Or “How To Post Your Way To The Poorhouse”
Image by Cate Sevilla
On at least one occasion in the last few years I have been asked various forms of the questions, “how do I blog to be sure and get sales”, “what can I expect from my efforts on Twitter”, “how does this translate to food for my children”, and so on. The good news is I don’t know. The bad news is “they” don’t either. But in all hopefulness and by careful examination of the data we see it is possible and there are some guidelines to be followed which are more likely to lead to sales success than the poorhouse. I don’t like the poorhouse.
Being named a Reuter’s Top Ten Small Business Expert on Twitter is pretty cool. Translating that little puppy to a paycheck is work. In spite of what everyone may believe I don’t check my PayPal account daily and, surprise, see three or four thousand dollars that popped in there over-night just from me hosting Social Media Edge Radio and writing a few blog posts. In fact until I write some code or create some content the money flow direction is ebbing toward the negative. Chances are that’s not what you have in mind for yourself. You, like I, must sell some widgets or face the piper, er, spouse.
While the social media gurus who tout their wares and charge really small fees, snark, for their workshops and seminars may assure you their oil is the best for snakes you can bet most of their ROI is derived from the attendees. However, and let’s keep fairness in play, most attendees likely found out about the event through … social media. Hey, I do events. I get it. What you need to know, however, is not how to get people to attend your seminars and buy your books or your retweet campaigns, you have widgets for sale. Darned good ones, too! You need to sell those puppies and you need to sell a lot of them every week. You probably suffer from a food and shelter addiction – just guessing.
Listen, I can’t guarantee your success but I can give you a few pointers that I know work. How do I know? Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and finally paid off the credit cards I used for the trip. The first thing you can do is forget everything you’ve done to this point because you are now going to create a new plan, implement a strategy and learn to measure your success. In fact this topic is so broad I’m only going to look at one element and that is your website – you know, the one you may or may not have purchased from me. We’re going to look at three crucial elements of your website and a 10,000 foot view of marketing it – with some information contrary to what you may have learned from others. Or not.
Every Business Needs A Website
Every business needs a website. Seems like I may have read that somewhere before but it’s worth repeating. Every business needs a website. In today’s connected environment it is almost hard to imagine that even in 2012 about 1/2 of all small businesses do not have a website. I challenge you to come up with a small business which should not have a website and a single valid reason why. Every business from puppy daycare to vacancy clean-outs and restaurants to small airports, from my perspective, really needs today’s calling card. They need it because today’s yellow directory is Google. With that said …
Three Things Every Small Business Website MUST Have
Every small business website must have a landing page with some way to contact the business. It can be the phone number, an email address or a form which allows the visitor to send a message to the site owner. I recommend the form for every site because it can be automated, used to build your list and allows some level of anonymity if the site owner really needs it.
Every small business website must have relevant content which is indexed by Google. This is how Google knows to look for you and this is where the great and furious SEO battles are waged. Even if you’re not doing battle someone at least needs to be able to find you with a long tail search. I have looked at websites in the past to give quotes on helping them perform well that didn’t even turn up in a Google search when you searched for the name and address of the business. Scary.
Every small business website must have visitor tracking and analytics. There are hundreds if not thousands to choose from and these have been around for years. I developed the first one back in the mid 1990’s called PageGuard™ but now there are so many I don’t think it’s possible to get a correct count. The main things you need to know are: Who clicked on what to visit your site. That’s it, that’s the main thing. It actually will give you the search results in the referring URL. While this information is the most valuable piece of information to have, because it tells you who visited and where they came from, there are other very important bits of information you can learn from tracking services like Google Analytics. While GA is free and powerful it’s not necessarily as accurate for my purposes as I like for most of my clients to be. Still it is far better than nothing.
Getting the Word Out
We’ve come pretty far from smoke signals, cross country runners and town criers. Still the word needs to get out. Coincidentally and fortunate for us the Internet offers several options for a great platform to share the news. I bet you can name at least one way great to get the word out – Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Craigslist, and the list goes on … and on. Some may be better for your needs that others but at least one should produce web traffic for you. That’s what you need – eyeballs.
My amazing uncle Ben Hale, Sr., told the story many times about how he was the number one Chevrolet salesman in his small, poor, West Virginia mining town because he went to where the people were. He went to the Five and Dime on Friday night and passed out business cards. Hello Facebook. Hello Twitter. Hello Craigslist, Backpage and Kijiji. You can do the same and in less time. Socializing on the Internet with a transactional intent does not take hours a day. It takes minutes. Once you have created your APE FUR you can trim your time way back.
Here is the most important part about social selling. Be consistent, be regular and be honest. Respond to questions and requests quickly and make sure you follow illegitimi non carborundum. If you make ripples your may ruffle a feather or two – just be polite, firm and consistent and you’ll be fine. Consistency means staying on topic or on topics of interest to your buyers. If you sell deer repellent and start talking about pink tutus you’ll probably mess up your signal. Badly. If you talk about football and fishing along with a little gardening you’re going to be okay. The idea is to engage, entertain and impress. Check your signal to noise ratio within what you say and make sure you’re on topic or topic relevant.
Facebook has two faces: your personal page where you can talk about the donuts you had for supper and your business page where you are all about business. You cannot, by Facebook and community standards, create a personal page for your business. If you do just plan on losing it when Facebook shuts you down. They make it simple and free to create a Facebook business page. In fact it’s so simple I’ll do it for you for a fee in just a matter of a couple of days.
LinkedIn really isn’t the place to sell. It is the place to connect, however, and you can pursue your sales after your connection. LinkedIn is also a great place to find qualified contractors such as web developers, list sellers and PR firms. Don’t worry about uprgrading your account just create one and start connecting to the people you most would want to meet at a community cookout.
Twitter is fast, small and spam crammed. When you get in the Twitter pool you need your big girl pants on because you only have 140 characters and professionals h8 abrvi8shns. Twitter is about engaging with others who have common interests. It’s not a place to monologue it’s THE place to dialogue. Some of the best relationships I have today are a result of connections made and nurtured on Twitter.
You know, that’s a lot of stuff and I’m far beyond my normal word limit. There is much to learn and if you’re not yet connected to me let’s connect.