I was talking to a business owner recently about their social media marketing activity and it came to light that, while they were actually active on social media, they didn't have any sort of plan regarding who they were targeting or what they wanted to achieve with their social media channels.
I hear this frequently from small business owners: they know that they ought to be embracing social media in their marketing activity but they have put the proverbial cart before the horse!
As I mentioned in my last blog post to be successful in any aspect of your business, you need to plan your approach. In this case, I suggested a 'back-to-basics' review of this business's overarching marketing plan.
The basic steps that you absolutely need to nail before you can begin any other marketing activity are:
Who is your target audience?
A good first step in identifying your target customer is to understand the problems that your product or service solves. Who is most likely to use your product?
Visualising your customer by creating a 'persona' can be a great first step in identifying and developing your target audience.
What's your core message?
Can you succinctly tell people what you do and why they should use you rather than your competitor?
People sometimes refer to this as your 'elevator pitch': you have 30 seconds to impress someone and persuade them that you can provide a solution to one of their problems.
Remember that your core message should always speak to the needs of your client rather than just being about you! Put yourself in your ideal customer's shoes and think: what's in this for me?
What do you want to achieve?
Defining your goals is critical when you're starting any new marketing activity otherwise how you're going to measure your results and evaluate whether it's worth continuing?
As small business owners, we don't have the time or resources to waste on activity for the sake of doing it. Set yourself some SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based and evaluate your progress regularly.
Once you understand what you want to achieve, you can select the marketing activities that will give you the most bang for your buck.
While this may all sound like common sense, I think that many small business owners are struggling to make their marketing activity work because they haven't yet got the basics right.
Which brings me back to the original discussion. With all the hype around online marketing, small business owners can sometimes forget that social media is just another marketing channel. To make any channel work effectively for your business, you need to get back to basics.
And actually, even getting the basics right can be quite a task if you haven't been through the process before.