6 Social Marketing Mistakes Business Owners Make

I’ll tell you right off the top: I’m not a social marketing expert. I have to work hard to create content, get followers and improve engagement. Many small business owners face this challenge. I do know this: 1. You don’t have to be a social marketing expert to get good results and 2: You should use social marketing as a part of your overall marketing strategy, not your only marketing strategy.

What I’ve learned isn’t about “hacking growth” or whatever is trendy. It’s about tested and true practices. Once you’ve created a repeatable social media model, you can use it to consistently develop and grow your brand. I’ve made a few mistakes while developing my own model. Here are some of them…

1. Don’t share with your network. Anyone with a successful social media program had to start somewhere – and that somewhere was probably with nothing. The first step is to let your friends and family know what you are doing. Don’t keep it a secret from anyone.  People, by their nature, want to help other people. Count on your personal network to be the starting point for followers, readers and likers. Enlist a few trusted friends to be your editors and proof-readers. Assuming you’re on Facebook with a few followers, consider posting an honest message that directly asks friends to check out your new page or website and specifically ask them to like and share your posts. Real friends and associates will happily oblige.

2. Change your message often, be inconsistent. I speak all the time about finding or creating a business model that works and then finding a way to repeat it.  My article on this topic was published not too long ago.  Please click here to read it. The message is just as true in marketing. Decide who you are and how you want to be perceived before you start broadcasting to the world. “Disruptor”, a trendy word right now, means someone who will break the mould, attack from different angles and become unexpected. While that is catchy and can have positive short term effects, if it distracts too much from what your core brand is it will only leave your prospects and customers confused in the long run.

3. Leave long gaps without activity.There’s no faster way to lose your followers’ interest than to not provide them with new content. Try to set yourself up on a schedule − again, repeatable consistency. Post new content on whatever schedule is suitable for your business, whether it’s daily, weekly, or bi-weekly, just make sure it gets done. People will get used to seeing new material from you at certain times and that is a good thing. If you like to work in flurries of activity or in the middle of the night, use a scheduling tool so your content is published when it’s the right time and people are looking. If you don’t have new content, be sure to keep your platforms active with quality and relevant re-posts. Share other’s work that your followers might find interesting and useful.

4. Don’t follow up. Now that you’ve been delivering great content and attracting some followers, they will start to respond. They will comment on posts, share your ideas and give you their email addresses to receive more. Now that you have their attention, it’s time to act. Thank people for their activity. Send them direct messages when it’s appropriate. Email material to those who gave you their addresses.  Create a personal connection that makes it just a little bit harder to turn away from. Not following up is like starting a conversation and not saying anything after the introduction. Keep talking! You are competing for your followers’ attention.

5. Don’t pay attention to peers, competitors or people smarter than you. You can learn something from everyone – so find out what it is. It is unlikely that what you are doing has never been done before. Research and find out the best practices of related businesses and your competitors. What are they doing that seems to be working? What can you learn to avoid from them? Look to leaders in your industry and see what they are doing. Better yet, ask them! Try to engage with them and get some good coaching and advice out of the connection. 

6. Use ONLY social marketing for your business. The point here is to look at the broader concept of marketing for your business. The reality is many people get caught up in social media as the only marketing they do. You can be disengaged and just sit behind your computer sending words out into space, but quality marketing has to extend beyond that. It has to make an emotional connection to drive activity. Make sure your marketing goes beyond Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. Different parts of your strategy support the others. Find ways to meet prospects face to face. Make it meaningful. Make it personal.

There may be a magic formula for successful social marketing, but I don’t know what it is. The marketing formula that has worked for me for more than 20 years of business ownership is a steady, consistent and quality brand message. Be engaging. Be interesting. Make social marketing personal.

I always appreciate feedback. Please feel free to comment. To find out more please contact me at businessmattersconsulting.com or of course at Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!

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NO Gets You Closer To YES

In a recent conversation with a group of sales people, we were discussing the personal impact of being told ‘No!’ over and over again by prospects.  There is no doubt that it takes its toll.  We try to be tough, to have thick skin or treat it like water off a ducks back, and all of those other clichés.  The problem though is that we are human, with real human feelings and as tough as you think you are the negativity can seep into your subconscious, which is also a very real thing!

Sales and marketing concepts overlap in many ways but here is one that I believe is particularly relevant: The number of contacts that are required before a buying decision is influenced.  In marketing, it’s generally accepted that a consumer needs at least 7 or 8 brand contacts and maybe as many as ten or more before their buying decision is influenced.  In sales, the same concept applies.  A sales person will need, on average, 7-10 direct contacts before a buying decision is made.  There are of course situations, and sales people, that close more often.  Then again, there are a lot that will take more as well.

So how do we, as sales people, handle all those rejections?  Our subconscious tells us to give up because it can’t take the abuse of rejection over and over.  We must be able to turn the tables and see the positive side of it.

I use an exercise that will work in most businesses, and that is to work backwards from your end goal to help dictate your level of activity.  Let’s say you want to do $100,000 in sales, and your average sale is $1,000.  You will have to close 100 deals to hit your goal.  Let’s assume you close 50% of the jobs you quote – you’ll have to quote 200 jobs to get 100 deals done.  If you get to quote 25% of your leads, you will need 800 leads. If only 1 in 10 calls result in a lead, you will need to make 8,000 calls.  To come full circle – each call you make, whether you get a yes or a no is worth $12.50 ($100,000 in sales/8,000 calls).  There are two main points to this exercise.  The first is to remind yourself that the right activity, whether you get a lead or rejected, makes you money.  It’s just about averages.  Every time you make a call it’s worth money to you, so be persistent!  The second is to remain positive.  Again, it’s all about the averages.  When you hear “No” just say to yourself (as if you were saying it to the prospect) “Thank you very much for saying no!  Every time you say no, I get that much closer to my next yes!  And you can say no again tomorrow and the day after, but eventually you are going to say yes!”  You will convince your sub-conscious that success is only a matter of a few more calls.  Fine tune your approach – a rejection just means you haven’t fully addressed the prospects needs.  Of course, all this is dependent on you being polite, courteous and respectful – rude people rarely get very far!

This is a practical concept, but the point is to maintain a positive attitude, don’t let the rejection get the best of you.  It is only temporary.  Be tenacious and remind yourself often that every ‘no’ just gets you closer to your next ‘yes’.  Be grateful for it!

Please visit us at businessmattersconsulting.com for more information.

2 Things to Help Ensure Your Business Lasts

There are countless things you can do to make your business successful, and even more to ensure its failure.  There are plenty of lessons independent business people can learn from franchises to help them stay successful, after all, there’s a reason franchises have a much higher long term success rate over independents.  Here are two key ideas to help ensure your business lasts for the long haul.

1. Quality – Can you deliver your product or service well? Figure out a way to produce and sell your product, or deliver your service in a way that meets the expectations of you and your customer.  Do they know what it should be?  Identify its qualities, attributes and specifications.  Be clear about what they are, don’t leave any part of the decision up until the moment it happens. Quality can be done at a low cost, it doesn’t have to imply expensive.  There’s an intrinsic value to doing it accurately and the way you want it done.  Whether it’s a service or a product, the true meaning of quality is whether you are doing it to the specifications you desire – high or low cost, it doesn’t matter.  The classic example is McDonald’s Big Mac. Whether you love it or not, you know exactly what it is.  McDonald’s has created it to an exacting specification, not to the whim of the cook actually making it when its ordered.

2. Repeat-ability – Can you deliver your product or service well EVERY TIME?  Do you have the systems in place to make sure you are executing the production of your product or service every time? Some people get bored with checklists or find them too regimented. Have you ever been on a plane?  Every pilot goes through an extensive checklist before every flight.  It doesn’t matter if it’s their first flight or if they’ve flown a thousand times.  You complete the checklist to make sure every step in your process is completed the way it was designed, each and every time, without exception.  It ensures quality control and helps deliver what your customer wants: the same reliable, consistent service whenever they purchase from you.  You should build a process around the design of your product to make sure you can accommodate its creation and delivery the same way every time.  Make a systematized machine out of the process.  To use the McDonald’s example again – once the Big Mac was designed, they created a system in the restaurant that would allow any one of their employees (once trained) to create a Big Mac the same each order.  The ingredients are the same and in the same place, the equipment is in the right place and set to the right temperature and the packaging is the right size and in the right spot – EVERY SINGLE TIME.  No exceptions. It takes the variability of being ‘people dependent’ out of the equation and makes it ‘systems dependent’ – a much better way to ensure longevity. Customers come to know and expect what the product will be – and that is a powerful way to ensure your customers needs are met consistently and ensures they will keep coming back for more.

Unless you are buying “surprises”, most people want to know what they are getting when they pay for something.  Ensuring your product or service is made to a certain specification and that that specification can be repeated over and over is a sure way to help keep your growing business on the path to continued success.  Remember: create the model to the quality you want and then be able to repeat it over and over. Make your business a machine that churns out success.

I always welcome your comments, please feel free to share your thoughts.

How to avoid employee resentment

What’s the best way to get employees to buy into an idea?  Even more than that: how do we get them to listen and engage without any resentment?

A lesson I learned early from my mentor is the concept of an emotional bank account.  The concept is simple: make more meaningful deposits than you do withdrawals.

I had a general manager at one of my businesses who would complain to me that while he wanted to be strict to keep the staff in line, he felt like it was “babysitting” and all he got back in return was grief, disobedience and resentment.  Doesn’t sound like a happy workplace!  My message to him was clear: make some deposits before you withdraw. An emotional deposit can be done right with a withdrawal, but it’s usually better to build up those deposits over time.  It helps you establish emotional credibility so when you need to make that withdrawal, you have the balance available.

If you spend too much time only making corrective actions, or disciplining for unwanted behaviour, all of your people’s accounts will be over-drawn; and honestly, the ones that aren’t will be against you just by your reputation.

The deposits should be easy, but are often difficult for some managers to do.  Catch your people doing something well, provide plenty of positive reinforcement and recognize them for their accomplishments.  It puts them in a better mood and will almost certainly improve performance in the short term.  If this becomes a pattern of behaviour your emotional balance grows.  The next time there needs to be discipline applied, it will be much easier to take. Just remember to make more deposits!

Do you have a story where you have made those deposits and the tougher discipline conversation has been much easier as a result? Please share!