Your business needs customers
How do you attract customers, get sales, and make profits? You need to know how to promote your new business.
This is kind of obvious, but promotion is something that can get overlooked when you’re setting up your business. We can get so busy with the website, the branding, the emails and the content we’re writing, that we forget this piece of business ownership.
In order to have a business, you have to sell to someone. And that means you have to have someone to sell to.
Promotion is the piece that gets people to your business.
Sometimes we have this “if you build it they will come” attitude towards our businesses. But unless you are fantastic about SEO, and your content immediately hits the number one spot on Google, no one will know about your business unless you tell them about it.
This is where a lot of us stumble. We have no problem with writing valuable blog posts. Graphic design is kinda fun. And creating products to sell is easy! But when it comes down to sharing all that with someone else, we’re shy. Scared to push publish. And too timid to send that message or email.
It’s something you just gotta get over, though. No one is going to know you’re open for business unless you put the sign up. And online businesses require you to actively and repeatedly send out your message, over and over again, on every channel available.
Where do you promote your business?
A physical brick-and-mortar store uses physical signs, flyers, posters, newspaper ads, radio ads and direct mail to invite everyone in the area to shop there. They throw a grand opening party, and invite the city officials to “cut the ribbon”.
An online business needs to do the virtual equivalent. An online grand opening or “launch” can also be an online party, with coupons, giveaways, freebies and invitations to special guests, who have larger audiences and are willing to share. You’ll send out tweets instead of flyers, Facebook posts and ads instead of the newspaper or radio, and emails instead of direct mail. But you’ll still need to invite everyone you know and more to come shop at your store.
Social media is where most of us promote our businesses.
After all, when 1 in 6 internet users has a Facebook account, and Instagram has a billion users, with Twitter not far behind, you have to go where the people are.
It’s essential for every business to have a Facebook page. Not only does this help your “legitimacy” in the eyes of your audience, but it allows you to access a ton of great Facebook tools.
Twitter is also a good spot to have a business presence. Instagram is great if you have a very visual business — food, fashion or beauty, and photography, or something similar. And LinkedIn is important if you are a freelancer or service-oriented business.
Only social media promotion?
But there are more places than just social media to promote your business. You can also use blog comments, linkups, networks and share groups to promote your content. All of these not only spread your message farther but those links back to your site improve your ranking on search engines. That makes it more likely that people can find you by searching the questions you answer too.
Pinterest is also an essential spot to promote your business. It’s often lumped in with other social media sites, but Pinterest works differently than other social media. For one, it’s not exactly “social”. It works more like a search engine than a social network, but it has elements of both. No matter what, however, your business will do well on Pinterest. So learning the art of creating and sharing pins will boost your business’s bottom line.
Paid promotion is possible
While there are many forms of free promotion, paid promotion is also a possibility and a needed part of your business. You can buy advertising in many places, such as on Google, Facebook, and Twitter. You could also pay for sponsored posts on other blogs, especially if you have a physical or digital product. Don’t avoid paying to promote. It can be valuable if you do it right.
For more on how to succeed with social media, especially Facebook, I recommend Rachel Miller’s Moolah Marketing.
When do you promote your business?
Like everything about starting a business, you have to do this step-by-step. You can’t promote your business until you’ve figured out an identity and a product. After all, without an identity what would you promote? And without a product, why would you promote?
So promotion starts after you know what your business is and what it sells.
Your initial promotion starts about a month before your official “launch”. The purpose of this promotion is to generate awareness and excitement about your business. It creates the “buzz”. You want your audience to be curious and anticipating your launch.
Then you promote the launch itself. Are you opening with a party? Are you giving something away? Do you have a special offer or deal for your new customers? This is all part of promoting your newly launched business.
Once you’ve launched, you want to keep the promotions going. You’ll have cycles of promotion as you develop new products, new topics and new content. You’ll refresh your advertising periodically, creating fresh buzz around your business.
How do you promote your business?
There are several kinds of promotion. The first is awareness, the second is engagement, and the third is sales.
First, you have to promote your business so that people know you exist.
This is awareness promotion, or “brand awareness”. You want people to think of your business in relation to the problem you solve, so that when they have that problem, they will come to you!
To create brand awareness, you’ll use visual elements and consistent messages. Your visual elements will have a theme. They will look similar and they’ll all talk about similar things — maybe that’s parenting, or confidence. Or maybe you educate on a certain topic, such as health or money. All of that is part of your brand, and promoting your brand is the first stage of promotion. Your focus for promotion is to grow your followers on social media and increase your page view traffic on your blog.
Second, you’ll want to attract an active audience.
This is where you want your followers to “engage” or interact with your posts. You want your audience to get to know your business, so that they become confident in your ability to help them.
To create this “know-like-trust” factor, use fun posts that educate and entertain. Give away valuable content and prizes, such as ebooks, checklists, worksheets, and videos. Ask for feedback on a regular basis. Respond to messages quickly, and be helpful! The more you help others, the more likely people will find you and your business attractive. Your focus for promotion is to grow your email list.
Third, you’ll want to generate sales.
This is where you want your market to buy from you. You want your followers to turn into customers. They know you, they like you, they trust you can help, so now you promote your products and services, and ask them to buy from you.
To create sales, you’ll use promotions that specifically ask for sales. These “call-to action” posts will have numbers on them — prices! You’ll be direct and clear about what you want your audience to do, telling them to buy this or join that program. You’ll state outright they need to “Click here!”. Your focus for promotion is your sales page, sales funnel and your product that you’re selling.
What does it cost to promote?
Most of the “cost” of promotion is in the time it takes to set up and design, and the associated financial costs of that. Your social media promotion can (and should) be automated. That means that you’ll probably need to pay for a social media scheduler, especially if you want to plan out your promotions a month in advance or more.
But for a beginner, I recommend Postfity. It’s simple to use, with a drag-and-drop calendar, and it’s very affordable. If you’re beyond the beginning stages, you may like something like SmarterQueue or Post Planner, with their post recycling options. And if you want something much more comprehensive, try HootSuite or Buffer.
Graphic design is a help
Unless you want to pay for all your images, you’ll need to learn some basic graphic design. Luckily there are some free programs that will help you put words and pictures together. Check out Canva, PicMonkey, Pixlr, or Crello. Or you can pay a small monthly fee for Adobe Photoshop too.
And unless you’re a photographer with an unlimited amount of props for stock photos, you’ll probably want to get those too. Be careful!! You CANNOT just download any image you like off Google image search. Those images most likely have copyrights, and if you use them without paying for them, you can get into a lot of trouble. The last thing any new entrepreneur needs is a lawsuit over copyright infringement.
Instead, use stock photos from sites like Shutterstock, Depositphotos, Pexels, Pixabay or Unsplash. And you’ll still need to check the licenses of the photos you use. Not all can be used on print, websites or in unlimited places. Don’t forget to keep your receipt!
Promoting your business is not a one-and-done
It’s ongoing. It’s continual. You must always be promoting your business, in all three areas of promotion – awareness, engagement and sales. As you grow your business, you’ll get better at this. And you’ll be more confident, the more you promote. That makes for more success!