The Facebook Feed Rumours Are True! (Sort Of)

The Facebook Feed Rumours Are True! (Sort Of)

The Facebook Newsfeed Rumours

OK so for AGES rumours have been flying around that very soon the only way we will get our business posts seen in the Facebook newsfeed will be to pay for ads. So is it true?

Well, sort of.

Very simply put, Facebook has so much content, paid and organic, that it’s impossible to show every user every post that’s targeted at them. And although Facebook has shareholders and advertisers to keep happy, they also have to keep their USERS happy, otherwise they will stop using Facebook.

This article by Facebook expert Mari Smith explains LOADS about what’s going on and what we can do about it.

I’ve pulled out some of the key things I think will help you. Firstly this video from Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s Head of News Feed where he explains how the newsfeed works. I found it really interesting. Here is the link to his article.

Secondly, here are Mari’s top 10 tips on what businesses can do to keep getting seen. Not unsurprisingly, it’s all about VIDEO. We’ve known for ages that videos, especially FB live videos take top priority in our newsfeed – this is just the start!  Mari’s version has a lot more technical detail that might feel a little overwhelming so I’ll leave you to read the tips in full on Mari’s blog here but here is my ‘translated for small business owners with big ambitions’ summary. 

Over the next few weeks I’ll take each of these tips and give you LOADS of ideas on what you could do, and how you can use them in your business, so make sure my emails aren’t going into your spam folder!

1. Focus On Video

Video already takes priority in Facebook’s newsfeed. It’s only going to get bigger. Facebook is putting even more things into place to make it a viable alternative to your TV, after all I tend to get my news via Facebook these day, THEN see it on TV later. How about you? If you’re not already doing videos then you need to start embracing the idea. They don’t have to have you talking to the camera, there are loads of alternative ways to create fantastic videos. Don’t worry, there will be a way that works for you.

2. Do More LIVE Videos

OK so the novelty of Facebook live videos has worn off a bit. To start with we watched all of them. Then we realised that some aren’t as good as others. Now we’re being more selective and picky about which we watch and there are certain things that DEFINITELY make your live videos MUCH more likely to be watched. I’ll share those with you in next week’s newsletter. Even though the novelty has worn off, Facebook Live videos are still top of the newsfeed priority list so it’s definitely worth doing them (but the RIGHT way). 

“We’ve seen that people comment more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos. ~Facebook”

3. Do more short, punchy videos

According to Mari, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer recommends creating ‘snackable’ video content. That is, between 6-15 seconds. This is the ideal length to be used as ad breaks. Now, I’m sure Sheryl was referring to the big brands when she mentioned this but how can we, as small businesses with big ambitions use it in our marketing? Well, 6-15 seconds is not a lot of time – what could you do as a teaser? What could you demonstrate in 6-15 seconds? What could you share that your fans would love? I’ll give you some ideas in one of my newsletters very soon.

4. Create longer videos too

OK so the short videos I just mentioned are what you’ll already be seeing while you watch longer videos – the longer video stops while a short video ad plays. Yes, I find it intensely annoying too.

But Facebook still needs longer videos in which to insert the ad breaks. Also, your fans won’t just want short videos, if you have something awesome to share with them. So, how long is longer? Well, according to Mari anywhere from 90 seconds to 30+ minutes for your regular Facebook videos. And, for your Live video broadcasts, a minimum of five minutes and up to four hours. And for Instagram, 60 seconds. Phew!

5. Add captions to your videos

According to Mari’s research 85 percent of videos are watched with sound off. It’s not surprising when you think how often you’re somewhere that makes listening tricky. Also, sometimes you just want to watch the story and read what’s being said – it’s definitely how I prefer to watch videos.  Adding captions is easy and lots of the work is done for you. I’ll show you how to do this in one of my newsletters very soon!

6. Create highly shareable videos

According to Mari ‘Share is the ‘holy grail’ on your Facebook business content. It’s free viral marketing, when you can get it. According to Facebook, “Recommendations from friends are powerful: in fact, 48% of video watch time on Facebook comes from shares. ~Facebook” So, how can you create videos that are sharable? Well there are lots of ways and obviously I’ll be sharing a load with you very soon in one of my newsletters but to get you started, think about sharing stories about your business. Think about sharing those time lapse videos of work in progress. Think about sharing videos of magical things in your business – I sat yesterday and watched a wax melt melting. I watched it 3 times. It was mesmerising. More ideas coming soon!

7. Create square videos

According to Mari’s research  “square videos perform better on Facebook, resulting in 28% more views, more likes, and shares, while leading to a 67% greater view-completion rate.” Wow! That matters when you’re trying to make an impression and build relationships. Also, you get more space in the newsfeed with a square video as opposed to a landscape one, which is a good thing.

Adobe Spark is great for creating square videos and it’s free! I’ll share some more apps and software very soon. Remember if you make your videos 60 seconds or under, you can use them on Instagram too.

8. Monetise your own videos

According to Mari, there are three primary ways to monetise:

  1. Your own offer. This is probably the most relevant to us as small business owners. It’s where you put a link to your offer in the video, or the post, or both.
  2. Sponsors. Worth a look but probably not your best option.
  3. Ad breaks. You need at least 2,000 followers and your live broadcast needs to have more than 300 people watching at the same time. Then, you’d qualify for ad breaks after you’ve been live for at least 4 minutes. You can take additional ad breaks every 5 minutes after your first break. But they are really annoying for your viewers. Just saying…

9. Stay away from the Boost button

According to Mari Smith, “most savvy marketers on Facebook have long known that the Boost button is a ‘lightweight’ ad interface. The Facebook ad algorithms know that you are a somewhat novice advertiser if all you do is boost your posts…” It’s time to get familiar with the Facebook Ads Manager and start looking at proper targeting and custom audiences. Luckily, I can help you with this – there will be a newsletter about it very soon!

10. Be a more sophisticated advertiser

According to Mari, if you “Use Ads Manager + install the Facebook Pixel + Standard Event tracking + use Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences + do retargeting + choose Traffic, Conversions, Products or Leads for your ad objective. This combo shows the Facebook ad algorithms that you are a much more sophisticated advertiser, compared to a business that only hits the Boost button.”

OK if that sounded like a very scary foreign language to you, I’m not surprised! What Mari is saying is that if you start to use the Facebook Ad Manager tools properly, your ads will perform better and you MIGHT get better organic reach too. Hmm. I don’t doubt it’s true but it feels like hard going! Try the first few options first, I reckon!

So, in my next few newsletters and blogs I’ll be taking Mari’s excellent advice and translating it into ideas you can use in your business. Don’t worry, you’ll be using Facebook like a pro very soon.

I’d love to know what you think of this. Does it make you excited? Worried? Scared? Are you already using videos on Facebook? How are they working for you? Tell me! 🙂

 

Facebook Live Tips For Nervous Business Owners

Facebook Live Tips For Nervous Business Owners

Videos are easily the best way to get seen on social media. Most of the social media platforms are putting a big focus on video and live streaming and if you’re brave enough you could really benefit from this. Facebook in particular gives its Facebook Live videos priority over other types of content so, if you post a video, it is more likely to be seen than anything else on your page. It’s a quick and easy way to get more engagement and it’s so simple to do, if you can get over yourself and give it a go.

If you do decide to try them, here are a few tips to help your Facebook live videos be the best they can be, for free!

1. Make sure you have a good internet connection because any sort of live streaming takes up LOADS of bandwidth. If you have a poor signal, your videos won’t load for your viewers and if you DO manage to get one to play, it will usually cut you off in your prime. Ouch! If you don’t have good internet, opt to record a video on your webcam or phone/tablet and upload to Facebook instead of live streaming.

2. Have a point to each video and keep it short. You don’t need to waffle for ages just to fill space. A 15 second video that shows us something interesting is better than a 5 minute one that sends us to sleep.

3. Make good lighting a priority. You don’t have to spend money – a couple of desk lamps with daylight bulbs, positioned in front of you while you are recording, can make your video look much more professional. Alternatively, sit with a window in front of you (not behind you, or you’ll look like a silhouette) and choose an overcast day. If you’re trying to record in bright sunlight, you’ll squint, your eyes will water and you’ll get a runny nose. That’s not quite the look you’re aiming for. Also, bright sunlight on your face will bleach out your features. Natural but not too bright light is best.

4. Look at the camera, NOT at yourself on screen. I know it’s tempting, but you will look as though you’re talking to someone else and you need the viewer to feel you are talking directly to them. If in doubt, stick a little sticker next to your camera to remind you (you can put some bullet points on there too, to keep yourself on track).

5. SMILE! From the minute you reach to hit the record button until after you’ve pressed ‘stop’. You’re on camera as soon as you hit ‘record’, so even if you’re sitting back down again or haven’t started talking yet, smile and engage with us. It will make you look and feel more relaxed and you won’t have that ‘rabbit in the headlights’ look you see on so many videos.

Remember, when you create any videos for your social media accounts but particularly live ones, it really helps to build a relationship between you and your viewers. When they can see and hear and even talk with you via chat in real time, they feel a part of the business and they feel like you’re no longer a stranger. Marketing is all about people and relationship – people buy people, as the saying goes and it’s true! We are much more likely to buy from someone we ‘know’ than a total stranger, even if we only virtually know them from videos.

People aren’t watching to judge you or laugh at you (unless that’s your aim) but instead, they want to get to know you and hear what you have to say so ditch the nerves and give it a go. After all, if you fluff it or forget what you wanted to say, you can always delete and start again!

Why Isn’t Social Media Working For Me?

Why Isn’t Social Media Working For Me?

You’ve tried just about everything you can think of on Facebook and your business page still feels like a ghost town, with tumbleweed blowing through it. No-one seems to see it, nobody likes or comments apart from your friends and family, and it’s certainly not helping you sell anything. Gah!

Twitter scares the pants off you. Instagram is great but what’s with all the hashtags and as for Pinterest? Well, you can easily lose an afternoon gazing at beautiful things on there but how the heck is it supposed to help you build your business?

So, what do you do when you feel like it’s just not working for you? Should you give up? Pay for expensive ads that probably won’t work either? Stick a sandwich board over your shoulders and take to the streets? Buy a megaphone? Well, that might work…or you could just take another look at your relationship with social media.

The Thing About Social Media

The first thing to remember is first and foremost, social media is there to connect people and build relationships. It’s designed around the user, rather than businesses.

So, the first thing you need to look at is how you are using social media. Are you using it like a frustrated business owner who is desperate to sell stuff? Or are you using it like a relationship-building network, where fans and followers are actually real people and not something to be collected and counted? Those are two very different approaches and could have a big impact on how they work for you.

Why Social Media Might Not Be Working For You

I see loads of Facebook pages that are just sell, sell, sell. They push out the same old messages, on autopilot, a few times a week but there is no relationship building going on.

I see Twitter accounts that are just auto-posts from LinkedIn or Facebook. Sentences are cut off, pictures are the wrong size and there is nothing to tempt you to read the tweets, let alone click.

I see Instagram accounts full of dark, badly lit images that look out of place among the lovely photos displayed by other accounts.

These are just a tiny few of the reasons why social media might not be working for you – there are many, many more.

All these ‘mistakes’ are symptoms of someone who doesn’t know what THEY want from social media or, crucially, what their CUSTOMERS want from it.

Oooh I Love That!

Think of the social media accounts you love to follow.

Are there Facebook pages that feel like a lovely place to be? They might show you things you would love to buy. They might help you with tips and advice. They might even feel like a community. They definitely feel like somewhere it’s worth spending time. My goal with Facebook is for my page to be a really useful resource, somewhere business owners can come and find things they like and that will help them. And it works. It helps me to build my business. And I have fun at the same time.

I know I love certain sites because the page owners are artists or crafters and they show things they are working on. I love seeing videos of things being made. I also follow some pages because they share really good tips and advice. In some cases I just love the way they do things. How about you? What are your favourite Facebook pages to follow?

Are there any Twitter accounts you find funny? Or interesting? Or useful? Or thought-provoking? I’m not a big Twitter user but the accounts I do follow tend to be useful. They share things I need to know or keep on top of. My friend, on the other hand is a Twitter ninja. She takes part in local Twitter hours and has made real friends as a result. She’s also had lots of business from it. She’s also had her business featured in a couple of magazines as a result of getting to know journalists on Twitter. She really enjoys using it and it shows.

How about the Instagram accounts you follow – there will be some that you find fabulous or inspirational, I’m guessing? Again, I’m quite a casual Instagram user but I know some business owners who are IG whizzes! They have their content down to a fine art. Not all of them have businesses where they have ‘pretty’ things to photograph, but they make up for it by posting inspirational quotes, fun videos and great tips. I know gift shop owners who drive traffic to their bricks and mortar shop and website via Instagram, and it brings sales. I know jewellery designers and fitness instructors who are using Instagram to build awareness of their brand and they get customers from it. And they are having fun while they do it.

I’m pretty sure with our non-business head on it’s easy to see which social media platforms and users we love and which we don’t. We just forget to apply that same thinking to our business social media.

Why Did I Think That Was A Good Idea?

Why do we think we’ll do well with sell, sell, sell when it doesn’t work on us?

Why do we think it’s a good idea to fill our Twitter feed with auto-posts from Facebook when it cuts off our sentences and looks rubbish – we wouldn’t click on other people’s accounts if they looked like that, so why do we do it?

Would you REALLY click on a bad photo on Instagram, where the lighting is all wrong and you can’t really see what you’re looking at? Or would you just not bother and instead look and like and comment upon the lovely photos?

If we just put ourselves in the shoes and mind of our customers, we wouldn’t do these things. We just get busy and we forget. We stick any old stuff out there because we need to be on social media, don’t we?

Could Your Social Media Be Harming Your Business?

Imagine if someone we met at an event checked out our Instagram account, to see badly-lit, hastily posted images that really don’t do us justice… would that be more favourable than seeing an account with just one or two lovely images and a bio taking us to our just-as-lovely website?

How about if someone was referred to us and checked out our Twitter account, to find a feed full of ‘couldn’t be bothered to do it properly’ tweets?

And what if a magazine was looking for businesses to feature and they checked out your Facebook page to find nothing other than random, salesy posts and no attempt at showing the heart and soul of the business?

Do you see what I mean about badly-done social media doing more harm than good?

Quick Steps To Making Social Media Work For You

Let’s look at how it could work, if you are not sure what to do for the best.

  1. First of all, pick ONE platform. Ideally the one you like best, which ideally also happens to be where your potential customers will be looking. One platform done well is better than several done badly.
  2. Stop counting fans and start talking to people. Every fan or follower is a person. This doesn’t mean you have to personally welcome every new fan to your page or account (that can look a bit stalky) but it does mean you need to try to get people talking. A handful of ‘engaged’ people is worth more than a thousand who are indifferent. Think about what makes YOU love certain pages or accounts or businesses. What can you learn from them?
  3. Give it a chance – it takes TIME. Once you have figured out what type of content and posts would work best on your chosen social media account, get on and do it. Even if nobody interacts at first. Even if it feels like you’re talking to an empty room. Keep trying new things. New variations. Ask questions. Make and post videos. Try live streaming. Share tips and advice. See where and how you can help your fans and followers, those REAL people behind the usernames. Give it time, keep trying and testing and tweaking. Keep going. Keep helping. And one day, it will start to work. If you are posting the right content – if it’s useful and interesting stuff your buyers would love, it will work. It works ON you, so let’s get it working FOR you.

[Tweet “Stop counting fans and start talking to people #tgmb #socialmediatip “]

Of course, there are loads of other things you can do. I’ve got lots of blogs on social media and how to use it to build your business but my best bit of advice is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were them, would you love what you see? If you were them, would your social media accounts feel lovely? And useful? And interesting? And like a community? If the answer is NO, then change things until they do.

Bonus!

The bonus is, it’s less work than trying to manage lots of accounts badly and it will feel so much nicer to work on ONE account that makes you and your customers smile. So, should you give up on social media? Well, that’s up to you but why not try what I’ve suggested, have some fun, make some changes and see if you can’t fall in love with it a bit. Your business will thank you for it.

8 Fabulous Ways to Use Pinterest for Business

8 Fabulous Ways to Use Pinterest for Business

If you’re targeting women with your business, especially if what you sell looks good in photos, then you need to consider using Pinterest. Think of it like a giant pin board with pictures of everything you’ve every dreamed of and more.

If you’ve never used it, it works like this – you set up your own board or boards, so you might have one called ‘craft ideas’ or ‘things I’d love for my birthday’ or ‘kitchen design inspiration‘ (you have have LOADS) and you then search the pins.

If you like any of them you can click the little heart icon in the top corner and it will show up on the image as a ‘like’ from you. If you want to add any to your boards, you can PIN it to one or many boards – this is called a repin.

You can subscribe to individual boards or to whole accounts, in which case you see everything they pin appear in your feed. When you like or re-pin images, your connections can see that you’ve done so and the images will appear in their Pinterest feed. Your aim is to build a following for your account and/or individual boards.

From wedding favours to craft projects, jewellery to flowers, clothing to garden design, kitchens, art, horses, you name it, it’s on there (and then some).

Pinterest can be pretty addictive, as you can imagine. You can lose hours or even days in there, looking at all the gorgeousness on display. *Sigh*. So, I guess I’d better give you a tip – set an alarm on your phone, allow yourself 30 mins or an hour and then CLOSE PINTEREST or you’ll never get any work done.

The key to Pinterest success is all in the quality of the images. You’ll see when you scroll down that the most beautiful images attract the most interest.

Now, not all of us have a photography studio to hand, so all you need to do is THINK about the image you want to create. Your phone camera is easily good enough if you stage the photo properly, make sure the lighting is great, use props if necessary. Bad images don’t get shared.

Look at how other people have created their pins. Use www.canva.com to get the right size and even use some of the $1 pre-designed templates to save you time. Pinterest could do wonders for your business – I’ve bought lots of things because I saw them on Pinterest, followed a link and shopped. Here are some ways you can make it happen.

1. Tactical Pinning – Make It Easy To Buy

When you create a Pin, think about your Super Customer – that person who is a great fit for your business, who loves what you do and is most likely to buy. Think about what they want to see. Create images that work for them. Write your description for them.

If you share a photo of a beautiful product, use the web link for that pin to send them back to the product page on your website where they can buy it, rather than just linking to your home page.

Make it easy to buy. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen something beautiful on Pinterest only to find that the Pinner didn’t link it back to their site and hasn’t filled in their profile with their website address so I would need to spend time searching on Google instead of just click, click, buy.

2. Create Themed Pinterest Boards

Say you’re a florist and you do flowers for weddings, corporates, Valentines day, birthdays, anniversaries, funerals, instead of just having ONE Pinterest board with everything included, create separate boards. Create a Wedding Flowers board. Or even better, break it down again and create LOTS of Wedding Flowers boards – vintage wedding flowers, purple wedding flowers, yellow wedding flowers, minimalist wedding flowers, unusual wedding flowers. Do you see? In this way you can attract lots of different brides, who will be searching for just those things. It makes it easy to organise your images and means it’s easy for your customers to go directly to the board that interests them – customers love businesses that don’t waste their time.

3. Be More Findable On Google Using Pinterest

Every time you create a Pin you can go back in and edit it. This is something you MUST do or you are missing a huge opportunity because Pinterest pins show up brilliantly on Google, if you do them right. Pinterest is HUGE and is just like a big search engine – one where YOU want to show up in searches. So, instead of just copying and pasting the usual boring old product description, put some effort into it.

Put yourself into the mind of your customers and think about what they will be typing into Google. When you’re a bride, you search for specifics – not just wedding flowers. You search for a colour scheme, or a theme. Think about when YOU search on Google. What type of things do you look for. In my case, I’m a marketing and business coach for women but people usually don’t put THAT into Google. Instead, they search for ‘how to get more sales’ or ‘how to get more customers’ or ‘how to use Pinterest for business’. They search for specifics because they have specific needs at the time.

This works equally well for osteopaths, business coaches, artists or any business – think about what your customers are searching for. What do they need help with? What are they actually looking for?  What words and phrases will they use? It’s not always what you expect but the easiest way to do it is to think ‘OK, if I was that person, what would I want?’ Put yourself in their shoes and think about what they want and need. This goes for ALL your marketing, not just Pinterest. Make every pin count!

4. Get More Value From Each Pin

Don’t restrict your Pins to Pinterest – if you’ve gone to the trouble of creating beautiful images, share them far and wide. Top tip: make sure you put your web address on your Pins, and even your logo or a watermark so if they get downloaded and shared it’s easy to see where the Pin originated.

You can share your Pins on Facebook, there are apps that can do this for you automatically whenever you pin. Embed them in your website or blog. Include them in your e-newsletters. Make them work for a living! Get them out there bringing attention to your business.

If you’re going to share on Instagram, which is also brilliant for images, you may have to resize your image to get it looking its best. www.canva.com is a free tool (with paid upgrades) that will let you take an image and easily resize it.

5. Build Your Database With Pinterest

Getting people to view your Pins is great but unless they are in the market to buy right now, they might like or repin your pin and then forget about you. That’s a shame because when the time comes that they ARE ready to buy, they might not remember to seek you out. They might be follow hundreds of Pinners and your lovely Pin might get lost in the mix.

So how can you stop that happening? Well, one way is to get them onto your email list. To use your Pins to whet their appetite and offer them a great incentive to join your mailing list, so you can share even more fabulous things with them. You could do this by running a competition and promoting it using Pinterest. You could offer a tempting freebie – an e-book, tips list, how-to video, something that your customers would LOVE to get their hands on and send them from the Pin to a sign-up page where they can enter their email address and get the freebie delivered in their email right away.

That way you can continue the discussion away from Pinterest. You can send them regular value-packed e-newsletters that they will love and you can stay top of mind. That way, when the are ready to buy, you will be at the top of their list.

6. Create A Shared Pinterest Board

You can create public Pin board and invite people to pin. How could you use this in your business? Well, you might ask people to share the results of a recipe you Pinned, or a craft project you shared. You might ask them to share photos of their pets if you run a pet store. You might ask them to share their favourite inspirational quote Pin or their wedding day photos.
Shared boards bring people together. It’s a way for you to add value for your followers and a place where you can also showcase your products and services to a willing audience. Shared boards are a great way to build relationships, to build your credibility and to find new customers, suppliers and collaborators – you never know what might come from a shared board!

7. Private Pinterest Boards For Business

When you create a new Pin board it asks you if you want to make the board private. So, why would you want to do this? Well, you could do what I suggest to my clients and create a business vision board on there that no-one but you can see. It means you can dream big dreams and find Pins to match. Vision boards are brilliant to keep you motivated, show you why you’re doing all this and focus your mind on the big plan. Private Pinterest boards are brilliant for this because searching and takes seconds, and you have the whole of Pinterest for inspiration.

You can choose to share private Pinterest boards with specific people and so you could create customer mood boards, project overview boards, ideas boards. It’s a really easy way to share concepts or images in a beautifully-laid-out way and it’s dynamic – you can add and take away in seconds. You can be talking to a customer on the phone and say, OK I just added some more suggestions to your board, can you refresh it now?

8. Inspiration On Flat-As-A-Pancake Days

Running a business is TOUGH and some days you feel flat or emotionally battered. There’s nothing like a browse through Pinterest to lift your spirits and get you smiling. Find your dream home office. Gaze at amazing shoes. Laugh at gorgeous puppies. Create your dream vision board.

Pinterest can recharge your batteries and make you smile on down days and that is just as important as anything else in business. Time dreaming, browsing and looking at things that make you happy is the magic ingredient we sometimes forget when we’re busy.

So, whenever you feel fed up, tired out, sick of the business battles and need a lift, I’m writing you a virtual prescription to spend an hour on Pinterest, building your dreams.

PS: Buyable Pins, where you can buy straight from the Pin without having to be diverted off to a website, already exist in the USA. Hopefully it won’t be long before they hit the rest of the world and bring us even more opportunity to build our business on Pinterest.

12 Free Marketing Ideas You Can Use In Your Business Today

12 Free Marketing Ideas You Can Use In Your Business Today

When you’re in business it can feel like you’re shelling out money, hand over fist. Finding money for marketing can be tough on top of all your other business costs but you know you need to keep marketing to grow your business. What’s a girl to do?

Well, let me share some of my favourite free marketing ideas. They won’t cost you a penny but some will need you to spend a bit of time to get them working.

 1. Video

Videos are one of my FAVOURITE free marketing tools. They are so easy to make on your phone or tablet and let’s face it, most of us have one of them. I also use my webcam to film me talking or screen capture software called www.screencast-o-matic.com if I want to share how something works. Videos are brilliant for lots of reasons, from helping your customers to get to know you (building relationships) to helping you stand out from the competition (they can’t copy you on video!) and letting you demonstrate your products and services right there and then. They are super quick to make too, especially if you can get over your fears (I’m too fat, my voice sounds weird, I have bad hair etc) and understand your viewers and fans just want to LEARN. They are not there to judge you, they want to learn from you. That’s all. I challenge you to start making videos for your business today – you can share them on social media, on blogs or on your website and if pictures are worth a thousand words then videos must be worth a million.

2. List Building

You might have heard people talk about subscriber lists or mailing lists and not given them much thought but they are actually a brilliant free marketing tool that you could be using to grow your business. Why? Because if people sign up to hear from you regularly, that means you can use e-newsletters to grow your business.

The key thing here is that they MUST sign up, you must get their permission and you must NOT include people who haven’t given you their explicit permission to email them or you’re breaking a ton of spam laws.

This could include:

  • People who once gave you their business card (that’s not the same as giving you permission to email them)
  • People on lists you have bought/scraped off the internet
  • Basically, anyone who has not signed up to your list!

Apart from anything else, if people haven’t signed up they are not going to be interested. You only want people on your list who WANT to be on your list, who have signed up and who have ASKED to receive e-newsletters and offers for you – otherwise you’re just going to generate a lot of spam complaints and get your account shut down. Ack.

You can build your list using Mailchimp (www.mailchimp.com) – it has a great free package which is more than enough for most small businesses. It has great help files and videos to walk you through what you need to do.

How do you get people onto your list?

Well, you tempt them on! You give them a great reason to sign up and that usually means offering them an irresistible freebie. It could be a discount coupon or voucher, a free sample, a free e-book or cheat sheet, a free checklist or guide – anything that will attract the right people onto your list. Remember, you don’t want just anyone, you want the people who are most likely to buy from you – your Super Customers (I have a blog about that here) so create a freebie your Super Customers will love and you’ll build a list that’s responsive and full of lovely people who will buy.

3. E-marketing

Once you’ve got people onto your list, what do you do with them? Well, using Mailchimp again you can create beautiful e-newsletters that your Super Customer subscribers will love.

You can share tips, advice, articles, offers, videos, inspirational quotes – anything that adds value for your subscribers and keeps them wanting more.

Don’t sell, sell, sell though – that’s a sure fire way to get lots of people unsubscribing. Instead, think about what your subscribers would love to read.

E-newsletters are great free marketing tools because they help to build relationships with potential customers, they position you as an expert, they showcase your products and services, they keep you top of mind – all important aspects of marketing. E-newsletters also drive sales.

If you get the right people onto your subscriber list and you make them the right offers (in between giving them tons of value the rest of the time) you will find that people will buy. It happens for me and it could happen for you. It’s all about putting in the time to build your subscriber list and create engaging newsletters your subscribers will love.

4. Jungle Grapevine

This used to be one of the main ways businesses got customers – via word of mouth. These days it’s still a valuable free marketing tool but often gets overlooked in favour of techie solutions.

Does everyone in your network know what you do?

  • The mums at the school gate?
  • Your children’s teachers?
  • The post office counter staff?
  • The lollipop lady?

You never know who knows who. And even if your immediate network doesn’t need you right now, you never know who THEY know and who they might mention you to, in passing. Never pass up on an opportunity to let people know what you do (just don’t go overboard and pester people to buy – it’s not about that and you’ll soon find your network shrinking alarmingly…)

5. PR

PR is when you get featured in the media (magazines, trade press, websites, on radio, TV, newspaper) without paying for it. It’s not advertising or advertorials. It’s free coverage because you have a story worth covering and the media in question feels it’s a good fit for their audience.

You could pay someone to help with this OR you could make a shortlist of the media where you’d love to be featured (remember, you’re looking for the things your Super Customers read/watch/listen to), put on your big girl knickers and approach them. Twitter is a great place to find the journalists you need, you’ll find most magazines, sites, TV stations will show the journalist’s Twitter handle next to their name so it’s easy to follow them and get to know them.

Tip: Don’t harass/bombard them! I know you’re passionate about your business but they will just think you’re a weird stalky person and will hit the block button before you know what’s hit you.

No, instead think about building a relationship with them- help them out, answer their questions, retweet their requests, offer opinions. Get to know what kind of things they are looking for and then, when you feel like you are on their radar, ask them if they think your idea might work for their publication/channel. And if they say no, leave it a while and try again, their needs will change all the time depending on their content schedule.

6. Social Media

Social media is still free, despite what you might think with ad options appearing everywhere. Good content aimed at your Super Customers will always get people chatting and engaging, and the more engagement you can create, the more your business page will appear in people’s timelines.

It doesn’t matter which social media platform you use, always keep your Super Customer in mind and write posts and tweets that they will find useful, valuable and interesting. The more time and effort you put into this, the more you’ll get out of it. Don’t discount it, just adjust your focus and stop trying to attract everyone.

7. Competitions

Competitions are a great free way to market your business. Your only costs are whatever stock you are offering as a price or your time if you’re offering a service. The key with competitions is to offer a prize that will attract the RIGHT people, you don’t want just anyone, you want those people who are most likely to buy from you. Your Super Customers. Make sure your prize will attract them and filter out people who aren’t such a good fit.

In my business, I might offer a VIP coaching session with me – it will only attract people who want to work with me. Most people in the world will have absolutely no interest in winning it so I’m only going to attract those lovely people who would value a coaching session with me. They are the people who if they don’t win, are still likely to buy products or services from me – they are my Super Customers.

You can promote your competition at your premises if you have them, on your website, on social media or via your e-newsletter. Give yourself 2 weeks of solid promotion and market it like you mean it – the aim is to grow your list (people must sign up with their best email to enter) and make people aware of what you do. See what might work for your business.

8. Postcards In Shops!

Sometimes the old fashioned ways are the best! Depending on whom you’re trying to attract and whether you’re a local business, putting postcards or mini-posters in your neighbourhood or town can bring in loads of business. This will work well if your Super Customers are out and about during the day (think mums of pre-school children or retired people) or are fellow business owners. Postcard in the Post Office, local shops, supermarkets, library, leisure centre or community centres can get you in front of potential customers for free (or maybe a teeny payment) and if you’ve hit the spot with your marketing message, can bring lots of new business. The same goes for letterboxing – putting fliers through letterboxes, except you need to invest in fliers for that one and if the message, service or neighbourhood isn’t right, you could waste a chunk of cash.

9. Speaking gigs

Lots of people need regular speakers, from the Women’s Institute, local community groups, business networks and the business team at your local council to name but a few. Speaking about or teaching your topic is a great way to get in front of groups of potential buyers (again, choose your groups to focus on Super Customers rather than just anyone) and costs nothing other than perhaps a little for travel. If you think nobody would be interested, have a look at your local paper in the events section and see what groups are featuring speakers – you’ll be amazed at the broad range of topics covered. The easiest way to do this is to get in touch with a few groups that are a good fit for you and ask them if they need speakers. They can only say no, but they might say yes – so be prepared with one or two things you could easily speak about.

10. Networking

If speaking gigs aren’t your thing then why not try networking? Not all networking groups make you pay a monthly fee, some groups are simply informal get togethers where you meet and chat, cover your own cuppa and a cake or a glass of wine and do business. Easy peasy. Look for those options – search on Google and Facebook for networking events, ask around and see if anyone knows of any and if there aren’t any, how about starting one?

11. Email Signature

This is so easy but hardly anyone does it. How many emails do you send out each week? If it’s more then one or two then you’re missing out if you don’t have an email signature, it’s like stealth marketing . It’s easy to do with most email packages – just add your social media links plus a line saying what you do, you can even put time sensitive offers on there as long as you remember to take them off when they expire!

12. Blogs

My BEST free marketing tip is blogging. I love blogging. It works brilliantly for lots of reasons, not least because the search engines love blogs so you are helping your business to be found on the internet.

Think about what you could easily write about, pick 2 or 3 topics you know your Super Customers are interested in and that you can easily write about then brainstorm how many sub-topics you could make from those 2 or 3 – if your business was hypnotherapy then your big topics might be ‘what hypnotherapy is’ and ‘what it treats’. Each of those could give you a good few blogs if you go into detail and your Super Customers would find them really useful.

If your business is in fashion or accessories you could talk about trends, about looks and how to achieve them and give fashion tips

Blogs, especially if you can get yours embedded in your website like mine, help to drive traffic to your site. You can share blogs on social media and via your newsletter (my blog IS my weekly e-newsletter, I don’t write new content I just add an introduction and a few little gems of information to add more value). Blogs showcase your expertise, they help you build relationships with your readers and they can be turned into loads of different things, from videos to social media posts, newsletters to e-books.

 There’s No Excuse Not To Market Your Business!

So, you see there are loads of free marketing ideas out there, you just need to use your imagination and keep your Super Customers in mind at all times so you attract those people who are most likely to buy from you. Having no money is no excuse not to market your business if you can find just a little time, instead.

 

What are YOUR best free marketing tips? Why not share them in the comments?