When is the last time you took a moment to reflect on your business? Is your marketing, lead generation and sales all a bunch of guess work?
I gave a speaking engagement several days ago at the Philadelphia Free Library in partnership with SCORE and Constant Contact. During this presentation I went over how to build a social media strategy. I didn’t provide many answers, but instead provided a variety of questions.
I’d like to use my own experience as an example in this post. I hope you find it helpful.
How Do I Close Business?
I spend a good portion of my time “giving away relevant information for free,” a phrase that a friend of mine Dave Yunghans of Constant Contact is quite fond of. It’s been part of my business strategy since before I had my own company, back when all I had was this blog where I was “generously donating my ideas and opinions…you’re welcome.”
I did this because people tend to want to do business with people that they like and trust, and there isn’t a much better way to be likable and trustworthy that giving away your product for free.
The truth of the matter is that these thoughts, perspectives and ideas are “my product.” However, when your “product” is knowledge–industry or technology specific insights–there is always more to learn, so no matter how much of your “product” you give away, some people will still likely hire you. As an example, someone could show me how to put up dry wall, I still never would, I’d hire it out.
MY pathway to closing sale is to showcase knowledge and expertise about Social Media either in-person or online, form the basis of a relationship through a conversation (either in-person or online), meet in-person, be likable, reinforce knowledge and–if it’s a good fit–send a proposal.
I know this, I have studied this, I have looked at how I make money. This is my process. I convert in-person, rather than from behind the computer screen, but my ability to convert is greatly supported by my online activities.
What is your process? How do YOU close business? Does your activity support the reality of how you make money?
Understanding who my audience actually is.
For a while, I was really concerned with the Social Media “thought-leaders” liking my blog. I wanted the BIG names to follow me, to converse with me and to respect me. I wanted cred amongst my industry peers. While all of that is still somewhat important, it’s not what keeps the lights on. In fact, most would respect my blog much more for being honest about who my real targets are. The truth is, no Social Media Marketing big shot is going to hire me, and once I figured out that, along with my desire to work for myself, I realized who my audience actually is.
- My audience is the C-suite executive that knows they need social but want someone to just “take care of it.”
- My audience is the small business owner who may not have the budget to afford to hire me, but will tell everyone they know about me.
- My audience is the up and coming social media all-stars that are looking for a role model in the industry.
- My audience are my friends and family, looking to get a little bit better understanding of this changing world of technology.
- My audience is the traditional Marketer or PR pro that is having a hard time getting a grasp on these new consumer behaviors.
My audience expects me to speak to them, not at them. They want me to provide them with something useful, actionable and understandable. The newest, hottest trend in social, the geeky snippets of code, and the most recent subtle changes to Facebook or Twitter are too advanced for most and leave them feeling less empowered rather than more capable.
I bring this up because as I speak with small business owners and large companies alike, they are often focused on the wrong people and the wrong message. They don’t know who they are writing for or creating content for. They are often walking blindly, or being led around by their egos, instead of planning, listening and acting accordingly.
Who is your actual audience?
Sit down and think about your business. Make sure that what you are doing is a match for who your people are, what your resources are, who your customer are, etc.
- What isn’t working in my business?
- Who am I trying to reach?
- What is valuable to my audience?
- Where is my audience spending time online?
- Are my websites telling the right story?
- Am I clearly guiding people through the process?
All of these questions are good starting points. If nothing else, I want these questions to get you thinking. It’s often not what you do…it’s why you do it. Go back to basics and make sure that what you are doing is in line with why you are doing it. If why you are doing it is to make money, this is even more important.