Starting a business can be daunting, and many people often don’t know where to begin. Naturally, there are certain steps you must take to get set up at all, but when it comes to letting potential clients know about you, virtual connection is key. Here’s my list of obvious – and maybe not so obvious – ways to connect virtually with your ideal client or customer base…
1. Targeted Social Media Activity
Get targeted with social media such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Rather than using a “scattergun” approach, where you are just following and interacting with anyone, look for followers who are following and interacting with similar brands to yours — this shows that there is a genuine interest in products or services like yours, and where the content you may post will be more valued. Make sure that your website is easily findable and clickable on your social media pages — you would be surprised how many people will come to your pages and click on a visible link once you have their attention with an interesting comment. Post compelling content regularly, and be sociable! The more you interact, the more people will follow and interact back.
2. Secure Relevant Media Allies and Coverage
Reach out to journalists and editors who cover what you’re selling — here, it’s crucial to do your research and interact with media in a thoughtful and tactical way. Use Google to find articles in the types of media titles you would like to appear. Then, make a note of who wrote the article and write a concise, polite email to them introducing yourself and your service or product. Make sure that you open your correspondence with proof that you understand what they write about; referencing a similar story that you enjoyed is the perfect way to do this, and builds rapport. When they do agree to write about you, make sure that a link to your website is embedded in the article — direct traffic back to your main website wherever you can. One polite, relevant email can secure you a feature in anything from a small local media outlet to something huge like Forbes or Entrepreneur Magazine and is always worth a try.
3. Get Serious About LinkedIn
If as a business owner you are not on LinkedIn, create a profile, stat! Not only is LinkedIn the first place people will go to in order to check out your credentials and ascertain how professional your business is, but it is also a gold mine in terms of making crucial business connections, knowing what’s going on within your field of work, and much much more. Ideally, you want to build your connections to 500+ (send out invitations to connect with key professionals, and accept invitations from the same). Looking for the right buyer to email at a particular department store? You’ll find him or her on LinkedIn. Want to know who the interiors editor is at a particular magazine? You’ll find that information on LinkedIn too. This, in my view, is the most powerful platform for anyone in business to be a part of, and the great thing is you also get to post your good news and insightful comments, which is transmitted not only to your immediate contacts, but to their connections and contacts too.
4. Share Your Media Coverage with the World
This may sound like a no-brainer, but once you get some media coverage — tell people! It’s easy to understand why you may feel shy or self-conscious about flaunting wonderful media coverage, but don’t be. Once a nice article comes out about you and your product or service, shout about it! Post about it on LinkedIn, add a clickable link to it on your Facebook and Instagram pages, and display it on your Twitter page too. Then, go one step further and actively direct people to click on the article link — for example, a great way to get eyes on your article on Instagram is to find popular pages with millions of followers (followers that you feel will also be interested in your business) and comment, letting people know to click on the link in your bio; many people will do just that. This is especially effective if you’ve managed to bag yourself an article in something very high profile — in the past, this has led to all kinds of opportunities with A List celebrities, investors, and customers for some of the brands we work with. Also, be sure to create a media page on your actual website, where you can showcase past and present coverage.
5. Social Proof Is King
Whatever it is that you do, provide, or produce, the key to growing your business and increasing sales is to be top-of-mind when people are buying what you sell. Whether you make home-made jelly or you manufacture glamorous swimwear, the aim is to be the first brand that comes to mind for customers. The easiest way to do this is to establish yourself as an expert in your field, and secure exposure as such. Social proof — evidence that others have found value in what you have to offer — is highly effective in modern times. Securing media coverage about what you do is crucial, but this needn’t just be articles. Being interviewed on relevant podcasts is a great way to build social proof, working with influencers to tell their followers about your product is a wonderful way to build social proof, as is publishing positive testimonials. Wherever you can, build social proof that points to the idea that you, your product or service is the best within its genre.