I've compiled a list of links to sites that offer images for free under the Creative Commons Licence. While free to use, do check what is required around attribution of the shot - the sites do vary in requirements, and sometimes there are both free and pay to use images on the one site.
If you’re not a writer, but it’s necessary for your business, then let us give you some tips and an easy process.
Building your own group of influencers with 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.
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.
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:
You can share and like each other’s content
Help give your posts organic boosts to get in front of a new, broader audience
Collaborate to double your value or offer
Share learnings where there is no conflict or competition
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.
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.
Tagboard.com. This is great for finding people and content via hashtags on your topic.
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.
Ink361.com is specifically for Instagram and helps you identify people with large followings based on their interests.
Twitonomy is specifically for Twitter. Use your related keywords to identify other people that are actively talking to your target audience.
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:
They have a blog and you have content that would extend or enhance their existing content.
Offer to buy them a coffee and share and swap experiences.
Look at where you might join forces to help promote each other’s businesses with discount offers or extensions of their own offering.
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.
Set up a Google Adwords account and see what happens.
When you start an Adwords account, Google will give you a $100 voucher with the first $50 you spend.
So why not make use of this little bonus as an experiment.
Adwords is all about having ads show up at the same time someone is actively looking for your product or service.
To get started you will need:
1. Understand which keywords to bid on (the Google Keyword planner will help you find the right words).
2. A good landing page that directly reflects your keyword and what people are searching for
3. An ad – you can write this as part of setting up your Adwords campaign. Start with at least 2-3 versions so that you can work out which copy is going to work best for your customers.
4. Make sure you cap the budget on your campaign so you don’t go over.
5. Put the ad in action and watch your statistics closely to see what happens.
6. Review your ad performance daily to see how the ads are performing, stopping those that don’t perform and adding new ones based on what is working.
If you would like some video step-by-step how-tos checkout the Learn Advertising which covers not only Google Adwords and getting started but also Facebook. You can see what’s included here.
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.
- Work out the best channel based on where your audience spends their online time
- Identify how best to use that channel
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Quick how-to is using Zapier to set up automated tasks between apps
Zapier is a connector app. It allows you to create automated tasks between different services or apps such as your website and Mailchimp. This is great for thinking about what could you be doing - but don't because you don't get time. For example, setting up some follow up emails after a purchase or auto-populating contacts into a CRM for followup. Soooo many possiblities.
Take a look and see if this fires any ideas for you to do things better (ie. automated) so you can either save time or do 'more'!!
Setting goals for your business is pretty easy. That is, until you actually work out what you need to achieve them.
If you are anything like me, I am always positive and absolutely overly ambitious with my goals. From what I can get done in an hour or a day to what I will achieve with my business. One thing I do to keep myself honest with my (online) business goals is reverse engineer them focusing on the numbers I need to achieve the outcomes. Let me show you how I do it.
- Start with a list of the following:
a. Where the lead/sale source will come from (you should have listed these as part of your goal setting activity)
b. The estimated audience size for each of these lead/sale sources
c. What you believe the click-through rate will be for the source
d. The number of leads from this source – which is just the click-through rate (%) multiplied by the estimated audience size.
e. The cost of the click if you are paying for it
f. Then you can work out the total cost (number of leads x cost per click/lead).
g. From here, determine what you think the conversion rate will be so that you can work out the number of sales and your revenue figure.
h. You can see if it matches with your goal figure.
i. If it doesn’t, then you can work out if you are targeting enough people, having to pay too much for sales and whether you need to add some sources or rethink your current approach.
- If you don’t know the conversion rates and cost per click amounts based on existing sales/ activity, then you will need to estimate.
- These figures will give you benchmarks to track against so you can see a) if you are tracking to make your goals b) needing to make adjustments as you go along to make your goals.
- Below is a table what it should look like, and some examples. I’ve taken this from my 2018 Planner, which you can read more about here.
I’ve built this template into the planner as part of the planning section in my Planner. I created this planner because the templates I use all the time for both my own business and for my clients. I got sick of having papers and key information in lots of different places so I built it all into one planner that you can carry it with you - from planning, to goals, daily diary and action plan. All in one neat package!
Many of us are DIY’ers when it comes to our business online. We don’t have the budget to hire a social media team so we need to make things as easy as possible.
A social media scheduling tool can be super helpful in getting things organised and being more efficient, but we aren’t all ready to commit the budget.
Most of these tools are designed for large teams of people in agencies. So I’ve reviewed the most common social media tools out there with a view to assessing which ones best suit us DIY’ers.
My comparisons and assessments were based on the following criteria:
- Cost – free and a low entry level budget.
- Ability to save you time.
It must allow you to:
- Make it easy to schedule ahead any posts, and comment and share into groups or tag people.
- Allow me to control when I post – as well as providing a queue for a pre-determined schedule eg. Just publish on Tuesdays and Thursdays at x time.
- Free - browser extension
- Free for 1 user account, three social profiles and up to 30 posts scheduled in advance. The entry level plan is US$25 pm for unlimited scheduling and 10 social profiles.
Hootsuite is very popular and reputable. It has an all in one dashboard so you’re not switching between platforms.
You can also see other pages (eg. From Facebook and Twitter) as part of your dashboard, which I find very handy for watching competitors or news on my topic so I can either comment or like, or share into my own feed. This means I can batch up a heap of posts at once.
What I like:
• dashboard display so you can see everything in one place
• it’s got lots of plugins (at a price but good for growth ideas in the future)
• it’s got a suggested content section but the suggestions were not good.
What I don’t like:
• the setup/user interface is a little complex
• it’s expensive for teams ($129 pm for 3 users)
• no reporting on the free plan at all.
- Free - browser extension
- Free for 1 user account, three social profiles and up to 10 posts scheduled in advance. The entry level plan is US$15 pm for 100 scheduled posts and 8 social profiles.
Buffer is super easy to use and have a really nifty service, where they send you curated links and quotes via email once your buffer of posts is empty. On more than one occasion I’ve found really interesting articles in these suggestions.
What I liked:
- Easy reporting on a channel basis to allow rebuffering for those posts that worked well.
- Creating a feed of blogs that I can easily review and add to my schedule (not dissimilar to Hootsuite) but at a profile level.
- You can have individual posting schedules for the different platforms rather than just one schedule for your entire account
- You can set up posting schedules and then just add to the queue and Buffer will publish the next scheduled based on the schedule. This is super terrific but they take it one step further with their optimal timing schedule which will tell you the best times to schedule and then with a click of the button it ‘makes it so’ and replaces your current schedule with the optimal version.
What I don’t like
• The broader analysis report are only available for the more expensive plan.
• There’s no commenting functionality.
- Free - browser extension
- Free for 1 user account, three social profiles, 10 posts per day up to 30 posts at a time. The entry level plan is US$10 pm for 1000 scheduled posts and 10 social profiles.
This tool is all about value. It’s a basic scheduling tool, with the ability to have a tailored publishing scheduled on a platform basis. It’s really designed for agencies, with basic reporting, but you need to be signed up for one of their more expensive plans.
What I liked:
- Super easy to connect up your social accounts
- You can create groups within your profiles, let’s say your contributing to lots of different Facebook groups but with different topics, you could group them around these topics or however you like.
- $3 per month for 3 social profiles and 300 planned posts
- It only posts to Twitter or Facebook.
This is a slightly different social media management platform as it is focused on helping you serve up the best performing content. So if Facebook or Twitter is your sweet spot, then this is definitely worth checking out. If you want other platforms like Instagram or Linkedin, this is not for you.
This tool actively seeks and provides you with high performing content (eg. Viral photos, status ideas etc). So very different from the other platforms that are dependent on your bringing all the content to the table.
The two that stood out in the market for small business were Hootsuite and Buffer. Hootsuite has the added bonus of being able to view streams of your content and respond from within the dashboard. This I saw as saving time because I didn't need to move from platform to platform to do this. Buffer on the other hand had a few features that I valued highly, which was post performance and multi-times publishing scheduling tool.
Just about all of the platforms have a free trial period making it easy for you to work out whether the functionality will suit you.
In the meantime, my best advice on the matter of selecting a platform is that there are so many other there, with variations on features and pricing that you need to assess each one in the light of your own individual needs. Make a list, don’t follow the crowd, follow your own unique set of needs.
Ever posted a link post on Facebook, only to discover there's a mistake in the image that Facebook have scraped from you website, and no matter how many times you update the link in Facebook the image won't update?
The key points to know about the Spam Act and Privacy legislation in Australia to your business on the right side of the law.
One of the key lessons that I learnt over the past year was the importance of continuing ‘input’ to keep my ideas flowing as I continue to grow my business.
I make my living from bringing together lots of different things into great ideas for the people that I work with. The thing about being creative, having ideas and being inspired on a regular basis is both hard work (in a very nice way) and something that can be learnt.
So, I thought I would talk through some things that you can do over your downtime during the festive season to help inspire you with lots of creative ideas for the coming 2018.
- The first thing to do is say yes to the next thing that you might normally say no to. I have to school myself often on this one, as I’m a natural introvert, I’m happy to spend time alone and I always sway towards no when it comes to invitations and doing things that means spending time with lots of other people. But making the effort to overcome this inclination always results in inspiration from a new environment, new experience and new people.
Shonda Rhimes (the creator of Greys Anatomy, Scandal and How to get away with murder) wrote a book about her year of saying yes. She is a woman who makes her living from idea generation and creativity. You can get the general gist by viewing her TedTalk.
- Watch a random TedTalk through their discovery piece. Deliberately choose something that is completely outside anything that you know. My favourite discovery was about crows and how incredibly clever they are. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL96cD47DPw
- Listen to podcasts on things that are completely different from what you do every day. I love Planet Money which is about all the crazy things that work in our world like the economy of zoos and how they exchange and barter animals. Other great podcasts are Science Vs – which takes on controversial topics and steps through all the facts that are proven, and not proven and Wow in the world which is a pod cast for kids on science and explaining the Why of things.
- Strike up a conversation with a random stranger. The very act of stretching to engage with someone you know nothing about, pushes your comfort levels and thus helps you think on your feet and really listen to what they have to say. It also has the added benefit of occasionally allowing you to walk away with new knowledge and a feel good story.
- Choose a non-fiction book on a topic you want to know more about and read just 5 minutes per day on it. I do this over coffee. I get through a few pages and while it takes a long time to finish the book, I find that reading it slowly allows me to better digest and connect up the new content to my existing knowledge.
- Allow yourself to be bored. There are a lot of studies that show that the downtime allows your mind to go places it can’t when you’re constantly ‘on’. You can watch Manoush Zomorodi who wrote a book on the topic of bored and brilliant ideas and you can get the general gist here in her TedTalk.
Want somewhere to capture your brilliant ideas during your down time over the break?
Check out my 2018 Planner, I’ve built this Planner so I could have everything in one neat package. Diary, Action plan and a place to capture all my notes and thoughts for my business.
Goals are necessary for you to understand what actions you need to take to get where you want to be.
Even if you end up changing tact mid way through, you wouldn't know that you needed to make a change if you didn't have an idea of what looked like success and what didn't.
This week, I want to talk about the actual act of setting goals and laying out a plan of action to achieve them.
Last week I talked about reviewing your website analytics and understanding what activity is driving sales for your business. This is great information to help you understand what goals to set for your business for the coming year.
- When I set goals for my business, I always focus on what generates the sales – ie where the money is coming from. I learnt this in my early days in business. It may sound odd, but when I first started, money wasn’t the focus it was more what I was doing. But without the context of whether these were the right actions to generate income, I quickly was not doing things that helped me grow my business.
- It may sound mercenary but understanding where and how the money will be generated is kind of the point of a business – even if you don’t want to earn a lot of it, even if you have other goals around lifestyle or socially minded goals, money is what makes your business sustainable.
- Therefore, my goals are always set in the context of revenue or income that I want to earn.
- If you are not sure how to set your goals, then set them based on what you earnt the previous year. You might want to increase it by a certain percentage or maintain it, but make improvements that are more about your quality, ease or hours of work.
- Once you’ve set this goal, you need to start working out how to achieve them.
- The first thing to do once you know what you want to achieve, is to list out your sources of income.
- For each of these sources, there are activities or things that need to be done to make each source work well. List all of these, at a high level is fine at this planning stage.
- From here, now break down the actions you need to achieve each of these.
- I make a list of the key things that need to be done to make the source work, then I plot them out based on any dependencies or order of things that need to be done eg. I can’t generate sales for a product on my website, until I’ve updated and put a shopping cart on the site.
- Then I take all of these, and I plot these out across the year, including what is the ‘success’ indicator for each at 3 months, 6 months, 9 and 12 months.
- If you follow these steps, it means you will have created SMART goals. That means that you have created a Specific target, that is Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound. It's a simple process that makes sure you don't end up with open ended ideas of what you want to do.
- This next step is optional. I then print it out this out and stick it to the inside of my bathroom cabinet. Every morning when I’m getting ready for the day, I am looking at it and reflecting on whether I am still on track and where I should put my time for that day. It’s a great way to keep my self in check and keep the focus on what matters.
- I also break my to do list into things I WANT to do and things I NEED to do. What I want and what I need to do are often two very different things and when I throw in the filter of whether it’s a goal related activity, I see really quickly where time is being taken away from what I want to achieve.
I’ve built all of the planning steps into a weekly planner for 2018. It includes a weekly spread that allows out to priorities your weekly tasks based on wants versus needs as well as your income goals with actions.
Can you believe it, the end of the year is almost upon us. The end of the year is always so hectic, that often planning and reflection from a business perspective doesn't realistically happen till January.
Then before you know it, February is here and you've already lost a month or so on getting things bumping along for the new year. So for the next few weeks, I'm going to lay out a weekly planning task for your online marketing program so that you can hit 2018 running.
- New year is almost here – who has time to really put their mind to these things? But in fact, if you break it down into a series of individual steps, which also gives you the benefit of having time to think and explore your thinking, you can hit 2018 ready to go.
- Next week I'll cover setting the goals and actions to create a marketing plan and to hit January 2018 with big, critical thinking about your business (at least from a digital perspective) done.
- The first thing you need to do is know what you need to know.
- Get onto your Google Analytics and really get your head around what is working and what is not. These are the key questions to ask.
- Is what you are doing working and sending traffic to your website? All important. Remember your website is an important digital asset and it should be delivering value in the form of leads or sales for your business.
- Which channels is sending traffic to your website? – you want to know where to double down, make more effort or walk away from.
- Are you converting that traffic into leads or sales? – if you can see that you are getting the traffic but not the sales, then you need to know why. So, if not, why not? Is it a technical issue? Is it missing content?
- Are you just sending the wrong people to your website?
- If yes, which channel is sending the most profitable customers to you?
- Get your head around the answers to these questions. They should feed into your 2018 plan. Which channels to be focusing on, or if you’re getting traffic but not converting – where do you need to focus attention to fix the ‘barrier’??
- This exercise takes less than hour.
- Download my Guide to Google Analytics for the Numerically Challenged – it will step you through answering these five key business questions in order to start forming a picture of where you need to focus your attention in the new year.
- As a next step as a broader view of your business that incorporates all of your activities, map out a simple table that allows you to list your channels or activities that you do to generate new business. For example, Facebook posting, networking events, cold calling.
- Beside this column you now want to list the dollar figure of sales from each of these activities and beside that the number of sales.
- This simple exercise allows you to see which where your business is coming from and as a simple high level audit on your business it allows you to understand what to stop, what to keep doing and what to change or improve.
Christmas is coming! That means for most of us we will try and sneak in some down time. But for many business owners, getting downtime is really hard, particularly if you are in business for yourself without a large staff.
I recently took a break to the UK for my nieces wedding. I told my clients, pared my to do down to the bare minimum during my time away but I still struggled to actually get to the work between the time difference etc. It was one of the most stressful holidays I’ve ever had and it was no break for me at all.
So based on my mistakes and my hopeless optimism, I decided that I would look for solutions to how to schedule a break when you are in business for yourself.
- Put an out of office on your inbox and let people know you are on a break and not available.
- If you have client based business, then let them know you will be away and what you have done on their account to make sure things won’t be let go in your absence. For example, I run social media for a few clients and I prescheduled content so that there was no disruption to their account.
- I should also have brought some some other activities forward to get ahead and make sure they didn't crop up as issues while I was away. Lesson learnt, particularly as it would have made the return much less of a jolt with pressing actions needed from the moment I stepped off the plane.
- When you are in your own business, taking a break often means no more new business development. However, if you have things humming along with regular enquiries coming through, and no one else can take care of them, then write an email auto responder for them that:
a) explains your are on holidays for x days and
b) prepare a flyer with additional information that you can also provide while they wait for your response
c) be really clear on when you will respond to them.
- Get ahead of your social media / publishing and preschedule everything. There are lots of tools that can used to make this happen automagically while you are away. You might be on holidays but you don’t want to completely shut down and lose what ground you’ve gained.
- Make use of my batching process from last week. My batching all up takes me 7 hours for 4 weeks of content.
- If you have a business where there are things that just can’t wait till you get back, then put in place an escalation process for urgent matters that can’t wait. Make sure you articulate or know what constitutes an urgent matter. You don’t want to be deciding this on your break. There are two ways to tackle this:
a. Ask for very urgent matters to be emailed to you with “Urgent – can’t wait till your return” in the subject line, advising you will check in once a day for anything that needs attention immediately. Then schedule just 10 minutes per day on your break to do a scan for any of these emails.
b. Ask for very urgent matters to complete a form (via SurveyMonkey for free) to provide you with as much detail as possible on the issue. Then have the response go to a dedicated ‘problems only’ inbox which you check once a day. This keeps you out of your everyday inbox so you don’t accidentally get sucked into the non-urgent stuff.
- Quarantine any time ‘on’ for your business to a finite time – no more than 30 minutes or say two hours in a mid week checkin. Schedule it and stick to it so you are not losing your ‘down’ time.
- Make a list of all of the things that happen on a routine basis in your business and work out if you can possibly do them ahead of time. Then schedule time before your break to get them done.
- While you may not have staff usually, you might consider a VA for a short term contract that can operate to set of agreed steps and processes, in particular in relation to taking phone calls, emails or orders.
- If you are getting someone to step in or up, then make sure you make really detailed notes on what needs to happen and what the common problems are that you come across.
- Know that down time is very important for your health – both mental and physical and increases productivity.
Generating content on an ongoing basis to help generate awareness of your business has become a given. But it's not your main job, you run a business and this content thing for the social media can be such a drain.
The key to taking away the pain and feeling of constantly having to be 'doing' content can be managed if you start batching your content and producing it in blocks.
I use this process to get a month ahead so I’m not thinking about content all the time / every week. It also gives me a ‘creative’ break to go away and get news ideas.
First step is to write down what content you are going to produce. I do this in my monthly view of my planner. It let’s me see the flow and continuity of the topics.
Plan out your content for a minimum of 4 weeks so you end up with a ‘flow’ logical progressions etc. You also likely end up with topics slotted in for the months ahead making your job even easier the longer you follow this process.
This stage usually take me about 30-40 minutes. I make it easy by have a running list of ideas that I’ve been collecting over the days. You can also try my tried and tested 30 ideas in 30 minutes approach – which will help you come up with heaps of ideas in a very short amount of time.
As the month goes by you should also capture those random ideas and thoughts somewhere for future reference. A note pad or note on your phone. I use Asana.
Second step - produce content outlines – detailed piece of what you will write about – writing template (depending on volumes and how much – you may need half a day or a complete day – format and length etc.
I do two formats – a video with transcript and download and a quick tip video, so I do the outline for each of these before actually writing them.
Third step – set aside the time to actually write and create the content. This is usually a full day for me.
Fourth step is creating your ‘promotional assets’. This is your images for any blogs or posts or anything you are going to use to post to social media or help get the word out about your content.
Fifth step – leave some distance in time to allow for review and editing your content. It’s hard to edit your own work and if you don’t have the luxury of someone else doing this for you then the best thing is to allow time to give you a fresh perspective and eyes on looking for how on point the content is, whether there are grammar and spelling edits required etc.
Finally – schedule your content into a social media monitoring tool so you don’t have to think about it on a daily basis.
I am always surprised by someone who has no idea if they are getting traffic to their website or not.
They will have spent quite a bit of money on it, but not look at it as an important business asset that should be working hard for them.
Video notes/ transcript
1. So many people don’t know the answer to this question - but it answers many questions:
a. If you don’t – then how do you know if all the things you are doing on Instagram, FB/ LinkedIn/ Email/ Paid promotion etc actually working??
b. How are you getting the value from the money and time you spent on creating a website in the first instance?
2. It’s a 5 minute job to tell if you have traffic
3. Logon to your Google Analytics account > From the left hand menu select Acquisition > Overview
- You can see the channels that drive traffic to your web site
- You can see whether they are converting (if you have goals setup)
- You can see bounce rates and time on page.
5. A lot of information in one screen.
6. If you are encouraged to know more, then Google Analytics an answer the If you want to know the five most useful questions to answer with your analytics – download my guide to analytics.
7. It helps you answer these five important questions about your business and how you are doing online.
1. Is what you are doing working and sending traffic to your website?
2. Which channels is sending traffic to your website?
3. Are you converting that traffic into leads or sales?
4. If not, why not? Is it a technical issue? Is it missing content?
Are you just sending the wrong people to your website?
5. If yes, which channel is sending the most profitable customers to you?
8. If you want to see how you are going compare dot your competitors use similarweb.com – but if you have very little traffic then you won’t even register on them.
9. If you don’t even know if you have Google Analytics, then install the Google tag assistant – and then go to your website – it will tell you.
10. Depending on your website, you might need your developer to install the code, but if you’re on Squarespace or similar it is just a 1 minute job to add your account code!
11. If you want help to set it up correctly, then see the pages 8-10 in my Google Analytics For The Numerically Challenged – simple explanations with the focus on what matters.
Great content is how you make it into the Facebook feed
Buffer recently published a very comprehensive article on the Facebook Algorithm.
The summary and key highlights from the article is if you're content is popular, then it will get into the news feed - without having to pay!
So that means making GREAT content. So slow down, take the time to do less but great content.
Ideas ideas ideas
We can't start to make great content until you have the ideas. The following are tips on how to come up with ideas to generate great content.
Follow the below to come up with 30 ideas (in 30 minutes) - sign up to get the template I created to help you make it happen!
- Write down 5 questions that you’ve been asked in the last month by your client or customer
- Do a search on your topic and see what ‘news – trends, changes, problems’ come up in the press that is popular – write down 5 topics. Research on Google, Buzzsumo, and https://displaypurposes.com/ for hashtags
- Write down 5 personal anecdotes of your or your customers that your product or service has helped
- Look at the seasonal and events and ‘days’ calendar and work out the relationship between your business eg. Changing from spring to summer, Halloween, day of the dead, Melbourne cup, Football finals, the day of the blah blah For a HR company - Melbourne Cup and tips on drinking or at work functions or – write down 5 topics
- Think about your office and daily routine – people you are meeting with, places you are going, then pick 5 activities that you can post on
- Think of someone you can interview in relation to your business? Eg. A customer, or industry leader – write down 5 questions for them to answer
- Tools that will help you come up with topics and ideas are:
You should be able to get far more than 5 ideas from these.
- You should have MORE than 30 just doing these few thing.
- Download my template to help you generate your 30 ideas in 30 minutes
- MAKE IT HAPPEN - Block out some quiet time where you know you can zone IN in your diary - go to the 'IN the zone place'. I like coffee shops – the white noise is what does it for me – if necessary turn off you phone or put a do not disturb on these for the 30 minutes.
Understanding whether or not you need a website, what kind of website do you need, how do you get a website and how much should you pay for a website.
This week I am talking about a client that I worked with recently that needed a website. It raised all sorts of questions and I am going to share this with you here.
The business I was working with was brand new, just opening up their doors.
They are in the finance advice compliance area and are selling to other businesses, corporate professional services and they needed to answer these questions. Do they need a website? What kind of website do they need?
They were very sensitive to one, being flexible and the fact that their business is going to grow quite quickly, they hope and so, their services and what they do will probably evolve as they get new clients
They were sensitive to budget. Didn't want to throw all of their budget after a website when they knew they needed to be spending money also on driving traffic to their website and generating awareness and new leads for their new business.
Do they actually need a website?
- As a new start up, they needed to put their best foot forward in terms of the impression that they’re making to their potential customers or clients, so they needed something that was a professional calling card, so to speak, something that would make them look like they’re a business of substance. A website would help them to achieve that.
- The other thing was the website needed to also play a role in helping them be discovered. If you're in a position where you have people actively searching for you in the search engine such as Google or Bing, then actually, having a website is essential in order to be found. You need content on a website in order to be indexed by the search engines.
What kind of website do they need?
- They need to be able to have content that can be indexed by the search engines to help them be discovered and they needed to look good to give people a good professional impression of their business. No shopping cart, no lead magnet/ email integration, no forms (just yet).
- This is a website that doesn’t need complex functionality.
- The focus needs to be on looking good. It needs to be on being able to create content easily and
- The ability to be flexible and add new pages of content as you evolve and add new services, being able to easily tweak and change the content on your own without having to constantly refer back to a web developer which is going to cost you money is actually a really good thing to think about in terms of your requirements for a new website.
- Forward thinking by allowing future integration with a range of third party services such as email providers, code insertions (eg. For remarketing) etc.
How do you get a website?
- If you have sophisticated technical requirements, you need a web developer and you need to go through a process of working out what you need and having professionals build it for you
- If you don’t have technically ‘different or sophisticated’ needs, particularly as a start up then consider a web builder. These are hosted services that allow you to easily build a website without any kind of technical know how at all, services like Squarespace and Wix and Weebly allow you to literally create a website without having to go the expense of hiring a web developer.
How much will it cost?
- If you are hiring a web developer, then I would say you're typically going to get a WordPress site and that’s going to be anywhere from $800 up, most typically, somewhere between $1,500 to $3,000 depending on how many pages you have. For my client they could have gotten a site done for around $1000 (Aus)
- You need to be very clear up front on what you want as a lot of people endup paying much more as they make changes to the original scope which ends up costing more than originally quoted with extra hours being charged each time you change your mind or add something extra.
- Alternatively, a web builder is literally going to cost your time that it takes to create it using their platform and the subscription cost which typically is going to be somewhere between, $100 to $200 per annum.
EXTRA NOTES ON THE TOPIC
What are the pros for going with a web builder?
- Cost, to start with, particularly on an ongoing basis. It means that you're not having to pay a developer in terms of keeping the site up to date with security patches etc.
- It means that you're not having to worry about when things go wrong or if your site gets hacked – it will all be taken care of and covered in your subscription fee.
- You don’t have to go and employ your web developer again on an hourly basis to fix these types of things.
- You are getting a system that, generally speaking, will come with really good, well-designed, out of the box templates so you can create a site that looks great without having to go through a lot of design or developer expense.
- Easy to keep up to date without that additional expense.
- Quick to set up.
What are the cons for a web builder
- Less flexibility and ability to tailor to any custom requirements.
- SEO is acceptable but not best practice.
Other things to consider
- If you don’t feel comfortable with design, you can find a graphic designer that can literally help you work out how to make the site look good if you're not comfortable with what you're going to pull together when you build the site.
- A web or graphic designer can put together what we call a web style guide which will show you fonts, colours, general layout of the site, maybe help you with some imagery and really give you a sense of what this actually looks like and you can follow that as your template.
- The other issue I come across quite often which I think is not really a con or something negative relating to just web builders. It actually relates to any website, is that people don’t feel comfortable or they don’t know what content they need to create.
- In fact, it doesn’t matter if you're hiring a web developer or if you're building this yourself, you need to have good copy because that is the very thing that is going to sell this website, remembering there is no one thing that is going to make a website work. It’s going to be how it looks and feels as people go through how well the pages flow and the information comes together, if you've got all of the information there.
- Investing in a copywriter might be a good way to go. It means that you're going to have someone who’s really practised in thinking about how to pull together content relating to a business, all of the types of information you should pull and include on your website and in a way, help you refine how best to talk about your business.
- If you don't have the time or inclination to learn how to build it yourself there are people out there that can whip together these web builder websites for you for not a lot of money.
- For example, my client was able to hire someone for less than $500 and they were able to get all rolled into that price design piece of how the website should look, they were able to have the site built for them. They provided the copy so that was one thing that didn't need to be done, but the person that built it for them also put in Google Analytics for them. They registered them with Google on the webmaster account so they were instantly indexed by the search engines, and they also threw in an hour’s worth of training so that these people, while they didn't want to build it from scratch, they were happy to do minor content updates and adding new pages as they needed and as they grow in to go along.
Resources to get your started
- Fivver – Web design, content and building of websites on Squarespace, WIX and Weebly
- Virtual assistants to help you build the website on a web builder. Just do a Google search.
- Content – Upwork.
- Graphic designers – 99designs, Startled Squid
- WebBuilder reviews: https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com
- Handy check list of things to think about and do when you build your first website
Getting the heart of how to talk about your product and service AND what information you need to provide is key to converting leads into sales for your business.
Your business is your everything every day. It’s hard to have perspective on something that you are super close too. How do you know what to say that will ring true and really convince your buyers to commit to you?
The most common disconnect I see when working with clients is a focus on their own business and what they offer. This sounds like common sense. It’s natural. You have something to sell, whether it’s a product or a service, so of course you need to talk about it and what it can do!
But few people want to be sold to. They are interested in what is their problem or need.
Such a nuanced point, but when you unpack it, it’s full of a lot of hidden opportunities to get to the heart of how to really appeal and woo your buyers into your world.
It’s all about perspective
Taking time to look at things from your customers perspective yields insights on exactly how to talk about your offering.
When you talk about their problem and what they are experiencing and needing, the relevancy for them goes through the roof. This is particularly important, so that you can reach those people who are not even aware that there is a solution to their problem.
With the right kind of information and relate-ability, you can explain nuclear fission to a primary school child.
This is your challenge.
Position your product and service directly in response to what they personally are feeling or thinking.
So how do you do this?
All it takes is a simple exercise in perspective
Taking time to sit in your customer’s seat and really understand their point of view will give you the words to write that will resonate and gain their attention. This is an exercise I use with my clients when they are not clear on their target audience.
Step 1 - What’s their problem or need?
Digging down and really understanding the problem for your customer or client provides you with the ability to talk in their language and to empathise with them. You can describe what they are experiencing and feeling. In the context of how they are feeling or what they are experiencing you can show them how you can directly help with the issue.
It gives you their language – not yours. It tells you what their focus is, not yours.
To start with, write down the problem as you know it.
- Reflect on the conversations that you have or feedback you receive from your customers or clients.
- For every closed sale that you have, try and see what are the recurring themes behind the sale – what drove it, and what was the final point that made them act and sign up.
- Express the emotions that you see with your clients and customers and describe the impact that it has on them – in either a personal or professional perspective.
Step 2 - What’s the solution they want?
Next, you need to understand what they want, as a result of this interest or problem. What they want may not actually be what they need. However, being able to acknowledge and incorporate these things into how you talk about your product is important.
It will also tell you the types of outcomes that they will expect from doing business with you so addressing these directly is essential as part of how you talk about your product or service.
This point speaks to what they are wanting, but also allows you to move to the next point, talking about exactly what they need.
Step 3 - What do you deliver?
With your understanding of what they are feeling and experiencing and what they want, you are now well armed to talk about what you offer, as it relates to them. This is where you can express how you can take away their pain and deliver what they want and need.
You can use the knowledge you’ve gained in the first two steps to frame what you deliver in direct response to what they are feeling and wanting.
Step 4 - The outcome and benefit
Expressing the outcome and benefit allows you to paint a picture, that helps them understand, how doing business with you will give them a new state of being, how your product or service will improve their state of being.
As long as this relates directly back to their problem, feelings and what they want, it becomes a powerful way to differentiate yourself from your competitors and make yourself irresistible to your target audience.
Look at the examples that follow and see how each provides a focus on their problem – not your product or service. A small nuance but so important.
For a chiropractor.
Your client’s interest /problem or problem is:
- They have pain – neck, back, foot, shoulder
- Chronic pain that results in mood and sleep difficulties
- They can’t do what they used to do
- They are exasperated with their body and want to fix it
- They feel exhausted and fed up.
What they want
• Pain to go away immediately
• To move better
• To feel better
- Relief and immediate action
- Knowledge & THE Why this is happening
- A plan to move forward and take control
- A management program tailored to them
- A plan to feel better & actively manage how they feel going forward
Notice how what’s delivered is so much more than what they want?
- Feeling better, stronger and younger
- Get moving again
- Learn how to self-manage going forward
See how the benefits offer them a benefit that is much bigger than what they wanted?
- Staff under performing
- Line management not effectively addressing issues
- What they want
- Effective high performing staff
- Confidence that all risks are managed and the business is protected
- Tailored programs to address staffing and management issues
- A way to engage and empower staff that gives your staff buy in and belief in their role in your business
- Processes and plans to ensure the changes continue and don’t become a problem again
- Structured program that directly manages the risks.
See how so much more is delivered - more than they realised they needed
- Peace of mind
- Confidence in board reporting
- Direct correlation to bottom line impact (positive)
The benefits deliver far more value than they were looking for yet still directly deliver on what they wanted, and directly speaks to how they were feeling - and removing their feelings of angst.
These four steps will literally write a sales page or landing page for you. They will indicate that lead magnets, freebies or offers you should provide, and tell you how to pitch your product and develop campaigns and key messages to help you to raise awareness of your product or service to those people that will gain their attention.
The benefit of this exercise takes you from simply selling to relating and engaging with your audience. In the digital world there is so much noise and competition, this simple exercise can give you the cut through you need to reach your target audience.
A repeated problem I see with people trying to start an effective social media program is they struggle to work out what they should be talking and posting about on their social media.
Once you know which are the right social media channels to be using to reach your target buyers, you need the right content. Otherwise you will be talking to crickets.
On social media, you need to work out what it is that will be of most interest, or solve the problem of the people you are targeting.
The most common mistake I see, is people talking about their business, and their service or product. People don’t want to talk about you. They want to talk about their problem and what they are interested.
While you might have what is of interest to them or what will solve their problem, it’s the fine nuance of talking about it in the context of THEM.
A simple technique to get it right
A great way to work out what to talk about is to list all of the things that you talk about – then beside this, list all the things you know that your potential customers or clients talk about. Just list the topics, questions, problems and things that you know they are interested in, in relation to your business.
Looking at these side by side, you can then start to understand where you intersect in what you talk about and what they are interested in hearing about from you.
The intersection or overlap is your sweet spot. It’s where you both have common ground and allows you to frame your content in a way that is relevant and interesting to your intended audience.
Let me show you some examples:
My own business – The Online Fix which offers digital strategy consulting, mentoring and online crash course
An interior designer that styles homes ready to be put on the market
A builder who specialises in renovations
Next question – But I don’t know what they talk about
Sometimes you might struggle to really understand what it is that your target audience talk about. But I’ve a few simple tools to help you work it out for yourself. You can also use these to test your ‘knowledge’.
- Look at your competitors. It’s not about copying them. You want to look at competitors that are getting great social traction from their content and work out the ‘conversation’. You can get great insights from what’s working for them.
- Buzzsumo is great to discover what topics relating to your business are doing well across different social media channels. Simply put in keywords relating to your business and see what comes back. Follow the links and investigate. Make notes on what seems to be working for the content that is being shared.
- Talk to them. Such a simple approach but super effective. Have a conversation with some of your customers or simply follow them and see what kind of things they engage with on their social channels.
Using social media effectively for your business relies on getting your content right. Knowing what to talk about is what will gain you the attention of your target audience.
It’s a simple process of finding the intersection between what you talk about and they CARE about.
If you don’t know what they care about, then do the research. Social media works best when you engage and get to know your audience. Don’t talk to an empty room. Engage and have a conversation that they want to know about.