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So 2017 is coming to a close and I thought I would share my 3 key observations from the online business world over the last year. I also look forward with 3 of my online marketing recommendations for 2018.
Observation #1: The amount of B… S... out there grows!
The online world is a very strange place. The number of people making claims about their business success or the ‘magic marketing strategy’ they have discovered and will share with you for the once in a lifetime chance, low price of only ... $5,000 etc etc. seems to be ballooning even further.
My advice - spend your money wisely.
There are no magic formulas or strategies. You can get value for money from marketing & ‘business advisors’, but on the flip side there are many out there charging silly prices and you won’t get much in return. Don't get sucked in!
Try and seek out personal recommendations. If this is not possible really do your homework and take a sense check on what you are being offered and what you are going to get - If someone is charging you over $100 / per hour they better be damn good.
Observation #2: Beware! Facebook poachers prowl both free and paid groups
Free Facebook Groups are saturated. Yet, people are still teaching and selling courses about how to get clients from their Free Facebook Groups and more and more people are creating their own Facebook Groups that are EXACTLY the same as others already out there.
I was astonished that some people even teach how to poach clients from other people’s (AKA their competitors) Facebook groups. I thought wow that's desperate!
That’s why you might find that the free Facebook groups you join are becoming super spammy with self-promotion.
I have also noticed similar things happening even in the paid groups that I have joined!
There’s nothing wrong with getting clients from Facebook groups if they need your help and require your services. But to join online programs just to get access to these Facebook groups so they can get clients? That put me right off.
My advice - If you run a Facebook group either free or paid, be vigilant!
Make your rules clear and if you find anyone breaking them kick them out. Your group represents your business and brand. Defend them!
Observation #3: Facebook is changing. Facebook ads are changing. You need to adapt.
Facebook’s organic reach is declining, especially for the newer Facebook business pages and for those who don’t want to or can't spend much money on FB ads. This has pushed people into paying for ads and as a result, Facebook has become saturated with ads from those looking to compete. It’s an arms race that most of us cannot win!
Facebook is also encouraging and prioritising videos. But again, this has created more people doing livestreams… and yeah you guessed it... it’s harder to stand out from other businesses because there are just too many livestreams being created.
My advice - if you have taken to livestreaming make sure you know your audience, be creative and ensure you standout from the crowd (sometime easier said than done).
Be yourself - people will see if your trying too hard! Try and use the best quality camera / location you can and rehearse your broadcast - sure we didn’t all go to stage school - but a little practice is time well spent.
If you are reading this, I’m sure you are not the type of person who wants to mislead their potential clients or who spends time stalking potential clients in other peoples FB groups. If you are like me and want to learn some genuine and ethical marketing strategies to grow your business then read on for some of my thoughts & ideas.
So, what should we do to stand out in this crowded, saturated market and grow our online business in 2018?
My three top marketing tips for 2018
#1 Share your client’s success story (instead of telling your own)
People are cleverer than you think. Bragging about your own success and telling your story will not necessarily convince your potential clients. People need to know you are good at what you do and yes you should say something about who you are and what you believe in - just don’t labor the point!
They want to know whether you and your business can deliver. This is the same whether you offer a service or a physical product. The only way to do this is to share your client’s success stories - the direct results they got from working with you or using your product.
Todd Herman from the ‘90 Day Year’ demonstrated a clever way of showcasing case studies of his students in the program, by inviting them to his Facebook live - which lasted hours. This is genius as his audience can tune in and ask his students questions llive and get instant answers!
If this is too much of a jump for you, you can ask your clients to record a video testimonial, or you can do an interview style video with you asking questions to your clients. Videos are much more powerful than a written testimonial.
For some niches, it’s harder to get a video testimonial if your clients don’t want to make a public appearance. If that’s the case, tell the story of your client’s journey either you talking in the video or in written format.
Get creative and have fun with it!
#2 Use less automation - the personal touch gets feedback that matters
People love automation in the online business world. I love automation to, but too much automation loses that personal interaction with your audience / potential clients.
At time of writing this blog post, I’m in process of planning my content for the first quarter of 2018. I used to use online survey forms to research content ideas. Asking my audience what they wanted to learn about. This time, I personally got in touch with my past clients and a handful of my audience who have previously engaged with me and asked them what topics they wanted more info or advice on. As a result, I have more than 3 months of worth of content ideas to get me going in 2018!
Another thing you could try is to send a personal email (not an automated email using your email marketing software), after people subscribed to your mail list. This is something I’d like to try next year.
This sort of information will put you directly in touch with your target audiences’ current issues - allowing you to provide great, relevant content for your current and new subscribers.
#3 Get physical! It's time to network
Now this might sound odd coming from a web designer / online devotee - but the personal connections you make on a day to day basis are one of the best ways to gain new business.
I must admit that this can be challenging, especially if you have a small social group, or offer such a niche service that the online route seems the only way to go. I feel that most online entrepreneurs (myself included) often neglect the physical world and this year I for one am doing something about it!
A few weeks ago I joined a tech focused co-working space in Wimbledon, London. It’s early days, but at the moment I’m loving meeting new, like minded people and starting to make connections who could lead who know where...
I also recently met up with a few of my London based clients which was awesome! I would also love to work with some more local businesses and people - there is a real buzz of meeting in person and building relationships that can be difficult over email & Skype.
Whenever you meet new people this is a potential opportunity, but rather than trying to sell yourself immediately ask them lots of questions - most people love talking about themselves. Listen. Slip what you do into the conversation, but don’t push it. As an entrepreneur you need to tread a careful line - nobody wants to be given a sales pitch but on the flip side you can't be too shy about what you do!
I will let you know how I get on later in the year - but I recommend getting out there in your local community and exploring what opportunities may be waiting in unexpected places.
NOW IT'S YOUR TURN TO PLAN YOUR 2018!
Whether you’re just starting out or a few months into running your own business, creating a solid foundation of your business should be your main focus.
If you haven’t yet created a business plan for your business, now is the time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out, or a year into your business. You should be reviewing your business plan every 6 months!
Creating a business plan will help you gain clarity, challenge and validate your business ideas, define your goals and clearly set out how you are to achieve them.
To help you with this process I have created a business plan workbook that you can follow.
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE BUSINESS PLAN WORKBOOK TODAY!