Updated: Mar 18
Social media can be amazing for relationship building.
It's ideal for small business owners who often have time but not budget to put into marketing. Using the free features available on each social media platform can generate leads and awareness.
However there are also some drawbacks to be aware of.
- A social media tool that you spend time and potentially money developing audience with, can be taken away from you at any time by the platform. This is actually written into the agreement you sign when you become a user of their platform. You don't own your audience, the platform does.
- Social media changes a lot. The speed that new features are rolled out means you can feel you are being left behind if you don't have hours to spend learning them.
- Audiences move around. A new tool hits the market, the audience follows it. This can leave you with whiplash trying to decide where to focus next.
I've worked in marketing for a long time. I started in my first marketing role in 2001 when the internet was a lot less connected, and social media and apps didn't exist. Digital marketing is amazing and you have to embrace it, but there are other ways to grow your business, drive leads and build relationships.
I was invited to take part in an Instagram live chat by Yolanda Sissing owner of Pinkleaf Social to discuss what else business owners can do to engage with their customers, outside of social media.
The following are 7 ways to market your business outside of social media as discussed by Yolanda and I which you can watch here as a video if you prefer.
7 Marketing Ideas That Aren't Social Media
Email Marketing It's very simple to set up a mailing list. You can use any provider. One example is mailchimp you're not charged for use or sending emails until you have 2,000 emails on your list. Once you've chosen an email marketing provider, it's a good idea to decide how you're going to get people to join your list. One easy strategy is to create something of value for your customer. This is often called a lead magnet. Examples might include a PDF with useful information. A link to a webinar. Some people might write a short book that they can send. Be sure to include a sign up link to your mailing list on the front page of your website and your social media bio links. Now your list is set up, you have a way to drive sign ups all you need to do is pick a date each month or week, that you will send your subscribers an email. Don't feel like you are bothering people when you email them. Provided you are not sending emails all day every day then assume they want to hear from you. There is absolutely no point growing a list you never use. Emails are great because they will always land somewhere in a persons inbox, which means you are already ahead in the chances they see you and start to build trust.
Networking Networking has a bad reputation for being old fashioned and corporate. But most networking events for small business owners can be fun and relaxed. No need to go wearing a suit, and please don't thrust your card in someones hand and walk away. The best strategy for networking is to go regularly to the same group/s. Take the time to get to know the other participants on a human level. The basic format for most is, go along, buy a drink, sit around a table, introduce yourself, maybe listen to an interesting business related talk, mingle a bit, go home! If it is online which many events are because of Covid 19, then it will be this but on a screen. Over time, networking can lead to many successful referrals. Think about it a moment, the last time you paid for a product or service, good reviews either written or verbal probably played a huge part. We all feel safer with a referral.
Referral networks One of the simplest marketing strategies ever is to team up with people who are similar to you in business type, but different enough for there to be no competition. For example, if you are a nail technician, why not find a hairdresser and a massage therapist to team up with on your marketing. People who want to get their nails done, may also enjoy a massage and a hair appointment. Each business commits to referring their customers to the next business. This costs each business nothing, but drives a lot of custom. Another way to follow this tip is by creating a formal system where each business receives 10% of the cost of a referral. Make sure you are confident in the people you ask to work with you. Personally I would only ever refer a business owner I had used myself, or could clearly see how they worked. Otherwise it could backfire on you.
Pinterest Ok, this tip is a little bit cheeky given the brief for this blog. Pinterest is known as a search and social tool, so I am including it on that basis. A lot of people don't use Pinterest at all, yet it's an incredible source of referrals and sales. If you blog regularly for your business, creating pins will drive traffic back to your website. If you sell products, you can sell them direct on Pinterest and have a great chance of making a sale. It's known to be a place where people are highly motivated to buy. So why not set up your page and get started? Canva has templates for Pinterest optimised for size.
SEO If you have a website working on SEO should be a regular on your to-do list. There are several ways people can find your website; 1) Direct - They know your brand name and type it into a search or URL. 2) Search - They open a Google page and type in, Florists near me, for example. 3) Social media - They find your profile and click through. There is also paying to be found, which means using Google Ads. I won't go into that now as this is more about organic SEO. To give yourself the best chance to be found, you need to make sure your site loads fast so take a look at image sizes on your site as a first step if the load speed is slow. You need enough pages on your website to explain what each of your products or services is. All of this helps Google to crawl your site and pull the right information into search results. You need to look at the language you use on your site, to ensure that Google understands what your business is, and so helps you to rank on that term. SEO is not an easy thing to improve overnight without spending lots of money, so take the view that little and often is best when it comes to updating your site.
Google Business One of the best ways to stand out for free on Google is to create a Google Business listing. If you are a business with a physical location then it's even more important to have one. Your Google Business profile will; - Place you on a map - Provide a place to gather customer reviews - Give you a place to upload offers/photos of your business, for your customers If you are a service business and you work from home and do not want people to know your exact address, you can simply set your address to area only, which is what I do.
Do you listen to podcasts? Even if you don't, a lot of people do. In recent years the number of podcasts has exploded. There are podcasts on every possible subject and topic.
As a business owner looking for leads being a guest on a podcast can be amazing for introducing you to a new audience via your host.
Depending on what you do some of the list on my press page might be useful leads for you as well.
I hope this blog has provided you with seven ways to market to your customers that don't involve social media. Having a successful social media strategy is very important, but so is investing time to build up your own, 'owned' media, which includes website, blogs, mailing list and spending time on your SEO and PR profile.
As a final point, many marketing people agree that it takes someone seven 'marketing touches' to get from hearing about you to buying from you. Why not try the seven tips above and see what happens.
Has this been useful? I hope so! Let me know by leaving a comment below or Tweet me @shonamarketing
Thanks for reading
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For even more low cost marketing ideas why not buy my book?
If you would like even more low cost marketing ideas I wrote a book. 100 Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners. Check it out here
Shona Chambers Marketing is a Marketing Consultancy based in SE London.
Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing.