You’ve got a vision, a business plan and know how to finance your new start-up. With your ducks in a row you’re ready to get your business off the ground and start making money—or at least paying off debt.
But in your rush to get out of the gate, are you overlooking some of the most important elements for success?
What’s your plan for social media, marketing and client communication? Your new business is a little like a tree falling in the woods—if no one knows about your business, does it really exist?
If your content is entirely promotional you will actually alienate the audience you’re trying to attract…
It's a good practice to help people find you with a social media presence. Social media and marketing are arguably the most important elements of a new business. A presence on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and even Yelp (depending on your business) can make or break your company in its infancy.
Obviously you won’t want to spend all your time on social accounts, but just because you’re a solo entrepreneur doesn’t mean you need to make a go of it alone. Steve Strauss discussed a number of ways to get a little help without shelling out big bucks. He specifically mentions business school interns, but for social media help consider taking a video production or communication student on-board for a semester internship. They can help craft a short video series, set up social accounts and start creating a following for your business online.
If you’re business is web based you might be better off hiring part time help to ensure your website is optimized not only for Internet users, but for Google spiders as well so your company is actually visible and easy to find in search results.
It’s incredibly important to appeal to your target audience—their age group, interests and wants—once you know what they are you can cater to them via your social accounts. Consider offering them something of value either in the form of discounts, special promotions or useful tips and articles.
Be careful to strike a balance with your social posts. If your content is entirely promotional you could actually alienate the audience you’re trying to attract. You want people to view you and your brand as useful and informational—or even funny and relatable depending on your business.
Once you've targeted a customer base, help them get in touch and stay in touch. After finding a site for a product, company or service you’re interested in the single most frustrating thing is realizing you have to dig for their contact information, or even being unable to contact them in a variety of ways.
Some people are more comfortable with email, but many still would rather just make a quick and easy phone call. If you’re not providing your customers with easy to find contact information giving them access to you across a number of platforms you could be using clients who are otherwise interested.
You will want a listing in:
- Your local phone book
- On your social media accounts
- Your Google+ account
- Relevant internet directories
Make sure your listing is uniform across all platforms to make it easier for Google to identify your company. List a phone number, email and your business address if you have one. If you’re working out of a home office, chances are you won’t want to list your address or home phone number. Some small home businesses have opted to purchase a call forwarding number so potential clients calls can be forwarded to their office, cell or partner's phone so customers don’t fall through the cracks if they happen to be out of the office.
Finally, never ignore your social audience or potential clients—respond to emails, tweets, comments and phone calls promptly and politely—regardless of the content. A pleasant interaction and good word of mouth goes a long way.