This series is the brain-child of Stephanie, and was sparked when she was reading the “Dear Heloise” column regarding weddings: if a one-time event like a wedding has a whole advice column, why shouldn’t the daily grind that is running a business have one?
“Ask Steph” is the article series where business owners can go to get answers for their real-life questions from an award-winning entrepreneur, business developer, and business coach, without the $2,000 consultation fee!
“How should businesses be utilizing their marketing best during this current season (COVID-19 Pandemic) of change?”
- Becka G.H.
Great question, Becka!
And great insight on your part too, because you’ve hit on something that is incredibly important right now: marketing.
This season is a great time to create raving fans out of your clients, and your marketing is a large part of how you can do that. One great way to create raving fans is to spotlight the people that make you amazing: your customers!
When you spotlight one of your fans, you engage people in two important ways. You...
Help your spotlighted fan fall more in love with you.
Show prospective clients that you care about the people who give you money.
Showing your care for your clients is incredibly important because...
Even in the middle of an economic turndown, people are spending money -- they are just more careful about where they spend it.
But the fun fact is that people will spend more money on something they are sure will give them the return they need.
So the best way to utilize your marketing right now is to show people that you’re the sure thing they need. Marketing needs to be focused on showing prospective clients that you are the one they can trust with their money. Because they will trust someone, and your job is to make sure it’s you and not the shady salesman down the road.
Another important aspect of marketing right now is to make sure everything is connected!
To get more bang for your buck with marketing, all of your marketing needs to be connected and uniform.
In other words, marketing works best when it runs people in circles on connected content.
Yes, this is what I preach for regular marketing. But it is true in ordinary times as well as during a pandemic. Marketing always needs to be connected!
Having a uniform brand across all your marketing keeps your customers comfortable interacting with you. And connecting your website to your social media, radio ads, testimonials, articles, and paper ads makes you easier to find. Now more than ever, no one wants to be spending hours looking for some obscure brand that might or might not give them a good return on their investment. So being connected and uniform has become more important than ever.
Hope this helps you focus your marketing on what will make it pop!
“How can I get more followers and likes on social media?”
- Marcy W.
First off, I want to tell you to not feel like you’re alone in this struggle: this is a very common question. It’s not just you!
One way people often get more followers and likes is by buying them (projects like crazy huge ad campaigns), but I don’t generally suggest this as a viable source of finding engaging followers. The people you buy generally aren’t interested in doing any buying -- they are empty likes and follows that will usually actually drop your engagement levels because they’re not even engaging with your posts. Buying likes and follows, ironically, makes you more invisible to your prospective clients.
Here’s my suggestions for your social media…
1: Post more!
If you’re not getting in front of your current followers on a near daily basis, your current followers generally won’t even see your posts all that often: potential followers are even less likely to see them.
So start putting out regular content.
We generally post for Grow Disrupt roughly once a day, and most of the time that’s perfectly alright! (especially if it’s consistent) We’re still getting content out on a regular basis and engaging with our followers on a near daily basis, even the days we aren’t posting multiple times a day.
What isn’t alright is posting once every one to two to three weeks. When you only post once every couple weeks, you create a stagnant page that no one wants to engage with because there’s no consistency: people can’t count on your page daily or even weekly for the content they want.
Having a regular and updated presence on social media shows potential followers that you aren’t a stagnant, old, and untouched page.
2: Create a Share/Like Group
This is another really cool tool that I’ve developed for creating and boosting engagement on social media that translates into your page getting shared out more.
What this isn’t…
This is not a facebook group that you create and have people become a part of and then ignore for the rest of their lives.
What this is…
Is a group of five or six people, where everyone has agreed to engage with everyone else’s content in an effort to boost the content and get it more visibility. You can run this however you want (even creating a group chat), but the important part is to create a space where everyone posts links to their content and once a day checks all the links and engages with all the content that’s been posted.
The Share/Like Group drives up your engagement score on social media, and therefore tells the algorithms that your posts are engaging people. From there, the algorithms do the job of putting your posts in front of other people.
Reciprocity is a concept that I’m a huge fan of.
Essentially, reciprocity says that if I do something for you, you will be driven to do the same for me. In social media terms, this means that if you go out and follow, like, and comment on other people’s content, they’ll feel driven to return the favor.
In order to transform this concept into a Follower-Developing-Process, you’ll have to make sure your page has regularly great content -- most people won’t follow a page that has one post in four weeks, even if the page has liked a bunch of their posts. But if you can develop a habit of putting out great content and interacting with other pages, you’ll start to see an uptick in the people checking out your page!
Few people like doing research, but it is an important aspect of creating interactive content.
Looking into the kinds of posts that are getting a lot of interaction, whether posts from your competitors or not, gives you a springboard of ideas for your own content. Because you can look at the content that is getting a lot of engagement and shares, and then create your own version of that kind of content. Research is how you learn to create good content.
5: Current Events and Hashtags
Part of creating great content that people can interact with, is making sure you’re current with your content.
You don’t have to get political about anything. I recommend not getting extremely political, but that doesn’t mean you can’t post about current events. Relating something going on in the media to your marketing message is a great way to get exposure and interact with people: especially if you use hashtags to make sure you’re appearing on hashtag streams.
All in all…
Getting more followers and likes is all about getting more eyes on your page. It might be a slow process at first as you’re integrating these activities into your social media marketing campaign, but people will start to show up. And the more consistent you are with these activities, the more consistently people will show up!
“What can small businesses in the event industry do to keep business running during a pandemic?”
- John M.
This is a tough question, because events have always been so reliant on people attending in person for success. And in-person events are almost impossible during a quarantined time.
Here are a few things that can be done to adapt to the pandemic.
Organize Online Events
Putting on your own high-quality online events is possible! We’ve done it a number of times now and the events have always been a huge success. Although it can be more mentally tiring than an in-person event, it is a very real option for event-based companies who need to evolve to the new climate.
If throwing your own online events isn’t feasible for your company, you can use your current assets to support companies that are running their own events.
E. G., If you’re a tech company that used to get bookings to run AV for in-person events, you could see about renting out your tech (and maybe 1 techie to help run things with COVID-19 safe precautions in place) to facilitate someone’s online events with high-quality recordings. Or…
If you’re an event organizer rather than an event planner, you could go into the market to help non-tech-savvy individuals and companies run their own online events. There are numerous aspects of running an online event that everyone who has done one understands, and they can lead to a lot of headaches if not properly prepared for. So maybe you aim your marketing toward helping take the headache out of running an online event.
If you are used to running your own events containing live-streams, part of your company can become the whole of your company for this period of time.
Start offering live-streaming for events like weddings, funerals, birth-gender reveals, and the like. Everyone is having to adapt their lives right now, but life isn’t just crawling to a halt. People are continuing with life-activities like marriages, they are just more complicated when you can only have 10 people under a roof. Offering to take care of live-streaming the event and making sure that everyone who wants to watch can, is a huge weight you can lift from people’s shoulders. And at the same time, you’re evolving a part of your company to keep you in business and adapting during the pandemic.
Hope this helps you to evolve and adapt your company to the pandemic, John!
Hey, Steph. I started an online digital magazine (free for readers) that covers the River Region of the Texas Hill Country which is a big tourist area. I've been posting fresh content, pictures of what's happening, interviews, stories and have two contributing writers. I've really worked my tail off!
My main goal this summer was to grow a readership for the online magazine and get the readership and web traffic up to present to prospective advertisers to purchase digital ads.
Readership and page views have been going up steadily but not mega numbers. So far, all the money has gone out the back door and none from the front door. I'd like to start approaching business prospects to sell ads. Need some suggestions on pricing, free trials, low intro ad offers etc. Help!
- Michael K.
It sounds like you’ve got a great project going here, Michael! Here’s my advice…
Packaging and Pricing
Start by determining your packages and what you want your pricing to be.
To determine that, you’ll need to look at where you want the company to be in 5-10 years money-wise. If you want the magazine to be making $250K/year inside of 5 years, you’ll need to look at aspects of revenue like how many advertisers you expect to have on a rotating basis and how much you’ll need to be charging on that rotating basis. There’s a lot you’ll have to try and calculate since you’re looking at the future, but it will be worth it in the long-run!
Pricing the Profit First Way
Another important aspect of pricing is the way that you price yourself beyond the cost of goods. I recommend pricing the Profit First way (by Mike Michalowicz, check out his book and tools here if you’re interested!).
The Profit First Formula:
Total Revenue minus 10% for profit, 10% for commission, and 15% for taxes equals double the cost of goods.
In other words, while most people take their profit off the top of whatever they have left of revenue from expenses, Profit First builds profit into the price.
E. G., if you’re charging $100 for an ad, you’ll take away $10 for profit, $10 for commission, and $15 for taxes. That leaves you with $65, which you then need to cut in half. If that $32.5 can cover the basic cost of the ad, then you’re set on that pricing!
However, you have to be sure that 32.5% of your total price will cover your expenses for that ad. Because everyone knows that businesses grow and eat up money. A business needs to be able to pay rent on office space, make payroll, and hire contractors on top of everything else. And in the case of running ads, you have to be able to hire people to create as well as upload and manage the ads. So you need 32.5% of your pricing to be “extra” in order to cover the cost of the business running on top of paying for the cost of the ad.
You can build this backwards if that’s easier, (by looking at the total hard-cost of the ad and then reverse-engineering the formula) but this is the absolute best way to set pricing that I’ve ever come across.
Far too often companies get run out of business because they don’t price themselves correctly, don’t do that to yourself.
No, I’m not talking about prices for your grandfather.
What I mean is that you may not be able to start at the full Profit First price because you may not be able to offer the same amount of value today as you will in five years (E. G., when your readership has shot through the roof). That’s ok! If you need to, start at 50% or even 25% of the rate you’re looking to charge in the future to get the first few clients in the door. But here’s the key to keeping clients when you upscale your pricing…
Let them know!
Don’t just spring it on them as a surprise. When they sign up, let them know that you’ll be increasing your prices in the future. Don’t make it a question, tell them that it’s a fact. This way they know that they’re getting a good deal by coming on with you early. And when you do raise your rates, give them a grandfathered rate.
I. E., When they sign up with you, let them know that at the end of their one year, you’re going to offer them a grandfathered rate: they can sign up for another year at the end of this one, for the same price that they start at even though it will go up for other people.
The cool thing about this concept, is that they’re getting a great deal that makes them realize how much you value them, and you’re keeping long-term clients!
I would not offer free trials. They rarely translate into sales.
Marketing takes time, more often than not it takes longer than a week (which is a decent amount of time for a free trial, especially if you’re putting out ads on a daily basis). And if you’re giving out free trials and people don’t see results inside of a week, they are most likely going to assume it isn’t working. From there, it’s a quick path off the site and your free trial has resulted in a week of extra work for you that didn’t generate a sale.
As a word of encouragement, I want to say this...
Keep in mind that you’re building momentum -- it’s going to take a lot of work to get this going.
Just like marketing takes time, building a business, readership, and advertiser base takes time. You’re going to have to work your tail off for the first 5-10 advertisers at least. But if you take care of your advertisers, one day you’re going to get a call that says “Hey, my friend said I should do some advertising with you.” And from there it gets easier.
It’s going to be hard, I know you’re facing some hard times right now. But trust me when I say that eventually you won’t have to work your tail off to get clients. I’m experiencing the portion of business where I’ve worked my tail off for six years and now clients are coming to me.
So I want to encourage you to look at what you’re going to have to do, and don’t give up! Don’t shy away from the effort, it will make or break you, but you can do this!
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