Online marketing for small business? Do words count?
The short answer is yes – one by one. Take the low road, step by step, not the high Everest track.
Small business owners often ask us for our opinion on refreshing their website, placing Google adwords, should they have a Blog and be on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media of the moment. Their expectations are high – they assume they have to do it all.
We could say, “yes, you should do all of these and, if you commission our writing services, your new good quality written content will sort out your marketing”. We don’t. Even though it would bring business our way, we’d be doing you a disservice. Why? Small businesses rarely have enough time to build a solid foundation on which to maintain a momentum of continuous engagement through online channels with their customers. It takes a lot of energy, creativity and organisation to continuously feed the online cookie monster. Larger companies employ people to do this job full-time.
So, what should a small business do?
I’m a great believer in the ‘eat the elephant in small bites’ approach – one step at a time:
Start by having a great website that speaks directly to your customers – don’t forget the existing ones as well as the ones you haven’t met yet. Your words should be simple and direct, including keywords (the words people use in Google to search for businesses like yours). Include great visuals, a dynamic design (preferably designed by someone who knows what they are doing – a professional designer and programmer) and always remember to ask yourself these questions – who, what, how, why:
- Who is arriving at your site?
- What are they looking for?
- How do they behave on your site or how do you want them to behave on your site?
- Why would they stay or come back for more?
If you can stand in their shoes and review your website as they will, you stand a better chance of creating a website that will work for your business.
2. BLOG, POST NEWS
Devise a manageable calendar of posting information, news and useful tips on a regular basis to keep your website interesting. Monthly posts are great, but be kind to yourself – one post every 6-8 weeks would be good – that’s only half a dozen a year. Make sure the information is relevant to your customers – and builds trust and confidence in your brand.
Let your existing customer database know that you have posted new and useful information by sending out a regular newsletter by email. You can make this easy by scheduling at the same time as your post on your blog. The newsletter can include a couple of short pieces – the breadcrumbs to lead people to your website to read more.
4. SOCIAL MEDIA
Once you have these three steps under control – you’ll be ready to move from the waltz to the foxtrot, by incorporating social media posts to align with your website, blog and e-newsletter. Look to your customers’ habits to define which social media platform to place your bets on, but understand that you‘ll have to post a lot more often than six times a year. Make it at best a weekly habit. Make a date in your diary with yourself to take 10 minutes to make your posts and also to respond to comments, queries and to moderate. Social media is not a one-way channel.
MAKE IT EASY FOR YOURSELF – SHARE THE LOAD
To make all four steps easier, sit down with your team to create a list of topics to talk about in your posts – test them against a set of basic criteria to make sure they’re enforcing your brand and are valuable to your customers. Then share out the work – ask different members of the team to draft the ones they feel confident talking about. They don’t need to be long but genuine is good. Just make sure someone proofs them for quality and spelling before posting. Keep an ongoing list of topics on a shared document that everyone can add to, e.g. in Google docs or Dropbox or on your own server. Make use of all your content by sharing blog posts and newsletter articles on your social media site/s.
IS IT WORKING FOR YOU?
Last of all – bear with me – keep a simple log of what you posted and when – did you notice any more enquiries or interaction? Don’t give up too soon, it’s a gradual process building the foundation – just keep to your diary appointments with yourself and enjoy your postage time. Ask your customers what they like about your newsletter and posts, and use the analytics on your website and e-newsletter (e.g. MailChimp) to find out what people are reading and clicking on.
Lee Traupel’s article in The Huffington Post has some great tips – ‘ Why Many Social Media Experts are Selling Snake Oil’.
Louise and I are at hand if you’d like to talk through the written content for your website or preparing a topic list for blogs and e-newsletters. We can also refer you to a fantastic band of creative designers, photographers, videographer and social media gurus if you require. Email us!
Carola Akindele-Obe is one of writing partners at The Write Business.