Forgive me if this turns into a rant, but I can’t keep quiet any longer. I love Facebook. Yes, it has its irritations, particularly since some of my friends have some very strange ideas about how to cure cancer. Generally though, it’s a great way to keep in touch.
Then there are the Facebook groups. Like most businesses, I have a Facebook page (and if you don’t already follow me, here’s the link). However, most of my online support, along with a lot of business, comes from the groups. It’s basically online networking. You benefit from other people’s expertise and get yourself known by sharing your own. That’s the idea, anyway.
Unfortunately, sometimes it all goes horribly wrong. Brace yourself for a few pet hates…
How is your inbox looking? Do you open your email each day knowing that everything you receive is going to be useful, entertaining and a joy to read? No, me neither. Still, there’s a reason I don’t unsubscribe from all of them. There are plenty of retailers out there that I buy from now and again. They’re useful information sources for birthday or Christmas presents. I stay on their list because it’s useful to know when they’ve got a sale on.
If you send email marketing out to your customers, you may well fall into that category. As long as your customers are happy, it’s all fine. However, break the rules and you could find yourself on the end of more than an angry phone call.
If you have a shop with physical premises, a great window display is a no-brainer. How else are you going to convince people to come inside? Of course, what your shop front needs depends on the customers you want to attract. The display outside a seaside bucket and spade shop will be very different from that of a high end boutique.
When you have an online business, it’s easy to forget that the same rules apply. Your online presence, particularly your website, is a virtual shopfront and should be treated accordingly.
Are you annoying your customers without meaning to? Could you be bringing in more business if your marketing talked to your audience in the right way?
Bridging the gap between you and your audience can be harder than you think. There are so many potential pitfalls if you misjudge your customers. The main problem is that you’re an expert. You know your business and your subject inside and out but your customers might not. You run the risk of alienating them by blinding them with science. Conversely, you could also end up patronising them by assuming they know less than they do.
It’s a balancing act. So how do you get it right?
When you first start a business, you probably just hope that someone will buy from you. That’s particularly true when you’re a sole trader working for yourself for the first time.
However, trying to market to everyone is a recipe for disaster. There’s nothing wrong with taking whatever work comes your way in the early days when you just need to make some money. But you’ll be doing yourself a massive disservice if you don’t get more targeted in your marketing.