Q: What are your tips for small businesses looking to
create fresh, unique content for social media (whether that be
Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc) in a way that keeps customers coming
back without feeling like they are being constantly sold
(Neema Shah, Mayadisa.com)
Simple. Stop selling to them. ☺
I know it might sound trite but I do genuinely believe this: Your aim should be to communicate and engage with your customers, to provide valuable and interesting content for your target audience. By all means promote your products - but not incessantly.
The number one rule of social media is to engage first, promote second, leaving a big gap in between.
You have a business that is very visual so you could benefit from incorporating platforms like Flickr into your social media strategy. You could also write/tweet/post about things related to your business: fashion, jewellery, or even travel (this could link in to how you source your products).
This will give you the opportunity to showcase your business and your products without constantly hard-selling.
One great way to do this is to report on fashion trends. Try showing examples of higher priced designer catwalk pieces against your more reasonably priced items.
Q: We use Facebook, Google and an affliliate network.
The goal of our marketing is both to make sales and build a mailing
list for email marketing. We're trying to think of other methods of
marketing to experiment with. We'd love to get an ad to go viral,
for example, but are unsure where to start. Is there any form of
online or offline marketing that we're missing?
(Jamie Waldegrave, TipToken)
In order for an ad to go viral, you need at least one of two things:
a) Immense creativity
b) Immense luck
We would all love our content to go viral, but in reality it rarely happens - even with the best product in the world. In fact, despite the cast-iron promises of digital agencies and online 'gurus', virals are often completely unpredictable.
You say you use Facebook - do you place adverts? Or are you using a Facebook business page? I would recommend you look at both Facebook and Twitter as part of a two-tier social media strategy: both to reach out to new and existing customers, and allow existing customers to share your great deals with their followers, friends and fans.
Q: We need investment to grow but investors want to see
more growth before investing! Any tips?
(Sue Acton, Bubble&Balm)
This is a bit of a Catch-22. Without knowing the details of your business model and finances, I can only give you some things to think about.
First of all, you need to be clear about what you need the investment for and exactly how much you need.
If you only need a small amount of money, there may be better ways of getting it. One thing to keep in mind is that any investor will want to see that you have invested your own money in the business before investing their own cash. This can be difficult in the current economic climate but if you have faith in your business and its future, this must be your first port of call.
Contrary to popular opinion, banks are still lending. Their requirements have just become stricter. If you can prove a decent sales trajectory and only require limited funding to take your business to the next stage, you should be able to find more than one way to raise funding.
Q: How do you go about marketing on a limited budget?
Marketing can sometimes involve a bit of fortune so what can we do
to ensure investment into marketing in the early days is as
effective as possible?
(Dean Grimshawe, Warrior Coaching)
In the early days of a business, every penny counts, literally. That's why its so important to make sure that the money you spend on marketing is actually working. A lot of this will depend on your industry and your product, but there are some simple rules to follow:
1. Test any medium you are thinking of using first. Don't go all guns blazing and blow all your budget on a medium or concept that you haven't tested.
2. Do your market research - how do other successful companies in your industry/sector market their products or service?
3. Accountability. In the early stages, I would always recommend marketing where you can clearly track the success - i.e. digital. You need to know - not just think - that something is working.
4. Word of Mouth. No matter how big or small your business is, no matter what your business does, word of mouth is always the best and cheapest form of marketing. That means you need to deliver an exceptional product or service and make it easy for your customers/consumers to become part of your sales and marketing team whether through recommendations, social media or reviews.
Q: I have created an online community for Apple
enthusiasts in Quebec that now has 55,000 unique visitors. I really
want to get Apple on board. How do I get Apple interested? Where do
(Kim Auclair, MacQuébec.com)
By asking them. I'm pretty sure if you have that many unique visitors, at least one of them already works for Apple - or knows someone who does. If not, use LinkedIn and find the Apple Marketing Director for Quebec and give them a simple one page summary of the community and how you want Apple to participate. They would be crazy not to want to join in the conversations of 55,000 who are passionate about their company and products. Apple are not crazy, they are very, very clever. It's an easy sell.
And the winning question was...
Sue Acton, founder of Bubble & Balm!
Stay tuned for our sneak peek at the mentoring session (happening today!) in the Videos section next week!