Building a business is no easy task, especially when it’s not a classic brick and mortar shop in a busy street.
While all businesses rely on customers and consumers, the whole money-game is built on 3 pillars: eyeballs, attention and interest.
Setting up shop in a busy street brings you lots of eyeballs and attention, whereas your actual service and/or product bring you interest.
That’s at least how things used to be, but then came The Internet.
The internet is one of the biggest technological advancements in human history.
On one hand, taming fire, inventing the wheel, electric currents and lightbulbs, internal combustion engines, the compass, vaccines and telephones took our existence and comfort to a whole new level.
On the other hand, the internet (and computers to a great degree) instigated a silent revolution and marked the beginning of a new chapter in human history.
The internet instigated cultural shifts, political revolutions and more wealth than ever seen before (Mansa Musa was an exception). It revolutionized the way we go about our lives, the way we eat, shop, interact with each other, date, learn and evolve as a species.
Internet disruption went a step further with the creation of Blogs and Social Media platforms.
It unsettled the way we used to consume and almost killed brick and mortar, in less than 30 years of existence, mind you.
And therein lies the importance of Online Shops and Digital Media/Marketing.
- Let’s talk marketing:
The internet (and Social Media) increased our reach more than anything before it.
It didn’t just connect people to people like telephones did, it connected actual THINGS to people through what we now know as e-commerce.
That’s what we call B2C (marketing) in business jargon.
Social Media made it so that you now can literally reach millions of people with just a click.
It’s wild !
That being said, nothing good comes easy, and so extensive reach and good conversion rates usually come at a price, and a hefty one at that.
- In practice:
Say you want to launch a small business in your town.
Back in the day, go-to techniques to spread the word were handing out flyers, talking to your friends (word-of-mouth), asking for personal recommendations and leaving business cards everywhere you go.
These techniques could still work (potentially) if done properly, but are hardly going to keep you afloat and financially stable.
The internet, and Internet Marketing (AKA Digital Marketing/Online Marketing) to be exact, allows you to bypass all that and reach more people than you ever could with traditional marketing techniques.
- Here’s how:
Social Media (marketing), websites (and landing pages) and blogs, of course.
These 3 channels are where it’s been at for the past..20 years maybe ?
That’s where most people under 65 look for things, so that’s where attention and eyeballs are.
- Where to start:
PSA: The inevitables depend on your business and your niche, ALWAYS.
The inevitables for most businesses would be Google My Business, Facebook (controversial, I know), Instagram and a personal website/online shop.
In additional to those four, and depending on your business, you might want to consider a blog for the brand and educational purposes (expertise), a LinkedIn page, a YouTube and/or Tiktok channel (tutorials, how-to’s) and a Pinterest page.
On a lesser level, and once again depending on your biz, consider starting a podcast, a space on telegram, a discord as well as setting up a WhatsApp number for the brand.
The creation and management of ALL THIS requires lots of skills. It requires a lot of time and dedication, too.
After all, there’s no point in being all over the place if you aren’t constantly building and engaging with your audience.
- That’s where Online Marketers / Digital Wizards come in:
The consistent management of pages and channels is hectic, tiring and even gruesome to some.
Managing AND building a community from scratch ? Different ball game altogether.
Social Media management, Advertising, Digital Communication and Branding take a LOT of skills. They take a lot of time as well.
But before we talk about all that, let’s briefly discuss branding or brand-building.
Brand-building is difficult. It takes so much work and specific skills. It can’t be half-assed.
Brand-building also takes time, lots of it. It took some of the biggest brands in the world YEARS to get to where they are now, and that’s without factoring in the millions of dollars they each put into their marketing machine.
Brand-building entails good design, strategy, digital communication, social ads and much more.
So clearly, it’s as complex as they come. But it’s also the safest way to a prosperous business.
People often buy the brand, not the product itself.
FYI, I chose this career path, as a Brand Builder, Social Media marketer and Growth Hacker (so-to-speak), because of its complexity and challenges around it.
I grew up with Social Media and was very quickly drawn to it. I’ve been on it from day one, I was involved in it very early, I saw it grow and evolve, and so did I.
I became a freelance Social Media expert 3 years ago because I felt caged in. Most companies I’ve worked for were so rudimental when it came to marketing. That despite being multimillion dollar ones.
I’ve always wanted to instigate change. Working for the sake of working wasn’t “it” for me. I wanted more, so I went for more.
Obviously more didn’t mean more work, but rather more meaning. I wanted to become a driver of change with my clients, rather than just a pawn.
I worked my butt off and I loved it.
With more than 7 years in, my work became more about setting new standards than following the “old way“.
Once you sort out your branding, it’s time to communicate.
digital communication entails creativity, innovation, focus and efficiency. It also requires you to be open to new ideas and have an appetite for risk.
The challenge in what I do lies in the fickleness of human behavior. Marketing is all about human behavior.
Skills are important but understanding your audience, your leads and customers is what gets you over the line, never forget that.
- Going full circle:
I wrote this post to explain the importance of online presence and branding. I also want to encourage (small) business owners to outsource complex tasks as much as they can. It’s vital.
Many (most) beginners and business owners prefer saving a few bucks and doing it all by themselves. That strategy always backfires, unless you’re a marketing expert.
By refusing to outsource these functions, you will likely waste weeks, months or even years of your business. You’re also likely to waste lots of money and “brand currency“.
Brand currency is what people know you for. Once people know you for something, it’ll take triple the amount of efforts, time and money to rebrand yourself and your business.
You can avoid all that hassle by simply outsourcing the vital functions of your business.
- What you gain from outsourcing:
- Time and energy: If you don’t particularly enjoy spending time on all the above-mentioned tasks, you’re likely to hit a brick wall doing it yourself. It can be overwhelming and extremely time-consuming, obviously.
- Focus: Because there’s nothing more frustrating when starting a business than distraction, outsourcing gives you a breath of fresh air and more freedom to focus on the business itself.
- A QUALITY Social Media post, an update on Google My Business or a blogpost could take hours to create. Don’t waste your time communicating when you already have millions of things to handle elsewhere.
- Burnout: Doing it all by yourself could potentially cause you to give up. Real business starts when all the excitement wears out. Outsourcing helps avoid that.
- Social Ads are complex: it may not seem like it (or does it?) but social ads are as complex as they come. There are so many factors to factor in, and so much tinkering to do as you go. It actually took me years to learn the ins and outs of Social Ads, and I’m still learning, esp. since the introduction of iOS14. I have a masters in that stuff mind you, and more than 7 years working with different clients. That’s how much work went into it. Never underestimate the work of others just because they make it look so simple, so smooth, it usually never is.
- Creatives and designs deserve special attention and care: Anyone can create content, but to create engaging, fun and converting content is a different ball-game. Obviously, like everything, it’s a learning curve, but would you rather spend 6 hours/day managing your socials or actually building your project, prospecting and growing your business ?
Outsource. It’s worth it.