing, you will get very frustrated with this whole process. Buy 4 radio ads over the month, you would get absolutely no traffic from that. Same goes with social media. If you post only 4 times a month, you won't get found and you won't be remembered. If you're not producing engaging content for the fans you do have, you really have nothing to share on your social media platforms. Your content is what sets you apart. Content can be anything, it doesn't need to be blog posts but those help in so many ways.
Do you want more quality leads using social media and content marketing?
Are you wanting to attract better customers?
Do you want to be the go-to expert in your industry and become the authority?
Of course you want all of that. I wanted it too. And I did it. I can do it for you. Ask me here.