In looking back at my business for the first six months of 2012 – the key for me has been relationships. There are a lot of gurus out there who will tell you its about your website traffic, or having the latest mobile app, or offering the next best thing. Personally, I think that is all a bunch of crap. The key to having a successful business online is about RELATIONSHIPS. Let’s face it – anyone who is going to potentially do business with you “virtually” (i.e. buying a product or service) is going to want to feel like they know you a bit and can trust you.
One of the biggest downsides of running a predominantly online business is your clients or customers cannot just walk into your storefront, or office and sit and chat, shake your hand and do a deal. You need to provide them with a snapshot of who you are, and what your business is about online via your website and blog (and I highly suggest having BOTH). Your site needs to be professional, be easy to navigate and showcase your skills and services. It is what will give your potential clients and prospects that first impression of you. From there the real relationship building begins.
I tell my clients over and over again that blog posting is a great way to build traffic and traffic can potentially lead to consultations and sales. You need to use your blog are the “core” of all of your social media marketing efforts. Link your blog to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in order to gain the most exposure for your posts. People get to know the real you through your posts. You can share information about your area of expertise and “sell” yourself without being really pushy. Share your thoughts and views on specific topics that are of interest to your clients and customers. Ask open-ended questions – start a dialogue! Survey your clients – ask them what they need!
Social media is great, but try and make it personal. Most people send out tips and ideas via Twitter – why not use hash tags to target specific groups for your tweets? If your tips are on social media – target entrepreneurs, internet marketers. If your tips are about dealing with overwhelm and stress – target work-at-home-moms. By tweaking your content slightly, you can target specific groups of potential clients.
Don’t give away the farm! I can tell you from personal experience there are a lot of people out there who look for free information and services. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone asked to “pick my brains“. Then there are those who will pump you for information under the guise of you are “partners” – do yourself a favor, unless you are being paid as a consultant, don’t enter into any type of a business relationship without having a formal agreement in place. When I first started out I spent untold hours brainstorming ideas with potential clients – only to have people turn around and move forward with the concepts on their own. No credit for my efforts, no payment for my time. Do the strategy sessions with payment for your time. If someone is interested in your point of view – you can write a blog post about it – and they can have access to it for free.
When it comes to business strategy, goals, websites, products and more – your time is worth something. Anyone who asks for your time for free, doesn’t understand the value of your services and this is not someone you want to potentially partner with.
So to recap:
- Focus on building relationships with your prospective clients and customers. Ask questions, survey them – get connected!
- Blog about topics of interest to your clients – and send targeted tweets on Twitter so you reach the right audience.
- Offer PAID business strategy sessions. Anyone who is serious about doing business with you will also be willing to pay you for your time. If not, NEXT!
I hope you have found these thoughts helpful. If you need help with getting your business organized and getting clarity around your goals for 2012 – let’s TALK. Take ACTION, Get RESULTS!