Let’s talk about how to grow your business without working for free.
Having done this numerous times myself, I understand the struggle you feel between desperately wanting to get your name out there and the need to generate income… like, yesterday.
I remember when I started my first business back in 2012. I had spent so much time creating a business plan, thinking about my service offerings, designing my website and setting up my social media pages.
As a brand new (and somewhat naïve) business owner, I was convinced that as soon as launch day hit and I pressed publish on my website and social media pages, the inquiries would start flooding in.
It is only now after many lessons, experiences, challenges and let’s be honest, lots of emotional moments, that I realise how silly that sounds…
The old theory of ‘build it and they will come’ simply does not apply anymore.
And to be honest, I’m glad it doesn’t. If it was that easy, the feeling of accomplishment wouldn’t be as great. The need to grow and step outside of our comfort zones wouldn’t be required.
In fact, establishing a business is much like building a house. The website and social media pages only make up the concrete foundation…
So, how do you get your name out there?
As new business owners, we often think that the only way to establish credibility is to work for free.
Why would someone be willing to pay for our services when we have no “real world” experience, right?
There are alternatives to working for free which will allow you to establish a level of trust and credibility with your audience.
Let’s talk about how to grow your business.
1. Define your niche
One of the most important things that you can do as a new business owner, is to identify exactly who you are marketing to.
For example, let’s look at a wedding planning business. Your first thought may be, ‘oh that’s easy, I’m marketing to brides and engaged couples’.
However, you need to get even more specific. What type of bride are you trying to attract? The budget bride? The high-end bride? Brides, who want a destination wedding in a particular part of the world?
Before you even start getting carried away with blog posts, social media posts, etc. make sure you know who your audience is. The more specific you can be, the better.
If a potential customer lands on your website and there is either too much information to consume or the information that you do have is too general, they will head straight for the exit button.
2. Understand the problems you are solving
This point is closely related to the previous one. The problems you are solving for your customers need to be clearly identifiable throughout your website and in your social media posts.
Your ideal clients will connect with your business on an emotional level, before they connect on a logical level. For this reason, it is critical for you to be able to accurately describe their current situation (their dread situation) and clearly explain how you can help them to reach their dream situation, in relation to your product or service.
They want to know that you understand exactly how they are feeling. In turn, this allows them to determine whether you are the best person to help them achieve their desired outcome.
3. Create a lead magnet for your audience to download
The buying behaviours of customers have changed. Building connection and establishing trust is should be your first priority before discussing anything to do with the sale.
So how do you do that exactly?
Through establishing yourself as an expert in your field. You need to provide value to your customers BEFORE the potential of a sale has ever been mentioned. You need to be able to demonstrate that you have the knowledge and skills that will be useful to them.
A lead magnet is one way in which you can do this. A lead magnet is usually a free download that you provide to your audience in exchange for their email address.
Keep it short and simple – consumable in under 5 minutes ideally.
4. Use Video Marketing
Just like building a connection and establishing trust with your clients, so is the need to humanise your brand.
Video marketing allows your audience to experience what you look like, what you sound like, your personality and so on – it gives them a taste of what it would be like to work with you before signing on the dotted line.
This in itself, reduces the risk associated with hiring someone unfamiliar to them.
5. Up Your Social Media Game
Another way to market your business is through the use of a social media content schedule. Making sure you are consistently showing up wherever your ideal clients are (without bombarding or suffocating them in the process) is essential if you want to stay front of mind. Consistency is key.
Utilising tools such as Tailwind (for Pinterest and Instagram) and the Facebook scheduler, will allow you to create content ahead of time and maximise your reach.
6. Start a Facebook Group
Facebook groups are a common feature of online courses in particular. They can also be used as an effective tool to market your business and build a loyal following. Once again, it is important to ensure that you are offering value rather than posting because it’s on your to-do list.
Think about the problems you are solving for your customers and make sure the majority of your posts are aligned with this. Caitlin Bacher is an expert at building a profitable Facebook group.
I recently watched one of her webinars and felt instantly enthusiastic about building my Facebook group. You can check out her website here.
7. Base Your Blog Posts on “Need to Knows”
This point is in relation to demonstrating how you are solving your customers’ problems. It is not enough to just write a blog post that you think “might” be of interest to your audience.
If you really want to engage your audience and offer high-quality content, you need to start thinking about what they “need to know” before they make the decision to hire you.
For example, in the case of a wedding photographer, one of your blog posts could be on The Top 10 Questions a Bride Must Ask Before Booking Her Wedding Photographer. For a wedding planner, your post could be on the difference between an independent wedding planner and an onsite coordinator.
What do your customers need to know before doing business with you? What will help them to achieve an even more positive experience as a result of working with you?
Bonus Tip: When writing blog posts, use the IIE Method – Sort your blog posts into the following categories, Inspirational, Informative or Educational. Approaching your content creation from these angles, ensures that you are demonstrating an understanding of your audience whilst guiding them from where they are to where they want to be.