A- Authenticity, much as this word is now overused! – be you and be real. People don’t want the BS approach and they don’t want a fake, smiley false personality you put on for business. It is obvious when people do this, so be yourself or you will lose potential clients. Don’t worry about putting people off, if they don’t like the real you then they weren’t the right client for you in the first place.
B- Bold – be bold and have an opinion. You don’t have to be divisive all the time (unless that is your natural persona) but don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. Also be bold and brave in sharing personal stories. It doesn’t need to be a diary of your life but talking about moments that changed you or things you have overcome will help people align with you and get to know you.
C- Consistency – Keep posting – every day on every platform when possible, scheduling can really help with this. I use ContentCal. It is invaluable when you are going to be busy and it allows you to focus on engaging with responses not thinking up what to say on the hop every day.
D- Don’t give up – it is a long game you are playing so don’t give in when the sales don’t roll in or your posts lack engagement. Keep at it, adapt if you need to and engage on other people’s posts even if yours are getting tumbleweed, it all helps you get in tune with the algorithm and it will start to work, keep at it!
E- Eat the frog – do the worst job first – if you hate videos, do them early in the week, if you hate planning all the content, do it before the week starts, if you hate writing your monthly blog do it at the start of the month.. etc.
F- Facebook – Farcebook as I like to call it – it doesn’t suit everyone, but most businesses have a presence on there now because of the 2.38 billion users. There are a thousand things to say about FB so I won’t put them all here, the main thing at the moment is that there is a big bias towards groups, so if you’re not active in a good group or running one you may miss out. Having a group on Facebook can be a good way to gather a target market and give value and create sales, in a non-direct way. It still has to be a helpful group or people will quit!
G- Grow your network – don’t just think about targeting potential clients, but connect with people who you could collaborate with not compete with, or even people who you can just be friends with. Support is integral for both small and big businesses and if you are a sole trader like me it can get a bit lonely, so whilst you don’t want to waste all day chitchatting it is really lovely to have people to talk to, especially if you work alone.
H- Help people – whatever you sell or offer as a service you are helping someone. Focus on that when you are writing about your business offerings. What is it they will be gain or achieve from working with you? It isn’t about YOU and your ego it is about how you can help the client. Find the pain points and give solutions to them.
I- Instagram – it’s the fastest growing social media platform and is set to be one of the top places for shopping in the future. If your business is very visual or sells products you should be on here doing it already. You can use up to 30 hashtags on a post, so do that! Pop them in the comments, find ones that align to your target market, you can use up to 10 on a story, hide them by making them the colour of your background and shrinking them down into the corner. My top tip for Insta is make your profile target market friendly, say who you help and HOW.
J- Just do it! – sorry for the Nike quote, but the fact is we often procrastinate about posting, especially videos, and spend ages thinking or trying to perfect something. By all means edit posts and try and be accurate, but don’t take too long, just post it. Get it out there. Nothing will happen if you don’t and no one is perfect so even a typo won’t destroy your whole business model (I am talking to myself as much as anyone else here, as I am a proofreader!)
K- Keep it real – don’t be afraid to say if you’ve had a bad day or made a mistake. You don’t need to air all your dirty laundry online (please don’t!) but it is good to show your life isn’t perfect. Plus, we learn so much from our mistakes and that means others do too. As long as your posts aren’t a constant cry for help and are more focused on ‘this went wrong but this is how I resolved it’ you won’t go far wrong. It is relatable, and it engages your audience emotionally. Ultimately, they get to know you better and people buy people, people also use their emotions when they buy.
L- LinkedIn – my absolute favourite! You will be tripping over so-called LinkedIn experts if you look for one but there is some great free advice around if you know where to find it, feel free to message me and I will tell you who to follow! I have grown my connections organically from 200 to 1000 in 3 months and I am now getting work from LinkedIn. It’s a long-term strategy. I don’t believe in cold calling or messaging or trying to sell my services. That bores and alienates people in my opinion, as I personally hate it. Give value whenever you can, help people, be kind, and most of all be yourself and the right people will be drawn to you. Engaging on other people’s posts in a valuable way really gives your profile a lot of exposure and regularly posting alongside this will build your connections. Obviously talking about and to the people you are targeting with your business is very important but don’t discount those who seem like they won’t be your clients, they might get to know you and refer people to you, every connection is a valuable one if it is real.
M- Meaningful – make sure you are genuine and mean what you say. I exclude sarcasm from this as clearly that is hilarious! When you comment on posts or message people be truthful and sincere, it will go a long way. As humans we are wired to spot insincerity and it stands out as we are built for self-preservation, so if someone feels a bit off, we sense it, don’t be that someone.
N- Nurture – look after your growing community of people and followers, give them value in your posts, give away free guides, eBooks or training videos, whatever is relevant to you. This is what will keep them engaged and interested in you. Take a genuine interest in people and what is happening for them, I have had several clients come from connections I started months or even years before, and then when the time is right and they needed my service they chose me straight away, You don’t even have to worry about closing these people, they are already ready to sign up as they know, like and trust you and you have a relationship with them. Most people you communicate won’t be clients now, so look at that big pool of possible clients and look after them.
O- Original – it takes longer but come up with your own content. Yes, sharing the odd viral video can increase your reach, but it is unlikely it is reaching the right people, don’t get drawn in by the vanity metrics. I am not saying you shouldn’t share or repost things you see but ensure you also have plenty of your own content and posts, so people get to know you and understand what you are about.
P- Plan ahead – plan your content, weekly if you can. Monthly content plans work well if you have a focus or event for the month you are building up to. It makes sense to think about it and work out when you will be posting and what about. This is not my strong suit as time is often limited for me at weekends with the children being so young, but I find the weeks I have all my content planned out are the best and most productive weeks as I have time to focus on other things.
Q- Quiet – don’t be scared if you need to have a quiet week, in fact tell people about it and/or post about it afterwards. As much as I harp on about consistency don’t overwhelm yourself and have an aneurysm as you didn’t post on Instagram every day this week. It will be okay; the point is to aim to be present on the main platforms you use but a missed day or two will not crash and burn your whole marketing strategy. Lessen the pressure on yourself and just do your best, remember you need to do this long term, burning out is not an option.
R- Review – look back at least once a month, weekly is even better, at your social media and how it is going. Which posts did best? Which were a waste of time? Track how many followers/connections you have, how many profile views if it’s LinkedIn or Insta, reach if it’s FB. There are lots of parameters you can track, so choose the most pertinent ones to you and use them to see where you might want to improve or what has gone well. That’s the only way to progress and it will help you plan for the next batch of content.
S- Schedule it – not all your content and not all the time but I find scheduling helps me have a plan of content that will be out every day/week consistently. I can then add to it daily, using Insta or FB stories and LinkedIn posts but at least I know the main posts are there and my presence is consistent. Remember to make time to go back and engage with responses regularly and also don’t schedule into Twitter hours, that is about being there and interacting in real time.
T- Twitter – the place I met my husband! It can be great for keeping it real as Twitter tends to be a more opinionated, honest and controversial place where people definitely do not respond to sales tactics, in my opinion anyway! It is hashtag heaven though and there are hours that you can get involved with, e.g. #indiewritershour which is at a set time every week, or local ones like #covhour. Look out for ones in your industry or area and try and set one up if it’s not there. It’s a great way to meet other businesses or your target markets. But remember to engage not sell, it is about building relationships. I am not overly active on Twitter but post in a couple of hours most weeks and at least one post a day. It has been enough to get a couple of very lucrative clients, so don’t neglect it.
U- Understand your audience – yes, they want to get to know you, but they also want to see that you understand them. For example, if you were targeting new mums, posting about how beneficial eight hours sleep is will alienate them immediately and also wind them up if they are anything like me, as my children still don’t sleep through at the ages of five and two! A much cleverer post might be tips for how to cope when you are sleep deprived, life hacks perhaps. You will never please everyone, so try and picture that ideal client when you create content, and how they will react.
V- Video – love it or hate it, video is now everywhere. Silver star if you use it already, gold star if you put captions on! It is said that 85% of people watch videos on FB without sound and it is similar on all platforms, so put that little bit of effort in to add captions with Rev or Quicc and your views and engagement will increase. They can be long or short, but shorter ones are more likely to be watched, so it’s a good way to go. It can actually be harder to make a short video; I know for me it is as I tend to waffle on a bit too much!
W- Why – remember why you are doing all this. Why are you in business? Why are you posting on social media? Why are you helping people by doing what you do? These answers will not only give you a better sense of focus they will actually be good subjects for content as well. It will help people get to know you and relate to you. I am working for myself as I wanted to bring up my children at home and I wanted to avoid the mundane routine of a job with set hours. When I remind myself of this, I feel far more grateful, and that makes for a happy me and better content and more productive days!
X- Experiment – don’t be afraid to try something different and see what happens. Whether it is a live video or a different kind of post that is out of your comfort zone. I do pole fitness and I had an article in a well-known newspaper about it as I started when I turned 40, so was featured in this piece. The photo of me is one of my favourites but it is not a shy one. It isn’t X-rated or anything and the article was very well written about how the perception of pole dancing can be one thing, but the reality is it can really help women gain confidence and fitness. I decided to share it on social media and was a little nervous about the potential response. It was overwhelmingly positive, from both men and women, but mostly women! At the end of the day it is something I am really proud that I can do, and I work and train hard to achieve the best I can. This was a risk that paid off and I have made some friendships through posting about it, as some women can relate to it and some want to try it themselves.
Y- Yesterday – talking about what you have done and where you have come from is a useful tool to have. Don’t be afraid to tell your story or even talk about the last conversation you had with a client, if it can be used for purposeful content. Just be honest and don’t make up some cock and bull story about your upbringing on the streets or how it all came good when you were found under a pool table in a box, it is a waste of time.
Z- Z-A – or A-Z if you prefer. This method of making a point for every letter or maybe doing the ‘top ten things’ is a great way to style and structure content. I aim to produce a series of short videos about each point I have made here, which you will be able to follow on LinkedIn with my hashtag #AtoZPfP, or connect with me on there.