Many of us are aware that in order for us to scale our business and get people to know about us is learning how to market your business online; but how is this marketing done? I’m writing this post because over the years many people have asked me this question, and it was a popular question that popped up when conducting a survey. This will be useful to you if you have a business or want to start a business. There are certain things you need to do in order to market your business successfully.
Understand your customers biggest problems.
The biggest issue that most business owner or personal brands have is that they do not understand the core problems that their customers are going through. The best way to understand target market is to find the reoccurring questions that pop up. How do you do this, well there are two main approaches I go for but there are lots of ways you can do this. The first way is as follows:
Create a survey
This is a really simple way to capture information that could help you market your business well. The main questions you need to ask is “what is the biggest problem you are facing with X?” and “where have you gone to try and solve this issue?” In addition to this, you can get demographic information like, age, a city of residence, job industry etc. The aim is to get this information for at least 100 people or to put it another way, get at least 100 responses and collate your answers thematically to see what pops up the most. In order to find participants, you’ll usually have to start by looking at your friends and family, specifically those who are interested in your topic. If you can’t find any relevant, then maybe you should ask people at different networking events and recording your responses from there. In addition, if you have an engaging mailing list you can also do that. If none of that works, then the final option promoting a competition in exchange for peoples answers. This could be done via Facebook advertising, promising those who answer the questions access to some information, product or service you are offering. And from there you could easily obtain committed or potential customers.
Check out Quora
Another way you can do this is by going to quora.com. This website is so underutilised it’s unreal! All you need to do is type in a question or topic area in the search bar and press enter on your phone or laptop. Once you have done this you’ll see a whole stream of questions related to that specific question or topic. Then, just like with the survey, you can analyse the different questions that pop up and rank them in order of frequency based on their themes.
Whether you decide to do a survey or use quora you should be able to accurately determine what core problems people have. With this in mind you can do the following:
- Think of 6 – 12 core topics you could turn into either a book, course or programme
- Turn those questions into blog posts for the year
Help as many people for free
This is advice that is usually overlooked! Help as many people as you can for free in exchange for a recorded review and/or testimonial. The more experience and evidence you have that shows you know what you are doing, the better you are positioned for people to want to trust in your brand.
The best thing to do here is to right up your process or delivery, especially if you are running a service, and practice with people. It may help to have documents branded and developed for use such as a company presentation, agreements and contracts, worksheets and templates, and anything that would serve useful to you and your customer.
This will help you realise what customer problems may arise and how you can mitigate against them as early as possible. You can get your initial free customers via family and friends, or advertising it on social media. If that doesn’t work don’t be scared to tell people in your environment, and at different social and professional events. You can even add it to your signature, every time you send an email.
Post content online
Now that you have a list of core problems, you need to post content online that helps to solve these problems for your audience. You can do this by doing the following:
- Post weekly on your website such as wordpress.org (not wordpress.com)
- Post weekly on Medium
- Post weekly on Quora
The reason why it is important to post on Medium and/or Quora is that Google ranks these platforms highly via its algorithm, so it’ll be easier for your content to be found online. The key here is to use titles for your post that people would search. These are known as “long-tail keywords“. Think of it like this, the common questions or phrases that pop up when you’re typing something into Google’s search box are examples of these long-tail keywords. It’s ok to also use the same post on your website, for your posts on Medium, however with Quora, you may need to be a bit context based on the questions. Make sure to use rich images, such as from pexels.com and be sure to link people to some sort of opt-in (this will be explained in detail later on).
If you could commit yourself to post 2-5 five pieces of content a week, you’ll easily be noticed by your core audience. A content calendar may help to do this, as well as running promotional ads on the content you develop, so it is seen quicker by your audience. This can be done on Facebook for effectiveness!
It is also good to have a strong social media presence. Now the aim is to use a social media platform that you are comfortable with but is also a common place where your audience hangs out. For me personally, the most engaging platform out there is Instagram, just for the mere fact that is hosts video and pictures so well. When thinking about content there are so many approaches you can go with:
- Post pictures of experiences you have had doing your craft. This can be from your events or coaching services. If you don’t have this, you can easily stick to posting lifestyle pictures, which is a fancy way of saying post pictures of you socialising with friends and families at different social events
- Post inspirational quotes that relate to your audience. The more visual they are, the better
- Post tips or advice useful to your audience. Rather than doing this in quote form, create a to-do list or “the top 10….” as an example
- If you’re not worried about being too unique, repost other people’s content that is relevant to your audience and tag the original person in that post.
With this, it is important to note that hashtags are important, as it is a way to get discovered by your audience. I would suggest looking at other profiles in your industry and looking at what hashtags they use as well as thinking of keywords that could be used for your audience. You’ll realise that some hashtags are used more than others, so it’s useful to test different hashtags both in the 10s of thousands and millions. You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram including your caption and comments area, however research has shown that using 9-15 hashtags drives more engagement and looks less spammy.
You also need to make sure you stick to your brand! Keep everything as consistent as possible, it is a way for people to recognise you. Make sure all your social media headers are similar, your website needs to feel the same as your social media platforms. Make sure you use clean and professional images of you and/or your business environment. If you do decide to use a logo, create a simple text one with an additional image for effect. You can use Canva for this as there are many templates that can be edited to your heart’s desire.
Create an online funnel
Whether you know what a funnel is or not, it is a way of describing the user journey your prospect goes through in order to receive value from your business. In order for your funnel to work you need to have some form of bait to allow someone to begin to know, like and trust you. This bait, sometimes called a tripwire or lead magnet can consist of free content that you are offering to your audience. How do you know what your prospects want for free? Because you would have done a survey or quora research to discover what they want. This free lead magnet could be a PDF guide or report that is 25 pages or more, a webinar, a video series via email or private link, a free report specifically for your prospects, a free ebook or coaching session. You may even want to through in a free product or free trial to service. This product or service you offer for free needs to be of high quality; one way to decipher this is to think, “would you charge for this?” Or “would I want this?”
Your Ad and your Landing page
You also need to create a landing page where people can get their free lead magnet. The caveat here is that they must give you their email (and name if you want) in exchange for this information. This is because the aim is to build an email list that you can communicate with regularly and send them your offers. The landing page is important and I would suggest looking at other people’s landing pages in your industry before creating your own. This can be done by going to Facebook pages of people in your industry, and clicking on the tab “Info and Ads”. Here you will see all the ads they are running. Save the Ad in your saved posts on Facebook and click the link of the Ad post. This usually takes you off Facebook and onto their landing page. Here is an example of one of my landing pages. In addition, here are some great traits of a good landing page:
- A bold header that states a problem
- A subheader that reinforces the problem or the solution
- An image of the lead magnet or video explaining the benefits of it
- Lead capture optin integrated with your autoresponder (like MailChimp, Aweber or getresponse)
- information Potential testimonials
Once a lead has entered their information, they are usually taken to a thank you page where they are given more I instructions such as “make sure you check your emails in order to get your free video series”. This can be done in video and/or text form. The best way to know what works is to test different variations (known as A/B split testing) and model how other successful people in your industry do it. I would advise you to sign up to different landing pages and work out how they do what they do. To see an example of a “Thank you” page, click on this link, download the freebie and you’ll be able to see an example (you can unsubscribe if or whenever you want).
When it comes to create Ads, there is no need to complicate things. There are many comprehensive guides online but its important to note that Facebook is a great way to advertise your products and services. You can also use Google Adwords and YouTube advertising, but they all serve different purposes. Google Adwords and YouTube Ads allows you to use keywords used in the Google and YouTube search engine to target people. Because people on Google and YouTube want a problem solved, they are more likely to buy. This means you don’t need to focus so much on developing a relationship with them and you can potentially direct them to a sales page for a high product and/or service. The downside is these platforms are bit expensive when it comes to advertising.
Facebook is a social platform, therefore you do need to develop a relationship with your audience. It uses interests on Facebook, demographic information, third party information and “look-a-like” data to help you target your ads to a specific audience. These ad objectives are most likely going to be conversion ads optimised for landing pages, with either one interest to start off with. The idea is to see what works so it is advisable to split test your adsets and ads and only change a key interest, graphic, text, demographic information per split test. Doing this over a couple of days allows you to see what ad is most effective so that you can focus on pumping all your money into that ad.
It is important to note that when it comes to the visuals you use, model what other people have done. Typically this works:
- A coloured environment
- A well-lit environment
- Human faces
- Women in the picture and/or video
- Minimal text
Here is part of an example ad I have used before. Click on it take you to the landing page. This produced on Facebook.
Define your Customer staircase
It’s all well and good giving people stuff for free, however, you need to see if people want more from you. This is why you need to develop a customer staircase. In other words, what are the different ways in which your customer can buy from you in order to learn or have the answer to a problem they have. A customer staircase could look like this:
Free Video Series –> Online Course –> 3-day group seminar –> 1-to-1 coaching –> Consulting services
As you can see, throughout this customer staircase model, prospects have the opportunity to get their problems solved; however the higher you go up the stairs, the more hands-on and personal that help becomes. With that in mind, you need to start factoring in charging for your time. Every step in the staircase represents a price tag. Using the same example the pricing could look like:
Free –> $299 –> $799 –>$1499 –> $2999
Why is every 99 or 97? This is for commercial reasons, and many consumers have become used to paying for products with these figures at the end.
You want to be able to introduce each step of the staircase to those who show commitment. I.e. if something does not optin in for your online course, do not advertise your consulting services to them. However, if someone buys your 3-day seminar, advertise your 1-to-1 coaching to them.
Hosting your own events regularly throughout the year is a perfect way to build your customership. This is because your prospects can see you live in the flesh, making it easier for them to relate with you. Your event should aim to solve core problems that your audience is facing and offer even more help after the event. This help could be some form of coaching and consulting services.
In order to setup an event think about the following:
- The agenda
- The content
- The event theme and decorations
- The venue
- Music and Sound equipment
- Resources and Tools
- Photography and filming
Do you need all of these things, no, however some of them may give a nice touch to your event. Create your event on Eventbrite or Meetup and you’re good to go!
You can also build your clientele via networking events. It’s also important to know what your mini story is i.e. what do you do, who do you do it for, and how do you do it? Here is an example, “My name is Abi and I am a financial consultant that helps female graduates improve their personal finances. I do this through courses, events and coaching services.” You also need to be able to answer how you got to where you go to now. This includes the following:
- What you did before
- The pain you experienced
- The realisation you made
- The transition to your current position
- Why you love doing what you’re doing
If you can formulate a captivating and genuine story that you can memorise, you will realise how easy it is to network with people. I used my book as a way to break the ice, and it always worked so well! When it comes to exchange details you can do one of the following:
- Ask for their social media handle e.g. Instagram
- Ask for their number
- Ask for their email with permission to add them to your mailing list
The last one is potentially more valuable because you could setup a system that allows you to send all your information to them so that you can both keep in contact.
Groups & Networks
You can also create market your products and services via groups online and offline, as well as networks. If you have a strong following online, or are looking to create one, can send your group content dedicated to helping them solve their core problems, with the occasional promotion here and there. In addition, you can create video lives with this audience, allowing you to answer their questions, and interact with them, increasing engagement and likeability factor. This is also a great way to launch your product and/or service to a massive group of people.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but more than enough to get you started on marketing yourself online (and offline). If you use these tactics, you are surely going to be able to grow your audience and get a portion of those people being customers. Although the title of this post is “How to market your business online” we sometimes forget that a business is some form of “commercial activity.” In other words, you make profit and that usually comes from an exchange of goods and/or service. This is between you and the customer, so it is your job to make sure they know you are uniquely qualified to help them solve their specific problem.
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