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Where to get started online for your business

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You know you should be using digital for your business

But you just don’t know where to start. 
You need a digital strategy. 

A digital strategy will show you the best channels, tactics and content that will work best for your business. 

It will give you a practical action plan that you can execute on. Which will mean you can work smarter, not harder by focusing on the channels and tactics that will work best for your business. 

There is no need to over engineer a digital strategy. It’s about understanding the digital behavior and preferences of your target audience and working with this (not in spite of this).

It’s a simple framework. 

  1. Work out the best channel based on where your audience spends their online time 
  2. Identify how best to use that channel 
  3. Know all the right things to be saying to keep their attention and convert them to customers. 

 

If you can do this, you will save time, cut down on the noise of what you should be doing and focus on optimising – not trialling different channels and tactics to see what works. 

It’s a formula that will help you focus in on the best possible digital experience for your potential buyers. 

Channels

When we talk about channels, we’re talking about whether you need to be using search eg Google or whether you need to be focused on social media like Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram. 

Other channels that you might consider are video, so think Youtube, or audio, with streaming or podcasts. 

To work out which channels best fit your business, you need to understand where your target audience hang out online. 

Understanding this allows you to identify best fit channels. If they are there, then you should also be there. 

That means understanding whether they are searching on Google for you, or using Facebook all the time, or are they on Pinterest more? 

Top tool tip #1

Tools to help you see where your audience spend their time online when ‘talking about your topic are: 

•    https://www.wordtracker.com/. This helps you work out how many people are actively searching for your ‘topic’. 
•    Buzzsumo. This will show you content on your topic that is most popular based on shares so you can see which channel is most popular. 

Tactics

Once you know your channel, you need to work out how to best use the channel.  

So, spend some time on the channel. Look at the accounts and content that are relevant to your target audience. Do they like to watch video versus reading? Do they like images that they can collect and view rather than sitting to watch a video. Notice whether there is any paid promotion in the content you are seeing, and anything that is engaging them such as challenges or competition. These are all important clues on how to deliver your content into your selected channel for greatest impact. 

Top tool tip #2

Use the following tool to rummage around and explore how content on your topic is served. Note the way that the content is presented.  This will inform you on the tactics being used. 

•    Good old Google to discover content on your topic
•    Buzzsumo to discover other content not on Google .

Content

Your content is what brings your channels and tactics together to get you cut through in the noisy online environment and attention from your target audience. 

Knowing what you need to say, how to say and when to say it, is key. 

If you are saying things that are relevant to your audience, so they want to hear from you, you have a head start. Making sure you use their language and talk in a way that appeals to them is also key. 

Spend time looking at the content that your audience reads and consumes. Take notes on the topics and questions being answered. 

Think about the decision making process for your buyers. Content should reflect this process and the information they need to help them reach a decision in your favour!

That means, when they first start looking, or maybe they are not even looking, they are researching. They don't know exactly what or who will provide them with their solution, but they are open to understanding all of the options. This is your opportunity to be 'discovered' by them and be helpful to them by showing them their options, pros, cons and other considerations they may not know about.

Then, once they know what they are after, they want to know who can provide them with their perfect 'thing'. This is your opportunity to 'woo' them and let them know how great your offer is. They will likely have lots of questions and even do some comparing with other options on the market. Make sure you make it easy for them to make their decision.

Then you need to close the deal by making it easy for them to sign up or buy - that is, to 'convert'. Think about the final points that a buyer needs to cover off. Perhaps it's information around returns, warranties or needing proof from others how good you and your offering are.

Finally, I like to go that one step further and also focus on the after sale experience. What can you provide or do that will make for a great experience, that will encourage or nudge your new client or customer to talk about you to other people? A little post sales love is an important part of the customer journey. Done correctly it will mean that you will have a new channel of leads and sale as part of your sales funnel.

Making sure you think through the entire process gives you a complete 'customer journey' that you can map your digital activity against. It will give you a sales funnel and a holistic approach that makes sure you don't have any gaps in your process.

Top tool tip #3

Tool to help you discover and explore content on your topic

Channels, tactics and content are the three ingredients needed to make digital work best for you. Creating a plan that identifies these three things is the basis of a strong digital strategy that is based on the digital behaviour of your target audience. 

If you would like to develop a basic plan based on this simple approach, click through for a template to help create a map of the channels, tactics and content for your own business

If you would like help in identifying the right channels, tactics and content that will best suit your business, we can help with creating a Digital Strategy and Tactical Plan for you ready for you to put into action, or take the Digital Strategy Crash Course to create your own strategic action plan. 

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Building your digital network as a way to spread the word about your business

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A strong network of friends, family, business associates and followers “online” that has been cultivated over time, when used for business, makes magic happens!

It gives you the starting boost that you need, allowing your network to amplify your content, get you out there in front of new people to help build your following. 

We all get this as a fundamental principal. It’s not rocket science. But too many times I see businesses underestimate the need to truly be ‘social and connected’ online.

If you have no friends online to start with, then who will share, like and engage with your content?

I’ve recently been working with a new start-up excavation business, servicing a local domestic market. First day online with Facebook, between the business owner’s own social network, his wife, their friends and family they captured over 300 followers within the first few days just by putting out a message and asking people to like their page and share a few posts. From there, their business gained traction and soon had their first bookings.

While these might be small numbers, I know how many businesses struggle to reach their first 100 page likes. It is an outstanding result for a small local business, with a small niche target audience.

Could they have gotten this same result without their digital network of friends, family and acquaintances?

No, not without focusing on other more time intensive or pay to play tactics. This is, after all, the social economy that we’re living in.

IT’S WHO YOU KNOW!

Lacking a strong digital network is more common than you think, particularly for people in the 40 plus age group that didn’t grow up with Facebook.

I work with a lot of people with successful businesses who have not yet started using digital to drive sales and leads for their business. People in this age group find themselves in a digitally connected world, but their network online is underdeveloped. Don’t get me wrong, these people have good businesses with strong networks they’ve developed as they have grown their business, but this hasn’t translated into the digital world.

Often, in comparison, their younger counterparts start out in the digital world with a strong digital network of people that will help them share the word about their business. They have grown up in a digital world and the rules are understood. This younger group are immediately able to get results from digital, particularly if they are targeting people already in their age/ social circles.

This is exactly how my client’s new local offering could  get good traction so quickly.

MAKING NEW ‘FRIENDS’ ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Buck up, if you are starting from a low base of digital friends, it is possible to build your network online so that you, too, can start to see the benefits of social media for your business.

The key is to look for people where you can help each other in some way with your businesses. You know, I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine….

In other words, you want to find and establish beneficial relationships with other people in the digital space, and over time build this into a network of super connected and influential connections that you can use to grow your business.

IS THIS INFLUENCER MARKETING or another form of online dating?

Well, it’s a kind of online dating, so far as you are looking for compatible ‘digital partners’. But it’s also a lot like influencer marketing without the big budgets.

First, what is influencer marketing and what is an influencer?

Usually, influencer marketing refers to finding someone with a large following of your ‘target audience. ’ You approach them, do a deal, usually for payment of some kind, and in return they promote your product or service to their social following.

The influencer will have built a large following of people on one or more of the social media platforms such as Facebook, or Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest etc.

The influencer is then able to use their relationship with their followers to promote or recommend your product and service.

This is nearly always done for an agreed payment, sometimes with money, sometimes with return favours such as shares, posts, likes and comments etc.

An ‘Influencer’ Example

An example of an influencer is Grace Bonney from Design Sponge. Grace created a blog 11 years ago and now has millions of followers across Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. She was engaged as an influencer, to promote Mrs Meyers Clean Day (https://www.mrsmeyers.com/) (Super gorgeous cleaning products so you can clean with style and nice smells). Grace took over the generation of content for this business on their Instagram account for a week. All this content generated by Grace Bonney was shared back to the Design Sponge social accounts, giving Mrs Meyers Clean Day maximum exposure to Grace’s social following. Design Sponge has literally thousands and thousands of followers – all the exact target market for Mrs Meyers Clean Day. 

 
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But how does this relate to you and how does this work on a much smaller scale for you with no connections (yet) and no big marketing budget?

BUILDING YOUR OWN GROUP OF ‘INFLUENCERS’

What if you used similar techniques from influencer marketing to develop genuine friends and relationships with people that are also looking to grow their business and networks online? Instead of money in exchange for promotion, you exchange favours.

By seeking out those that are also in the growth stage of their business, you can use each other to help grow and spread the word about your businesses.

You don’t have to be targeting people with thousands and thousands of followers, just those that have a similar sized audience, or, are at a similar stage in their business as you. There must also be a synergy or a logical relationship between your specialty or product. Certainly, if you have the same target audience, working out how to help each other expose and grow your business is a win-win scenario.

The benefits of working with a group of influencers, better known from here on in as your ‘digital posse’ are:

  1. You can share and like each other’s content
  2. Help give your posts organic boosts to get in front of a new, broader audience
  3. Collaborate to double your value or offer
  4. Share learnings where there is no conflict or competition
  5. Share /collaborate on content to enrich and fill in missing gaps in your own content program.

HOW TO FIND AND BUILD YOUR DIGITAL POSSE?

Let’s talk about how you go about actually identifying, engaging, and making contact to build your network online.

1.      Take your real world contacts and turn them into digital contacts

It’s simple, pull out your contact book, all those business cards you’ve been collecting, your list of contacts in your phone and work your way through the list connecting with everyone, liking their pages and following.

Once you’ve done that, you can then invite them to like or follow you on your own social accounts.

This is the easy part. The next step is to look beyond your real-world contacts and start to look for people out in the wider digital world.

2.      Identify the types of businesses you should approach for your digital posse

You need to find people that are good matches with your business. By this, I mean look for other businesses where you have complementary offerings in your expertise or offering.

I call this six degrees of separation. Think of it like the wedding photographer, who would benefit from relationships with a florist, wedding dress designer, wedding caterer, venue hire and the list goes on. What’s your version of affiliated specialities with your business?

3.      Write down the keywords that best describe your business, product or service

Now, list words that describe your product or service. They should be words that your customers would use to talk or search for you. These ‘keywords’ will help you find people in related businesses to you.

4.      Research and identify your future digital posse

Using your keyword list, make use of the following tools to help you find your newest digital buddies.  

  1. Ninjaoutreach.com. This is specifically for identifying and working with influencers. It helps you not only find people, but also makes it super easy to connect and court your chosen few. This is especially true as you will be wanting to reach out to more than just one or two people.
  2. Tagboard.com. This is great for finding people and content via hashtags on your topic.
  3. Good old Google. Just search on your keywords, and look for bloggers or any content that comes up. Investigate the content by looking at what content’s being generated; what kinds of things are they saying. From there you can go and check them out on their social media channels, and see the size of their audience. You can look at how much content they’re putting out on a routine basis, and the type of engagement that they’re getting back from the people that are following them.
  4. Ink361.com is specifically for Instagram and helps you identify people with large followings based on their interests.
  5. Twitonomy is specifically for Twitter. Use your related keywords to identify other people that are actively talking to your target audience.
  6. Buzzsumo.com. This tool helps you find people that are publishing on your topics based on popularity of the content by the number of people that have shared it.  By identifying those people that are creating highly shared content, you can also start to identify more possible connections.

GETTING TO KNOW YOUR POTENTIAL NEW DIGITAL POSSE

Now that you’ve identified who your potential influencers are, you need to start the process of working with them.

The first thing you need to do is get to know them.

Follow them, look at their account regularly, read and engage with their content. Comment, share, and like their articles and posts. Eventually over time as you’ve gotten a good feel for who they are, and perhaps they’ve even responded to some of your comments or thanked you for a share. You can then reach out to them and start a conversation and build a rapport.

From there, you can then develop a relationship and make your pitch.

Some do’s and don’ts

  • Make sure that you don’t go straight into a pitch before you’ve established a relationship.
  • Do make sure you will have an equally beneficial relationship. Look for what you think they would be interested in and approach it from that perspective (you know channel some good old fashioned “what’s in it for me”.

Good examples of how you can help each other are:

  1. They have a blog and you have content that would extend or enhance their existing content.
  2. Offer to buy them a coffee and share and swap experiences.
  3. Look at where you might join forces to help promote each other’s businesses with discount offers or extensions of their own offering.
  4. Agree to like and share related content for each other.

Having said all the above, there are influencers out there who specifically build audiences, in order to sell “their attention”. While they might not be interested in doing a share for share or building a relationship with you, they may still be open to a deal, where, for an agreed sum of money they will promote you to their audience. If their audience is niche enough this can be worthwhile, even if their audience is small. Small can be good, if the pricing is reasonable, based on your expected return.

HOW DO YOU KNOW THEY ARE A GOOD MATCH?

To know if you’re a good match, ask the following questions.

  • Are they targeting your same audience?
  • Are they already talking about your topic? If they’re not talking about your topic, should they be? Is this a gap in what it is they’re doing? This might be the angle that you can use to approach them. Finding an influencer where you can add value to their business, will always make for a great relationship!
  • Does it make sense for them to talk to their audience about your product or service i.e. Is there relevancy and a natural connection to you? You don’t want their audience to be questioning why this person is recommending a product that has nothing to do with the influencer. It will just look odd.
  • What’s the level of engagement with their followers? Do they regularly comment and share or are they just silent lurkers that never truly engage?
  • Does the influencer’ personality type suit your business and brand?  If your brand has a level of political correctness, but you’re looking at an influencer who is an activist and has very strong opinions, then you might want to be careful about whether they’re a good fit from a brand perspective.
  • Do they have a following that is growing? It’s hard to say how small is too small. However, looking for enthusiasm and regular posting is the first thing, followed by a good growth rate are good indicators that you are not talking to a stagnant account.

STRIKING A DEAL WITH AN INFLUENCER

Finally, let’s talk about brokering a deal of some kind. The name of the game here is making sure that there is an equal exchange of some kind. So for example, this might look like:

  • One guest blog in exchange for 10 post shares
  • One promotion post on their channel for three shares of different posts.

It shouldn’t be about a money exchange, as you want it to be a sustainable and genuine relationship built of mutual benefit.

A note on paying for ‘influencer’ time

If you are paying for them to do some work, such as putting posts up, then think about the return and what you expect to get from it.

For example, if you pay $100 for one post to be put onto their account, you want to make sure that you’re going to get a fair return. For example, 100 click throughs to your website, resulting in a minimum of one new customer. So for $100, you’ve gotten one new customer. Does this math make sense based on your product /service value?

If you are doing this type of exchange for money, or even if it is around doing shares and posting of each other’s content, then make sure you put some rules in place, such as, the posts will actually stay up for at least 24 hours – you don’t want to be duped by someone who puts it up for five minutes and then takes it down again.

Make sure you have some control over the imagery and commentary. You don’t want them to make it up and not be aligned to your brand. Finally, make sure that you are measuring the impact to understand the effectiveness of the activity.

DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR ONLINE NETWORK- it’s hard without online friends.

Developing a network based on identifying influencers in your area of speciality when you don’t have your own strong following, is a great way to raise awareness. It is a very valid way to establish long-term relationships that will benefit you over the long term.

In a digitally connected world, cultivating a strong digital network is absolutely essential.

While some might call this network marketing, and others will say it is influencer marketing, at the end of the day it really does come down to who you know and whether they are willing to share and promote you to their own digital network.

 

Image credit: thanks to https://pixabay.com/en/girls-whispering-best-friends-young-914823/

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Can Lego Teach Us Something About Social Media?

Lego have launched their own social media platform which provides some key lessons on how to effectively use social media.  

The platform for young kiddies, speaks directly to the children, as well as to the secondary audience, their parents. They were clever in answering all the questions upfront, in a language that resonated with both the kids and their parents, as well as creating a simple interface that made it easy for the kids to work out and start using quickly.  

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Why doesn’t Facebook Business pages work anymore?

Frustrated, sad, mad or feeling all three over Facebook's ever reducing delivery of traffic for your business? Why is it that Facebook Business pages don't work anymore? The simple answer is that content on Facebook is displayed based on an algorithm and this favours content from friends and family who are their primary user base – not content from businesses.

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Digital and automation gives you scale

How can you use digital to create automated processes to bring in new customers?

Digital can provide many ways to make bringing in new customers scalable. If you're able to create repeatable processes that you can automate you can sleep knowing that digital is still on the job for you. What’s more, because digital is so measurable, it also makes for a great system that can be continually optimised to make sure you’re getting the results you want for your business. 

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How to get traffic more to your website

If you're selling cupcakes, you need to ask 'are your customers looking for your cupcakes to buy' or do you need to remind them they love, need and truly want one of your cupcakes? 

Working out how to get traffic to your website comes down to answering two questions. Are people actively looking for you? 

If not, where are they hanging out online?

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The forecast is cloudy - and that’s great!

For small business, one of the great trends that is very much in favour of small business is the explosion of cloud based, hosted or online services that are now available. It gives the smart business owner the opportunity to get ahead of their competitors and have access to online tools and  functionality that used to only be available to those companies with large IT budgets. 

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Why you need to make every digital touch point count

Just like Monty Python’s “Every Sperm is Sacred”, every touch point in digital is too. Let me explain. Every interaction or message that you exchange with your client or customer combines with the entire set of touch points to form one complete experience that will either move the person from potential customer to paid up and loyal customer or send them away disappointed, thinking your competition is better. 

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3 tools that will help you grow your business

There are an amazing number of tools that can save you time, get things done or simply make your work better. What I love about being in business today is that so much is possible with the help of digital – all at very affordable prices. 

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How to amplify your networking activity with digital

Do you walk away from every networking event with a selection of new business cards with potential new leads and they only end up back on your desk in a pile that looks something like the leaning tower of pisa? Here are some tips on for the networking challenged business bod to use online. 

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The secrets to a successful digital strategy to drive new sales and leads for your business

Digital the great equaliser. I believe this whole heartedly.

Digital can be used by any business, of any size to grow – beyond expectations and to carve out a niche in your market for success. 

To do this, you need to be strategic and holistic, then take action and follow through.

Strategy and execution is where just about every business falls over when it comes to creating your own successful online story. 

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What does it cost to build a website?

The answer is a website will cost between $0 and $100,000 or more. 

What it costs to build a website should be a simple question but the fact is that there are many variables to understand before you can work out the cost of a website. Until you have some requirements, it's like asking how long is a piece of string. 

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