Do you rely on social media for your sales?
What if using social media for business actually harmed your sales?
Internet Psychologist Graham Jones is speculating on new research from The School of Business, University of Philadelphia, that shows that while social media can improve business in the short-term, in the long-term it actually harms sales.
The study is not yet published but it suggests that businesses get caught in a vicious cycle of building followers who make an initial purchase but who quickly get fed up with the social activity and unfollow them.
They have to keep getting more new followers to get more sales – and that’s expensive.
Do you rely on social activity for your sales?
If this study proves it could be doing you more harm than good, what will you do instead?
What did we do before social media marketing?
The advertising industry is in dire straights as consumers increasing ignore or block adverts.
Consumers are in charge, researching potential suppliers before businesses are even aware of them.
What still works is building relationships, building a reputation and building trust.
Social media is great for this but it requires us to be “social” and not to use the platforms as “media”. (I feel as though I’ve been here a few times before in the last ten years!)
As small businesses we have a huge advantage over big corporations.
It’s easy for us to personal.
We know our customers more intimately.
We know how to talk to them and now is the time to do it.
Apart from building trust and reputation, it makes economic sense. It’s a lot cheaper to get an existing customer to buy more than to constantly seek new customers.
How good are you at talking to your customers?
How are your repeat sales?
Need help having those conversations? Let me know!
“The future is not a destination, it’s a direction”
This is a quote from Ed Catmull, author of Creativity Inc, a book about Pixar and Disney.
I saw a couple of tweets making a point that it made five year plans and roadmaps redundant.
I’m not sure it does tho.
You still need to choose a direction, and for that you need to decide on what sort of future you want.
Once you’ve done that, you need to decide how you’re going to get there.
That’s a plan.
“Plans Are Useless, But Planning Is Indispensable”
One of the greatest planners in history, General Dwight Eisenhower, said “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
A lot of people who run a small business don’t bother making plans because, when the plan meets the real world, the real world wins.
I get that. But what they miss out on is the all important process of planning.
The other thing to remember is that a plan for a business is not the same as a plan for a life.
A plan for a business is about numbers, goals and targets, not about how the business owner feels about executing them.
Where it all gets a bit muddled is where the business IS the owner, and the two are inextricably entwined.
If you’re resisting making a plan, try this:
Start with the end in mind
Decide where you want to end up.
This might be at the end of your life or the end of the week.
As soon as you know what you want, you have a target or a goal – in other words, a destination to aim for.
Then you decide how you’re going to get there – that’s the direction you take.
Is your business the vehicle that will help you to live the sort of life you want?
Sometimes, what is right for the business isn’t right for you.
You know what would make the business successful but you don’t want to to do it, or it doesn’t fit with your life.
If you’re creating a business that can exist without you, that can be run by others, or sold, then the plan will be very different to the business that is your life.
When planning the direction your life will take, you might add a timescale or you might leave it open to see how long it takes.
You might decide to go in a straight line, finding a way round, under, over or through any obstacles.
You might look at each choice as it comes up and take a diversion, or even go round in a circle, but the overall direction won’t change, unless you decide you want a very different future.
The idea of the plan is not to stick rigidly to a set of instructions but to make a start in the right direction.
To take action.
Use the plan to make decisions (will this take me closer to, or further away from, the future I want?)
The alternative is to react to whatever crops up.
What direction will that take you in?
More importantly, where will you end up?
When you’ve made the plan you can throw it away if you like but what you’ll be left with, the process of creating the plan, will help you to keep heading in the right direction, even when things get tough.
If you want to create a plan for a business that can exist without you, that’s a very different proposition!
Want a hand to make a plan and keep heading in the right direction? Let me know, I’ll be happy to help!
Related post: Profit isn’t everything
Do your customers really value you?
“We supplied a small office of around 100 people with a daily fresh fruit delivery for the last 7 years. A new Office Manager came in and shook things up a little. She tried to negotiate a discount which, as a quality merchant, I won’t do. She switched to a competitor because they were cheaper. Shortly after, I received an email asking us to supply them again. She received so many complaints about the poor quality of the fruit and the late deliveries that they wanted us back.”
This is a LinkedIn post from Neil Bharadwa, the owner of The Cambridge Fruit Company (which incidentally, got 1229 likes and 77 comments in under 2 weeks).
Those of you who have read New Business: Next Steps will recognise Neil from the case studies.
I wanted to share Neil’s post because it raises quite a few questions:
Do you believe you’re worth the price you charge?
I get regular, anguished, questions about pricing from people who clearly don’t believe in the value of what they’re providing.
It’s great to see Neil’s unhesitating assurance that there’s no way he’d give a discount.
He rightly believes that he’s providing great value.
Would you walk away from a deal?
Discounting only works if the business model is set up for high volume and low margins.
For most small businesses discounting can be disastrous as they simply can’t increase the volume of sales enough to make up what they lose on each transaction.
It’s better to walk away and work with people who appreciate your value.
I was astonished by the number of comments on Neil’s post that suggested he should have put his prices up when he started re-supplying this client.
He was adamant that that is not how he treats his customers.
They were perfectly entitled to shop around for the best deal and he was perfectly entitled to refuse to discount.
To slap them with a price increase when they come back is not the way to build trust and a long term relationship.
Faced with this situation, what would you do?
If you need help with pricing or any other aspect of growing your business and making it more profitable, just let me know!
“How do I find more customers?”
Whenever I hear that, I want to jump up and down and shout:
“That’s the wrong question!”
There are two much, much better questions.
1. How do I RETAIN and sell more to my existing customers?
2. How do I know when customers find me?
The reasons these are better questions are:
It costs up to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.
Over 80% of consumer conversations are invisible to businesses*.
We are no longer in control of how our businesses are discovered, perceived or evaluated.
Most businesses have no idea how people find them.
They don’t know how many people find them but don’t go on to buy from them.
Crucially, if someone doesn’t buy, they don’t know WHY.
If they do buy, the business doesn’t know why, or how to keep them coming back for more.
What’s the answer?
We need to make it easy for relevant** people to find us.
When they find us we need to know what they see that influences them to buy or not to buy.
If they buy, we need to know how they influence future potential buyers.
This is GOOD news – really it is!
For most small businesses, marketing has always been a hit and miss affair.
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half. John Wanamaker, (attributed)
Department store owner (1838 – 1922)
Today, the tools available to target advertising with real accuracy are cheap and easy to use.
More importantly, the tools to analyse the results are built in.
It’s relatively easy to understand the whole process that your customers go through (known as the customer journey) and to see what works and what doesn’t.
Most businesses already have these tools available – we just need to get smarter about using them!
What you need to get started
Google Analytics on your website – its free
A CRM (Contract Relationship Management) System – there are lots and many are free
An email marketing system – e.g. Mailchimp – its free
Customer surveys – many are free
Social data – real data from social media channels (not bullshit data which is all too prevalent)
With a bit of insight you’ll soon start to see why “How do I find more customers?” is a crazy question and you’ll get comfortable with understanding how they find you, and what happens when they do!
*Source: The New Marketing Reality (Watson IBM)
**Relevant people are those who are looking for what you have to sell