Starting a small business can be a frightening thought. The thought of attaining clients along with all the “What if’s” can be overwhelming.
In mid 2013, I decided to start my own small service based business. A lot of the “What if’s” can be subdued by keeping your existing full-time job and working away on your business in your free time. The bonus to this is it also gives you insight into the world of small business to see if it is for you.
Once you have made your decision to take the plunge, what comes next? For me it was shamelessly advertising myself through social media. This is a must for any small business, especially if you are a local service based business like myself.
- Create a branded website and blog
- Make a Facebook page for your business
- Make a Twitter account for your business
- Make a Google+ page for your business
- Optionally you can also make a YouTube account as well
Social media can be one of the best types of advertising, but there is a fine line. I chose to only use 3 of the most popular social media platforms. Using more than 3 can become extremely time-consuming and take time away from actually working or selling.
There are also tools like Hootsuite that allow you to post to all of your social media accounts at once. This is a time saver for 2 reasons:
- You are posting in only one place
- You don’t get suckered into checking your own account to see what is going on.
You can also politely ask all of your fiends to like your Facebook page, this is great for immediate exposure. If you have 200 friends and all of your friends have 200 friends your initial possible reach is 40,000 people (200 x 200 = 40,000). If only 10% of the reach is local, you have still gotten your name / brand on front of 4000 people in your area.
When representing yourself on Twitter and Google+, make sure what you are posting is relevant to who you are sending it to.
For instance, I recently took some pictures of down town Milton, Ontario and tweeted them. In the tweet I mentioned the Milton Chamber of Commerce and immediately they started following me. This was a targeted tweet to attain a local high profile follower. Continuing to do this will make sure you gain the right followers. 500 targeted followers is better than 5000 non targeted followers.
Also, if you are tech-savvy or have any knowledge of on-line advertising, use services such as Facebook ads or Google Adwords. Both of these advertising platforms can be targeted to your local region so you don’t have to pay for a national advertising campaign. You can also set your own budget for both of these services so you don’t get any surprise bills.
Once the advertising is working behind the scenes for you, the next step is generally content marketing. According to Wikipedia, content marketing is described as:
Content marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.
Content marketing is focused not on selling, but on simply communicating with customers and prospects. The idea is to inspire business and loyalty from buyers by delivering “consistent, ongoing valuable information.
Content marketing is extremely valuable to potential clients as long as the information being provided does not sound like a sales pitch for your product or service. Instead, try to write informative articles that help the potential client clearly understand the point. The entire point of content marketing is to drive traffic to your website or blog without trying to sell. The sales should come with the gain in traffic.