Updated: Feb 27
My client was a new online product-based business, who needed help advertising on social media, so they hired me for Social Media Content Marketing.
To market your business successfully, you need three things in place:
My client had none of the above (they only had a logo and a website) and they assumed that all they had to do now was jump on on social media to achieve success.
So, I told them that the thing with social media is that you have 3 types of audience, so you need 3 types of content:
Hot - purchase content
Warm - consideration content
Cold - awareness content
You can't just post anything. The main problem in this situation, was lack of a Marketing Strategy because this provides you with content to give your audiences (and keeps your business moving forward).
I want all of my clients to succeed in their business, so with this in mind I went out of my way to offer the following advice to help them with their content and achieve sales ..
8 Bespoke Ways For My Client To Market Their Business
1. Target Market
Firstly, they needed a target market so they knew where to direct their marketing. The town where they are based in is packed with independent businesses that support each other, so my suggestion was to become the local supplier to these businesses because 1) they would receive larger orders, than if they sold directly to the public and 2) they would have a quicker success rate of orders, than trying to break into larger chains. I suggested breaking into the market by going round to each business, handing out a free sample and introducing yourself - this would make a great first impression and get connected.
This type of networking works for me - even if the person doesn't hire me, the they will remember me and recommend me at some point in the future to someone they know.
Result: My client didn't like the idea of networking and going round personally or calling people to follow up, so we opted for an email marketing campaign, which didn't have the same impact or personal touch. Unfortunately they received no sales.
2. Brand Product Photography
It's so much easier to advertise a product, compared to a service, because you can show the product you are offering and literally demonstrate how it can change people's lives. Product photography is kind of expected if you have a product based business and it shows you have invested money into the basics of advertising. My client didn't have any product photography, so I recommended they got onto this straight away because it would have a massive impact on their social media advertising.
Result: My client suggested I screen shot the low quality imagery from their website, rather than pay for professional images. I opted to use similar generic products from stock photography in their posts and compensate by branding the layout with their colours - this didn't have the same bespoke touch than if they had used their own products and probably didn't send out the right message to potential clients.
3. Case Study
Their potential clients were already using competitor products, so I suggested that they choose a prominent local business and offer a free trail, in return for a case study of the product, for example to find out: did they like the product? Did it work well? How did it compare to their current supplier? Is it cost and time effective and would they buy again? etc. This simple exercise would give them a review from a top local business, a hot lead and future recommendations of the product.
Result: My client saw this as giving something away for free and so it never went ahead.
4. Promotions and Offers
Simple FOMO offers, such as '50% off your first order - ends in 2 weeks, get it now!' is an eye-catching campaign and a great excuse to contact your target market. My client needed to break into a saturated market, so we wanted to encourage protentional buyers to stop using their current supplier and use my client instead.
Result: My client saw it as loosing money. From my point of view, they had no sales coming in anyway, so the question was - do you want 50% income, a great review and then repeat business at normal price - or zero sales? The offer my client came up with in the end was minimal with complex terms. It also clashed with the Black Friday deals, so it actually wasn't very attractive to a potential buyer - but my client felt confident that they wouldn't be 'loosing' money if someone did purchase from them. No sales were made, so they lost out on money anyway.
5. Website Review
This is my forte and you know that if you're an online business - which most of us are now - you need a great website. But having a website means fuck all if your design is not created for the user's experience. Your site needs to be spot on - don't have your life story on the homepage because if people don't see what they expect to see in the first 3 seconds - they will leave. For a product based business, your products need to be on the homepage, along with how to order. And if you've got 7 things in your menu, plus a 'More' tab - you need to go back and start again with your layout. Also, how intuitive is your site - do buttons look like buttons? Is all imagery relevant and give off the right message to your target market?
Result: I offered a Website Review at £299 to optimise their site because I knew that it's current state will have a negative impact on their sales. But my client felt that was too expensive and took it upon themselves to make changes - but because they are not website designers, it unfortunately made no difference to the design.
When you get really specific about your target market and what it is you do, you can become 'the' expert in it. So I thought about their product and who it would benefit the most and recommended that they niche it down to a certain industry and target these local businesses only. What they had to offer would be ideal because it would have give them the bulk buy orders that they wanted.
The wider benefit of niching it is that their written content will be peppered with long-tail keywords for organic SEO, their blog posts will generate 'awareness' content to attract their cold audience and their social media will have a clearer message.
Result: My client was onboard with this but expected me to contact the targeted industry on their behalf - which I don't do. I have my own business to market. I opted to send out another email marketing campaign to the niche industry but obviously - again - this was not personal enough and had no impact, therefore no sales were made.
7. Brand Voice
People warm to people. You are the 'U'SP in your business, so by showing up on behalf of your business and throwing some personality into your brand will make it easier to connect with your potential clients and grow your audience. You don't have to go super personal or share issues you feel uncomfortable with - the point is you get to choose what you share but there will always be something that you can bring to the conversation (whether it's a hobby, a pet, an exercise regime or an interest). Also talking about your business experiences and just simply relating to other business owners, whether it's a win or a giant fuck up on your part - people love it!
Result: My client only used business social media accounts and pages, making it a faceless brand but knowing how against they were networking and marketing their business on their behalf, I knew this would not be considered. I recommended sharing their posts and liking other peoples content but this was only done as their business page.
8. Marketing Person
With the above point in mind, my last suggestion was that they hire someone to be the face of their business and promote the product for them, in all of the ways I had suggested but they felt uncomfortable doing themselves.
Result: My client didn't think this was necessary.
Their Last Words
Three months later we had one last phone call to see if anything could be salvaged but we pretty much went round in circles. At the end of the conversation my client said that they were disappointed with me and -
'.. I thought you were going to come up with more ideas on how we can market the business' ..
Then they said I should have just taken the lead and gone ahead with my suggestions anyway.
I knew at this point that the relationship was not going to work and that I couldn't help my client, even after all of the effort I had put in.
It is my mission to help all of my clients to succeed - but it works both ways. I cant create content from nothing.
We amicably terminated our relationship after 3 months - partially because my client had made no sales and couldn't afford my services but also because they felt social media 'wasn't working'. They had assumed that by popping up on social media on day one that they would instantly gain sales.
People who do well in business put effort and thought into their marketing content.
It's actually all about building your audience and gaining their trust. Everyone knows what you want from them - you want them to buy from you - but they want to know: what is in it for them. Are you a trustworthy expert? Why should they choose you over your competitor? Are you a likeable person?
Not everyone has to think you are better than your competitors and not everyone has to like you - just your ideal clients do.
I wanted to share this experience because if my suggestions can help any small business (product or service based) that is just starting out, I hope it does.
Also see my previous blog post on How To Market Your Business for more ways to get your name out there.
You are more than welcome to Subscribe to my 'Cool Stuff' page which involves monthly posts like this, aimed at helping small businesses with their design and marketing strategies.
NEXT UPCOMING BLOG POST: The Art of Social Media - knowing what to post