Two out of three Canadians are prepared to pay more for the same product or service if it’s provided by a local small business. Entrepreneurs should take advantage of this knowledge!
The real question is how to attract these consumers. A business’s location and the owner’s personality are important. But the main factor that influences Canadian Internet users to buy from a local small company is word of mouth. And these days, “word of mouth on the Internet” means Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Meetup, Google+, Tumblr... That’s right – social media!
Here are three mistakes that entrepreneurs often make when addressing their customers via social media. Yet, these are simple mistakes to avoid!
1. Not developing a communication plan
A communication plan doesn’t have to be complicated. The idea is that, since you won’t have time to do everything, you’ll need to focus your efforts where they’ll do the most good. Here are a few questions to guide you.
- Who is your target? It’s important to identify your main target. To find new clients, a real estate agent will try to reach friends of clients for whom he has closed a sale. Posting pictures on Facebook and tagging the client (with the client’s permission, of course!) can be effective.
- Where will you find them? Practically every target audience has their preferred social media. How do you know which one? Simply ask your customers. This can allow you to strike up a conversation and create a climate of trust that’s favourable for a sale.
- What is the desired action? “Have a social media presence” is not a business objective. Your objective could be to change the way in which your old customers perceive you, or to convince existing customers to talk to their contacts about you. Or you may simply want to stimulate sales by offering exclusive discounts to your contacts.
- What good reasons do they have to do what you want them to do? We’re talking about good reasons for them, not for you! An accountant doesn’t want all his clients calling him on April 15 to get their taxes done before the 30th. But for the client, the late nights that this will cause aren’t a concern: he can get in at the last minute and still have his tax return done on time. How can you motivate the client to plan ahead? Some will be swayed by savings (“My first 50 clients of 2014 will get a 20% discount”), and others by the quality of service (“Accountants can take the time to find the best loopholes in January, but not in April”). Use what motivates your clients.
- What good reasons do they have not to do what you want them to? It’s normal to not like this question, but it’s important to answer it honestly, as it will enable you to figure out how to get around these obstacles. For example, people often hesitate to use a travel agent because they think it’s more expensive. To counter this, the travel agent can post examples on Twitter of prices for popular destinations with the “best price found online” and the (always less expensive) price he just got when reserving tickets. And posting these tweets in real time on his website could be an interesting addition!
It’s best to answer these questions before launching your social media presence, but it’s never too late to consider them.
2. Not planning enough time
For most people, it takes at least two hours to write a blog article…but it’s easy to spend an entire day on one! Before diving into social media, realistically evaluate the amount of available time you have. Here are a few tips for planning your social media content.
- Don’t be too ambitious at first. Take small steps and don’t try to do everything right away. Measure your results along the way to see how you progress.
- Produce your content during quiet periods. If you sell toys, December is a particularly busy month, so consider writing your “how to choose an age-appropriate child’s gift” article in summer. Writing poolside isn’t that unpleasant, and you’ll congratulate yourself for being so disciplined!
- Delegate the task to an employee who likes social media. Explain the results you want to obtain and monitor the employee’s work. It will require a little more of your attention in the beginning, but after a few weeks your company will be communicating with potential customers via social media without it costing you any precious sleep time!
3. Being in too much of a hurry to sell
Trying to sell your products and services is a normal reflex. But are your social media contacts ready to buy? Taking a gradual approach is often more effective. How? Tell them something that’s truly useful for them.
For example, if you install weeping tile around residential foundations, you could talk about the health problems for children caused by mould. Parents will listen to you much more attentively than if you hammer them with your service offers. But most importantly, you’re setting the stage for your next sale: many parents wouldn’t want to spend thousands to protect their home’s foundation, but they’d readily make the same investment to protect their children’s health.