If you're a business owner and haven't tried some of these 5 tips... then you are missing out!
I caught up with a friend, James, last week who runs a 3 million dollar wholesale business and he was complaining about losing a key employee. I asked him why that was a problem and he explained what he thought would be the impact on sales. After listening to him and discussing his plans and concerns over the next hour, I asked him whether he would be interested in growing his sales by nearly 40% without discounting a cent. He smiled and told me I was dreaming. We went into his office for the next two hours and mapped out a way forward.
Of the 17 different ideas we came up with we agreed we could implement 12 over the next two months. I explained to James that many of the ideas may seem easy but that the secret was all in the implementation - hence why many businesses fail to follow through. Here are the 5 he found most compelling.
1. No Website, no Brand
With nearly 6% of all sales now online in Australia the website was no longer optional. I showed James how to make it the centre of his future sales strategy. It doesn't matter whether you sell to consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B) or only via referrals. Every business wants to sell more to existing customers and to find new customers. The website allows you to do both. Of course, the secret is the content you have on your website and how you use it. I showed James how I helped another business get to the first page of Google after only 4 weeks and spending no more than the cost of a few coffees a day.
2. Tell an online story - every week!
People hate being sold to, but they love a good story. We are all social creatures and we learn best through commentary, interaction and discussion. I showed James how to add a news section (sometimes called a blog) to his new website. Now, James was not good at writing but he loved to tell a story - especially how he had helped his customers with their business or his employees with their life objectives. We identified not only a way that James could produce a 4 paragraph story every week but also 12 different ways he could use it to keep customers loyal, sell more to existing clients and attract valuable PR and referral business.
3. LinkedIn is not just for recruiters
When I showed James the power of LinkedIn he was blown away. I showed him how I had setup 23 appointments for another business within their target market and how we had achieved four times more conversions than previously. James had tried cold calling, door knocking, competitions, incentives before. He had not realised that LinkedIn now allows you to connect with 4 million people in Australia alone. I did a quick analysis of his target market - 362 potential contacts who were decision-makers!
4. Facebook is not just for kids
James laughed when I asked him about Facebook. He hated it and said it was a waste of time. His friends had a Facebook company page and they had hardly got more than 40 likes on their page. Despite the 12 million Facebook users in Australia James felt it was the wrong market for him. I then showed him a competition I had run which had helped another B2B company increase their exposure and signup two new distribution channels representing at least a 15% increase in sales over the next 2 years. There were at least 53 different strategies we could implement via Facebook. Suddenly the light went on... Facebook is a channel, a means to an end. It's about leverage. It's about telling your story and letting others share and promote you.
5. Don't forget YouTube
When I asked James why he didn't video any of his services and products he laughed again. "You mean create a viral video?" I explained that would be great but unlikely in his business. After Google and Facebook, YouTube is the most popular online destination - one billion unique users per month. I showed James what some of his competitors had done with video. They had totally eliminated the need for brochures and handouts. I also showed James how to leverage other people's videos related to products that were sold by his customers. When he saw the online traffic and telephone calls that one competitor had generated he decided he needed to invest some more time in this area.
As a business owner you don't need to become an online or social media guru to leverage the huge engagement and sales potential for your business. You can start with small steps and some quick wins. You will need a good plan and some resilience. James felt he now had some options after losing a key employee - he saw it as an opportunity for some urgent change in his business.
Please let us know about your experiences with social media or digital strategies to grow your business.