Why is it important to understand your target audience?

You have a small business, you write beautifully crafted content, you engage on social media – but you’re still not selling. Why?

When you have a business, the ultimate decision about whether they are going to buy from you or not lies with your customers or potential customers. You can do as much as you possibly can to persuade people to buy your products or services, but without a strategy that provides personalised experiences for your ideal customer, you’re not likely to make many sales.

When you know who your target audience is and have a comprehensive understanding of who you’re talking to, you can create the right kind of content to attract that target audience. By having your own small business, you are competing with hundreds of other businesses who do the same as you, so having a marketing strategy is imperative to stopping your messages falling on deaf ears!

Why does your target audience matter?

I’d say that knowing your target audience is the most important part of your marketing strategy, for these reasons:

  • If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one. You don’t want to appeal generally to everyone out there, you need to appeal strongly to a specific group of people who are likely to want to do business with you…people you have a connection with.
  • If you know exactly who your audience are, you know what their pain points, or problems are. You can see their problems from their perspective and what obstacles they need to overcome to solve those problems. Then you can think about how your business can provide those solutions with your products or services.
  • Knowing your audience’s problems, you can work out how to market the solutions you have to their problems. You can show them how the features and benefits of your products/services can help them and why you are best suited to do that.
  • When you are creating content and forming new relationships with potential customers, you need to be able to speak their language. By this, I mean using the same terms and phrases that they use to describe their problems. Then you can build relationships by using that language to show that your business can solve those problems.
  • You target audience can also teach you how you can create better products and services that suit them best. You can use the understanding you have of their problems, along with any feedback

How do you identify your target audience?

Identifying your target market is all about three things: Demographics, Geographics and Psychographics. 

Demographics

  • What is their age and gender?
  • Are they married or living together?
  • Do they have children?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • If you know what they do for a living, what is their rough income?
  • Do they own their own home?


You can usually gain demographic information from your existing customers by simply talking to them. Social media accounts can also give you relevant demographic information. If your customers are on Facebook, for example, you can usually see information like date of birth, relationship status – people seem to love to share about their lives on social media, so you will probably see if they have children or grandchildren, what they do for a living etc.

  • You could also get this information from feedback you get. For example, if you make and produce quality rag dolls, you may have feedback that says, “Love your product, my daughter/grand-daughter loves her doll and hasn’t put it down since she received it.”  This tells you that your customer is a Mum and Grandma and that she likes buying things for her grandchildren.
  • Knowing the demographics of your existing customers makes it easier to tailor your marketing accordingly.
  • If you’re not sure who your target market it, go to Google and research some of your competitors, people who do the same as you, and look at their marketing techniques. Who are they targeting and how? What are the messages they are sending out? What images do they use? What media do they use to advertise? You will then have an idea of what direction you should be aiming for with your business. 

Geographics

This is the simplest – where do your target market live? Are they local to you? Just in a particular region? In the same country, but miles away – nationwide? Or international – in other countries?

Psychographics – why customers buy what they do

If demographics look at who your customers are, psychographics take you a bit further into their lives to find out why they buy the things they do. What motivates them and what makes them tick.

Psychographics include things like:

  • Interests
  • Activities
  • Religious beliefs
  • Attitudes
  • Personality
  • Spending habits
  • Lifestyle choices

If you combine the data you collect on the demographic and psychographics of your customers, you can paint a picture of what your potential buyer (or your buyer persona) will look like and who they are. Let’s have a look at one example …

Buyer persona 

Let’s say you’ve done your research, and this is what you have discovered…

Demographic data

  • Female, aged 40 – 55
  • Married with children
  • Household income around £45,000
  • Stay at home Mum who works part-time

Psychographic data

  • Interested in health and fitness
  • Likes to be eco-friendly
  • Is an active member on Facebook and Pinterest
  • Likes socialising with her small group of friends
  • Loves cooking

This demonstrates the difference between the two sets of data and why it’s important to gain both – you have more insight into what your customers might like. Then you can look at your products to see what would interest this kind of customer.

How do you make this relate to your business…and therefore your marketing? I’ll share some examples…

If you have a crafting business, for example, and your crafting activities were soap making or candle making, you’d know that this customer likes natural ingredients that are environmentally friendly and safe for children, so that could be part of your marketing angle.

If you are in the catering industry, making cakes or preserves, she might be interested in special birthday cakes for her family or in your preserves and pickles that use natural ingredients.

Her children are likely to have birthday parties and her friends are likely to have children of a similar age, so anything you make from a crafting perspective may be of interest – bunting for parties, toys, jewellery, etc. And as she enjoys socialising with her small group of friends, she may be interested in hosting an at-home party to buy your craft products.

Where to find her

Once you have this data, you’ll also know where to find her and this is especially important. She may attend local fitness clubs or gyms; she may visit a local spa; she will enjoy lunches out at restaurants or bars with her group of friends. This is where you could leave your flyers and business cards.

Now you know what your customer looks like and what she’s interested in, you can tailor blogs to suit her, you can make products you know she’ll like, and you can find out if she has any particular problem that your products can solve. 

How do your customers like to buy their products?

These days, I would hazard a guess that most of your customers will want to look at products/services online before they buy. They have such a wide choice that it’s important you make yours stand out. People spend their commute to work, breaks, lunch hour, evenings and weekends online, usually browsing through social media sites or looking for something specific. If you are not on these platforms then your products/services will not be found.

Selling online

Social Media is a great way to promote your products or services and to advertise what you do. But you also must bear in mind that not everyone is on social media. If your target market is in the older age bracket, they may prefer not to be on social media, so you will have to reach them another way.

Even though they don’t do social media, your target audience probably still uses the internet to search for things they want. You could set up an online shop.

A website is a crucial business tool – you can link it to your Social Media sites and vice versa. A website can help you reach a wider audience – it gives you a shop front that is open 24/7 – you can even sell when you are sleeping, and you can sell to anyone in the world!

You can put more information about yourself and your business and products or services that you can on social media and, if you have an online shop, you can point your customers to that site. Whatever you choose to do, there is always a marketing technique to support it. If you have a website, you can also choose to add a blog, which could also be a fabulous tool to write about your individual products or services … just another way to get your name/business out there.

I hope this article has given you the inspiration and information to dig deep into your target audience in more detail. I know that once you have all the relevant information, you’ll stand a much better chance of marketing your products or services in the right way…and get those sales.

Share this post to help other small businesses just like you.

The customer journey that wins customers

It doesn’t matter if you’re a big company, or a small business, we all must think about what our customers want and how we get them from that first stage, where they’ve just heard about your business, to the purchase and advocacy stage.

This is called the customer journey, and by making a journey map, you can plan your customers’ route, ensuring you meet their needs along the way. Does this sound complicated? Are you glazing over? It’s not as complicated as it sounds.

Knowing what your customers want

The first stage starts before your customers even know you exist. This is the part where you do your research to find out what people want and need from a business like yours…and knowing your ideal customer.

Let’s take sports trainers as an example. You could say that your ideal market is everyone, but it’s important to niche down to a narrower market in order for you to be able to target them with your content. So, are you going to concentrate on comfort, or go for pure fashion? Are you going to target younger people or older people? What colours do you want to go for? What style? So, before you can look at the customer journey, you need to know exactly who your customers are. You can do this by looking at your current customers, look at the insights on your social media pages and the analytics from your website.

Build a few buyer personas, so you know what your customers like, what they want and what makes them buy.

Stages of the customer journey

Stage 1 – Awareness

This is where your customers first hear about your business or have their first experience of what you offer. They see this largely through your marketing. It might be they google a product of yours and it appears on a search engine like Google. Google could point them to your website or online shop, it might show them your business profile on Google, or show your social media pages.

They may see a physical flyer, pick up your business card at an event, see an advert in a local magazine, or it might be someone you get talking to, who asks what you do. They also may hear about you through word of mouth from their friends or relatives.

Where and how you market your business will depend on their age and lifestyle, so that’s why knowing your target market is so important. If you are marketing to an older audience, for example, some of your marketing would probably be through Facebook. But if your audience is much younger, you would use as many social media channels as you can, especially TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. The younger generation spend most of their free time online, so that’s where you’re most likely to find them.

Typically, people must be exposed to your business at least eight times before they start to recognise it, so it’s not a quick process.

Stage 2 – Consideration

This is where your potential customers are looking at what you have to offer and are thinking about whether your products or services fit the bill for them. Do you solve a problem they have and are you the person to go with over others they’ve seen?

Basically, are you worth investing in?

Your customer reviews and testimonials are what makes a difference in this stage. They want to see social proof that you’re as good as they’ve heard you are.

This is also where blogs come into their own – articles that potential customers can read that give proof that you know your stuff. The same applies to email newsletters. They may even sign up to your newsletter months before they become a customer.

The other thing that influences potential buyers at this stage is what they can see. Good images of your products, with good descriptions, telling them the benefits of your products – how they help, what they do and how potential customers can’t live without it! How will your product or service make their lives better?

So, good images and video on your website, online shop and social media are crucial.

Stage 3 –   Purchase

They’ve liked what they’ve seen, are convinced you are the right person to buy from and they go to your website or online shop to buy.

At this stage, it’s vital that your website or shop is easy to navigate, that it’s easy to pay for what they want, and everything is crystal clear as to what they can expect from you.

If they ask questions at this stage, getting a timely answer is an absolute must. Customer service is also an important part of the customer experience and their journey and can make the difference between getting that actual purchase or them going away and never returning.

Stage 4 – Service

Service is about going that extra mile for your customers. That age-old adage that says the customer is always right must come into play here, whether you agree or not. If your customer service hits the mark, you won’t go far wrong.

Things like a quick and efficient delivery service, securely and nicely packaged. You can’t always control the postal service and delivery times, but so long as you get an order out quickly and stay connected with your customer, this will go a long way to enhancing their customer experience.

If something does go wrong, don’t try, and hide it – be up front with your customer and admit to any mistakes and take immediate steps to rectify it. This is where communication is key – replying to emails, replying to complaints quickly, trying to resolve any issues to keep things running smoothly.

Similarly, if you have customers who are happy and tell you they are happy with your service, reply to them too and thank them for their comments. Always reply to every comment on your social media posts, every email you receive and reply to any message you get on social media. If you come across as genuine and friendly, and as a business who really cares and values its customers, things will go well.

Stage 5 – Loyalty

Loyalty is as it suggests – encouraging customers to be loyal to your brand and business. It’s about encouraging them to come back for more.

Gaining new customers is something we all aspire to, but retaining your existing customers is also crucial to the success of your business. So how do you keep that loyalty?

Send thank you cards with their order and maybe offer a small discount for their next order or add in a little small gift.

Introduce a loyalty scheme, with a card, so each time they buy from you, they get points. When they reach a certain number of points or have bought from you a certain number of times, they get a free gift, or a voucher valued at a certain amount that they can spend on your products or services.

Don’t ignore your customers once they have the product they’ve ordered. Leave it a couple of weeks, then message them to ask how they’re getting on with your product and how it’s working for them. Don’t be afraid to ask for a review.

Quite naturally, we don’t always think to leave a review if we’re happy with something – people typically only think about reviews if they have a bad experience. Sometimes a little prompt is all they need to leave a review on your social media page or website.

Invite them to follow you on social media, read your blogs or sign up to your newsletter.

Stage 6 – Advocacy

Advocacy – where the customer becomes your fan and tells everyone about how wonderful your products and services are. They use their experience with you and your business to shape other potential customers’ opinions. They might comment on your posts or share posts on social media.

They might talk about this amazing product they’ve bought from you to their friends and family, or they might give great stories about how your service is one of the best they’ve come across.

How customers behave at this advocacy stage is dependent on how they were treated in the other stages. Often it’s down to the overall customer experience they had with you, your brand, and your business.

And there you have it – the customer journey in seven steps. If you’d like help with any of these stages, or want help with identifying your target market, so you are hitting the ground running, give me a call or email me. I’m always happy to help.

Tracking your 2022 small business progress

I can’t quite believe that I’m writing about your 6-monthly business review already – it doesn’t seem like that long ago, we were talking about Christmas and New Year! And yet here we are in July and thinking about how that first 6 months has panned out. Did you achieve your goals? Are things going as well as you hoped it would?

Contrary to some peoples’ beliefs, the 6-month review isn’t about beating yourself up for not achieving what you hoped you would, it’s more about standing back, looking at what went well, and looking for opportunities to take your business forward to success in the next 6 months.

In December, I published a post ‘How to conduct your small business annual review,’ and this post follows on from that, talking more about analysing how you’re doing.

Let’s look at the money!

OK, first things first, let’s get this bit done first. 2022 has not been a good financial year for anyone – inflation is through the roof, there is a war in the Ukraine, which has influenced fuel prices, and food prices are at an all-time high. Add to that, Covid is still raging away in the background. The world is in turmoil and most families are having to tighten their belts to survive. Small businesses have struggled, and still are, struggling to sell as much as they hoped.

Oh dear, this does paint a rather gloomy picture doesn’t it? I’m sounding a bit like Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh stories! I do apologise, but the point I am making is that if your business hasn’t done as well as you had hoped back in December/January, there are reasons for this.

The first thing to do is to look at your predicted sales at the beginning of the year and compare with your actual sales. If you have hit your goal, brilliant, that’s great news. Have a look at why you made the sales when you did:

  • What did you do to get those sales?
  • Did you have any special offers running?
  • Look at where each sale came from – how did they find your business? What made them buy your product? Did they give you a review? If yes, look at your reviews to see if anything needs to change, or if their review suggests a new product.

If you didn’t hit your goals, don’t panic! As I said earlier, it’s been a tough year for all businesses this year, small or large. Have a look at what you’ve done and try to find out why it didn’t work. What can you do more of, or do better, to raise your sales figures for the end of the year?

Analysing your small business marketing

The next thing to look at is your marketing. I know, I can hear you groaning from here! I adore marketing and love getting down to the nitty gritty, but it’s my job and my passion and I realise that not all small businesses share my enthusiasm!

So, let’s keep it short and simple:

  • Look at the goals you set at the beginning of the year. What have you achieved and what still needs more work? Have any of your priorities changed over the past 6 months? Do any of your goals need to change, become more challenging, or do you need to get rid of any that just aren’t now workable?
  • Look at your website analytics. You will have highs and lows on your figures. Look at the dates of the highs and see if they correspond with any particular campaign you may have been running at that time. Do the same for the low points. Then you’ll have an idea of what marketing activity gets people to your website. For example, if things were a bit quiet and you decided to do a Tenner Tuesday, for example, what impact did that have on your website stats?
  • Now look at your social media pages – look at the insights page. Most only go back over the past 3 months. Look at what posts were popular, and why they were popular. What made people engage with them? If you look at your top six posts and stories, you should see what draws people in. It could be that you published an educational video, or you went ‘live’ or published something amusing or inspiring. It always amazes me – what I think will be popular isn’t usually among my top four posts.

    Also, be honest with yourself – if you have more than one social media account, are you using them to the best of your ability and using your marketing tactics for all channels? If you find that one particular channel is not hitting the mark for you, you don’t get much engagement etc, you might want to ‘call time’ on that account. There is no point flogging yourself on a channel that just doesn’t work for you and your business. I tried Twitter and just didn’t like it, and it didn’t work well for me. No matter how much I read about using it properly, it just didn’t resonate with me, so I started to ignore it. In the end, I just binned it – it wasn’t for me – end of!
  • What else helped you with your marketing? Are you a member of any networking groups? These hugely help small businesses in my experience. Or maybe you attend networking groups or meetings in person. If you do, think about how the networking helps your business. Did you get more sales through networking?
  • Similarly, if you have attended any fayres or markets, were they worth the investment to go? Did they work for you and your business? They don’t work for everyone, so don’t feel despondent if you feel that they are not for you.

The next 6 months

Finally, it’s time to look forward. You now have the benefit of hindsight – I always say that hindsight is a wonderful thing!

From the goals you have, or have reset, how are you going to achieve them? What marketing tactics are you going to use to get to where you want to be by the end of the year?

If your business relies heavily on sales at Christmas, now is the time to start advertising, creating ads and campaigns that will see you through to the New Year. In general, people start planning for Christmas much earlier these days, so they can spread the inevitable cost. Once winter is here, with the cost of fuel, bills, and food set to rise in the Autumn, now is the time to hit the market with your wares, or at least be prepared to get your marketing tactics in place for the end of the summer.

We know that there is a huge lull in business during the early part of the year, so now is the time to plan whatever buzz you want to create to keep your business ticking over.

With all this in mind, planning is your best friend. Get that notebook out or set up a spreadsheet – however you like to do things. Plan your goals for the rest of the year, and how you will achieve them.

Celebrate!

And lastly, DON’T FORGET TO CELEBRATE! Celebrate all you have achieved so far – pat yourself on the back, give yourself a round of applause and shout about your successes on your social media pages. Any win, no matter how big or small, is a win. Take the chance to be proud of yourself and your small business. It’s all yours and you are the one who works hard to keep it going.

Good luck to each and every one of you.

If you need any help with your marketing, or with reviewing what you’ve done, or are just feeling generally overwhelmed and don’t know which way to turn, give me a shout. I’m happy to help.

cindymobey@outlook.com       

What makes your customers buy from you?

Understanding consumer behaviour

Have you ever wondered what makes some people choose one type of product and another person choose another? For example, why someone would prefer to buy a designer handbag, whereas someone else is happy with one she bought from a local small business. What drives our choices?

Studying consumer behaviour is fascinating, as I’ve found by researching this article. So, what is consumer behaviour?

It’s the study of how people buy, use, acquire and dispose of goods and services. It’s not just about buying either, it could be they acquire goods through bartering, lending or leasing. Behaviour can be affected by how much they use the goods they buy. For example, if someone buys a can of drink, it is consumed just the once, but if they buy a laptop or tablet, it would be used over a period of time. Buying behaviour depends on how much that product is used.

Consumers are also influenced by others, through reviews. If a product has great reviews, or if a consumer’s friends are raving about how good a product is, they are likely to buy it. But, if their friends are really slating a product, or it gets negative reviews, they probably wouldn’t buy it.  

There are several factors that influence how consumers make their buying choices. In this blog post, I’m going to talk about five of them…

  • Psychological
  • Social
  • Cultural
  • Personal
  • Economic

All of these factors can be split down further.

Psychological factors

How someone feels about a particular product when they are presented with it will depend on their state of mind. Their state of mind will determine not just how they feel about the item itself, but also about the brand as a whole.

Social factors

Most of us want to be accepted socially, and this can affect buying habits. In order to be socially accepted, some people will mimic others, including copying what they buy.

Family, friends, work colleagues or other groups will play an important part in the way people see different products or services. These groups all help to influence buying behaviours.

Cultural factors  

Culture is not just defined by a person’s nationality. It can also be defined by who they associate with, religious beliefs or even people living in the same geographical location.

Personal factors

Personal factors include age, occupation, marital status, budget, personal beliefs, values and morals.

Economic factors

Consumers are affected by the economic condition of a country. This is evident at the moment with inflation at an all time high – people can’t afford to buy too many luxuries, as they have to concentrate on paying the bills, putting fuel in the car and buying food.

Economic factors include personal income and how much disposable income is left after everything has been paid each month. It also includes family income – again, what’s left over that the family can enjoy.

Consumer credit is another factor. People have credit cards so can buy goods when they want to. Consumers are more likely to buy luxury and comfort goods if they have access to higher credit, or can pay through a credit card, easy instalments or bank loans. I’m not saying this is good – it’s just a factor.

    

The Five stages of the consumer buying process

Now you understand the factors that influence the buying process, lets look at the five stages people go through when deciding to buy.

  1. The problem. A consumer notices they have a problem they want to solve. This could be anything from needing to get a new outfit for a special event, to buying a new tap for their sink.
  2. Research – the next stage is to research how to fix their problem. This might be trawling the internet for recommendations, or to look at various sites that sell what they’re after. It might be talking to a friend or family member for their advice.
  3. Find a solution – once they have all the information they need, they can start comparing brands and looking at reviews to help them decide on a solution.
  4. Buy a product – the consumer makes a decision and decides to spend their money on the solution they’ve chosen.
  5. Review the product – some consumers will leave a review about the product they’ve bought – some won’t. Either way, they will still personally review the product and decide whether they would recommend it to others…and whether they’d buy from that brand again.    

The four types of buyers

It’s also worth knowing about the four different types of buyers, so you can market your products or services accordingly. The four types are different, based on what motivates them to buy.

  1. The analytical buyer – this person is motivated by logic and needs to have lots of information. They want to look at all the data on the different brands and different types of products available before making an informed decision.
  2. The amiable buyer – this person is warm and friendly and just wants everyone to be happy. They can often be stumped by having to make big decisions, especially if there is a perception of a win/lose outcome.
  3. The driver buyer – this type of buyer is really concerned with how others view them, and whether they should follow the trend setters. Drivers are most concerned with their appearance rather than the relationships that are formed during a transaction.
  4. The expressive buyer – this buyer is driven by relationships. They hate the feeling of isolation and don’t like being ignored during a transaction. They like to feel as though they are your most important asset.

This being said about the four types of buyer, it’s difficult to put everyone into one category – people will often fall into a combination of the four.

Conclusion

As you can see, consumer behaviour is influenced by many things; psychological, social, cultural, personal and economic.

It’s also worth knowing the buying process and the types of buyers – this can help you figure out how you can reach and influence the people that are most likely to buy your products.

If you’d like to take a more in-depth look at your customers and target market, get in touch for a free discovery call.

How to make customer feedback work for you

What do you do when you get a fabulous comment or review about your product or service? Do you just say thank you with lots of hearts, or tell them you’re over the moon that they love your products or services? I suspect that most of us do exactly that. But, if you then do nothing else…because you got a good review…you could be missing important information that could help you grow your business even more, with advocates who love what you do.

What is customer feedback?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably the owner of a small business. You give your all to your business…your time, your energy, and a big part of you personally goes into making your business a success. You do this to ultimately make money from your business, but you also want to have happy customers who believe in what you do and love your products or services.

Customer feedback is the information that your customers give telling you if they are happy with what you provide. It could also be about your customer service. It’s their opinion, a snapshot in time, of the experience they’ve had in their dealings with you or your business.

  • Does getting good customer feedback make you feel good?
  • Do you take it personally if you don’t get a 5-star rating?
  • Do you see positive feedback as confirmation that your products/services are great?

I’m betting that you answered ‘yes’ to these questions. Getting a fabulous review makes all of us feel good, and the positive feedback shows that you are doing something right with your products or services. And, let’s face it, we all hate getting negative feedback, and it’s easy to take it personally if you don’t get a 5-star rating every time, but it does happen. You shouldn’t see it as a reflection of you as a person, it’s just that a particular customer didn’t feel that a 5-star rating was right. Hold that thought!

Customer feedback

Why is customer feedback important?

If some of the big companies who receive 5-star reviews were happy with that and left it at that, they would never progress their company. But they don’t do that…

Customer opinion is a great resource and gives the perfect excuse to find ways to improve the customer experience. You can collect information in many ways, from surveys (which is prompted feedback), to reviews that your customers post online (unprompted feedback). Both are important in seeing the bigger picture on how your customers perceive your brand. Big companies consistently listen to their customers – they don’t just look at the opinions that their clients leave online, or publish on social media/websites, they are also proactive in asking for feedback, by asking specific questions. If you want to stay at the top and consistently be ahead of your competition, you should always take feedback as a gift – prompted or unprompted, positive, or negative.

So, what does customer feedback give you?

  • It helps you improve your products and services. Whenever you launch something new, its success will be decided by your customers, as they are the ones who will be using it. They are in the perfect place to let you know about the quality, usefulness, aesthetic etc. They can also advise of any improvements they’d make, or how it could better meet their needs.
  • It tells you a lot about customer satisfaction. Feedback tells you about how they feel about your business. If you ask for feedback, yes, you could be inviting some negativity, but that’s not a bad thing, as you can work to improve it. For example, if you are in a restaurant and you’re not happy with a particular meal, or part of a meal, the restaurant would want you to tell them. Why? So, they can improve. If you don’t say anything, but just never come back, they don’t have that chance to put it right and make it better for other diners in the future. That’s why a lot of restaurants ask for feedback on their websites.
    You don’t have to conduct massive surveys; you can simply take a random sample of your customers and speak to them on the phone.
  • Your customers will feel valued. Following on from the last point, if you ask your customers for feedback, they will feel like you care about what they think, and they’ll feel involved. If you show that you genuinely care and value their opinion, they are more likely to give good feedback and to recommend you to their family and friends. Even a customer who complains can be turned into a loyal advocate if you take the time to speak to them about their concerns and come up with a solution…sometimes they’re not even complaining, they just have a suggestion, which may actually help you. They will feel involved if you take their suggestion and implement it!
  • It helps you provide a better customer service. There are times when, through no fault of your own, things go wrong. For example, a delivery is late arriving, or maybe the orders have got a bit mixed up and they receive the wrong order. These things can happen, we’re all human!
    If you have something in place, whereby customers can easily contact you to discuss their problems, it’s more likely you’ll be able to resolve it. The quicker you respond to a complaint, no matter how small, the more likely you’ll be able to earn loyalty in the future. Don’t take it personally – this is a hard one, but I really can’t reiterate this enough. A customer has a right to tell you about their problem, and nine times out of ten it can be resolved easily. However, of course, there will be the odd time that something can’t be resolved, and if it can’t, it’s best to say so, offer a refund or an alternative, and move on. But this is extremely rare.
  • It helps you retain your existing customers. Caring, listening, showing you value opinions, and being genuine with your customers are all things that will encourage them to stay loyal to you. As they get to know you, your business, and your brand, they will understand what you stand for and what you believe in. They will be able to relate to you and will trust you – these are the things that will make a customer stay loyal to a brand.
  • Helps gain more customers. Someone who buys online will have looked at many other businesses before they decide to buy. None of us automatically buy from every business we come across, and we don’t tend to buy from businesses we have never heard of. 90% of online shoppers read online reviews before buying. This is where feedback is crucial. Word of mouth is also seriously underrated. People will buy from a business that has been recommended to them by a family member or from friends. If you don’t encourage reviews, you are shutting the door to new business, so make it easy for customers to leave a review. It’s important for new visitors to see what others have to say – and to see how you respond to your customers, so ALWAYS reply.
  • Helps you with your future strategies. If you know your customers, know what they like and dislike, you are in a much better position to make plans for the future of your business. Feedback helps you know where you can improve, what kind of products or services are popular, and what they might like to see from you in the future. This can only be a good thing.

Conclusion

Customer feedback is an important resource for all businesses, no matter how big or small. It measures the success of your products or services, and can help you develop new products or services, as well as helping you decide on new strategies for your future.

You can collect customer feedback via your online shop, your website, through social media, sending surveys, through a live chat or via messenger, or by simply picking up the phone and speaking to them – you could even do this via video chat.    

Don’t take things personally if you get a little negativity – see it as an opportunity to turn things around and make that customer your biggest fan.

Listen to your customers, make them feel that their opinions matter and don’t be afraid to ask them questions about your business. It can only help you improve, and ultimately will result in loyal customers who trust and believe in you, your business, and your brand.

Is Mr. Procrastination knocking on your door?

What is procrastination and how can you deal with it?

Procrastination is where you delay or postpone something…not necessarily because you don’t want to do it, but you just keep putting it off. It can show itself in a simple way – such as keep pressing the snooze button on your alarm to avoid getting up. But when it starts to interfere with your work, you need to take action.
It can occur for several reasons: poor time management, lack of organisation, low motivation, inability to concentrate, unrealistic expectations of yourself or your business, personal problems, negative beliefs about your capability, low self-confidence, perfectionism, or anxiety and fear related to failure and success.
Everyone who has a business will have experienced procrastination at some point, but it can become very debilitating if you lose control of it. So, what can you do? You need to know why you procrastinate before you can address it.

Reasons why you may be prone to procrastination

Your business may not be making progress as quickly as you’d like

When you first start your business, you are full of enthusiasm, it’s exciting and you are positive about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Your body releases dopamine when it experiences excitement…and that feeling is what fires you up and keeps you going in the beginning.
But after a while, as with any business, you will hit a few lows, and this can have the knock-on effect of making you feel things aren’t as good as they were. Negative thoughts can start to creep in…
• Are you going to get rewarded for all the hard work you’ve done?
• Is all this work worth it?
• Will you ever make it really successful?
And so, Mr. Procrastination knocks the door, and it’s very easy to open the door and let him in.

You just don’t know where to begin

Procrastination can also rear its ugly head when you start to feel overwhelmed by your business. You have seemingly endless to-do lists, your goals seem to be slipping away, and it all seems just too much of a mountain to climb.
You may notice that you start to only concentrate on the things you like doing, rather than the things that are urgent and important. By doing this you are in danger of not focussing on what will move your business forward…instead you stay smack bang in the middle of your comfort zone. But then your business starts to stagnate, and this is where procrastinating can be a danger to the future of, what was, an exciting prospect.


You’re scared you’ll make the wrong decisions

This is a very common reason. After all, we are only human, and we all live in fear of making a wrong choice. Some of you may feel that if you do make the wrong decision, you could ruin what you have already, so you either do nothing, or do things in a very haphazard way, which can be more damaging to your business…and to your mental health.
You may have heard the phrase, ‘you don’t fail, you learn.’ I know I have used this myself, and it’s true, but it’s better to try and avoid that feeling of failure as much as you can. It’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes – everyone does, and some spectacularly (!), but it’s the fear of failing that is more debilitating that the actual failure!
It might be that you really worry what other people might think, and you care about other peoples’ opinions. It’s great to aim high, so long as you can remember that none of us is perfect.


You just hate a particular task

When you run your own small business, there are loads of tasks to get done. You only have yourself to rely on and this can lead to stress, especially if some of the tasks are dull or just plain boring.

Now, if you can afford it, you could outsource those irritating tasks to someone who does them for a living – get yourself an online assistant.

However, when you have a small business, especially if you’ve not been going for long, it’s unlikely you’ll have the money to invest in this kind of help straight away.

How can you overcome procrastination?

First, ask yourself some questions. Most of the time we know why we are letting Mr. P in. If you don’t know where you are with your business, you won’t be able to get to where you want to be.
• Are you setting yourself unrealistic goals?
• Are you putting unnecessary pressure on yourself?
• What are the consequences of NOT getting this done? (Whatever it is)
• What are the benefits of getting it done?
• What is getting in the way?
If you can answer these questions, you can start to plan what to do to stop the procrastination.

Here are a few tips

• First, forgive yourself. It’s happened and you need to let it go and move on.
• Secondly, look at your working environment. Is your desk a mess, with paper all over the place? Tidy up before you start, make sure you have a glass of water and that you’re comfortable.
• It might seem that everything is urgent or important, but the truth is, many things can be adjusted, or deadlines moved back. A good strategy to coping is something called The Eisenhower Matrix.

This is where you break down your tasks into Urgent/Important, Urgent/Less Important, Less Urgent/Important, and Less Urgent/Less Important. If you can categorise your tasks into these different areas, you can see where you need to focus your time and energy.
• One you have all your tasks categorised – take one of the tasks you hate and break it down into the steps you need to follow to complete it. Write it down.

Then break each step into a smaller task and give yourself a timeframe to complete it. Write it down! For example, you could set your alarm for immediately before lunch – when your alarm goes off, switch off all distractions and just do that first step. Then reward yourself with a nice lunch. Breaking a task down into more manageable chunks really helps you to concentrate and just get the job done. And you have a reward to look forward to.
• One of the most important things to remember to avoid procrastination is to remove distractions. For example, I work from a desktop. I know that if I leave Facebook on, I’ll see it flashing if I get a message. I can’t ignore it – I just can’t! I must open it – then I’m distracted and can easily lose an hour as I’ll start scrolling. The same applies to email or any other social media site. Switch off your distractions, so you can totally focus on the task in hand.
• For each task you decide to do, look at it and decide how long it’s going to take you. Give yourself a challenge, for example, I’m going to complete this task in 1 hour and 20 minutes. Then next time you must do this task, challenge yourself to knock off 10 minutes from that time. You’ll feel more of a sense of achievement if you deliver ‘on time’ – even if it’s your own set time!
• Think about what time of the day you are more effective. I know that I work better, harder, and more quickly in the morning. As soon as I stop and have lunch, I seem to relax and can find it hard to concentrate. So, I do the things that are the hardest, or that I hate doing most in the morning. I know I’m more likely to get it done before lunch than I am afterwards.

Conclusion

Procrastination can be a tough cookie to crumble, so be prepared. You will have the odd relapse, but it’s about learning to recognise the signs that procrastination is near. If you can learn to manage your procrastination, you will be able to reduce your stress, build your confidence and build your business.

If you need help to get your business organised, or don’t know where to start to sort out your priorities, drop me an email or message.

cindymobey@outlook.com or click here to send a message.

The Art of Persuasion

What is the art of persuasion? It is the ability to get others to see things as you see them, and it’s a key need for businesses of any size. From encouraging your customers to buy your products or services, to showing how your products or services are NEEDED by your target audience, the power of persuasion is key. And this is where marketing your business comes in.

I’ve recently read an article about Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, who wrote a book called ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’ in 1984. This feels like a long time ago now, but the ideas and principles he talks about in his book are even more relevant today, from a business perspective, than they were back then. In fact, the book and its principles has been hailed as crucial to marketing, especially around the area of converting people to customers. So, I thought I’d investigate this further, as I’d never heard of him.

Cialdini’s ‘6 principles of influence’ are:

  • Reciprocity
  • Commitment/consistency
  • Social proof
  • Authority
  • Liking
  • Scarcity

Do some of these sound familiar? Social media wasn’t a ‘thing’ back then, but we all know the term ‘social proof’ these days from our dealings with social media.

More than 30 years after publication, these six principles have been adapted to Internet Marketing, specifically around conversion rates. So, let’s dive in!

Reciprocity

This is about giving something to get a little something in return. According to Cialdini, this first principle of persuasion states that human beings are wired to return favours and pay back debts – to treat others as they’ve treated us. For example, if someone sends us a Christmas or Birthday card, we feel that we have to reciprocate – it’s almost a sense of social obligation.

But it is possible to use the desire to reciprocate to influence the behaviour of others. To do this, you need to give someone an unexpected gift – the value of the gift is unimportant, it’s about the act of giving. So, how does this work in business?

I’m not suggesting that you give all your customers a gift and expect something in return, it’s about the principle. For example, you have an email that you want people to sign up to – if you offer an incentive, some sort of gift or freebie, this will encourage them to sign up. If you write a regular blog and give really valuable information to your audience, when you put a call to action at the end asking them to sign up to your email, they are more likely to do so as they enjoy your blog and would like to hear from your more regularly.

Similarly, if you share consistent, regular, useful content, then when you launch a specific course, publish a book, or talk about your coaching, people are more likely to sign up.

Commitment

This is around people wanting their beliefs to be consistent with their values. For example, if someone thinks of themselves as a healthy, fit person, they are more likely to eat and do things that would be deemed as healthy.

So, from a business point of view, if you can convince potential customers to act a certain way, or think a certain way, they’ll be more likely to do that again in the future. For example, if you take cake into work for your co-workers and get a huge, positive response telling you how delicious it is, you’re likely to do that again – and eventually become known as the ‘cake baker.’

You can do this with business. I’ll use the email example again. If someone signs up to your email newsletter to get the freebie that you are offering, they will receive your weekly or monthly emails. Once they have signed up, they’ll likely start seeing themselves as customers and will eventually convert to a customer. All I would say about this is that it’s very important you don’t take advantage of them and manipulate the situation.

Consensus – Social Proof

This is evident on social media. It’s about feeling validated based on what other people are doing. We are all basically unsure of ourselves and identify with the people around us. If you work in an office and your co-workers offer to stay late to help with something urgent, it’s very likely that you’ll do the same.

If you see a restaurant advertised by a photo of their food photographed by one of your friends, with a caption saying how lovely it was – it’s extremely likely that you’ll want to try it too.

We humans are social by nature and generally feel the need to conform to the groups we belong to. This can also be used in business.

Here’s a great example. Hotel guests have the right to clean towels every day, but the cost of laundering is huge, so hotel owners would prefer it if their guests reused their towels. It has been found that a simple sign that says, ‘8 out of 10 hotel guests choose to reuse their towels’ is more effective and persuasive than a sign that says, ‘Reusing your towels helps the environment.’.

Authority

Generally speaking, it’s the tendency of humans to obey figures of authority – even if they’re not right. If someone wears a uniform, it’s even more likely we’ll accept what that person says – for example, police officer, Dr, nurse.

That’s why a lot of big brands bring in celebrities to advertise their products or services. Celebrities are influencers – they have an influence on the fans that follow them. And you’ll see toothpaste advertised by someone in a white coat pretending to be a dentist – but we don’t challenge that, we just accept it.

People who are authoritative, credible, and knowledgeable experts in their particular field are more influential and persuasive than those who are not. Cialdini recognised that the reason for this is that authority and credibility are some of the core building blocks of trust, so when we trust people we are more likely to follow them.

From a business perspective, building trust and credibility with your customers is crucial, but it’s also possible to build some of that authority and credibility through the recommendations of your satisfied customers. So, always a good idea to ask for a recommendation or review. And if you give them a recommendation, it’s very likely they’ll reciprocate and recommend you!

Do you see how that works?!

Liking

Does it really matter if you like someone or not? According to Cialdini, it affects the chances of you being influenced by that individual. It’s human nature that we’ll be much more likely to like people who pay us compliments, or like those who have similar interests to us.

This is something that marketing campaigns definitely take advantage of. The people they use in their ads are specifically chosen to appeal to their target market. The more the potential customer identifies with and likes the person, the more likely they are to be influenced by them.

To make this work in business, you simply need to be liked by those around you…networking helps with this, and we do it without even thinking about it. We see small businesses that we like and automatically pay compliments and start building relationships. But this does take time, you need to nurture and build those relationships before you can try to influence anyone.

I think out of all six powers of persuasion, this was the one that, once analysed, I was most surprised by! This is something most of us do in normal everyday lives.

Scarcity

Scarcity is about believing something is in short supply…so you want it more.

We’ve probably all been taken in by this one at some time or other. It’s that FOMO thing (fear of missing out). We’re more likely to buy something if we’re told it’s the ‘last one available’ or if a special deal is about to end soon.

Companies use this all the time. I’ve seen it most recently on a popular airline site. I was persuaded to buy my seat now, as the prices are likely to go up later – a kind of ‘lock into this price now’! It’s a great marketing ploy!

However, I would avoid doing this if it’s fake. Customers will see through you if you’re offering limited supplies or expiring discounts if you do this often.

Conclusion

These six principles that illustrate the art of persuasion can help us with small, practical, and even cost-free changes that can lead to big differences in our ability to influence and persuade others in an ethical way – so long as they are not abused!

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 four 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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