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Grow Your Business with Ten Simple Marketing Hacks

As a consultant specialising in marketing for entrepreneurs, I'm always coming across the same issues when I see a great product or service, with poor sales. So I decided to put together a simple guide for you to grow your own business.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

1. Understanding your customer journey

If you own and run a business, or even if you are part of a bigger business, you still have customers and those customers are the lifeline of your business. No sales, no cash flow, no profit, no business. You too are a customer of someone. Unless you are living in a cave, you buy things to keep you alive. How do you buy? Why do you buy? From where and when? You are a customer on a journey and like any journey, when things don’t go smoothly, it becomes an issue. But your own customer journey starts before the idea to even buy comes into your head. Marketing is about getting a message out there, so when a customer decides to buy whatever it is you offer, they either already know about it, or the solution happens to be in front of them at that very moment. One is about brand and the other is about timed advertising and it can be expensive to do both, especially if you don’t understand branding or paid search. So let’s break this down so you can apply it in your own business. Simply put, to understand your customer, you’ll need to ask them first. Who are they, what are their thoughts, issues, challenges and where and when do they seek solutions to these questions. As you get to know them better, you can piece together a customer journey which works seamlessly. This is the first part of the process to 10x your business through Marketing done properly.

2. Using your customers language

Once you’ve spoken to your customers in depth, you’ll notice they’ll use certain words more frequently than others. Notice these ‘trends’ in how they talk about what you do. I’ve worked with clients who have exceptional products but low sales and simple changes to their marketing copy can bring huge rewards, as the only stumbling block was their use of language to describe what they did. The way you talk about your own product or service has more than just being understood attached to it. As humans, we use something called ‘anchoring’ when we see anything new for the first time. Humans are built to work with as little energy use as possible (ie we’re basically lazy), so our brains fill in the gaps most of the time, based on how we already understand the world. So when someone sees your brand for the first time – if it looks or feels cheap (first impressions) – they will categorise it subconsciously and then try and look for evidence to back up this initial judgment (cognitive bias). So if there is a word in your marketing copy which doesn’t resonate with your customer, this one word can do a lot of damage. Using the right language, for the right customers, can 10x your business.

3. Making sure your message is clear and concise

So you have an understanding of your customer and the language they use, now you need to combine the two to make it easier for your customers to see what the benefit is in doing business with you, and not your competitors. Your message cannot be a long-winded description for one very important reason: the one commodity which everyone has exactly the same amount of and are not willing to give up lightly is time. We’re all busy, so your message has to come across clearly, concisely and fast, whilst at the same time conveying the right message to the subconscious. For bigger brands, this message takes a lot of time and money to get right. I’m assuming you don’t have these budgets, so understanding points 1 & 2 are your way to get this right. A simple question to ask is: What is the positive benefit I bring to my customers or how do I make their life better? Use this as your starting point.

4. Having a great story to share

On the basis that your initial marketing message is clear and concise, you should be able to get your potential customers to spend a bit more of that precious time with you on your website (or even in person). And it’s here where you can go a bit deeper, as their subconscious will now be looking for reasons to agree with their initial subconscious decision. That cognitive bias can now work in your favour as we hate to be proved wrong. This is where you can share your own story about why you do what you do. Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk here shows how people care less about your ‘what’ and your ‘how’ and more about your ‘why’. Why do you do what you do? What is your motivation for helping them? But this only applies once they give you more of their precious time and are not already on your competitor’s website. This is also part of the bigger amplification process which we’ll talk about later. Having a great story to share about your own reasons for doing what you do, is an excellent way to spread your message (and grow your brand) on a much larger scale.

5. Having a system for customer acquisition

OK, so your potential customer is on your website, they like your message and your story. Now what? Do you have some sort of system in place to turn them into a paying customer? Going straight to the sale can work, depending on what it is you are offering, but ‘warming them up’ in some way might be useful first. This eBook is an example of warming someone up. I’m hoping you are reading it and thinking “This guy knows what he’s talking about”. Well, I did spend over 20 years in marketing, working for Saatchi’s amongst others, so I should do. Don’t forget, customers are the lifeblood of your business and having a systematic and rhythmic acquisition of customers will help your cash flow and allow you to expand, especially once you understand how the process works. This is called funnel optimisation, but we’ll talk about that a little later. For now, though, understand that effective systems always start with understanding your customer first.

6. Improving the usability of your website

I’m including this hack as I have seen so often with my own clients, that even if they get all the above hacks in place unless their website is usable, the customer journey comes to an abrupt end. Having a slow downloading website with large pics is not going to work well on most wifi networks. Having the wrong items in the wrong place, and even something as simple as not making your contact details obvious when your service involves communication can be really frustrating. Don’t make that confirmation bias (which is currently working in your favour), do a sudden pivot, by having something out of place or simply annoying someone on your website. Typos are a good example of something obvious being out of place. Your customer’s journey starts with their first exposure to your brand and everything within their journey, from the look and feel of your website, to the speed with which your phone gets answered and even how you dress in public, are all part off your brand. Go through this journey from an objective perspective and see how it feels to be your own customer. Would you be delighted with every part of this customer journey and if not, why not?

7. Using other people’s lists to get to new markets by creating ‘pull content’

You now have your customer journey mapped out and a usable system in place to get customers coming in and getting what they want. Hold on… what…? No system yet…? Let’s work on that one quickly. Most of the following hacks will all be going into this, but one of the simplest ways to expand your network and get more customers coming to your website is to create ‘pull content’ and get exposure using other people’s lists. For example. I write for Thrive Global (Arianna Huffington’s new venture) and they amplify my blog posts to their audience (which is huge) on my behalf. I create new content and they do the rest. You could be a contributor for a number of different online publications which could get you in front of your target market and be working in your sleep for you. Being a contributor and creating pull content is all about understanding what their audience is after, so don’t oversell in your copy and always pay attention to the feel of their content (which they already promote) before pitching to them. The great thing about pull content is it can be used time and time again (like this eBook). Answering questions on Quora.com is another way of helping to showcase your expertise.

8. Using journalists to get your message amplified and ‘out there’

I love this hack, and it’s proving so useful for my clients (as well as me). Go to www.journorequests.com and set up new alerts based on your expertise. Use the hashtag #journorequests in Twitter to search for requests and then make a public list of the journalists who’ve made them. I’ve made a database in Google docs of journalists, where they work (some are freelance) and what subject areas they deal with, which is akin to creating your own PR company. See what type of articles they need help with, contact them as soon as possible (including your story which you created earlier) and offer to contribute or make a comment. The best example of this recently was a client of mine who used this approach on the day of the Royal Wedding. She responded to a journalist from Metro who was after tips on the makeup for the bride. Two hours later, she had an article published to millions of potential customers on how the bride might have had her makeup done, which brands were probably used, and some hacks on how to do it on a budget, including a plug for her own makeup brand. Quick thinking and very savvy. Journalists are always looking for great stories, so become their friend and give them what they want. A large audience awaits.

9. Utilising the power of Lookalike Audiences and Facebook ads

This one is a little bit more technical and may require some outside assistance, but it’s an amazingly under-utilised resource for business owners who want to get to their target market. Facebook is a huge platform and although the younger audiences are not using it as much as Instagram and Snapchat, there is still a vast majority of potential customers on Facebook. Take your existing database (collected from pull content and captured on your customer acquisition system), upload into the Facebook ads section in the Audiences section, create a Custom Audience first and then a Lookalike Audience which will be based on the behaviours of your uploaded audience. This can also be done for fans of your own page or other relevant pages. Facebook takes all of their likes, dislikes and behaviours, and depending on the limits of the demographic (ie location), you then get a much larger potential audience size who are similar to your current fans to promote to. When creating Facebook ads, make sure you use pull content as lead bait (such as a free webinar) and don’t just go in for the sale. Social is called social for a reason.

10. Understanding which social media channels are working (using analytics)

Which takes us nicely onto the final hack, which is an understanding of what is and isn’t working. Throwing money at a solution is great when you have plenty to spare, but for most business owners, keeping a close eye on cash flow is essential. Throwing away money is not part of a good business strategy, so using tools such as Adespresso.com to create and monitor various options of Facebook ads can help (you can get a free trial on AdEspresso too). Invariably, the pics and headlines we think will work tend to be the ones which don’t. Test and test again and you’ll soon start to get a good idea of what is working and what you can then spend more on to get a rhythmic acquisition of customers. AdEspresso helps you to set up a variety of ads quickly and easily which you can then monitor and either ditch or back. Installing analytics on your website such as Hotjar and Analitify (Google Analytics Dashboard) are a good start to understanding who is coming to your website and how long they are hanging around (bounce rate).

I hope you found these marketing hacks useful. This is the tip of the iceberg of course, so if you would like help with your marketing and getting a rhythmic acquisition of customers beating a path to your door, you can check out my new online course, based on my best-selling book: The Entrepreneur Success Formula here.

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