The last post in this series on the “Five Keys To Starting Your Own Business” was all about what I consider to be the “unsexy” stuff around planning and numbers.
Key #4 is about Sales and Marketing – the sexy stuff 😉
I was at conference recently, and one of the speakers said “business owners who don’t like to sell, have skinny children.”
No matter how good your product or service, you need sales and marketing skills and systems to get your message to your prospects so that they can buy from you.
Today, getting the message out is much easier and more cost-effective than it used to be before we had access to the internet and social media. In the “olden” days, we had to rely on paid advertising in newspapers, magazines, TV or use sales people to get out and spread the word about our great products and services.
Today, with minimal spend (but not necessarily minimal effort) , we are able to create a website, get our businesses listed on Google Places, use search engine optimisation (SEO) methods that helps Google, Yahoo and ultimately potential clients find us.
We can create social media profiles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn so that we can communicate directly with our community and if we like, for just a few dollars a day, we can advertise on these platforms too.
If you compare the cost and reach of an offline advertisement in a local paper or for that matter in the Yellow Pages, with an online, targeted advertisement on Google – you’re looking at a few thousand dollars in the paper versus a few hundred dollars on Google. It just opens up a whole opportunity for us to reach potential customers.
The key is knowing where to spend your time for the biggest buck.
This starts with a Marketing Plan. Work out where your potential clients are hanging out, which social networks they are using and the pros and cons are of each.
Decide the best online and offline strategies for your business and work out a calendar of events for the year. This will help you to prioritise your activities and will also make it easier for people selling on your behalf, such as affiliates, to schedule your promotions into their calendars. Remember, if you want to place an advertisement in a magazine, you’ll need to allow plenty of lead time.
The other key activity is to start to build your contact list so that you can communicate directly with your prospects and customers. There are lots of tools and systems available – many for no or low-cost such as Mailchimp, Aweber and Constant Contact for email and list management; WordPress for blogs and websites and Anymeeting for webinars. Web technology is a great way to not only market but also to deliver your products and collect payment.
One of the best Internet Marketers around at the moment, in my view, is James Schramko who runs the Freedom Ocean podcast with Tim Reid. James has recently released a product called Traffic Grab which is like the insiders guide to SEO and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) for dummies. Traffic Grab includes video files, audio files,all fully transcribed plus a mind map showing how it all comes together.
I’m not suggesting that you should do SEO/SEM yourself but Traffic Grab provides you all of the information you need to do the basics for yourself and to make sure that when you pay someone to do it, you know what they should be doing.
Lara Solomon who many of you will know as Chief Rabbit at Social Rabbit, has co-created a fantastic program called Steps which teaches you how to make the most of Facebook Pages and LinkedIn for business. The big advantage of the Steps program is that you are learning and doing at the same time! You literally create your Facebook Page or LinkedIn profile as you go. It covers the basics and advanced techniques and you have the option of purchasing the whole program for $147 for a 1 year membership or individual modules from just $25.*Note: Affiliate Links.
The key purpose of these systems is to allow you to build the know, like & trust factor with your potential clients.
Common Mistake #4 – Wasting Time on Social Media
Social networking is fantastic for connecting with your customers and community but it can take up a lot of your time for little or not return. There are so many options available to us today that we could spend all of our time setting up and maintaining our social media presence.
You need to work out what’s best for your business and that must be driven by where your clients are. For example, if you love Facebook but your clients are not using Facebook to make buying decisions, then you better find another platform for business and keep Facebook for personal use.
A website is still one of the main sales and marketing tools available to you but you can waste big dollars on websites that don’t work well for sales. There’s no point having a pretty website if it doesn’t bring traffic / potential clients.
No matter how skilled you are at getting your website developed and your social profiles set up, you still need to be able to make them work for you.
I’ve been watching, learning, researching and analysing social media from a sales and marketing perspective for a few years now and I now believe that offline sales and marketing activities are essential for building your client base. Activities such as attending the right networking events, speaking opportunities and meeting/talking one-on-one to potential clients will help you to build credibility faster than focusing only on online sales and marketing methods.
Unless your name or brand is already well-known, then you will struggle to make sales if you focus 100% on online activities. Sure, you can use techniques to drive traffic to your site. You can offer a commission to affiliates for sending prospects or clients your way but for people to buy high-value products or services, you need to engage with your prospects and clients offline as well.
There are a lot of people ready to tell you that you can make a lot of money online and you can, but if you look at the well-known gurus, you’ll see that most of them started out using more traditional offline methods to build a solid client base and reputation and then, once established, shifted their efforts more toward online activities. I strongly believe that for start-up businesses, offline marketing and selling coupled with online delivery is the best approach.
Two online women entrepreneurs I love are Marie Forleo and Laura Roeder. Marie and Laura recently shared the revenue breakdown for their businesses.
It’s hard to see the detail clearly but in Marie’s case, 57% of her revenues came from face-to-face activities such as her live events and her Adventure Mastermind for which she charges $1-2k and $20k per person respectively! A higher proportion of Laura’s revenue comes from online products but she still gets 14% of her revenue from consulting fees for which she charges $5k per day.Both Marie and Laura are well-known brands, have been in the game for a long time and both appear on the speaker circuit. So, although they are online entrepreneurs, they still do plenty of offline selling and marketing.
Avoid wasting time and money by planning your sales and marketing activities and getting clear about where you will spend your time and dollars to maximise the number of buying clients.
There are many things to think about when it comes to marketing and selling but at the end of the day, you still need to have a good product that people want to buy and you need to be able to tell them about it and ask them to buy it. To do that you need to learn to enjoy selling!
In the final post in this series, I’ll be sharing Key #5 – Your Team.
Do you love or loathe selling?
What are your views on online versus offline selling and marketing?
What tips can you share for people who think selling is slimy?
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