Using surveys or polls for business

Using a survey or a poll is great way to understand what your customer wants. The answers you get can give you an insight into what your customers think of you and your business; what kind of service they want; and it gives them a chance to share their perspectives with you. If your survey or poll is engaging, then your customers are more likely to participate and spread the word about you.

The way I see it, surveys/polls have three main objectives…

  1. Getting feedback from existing customers about products or services that you have provided. Ask them if the product or service could be improved or if there was a way it would work better for them. You can use this to improve your services or extend your product line.
  2. You can use a survey to get testimonials from your customers. What worked well for them and why? You can then ask them if you can use their comment in your advertising or on your website/social media page.
  3. To find out what your customers want – is there an issue that needs solving…one that they’d be willing to pay for? If you know exactly what your customers want, you can develop products or services to fit their needs. This shows that not only do you listen to what they say, you act on it.
  4. They can help you find out what current buying trends are.  Online spending has been growing since lockdown, and an online survey or poll are two of the best ways to find out what your customers are thinking, how they spend and why they spend…and what they are spending their money on. If you ask the right questions,  you can gather this kind of information fairly easily.   

What questions do you ask?

There are many you could ask and I’ve listed some areas you might want to think about. When you are creating your questions, think about what you want to achieve…are you looking for ideas for new products or services? Are you wanting to know what needs to be improved? Here are some ideas and pointers that might help you… 

  • If you’re doing a poll, you might want to just stick to one question. You could do a series of polls over a number of weeks on a social media network.
  • If you are a blogger, you could ask your customers what subjects they might be interested in…for example if you are a beauty blogger, you might find that several of your customers have the same problem that you could address with a blog, such as ‘how to apply mascara properly’ or ‘what are the best products for sensitive skin?’ Answering questions helps set you up as an expert in your field.
  • Segmenting your customers will help you reach the right audience with the right message. A simple example…if you run a garden centre and you send out a regular newsletter, you could ask what plants your audience are interested in. Some may be interested in herbs and fruit – another in climbing plants – someone else in vegetables and flowers. You can then use this information to better target your marketing and communications.
  • Get feedback on your website…is it easy to navigate? Can your customers find what they’re looking for? Are there any areas that could be improved or any products/services they’d like to see you sell or offer?
  • Are you thinking of setting up an event? Events take up a huge amount of time and effort from planning to execution, so before you invest your time and money, you could create a poll or survey to find out what kind of event they’d like. Give several options and include an ‘other’ answer, as they may come up with something you hadn’t thought of.
  • Competitions – you can use a survey to host a competition. For example if you make cakes, you could put several pictures of cakes you have made and ask, ‘Which cake do you think deserves Cake of the Month’? This also serves to show potential customers what you can do and gives you the chance to show several different kinds of cakes you do. And for the competition aspect, you could offer a 10% discount to the winner. Which you draw at random from the participants.  
  • Finally – get a fun aspect in there! Polls in particular don’t have to be serious – if you just want to engage with your customers, ask a question. This could be something as simple as showing two of your products, labelling them A and B, and asking which one your customers like the best. Or you could ask, ‘What is your favourite ice cream flavour’, or ‘What is your favourite thing about travelling?’ Often, these kind of questions spark  interest and a conversation. I would advise not to ask anything controversial and avoid politics, current affairs or religion,!

Once you have your survey or poll, post it on your Facebook or Instagram account, or put it on your website. If you want specific information from your existing customers, you could include the survey or poll in your newsletter or on email.

If you do put your survey on your website, don’t do it so that it pops up the minute someone visits your site, as that can be irritating and can be seen as intrusive.

Final Hot Tip!

Everyone likes a reward, so offer some kind of incentive for your customers if they complete your survey. Give a free report or an e-book, or offer them a discount on the next purchase they make from you. Offer a further discount, or a free item, if they recommend five people who buy from you.

Good luck, and if you have done this with your business, let me know how you got on!

How to grow real followers on Instagram

In the early days of Instagram, it was the norm to buy followers, but although this might boost your followers in the short term, it’s a waste of time, as they aren’t your REAL followers – and they’re usually not your target audience. Real followers on your Instagram account are the people that engage with you and your business – your brand and care about what you post.

There are more than a billion active users on Instagram, which makes it one of the top four social networks worldwide.

The statistics

These stats sourced from https://backlinko.com/instagram-users)

  • Monthly active users (MAUs) – 1 billion globally
  • Instagram daily active users (DAUs) – 500 million globally
  • Instagram stories reach 500 million per day
  • 23.92% of the 4.18 billion active mobile internet users access Instagram monthly – that’s the same amount of people that live in Europe and North America combined!
  • People spend an average of 29 minutes a day on Instagram

These stats are pretty mind-blowing, and in my opinion shout out loud and clear that using Instagram for business is a no-brainer.

As with any social media account, the downside is keeping track of everything, especially if you’re running your Instagram account as only a small part of your business. It can be very time consuming.

How to use Instagram for your business and grow your real followers  

  1. Make sure you are using an Instagram business account. If you’re not yet doing this, either start a new business account or switch from a personal account to a business account.
  2. Have an Instagram strategy. The first part of any strategy is to know your target audience – the people to whom your post and marketing is aimed at.

    – Look at who already buys from you
    – Check the insights on all your social media channels to find out who follows you – what are their age group, their demographics, psychographics and geographics. Read my previous blog on finding your target audience for more information.
    Research your competitors to find out if your audiences vary and why.
  3. Set goals and objectives. You need to think about how Instagram can help you achieve them. Make sure your goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

    Once you know what your goals are, you can focus on the different aspects of your strategy to lead your followers through the various stages of the customer journey.

    – Awareness of your business and brand  
    – Engagement with what you post, which you can measure by the number of likes, comments, and shares.
    – Conversion – how many people click through to your website, follow your CTAs (calls to action), click on your blog posts or your online shop, or subscribe to your email newsletter. This also covers any people who respond by clicking on your paid ads if you use them.
    Customer – this stage is based on the action that customers take, such as buying, repeat customers, retention of existing customer, recommendations etc.
  4. Plan your content in advance. This doesn’t have to be on a particular app, you can just plan it on paper or on a simple word document or spreadsheet.

    Once you know who your target audience is and you know what your goals are and how you want to achieve them, you can plan your posts, stories, reels, and videos in a more structured way. Having a plan means you can include dates or events that interest you – the big ones such as Christmas, Easter, or Halloween, as well as things that interest you, such as Hug your pet day, or National Cupcake Day. Just do a search on Google to find a relevant list of these dates and decide which ones you want to highlight.

    I also plan my content around the 80/20 rule – 80% of posts are about engaging, entertaining, educating and inspiring my audience – and 20% is about selling my services. You could choose to do a series of posts around a particular theme. For example, if you make something, you could run a series of ‘how to’ posts, using short video clips, and instructions with photos. These fall into all the 80% category!

    You can use video, memes, quotes, quizzes, ‘this or that,’ ask questions…the list is endless. And all of them are engaging your real followers and making them want to see more from you.
  5. Publish at the right time. You can look at your insights to find out when your followers are online and looking at Instagram. This tells you what days of the week and what time of day your followers are most active. Post at those times to get the most engagement.
  6. Create a fabulous bio. This is the first impression people get of you and your business, so make sure it tells your audience exactly who you are and what you do. There is very little time to make that good first impression. Show them why they should follow you. You only have 150 characters to do this, so keep it to the point and include some of your personality. Add a CTA, so people know what to do next – this could be a link to your website, blog or to your Linktree, where they have a choice of which link they’d like to go to next.

    For business, you should use the profile image – either a good shot of yourself or your logo – it’s up to you.

    Also, make use of the Story highlights. This is where you can have your stories organised into different collections – this could be one collection of products, about you, FAQs, hints, and tips – again the list is endless.
  7. Always share high quality content. Instagram is a highly visual platform so it’s crucial to organise your posts so that your audience will be able to instantly recognise that it’s you. There are several different grid layouts to choose from. Just search on Google for grid layouts and there are several great articles on the different types you can use. Using your brand colours and a good aesthetic will really help your business stand out from the crowd.

    Look at your competitors, look at businesses that are completely different to you and see what they do and how they organise their posts. Once you have decided, you can batch make posts and schedule them, so you don’t have to think about it too much once it’s done.
  8. Always write a caption. I do see several businesses that post fabulous images, but no caption. To me, the image doesn’t always mean something unless there is a caption. The caption explains your image in greater detail. Even if you’ve done a brilliant carousel post, where people swipe across several posts to find out more and more info, a caption is still needed to give a bit more information, or to ask a question to keep your audience engaged. Captions make your images more meaningful.
  9. Use stories. A survey carried out by Facebook in 2018 found that 58% of the participants became interested in a brand or product after seeing it in a story. It’s a great place to tell your brand stories, share reviews, share a bit about yourself and your business. You can engage your audience by using the many different features of stories, such as stickers, polls, etc. You can also use video and background music. If you’re consistent with your stories, you can get your audience into the habit of watching them regularly…and if they love what you do, they’ll be looking for your stories every day.
  10. Be consistent. You will hear this all the time, but whether you post every day (and you don’t have to), or post three times a week, make sure you are consistent, so your audience knows when you expect your posts.
  11. Always respond to comments, tags, or mentions. If someone takes the time to comment on a post or share your post and tag you in it, it’s only polite to acknowledge that fact. Always reply to comments and always reply to DMs. Taking the time to personally reply makes your audience feel valued. It can be time consuming, but it is so worth it. Another tip is to respond to the person by name if you can – it makes it more personal.
  12. Promote your Instagram account on your other channels. Instagram may not be your most popular channel, so if you have an established following on another channel, promote your Instagram account on that. Your regular followers will want to support you on Instagram as well. Try and vary the content between channels, so you are not constantly posting the same content…or at least do it in a slightly different order!
  13. Collaborate with other businesses. You can agree to engage with each other’s posts and share content to your stories. It does have to be relevant to your business, but this is a good way to get to other followers from a similar business to yours.
  14. Measure your success. When you use Instagram for your business, it’s really important to track your progress. Look at your insights to find out what kind of posts your audience is most interested in – what gives you more engagement.

    Look at how Instagram is helping you achieve your goals, and why some things work, and some don’t. It’s all a learning curve. Instagram’s insights only track the last 30 days, so you need to do this regularly and keep a note so you can compare future figures and facts.

Like all social media channels, Instagram is great for your small business if you use it properly and are consistent in what you do.

If you’d like to have a coaching session on Instagram, or would like a review of your profile, send me a message, or email me at cindymobey@outlook.com

Capture your audience with a fabulous Instagram bio

If you’re on social media for your business, you’ll know that there are millions of similar businesses to yours out there.

Research tells us that someone browsing online will make their mind up about you and your business within seconds. This doesn’t give you much time to impress those browsers. This is where your all-important Instagram profile is crucial – you need to find a way to capture that audience as quickly as possible.

To capture that audience, you need to be both creative and have a strategy.

Here are a few steps you can take to help you grab their attention.

Choose an image

For your business Instagram profile, you can use either a photo of yourself or an image of your logo. Either works well. I prefer to see photos, so I know the person behind the business, but either is acceptable.

Optimise your Instagram name

First of all, your name. Make sure that this is optimised with your name and a searchable keyword.

For example, say you are a photographer and specialise in new-born and family photos. You could include what you do in the name field – Jane Doe, newborn, and family photographer. Then in the category, you may choose to use Photographic Studio. This tells your audience what you do and that you have a dedicated studio for your photography.

Ensure you use a keyword that your audience are likely to search for and what you are known for.

Tell your audience about your skills  

This can be difficult and takes some planning as you only have a limited number of characters to use to get your message across.

This section needs to cover what your business is about and who you are targeting.

Reiterate what you do. You could use a mix of sentences and bullet points to entice people in and giving them a bit more information about you. For example…

Make lasting memories of your newborn & family.

  • 10yrs exp
  • South England
  • Book via website
  • Natural photos to treasure

This is very simple and straightforward but highlights exactly what Jane Doe does on the tin.

In the profile you can add a link, so add one to your website if you have one.

Use relevant keywords/phrases

Although Instagram won’t use these words or phrases in any searches, as searches are conducted on your name and username fields, using keywords can help you connect to your target audience and appeal to emotions. In the example above, think ‘lasting memories,’ ‘newborn,’ ‘family,’ ‘natural photos to treasure.’ They are all things we’re looking for if we want family photos.

You do need to know your target audience, so this is where a bit of work comes in to determine who they are, what they want and how you can give it to them. Your keywords or phrases will address their pain points and give them a solution to what they’re looking for.

Drive traffic to your website

As I mentioned above, your profile can include a link to your website. Although it is planned to be able to use more than one link in future, now, you can only use one.

So how do you choose? You might have a website, a blog, or an Etsy shop. You might also have a link to sign up to your email that you’d like to use. But you can only use one link!

You can opt for just one, or you can sign up to something like Linktree. It’s free to sign up and works by you creating a landing page on the Linktree site, which features multiple links to your other sites. You simply copy and paste your Linktree landing page URL into your Instagram bio and instantly your followers have access to all the things you do.

The only time I would change the link on your bio from Linktree, is if you are running a special promotion or offer. Then I would advise to change the URL to go directly to your shop, landing page or wherever your audience can get instant access to your offer. Sending them to Linktree, and another step in a chain to get to what they want, may put potential customers off. If you have an offer on, they want to get there as soon as possible.

Have a CTA (call to action)

Linked to driving traffic to your chosen link is a CTA (call to action). Put a sentence that tells people what to do…visit my shop, for example with an arrow pointing down to your chosen link.

Add your contact information

You can add your contact details to your business profile on Instagram. This includes your email address, phone number and actual address.

The best part about adding these is that it doesn’t take up any character space in your bio!

Be creative!

Once you have all the information that you want to convey to your audience, use any extra characters to be creative. You can use emojis, either just for fun, or to highlight bullet points or your CTA.

Use hashtags

Instagram always encourages its users to make use of hashtags. A hashtag, such as #newbornphotographer is used to categorise content and make it easier to find. You can click on hashtags and Instagram will show you a page that shows all posts tagged with that hashtag. So, it’s useful for getting your page found.

Instagram tells us that we can use the maximum number of hashtags in every post, which is 30, and up to 10 on a story. If you try to include more, your comment or caption won’t post.

But just because you can use 30 hashtags, it doesn’t mean you have to. There’s no right number, but the general opinion I’ve seen recently is that 10 or 11 is good for posts and just a few on stories. It’s best to do a bit of trial and error to see what works best for you. I tend to use around 10-12.

Conclusion

Who would guess there is so much to think about when doing your bio? As a quick recap, your Instagram bio or profile is the first things visitors see, so it’s important to make a good first impression.

Follow the simple steps I’ve mentioned, and you should be on the road to making that good impression. It’s worth taking your time to get it right.

Once you’re happy with it, show it some of your friends, or ask people in one of your networking groups to have a look and give you some feedback.

And remember, it’s not a ‘do it and that’s it’ thing either. It’s a good idea to revisit your bio every few months to make sure that it is still relevant to what you do, and still aimed at your target audience, as things can change.

Check out my blog page for more marketing help and tips to help you grow your small business.

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Reasons why content marketing is crucial for small businesses

Content marketing and its value really can’t be stressed enough – especially in this digital age, where 59% of the global population use the internet. It is an immensely powerful marketing strategy that can help your small business become highly visible to your target audience.

By producing quality content regularly, you build trust, authority, and credibility with your audience, which helps you stand out from your competition.

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as…

“…a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

One of the key words here is ‘valuable’ – content that will speak to your potential customers, information that they want and need; information that solves a problem or pain point.

Ways content marketing can help  

Content writing is more than just writing blog posts- it covers any content that you create to attract and retain your customers. But having your own blog on your website has its merits…

These are good enough reasons in themselves, but there are many different types of content marketing – not just blogging. These include:

  • Blogs
  • Video
  • Social Media content
  • Infographics
  • Case Studies
  • Checklists
  • E-books
  • Memes
  • User-generated content
  • Podcasts
  • Customer testimonials
  • Webinars
  • Success stories
  • Interactive content

What does all this content do for your business?

With 59% of the global population using the internet, you have a huge market for your products or services, especially if you trade worldwide. So, let’s look at some reasons for taking time to create all this content.

Get your business found on search engines

With all those people online, there will be potential customers out there looking for exactly what you have to offer. If you are not online, you won’t be found. You can put your business online in many ways. You can set up an online shop, through Etsy or Shopify, or one of the other online shopping host channels, but these do tend to be expensive, especially with the fee increases we’ve seen recently.

Having your own website is a great step to take, as it is yours. You do have to pay an annual fee, but this can be done fairly cheaply, and worth it as your website can not only host your shop, but it can also tell your audience a bit about you, and you can add a blog and advertise your email newsletter all in one place.

The other thing I would definitely advocate is setting up a Google Business Profile, which is fabulous for being found locally. Again, this includes a profile, you can post and share blog posts, as well as adding photos and videos.

More traffic to your website

Linking in with being found on search engines is that content marketing helps push more traffic to your website. If you blog about a problem that you solve or write an article on your website about what your business can do for your customers, when they do a search online, your article or website will appear. Once they’re on your website, it is likely they will have a look around, visit your shop and look at your details…and if they like what they see, they are likely to return in the future.

It’s important to have a CTA (call to action) on every page of your website, which tells your visitors what to do next. You can use these buttons to tell your audience to ‘buy now,’ or ‘sign up for my email newsletter,’ or point them to your courses, training or coaching and to your customer testimonials – in fact, anything that keeps them on your site.

More sales

When a potential customer finds a site they like, or feel that a site speaks to them personally, they will return again and again. And if they are returning, they are more likely to convert to customers.

Make sure that your website includes customer testimonials about the benefits that your products or services give. I always like to read about a product before I buy it, and if there are great testimonials, which show me how a product will benefit me, I’m more likely to press that ‘buy now’ button.

Testimonials are also proof, not just that you have good products, but also you have impeccable customer service, which goes a long way to getting that button pressed too.

Establishes you as an expert

Writing valuable content that speaks to your audience, also has the added bonus of setting you up as an expert in your field. If you’re sharing content that serves your customers and gives them valuable tips or information, they’ll want to know more. Setting yourself up as an expert promotes trust with your audience and engages them to want to know more about you and your products or services…and what’s in it for them!

Enhances your brand   

This might sound a bit harsh, but generally people are not really interested in your brand or in you, they are more interested in themselves – in their wants and needs. It’s not about being selfish, it’s human nature. When someone first looks at your website, shop, social media business page, they are not interested in your brand, no matter how hard you’ve worked on it. They are interested in what you can do for them, what you have that they might like, or something that makes their life easier. This is hard to hear, but it has an upside.

If you are providing something they’re interested in for whatever reason, or if your social media pages entertain or educate them, they will then become interested in your brand, as they will see it, and therefore you, as something they can relate to.

If you are consistently publishing new, unique content on your blog or website and promoting it to your social media pages – or if you are publishing new, unique content to your social media pages, consistently, more people will get to see your name or business name and will start to relate. If they like what they see, they’re more likely to share your posts, or tell their friends and family about your wonderful products or fabulous services, so your audience will start to grow, which is when your brand really shines through. This all takes time and is not something you can achieve overnight.

Helps you compete with your competitors

I’m not talking about copying or doing the same as your competitors, but there is something to be said to ensuring that you’re using the same (and more) marketing channels as your competitors. When your business and brand is not in a place where your competitor is, you’re potentially losing out on business.

It’s worth doing research on your competitors and finding out more about them, so that your business is in the right places to compete.

Improve customer relationships

Having good relationships with your customers goes without saying, we all know that. But it’s even more important in this digital age, as customers have so much choice when it comes to who they want to do business with. And it’s important to remember that customers are willing to pay more for a better experience.

Content marketing is the best way to show your customers and potential customers that you understand their problems or pain points…and that your products or services solve those problems. If you have a website, you could add a list of FAQs to help explain how your products or services solve those problems, or you can write about it in your blog or email newsletter.

This really helps improve those customer relationships, instil trust, and encourages them to spread the word about your business.

Helps your overall marketing strategy

Content marketing is just one aspect of your marketing strategy, but it is the glue that holds each activity together to help you grow your business. If you can align all your marketing activities with your content, it will help you achieve your goals and keep them coordinated with everything else you do.

For example, you decide to create an e-book alongside a downloadable checklist. You can promote this on social media, or in Facebook ads. You can also send it to your customers in your email newsletter, and you can promote it on your website. You could even write a blog post about it and how it solves a particular problem. So, just this one piece of content will help support your multi-channel marketing strategy.

Content marketing is good value for your business

Finally, if you research and write your content yourself, it is an economical option and costs you nothing but your time. You’ll learn a lot from the research you do, and you’ll find more content you can use as you go.

Not everyone wants to write their own content, and if your business is very busy, it may be worth you outsourcing some of the copywriting work. This is still excellent value for money, as you’ll be asking for expert help from someone who already knows how everything works and will know about your kind of business.

Conclusion

Content marketing is crucial for small businesses. One of the biggest challenges that you face as a small business is reaching your potential customers. To create brand awareness without access to a huge budget for marketing campaigns, content marketing is your answer. Having the right kind of content marketing strategy in place to ensure that you reach your target audience, will help your business stand out from your competitors and build trust, authority, and credibility with your customers.

If you need help with your content marketing, take a look at my website to find out how I can help you. Or contact me for a free 30-minute chat to see how I can help.

How to research your competitors

I hear conflicting things about competitors…some people say they don’t think about them and don’t care and others suffer imposter syndrome, where they don’t think they measure up.

Either way, it’s normal to wonder what other people are doing, and how they work…if you don’t care about your competition, I’d be asking why you don’t care? It’s good to care; businesses who do what you do ARE out there – some are doing well, and some not so well. I’m sure you see these phrases all the time – ‘We’re all on our own journey,’ or ‘we’re all on different chapters of our book.’ I’ve used them myself and this is of course, true, but there are things you can do to be as informed as you can about your competitors, which in turn, can help you stand out in the crowd.

Knowing who they are and what they do, can give you vital information that will help you to make your business successful. It can help you with the pricing of your products/services, so they are competitive and helps to know what kind of marketing campaigns your competitors do.

Again, I’m not saying that you find out the price your competitor charges and undercut them – no, not at all, but it can help you with a ballpark figure. And you don’t want to copy your competitors either, but doing a bit of research can help you find gaps in the market, which your business can then fill.

SWOT Analysis

If you haven’t done a SWOT analysis on your business, now is the time to do it. SWOT simply stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. (Click here to find out how to do a SWOT analysis).

What strengths do you have and what weaknesses can you address and improve on? What opportunities do you have and what threats are there that need to be looked at?

Once you have identified your own, you can make a list of your top competitors and conduct a quick analysis on them. As well as concentrating on your own weaknesses, look at the weaknesses your competitor has – is there a way that you can improve on their weaknesses to make your business stand out? The same applies to threats. What threats do your competitors face that you could turn around or avoid?

What should you know about your competitors?

We all have competitors that do the same or similar to us. Since the Covid pandemic, more people work from home, or have launched their own online business. Consumers are turning increasingly to the internet to find what they want, be it products or services, so it’s even more important to know what other businesses do. Competition from other businesses isn’t just about being up against someone who sells the same as you; they could be offering something that you could also sell, or you might be able to offer a substitute that gives better value.

The best way to find out about your competitors

You will have your own customers and they are a great source of information about your competitors. I don’t mean interrogate your existing customers, but there are ways to ask them. For example, when a new customer buys from you, ask who they bought from before and what made them switch. Or ask them what attracted them to your products or services. You can ask the same of your existing customers.

The same applies when you lose a customer to a competitor – you can ask them what made them go to someone else. It’s sometimes a hard lesson to learn, but it’s best to know because then you can improve.

Look at what your competitors offer  

Here are a few ideas of the things you could look at:

  • The products or services that they offer
  • How much they charge for their products or services
  • Their customer service and how they manage delivery/refunds policies
  • Do they use any kind of loyalty programme or exclusive offers? Do they send out thank you cards or offer special incentives for customers?
  • Do they have an online shop or a website?
  • Look at their brand and how it defines what they do. Do they have a logo, a website, branded product information, leaflets, or flyers?
  • How does the way they speak to potential customers link to their brand? What tone of voice do they use?
  • Their social media pages – how do they manage it and what kind of things do they post?
  • Who owns the business and what their values are?
  • How do they advertise their business? Do they use print items, such as ads in magazines etc?

How to learn more

Learn as much as you can.

  • If they do events, such as fayres or markets, look at the kind of events they attend. Try and get along to one of them if they are close to you to suss out how they display their stall etc. Or, alternatively, go along to a local fayre or market and take note of how the stallholders treat their customers, what they offer and how they interact and set up their tables.
  • Do they work in collaboration with other businesses to get more sales themselves?
  • Buy from your competitor to see how they manage sales and after sales service. Look at the packaging and any little extras they put in with your order.
  • Do an internet search with their business name or personal name to see what comes up. You might be surprised! They might be affiliated to a charity or do something else as well that you wouldn’t know about from their business.
  • Join networking events, face to face or online. Here you can talk to people who do similar things to you. This is great, not just from a ‘finding out how other people do things’ angle, but also to make friends and talk to other like-minded people about business problems you may come across. These groups are often very supportive and within the group, there will be loads of different knowledge and experience. Someone always knows the answer to the question you want to ask. You might even find a business you can collaborate with, where your businesses complement each other. For example, if you do hair for weddings, you may collaborate with a make-up artist so you can offer a package or recommend each other.

Conclusion

Looking at your competitors is not about taking business from that person or being underhand in any way…I can’t stress that enough!

It’s just about researching the market and finding out what other people do and how they run their business, so that you are in a better position to compete in the marketplace. It may give you ideas you hadn’t thought of.

Best of all, we are all on a learning curve with our businesses, and we can all learn from each other. Being around other businesses, you can assess what you can improve on, and you can learn from other’s mistakes.

I hope this article gives you food for thought. What is your opinion on competitor analysis?

Smash your Facebook profile in easy steps

Social Media is something that most of us use every day, and if you have a business, you’ll probably have business pages set up.

For the purpose of this article, I’m looking at Facebook in particular. What do your audience see when they land on your business page? Is it clear what you do? Is it engaging? Does it give enough information about you and your business? Is your profile relevant to your business? What do you put in your profile?

This article will give you the answers to these questions and hopefully help you smash your Facebook profile!

Your Facebook profile picture

Several times, I’ve been asked ‘should I have a logo or a personal picture?’

If your account is just a personal account, a headshot is best. For a business account, you can go for a headshot or your logo. If your business is quite a small affair, it’s probably better to go for the headshot, so that people know who you are and can put a face to your business.

Don’t go with pictures of your pets for a business page unless your pet is part of your logo for pet related products or services. Most of us have pets that we love, and there’s nothing wrong with posting photos of your pets on your page, but if I’m buying from a business, first of all I want to see what they do, or what they look like, not what their pet looks like.

Use the same profile picture across all your social media pages to promote consistency.

Make sure that you’re using the right size images for Facebook. Facebook recommends:

Your Page’s profile picture:

  • Displays at 170×170 pixels on your Page on computers, 128×128 pixels on smartphones and 36×36 pixels on most feature phones.

For profile pictures and cover photos with your logo or text, you may get a better result by using a PNG file.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/help/125379114252045

Your cover photo

The one thing to bear in mind when deciding on a cover photo for your business page is that anyone can view cover images – they are public by default. So, best not to upload anything that could be deemed misleading, offensive, deceptive or be subject to copyright.

Make sure the image is clear, high quality and that the size is correct.

Your Page’s cover photo:

  • Displays at 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels tall on your Page on computers and 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels tall on smartphones.
  • Must be at least 400 pixels wide and 150 pixels tall.
  • Loads fastest as an sRGB JPG file that’s 851 pixels wide, 315 pixels tall and less than 100 kilobytes.

For profile pictures and cover photos with your logo or text, you may get a better result by using a PNG file.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/help/125379114252045

Choose your cover image to reflect your brand, your services, or your products. Canva is a great place to create your cover images for a professional look, and there is a free version!

Change your cover image regularly to keep it fresh. You can change it to reflect festivals or special days, such as Valentine’s Day or Easter…but ensure that the image is relevant to your brand.

Your main bio

Your main Facebook profile has two areas where you can write about your business. There’s a short description, which should include a sentence or two about yourself or your business. It’s an opportunity for a short pitch on exactly what you do…and could be your mission statement.

Then you have a longer description where you can include additional information, more about your products or services and the benefits for your customers. You could include a little about your story and don’t forget to include a CTA (call to action).

It’s important to include any keywords in these descriptions to help search engines when people search for what you do.

There is a space to add a website link. This is where I share my Linktree URL. Linktree is a site that allows you to have all the links to things you’d like your customers to see. Mine includes my website, blog site, social media pages and URL for my email subscription…all in one place, with one link. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who has a business – and the best bit is that there is a free service for this basic information.

You can also add your email address and telephone number, if that is appropriate…and you can add your business’s opening hours.

Interests

There is space for some profiles to add information about your favourite books, TV shows and films. Lots of people skip this, but it can be useful to make connections with like-minded people, or somewhere to put books that you’ve read that may be of interest to others in your niche – such as business-related books.

Privacy Settings  

Once you have finished with your profile and photos, take a look at your privacy settings. This allows you to choose whether your information is public or not. If it’s your business page, you will want almost everything to be public, but if it’s a personal page, you may want to hide some parts of your page.

This is definitely worth a look – sometimes small businesses overlook this bit and then find out that their settings are for friends and family only – so missing potential customers by not having it all public.

Pin a post to the top

The last thing I would say is that there is the facility to pin a post to the top of your profile. A lot of businesses pin an introductory post of themselves and their business. This is the first thing people will see when they come onto your page.

It is a good idea to pin an introduction, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to pin some of your best work as a showcase. Alternatives could be a key message, a new landing page, a special offer or a video. You can change it around every few months to keep it fresh.

How to plan and organise an event

Events are extremely exciting to be involved in, but if you are the person responsible for the planning and organisation on the day, it can seem like a mammoth task. The key to having a successful event is being prepared and being organised is a huge part of that. If all your pre-planning is done meticulously, your event will go swimmingly.

I’ve pulled together a 10-point plan, which should help you think about every angle. This can be applied to anything from organising a craft fayre to a networking event for entrepreneurs.

Define the purpose of your event

What is the purpose of your event?

  • Are you raising money for charity?
  • It might be a networking event where a talk is given on a certain aspect of marketing/tax/pensions etc.
  • You might be teaching an audience something, such as a workshop for a particular craft or hobby
  • You might be organising a craft fayre, pet show or market
  • You could be planning a huge music event

The possibilities are endless, but having a clear purpose helps you to define who your audience is likely to be, what kind of structure you need etc.

If your event has a purpose, people understand what they are going to or signing up to and also know what they might get out of the event, be it professionally, personally, or just for pleasure.

What are your goals and objectives?

What is your ultimate goal? This will be WHY you decided to plan the event in the first place.

This is linked to the purpose of your event…but looks at the end result. What are you hoping that the event will achieve? It could be you want to establish a regular event every few months and this is the first of many. It might be that you want to drive sales for a particular product or make people aware of a particular charity or cause.

Then, look at the objectives.

Try and think of 3-5 objectives that support your ultimate goal.

For example, if this is your second craft event, an objective could be to increase the number of stalls by 10% from last time.

If it’s a charity event, you might want to raise 10% more funds than you did last time.

If it’s a first crafting event, you might have a number of stalls in mind that you want. Similarly, with a charity event, you might have a total amount in mind that you are aiming to raise.

Scope of your event

Once you know the purpose of your event, and the goals and objectives, you can start thinking about the scope of your event. This is the logistical side of things.

These are the key details.

  • When will your event take place? Give yourself at least three months to have time to plan everything.
  • Location – where will your event take place? Finding the perfect location is harder than you think. Depending on what kind of event you are organising, you need to think about the amount of space you need. If you’re organising a music event, you might need somewhere with a stage, for example. If you are having stands or stalls, you need to know how many you are likely to have, so you can ensure that the venue is big enough – and still have space for people to walk around easily – and that the stalls aren’t squashed together.

    You need to think about parking for people who will come to your event and have somewhere that can cater for drinks or something to eat.

    If you’re planning an outside event, you also need to think about a contingency plan in case the weather is bad, or you could end up with a cancellation, which can be avoided if planned up front.
  • How many people are likely to attend your event? This will have an impact on the venue and location you choose. Is it a local event, or are you planning to get people from all over the country to attend? Does your event need to cater for people to stay over? Do you need to look at local hotels or B&Bs?
  • What is your budget? This is an important one. You don’t want to be out of pocket after the event. So, you need to think about how much you will charge for people to attend, have a stall etc. If it’s a networking event or music event, how much will the ticket price be?

    Do you need to hire any special equipment…maybe you have a speaker for a networking event…they’ll need to be heard, so you may need a PA system. You might need equipment for slides etc.

    You can break your budget down into smaller chunks…

    – Venue cost
    – Marketing and promotion
    – Printed material and tickets
    – Speakers or musicians
    – Catering

    Some of these costs, you may be able to recoup by what you make on ticket sales, or pitch fees, but you may have to put some of the money into the event before it starts.
  •  Do you need a team of people to help? If you’re planning a small event, you may be able to do everything yourself, or with the help of a few volunteers, but you need to know how many people you need…and find the right people to help you.
  • With your team, decide on an agenda for the weeks leading up to the event and for the day of the event. Who will do what?

    Allocate specific tasks to the people who will do those tasks best. You will need to advertise and market the event – who will do that?
    You will need to get the right audience, so you need to think about how you will reach that group of people and target them.

    If your event needs to split into different sections – for example, a networking event. How will the day pan out? Will there be several speakers? Which order will they speak in? How long will they speak for?
  • Promote your event. You might put up posters if it’s a local event. Undoubtedly, social media will play a part, so you’ll need to have ads ready to put on social media pages.

    You might have an email list and send out emails to invite people. You might want to advertise on local radio if it’s a local event.

    Think about the best way to reach those that would be most interested in your event.

    If people must pay to participate or pay an entrance fee – how will this work? Do you need to have a float of cash? Will you have something in place to accept card payments?
  • Register participants. If your event means that you’ll have stalls, or several music acts for example, you’ll need to know who they will be in advance, so you can plan for space, catering, chairs, etc. If people will have stalls or stands, do they need electricity for their stand? How much space do they need for their tables? Will they bring their own tables?

    Think about all the logistics that you need to know in advance, so you can ensure that everything is in place, in plenty of time. You don’t want to be running around on the day, as someone suddenly needs electricity, and you don’t have enough extension leads or sockets.

Once you have all of this in place, you will be ready for your event. With the right planning and organisation – and an effective team of people to help you, things will run smoothly.

Risk/Contingency

There will be times when something goes wrong, or something unexpected happens. Wherever possible, try and produce a risk plan before the event. Make a list of all the things that could go wrong and how you will address them. For example, if you are hosting an outside event, what happens if it rains?

Having a contingency or risk plan, will make you feel much more confident if something does go wrong. And remember, even if something does happen, it’s usually something out of your control, such as a power cut or the weather. And there will be times when you just have to run with it and think on your feet.

Measurement after the event

Measurement is something that so many people don’t think of. This is a really important aspect of your planning, as you need to know if your event was a success or not.

It will largely depend on your goals…if you wanted to raise a certain amount of money for charity, for example, you’ll know whether that was a success virtually immediately after the event.

But if your event was something that involves other businesses, through networking or stalls, it’s a good idea to send out a survey after the event to ask what they thought of it, and if it worked for them and their business.

You can ask questions such as:

  • What three things worked well for you?
  • What didn’t work so well?
  • Do you have any ideas for any improvements for next time?
  • Would you come along again if we were to do another event?

You can also ask specific questions about the kind of event you did. You might want to ask about the catering, the venue etc.

Asking for feedback is so important for any future events you decide to do. If you get some good comments or compliments, you can ask if you can use those comments for advertising future events. And you can also use them to shout about how good your event was on social media. You can even put up a post asking people what they thought about your event.

Conclusion

I hope that this post has helped you think about the various aspects of organising or planning an event. If you go through the points and make sure everything is covered, I’m sure you will have a successful and smooth-running event, which will be immensely popular.

Good luck!

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Selling at markets – hints and tips

The past few years have been difficult for everyone and just continues with rising prices and the world economic situation. This has been particularly hard-hitting for the small business, particularly if you sell products. It’s where knowing a bit more about marketing your products comes in and what you can do to maximise the possibilities of selling to your target audience.

I’ve heard several small handmade businesses talking online about the problems they have with making sales – even when they take a stall at a market. So, I thought I would put my marketing thinking cap on and come up with some useful tips to help get those sales.

Before you go

Before you get started or start booking yourself into every craft show, fayre, or market…STOP!

It’s important when you have a handmade business, or in fact any business, that you choose the right venue or event for your business.

You and your products will be judged by everyone else around you, so it’s important that you’re in the right place. For example, if you are at a market or car boot sale, where everyone is selling second-hand goods or junk, the value of your products or services will suffer. So, it’s vital to research the place you’re planning to sell to make sure that it’s right for your particular kind of products or services, so that you give yourself the best possible chance of making sales.

If there are lots of stalls at the venue you choose, check with the organisers how many other stalls are doing the same as you. It’s good to have some competition, but you don’t want your pitch to be right next to someone else who does the same as you, or similar.

Your stock

Seems obvious, but make sure that you have enough stock to sell – be prepared. As you sell your products, your display will reduce…it’s great for you, but can have an adverse effect on those looking to buy from stalls – if there’s not much on your stall, they won’t stop and browse.

In an ideal world, you should sell 8-10 times the fee you paid to have your stall. So, make sure that you have enough stock to replenish sold items, keeping your stall looking as professional as it did when you set it up.

The basics

There are lots of little things to get in place before you can go to the venue.

  • Do you need any special licenses or permits to do the event?
  • Make sure you’ve got the relevant insurance in place
  • How are you going to take payment for your products?
  • Plan how much stock you’re going to take, so you know how much you need to make, and order any materials you might need
  • How are you going to package and wrap your products once they’re sold? Make sure you have enough packaging or wrapping.
  • Think about how you’re going to transport your products – do you need to get any boxes or containers to carry it all?
  • Put price labels on every product – or make price labels for groups of products – there’s nothing worse than having to do this on the day – or worse, not having prices and people either must ask, or don’t bother and walk away.
  • Make sure that any tables, cloths, stands, or props are all clean, not damaged or broken and that you have enough.
  • Make sure that you have signage, so people know what you do. Have business cards or flyers that you can give out or include with purchases.
  • Have something printed to collect email addresses, that asks for a customer/potential customer’s name, email address, stating they agree to having email from you. After the event you can send them a link to your email sign up. Or, have an iPad or phone so you can send your email sign up link to them on the spot.      
  • If it’s an outside event, do you have a contingency plan to keep your products dry in case of a shower? Similarly, if it’s really hot, can you have something to keep you and your products in the shade…and don’t forget sunscreen?
  • Pick your outfit and make sure it’s comfortable and practical – wear comfortable shoes!
  • Pack a chair so you can sit down in between customers
  • Have a rubbish bag with you, pens, paper,
  • Take a packed lunch or snacks and drinks.
  • Make sure that you have fuel in your car and directions to where you are going! And change for parking if necessary.      

Pre event marketing

Although the event will be advertised by the event organisers, it’s a good idea to advertise that your business will be there. Put this everywhere – on your social media pages and add to any groups you belong to. If you have Google My Business, put it on there as this will help with local business. Add it to your website. Tell everyone you know…you could even print off an A5 ad and put it in the window of your car! Make use of any local advertising – some supermarkets or local shops allow small adverts or posters – make one and put it anywhere you can – stating that your business will be there.

Get sales savvy

Before I go into sales on the day…before the day, set up your stall at home – how will it look on the day? Be uber critical – look at it from every angle, so you know it’s right.

Think about the type of people that will visit – you could have children or people in wheelchairs or motorised scooters. If all your stock is up high, is it accessible to everyone?

On the day

Arrive in plenty of time to set up and get everything out of your car, tables set up etc. You don’t want to start the day rushing and flustered.

Once you are set up, do a quick test. Stand where people will see your stall for the first time – maybe 50 feet away. This is the first impression people will have or your stall – what’s your first impression? Does it look inviting? Is it too dark or empty? Can you see what’s for sale? Is your signage visible and does it say clearly what you do?

Once this is done, you’re ready for your customers!

Engage your customers

Don’t just stand behind your stall and expect people to come to you. You need to talk to everyone that comes to your stall. Most people will be generally browsing and looking for reasons not to buy – you need to persuade them that they WANT to buy. So, give them the reasons…

  • Talk about your products
  • Tell customers about the benefits – what it does for them – it could be it would make a great gift for Mum, Dad, friend etc.
  • Everyone loves a story, so talk about your products. How was it made? Where is it from? For example, if you make products from driftwood or sea glass, talk about where you got the raw material and what gave you the idea to make it into your products. It’s not just a sea glass bracelet or necklace – it’s crafted from sea glass that you personally collected from a beach in XXXX. Get people’s attention and interest. A good story can give extra value that actually clinches a sale.

Appeal to everyone

Very often, at craft events or handmade events, there will be Mums and children. Usually, children are given a small amount of money to spend…and Mum is normally with them. Make sure you have a few small items that are pocket-money-affordable, so that you attract the children. Then whilst they are browsing you can engage Mum in a conversation and talk about your products. There’s then the possibility of a bigger sale.   

Target the senses

Encourage visitors to your stall by appealing to their senses.

Here are a few examples…

  • Encourage touch – put a small sign that says, ‘Touch me, I’m hand-felted wool’, or ‘The softest scarf you’ve ever felt’.
  • You might sell soaps or scented candles. ‘I smell delicious, smell for yourself’.
  • If you sell things to eat, such as cupcakes, hone in on the tastebuds. Instead of just having a plate with little samples – asking people if they’d like to try, make it more enticing…for example, you sell ginger or cinnamon spiced cupcakes, ‘Smell and taste Christmas’. Or even, ‘Taste me – what do I remind you of?’ It’s putting out a challenge and giving people a reason to taste your wares…giving them permission to be indulgent.

Don’t have things packaged away in boxes – have the items out of their boxes, so people can see them, or touch them.     

Get in touch with your customer’s senses!

A customer buys from you – what next?

Inside you’re doing your happy dance – you’ve made a sale! So, you wrap the purchase, take their money, and thank them – they go on their way.

NO!

You could be missing a trick here. Don’t just let them disappear in the crowd, never to be seen or heard from again. Wouldn’t it be good if you could increase your sales, and make them come back again – or come back with a friend?

Loads of businesses use a loyalty programme – such as coffee shops. Buy so many cups of coffee, get one free. Why not jump on this yourself? Give a loyalty card – once they’ve purchased a certain number of items from you, they get a freebie.

Introduce a friend and if that friend buys from you, they get 10% off their next order.

Ask them to sign up to your email newsletter, where they will get information about where you’ll be at future events, details about your products or services, link to your online shop, and social media. And details of any special offers you run. Have an incentive to sign up, (a lead magnet). This is simply giving a customer or potential customer something in return for their email address. It could be a freebie of some kind or a discount on their first order.   

Even if this doesn’t work, make sure you add a business card/thank you card in their package when they buy. They will find it later when they get home and might decide to look at your online shop.   

ALWAYS engage first and then sell.

I really hope that this has been a useful article for you if you are a handmade business.

If you have any further suggestions of what you do at events, please add to the comments below. Thank you for reading!

Sign up for my monthly email newsletter for more marketing tips to help your small business.

How to market an online course

If you’re planning to create an online course, or even if you’ve already created your online course, you will need to have a robust marketing strategy in place to help you promote it to your target audience.

Before you create your online course

The first strategy really comes into play before you create your course. It’s important to know who you are aiming it at (your target market). So, how do you know this? Think about your ideal client and create a buyer persona.

So, you know who they are and what they do, how old they are, what motivates them and what interests do they have?

Create as many as you need as there may be different types of customers that you have in mind for your course.  

You can refer to these buyer personas when you’re creating your marketing content – it helps to know who your ideal client is, so you can tailor your content specifically to them.

What is your USP (unique selling point)?

Go into Google and look at courses that currently exist, that are based around the subject matter that you want to cover in your course. Make notes of what is included in those courses and how they are presented. Is there anything that they’ve missed? Are there any aspects that they’ve included that you wouldn’t?

Is there anything in the courses of your competitors that you think you could cover better or add more value to? Can you add in extra topics that your competitor doesn’t cover?

Putting a course out there means giving loads of value to the people that sign up. They want it to be jam packed with value, so they know that they’re not wasting their time and money.

Doing this kind of research will lead you to your USP…what is your USP? What is it that you do different to your competitors? What is the one thing that makes your business better than your competitors?

Once you know what that is, you can add it to your marketing messages. And the good thing is that when someone asks you what makes your course so special – or different to XXXX’s course, you have the answer!

Get information up front

Before you start making your course, you need to know if it is something that your audience want! It might be something you want to create, or something you think people will want. But, until you ask them, you don’t really know!

The best way to find this out is to ask! If you have an email list, or an audience on your blog, you can ask them what they’d be interested in learning about – you could send a survey to your email list. You can also ask people on your social media sites, or in the networking groups you belong to. Then create your course around what they want – not what you think they want.

Get to work

Once you know who your audience are and what they want, you can create your course. There’s just a little bit more research to do – what keywords or phrases will people type in to look for your course? You can research similar courses to yours, or you can use a keyword tool to look at the most popular keywords related to your subject. Then you can include those keywords in your title.

Once you are armed with all this information, it’s time to think about preselling your course. You need to treat your online course like a product launch…because basically that’s what it is.

Coming soon!

You want to try and create a buzz around your course, and one way is to create a ‘coming soon’ page. If you treat it the same way that you would treat a new product, you can’t go far wrong by building excitement and a buzz around the launch. You could just do a ‘coming soon’ page on your website, without giving away too much information…just the basic information! Then say that more details will be posted soon.

You can also use your social media pages to start some teaser information about your course. Don’t just talk about yourself and the course though – make sure that you give some valuable information to get your audience’s interest. For example, you could give away a checklist or cheat sheet that is linked to the information in your course.

You could set up a ‘sign up to show your interest’ page, either on your website, or on a hosting site, such as Mailerlite. When someone signs up to show interest, they get your freebie and an email that tells them a little bit more about the course. Then you have their email and can send them more details about the course as they become available.

If you run your own Facebook group, you can promote it there too.

You might send links to interesting articles you’ve found online about similar subjects to yours – you don’t have to just use your own content.

Start a podcast

You could start a podcast to highlight your expertise in your subject and talk about things related to your course material. Podcasts are great for interviews, so if you have done a course before, or have been running a pilot course with a targeted group of people, you could interview one of them to ask what they got from it.

If you do a podcast though, in the same way with anything that you give away, make sure that you don’t use the same information/subject matter that you’ll be using in your course, as they won’t be happy if your online course that they pay for, is the same content as the stuff you’ve been giving away for free!

Connect with your audience via an online webinar

In the same way as you can create a podcast, you can also run regular webinars…or even a one-off online webinar. You can pre-record these and cover some of the things you know that your audience struggles with – and give a solution to some of their pain points. Again, make the subject matter different to the course content you’re creating.

Running these kind of presentations gives your audience an idea of what you’re like to work with. You’ll no doubt get questions, which may give you ideas to include in your online course. It will also give you feedback, which you can use to show the value you give your audience. This all helps give credibility to your business.

Into the launch phase!

Now you’ve done the ‘coming soon’ stuff, which may have gone on for a couple of months or more, now is the time to promote the course date and more details.

You can still use all the things you used pre-launch, such as podcast, social media, your blog, or email newsletter, or even a webinar. Now is the time to ramp up the communications.

Paid Ads

Paid Ads can be an effective way to advertise your online course. Even a simple Facebook post boost can help with this kind of content. You can target them to a specific audience, they don’t have to cost a lot and you can track their success. I can’t specifically say, with hand on heart, that paid Ads are worth it or that they work, as I have never felt the need to use them myself. But it is something I will try when I do decide to create my own online course.

You just have to make sure that you factor in the cost of these Ads, as they can be quite expensive. Just make sure that whichever platform you use for Ads, that it is a platform that your target audience uses.

Team up with others

Another good way to get your course out there is to team up or buddy up with other businesses…preferably not businesses who do the same as you, but those that you know and like – you need to like or be interested in the kind of things your buddy posts in order for this to be successful – otherwise it’s just the same as doing like for like, or follow for follow, which really doesn’t work.

So, ask people who you regularly interact with and agree to like, comment on, and share their posts or stories, as well as doing shout outs to each other.

This helps you, but could also lead to partnerships in the future, especially if the business you partner up with does something that complements your business. They may even be able to be a guest speaker on your course, or be an interviewee on your podcast, blog, or webinar. The possibilities with partnerships is endless.

Teaser Mini Course

Earlier I talked about a teaser on social media for preselling. Another idea would be to create a mini teaser course, just a few weeks before your main course goes live.

This is a free short course that gives people a taste of what you do and the value you give. At the end of the teaser mini course, you can give the option to sign up to your paid course, where they can find out much more and get even more value from you.

The other thing about creating a mini course, is that the audience that sign up will realise how little they actually know about your niche and will be wanting to know more.

Offer a discount

You can also use a discount offer to entice people to sign up. For example, the first three people to sign up get 50% off – or whatever figure you decide to go for.

Create a sales page

You’ve done your ‘coming soon’ page; now it’s time to create your course sales page or landing page. A landing page is a page on your website, or on a hosting site like Mailerlite, that is dedicated to purely selling your online course. This is where you can go to town with advertising what, specifically your course will cover.

Talk about the benefits of the course – what’s in it for your audience? What problems does your course solve? What will your audience go away knowing that they didn’t know before? How will it help them or their business in future?

Include testimonials from those who did your mini course or those who have listened to your podcast, read your blogs, or have commented on your newsletter. You may have feedback from the survey you sent out that you can use. Just remember to always ask permission from the person who gave the feedback if you’re going to use it to advertise your course.

Make sure that the content of your course is really clear, so your audience know exactly what they’re signing up for.

And, don’t forget to include a CTA (call to action), such as a button saying, ‘YES, SIGN ME UP NOW!’ Always make it short and snappy and make it sound urgent, like you mustn’t wait to sign up – do it now!

Passive Income

Courses

Your online course may be a course where you are very hands-on and run individual sessions over a period of weeks or months. However, if you record a course with individual modules, you can put it on an online hosting channel, such as Udemy, which is an online learning platform (a marketplace to sell and buy courses online). You make money on this platform by uploading your course and selling it. It’s a free service for those uploading courses and can help you achieve passive income. It won’t make you millions, but it will help give you credibility and the possibility of a regular passive income.

Students on Udemy generally take courses to improve their job-related skills. I have used it several times for course on various social media channels to help me understand them better. The good thing is that you can upload a course on any subject you can think of. I’ve seen everything from cupcake decorating, to car maintenance, interior design to computer skills. There’s something for everyone and courses start from around £15. I’ve even got courses free of charge and have had some great deals during January sales.

eBooks

As well as making passive income from your online course, you could also write a related eBook and sell it on your website, or even upload it to Amazon or a similar book selling site.

Conclusion

Now it’s time for you to get started! Do your research, do a presale ‘coming soon’ campaign, choose the best strategy for you and just do it!

Let me know if you found this post useful and, as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.  

How to promote your website

Another week has passed, and we are flying into spring! I am really hoping for some warmer weather, and already noticing the spring flowers starting to make an appearance.

There has been lots of talk recently about the online shop channels where you can list your products for sale, and how their prices are steadily rising. I’ve noticed a few people in networking groups talking about starting a website, or they have one but don’t know what to do with it. So, this week I thought I’d talk websites.

Why have one?

According to E-Commerce Statistics, there are more than 2.14 billion online shoppers worldwide, with E-retail sales projected to grow to 5.4 trillion (in dollars) in 2022. And 68% of online shoppers search a product on Google before buying.

So, the more places that your business can be seen and found online, the better. Whilst online shop sites are great and help push your business to their wider audience, you still don’t own it – and they can have glitches that effect your business. With your website, you own it! But why have one?

  • Promote your business 24/7 – you can sell even when you’re asleep!
  • Builds your reputation and credibility. A website gives you the chance to not only show your products or services for the world to see, but they can see the quality and price, can look at recommendations and comments from customers, and a website gives you the space to tell your audience a bit more about yourself and your business – how you started etc. Not everyone will want to know this, but there are those who like to know who they’re buying from, and your website gives that personal service.
  • First impression – Not only does having a website make you more credible, but it also shows that your business is established and that you are experienced at what you do. Even if your competitors are stronger than you, a well-built, mobile friendly website can entice customers to choose you instead. You might operate your business from the tiniest desk space in the corner of your dining room, or make your products in your tiny spare bedroom, but when you have a website, your customers don’t see this. All they see is the power of your brand – size doesn’t matter!
  • Advertise your business – Your website is your ultimate advertising tool. For a relatively small investment in the cost of setting up your website, you can reach millions of people. It is that one brochure that the entire world has access to – no printing and re-printing when you have new products – you just add them online at the click of a button. You can include tons more information and images than you could afford to put into a brochure…or that there is space for in online shop sites or social media. It’s a fantastic marketing tool that is constantly relevant and up to date.
  • Saves you time – Your website can tell people who you are, where you are and what you do. Without a website, you may spend endless wasted time on the telephone or email giving people directions to where you are, giving details of the products you sell or the services you offer. Your website gives all these details in one, easy to access space, available 24/7. Not only does it give these basic details, but it also gives more detailed information about your products. Then, when people do contact you, it’s generally about something more specific or to actually buy from you or use your services.
  • Reach a huge audience – A website puts you in front of a worldwide audience. Business often comes from word of mouth, and this is a fantastic way to get local business. You may have business cards that you give out at craft fayres or commercial networking events, which is great, but to expand and reach customers that don’t know you, the internet is the way forward. And if you do give out business cards, having your own website looks professional and gives something for the recipients to look at when they get home after an event.
  • Customer Services – Your customers are the most important part of your business. You can improve the service you give them by including FAQs and a Contact Us page on your website. Customers can not only leave comments and recommendations, but they can also ask questions. You can collect your customers email addresses, and with their permission, can send them regular updates about new products or services through your email newsletter. This makes them feel valued and valued customers will come back to you time after time.

How to promote your website

Now you know the importance of having a website and its benefits, how do you promote it to reach that wider audience?

Before I start on this, make sure that your website homepage gives readers the information they need, quickly and succinctly. You need to include:

  • Who you are
  • What you can do for them – the main benefits or your products/services
  • How they can contact you
  • How they can make a purchase
  • CTA – call to action – what you want them to do next.
  • Links to your social media pages

OK. Let’s look at the promotion.

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation

Now, I see this title and often glaze over! But it doesn’t have to be like that. SEO is just a matter of making sure that your website content includes the terms, keywords, and phrases that your potential customers will use to search for businesses like yours. This involves you knowing who your customers are and what they type into search. Have a brainstorm, produce ideas, and look at what words/phrases your competitor uses.

You can also use a free keywords tool (https://www.wordstream.com/keywords/

You can type in your website address, or your competitor’s website address…then choose your business category from a dropdown box, and the country you are in – it will then show you the most popular down to the least popular keywords that people search for. I must admit, it’s pretty amazing! Try it!

If you have these keywords in your website, in headings or subheadings, as well as in the text, the more likely you will be found by search engines. Focus on your product and service keywords first. For example, if you sell gardening equipment, you might include keywords such as, gardening…gardening tools, growing a garden.

The only thing I would say to avoid is using too many keywords – Google and other search engines will notice if your content is stuffed with keywords – the copy must still be relevant and make sense!   

And don’t forget to optimise images, by adding alternate text, using keywords.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is great as, not only does it improve your SEO, but it also gives useful information for your target audience. There are lots of different ways to include content marketing in your website.

  • Blogging is the obvious one. You can use your blog to give useful information that will help your audience; you can use it to talk about your products or services; use it to introduce new products or talk about special offers or products for a certain time of year, such as Easter or Christmas; is you have a book published or an article published in a magazine, you can give an excerpt and talk about it.

    A blog is a very versatile tool and helps bring traffic, and so potential custom, to your website.
  • Email newsletter is the other most popular form of content marketing for websites. You can have a pop-up box or a ‘click here’ button on your website, which asks your readers to subscribe to your email newsletter. When they sign up, it’s a good idea to have a lead magnet (a freebie that they get for signing up – could be 10% discount on their first order, or a free gift, E-book, checklist, workbook, audio or video, or even a free mini-course. Whatever you choose, it’s important to have something to entice them in.

    Once you have subscribers, you have your own email list and can send out regular emails, whether it be once a week or once a month, and share a bit about yourself, talk about things you’re doing, ask questions, promote your blog, promote your products and share valuable information with them. They have chosen to sign up, or opt-in, so they already like your business. Now it’s down to you to keep them interested…just don’t bombard them with sales talk and selling products, or they will unsubscribe. I also don’t advise sending emails too often. I unsubscribe if I’m getting emails every couple of days as it clogs up my inbox. I only send my email newsletter out once a month, but once a week is OK too – it’s up to you.
  • Podcasts are also good and work much in the same way as a newsletter, but you are talking to your audience via audio. Potential customers can sign up and, the good thing with podcasts is that they can be listened to when your audience are driving to and from work, doing the housework or just sitting quietly. It’s a great tool and becoming increasingly popular.
  • Video is another form of content marketing that can help you promote your business. You can share it on your website, in newsletters, on your social media pages, and you can set up your own YouTube channel to host the videos and reach another audience that way. Video is taking over and set to become even bigger in 2022, so it’s worth thinking about.

Whether you choose blogging, email, podcasts, or video, when you share them in your social media, or on other sites, you can put a link to your website pointing your readers or listeners to go check it out.

Social Media

We all know how effective social media can be in helping us promote our businesses. So long as you post regularly, consistently and give a varied array of posts, you will engage with your target audience. Networking is crucial to social media success, so make sure you join RELEVANT networking groups that will help your business.

You can do the odd post about your website and include a link; you can give a taster of a blog post and include a link. And you can advertise your email subscription. This can be done through posts, reels, or stories – or even live video…and always put a link to your website, so you are driving traffic back.

Update your email signature

This is one that people often don’t think about, but it’s the perfect place to promote your website. Just add your website URL under your name in your signature. It’s easy to do and can be highly effective.

Business Cards

You might send out business cards or thank you cards out with your orders. Make sure they include your website address. Another simple and effective way to promote your business.

Google My Business

Google My Business, or Google Business Profile as it’s now changed its name to, is a free must-have resource if your business relies on local people. It’s simple to use; you register your business and when someone searches for you or something you do, your business will be highlighted to them if they are local to you. You can link your website to your account, share photos and post short paragraph posts, which has an option to include a link. I share my blog posts on mine, as well as posting from time to time about my website and email newsletter.

You can add opening hours, contact information and a host of other things to make it easier for customers to find you in search engine results. The only stipulation is that you must have a Gmail email account to set it up. But worth it.

These are just a few ideas – there are loads more out there, but for starters, these are the ones I would advise to help you get traffic to your website.

If this has been helpful, please add a comment below. Thanks, and have a great first week of March!