There is nothing more frustrating than knowing in your heart that you have the potential to build the business of your dreams while at the same time feeling completely stuck in the mud. You can so clearly visualize where you want to be and you work day in and day out to get there, but you’re not making much progress. It’s time to reassess your efforts, create a new game plan, step outside your comfort zone and break free from this stagnant season in your business. How do you get started? Recognize and correct your mistakes…
1 // You limit your efforts to a single channel
It is no secret that social media is one of the best places to dedicate marketing efforts. With each passing year comes exponential growth in technology and a new generation that lives and breathes various social media platforms. Staying active and engaged in popular apps like Instagram and Facebook while also keeping up with your newsletter and other forms of online networking is an entrepreneurial must these days.
But, what if I told you that putting all your marketing efforts into social media is a mistake and that you are throwing away business opportunities by hiding behind your computer and phone?
We’ve become so comfortable sending emails, posting images, and typing comments that we’ve forgotten about one of the most effective forms of growing our businesses; offline marketing. There are various offline marketing tactics that we can use to create more genuine connections with our ideal client base and other professionals in our industries, fostering relationships that contribute to the growth and development of our businesses.
Request in-person meetings – Leverage the abundance of directories available online and create a list of the professionals you’d like to connect with. When building this list, remember to include businesses that may come in contact with your ideal client long before you do. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, find event planners who are already working with couples who would be a good fit for your services. If you are an event planner, search for venues that match your aesthetic and are serving clients with budgets that can cover additional assistance.
Once you have this list, reach out! This is where many people experience some anxiety. It’s common to feel silly or uncomfortable reaching out to people you’ve never met in a request to meet in person. But to the apprehensive entrepreneur, I say: What do you really have to lose? I mean, the worst that can actually happen is rejection. And although rejection might sting a bit, it will actually do no harm to your business. I’d actually argue that rejection will make you, and your business much stronger in the long run.
Attend in-person networking events – Shaking someone’s hand and introducing your business is a whole lot more powerful than clicking “like” from behind your computer. Research live professional events taking place in your industry and attend with a goal of forming strong relationships with others. Go “old school” and bring business cards to hand to people as your conversation concludes. This will force them to remember you later on when they rediscover that card in their coat pocket.
Make sure to exchange contact information so that you can stay connected, work together and support each others’ businesses going forward. If you are more introverted and have trouble putting yourself out there, bring a friend to the event! Do what you need to do to feel more comfortable in this kind of social environment so that you don’t revert to hanging alone in the corner of the room or leaving only minutes after arriving.
Check out The Rising Tide Society’s Tuesdays Together meetings. This is a great organization focused on growing and strengthening the creative industry! You can find regularly scheduled networking events across the country right on their website!
Join forces in a client meeting – As you connect with other professionals in your industry, make it known that you would be thrilled to attend any of their client meetings to introduce yourself, explain your services and answer any questions their clients may have.
Attend workshops – Workshops are a great way of bringing together groups of people who have similar interests and goals. These kinds of events allow you to improve your craft and business, while also creating great new relationships that may lead to new business opportunities through referrals and future collaborations.
Send handwritten snail mail – People want to have the sense that they are valued. They want to feel special and it’s thoughtful gestures like a nice card or letter that forge these kinds of positive feelings. Take the time to show real appreciation by going beyond the obvious copy/paste email template.
Collaborate on a project – Joining forces on a project is a great way to prove your services to others in your industry, connect names, and further build relationships. Be passionate, reliable and work hard to exceed everyone’s expectations. Collaborations are a great opportunity to demonstrate that you are the real deal and can be trusted to deliver.
2 // You are practicing a passive approach to market
Are you throwing a bunch of images up online with some strategic hashtags and calling it a day? Or listing some advertisements and crossing your fingers that someone notices your business? M-i-s-t-a-k-e.
Why? Because throwing your work out into the world and sitting, hoping someone responds is lazy. It’s just not enough. You need to strengthen your grip on the reigns of your business do more. Implement thorough, creative marketing strategies that will bear more results. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices a-flowin’…
Send customized direct messages – Imagine if you were trying to build your business and connect with customers 50 years ago. Can you imagine how difficult that must have been? No access to the plethora of information we can find online these days? So, don’t take technology for granted! Search for your target audience and reach out to them via direct, customized messaging. Introduce your business and provide an incentive for them to learn more!
Post content that prompts engagement – When sharing something on social media, what do you include for a caption? Are you merely listing a description that spits out facts to your audience, or are you opening up a dialog by asking questions? Prompting others to engage in conversation about your work is a great way to demonstrate interest your audience while continuing to spread the word about your business.
Host a webinar – You are a professional and an expert at what you do. Own it and share it. Think of a topic that would interest others and host a webinar centered around sharing that valuable knowledge. As you plan out the details of this event, keep in mind that it should present information that will benefit those who attend. If there is no benefit, there won’t be much interest. Also, don’t let the conversation end at the conclusion of the webinar. Stay connected by requiring attendees to sign up for your newsletter, build an ongoing forum, or share a fun incentive that requires everyone to share their webinar review with others.
Blog & share – We hear this advice all of the time; “you HAVE TO blog!”. I absolutely agree, but I think that writing a blog post is only a fraction of the battle. If your goal is to be heard and to create some online marketing traction, then it is up to you to reel in traffic to your blog. Leverage social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, etc. to educate people about your recent post. Announce blog posts at the networking events you attend, or send out a newsletter that includes a link to your recent post. Make your blogging efforts known to the world instead of posting in silence and waiting for people to accidentally stumble upon your work.
Get featured & follow up – Do you sometimes feel like you’re talking to an empty room? Connect with businesses that serve the clients you’d like to work with and have a much larger following. If they feature your work and share your name, pay close attention to those that interact with that feature. Every person that likes, shares or comments is someone you want to follow up with.
3 // You are not maximizing existing opportunities
Do your clients hire your services or buy your products and then you never hear from them again? This is a problem. These are people who have already proven that they believe in you and your products and services. They’ve already raised their hand and said: “I support your business”, so why are you letting them walk away so quickly?
Discover upselling opportunities – Every client who invests in your services and/or products is an opportunity to learn what you can improve upon within your business. Creating a detailed questionnaire is a great way to collect this information. Or, if you prefer a less formal approach, simply strike up a conversation after your services are completed and/or product have been delivered. Find out whether or not they felt anything was missing. There may be products and/or services your business is currently missing out on selling.
Reach their friends and family – The reality is that people usually surround themselves with other people who have similar interests as they do. This is important to recognize because this then means that your current client base has the potential to grow exponentially if you can find a way to connect with their people. One of the best ways to do this is to incentivize them to share about your business on their personal social media profiles. You can show your appreciation and make it worth their time by extending a special thank you gift or exclusive offer.
Stay in (thoughtful) contact – Your clients are the reason you’re in business, so take care of the relationship you have with them. Mail a holiday, birthday or anniversary card. Send a thoughtful email to check in and say hello! These simple, kind gestures will continue to show your appreciation for their business and interest in staying connected.
Invite them to private events – Plan a special event designed to show gratitude to your existing customer base. Celebrate alongside those who have believed in you and supported your growth! This is a creative way to show your appreciation and continue taking care of those valuable relationships!