How to market your business in 2018
This is one of my favourite topics and it’s a question I’ve been asking and exploring for over eight years: how do you market your business to make a living doing what you love?
Do I need a Facebook group? What about videos? Should I be using Instagram? How do I get my photos? Where do I even begin?
In this blog, I’m going to answer all of those questions and share with you four very specific techniques you can use to marketing your business in 2018.
Below, I’ve outlined four specific techniques and within each technique I’ll share with you my top tips: things I did get three six figure businesses off the ground and how those marketing ideas have panned out to reach real scale in my businesses.
The key is to provide a transformation
Before I get into the four techniques, I want to share an important idea with you which underpins everything you do when marketing your business, particularly in 2018.
Now I know that traditionally, marketing is summed up as the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. But what the heck does that even mean?! I mean seriously!
For me, to market your business in 2018 you must do one key thing and do it well: deliver a transformative experience for your customer that helps them (1) get closer the outcome you offer and (2) decide whether or not to invest in your offering. By this I mean you must give them an experience of what you can do for them. Don’t just tell them about it, help them experience it so they really know what you can do and whether you’re the right person for the job!
Now to make this work you need two things: (1) A product or service they can buy; and, (2) A mini version or sample that gives them results on a smaller scale.
One of the biggest traps people fall into here is that they spend all their time worrying about how they will market their business but their offering doesn’t even exist! For example: there online course isn’t finished yet or they don’t have their coaching contracts ready or they don’t know how to raise an invoice if someone says ‘yes, let’s go’.
The question in this blog is ‘how to market your business‘ and a business is built on selling a product or service that improves people’s lives. Well, there’s a little more to it than that but that’s the crux of it.
So the first thing you must do, before getting into Facebook ads and trying to rank on Google for key terms is to ask: what value do I offer my customers and how can they buy that value from me? You’ll need:
- A completed product or service people can buy;
- A way to purchase it, right through to issuing the contract and receipt (or the refund – it happens);
- A way to distribute it; and,
- A way to deliver on what you’ve promised.
Without those things, you can’t effectively market your business. You’re just marketing an idea. Plus, in my experience, you won’t go all the way and do what needs to be done because in the back of your mind you’ll know you’re not quite ready.
So if this is you, do not worry at all! I would not be surprised if 80% of the people reading this blog were in a similar place – they’ve got a great idea but their offering isn’t quite ready to go. And so here’s my first challenge to you…get busy building your offering.
Get some blank paper, shut off your emails and start mapping out your ideas in full. For the next month, spend 60% of your free time developing you idea, writing it up, adding it to your web site, filming the videos, preparing your contracts. Set the price, write out what happens when someone signs up, think about how you’ll present it or deliver it – online, in the post, in person? Get it ready to go in full so when someone buys it you can say “Fab, here you!”.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be perfect! I’m launching Cohort 6 of my online course in March and there is a lot more I want to add to it this time around but when people signed up in October last year, the course was ready and the welcome boxes were piled up ready to go. My impetus wasn’t therefore building the course but getting it in front of the right people so I could ship out those boxes! It was really fun.
(For full disclosure – the first time I launched my course in 2016, it wasn’t ready – I built it as a sold it but that was really stressful! It’s a good way to ‘way the necessity’ and get it done but it was nowhere near as fun yikes…and the bags under my eyes were pretty bad oops.)
So, once you have this nailed, you’re ready to market your business:
(1) BUILD A COMMUNITY TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS
We’ve seen huge changes in recent years when it comes to marketing a business, especially online. I can’t be the only one fed up of meaningless Facebook ads: “Here’s how I scaled to £100,000 in 3 months”, “Secure your first £10,000 client in 30 days”.
If it’s too good be true, it is.
Ads like this on Facebook are damaging the whole small business community and the value of ads overall – we’re all so tired of them now that fewer and fewer people are going on Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg has had to change his entire approach. And guess what he’s shifting to: community driven content. Content that builds connections. Content that helps people feel good. Like the “Here’s what you were doing this time last year” posts we see. How lovely is it to see a memory from a year ago and share it with the friend in that memory. It strengthens connections, it feels good. And we like it!
Here’s an extract of Mark Zuckerberg said on 12th January 2018:
We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.
But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.
We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.
As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.
I think this approach is meaningful on every platform, in all interactions and here’s the key: when thinking about marketing your business in 2018, don’t think about selling to people. I know this sounds odd but bear with me. Think instead about building a community. Help people feel good. Help them build connections. Create a safe space for people to have a mini transformation.
So how do you do this? Well there are lots of options and in my experience it’s best to be decisive and pick one or two and really focus on making that community epic!
For me, my Facebook page is my biggest community and I post new and inspiring content on there every day. It’s a mix of vlogs, mini videos, blogs posts, quotes, little thoughtful insights on particular topics. And when people comment, I make sure I comment back and find out more about them as individuals. I encourage as much interaction as possible because I know that everyone liking and following that page has similar questions.
When one person is brave enough to comment or ask a question, they’re really doing it on behalf of hundreds of people who share that question or feel the same. The DARETOGROW Facebook page is a safe space to think about changing your life and launching a business to make a living doing what you love.
When I asked people what made the page so great or why they love DARETOGROW they all say something very similar. It’s to do with how much of my own journey I share. Because I’m willing to share the truth of my journey, people are willing to share the truth of their journey. And because they get to meet likeminded people on their journey.
More and more, I’m considering the idea of an actual group on Facebook to help strengthen this incredible community but when I launch it, I want to do it justice. Watch this space…it will be coming soon and I’ll announce it on my mailing list – the Hump Day Hoorah!
How to build a community:
So what kind of community would you love to build? What kind of community would you love to be part of? There are lots of ways to build a community. You could set up a Facebook page and encourage interaction. You could introduce a hashtag on Twitter or Instagram and encourage everyone to post questions or share their ideas at a certain time each week. You could put on a monthly event to bring likeminded people together.
Really, a community only needs a regular meeting place (and this can be online), a theme and an organiser.
Let’s say you’re a Reiki teacher who helps women reduce stress and tension and start to heal something in their lives. You might put on a monthly coffee morning welcoming women to come and meet likeminded women and you could provide a demonstration each month or share a talk on new healing techniques they could explore. If you talk about your passion for Reiki in your general posts, you’re going to attract women who are interested in Reiki.
Let’s say you’re a fitness coach who helps women lose weight. You could start hosting a free weekly dance class on your Facebook page or in a group. You do it live and encourage women to tag a friend and tune in at 8am every Sunday.
Let’s say you’re a mindfulness teacher who focuses on building mindfulness in children. You could host a parent and child coffee morning each month. The parent pays £10 to attend with their children and they get coffee and cake whilst you share some new techniques or lead a session where everyone can learn a new technique.
Let’s say you’re a business coach or a marketing coach. You might run a weekly networking session online using a Hashtag to bring everyone together, like #northeasthour which runs weekly on Twitter.
The key is to introduce a way to build a new community and make it a mini version of what you offer. This way, you get to meet more people, you get to practice your skills and you position yourself as an expert in that space. When someone needs your service, who do you think will come to mind?
Interaction not followers
Building a community takes time and if you’re a start up business I wouldn’t recommend spending lots of money on it in the beginning. You can’t cheat the process with money on ads, just as you can’t cheat the process of making friends in real life.
I mean how long does it take to make a friend in real life? Keep that in mind when trying to build relationships in your community. You’ve got to put in the time and turn up.
So take your time and do as much as you can for free. Invite friends. Share the news on social media. Spend a small amount on Facebook ads to invite people into the community – talk about the benefits and share some of things happening in that community. Do you see – you’re not trying to sell anything or push people through a free course so you can get them onto the paid course. You’re trying to set up an environment where people can experience a mini transformation with you and others. And when they time’s right, they might just invest in your fuller offering. But that’s not the only point of the community.
It’s taken me two years to build up my community on Facebook and I’m starting to build up a community on my YouTube channel. I don’t have tens of thousands of followers but if you look at the interaction I get on my posts, a lot of it surpasses the interaction people with twice as many followers gets. This is because I’m focusing on community, not likes.
So don’t obsess over followers. Spend as much time as you can looking after the people you have in your community. Give them as much value as you can. When you deliver a mini transformation for them, they will spread the word by telling friends and talking about what they got from you.
I see this so many times: people quit because they only get 10 likes or 3 people on their course or 50 views on their videos. The only way to grow your community is to deliver an incredible experience to the people you have. And turn up consistently for them and their transformation.
So, how can you do to build a community in the next month?
(2) INTRODUCE A CHALLENGE TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS
Oooh this is my favourite part of building a community. Introduce a challenge to raise the bar for people, to help them focus their learning and to get people focused on a similar goal. The perfect example of late has been ‘Veganuary’ – an online movement to help more people go vegan. Have you seen it in your news feeds or heard people talking about it this month?
This one is really important to me and my whole brand is built around it. DARETOGROW and Change Your Life – the very name is a challenge because I’m constantly challenging people to ‘grow’ in order to change their lives. This might mean learning a new skill or taking a punt on their passions or launching a vlog or blog to start sharing their ideas.
A challenge gets people excited and focused and it gives people something to focus on.
If you’re a meditation teach for example, could you share a video teaching people the basics of meditation and challenge them to meditate for 10 minutes every day for a week and share their experiences in the community?
If you’re a sports trainer or fitness coach, could you set a one month movement challenge and encourage people to walk 10,000 steps a day or walk to work one day and share a selfie in the group when they do?
If you’re a dog trainer, can you challenge people to teach their dog a new trick (and show them how to do it) and post a video once they’ve mastered it? You could share a new trick a month on a YouTube channel so people keep coming back.
There are so many great things you can do. And can you see how running a challenge like this will help people see and remember what you do far more than any one Facebook ad or random Tweet?
So, what challenge can you introduce in the next month to create a mini transformation in someone?
(3) GIVE AWAY THE GOOD STUFF TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS
One of the biggest drives of my success over all the years of being in business is that I’ve never been afraid to give away my best stuff, my best ideas, my best content.
When I was building a graduate recruitment company, I launched a free download for HR Managers called ‘How to build a graduate scheme’. It explained all the scheme models and explained step by step how to set them up and what to watch for. We got to page one on Google for it quickly and when HR Managers downloaded it, it showed them how to do it annnnddd just how much we knew. When they saw what was involved, they called us to see if we could support them. Through this approach, we won 7 figures FTSE 250 companies and it was because I wasn’t afraid to give away my best content. That business doubled in size in 12 months.
When I was building a marketing agency I launched a free event series in the North East called Fresh Air Networking. I invited small business owners to come and network, whilst enjoying tea and coffee. And I stood up and delivered talks on how to grow your business or use a specific tool such as Google Analytics.
Sometimes we filmed the events and shared the clips and sometimes I typed up the key points and shared a worksheet via the web site. It wasn’t long before we were top of Google for marketing agencies in the North East and the calls started coming in. When new companies saw we were putting on these events, it only helped to bolster our credibility – we were innovators in that space; doing something new and, well, fresh! They wanted a forward thinking company that was putting their money where their mouth was.
Plus, when the attendees needed help with their marketing strategy, who do you think they called? We worked with a huge range of seven figure businesses and new people contacted us every month because of this approach. That business tripled in size for three years.
My point is don’t be afraid to give away your best stuff! Tools, ideas, insights, demonstrations. People won’t take it and run. They’ll take it ask “Wow, what else does she do” and “Wow, can you imagine what’s in the online course if she gives this away for free?!”.
Plus, when people pay to work with you, it’s not just for your strategies and ideas. They’re paying for the additional support, your specific insights into their unique challenge and the supportive environment they need to make the change or achieve the result.
So what can you give away in the next month to share your expertise and create a mini transformation in someone?
(4) ALWAYS PROVIDE A NEXT LOGICAL STEP TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS
Whenever you share your ideas and energy with your community, make sure there is always a logical next step they can take to work with you.
In my experience, 10% of the people I work with and meet through my community go on to work with me and by that I mean they either join Make Your Move (my online course) or they sign up as a 121 coach.
For those 10% of people there has to be a way for them to move ahead with the journey: a next step.
For example, when you share a fantastic blog, you might include links to join your mailing list. At the bottom of all my recent blogs you’ll see this ‘next logical step’. If you share a video, you might invite them to subscribe to your channel. If you watch any of my videos on YouTube to the end you’ll see this invitation pop up. You might even invite them to join a waiting list for your online course. Have you noticed this in the sidebar of this blog?
The point is that not everyone will want to work with you one on one. Maybe they can’t afford it. Maybe it’s not the right time. But if you stay present and provide the next logical step at every (relevant) opportunity, the right people will come through.
I’ve had people reaching out to me saying “Lisa, you won’t remember but we met four years ago and something you said changed my life. I’m so glad you’ve introduced the vlogs! Keep up the good work!” And some of the people who join my online course messaged me to say “I’ve been following you for years!”. But I’ve never seen them like or comment so I didn’t even know they were in the community. Imagine if I’d have given up or stopped because I only had 100 likes or 50 subscribers. That would be tragic.
So, when you share content, what’s the next logical step to working with you?
The key now is to take action. What do you need to do first? Come up with your brand name, build your offering or start marketing your business? Whatever it is, don’t leave it up to chance. Block out the time in your diary now and honour that time like it was an important client meeting. Do the work, commit for the long haul and the results will come.
Of course, there is nothing to stop you building your community now even if you don’t have your product or service. That can come in time. The key is to understand this process and only expect results if you always have a next logical step for your customers.