I sell social media marketing services to small businesses and my main focus is to teach business owners how easy it is to do themselves. Not only does this approach save them a ton of money (I have them start with either WordPress or Blogger which are free and very user friendly) it also empowers them to see the potential of social media as a networking tool.
I see the frustration on their faces every day, the small business owners in my town (pop 15,000) are all in search of ways to get more business and rely heavily on the tourist dollar, yet they seem parylized by indecision, brought on I suspect from information overload.
They are afraid to make a move because it might be the wrong one, or they are just plain afraid of change. They cover up their apprehension by asserting there is nothing a blog, Twitter or a Facebook could do for their business, that stuff is for kids!
They need to be able to take action and do something and it’s the job of the social media marketer to make them more comfortable with their choices and get started. I too have a shop here in town, we sell unique gift items and souvenirs, plus we offer a home movie to DVD transfer service.
I may be a unique animal when it comes to understanding the power of social media since I have been blogging for almost 5 years but it only makes sense to me that if someone like Google offers you the tools for free, you really need to take advantage. You really don’t have to be an expert to place your business in the crosshairs of social media and realize the potential.
Every seminar on blogging, social media and do-it-yourself website building has been well attended here but the expression on their faces as they leave tell the real story. They have a “what do we do now?” look on their face as they exit the seminar, more confused than when they arrived! I suspect that this is the case because no one has yet been able to explain in plain language just how easy it can be to get started. I know this because I do exit polls!
My method is to lead them gently into the realm of social media, explain how they must narrow their focus, forget about the giant monster that the Internet has become and focus only on one itty bitty piece of it that will benefit their business the most, without having to spend a lot of time doing it.
Work smarter, not harder. Then we talk about specifics, what it is that their business needs, then figure out a way to get it. I am always upbeat and positive and am careful not to be critical, even if they are the most obstinate unbeliever!
So here (in order of importance) are my top 10 ways of approaching a reluctant business owner with social media marketing ideas for the purpose of getting them to hire me to teach them. This may seem like a lot to do just to gain a customer but I can assure you that it pays off, almost every time!
#1 Forget everything you ever knew or were told about social media. It can be whatever you want it to be on a personal level but in business it’s all about ways to gain prospects, no different than any other form of networking, just think bigger numbers. Demonstrate all the reasons why any business can use a blog and use specifics when telling them how it can benefit them.
#2 If the business owner has a Google account build them a blog on the spot, a Blogspot to be exact! Everthing you demonstrate from that point forward has their business name all over it and it seems to make a huge difference in their understanding of the process.
#3 Don’t be a showoff and use social media buzz words, terms they don’t need to know about right now, words such as Web 2.0, aggregation, asyncronous, permalinks, hashtags and others, you will lose them in a heartbeat. Using the K.I.S.S. principle (keep it simple, stupid) when faced with a newbie is something to keep in mind.
#4 Assure them that there are plenty of things about their business that a potential or existing customer would be interested in hearing about. And at the same time re-assure them they don’t have to write like John Grisham nor do they need to post every day. My philosophy about posting is quality over quantity and I practice it with my own blogs.
#5 Get them involved in the fun aspects of blogging. Introduce them to a few simple gadgets, while they watch, upload some of their photos or videos in a test post and amaze them with the ease of which they can do this themselves. Most people already know how to attach a photo to an email and this is just as easy!
#6 Demonstrate to your customer how they can help increase their traffic with simple keyword research using Google’s free Keyword Tool. It’s a very effective way to show them what people are searching for so that when they decide on a post topic they can keyword load their article as it pertains to their subject. In other words, write about what people are searching for.
#7 Go to Twitter and create an account together. Try to get a name that matches their business name or as close as you can get, and then dress it up a bit to look as much like your blog as you can with color matching, images, etc. Show them how to set up a feed from their new Twitter account to their new blog and watch their face as their tweets show up on the blog. Show them how to use the Twitter Goodies tab which avoids the use of code and show them how to follow and get followed by people that are relevant to their business. Do not go beyond Twitter at this time, Twitter can teach a person micro-blogging tecniques and will also get them comfortable with it as a networking tool for their business, without all the confusion of a Facebook.
#8 Once there is some content on the blog and a couple of gadgets, show them how they can play with template styles and different layouts, fonts and colors. Try to choose templates with customizable headers so that they can use a picture of their business location as a header.
#9 Explain about how commenting to posts on other blogs, relevant to their business can benefit them with backlinks and do follow link juice, stuff that will help grow their pagerank and bring more people to their site. Show them how to set up a blog reader with their favorite blogs so that they can read about what the competition is doing and start with just a couple. Then explain how joining a forum might benefit them.
#10 After it’s all set up and working like a well-oiled machine explain how you are going to support them when they forget everything you just taught them! In a small town like mine it’s easy to drop by and help with a problem or to quickly get back to them with an email. Assure them of your continued support and encourage them to experiment once they get comfortable with the blog itself. Tell them it’s impossible to make a mistake or blow up their computer. I usually start out with a two-hour session which is used to create a blog and Twitter account, I then assign them homework, usually a post or two with images, then I come back for an hour a week for the next three weeks or until they are happy bloggers!
Do you have any tips to add?