Marketing On A Shoestring Using Social Media For Small Business And Sole Traders
Money, money, money….or the lack of it!
The main obstacle to most new start-up businesses is getting yourself established and recognised while sticking to a usually very meagre marketing budget. This is a much harder task if your business is very small with just a handful of people, a partnership with two or three active members, and the single sole-trader who has to be able to wear many hats throughout the working day.
Why do we market through social media?
Whatever your marketing budget may be, the main objectives are to:
1: Make some sales
2: Make more sales
3: Maximise your sales to make them more profitable
In reality this can only be done by establishing and increasing the awareness of your business, and driving more traffic back to your website. Social media sites are a proven and cost-effective way of building your brand and raising your online profile.
As the saying goes – “time is money”, so you have to make sure that your time is spent on the social media platforms that are most suited to your business. For example, a sole trader would probably be best advised to dive into Facebook and Linkedin to start with. Both these sites have a very human face with profiles, photographs and plenty of elbow room to project your personality.
What is better for retail traders?
If your company is retail rather than service based, then Foursquare and Twitter would be a good option, especially if you are operating a local bricks and mortar shop where getting awareness from your local community would be key to your long-term success.
To blog, or not to blog?
No matter what sort of business you run, blogs are a great way to engage and attract potential customers, and are a great tool for self-promotion. Fresh blog content encourages people to spend longer on your site, and could lead to new and repeat sales, especially if you are writing as an expert in your particular field and can make your readers feel confident in your company.
To make the best impact on your social media sites, your content needs to be interesting enough for people to want to engage with, and sustain conversations. If you think that your time is too precious to write more than one post on your blog each day, then why not recycle some of your already created content! For example, you could take a topical post from your blog and turn it into a short video to post onto your Facebook page, and/or tweet the video link.
You can get far more mileage out of your old blog posts by making slideshows, webinars and podcasts. This is a great strategy if writing fresh content does not come easy to you. If you pay someone to create blog posts for you, then converting this content into other formats will mean you will get more mileage from the content for your money.
Engage with your customers to keep them happy
Any new start-up business or sole trader will be focused on making the next sale – and quite rightly too – but this should never be at the expense of existing or previous customers. Attracting new customers might be the goal of your social media marketing campaigns, but don’t forget that you need to engage and retain your existing customers or clients with regular, inclusive conversations. This is a sure way to establish repeat business.
Your existing customers will like to be included in discussions with you as it makes them feel important to you – and they are important! It will always be easier to re-sell to a happy existing customer than to convince a new potential customer to buy from you.
Engaging your customers through asking them their likes and dislikes, ideas and suggestions about how to make your service better etc. will paint a positive picture of your company in your customers eyes, and will portray you as a company who cares. The best form of advertising is through customer recommendation, so who better to spread the word about your business than your own satisfied and engaged customers.
Use social media in the right way
The whole point of any business using social media sites is to raise awareness of the company, and engage with people. New prospects will come along every day, and most will be savvy folk that will be aware of obvious sales ploys, and will be a little resistant do any direct marketing attempts.
It is always wise never to try to bluntly sell your products or services on social media, but rather to gently sell them by offering up lots of useful information and entertaining posts that encourage prospective customers to want to find out more.