How do I grow my Small Business online?

The all too common misconception for small businesses is that in order to see results for their business online they’d have to spend far too much to be able to take that ‘risk’ and as such, Digital Marketing Agencies are way too expensive to work with.
WRONG. Quite likely these misconceptions derive from bad experiences, bad attempts at running your own social media advertising or just straight up bad advice from peers.

The truth is, genuinely good digital marketers with solid Social Media Advertising Campaigns can & will help you drive growth and results, almost irrespective of the ad-spend allocation you have. There will always be businesses out there that have the finances for huge and arguably ‘over the top’ advertising campaigns – but this doesn’t mean that without those sorts of budgets you need to get left behind.

For the duration of this blog, we’d simply ask you to drop any pre-conceptions of using social media to grow your small business, cast aside any negativity you may have tucked away regarding digital marketing or indeed social media advertising and open your mind for some top tips to grow your business online.

Now much like any other aspect of your small business there need to be some realistic expectations of risk vs reward, the age-old saying of speculating to accumulate to a degree – is, of course, true…but ultimately it doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune in advertising or clever content, just to grow your customer base, generate leads or increase sales.

If the business’ goals are clear.. the marketing and advertising strategy feels right for the goals you’ve set and the right digital marketing team are working together to drive those goals, then the advertising is the last piece of the puzzle you need to worry about. So finances aside.. ask yourself what is it that you want to achieve.

  • Can I grow my Small business with Social Media? – Yes. Yes. Yes. Now defining growth might be more tricky than the actual growing itself. Are you wanting to get 50k followers on Instagram, just because your next nearest competitor has done so? If so.. why? Is that really important or is it more important to have a fifth of that online audience, but each of those is genuine supporters of your small business, service and/or product? Don’t get bogged down in the numbers – Think about quality over quantity and focus on those customers that truly believe in you, respond to their comments, value their feedback and reward their support. With both organic growth, regular page posting of ‘good content‘ & yes in some cases a small amount into social media advertising – you can increase the quality as well as the quantity of your online audience and trust us this is invaluable… It’s not about how much you spend and how many people you reach. it’s about WHO you reach.
  • Can I afford to outsource my online marketing & Social Media? – The ONLY question every small business owner is really thinking during a conversation with a digital marketing agency, is simply whether or not they can afford it. But the real question should be ”HOW Can I Afford It?” – If the advertising campaigns you set genuinely show you a solid ROI then ultimately it’s a service that’s worth paying for upfront, providing it does in turn soon pay for itself.. and then some. So whilst it’s understandably scary or deemed risky to take that initial leap of faith (trust us we hear you) no business can function without sales and no sales can occur without a level of marketing. More Marketing.. more sales.. more sales… happier you. So do consider long and hard the level of investment into other areas, have you recently spent out on premium
    stock or packaging? have you enlisted the services of a new part-time or full-time employee? did you, at last, replace the glassware in your bar? All of those things are absolutely a necessity for the process of successfully running your business. but not one of those directly impacts or generates a sale/lead/purchase for your business. Who does? 2 people.. YOU (the decision you make) & your marketing whether that’s in-house, outsourced, overseas, a team of 300 or a one-man/woman band… nurtured correctly they have the capacity to help your business just about survive or absolutely thrive.

So how do I get to grips with my Small Business’ Social Media?

ut Money aside, put fancy advertising aside and think like your customers for a second. You want to find a small business that ticks all the boxes of your criteria

– so if that’s a restaurant (for example).. you want great food, great atmosphere and ideally great recommendations. Years ago recommendations were simply asking a family member or a neighbour anywhere they’ve been (which in part is still the way we function) however the world has gone ‘digital’ and part of that transition is accepting a recommendation’  from people outside of our own social circles – so where do we turn?… ONLINE! Whether it’s GoogleTrustPilot, Tripadvisor or elsewhere – we’ll put our faith in businesses that have a great online following, great engagement on their social media (lots of positive comments, reviews, feedback and likes on their pages) or fantastic reviews online as a whole.

So dial back a second – if you want to get more customers, drive business growth and increase your business sales – it simply comes down to how you appear online. They say a first impression is the most important and now 8 out of every 10 business to consumer relationships start online.. so what does your online impression actually say about your business? Here are a few simple bits you can be doing yourself at NO cost to improve your online presence straight away…

  • Connect with your customers – Think about the things they want to see, don’t just post pictures of the product or service you’re selling (of course DO post these things too!) – but show them the real business, the faces behind it, tell them about yourselves and why the business started, how you are where you are and how your customers support means everything. They say ‘People buy from people’ and cheesy or not, that’s true.. so to truly connect with your customers and drive sales or growth, you need to show them what makes you different and what the business means to you.
  • Keep Things Simple – 1 in every 4 minutes on a mobile phone is currently spent on Facebook, which is a crazy statistic, but it offers a wealth of opportunities to anyone that’s using it to promote their small business online, so put yourself in the customer’s shoes.. what pictures or videos would give you a good reason to stop scrolling through reels and reels of old school friends we don’t speak to any more, videos of cats and pictures of what you’re family friends had for tea? If you want to get peoples attention – think simply, what would get YOUR attention.
  • Think ‘Long Term’ success – The norm with any advert (TV, Social Media or otherwise) is to look for a quick win. Advertisers are narrow-minded and can see only the potential audience right in front of them, advertising to them for a quick sale of a product or to shout as loud as they can about the service they offer. Some brands such as Aldi, Burger King and others have been as braisen as to outwardly and openly attack their competitors in their adverts in a bid to win more customers  But which companies truly succeed on social media? It’s those that simply look to longer-term success.. looking to genuinely engage their customers, genuinely care for their customer’s interests and think less about selling and more about educating. So don’t think you need to continually talk about what you do or what you do better than others – but instead look to talk about how you do it, why you do it, who you do it for and what you love about what you do. Simple and silly as it may seem.. you’ll be surprised how soon you start to see people interacting with your business ahead of your respective competitors.

Author: Molly Mackwell – Director | Socialise Digital