I've met a few people recently who run their own small business and have told me that they just don't know where to start with self-promotion and therefore don't advertise themselves at all. It's great that their business is ticking along through one of the best forms of marketing - word of mouth - however is this really enough in today's world? Does it honestly help to satisfy the self-employed financial anxieties that we all suffer from? It seems not, but not knowing where to start, combined with a lack of time to invest in finding out, keeps them stuck in a rut.
What's my advice to them, and to you if you're in the same boat?
Step 1 - Take a deep breath and make time to invest in this
Self-promotion can be a tough thing to do as it often means for a fair few small businesses, stepping out of their comfort zone and using a computer or technology that is, to be honest, a bit baffling.
Step 2 - Know your target audience
First and foremost know who your prospective customers are and where they go to find the product or service you offer. This previous blog post will help you identify your target audience if you need help in this area.
Step 3 - Get your business on social media
Depending on what you discovered in Step 2, decide which social media channels are right for your business and prioritise them according to audience reach i.e. the number of prospective customers who are using that channel. Focus then, on getting the one that you ranked number 1 up and running. As a crude rule of thumb:
Step 4 - Get yourself a website
This doesn't have to be all singing, all dancing but, it does need to have an impact on your target audience, be professional as well as informative. Most people these days won't do business with anyone unless they've researched you first and ideally seen reviews from your previous/existing customers. Prospective customers also like to have all their questions answered before they commit to coming to you, hence FAQs are extremely popular and highly recommended. Much of this information could be gleaned from a social media page, but not all the information is as easy to find as it would be on a well-designed website. We, as consumers, are all too impatient these days and want things fast, so unless demands of prospective customers can be met quickly and easily, you'll lose out on their custom as they move on to find another business that satisfies their needs there and then.
Why do I recommend social media before a website?
There is no doubt that having both is essential. I think though it's important for small businesses to take one step at a time and invest their time and money wisely. Because, let's face it, time and money are somewhat scarce when running your own business. Being active on social media and linking your posts/tweets back to your website, is a really effective way to get your website ranked higher on search engines. This is more commonly referred to as helping your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) of your business website. However, if you have a website but no active social media channels, then it makes your website hard for people to find organically. Therefore, I believe it's more effective and efficient to get your social media channel up and running, be confident in posting/tweeting, gain a following, hopefully gain some new customers and then invest in getting yourself a website.
I hope you've found this brief overview useful. Any questions then please do let me know and feel free to follow me on my Creator of Websites Facebook page.
I'm passionate about helping others reach their goal; whether this be a small business or charity wanting to get online or someone wishing they could get rid of a structural health problem that's affecting their wellbeing.
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