Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. And if you run a business and don’t already have any social media presence then you are missing out on tens of thousands of prospective clients every single day. It’s just that simple.
There are 2.8 billion people on social media. 2.8. Billion. People. For a little perspective on how huge that number is, 2.8 billion is the total population of earth circa 1955. – tracx.com
Now that’s an amazing number of people accessing social media don’t you think?! You don’t even need to reach 0.0001% of them to still reach hundreds of thousands of people who may want to buy your stuff. I think that’s an amazing resource to tap into.
As if that wasn’t enough reason in itself to delve into the world of social media, then here are 10 other reasons why you really should take the leap for your business:
1. It’s FREE!
Yes, completely and utterly FREE. OK, so it will take you some time to get your content together and learn how to add it, and you can pay to boost your posts so more people get to see them, but honestly, compared to the paper-based advertising of old, social media is simply in a different league. And for new businesses and solopreneurs that’s got to be a huge selling point. In fact, using social media can actually reduce some of your other business costs such as advertising and recruiting as outlined in this post over on Business Woman Media.
2. Global Reach
For almost every business, having a global reach can really be a benefit. It’s great for connecting with potential customers, but even for a small or new business that works more locally, having the potential of connecting with like-minded individuals globally can really expand what your business does – and you never know where it may lead. I recently had a website enquiry from someone in New York who found me online! Whilst it turned out that I wasn’t the right fit for his business, it was great to think that my business is popping up on searches made over the pond.
3. Drives Traffic to your Website
It’s the whole point really. Social media helps people connect with you on a more social level before they decide whether or not to do business with you and then gives them a route to your website, thus bringing in more revenue in the long run – as long as your content is something they want more of!
4. Brand Recognition
With consistent branding across all of your digital assets, social media allows you to put your brand in front of potential customers in lots of different ways. I’m not talking about always selling because that’s just tacky, but writing blog posts and sharing graphics with your logo, strapline and colours really will leave an imprint that people will remember and start to associate with your company. It also builds brand loyalty and that’s super important if you want to keep customers coming back for more.
5. Build Relationships
Many businesses forget that social media is just that – SOCIAL – which means that a one-way stream of constant advertising seldom works. For social media to work for your business you have to build relationships. Join groups on Facebook and offer advice, join conversations on Twitter and voice your opinions, post photos on Instagram and share your world – all without selling your products and services at every single opportunity. The point here is to build a community who likes what you do, because they will then contact you to work with or pass on your details to someone else who needs your expertise.
6. Social Proof
This encompasses a whole lot more than just testimonials and feedback. Social proof is a huge decider when it comes to people buying your stuff. It’s online word-of-mouth and includes Reason #5 above as well as case studies and story telling. There’s a great article over at CXL with far more detail on this subject and I suggest you go and take a look – it’s really helped me (ah, more social proof – see what I did there?!).
7. Customer Service
Answering customer queries via social media is a great way of showing that you care. If those exchanges are public, they add to your social proof (Reason #6) and showing other potential customers that you deal with enquiries of any nature quickly and professionally.
8. Show Expertise
We’re back to social proof again here. You can show expertise in your industry by commenting on current events, news and trends and linking to blog posts that you’ve written either on your own site or on others. For example, here’s a post I wrote for the Knowledgebase over at Women in Rural Enterprise all about creating a business that is successful on your own terms. It’s linked to my mentoring and coaching business but also mentions Web Goddess.
9. Improved Search Rankings
The more time spent adding rich and interesting content to your social media efforts, the better you will find your search rankings. This is because your content brings new followers, who in turn click through to your website and thus improve your rankings.
10. It’s where your Customers are!!!
There is no longer any doubt that social media works. In 2016 80 percent of medium social media users (1-2 hours per day) made online purchases during the year with 79 percent and 78 percent of heavy and light users respectively making online purchases in the same period. This in contrast to 48 percent of non-social media users making online purchases in the same period (source). Your customers are scrolling through their social feeds looking for things to buy and if you’re not popping up in front of them then you’re missing out!
So with all of those reasons I hope you’ll agree that it’s a no-brainer for your business. It may seem like there is a lot of choice out there, but just take it one step at a time and remember:
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, then starting on the first one.” – Mark Twain
P.S. If you’re new to working online or are simply struggling with your social media skills I can help. Check out my Digital Mentoring service for a little 1:1 help if you need it.
Check out this amazing infographic from the team over at tracx.com which gives you a fantastic idea of social media demographics at the beginning of 2017.
And here’s a great short infographic video from The Social Pro about why Social Media matters.
Building a website is pretty easy once you know what colours you like, how you want it to flow and the content you want to include. However, simply building a website and leaving it to petrify isn’t good for your business and means your website will never fulfill its true potential.
Your website does a lot more than you may think because it…
Lets potential customers know who you are – so your colours and branding should represent your business accurately. This may change over time, so it’s important to update your site to reflect those changes.
Gives you a space to connect with customers – you may have a presence on social media for more instantaneous contact with your customers, but you don’t own those sites. You do, however, own your website, so posting blog articles that show your specialty and expertise are a great way of making sure that people revisit your site for inspiration and advice. That’s where they will then see new offers and decide to work with you. Check out this great article on HuffPost on why you should start your own blog if you don’t already have one on your website.
Screens and filters potential customers – it’s just as important to know who you DON’T want to work with as who you DO want to work with. A well-designed website that truly reflects your values and brand will actually filter out customers who don’t fit with what you do. Saying your target audience is ‘everyone’ is simply not good practice. Focusing in on who you want to work with will give you an edge.
So is your website fulfilling its potential?
The simplest way of checking this is to get a colleague or friend to visit your website and ask them to answer four questions about it:
- What does this website sell?
- What is the target market for this website?
- What does the brand of this website say to you?
- Was it easy to find what you were looking for?
If their answers don’t match what you are trying to convey then it’s time to have a rethink and spend some time modifying your content and branding. Just like I’ve done this month!
Oh, and if you need any help creating a new website that is easy for you to manage yourself then you know where I am…
P.S. Since I launched my rebranded site I have asked my own ‘tribe’ to let me know what they think. Their comments and suggestions have been really useful in helping me to fix a few errors that I thought only I may have spotted!
Font and typography have always been an important part of design and document production – from leaflets to magazines, from websites to posters. In fact, many of the typefaces we are familiar with can be traced back centuries such as Garamond (1490), Baskerville (1757) and Bodoni (1780). The typeface you use gives your written words their character and sets the tone of your message.
I am a huge fan of using different typefaces. You can frequently find me browsing the latest gorgeous additions from websites such as Font Bundles and 1001 Fonts. We are so fortunate to have access to such a massive collection that there is honestly no reason at all to use Times New Roman for every single thing you create. Unless you REALLY love it.
However, just because there are thousands of fonts available to you doesn’t mean you should use them all – well not all at once anyway!
Here are my two simple steps to using fonts on your website and within your brand in general:
Set the Tone
Decide what tone you are trying to set and choose a font category to match. The four categories are:
- Serif (such as Times New Roman and Baskerville Old Face) is the traditional font dating back to Mr. Garamond’s day. These fonts convey a conservative and safe feel.
- Sans Serif (such as Arial and Helvetica) is more modern and convey a minimalistic and clean feel.
- Script (such as French Script and Edwardian Script) are elegant with a handwritten feel and lots of loops. They convey sophistication but can be difficult to read.
- Display (such as Comic Sans and Papyrus) are big and bold and convey fun. They are great for headings and posters but not so much if you want to be taken seriously.
Think about the type of business you run and the type of customers you have. These will help you decide which font categories would work well for your brand. Your fonts should be fit for purpose and match the look and feel your business has, just as much as the colours and design do.
You can mix and match these categories to great effect, but choosing too many fonts can be a huge mistake – which leads me to my second point:
Simplicity is Key
“I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things.” ~ Lindon Leader
Most designers will agree that sticking to a maximum of just three fonts is a good guide for not just websites but in all design. Each font has italic, bold and italic bold options making a total of 12 variants for you to choose from. Then you can change the size and colour too. Pick a fancier font for your headings and display pieces and then stick to Serif or Sans Serif the rest of the text.
Whatever fonts you choose STICK TO THEM throughout your brand. The confusion comes when businesses use one font on their website and another in their literature and emails. Find a font that works for you and use it for everything to build consistency and trust in your brand.
And finally, take a look at some of your own favourite brands for inspiration. It’s important to create your own look, but there is no harm in seeing how the companies you admire already do it. Getting clear on your own tastes helps you create a brand that reflects who you are!
For anyone with a product-based business, selling online is relatively straightforward and should easily cover the cost of maintaining a website in the first place. But for those running serviced-based businesses, recouping the cost of your website may seem impossible.
However, here are three easy and proven ways to ensure that not only does your website bring in more physical business, but that it pays for itself every single day…
If you run workshops, speaking events or courses, consider setting up an online booking system for these. People who would not otherwise email or call will often book online through your website. Integrate your own calendar of events or use services such as Eventbrite or TicketSource to manage your bookings. For smaller events you can simply add tickets to a shop on your website (such as on the Create platform). Sharing these through your social media channels will spread your message further still.
Become an Affiliate
Affiliate marketing is BIG BUSINESS! If you use a product or service and you love it, then why not consider becoming an affiliate for them. Every time someone clicks through your website to theirs and makes a purchase you get a percentage of that sale. Each affiliate program is completely different and I would only ever recommend signing up for programs that you honestly believe in as it is your reputation on the line as much as theirs! I’m an affiliate for Create because I love their website builder and use it for lots of my clients. You can also find affiliate programs for many of the larger online retailers such as Amazon or you could think of setting up your own program for others to recommend your products and services!
Sell Digital Products
If you have a program or book that you can sell online as a digital product then this can also bring in a great residual income for very little effort (after you’ve created it of course!). Just be aware that if you are located in the UK and sell to a consumer in any other EU country, you will fall into the messy business of VAT-MOSS. Now I’m no expert on this at all so it’s worth checking out the HMRC Website and speaking to your accountant about it before you get into this but supplying things like ebooks, templates, apps and purely online courses all fall into this quagmire. You can get around this by selling through a third party that is already set up for VAT-MOSS such as Etsy who will collect the VAT and pay it for you or by manually sending out pdfs when orders arrive.
Don’t be put off completely though – I know of small businesses that sell online in this way and make a healthy profit through worldwide sales whilst adhering to the VAT-MOSS rules.
Implementing just one of these ideas on your website can cover the annual cost of your site without costing you too much time or effort. And of course there are many, many more ways to leverage your website such as membership sites, creating a YouTube channel, creating apps and licensing your own programs – this list is just the tip of the online iceberg!
Now, you might be thinking that this is a very strange question for me to be asking you, and to be honest I would have thought the same when I worked in a soul-less corporate job many years ago. But now that I have been self-employed for over 13 years this question is just as much a part of my business planning and measurement as my profits and customer testimonials. In fact, it drives everything that I do in my business.
So, instead of my normal WG techie post, today I am going to share my annual New Year business ritual and the tool that I use to keep myself on track for what I want to achieve for the coming 12 months.
If you’re used to simply setting business goals in terms of profits and growth then you may be wondering why I’ve gone all ‘woo woo’ on you. But stick with me for a bit because I promise that the profits and growth will follow if you actually take some time out to think about WHY you do what you do and tweak your business to reflect that. This is how those big businesses that we all love (or love to hate) are so successful – Apple, Virgin, Innocent – they don’t make different products and sometimes they don’t even make the best products, but they are selling a FEELING that we just can’t get enough of…
And, with the new year almost upon us it’s the perfect time to try something new. We often set unrealistic resolutions at this time of year and then promptly break them throughout January and completely forget them by February (I too used to be one of these people) so why not see if you can do better for 2017?
New tools for the New Year
A few years ago I discovered a book called The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte and then Start with Why by Simon Sinek (inspired by his fantastic TED Talk). The thinking within these books isn’t new, but it’s something we seem to have forgotten when it comes to running our businesses and living our lives.
“You’re not chasing the goal itself, you’re actually chasing a feeling”. ~ Danielle LaPorte
This quote pretty much sums the whole problem up for me. We are so busy chasing external goals that we lose sight of why we started our own businesses in the first place! To feel free, to feel powerful, to feel relaxed, to feel balanced, to feel important – however you wanted to feel when you became your own boss.
It’s a matter of not losing that feeling just because your business is growing. It still needs to have your essence – otherwise it’s not you.
Knowing how I want to feel in my business is super important and my core value is being authentic. If someone wants me to change and become someone I’m not or work on a project that feels icky to me, then I know it’s not the right client or project. If I ignore that feeling then I’ve learned that it usually comes back to bite me! So if I keep my feeling of ‘authentic’ at the core of everything I take on then I work to the best of my ability and I feel it every day – not just waiting for some day in the distant future.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”. ~ Simon Sinek
This is the other part to following your feelings in business. There is so much competition out there for all of us. I don’t sell unique services but I do have a unique skill set that no-one else has – you don’t find many web designer/crystal therapist/geologist/crochet addict/business mentor/geeks around!! So people buy from me because of my passion and personality rather than what I do. They feel that they can trust me and that often results in a cross over between my two businesses.
I do what I do because I love empowering people in small business.
How you can do it too
Take some time over the New Year to think about your business NOW. Not in 5 or 10 years but how it makes you feel TODAY. If it wears you out or makes you cringe then it’s time to make some serious changes.
You can do this process just by sitting on your own, or with your business partner if you have one, and asking yourself how you want your business to feel over the coming 12 months. If there are products or services you offer just because you think you ‘should’ but you don’t really like them, think about cutting them out so that you can focus on the ones that really make your heart sing. If you are doing what you love then you will inspire more clients because they will see how much passion and enthusiasm you have for what you do.
For example, if I set the intention that I will only take on clients that want to work with me the way that I work best, I ultimately end up with better results because I know that the websites I produce for them are a perfect fit. This in turn leads to more clients because my original clients are happy. However, if I take on every single client who comes to me even if I don’t think their website needs are something I can fully fulfill then I end up stressed, they end up unhappy and my business suffers.
You can also do some reading… Dive in to The Desire Map – either as a book available here on Amazon, or as a digital New Year program here on Danielle LaPorte’s website for only $25, or check out my NY workshop in Staffordshire as my alter-ego. And don’t forget to check out Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why’ here on Amazon.
And let me know if I can help – Empowering people in small business is my WHY!
Christmas is a great time to connect with your customers and clients and is also an excuse to have a bit of fun!
So why not try one of these festive marketing tips:
#1 Surprise your VIPs
Give your top customers or clients a special Christmas surprise – whether that’s a free product or gift or simply a handwritten note to thank them for their custom over the year, your thoughtfulness and recognition of their loyalty will make them feel like they are important to your business and will keep them coming back. If you’re new in business then this list can simply be your most frequent interactors on social media or via email. Whoever they are, make sure they know you think they’re great.
#2 Run a Competition
We all love to win prizes – especially when there may be a festive treat involved! It doesn’t have to be big to spark people’s interest, but offering an entry into your Christmas prize draw if they sign up to your email newsletter or comment on a Facebook post can be a great way to get your customers interacting with you.
#3 Create an Online Prize Hunt
Another simple competition idea is to run an online treasure hunt to get people to interact with your website. You could ask people to find the plum pudding or the treats you have around the site and then email in with their answers. As long as people know what they are looking for then it can be great fun!
#4 Hold a Party
If you have a physical location then putting on a party for your clients or customers can be a great way to keep your business in their minds. This could be limited to your VIPs as another way of surprising them or you could invite everyone who signs up to your newsletter list or who has been a customer in the past year to come along. This very much depends on how many people you think will show up!
#5 Create a Survey
Surveys can be a great way to find out what you clients and customers really think of your business and if you team it up with the chance to win something then you are bound to get people to share their views with you. Think about what it is you want to know and use a free online survey creator such as Survey Monkey to collect the responses.
#6 Sing Silly Songs
One of the funniest things I’ve ever done is create a Halloween video with some colleagues over on JibJab. You simply upload your faces and paste them on the characters and you are all turned into characters on an e-card that often includes hilarious dancing. They also have Christmas ones as well so you and your colleagues can become elves, at least for a short while!
#7 Offer an Early Bird Discount
If you know that Christmas is going to be super busy for you, give an early-bird discount for sales or services in November and let your customers reap the rewards of getting their Christmas shopping done early. Not only do they grab a bargain, but you get more business and hopefully avoid at least some of the last minute shopping that happens. On that note, I actually received an email order at 9pm on Christmas Eve one year so you are not ever going to help everyone be more organised!!
#8 Sell Gift Vouchers
You may already be thinking of this for your VIPs but offering all of your clients gift vouchers is a really great way to say thank you for their loyalty over Christmas. Keep the validity short to ensure they use the voucher early in the new year and this can really be a great way to pump up your clientele in January and February. Customers tend to spend more than the value of the voucher and if they don’t use it at all it hasn’t cost you anything either so these really are a great way to celebrate at this time of year.
#9 Write a Christmas Email Series
Send out an email a day for the 12 Days of Christmas. This could each include a special offer valid for 24 hours only or offering special tips and advice over the festive season. Choose something that fits with your industry and have some fun with it.
#10 Send Custom Candy
Sweets and candy are always winners in my book, so why not create some custom candy with your business details on it, or simply a Christmas message. There are plenty of companies out there doing customised food including putting your logo onto m&ms!! Give these to customers in Christmas baubles or create your own crackers for a simple but memorable gift.
There are so many different ways to surprise your clients this Christmas so I urge you to make the effort and spread some festive cheer.