- Have you done a user experience test on your shop windows? By this I mean your website and your social media. Knowing what your ideal customer really thinks about your brand and your shopping experience can really help you with your decision making process. Make a survey that you ask past, current and potential customers to fill in anonymously (extra tip - run it as a competition if you want lots of feedback, although you may find this gives you skewed positive results). Be prepared for a mixed bag of results - but that’s what you want! Information to help you improve. With the results, categorise them into areas such as website design, product, branding design, customer service, social media, price and other. You can then see where your areas to work on are. There is also a great quote from Steven Covey that says "It doesn't matter what ladder you are climbing if the ladder is up against the wrong tree". This is so true! If you are pursuing your business in the wrong direction, or you are not even sure of the direction then you are not going to reach where you want to go.
- Have you done a review of your time to see where you are spending most of your energy? Grab a cup of tea (or wine if it’s after 5!) and think about the last three days HONESTLY. Write down EVERYTHING for the three days. How much time did you make for sleeping, eating, product development, social media, website content, your day job if you have one, managing orders, talking to customers, looking after the kids, chores, spending time with friends, even how long you spent on the bog! Add it up and see if you are disproportionately allocating time to particular areas (although if you are disproportionately spending time on the loo I would advise getting advice from a health professional rather than me lol). If you are not putting in at least an hour a day on social media and that is your main mode of digital marketing then you cannot expect your business to be successful. Likewise if you are not investing an hour a week into your website content then you are not going to get results with google.
- Have you looked at your business model and actually seen if it’s viable?! This one is so often neglected by small businesses and it flabbergasts me that people are trying to build a business without knowing what their costs and profits are. When last did you sit down and review your costs and your revenue properly? Does your business wash its face or is it haemorrhaging cash? Reviewing your cost to sell and your fixed costs can then allow you to plan for the sales you need. Which leads to...
- Sales planning - do you have a sales plan? I can see a lot of you saying “what do you mean plan for the next month, I just keep posting up and hoping for sales” - if you have this mentality you are not going to succeed. Making a plan that says “I am going to make 3 sales this month and 1 is going to come from Facebook, 1 from Instagram and 1 from organic search on my website you can then plan how to get those sales from those platforms. You have to make a plan!
- When last did you invest in you? To make you better? Either better at social media, or better at taking photos (my personal favourite for anyone that follows me because I am on a personal crusade about this!) or better at the administration side of your business? Investing in you doesn’t have to cost money - there are loads of free courses that you can do online, and lots of DIY hacks you can learn on YouTube and other social media platforms. The internet is awash with information, you just need to make time for it.
Small Business Support Blog
If you are interested in reading about how to get your business visible online, with regular insights into being an entrepreneur and navigating your way through the business world, then this blog is for you!
We regularly post interesting articles on topics on leadership, management and visibility - with guest articles and features from experts in their field.
If you are interested in collaborating and would like to do a guest feature then please email [email protected]
I wrote earlier this week on social media about small businesses that are on the brink of giving up because they are not seeing the results they want despite having a great product or service to sell.I got a great response to the post with lots of people reaching out to say I had really hit the spot with them and that they were desperate to make their businesses a success but felt that frustrated that social media wasn’t allowing their stuff to be seen and people weren’t buying when they landed on their website.There is a truth that nobody as a small business owner ever wants to think about - 95% of small businesses will fail, and the majority will fail in their first year. Lack of cash, lack of sales, lack of direction - there are so many reasons why people are unable to make a success of their business, but there are some consistent reasons that cause the failure.It got me thinking about what advice I can offer to help that will actually make a difference that hasn’t already been touted across the internet by some guru or other. Here’s my ten pence worth, for what it’s worth (and it’s worth a bit having nearly 20 years of experience):These are my five pearls of wisdom/truth bombs/points of action that you can think about to see if they can help your business. Let me know what you think in the comments - are you guilty of some of the above? I know I am and I am meant to be the expert on this stuff!
I was asked by someone this week who wanted to grow their business how they could get more people seeing their business online via Instagram. “The algorithms are all against me” they wailed (I’m so weary of the word algorithm now, I mean it’s as much a part of a small businesses vocabulary as stock or sales, and its tiresome) “and I just get no engagement whatsoever on my posts”. I started to go down my normal track of giving advice given on my previous blogs with Instagram - tips on imagery, captions, hashtags, and then I stopped. Because something dawned on me that is the biggest piece of advice that I can give to all of the small businesses that have relied on Instagram as a way to grow their business - you need to move to Pinterest.
If Instagram was the new Facebook, then Pinterest is the new Instagram for businesses, and here’s three reasons why:
- Pinterest allows you to push content.
- Pinterest allows you to be discoverable through keyword descriptions – you don’t need a magic wand with hashtags.
- Pinterest allows you to directly link to your website.
People loved Instagram because they could PUSH content out and it would be seen and liked. Now that Instagram is gearing towards being more social and community led Pinterest is the platform that you should use because it allows you to push out content and you don’t need to interact with the users. Hashtags allowed people to get their new content to be seen on Instagram, but they are now so saturated that it is very hard to get seen using them (unless you get magically teleported onto the Discover page).
On Pinterest you don’t need hashtags to get your content seen – you just need to use great descriptions with your niche keywords. The other thing with Instagram that is really frustrating is that you can’t link directly to anything within a post (you can via stories, but only if you have more than 10k followers which is really unfair for small and start-up businesses!). Pinterest actively encourages you to link to further detail on your posts and you can send them to areas of your website not just your homepage or landing page which is great for on-page SEO… and we all want a little bit of that visibility magic don’t we?
So if Pinterest is the best platform for business how can you make it work for you? Here’s my top five tips for getting you more visible with the giant electronic scrapbook:
1. Use story posts! This is a new feature from Pinterest which allows you to use up to 20 images which can all have their own captions and links to your website. This is amazing for showing a customer journey, or a work in progress or a full range of your products. For more info on how Pinterest stories can work for you, Becca Poutney’s blog post has some great insights.
2. Join collaborative boards. This can really propel your reach and get you more visibility. There are literally thousands of group boards to join and here is a great link with a list of the top 400 for creative businesses which was created by To Be A Perfect Mother.
3. Don’t just pin your own stuff! Re-Pin other people’s work into your boards as well so that you build up content rich boards for your niche. A ratio of 1 post in 4 being your own is a good start. BrambleSky have great examples of this.
4. Don’t pin rubbish photos. Just don’t. Poor lighting, photos taken with a lacy tablecloth, photos taken with your dinner in the background. Please just stop. Stop using poor photo editing apps that add crappy text over your images. I know this sounds harsh - but please stop. It doesn’t look good and you will not get good reach for your pins anyway. This is one of my biggest challenges – trying to give people feedback on why they are not attracting their ideal client when they are taking photos in their Aunt Muriel’s kitchen “but its ok because I used a nice white sheet as a backdrop”. I get that not everyone is David Bailey (I do not profess to be a great photographer either) but there are loads of free videos, tutorials and even courses on how to take good pictures from your phone. Search for it in Pinterest and you will see!
5. Use mentions! We all love to get a mention on social media - you know that heady feeling when you’ve been tagged by another business and credited for all your hard work? Well you can do that with Pinterest too! Just use the @ button like you would on Facebook or Instagram.
Have you got yourself into the groove with Pinterest yet? It can literally be a game changer for your business. I’m still really amateur at it but I’m determined to get better - why not join me? Here’s my Pinterest link - https://www.pinterest.co.uk/WorsleyCreative/ Give me a follow and I’ll follow back!
Let me know your experience with Pinterest and if you think it could be the new Instagram for you... and then we can start talking about how TikTok is the new everything... Lol
Pamela Rae-Welsh is the founder of Worsley Creative Services Ltd. Specialising in web design, brand styling and online visibility, Pamela has already helped over 100 businesses with developing their online presence in 2019.