We hear it over and over again, and see expanding proof of its truth: times are tough, and it looks like they will be for a while. A few months ago, I was pooh-pooing this fact (and for a while we got reports that “everything’s getting better right now!”), but the evidence is striking closer and closer to home, most recently in the form of massive layoffs in my home town (it was a few months ago, and the effects are dramatically evident now in the form of house foreclosures, empty storefronts, and so on). What do you do when you’re trying to stay afloat? How do you market your business and stand apart from your competition, who might be doing what you do, but at a discount?
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, how do you market your business and its products and services so that people come to you instead of the other guy? And what if it’s a decision between your light bill and your marketing budget (it comes to that entirely too often these days!)?
Our services are, I’ll admit it, not cheap. And not every business can afford what we do. What we do is save you the time it takes learning how to do it yourself, and then doing it. But you can do it yourself, if you are willing to learn and spend the time on your own marketing efforts.
There’s so much action in social media these days (Twitter, Facebook, mySpace, LinkedIn and other social media platforms), and many businesses are using them to great effect. I’m going to share some of what we do so that you can start doing it yourself. Face it, I’d rather you stay in business than put yourself out of business hiring us!
So here’s what you do:
Step 1: Get going on a web site. We offer a do-it-yourself option if you have the time and patience to do it this way–and truly, the options there permit you to buy your own domain name, get a web hosting account and set up a nice looking template-based web site on your own. You can actually do pretty well this way! Ready?
Step 2: Set up an account on Facebook if you don’t already have one. Then set up a company page. Here’s how ours look, so you can see what the end result can be:
Step 3: sign up for Twitter. Here’s what our account looks like:
Step 4: any other social media accounts (LinkedIn–especially for businesses!–Flickr, mySpace, etc)
Step 5: sign up for Ping (http://www.ping.fm) and connect all your accounts in there.
What that will do is permit you to update and connect all of your profiles, so that you can publish a single update and deploy it to all of your social media at once. You can also add a Facebook application which updates your profile with any blog updates you make to your web site. They all tie together, and that helps with exposure.
What good do all these connections make?
Well, once you have connected them all, you can start expanding your network by inviting friends and colleagues to join you, “friend” you, or whatever the term is on that particular platform.
Then you start sending updates about what you’re doing!
A word of caution, though: it’s not cool these days to put out a hard-sell pitch. Here are some effective way to market your wares:
- Ask about pain points: Ask questions, such as “Do you always up with a sore neck/back? Come see us! We have …” (etc.)
- Get excited about an offering: This one can be tricky. It’s not as easy as just saying “We’re really excited about thus-and-such!”–but if you say something like, “We just got this really cool widget, and we like it so much we’re playing with it in the store! Come play with us!” Get it? It’s a matter of engaging your readers. I’d certainly want to come play with some widget if it sounded interesting enough, wouldn’t you?
- Make it relevant and timely: One of the smartest network marketers I know sells Mary Kay Cosmetics (you can find her at http://www.marykay.com/kmcgee2/), and one of the reasons she’s so smart about marketing her products is that she makes her offerings relevant, like reminding customers about July 4th weekend, and don’t forget your sunscreen!
There’s so much more, but I don’t want to give away all the tricks! This will get you started. If you have questions, you know where to find me!
We’ll all get through this together.