Without sales, you won’t be a business for very long. The big question is this: where do I get sales from? How do I generate business for myself?
We all know the traditional ways of drumming up business:
- Personal selling
- Cold calling
- Trade shows.
But all of these require expensive staff, overheads and money to do them properly. Which inexpensive ways exist for you to grow your business?
Content is one of the ways that a small business or entrepreneur can generate business. “But how”, I hear you say skeptically? Well, drop that eyebrow and listen up because clever, creative content really can help you earn more money and drive that Lamborghini you’ve always dreamt of.
What is content?
Content is anything that you can generate, write, video record, design or produce that you make publically available for your customers or the general public to consume. It could be a blog, a video on YouTube, an article, an email or the like.
What topics should the content cover?
You are an expert on your business or industry and have many valuable opinions and insights as well as learnings that you could share with your customers to make their lives easier. Remember, holding onto knowledge causes businesses to die, but sharing it and giving it away for free breathes life into your business. It will come back to you.
So get writing and share some of those tips and insights that helped you get where you are, and it will take you where you want to be.
What should you do with the content once you’ve created it?
Once you’ve created a piece of content, you need to get it out there. Just having it on your website isn’t good enough, you need to share it on as many social media platforms as you can.
Related: Content Marketing Awesomness
5 Steps to sharing content
- Step 1: I would suggest you start with a blog. Write a pithy piece about something fascinating like ‘5 people who should never design your website’. Make sure it’s funny and informative and possibly a little irreverent and post it on your website.
- Step 2: Then you might create a short one minute YouTube video about the blog you just wrote and embed the video on your blog page. This is for people who are too lazy to read, or who can’t read. As Mark Twain said, there’s not much difference between the two. There’s really no excuse for not having a YouTube channel these days, even my mother has one and she’s 70 years old! It’s the soap box you’ve always wanted. Plus you can activate adverts on your channel and make a bit of money on the side, but that’s another blog post entirely.
- Step 3: Create a bitly.com shortened link to your blog and send it out on Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and LinkedIn with a message that will encourage people to click on it. Use hashtags like #webdev or #plumbing or whatever you’re writing about for wider reach. If you’re pressed for time (read: lazy) you can use HootSuite.com to send to all four social media sites at the same time.
- Step 4: Design an email in MailChimp using your blog as the centerpiece, add in a few sections about specials and the like and send it to your subscriber base.
- Step 5: Send it out to blogs, online websites and any magazines or media publications you know of that you think might be interested in the piece, or whose readers’ would be interested in it. You never know, they might pick it up. Which is why I was blessed enough to be in You Magazine and Huisgenoot. My family has never been prouder.
Avoid being labeled a spammer?
You’re only a spammer if your content is hard-sell; which is the same as saying it’s boring.
- Keep it clever
- Interesting to your target market or the people you are trying to reach, and no, specials are rarely clever or interesting
- Relevant to the people watching it. How does it make their lives better? How are you solving a key problem of theirs? Which emotion are you addressing?
- Or make sure it’s funny, quirky or highly entertaining. Nobody wants to think these days, so be part of the distraction from reality and your customers will love you.
- Keep it creative
- Do a bit of research first, and don’t rewrite someone else’s work, we can tell.
- Consistent content
- Don’t get us hooked on your fascinating blog and then leave us cold-turkey. Make sure you blog consistently, whether it’s weekly or monthly.
Remember it’s not spam if it’s informative or entertaining. The only thing stopping you from being the next YouTube star, is you.
Gen Z Is Coming! Are You Ready?
How do you market your company to this generation?
According to the CNBC, about 61 000 Gen Zers are on the verge of entering the workforce and consumer market in the US alone.
They are digital natives; they have grown up in a world of vines, txts (yes, we know) and internet. Their attention span is shorter than ever, they are more connected than any other generation, and they are brilliant multitaskers. Gen Z is a more tolerant generation but also more cautious; studies have found less risk-taking amongst this group and an increase in thoughtfulness and questioning authority.
So, on the one side of this coin, how do you market your company to this generation?
1. By being transparent
Be upfront about your business, what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They have lost faith in corporations. Thus, you must stop relying on and hiding behind small print. Yes, you need terms and conditions to protect your company, but when it looks like a miracle weight-loss advert of the 80s (“Eat anything you want just take this pill. Ts&Cs apply.”), you’ll lose customers.
Related: Investing in Young Entrepreneurs
Gen Z consumers want to see you are real; they don’t want models or celebrities but regular people who can assist them in a manner that speaks to them. And they will hold your business is socially accountable. Instead of producing millions of T-shirts at the cheapest possible price, they want local, equality and free-trade, and they want to know what businesses are doing for the environment and society.
Gen Z won’t accept your claims at your word; they want to see evidence in your company culture.
2. By offering options
A jewellery purchasing study has found that most Gen Zers don’t have a preferred shopping platform. What this means is your messaging, availability and culture need to be spread evenly across all contact points – sales, call centres, website and digital advertising. In fact, many Gen Z consumers rely on mixing their contact points.
That being said, they want immediate action. If they see something they want online, they will go to the shop just to have the item right now. More than immediacy, they also want custom-made or made-to-order products and services. They shy away from traditional made-to-stock methods, which creates plenty of room in the production industry.
3. By being forward thinking
We have to always remember what was mind-blowing inventions to other generations are the norm for Gen Zers. They hold brands and businesses to high expectations, and instead of being loyal to brands, expect brands to be loyal to them. As Gen Z is more focused on individuality, they are also proving to be a generation with a high entrepreneurial output. All this shows that they don’t want the norm; they don’t crave what’s new today, they want tomorrow, sustainability and innovation, and they want it now.
On the other side of the coin, how do you attract this generation to work at your company? In much the same way.
1. By being transparent
As much as you are hiring them based on what they bring to the table, so too are they looking at what you can afford them. But, they don’t just want to hear you tell them about the benefits, they want to see it – and they are not after just money. Gen Zers want to be financially secure, but also one that is fulfilling; one where they find purpose in their jobs and company.
2. By offering options
Gen Z employees don’t want to work eight to five, they don’t want to be chained to a desk, and they don’t want to be micro-managed. Give them flexibility on how they want to conduct their work and how they can communicate with their colleagues. Create an understanding workspace for their needs and help them improve their skills – for instance, it’s been reported that a stumbling block for Gen Zers is communication. Growing up with emojis and text messages make face-to-face conversations, business calls and writing emails difficult for them.
Gen Z employees want to work hard and grow their skills. Even though they’re growing up in a super-paced society, they want to climb the corporate ranks at the given speed. What they crave, with urgency, is gaining value from their jobs.
Related: The Z Generation
3. By being forward thinking
They are lateral thinkers, and their creativity is not just outside the box but has broken the box completely. Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy, and they will challenge the systems and procedures you have in place if these are not providing the needed speed and data required. Thus, they crave to work in an environment where they can push boundaries and ultimately help the company move forward. Hiring from the Gen Z pool can provide you with innovative insights into your business that can grow it towards tomorrow’s giants.
The only way to be sure you are future-proofing your business is by guaranteeing it caters for future customers and employees, by relying on forward-thinking enterprise resource planning software, for instance. Epicor ERP software ensures that their clients stay agile and innovative through trusting top minds to build and develop intelligent systems that open doors for Gen Zers. It’s Epicor’s innate tech-savviness that allows them to visualise the landscape of tomorrow and develop the software to support it today.
Free Sample Marketing Plan Template
You don’t need an MBA to write a marketing plan for your business. While no two businesses are alike, all solid marketing plans need to provide specific information. Use this sample marketing plan template to get you started on the right foot and cover all the essential information.
Your marketing plan should provide a comprehensive blueprint of the business, its market and associated market activity, its position in the market, target and expected customers, offerings, competition, solutions and contingency plans.
Using a sample Marketing Plan Template can save you a lot of time in creating your own marketing plan.
Download a Sample Marketing Plan Template
Use the free templates below to help make sure you’ve covered all the important bits:
Recommended Marketing Reads:
- Smart Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
- Mega Guide to Online Marketing
- Marketing Toolbox for the Entrepreneur
- The Ultimate Marketing Tool Library for Entrepreneurs
4 Steps To Writing Content That Converts
Hook them, engage them and tell them what you want them to do.
Is your content persuasive enough to convert your visitors into leads?
Some pieces of content you create will drive conversions, while others will be lost in the archives. As a marketer, you always want to write content that is persuasive enough to turn your visitors into leads and thereafter, into paying customers.
Writing persuasive content is not magic. Let’s take a look at some ways to write content that converts.
1. Craft an enticing title
The title of your content is the most important factor that influences engagement. A whopping 8 out of 10 people may not even read your content if the title isn’t captivating enough.
Using Headline Analyzer by Coschedule is the best way to create a magnetic headline that attracts your audience. Just enter your headline and the tool will report back with a score and a grade along with some suggestions to improve.
For analysis, the tool looks at the following factors:
- The headline type: It capitalises on the type of headline that converts, including lists, how to’s and questions.
- Word balance: It helps you to curate an enticing title by checking to see if it has the right word balance.
- Character length: It also looks whether your title is scannable and easy to digest.
2. Fulfill your title’s promise
Getting clicks on your title is just half of the equation. Ensuring that your content fulfills the promise of your title is another equally, maybe even more, important part of driving conversion. If your content can’t keep the promise your headline makes, your visitors will likely abandon your site without further engagement.
When crafting each line of your content, keep in mind that the purpose is to get your visitors to read the next sentence, then the sentence after that and all the way down to the end of your article.
Aside from providing value, you’ll also want to evoke a desire for what you’re offering.
3. Make it scannable
Most of your website visitors spend less than 15 seconds on your website, meaning people quickly skim through the content instead of reading word for word.
If your content is hard to scan, meaning it contains long sentences and paragraphs, it’s likely that your visitors won’t stick around. Chances are, they’ll go to your competitors to find content that’s easier to consume.
To create content that is easily scannable, you can follow the actionable tips below:
- Short paragraphs: Write short paragraphs, preferably 3-4 sentences at most. Breaking down your content into short paragraphs makes it more digestible for your readers.
- Use attractive subheaders: Readers should be able to bounce around to seek out the pieces of your content that interest them. By using attractive subheaders, you can pique the curiosity of your readers and keep them engaged.
- Use bullet points: Using a bulleted list is the easiest way to ensure that your content doesn’t strain your visitors’ eye to read through it. Since bulleted lists stand out from the rest of your page, they make the entire piece easier to skim through.
4. Add a call to action at the end
The best way to convert your visitors into leads is to add a call to action, such as an email subscription form, at the end of every article you publish.
Some tips to speed up the growth of your email list are:
- Offer a post-specific resource: Create a post-specific resource, and offer it for download in exchange for the email address of your visitors. When the resource is post-specific, readers are more likely to engage with the campaign, in turn boosting conversions.
- Creating a premium library: To increase both perceived and actual value, you can create a premium library consisting of ebooks and other valuable course materials. You can then persuade your visitors to subscribe to your list by adding a signup box at the end of each article.
- Content gating: Content gating is a popular strategy to boost conversions on your site. For instance, you can grow your list by blocking a small section of your content for subscribers only, which encourage your readers to sign up for your list.
The best way to create content that converts is to use emotion in your copy and evoke a desire for what you’re offering. By following the above tips, you can write content that converts your visitors into leads, and soon thereafter, into paying customers.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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