I was at a great networking event last night hosted by the Bedfordshire & Luton Chamber of Commerce. They had engaged a great and informative speaker, Ian McKendrick, who was talking to us about how we can use social networking to help market and grow our business.
This got me thinking, how can you use social networking to achieve more for your business, without either shelling out loads of money, or spending hours blogging away or tweeting away?
Here are my thoughts on how to achieve more, for your time, effort and money with social networking:
1. Be clear about who are your target market. This is the same whether you are using on-line marketing tools or more traditional tools. It’s a great boost to the ego to have 100+ people in your linkedin contacts or over 1000 followers on Twitter – but unless these are people who will buy from you, or know someone that will buy from you, then it’s not worth the effort in courting them. For example, if you want to target local buyers to you, then you don’t particularly want to be building up a following on Twitter of middle-aged house wives in America.
2. Join on-line networking groups, and become active members of the on-line forums, where potential buyers of your products or services hang out. Ideally, you need to be spending at least 80% of your networking time (whether in person or on-line) with potential buyers.
3. Use your on-line presence to boost traffic to your website. Google ranks the content in blogs above content written in websites. So start a blog, or use your tweets (postings on twitter) to direct potential clients/customers or referrers to your website. Or if you are a busy professional or business owner, get your PA to start tweeting for you… Writing a blog and being an active member of an on-line networking group, such as http://www.4networking.biz/ will help increase your search engine optimisation. Plus you can be a free on-line member of 4networking, and still attend up to 3 breakfast networking meetings before you have to pay a penny!
4. Remember to project your personal image – rather than your company logo. At the end of the day, people still buy from people. Make sure you have a photo of you on all your on-line profiles. Tools such as tweet later enable you to send out scheduled tweets – just make sure you intersperse some of your tweets with some postings with the personal, human touch.
5. Start following potential buyers on Twitter. Very simply use a tool such as Twellow to identify potential buyers of your products and services, and then start following them. Make sure your twitter postings are including links to relevant articles and blogs for the people you start to follow – then you are giving yourself the greatest chance that they start to follow you.
6. Keep your on-line and off-line brand and image consistent. It’s very easy to start diluting the impact of your brand, by giving off different messages from all the communication channels you use to talk to your potential customers. There are some simple things, make sure you are using the same colour scheme, logo and font wherever possible.
7. Do remember that it is 7-14 times more effective to win business from an existing customer rather than a new customer. Enough said really! So use something like LinkedIn as a memory jogger to talk to your existing customers regularly.
8. Ask satisfied clients and customers to write a testimonial for you. But, here is the modern twist. Ask them to write a testimonial for you on LinkedIn, and ask their permission for you to reproduce the testimonial on your website. This way you get another contact on linkedin – and a new list of potential customers.
9. If you don’t like the thought of writing articles or blogs then record audio or video podcasts for posts to YouTube. It is a little known fact that YouTube gets 40 million hits a day, whereas Google (The search engine to be listed on) gets only 20 million hits a day.
10. Keep it simple. You can spend hours writing different blogs & posting articles to different places. Write a blog and have it linked to your website. You may find that your website hoster will offer you a free blog (mine did!) Use a service such as Tweetfeet to post a tweet when your blog is updated.
11. Listen out for people looking for help: But, don’t try to sell to them. (well not to start with!) First of all help them – answering their question/query or direct them to your blog where they can find the answer to their query. The principle of reciprocity means that they are then more likely to do something for you in return… recommend your services… buy your services… return a favour that you ask of them…
About Heather Townsend
Heather Townsend is a brand ambassador for the Practice Excellence Programme, and the Founder of ‘The Accountants Millionaires’ Club’. In 2015 the ICAEW decided she was the number one online influencer for the accountancy profession. She is the author of 4 books, including The Go-To Expert, and ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ (co-authored with Jo Larbie).
Heather is always up for a challenge. Perhaps that is why she has built a track record of helping accountants grow the size of their practice by 50-200%, often in under two years. Often helping them make partner or equity partner in the process.
Heather is a high profile member of the accountancy profession in the UK. She has worked with over 300 partners, coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. Heather's clients have included: 7 out of the Top 10 UK practices, including all the Big 4 firms.
In 2016 her and her team of coaches have coached:
1) 7 people successfully to partner
2) Professionals from all of the Big 4, from every major continent in the world
As well as helping accountants make partner, she still spends 40% of her time helping small firms, typically under £1m GRF:
1) Create profitable revenue streams from advisory services and reduce their reliance on revenue from compliance services
2) Radically increase their profitability, even if they are a cloud based practice, often helping them achieve a net profit margin of 40%+
3) Double or even triple the size of their practice within 3 years
4) Win bigger and better clients
5) Grow the right team around them so they stop working stupidly high hours and spend quality time with the people they care about
Her articles appear regularly in the UK national and trade press, including The Financial Times, Accountancy Age, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. Heather is also in-demand for her speaking and has recently returned from the South African Accountancy Academy conference.