Every week I get a number of questions from people who visit my site. A lot of the answers I give can benefit others so this week I will answer them in public.
Leave a comment if you have something similar irking you or have a perspective on the questions.
Q My burning question is…How can I find my voice on social media? At the moment I feel like I’m just posting for the sake of posting but my unique voice isn’t there and I don’t know how to make it shine through to ensure I stand out in the crowd.
A Facebook is a huge channel. When approaching it from a marketing perspective it’s easy to fall into the trap of approaching it differently than we do when we are using it with our friends and family.
Pay attention to what you share, like and comment on in your own feed. Are they overt, direct marketing and sales messages? Probably not.
Businesses get traction on social media when they share and curate stories their audience resonate with. People share and interact with these stories when they make them look good in-front of their peers or reaffirm already held beliefs. Look at Humans of New York or Upworthy for examples of this.
In the case of a virtual assistant service; aligning with the audiences beliefs around freedom, entrepreneurship and the concept of being ‘busy’ would be a start. Purely the act of curating content for this audience is valuable to them. Giving in this way without expectation of return will paradoxically give you a far greater return in every area.
Q….I do all the marketing myself. I know I’m doing some things right and some wrong. We have grown and I think I should hire someone. How do I know if that’s the right thing to do?
Anonymous (question is from an NZ based ecommerce website owner)
A Without an overall strategy hiring an internal marketing person will replicate what you’re doing now – just with an extra salary on the payroll. If you are going to hire someone you either need to prepare a strategy for them to execute or hire someone at a level that they will do it for you.
Many companies engage outside help (like me) at this point. The strategy comes first and gives them confidence that the investment they are making in a new staff member is much more likely to succeed. This approach also helps focus on what type of skill set you should be hiring for rather than just a ‘marketing person’.
In summary; work out what you should be doing to grow your business and it will become clearer who should do it.
Q I’m starting a price comparison website.
Am I stupid getting data from websites who I won’t be making money from (eg via referral or them buying ‘clicks’)
No – You’re not stupid. Get as much data as possible
Ask yourself the question: What is right for the audience?
The nature of a marketplace like a price comparison site is providing transparency to the consumer. To provide price transparency you will need the largest source of data available. This means publishing content without a clear revenue model.
I’ve designed or run (and continue to) dozens of B2C marketplaces and have learned to always make strategic decisions that favour the consumer side. Marketplaces aggregate demand and supply. You need supply on one side, in this case groceries, before you can generate demand on the other side. Look at how many people have tried to compete with TradeMe but lacked supply of listings to attract enough buyers…
Businesses will always go to where the audience is. Build a valuable audience and then you can commercialise them on your terms.
Using the right tools will make you faster and more efficient.
But choosing the right sales and marketing tools can be like pulling teeth.
This is what Michelle and I do for fun in the weekends
If you type ‘marketing tools’ into Google you get a mere 529,000,000 results…
Here are 3 that I use:
None of these are affiliate links and I’m not getting paid to promote them.
Yes. I operate at inbox zero
I’m a bit nervous about this one as it’s my dirty little secret and not everyone is going to like it.
I have automatic tracking on all the email’s I send using this tool.
What it is:
Yesware installs a status bar at the top of your Gmail inbox. Every email is tagged with a tracking pixel that loads when someone on the other end opens your email. It also tracks links that you insert into emails and lets you force a registration on people who open them.
How to use it:
If you’re in an email exchange with someone you want to impress or sell to you can use tracking to engineer serendipity. See they opened your email? Send a ‘hey I just saw this article you might like’ or ‘thinking about your project and had this idea’.
Devious? You decide. I prefer to have as much information as I can.
Free plan gives you 100 emails per month. Basic version is $12 USD a month
2. Active Campaign
I’ve talked about email and marketing automation frequently – and for good reason.
They are the highest ROI strategy to make more sales for most businesses.
What it is:
Email newsletters and marketing automation for small and medium businesses. Active Campaign is perfect for most without going to the complexity and expense of something like Infusionsoft.
How to use it:
I’ve showed you how I use automation to capture and nurture people automatically by giving away as much value as I can. Setting aside a day or two to copy this funnel would be one of best time investment’s you could make.
You know those nice images you see posted on social media with a quote incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein? Chances are they were made in Canva.
How to use it:
If you lack design skills then Canva have thousands of pre-done templates for social media, proposals, designs and more
What it is:
Design is very important as it defines the impression of you. If an image in presentation or proposal looks cheap and nasty then it doesn’t create a great impression of your expertise. If in doubt be minimalist with your design choices.
“Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.”
Bill Gates said he would always ‘hire a lazy person to do a difficult job’ at Microsoft ‘because a lazy
person will find an easy way to do it’
I take great solace in this because I’m lazy.
I spend a large amount of time working out how to do the minimum amount of work for the maximum result.
When I was a sales person I always had the least amount of customers and prospects but mine were consistently more valuable. It’s just easier to get someone to spend more rather than finding a new customer.
It’s because I’m lazy I love marketing automation.
I also love it because it works.
Marketing automation is technology that repeats repetitive tasks through multiple channels.
I use marketing automation on this site to generate leads, enquiries and opportunities.
It works like this:
In all there are 10 emails in the sequence. When the sequence has finished a subscriber gets weekly posts or interviews.
I wrote 10 emails and they get sent hundreds or thousands of times.
The content aims to be helpful and gives away ideas of how you can execute different strategies in your digital marketing.
Most people will either do nothing with them or implement a small number themselves.
Some will ask me to do it for them.
So what happens when you regularly send people helpful, actionable content?
In a digital world we collect a lot of data and have huge amounts of information readily available to us.
Unfortunately sometimes we get false hope by focusing on the wrong ones.
Good metrics guide our decisions.
What works. What doesn’t.
Here’s some that can be dangerous.
Unless you are selling advertising views then the total amount of pageviews your website generates is irrelevant in isolation. I have had many people proudly tell me how many ‘hits’ their website generates but when asked how many prospects/leads/sales it generates they don’t have an answer. Having a high number of pageviews is an opportunity you need to be leveraging. They are all people. On it’s own, having a website with lots of traffic is not enough.
Email Open Rates
The likelihood of opening an email has more relation to who it’s from rather than what it’s about. Think about it. What is the open rate of emails from your Mum? I would estimate 100%…
Unless you’re looking at your interaction rate and the behaviour of people who have opened your email then your looking at the wrong thing.
Facebook have been reducing the organic reach of page posts for a while. They wan’t to sell more advertising and deliver a better experience to their audience. Who can blame them.
This means having a big audience of Facebook does not equal you being able to communicate with the audience.
Take 5 minutes today to check what metrics you’re focusing on.
Do they help you make better decisions and contribute to the bottom line or do they just make you feel better?
She is great at so many things. Building teams, pitching investors, developing her product, strategising and ideas – she has the hustle you need for something to work.
But there’s a problem.
Because she is good at all these things, she does them all. But none of them quite well enough to get the one thing her business needs right now – rapid growth.
We are human (duh)
We all have the same 24 hours in the day. But some people seem to get so much more done
If you scratch under the surface it usually comes down to one thing.
We are trained from a young age that results and hours are linked. If we work harder then we get more. While that isn’t untrue, it’s not completely accurate. What really counts is the relationship between time and results.
We can achieve outsized results by focusing our time on the things that really matter.
Warren Buffet owes 90% of his multi billion dollar wealth to just 10 investments.
When I was at GrabOne, there were dozens of metrics we could focus on. Traffic, visits, revenue, new members etc etc. The whole business in different ways could affect any one metric but I asked what my team could affect.
One of the key day-to-day responsibilities was email – the largest traffic source and revenue driver.
Every day if they focused on Revenue Per Email that would take care of the other metrics.
It was the one metric.
Did we get dragged away from it constantly? Yes.
Did we all focus on it every single day? No.
But as long as someone was asking themselves the question “Is what I’m doing right now going to improve RPE?” then it was usually going in the right direction.
Your area of focus doesn’t have to last forever. Business goes through cycles where it might not be fit for purpose but having a singular focus on one thing will always give you momentum.
What are you focusing on today?
If it’s moving you towards that big, hairy goal then keep doing it.
All words that have rapidly become part of our lives.
Businesses have flocked to Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and to a lesser extent in NZ; Twitter and Snapchat. They are attractive as it is free to establish a presence on them and there are huge amounts of people on them.
Facebook alone has 1.4 billion monthly active users.
So it must be good for business right?
What You Focus on Grows
I’ve spent millions of dollars of mine and other peoples money on marketing.
I get asked what works best A LOT.
Social media is very rarely on that list.
Why? Because other things work better and most people aren’t doing them right let alone tackling multiple social channels.
There are two elements that are always scarce inside a business – time and money. It doesn’t matter the size of the business, it’s impossible to do everything well. Unless your a Silicon Valley unicorn with a few hundred million in the bank then you need to focus on the things that work to grow.
Here’s a nice graph from McKinsey showing ROI per $1 spent on different marketing channels.
Boring old email comes out on top by a mile.
If you’re not building a customer database and sending them something regularly you’re crazy.
Yep, flat out bonkers.
It’s the cheapest, simplest, highest leverage marketing channel there is and I’m yet to find an industry that can’t use it.
Does it make sense that spending time and effort on improving (or starting) email marketing, SEO and driving targeted traffic from paid ads could give you a better ROI?
If you’ve squeezed every ounce of performance from these channels then fill your boots on whatever social channel you like.
Social Media, What is it Good For
All that said social media can play a part in your business without a massive effort.
I frame it as a good customer service and engagement channel – any sales achieved from it are a bonus.
If you’re going to tackle social media then start with focusing on the right channel first. For consumer businesses this is likely Facebook or Instagram for B2B probably LinkedIn. Go where your customer persona is most likely to be.
These are the rules:
Post regularly – a half-dead social presence makes your business look half dead.
Don’t ‘sell’ too often – people like to buy but hate to be sold to
Be useful – if you’re helpful and knowledgeable about your industry then people will engage
Reply – it’s a public channel so anyone can engage with you. Make sure you reciprocate
Seems logical but I don’t actually see many businesses following best practices.
There are of course, a lot of good reasons why you should use social media in your business. With the right content, and a modest advertising budget, some businesses can do very well.
However, those are generally the businesses that have made a plan and know what their goals are with social media.
If you haven’t done the other stuff first then don’t bother.
In 2008 Andrew Mason was working on a community website called The Point. He wanted to give people the ability to make change occur through collective action. To prove the power of site Mason organised an offer from the pizza restaurant in the building they worked in.
He quickly put together a WordPress site and posted the offer. When someone purchased the deal they had to manually email the voucher to the purchaser.
He called the site Groupon.
Within 2 years Groupon had become the fastest growing company in history with 1600 employees and over $1 billion in sales.
If Mason had waited to build the perfect daily deal platform then his well funded competition would have overtaken him.
I should know. I worked for the competition.
When Shane Bradley saw the early success of Groupon he immediately shifted his development team’s focus to building GrabOne. It was done in a few weeks, launched and went on to define a new business category in New Zealand. No one looked back.
What are you waiting for?
Entrepreneur has become a cool word. Movies like ‘The Social Network’ and star founders have propelled entrepreneurs into the public domain and made anyone with an idea an entrepreneur.
But to become an entrepreneur you have to have an idea AND execute it.
In my work with large clients, I’ve seen way too many people pitch overvalued ideas to large businesses. They want someone else to take the risk out of executing it by using their money and resources as they think they need them to make them successful.
Waiting for the perfect conditions means these ideas are unlikely to gain momentum.
If they just started, proved value, then pitched they would have a chance.
Dan Norris sold his web design business then spent a year developing an analytics dashboard. The problem was nobody wanted to pay for it.
Dan was on the verge of taking a job when he started WPcurve, a WordPress support service, in just 7 days. In the beginning Dan had to answer any customer enquiries 24 hours a day. As he took on paying customers he hired developers. Now the business has over $70k in monthly recurring revenue.
What is the most valuable commodity to a business owner?
You might be surprised, many business owners do not know the answer. They’ll tell you it’s business assets, sales, profit.
They’re all wrong. These are important but nothing more important than TIME!
You can make more money, but you can’t make more time!
For small and medium business owners, time is even more valuable. There’s not enough hours in a day to run a business and to network to get the job done.
Running every aspect of business – from marketing, finance, and day-to-day operations – is hard to do all on your own.
Sometimes, you have the manpower, but it isn’t enough. You need to have the right people to back you up.
The High Cost of Hiring In-House Staff
Hiring an assistant or a team of individuals can be one of your options. They will be responsible for each business process, so everything is streamlined and running smoothly.
This option can be costly though, especially if you’re starting out with your business.
In fact, you need to offer them a competitive wage and some exceptional benefits before you can get the right people onboard.
What is the most effective strategy to cut business costs?
Businesses turn to digital marketing firms to help them accomplish several of their online marketing processes. Some of these tasks include following:
Social Media Marketing
Website Creation and Maintenance
In their bid to save time and money, they often consult business management experts who can help them improve their business processes. You can find these experts within the ranks of digital consulting and marketing firms.
Some of them even own an online marketing company, since consulting is one of their main services. These companies can also provide teams of skilled professionals who can handle several of the online marketing processes I’ve mentioned above.
Common Digital Processes that Business Owners Can Outsource
There are several business processes that can be passed on to digital marketing companies. These firms can help you with your online marketing campaign, so you can focus on other areas of your business. Some of these processes include the following:
1. SEO-Related Services
Search engine optimization is a task that you can’t do in a day.
It is time-consuming and requires expertise and knowledge of the field. It’s broad, and most of the time – unpredictable.
A foundation of an excellent SEO campaign is a good keyword research.
There are tools to make it easier like Google Keyword planner or paid tools like Moz, but analysing thousands (if not millions) of keywords also takes time.
Aside from keyword research, SEO experts regularly update their knowledge to cope up with the latest algorithm updates from Google, Yahoo, and Bing. They also analyse results using analytics tools, so they can come up with a more result-oriented campaign next time.
If you are going to put people who do not have expertise in this area, it’s a waste of time and resources. The right people including strategic planning and implementation is a must for any digital marketing campaign to succeed.
Content Creation and Marketing
This is another important process to businesses with websites. When you want to engage your target audience and acquire the much needed leads for your business, it’s essential to have quality content on your site.
Having quality content on your site can give you the following advantages:
You gain more credibility with the search engines
The content get shared and distributed on other relevant websites, hence you get organic links
It can gather considerable amount of traffic to your site
Your visitors are more likely to convert into paying customers, since you have something valuable on your site.
Creating your own content is not a mundane task. An engaging and informative post also requires in-depth research and sometimes, time. Take note that content is not only limited to articles, but video/digital storytelling and infographics.
A better solution is to delegate this task to third-party content writers, graphics designers and video editors. A good example for digital storytelling is Sparkol – a whiteboard video creation tool that can take your story to the next level.
It’s a simple tool to work on, but if you’re not yet confident on creating your own videos, then you can simply let a digital marketing firm do this for you. You only need to collaborate with them, especially during the story/plot creation phase.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is a process that will focus on efforts to create valuable content that can effectively attract and encourage followers through various social networks. Just like content marketing, this task can be delegated to online marketing teams.
There are several social media tasks like:
Regular updates of social media accounts
Creating social media calendar
Publishing quality content
Answering comments and feedback
Scouring social networking sites for relevant content that can be posted on your own company page
Since this process will require regular updates of social media accounts, it will take much of your time.
There are 10 social media management tools that you can use for these particular tasks:
Site creation and management is another essential process for any type of business these days. Oftentimes, you need to create landing pages, tweak your email capture form or simply update the look of your website.
For this purpose, you seek the help of a web developer, or if you have the coding skills – you can do it yourself. But then again, it can be tedious work that you can simply outsource.
In addition, the popularity of mobile devices has paved the way for marketing apps to enter the digital marketing arena. Creating an app for your business is an intricate process that digital marketing firms can easily do for you.
Overall, outsourcing business processes is a flexible and strategic way of doing business. It’s a trend that every business owner should be aware of. Most importantly, it’s the best way to save your resources.
If you want to know more about outsourcing, maintaining an effective website, and gathering leads for your business, you can speak to James first and book in a free 30 minute strategy session.
You can also download our FREE Ebook The Growth Engine to know the exact strategy we are using to grow our clients’ business.