Promoting Your New Business
When you start a new business, it's easy to fall into the trap of feeling like a failure before you even get started. The truth is that organic business growth (which is the best growth) does not happen overnight but on the upside its authentic, long lasting and can be very cost effective (which is really handy on a new business budget)
From the day I started my new business, I knew I didn’t want to make the same mistakes as I had done with a few prior startup attempts so I sat down and applied a proper “plan”. Most of you would know what a business plan is and YES of course you need one of these but this post is targeted specifically on little things that you can do to “promote” or “get traction” within your new business.
So to summarise, the answer submitted from a client of Barnacle & Lime was “ What could a fresh new small business do to gain coverage and a little attention”. Below are a few tips and tricks to help get you started! Now I would like to highlight first that all of the below tips and tricks are organic (non paid forms) and are what I consider slow step and self managed marketing (which I will dive deeper into on another day)
RESEARCH - Again it's easy to go full speed to gain a little attention but the most important thing here is researching the problem you are solving and the type of person/people who have this problem. Who is your ideal customer or client? where do they hangout, what social channels do they use the most? Do they attend certain events? Are they a part of a community? This step may seem tedious but it is one that many often skip and its also one that we would consider as the most crucial when getting your business out there. If you are stuck on identifying your problem or ideal client, feel free to pop on over to the awesome resource that the 2GAAL team offer (there are also a few super awesome downloads about email marketing, google analytics etc) https://www.twogirlsandalaptop.com.au/resources/
PLAN - It's easy to go full speed and start posting on all channels, printing mass flyers and attempting to go wild with your marketing but I would suggest a slower and more long term approach (as mentioned I am a supporter of slow step marketing which I will touch further on another time) To ensure your brand image, vision, goals and voice all align, I would suggest using a simple month to month planner that highlights things like social media posts, blog posts, events, planned photoshoots etc etc. Seems like a painful task but when you can view your year at a glance, it makes things a WHOLE lot easier. If you are not one to use a digital calendar, or would like a way to “get it all down” first - feel free to download the free Barnacle & Lime planner which is all yours to print out and plan with. DOWNLOAD HERE (located at the bottom of the blog page)
BUSINESS CARDS - A lot of startups forget or avoid this step as its either too expensive, they do not feel professional enough or they are worried they do not have a website yet! BUT let's highlight that business cards are super cheap, can be super simple and are a simple tool that leave people with your details. Regardless of what industry or service you are in, a simple card with your name, number and email address is all that’s needed to start… be sure to get these cards into the hands of anyone that is relevant to can help. A good way to get your card out there is to brainstorm about other businesses you can potentially “swap with”. This is a really powerful way to build collaboration, grow your leads and get yourself known. So in summary - think about another service that someone would need after or during their dealings with you and take them some cards and collect some of theirs! For example - Timmy is a mechanic and is always getting customers ask him for the name of a good car detailer whilst Shelly is a car detailer that always has clients asking for the name of a reputable mechanic! BAM perfect match… its like tinder for your business card. If you both have each others cards on hand it's a win win! You could do this with multiple businesses but please do think about things carefully and do not go willy nilly… stick to one swap per service as you want your affiliates to be and feel respected, trusted and special. So in Timmys instance he could have a car detailer, aircon specialist, car painter etc etc. Don’t forget that you can also cross services into retail! So lets take Felicity for example… she’s a dietician who could easily leave her cards with the local organic juice bar and in return, may like to promote the juice bar as a preferred place to her clients. One last trick I would like to share is the one I call “direct connect” so when someone asks if you have a business card you say “ I don’t have any on me today! But do you have a social profile I can connect with you on?” and by reaching for your phone and connecting with them, you have taken the hassle away from them finding you online later and you immediately have all the information you need to get in touch again.
SETUP SOCIALS - Today there are is a page long list of social media platforms that you can use for your business however I highly suggest you only pick 2 to start with. I have found that new startups setup profiles left right and centre and they end up becoming ghost accounts that leave people thinking your business has left planet earth or is a little sketchy (trust me on this one! I took terrible advice early on in business and there are STILL painful little accounts that appear on google that I cringe at before shutting down). The biggest suggestion here is to pick your 2 and NAIL them… and when I say nail, I mean master, manage, provide value and connect with your tribe ( you can always introduce a new platform down the track when you are more established and have a solid stream of content to use). The key contenders I see most with startups are of course, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and twitter. Think closely about which ones you choose and use your ideal client to refine that decision. Does your ideal client hang out there? do they have an app on their phone to easily engage? does the platform support the type of content you want and need to share? Will this platform assist in solving my clients problem?
GET A WEBSITE - Ok so we do know that setting up a website gets expensive… but not if you keep it simple! A lot of clients cringe when we say website and sprint away thinking they will need thousands of dollars to start BUT take our advice… you don’t. First of all grab your domain name and after that you can use platforms such as squarespace to setup a landing page or simple website for a low cost. We find squarespace is a great platform but if you are not ready and most of your business is going to be on Facebook then start there…setup the account properly and treat it as your website. We will highlight that a website is also great for SEO 😉 Again… We advise you do not go around setting up multiple websites here there and everywhere. I would like to highlight another reason to have a website… not only does it give you a professional forefront but its also yours. Unlike instagram and facebook etc.. your website is your own and you are not renting a space (what would happen to your business if instagram and facebook shutdown overnight?) think carefully about this :)
LIST YOURSELF ON GOOGLE BUSINESS - Have you recently typed something into google and a business pops up with location, details and web address? well this is a great start to getting your business noticed and allows people to leave reviews. If you are a service based business and do not have a physical address, google accommodates for this and you can use an area instead. Make sure you read instructions clearly and you may need to enter a physical location at first to ensure they post out your confirmation ( check that you're not a robot). Have a look further https://www.google.com/intl/en_au/business/how-it-works/
CREATE A FREEBIE - Creating a freebie is just about as good as it gets for traffic, email leads, connections and collaborations. Creating a freebie allows you to connect, convert, record and analysis what and if your audience is responding too. Think about relevant topics in your industry (both product and service) and use a platform like CANVA to create a cheeky little tip sheet, wallpaper… something that is going to be of value to your audience! So for example… if you were trade who specialised in fitting out vans for camping, you may want to do up a few really handy lists like “50 undiscovered campgrounds on the Australian Coastline” “ Road-trip Essentials Checklist” “Ten killer campfire recipes” “Festivals for 2019”. Remember a FREEBIE must always provide value to your client…. there is nothing worse than giving away your email address to download the freebie and it is not what was promised.
DECALS/STICKERS- Ok firstly I would like to highlight that stickers should NOT under any circumstance be used in a manner that deems vandalism or nuisance. When referring to declaws and stickers I mean the classy clean cut type. The ones you see getting round on rear windows and branded trailers etc. When you step back and think about a simple window decal for your car… its pretty bloody brilliant. You are your own moving billboard…. literally! Just remember if you are using your phone number or web address to always be prepared that someone may call you or look up your business AND that they will also be judging your business based on your attitude and driving mannerisms ( if you suffer with aggression or agitation behind the wheel I would encourage you to either take up meditation or restrain from letting people know your name and number) A good way around this (what I would call mid weight promotion) is by giving a few stickers to your loyal clients - they then too become your advocates without the sticker being more of a brand promotion than a business promotion.
BE WEIRD - Not the type of weird that scares, the type of weird that intrigues people about what it is you do or offer. As far fetched as it sounds, find something niche within your offering/product and emphasise this through a few channels. Things that are different, authentic, inventive and of value are dynamite when it comes to standing out from the crowd.
SHOW UP - Think about your service offering or product and do a little research into annual events that your key audience would be at (place these on that planner that we discussed earlier on). A good example would be if you were a custom vehicle upholsterer, you could fill your schedule with car rides and events throughout the year! No better way to connect directly with your audience than to get involved, talk, collaborate and have a good time in a laid back setting. Remember to have that decal on and cards at hand! you might want to do a little swap or meet a potential client.
REVIEWS - Reviews are unicorn icing and something that will work wonders for trust & reputation. Ask you current clients and customers to please provide a review! A good place to direct them to do this is your google business listing 🙂
CHEERLEADING - Sounds wild at the best of times but when we say Cheerleader, we mean be your own. The most effective form of advertising you will get when starting up is word of mouth… and that my friend…starts with YOU. How you treat your clients, the quality you deliver, the way in which you communicate… I could go on four HOURS. So be proud of your business and do a good job! Share your business on your private social channels and tell your friends and family what you are doing! At the start your family and friends are your biggest and only supporters… trust me on this one! Even my dog Milly was there supporting me through successes and losses. If you are just beginning your business, this spread of word between your friends and family is what I would call the SPLASH… now after the splash comes the ripple effect and that is the people who they tell and share with! Just remember if things start to slow down then splash again… and again… and again… in fact…never stop. (Another aspect of slow step in-house marketing for your business)
WORK FOR EXPOSURE - The thought of doing work for free or minimal is scary but let me tell you… its real and for those of you who do not have someone investing money into your business, it's the only way to start out. Now I don’t mean completely sell your soul and sanity, I simply mean don’t go into business with the mindset that you will be rolling in pineapples within a month… its hard, challenging and time consuming but above all its effective. This style of job is where you complete a tasks or supply a product for exposure in return without the outlay of any money. So lets say you are a makeup artist looking for a little exposure and there is an upcoming fashion parade for a Melbourne Cup Event - Contact the organiser and volunteer to do the makeup for the event in return of your logo being featured on marketing and a little shoutout on the day. Just always remember to keep the bigger picture in mind (slow step approach again) ask yourself if the long term return on this decision is wise and worth it?
VID CONTENT - Video content is one of the most effective forms of engagement and gains so much more traction than static. Be active in the stories for 2019… share behind the scenes action and content that connects with your audience!
HASHTAGS - Check out “Stevie Says Socials” great post about finding the right hashtags for your business https://steviesayssocial.com/instagram-hashtags-how-to-find-the-right-hashtags-for-your-business-in-2018/
BE ORGANIC & AUTHENTIC - Its easy to think that the fellow personal trainer in your gym is a legend with over 18K followers but take a minute to really think about how success is defined. The legend colleague of yours with 18K followers may only have 10 that interact and work with him while the rest are ghosts, robots or not following him for authentic reasons. Now I am no expert on followers because I have never let them define me or the success of a business. My point here is that in the long run, you are far better off having 100 followers that all engage, respond and convert to clients than have 18K “Spicy Rita” profiles. As I mentioned I am no expert in the algorithm of social media but if engagement is what you are after they key is content and connection that is value, quality, engaging, relevant and frequent. It really is true… content is king but only if there is human behind it. If you are looking to chat with someone further regarding algorithm and a specific marketing plan, reach out to a professional who can establish you with a proper plan as going wholly nilly could potentially harming your brand image.
LITTLE THINGS - Other little things like offering free quotations and consultations, Building your email marketing list with the freebies mentioned, engage on social media and answer your audience, join facebook groups, reach out for advice and collaborations, stay on brand, side hustle, always give a little extra, invest time and though into “word of mouth” and referrals, collaborate with others in the industry and avoid looking at others as the competition, slow paced in-house marketing.
MOST HIGHLIGHTED TIPS
Stay On Brand
Share Value & Freebies
Be your #1 Supporter
Be Authentic & Different
Quality over Quantity
Thing Slow Step Marketing