This is a guest post by Diane Gilleland, aka Sister Diane, of CraftyPod.com. Diane makes ebooks, podcasts, and videos about what it means to make things, and what happens when you turn making things into your vocation.
We’ve been using online tools like blogging, Twitter and Facebook to market our small businesses for several years now, and in that time, we’ve collectively evolved a number of rules for success: interact with lots of people. Build relationships. Share interesting content.
All this stuff is worth pursuing, of course. But you can spend hours online every day, sharing cool links and being friendly, without generating many sales. That’s because the internet is teeming with people doing exactly the same thing. To help your products or services stand out from all that noise, you’ll need to get more purposeful about what you’re doing online.
In this three-part series of posts, we’ll look at three important questions you can ask yourself about your online marketing. Whether you’re a blogger, a Facebook user or a Tweeter, your answers will help you build an online presence that highlights what you sell and how it’s valuable.
Today, let’s start with our first question:
Who, specifically, needs to be reading your online posts?
I think that often, small business owners assume that the answer to this question is “Everyone! As many people as possible!” We seek to grow huge numbers of “followers” so we can tell them to go buy our product.
But actually, no matter what you sell – hand-knit socks, sewing patterns, handmade jewelry, or anything else – that product has a very specific customer. There are very, very few products in this world that absolutely everyone needs. Your product appeals to people of a specific age group, gender, income level, and set of interests. So your goal isn’t to talk to all people. It’s to talk to the right people.
Or, maybe your goal with your online presence isn’t to sell a product, but to be hired by someone specific – maybe for some freelance design work or a book contract. Well, in that case, you need yet another specific group of people reading your online posts: editors and corporate buyers who are in the market for your services.
Why is it important to know who who these folks are?
If you’re doing effective online marketing, it means you’ve identified that subset of people who really need what you offer, and you’re sharing your products and services with them specifically.
...Except that for many of us, our online circles are currently a jumble of real-life friends, family members, people we’ve met online, people we followed back out of politeness, and no small number of people who followed us because they hope to sell us something.
In other words, you may be talking to a whole lot of people online who will never really need what you sell. And while this may be fun (and it definitely consumes time), it may not get any effective marketing done for you.
If you know who, specifically, you need to reach, then you can get out there and initiate relationships with these people online. Comment on their blogs, respond to their tweets, and post comments on their Facebook pages. Get on their radar as a friendly, helpful person and many of them will be happy to follow you back. Put some effort in this direction over time, and when you talk about your business, you’ll find you have a much more receptive audience.
In the next post in this series, we’ll talk about how to hone in on the stories behind your product or service.
Photo Credits :: Melilab
Tara Swiger is our Community Wrangler, a crafter of independence, and a Starship Captain. She’s right in the middle of a writing a book on Marketing for IndieBiz’s for Cooperative Press and she’d love to distract herself by hanging out with you on Twitter.