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Social Media Tips For Small Business Owners

SOCIAL MEDIA TACTICS TO ATTRACT YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER

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In this article, I’ll discuss social media tactics that are essential to your client acquisition strategy.

As a small business owner or coach, paid advertising can be expensive. Typically, we have smaller budgets compared to big brands.

But, we can still compete!

So, I’m going to provide free social media marketing tactics for small businesses. But not the same old crap you’ve read before.

When I started my business, I believed Social Media Marketing was posting a summary of my blog with an image and link back to my website.

Whoa! That was a long time ago. And damn, I was dead wrong.

Here’s the problem (now): We’re facing a decrease in organic reach (free) and increase in social media ad spending by businesses.

Social media platforms want us to “pay-to-play.” It makes sense. They make money off of advertising. Reducing organic reach creates a demand for ads!

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WE SHALL OVERCOME!

For your small business social media marketing to work, you need:

  • An extremely targeted approach

  • Amazing copywriting

  • Social Media visuals that stand out from the crowd

  • Cross platform promotion

  • Content repurposing

But, before we jump into that, we need to get the annoying part out of the way.

Build Your Business Profiles on Social Media

Building your business profiles is the annoying part of this article. But, it’s imperative. When someone visits your profile, they need to know who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.

Spend time building your social media profiles on relevant platforms for your target audience. You’ll need to determine the best place to provide your valuable content – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Audiences on each platform will have slightly different preferences on how they consume social media content. For example, Instagram is all about crisp ass images and short videos.

Only create social media profiles that you will keep up to date. If you don’t keep your profiles updated, you’ll lose your social media audience.

Think about it this way. Would you bring a client into a messy, outdated, and unorganized office?

It’s the same concept.

Your contact information and service offerings are the most critical parts of your social media profile. The goal is to convert your audience into customers.

In two sentences or less, tell them who you are and how you help.

Follow the KISS Method, keep it simple stupid. Get rid of any business jargon and use simple language.

For example, I Help Small Business Owners Sell Their Services Online. That’s me.

attracting ideal client

Target Your Ideal Customers on Social Media

Gone are the days when you open up Buffer (social media automation), select every social media profile, type the same 2-3 sentence message, paste the link, and schedule your post.

Hot damn that was easy!

Nope. Not any more. I’m not saying stop posting articles. Continue doing that.

But, if you want to compete, “for free” … you’ll need to makes some tactical changes.

Hashtags

But, I already know about hashtags. Hmm… I’m sure you do. But, I bet you simply puke out a heap of hashtags at the end of your content.

Your goal is a free content marketing strategy. You need to be very calculated with your hashtags – no more puking.

Find a FEW hashtags that your ideal customer would follow. But, avoid using the most popular hashtags. Sounds weird right?

You need to discover the niche and more targeted hashtags with less competition.

But wait, I want to be seen by the masses! No. No, you don’t. You want to be seen by your customers. Likes, followers, shares, and comments mean nothing … if nobody is purchasing.

When you use popular hashtags, you’re posts get drowned out by the crowd. Targeted and niche hashtags have a higher likelihood of staying at the top of the feed and being seen by your target audience.

The only exception might … and I say might … be jumping on a “trending” hashtag. To find targeted hashtags you can use https://ritetag.com/.

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Social Selling in Niche Social Media Groups

Sure, you’ve heard join Social Media Groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Every marketing guru tells you to join Social Media Groups. What they leave out is how to use social selling to generate leads.

The size of the group doesn’t matter. You want active and engaged social media groups where people are asking questions, carrying on conversations, sharing, and commenting — not just dropping a link to their latest article.

You’ll need to experiment a little to find engaged groups. I’ve joined and left a lot of groups in my time. I’ve joined large groups that were complete rubbish. They were worse than a honeywagon on a hot summer day. If you don’t know what a honeywagon is … the picture below will help.

Find niche social media groups with your target audience. Comb through the posts looking for opportunities to provide value. Participate in conversations. Ask and answer questions. Provide recommendations and advice.

Then, when you see an opportunity to provide value + a link to your latest piece of content, do it. This is simple and classic social selling.

Start a Social Media Group

Be careful about starting a social media group. Groups take a lot of time and energy to start, grow, and maintain. However, if you do, you’re in complete control of that social media group.

You set the rules. You decide who joins, who can post, what people can post, and you have your own little group of ideal customers. Many small business owners find great success starting a social media group.

 

Stand Out from the Crowd

You’re writing (copy) should reflect personality. Your images should be of high quality and eye-popping.

Show off your wit and humor.

Everyone is tired of being sold to all the time. People want to be entertained by social media, even when they’re learning!

Plus, our attention spans are shrinking. I believe we’ve hit an all-time low … less than a goldfish!

If you’re not entertaining and engaging, with fan-freaking-tastic social media visuals, you’ll blend right into the same shit, different day crowd.

You can easily create social media images on Canva for free!

Mix up your visuals. Use infographics, memes, GIFs, cartoons, or videos. (Check out this article on how you can do this for free).

REALTED ARTICLE:

How to Find Instagram Pictures as Awesome as a Flying Giraffe

Video. Video. Did I say, video? Live videos too!

You’ll probably suck creating videos at first. I did and sometimes still do. But, we’ll both improve over time. Don’t worry too much about producing amazing videos. Some of the most popular videos are filmed and edited right on an iPhone, nothing else.

During your videos, ask questions, tell stories, loosen up, teach, and preach! Don’t be a robot, and this is where I currently struggle. I’m still getting used to the camera. But, tomorrow or the next day, it will all come together.

Mix up your visual content between imagery and videos. Again, show some personality. Have a fun time. Don’t be a douche.

When your content is entertaining and engaging, guess what? People will like, comment, share, look you up on Google, go to your website, etc.

When your audience engages with you, ENGAGE BACK! Get a conversation going. All of the social media algorithms look for conversational engagement.

Don’t just say, “Thank You.” Instead say, “Thank you, Jane. Quick question, what would you improve?”

Cross Platform Promotion

Use your email list to promote your social media content. Wait, email marketing isn’t social media. I know, right? However, when you post on social media, not all of your followers will see it. Stupid algorithms.

You can share your post URL from Facebook and LinkedIn in an email message. Drive your email list to your social media site. Or, ask them to visit, share, and comment on your posts.

Your next question: “Where do I find my Social Media post URL?” Watch the videos below:

 
 

Here’s another idea.

For Instagram and Twitter, post on one platform, capture a screenshot of the post. Then, promote the post, via an image, on the other platform. A little confusing, so I’ll show you a screenshot below. In the example, I’m cross promoting my Tweet on Instagram.

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When you perform this social media tactic, your followers on one platform might decide to add you on the other platform too. Thus, you increase your exposure across platforms.

These tactics are not only cross-platform promotion but also content repurposing strategy.

Content Repurposing Strategy

If you REALLY want to become a social media and content marketing wizard, develop a Content Repurposing Strategy. First, I’ll give you the Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) explanation. Then, I’ll give you a specific example using the article I wrote on “How to Start a Coaching Business from Scratch.”

First, you create a piece of long-form content (Blog Post, YouTube Video, or Podcast). Second, you repurpose that long-form content into shorter or visual pieces of content. Next, you post the long form content as you normally would. Last, you also post the shorter or visual pieces of content to drive your audience back to your long-form content.

You can use the shorter or visual content as stand-alone or drive your audience to your original long-form content.

Here’s how I’ll use Content Repurposing Strategy for my “How to Start a Coaching Business From Scratch” post.

  1. Cross-promote the long-form written content on my social media and to my email list

  2. Record 1 long-form video for YouTube

  3. Pull 10 informative and insightful quotes from the blog / video, turn them into “Quote” images to share on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest

  4. Build an infographic to share on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest

  5. Create 5 short videos on key topics for Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook

  6. From the 5 short key topics videos, use REV to create transcripts. Use those transcripts as to start 5 new blog posts that go deeper on the subject matter (more long-form content)

  7. Shall I go on? I’m sure by now, you can see how one long-form piece of content can be repurposed into at least 20+ other piece of content.

  8. Last, use the social media tactics we’ve discussed above to hyper-target and promote your content

time blocking

MY-LANTA! We’ve covered a lot of social media marketing tactics. You might be asking yourself, “How do I find time to do this?”

Excellent question. Here’s what I do.

I time block. I block off time in my calendar each day or each week to execute these social media tactics. I’ve developed a system and process. It took a little time to test, learn, and refine. Now, I have a smooth process to balance working with my coaching clients and marketing my coaching business.  

But, that doesn’t stop me from evaluating the process at the end of each week. I also spend at least 1-hour on Friday, reviewing all of my business systems and processes. Then, I look for areas to simplify, automate, and improve.

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, start with one of the tactics. Get good at that tactic. Then, slowly add other social media tactics.

Once you scale and grow, you can hire freelancers to manage your social media outreach. Until then, start small, hyper-target your audience, and have fun!

I hope this post helped. As always, I welcome feedback and comments. If you found value in this article, I’d appreciate you clicking the social sharing buttons on the left of the page. Have a wonderful day.

 Stewart Swayze

P.S. – If you'd like to create a steady flow of clients, schedule a free 1-Hour Strategy Session with me. Let's talk!

 

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How to Find Instagram Pictures as Awesome as a Flying Giraffe

Pictures for instagram
 

Why Develop an Instagram Marketing strategy

When you're a small business owner, it's imperative to develop a client attracting Content Marketing Strategy to generate leads.

Leads are your life-blood to finding high-ticket clients.

Imagine having access to 1 billion people, 60% of which are actively looking for new products and services. Well, that’s Instagram. 

After focusing on other social media platforms, I recently started growing my Instagram account (Swayzest). I have a long way to go!!! But, I couldn’t ignore the opportunity to access such a huge market.

  • 1 billion people use Instagram every month, more than 500 million log on every day

  • 95% of U.S. Instagram use Youtube

  • 500 million people use Stories every day

  •  60% of users discover products on Instagram (that’s 600+ million people)

  •  80% of users follow at least one business

To stand out from the crowd, your photos on Instagram need to be creative, well designed, and aesthetically pleasing. 

Sometimes it's hard to find free aesthetic pictures for Instagram. However, I'm going to reveal my favorite places to find the absolute best pictures from Instagram! Who knows, you might end up having one the most liked pictures on Instagram!

And … all for the low price of FREE. 

The way I'll lay this out is by first, providing my best stock photo websites. Then, I'll give you links to the most popular galleries by category.

Where to Find Cool Pictures for Instagram

Pexels- Pexels is my favorite stock photo website. You can find just about any category of photo on this site. The site contains an easy to navigate search bar and suggestions based on Popular Searches, Popular Photos, Top Photographers, and New Stock Photos.

Pexels also shows you similar photos while allows you to select a series of photos that fit will into a theme. 

All photos have a Creative Commons license, so you don’t need to provide attribution.

Gratisography– Gratisography contains interesting, entertaining, and funny pictures for Instagram! 

I use the images from this Gratisography to stand out from the crowd. While extremely professional, using these images allow you to be different and show you fun side.

Pixabay– Pixabay is an intuitive site that’s easy to navigate. It contains 780,000+ free photos, vectors, and illustrations.

All photos on Pixabay are licensed under the Creative Commons

Unsplash- Unsplash has a wide variety of professional photos for Instagram.

You can use their search bar to find the pictures you’re looking for, but consider browsing their curated “Collections.”  These collections are based on popular themes to help you find a series of photos.  

Using their pre-selected collections saves as you build your Instagram feed with high-quality photos.

Stockvault- Stock Vault is a free stock website where photographers and artists upload their own photos, textures, graphics, and illustrations. In their search bar, you can also search by color. 

There are thousands of photos available. Attribution is not necessary.

Cool Instagram Pictures by Popular Category

 Although the categories are the same, you’ll find that each site has its own style.


Cute Pictures for Instagram

CUTE PICUTRES FOR INSTAGRAM


MOOD PICTURES FOR INSTAGRAM

mood pictures for instagram

artsy pictures for instagram

ARTSY PICTURES FOR INSTAGRAM


BEAUTIFUL PICTURES FOR INSTAGRAM

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BUSINESS PICTURES FOR INSTAGRAM



 

DON’T FOGET TO EDIT YOUR PICTURES FOR INSTAGRAM

One last note, don’t forget to edit your pictures as well. I highly recommend Canva as a free graphic design website to edit pictures for Instagram. The site is packed full of free templates and designs to make your Instagram feed stand out from the competition.

In fact, as I was writing this post, Canva acquired Pexels and Pixabay creating over 1 million additional free images and vectors available right at your finger tips.

With the huge market opportunity that Instagram provides, it’s time to add Instagram to your content marketing strategy. 

If you’d like to discuss developing an integrated client attracting marketing strategy, schedule a free 1-Hour Strategy Session with me. There’s no obligation.


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Increase your Facebook Page Likes for Free - 1 Sneaky Trick (Video)

Increase your Facebook Page Likes for Free

increase your facebook likes free

In today's video, I'm going to show you one sneaky trick I'm using to grow my Facebook business page. How many of you want to grow your Facebook Page Likes? As a pure consultant, I focused on LinkedIn. Now I’m a hybrid Coach & Consultant, I’m expanding my focus to Facebook. My goal is to organically grow my Facebook Business Page as much as possible.

I’m Stewart Swayze of stewartswayze.com. I release new videos every week on those topics, so if your interested in developing your career or marketing, subscribe to my YouTube Channel. Check out my links to my freebies at the end of this post.

Hit Play or Read the Text Below

VIDEO SUMMARY:

Why is it important to have likes on your Facebook business page? As a consultant or a coach, you're producing content. Facebook makes it harder and harder and harder for you to reach your target audience organically. Organically meaning free.

They're trying to drive you to pay for advertisements. That makes sense. They’re business themselves, right? So, the more likes you have on your page, the more opportunity you have for your content to be seen by potential prospects that can turn into a customer.

Or, for someone to see your content, share it with their network, and then someone from their network either likes your business page or becomes a prospect as well. Trying to grow your Facebook page organically is extremely hard. This sneaky trick to increasing your facebook page likes is going to help you out a lot.

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How to Become a Better Communicator (Video)

Become a better communicator

2 Tips to Instantly Become a Better Communicator at Work

DESCRIPTION:

  • Career advice on becoming a better communicator

  • How to answer leadership questions

  • Why communication is an important leadership skill

DON’T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE FOR NEW VIDEOS

Here are a couple Free Personal and Professional Development Downloads for you to enjoy:

Want to know if you’re satisfied with your career:

Want to BECOME THE CAUSE OF YOUR CAREER:

Join my Private Leadership & Career Development Facebook Group: http://bit.ly/2MtANfq

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How to Build Your Brand on Instagram (11 Tactics)

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How to Build Your Brand on Instagram

I 100% know Instagram is a powerful marketing tool for many small businesses. As a small business owner cannot ignore the millions of users on the platform. 

As a business consultant and coach, I recommend you have social media profiles only where their audience hangs out. If your prospects aren’t on Twitter, don’t build a profile there.

Most of my business traffic comes from Facebook and LinkedIn. However, lately I’ve seen traffic coming from Instagram.

Now, I’m developing a marketing strategy to grow my instagram account (follow me).

  1. Create an Instagram Business Account - If you haven’t already created a business account, it’s easy. Go into your settings -> account -> switch to business account. Click, bang, and boom. Done.

  2. Have a Defined Goal or Strategy - Don’t build an Instagram Marketing Strategy blind. Like any other marketing activity, have a defined strategy or marketing goal for building your brand on Instagram. Is it brand awareness? Driving traffic to your site? Selling products?

    Instagram is different from all other social media sites. You can only have one link in your bio. Use it wisely and align it to your brand goals and marketing strategy. For me, my Instagram Marketing Strategy is to provide value and drive website traffic.

  3. Post At Least 1-2 Times a Day - Your audience will check their IG accounts at different times during the day. Post often. At least 1-2 times per day. Pictures and stories. But, ensure you are posting at the appropriate times. Know your audience. After several months of posting, you can check Instagram’s analytics to refine the times you post.

    Consistency is a key element to getting your posts seen and appearing at the top of the timeline.

  4. Reciprocity - Search Instagram for prospects in your niche. Comment on their photos. Build a relationship. In business and in life, reciprocity goes a long way. By supporting and commenting on other people’s photos, they will return the favor.

  5. Engagement - As with all social media, you need to engage your followers. Engaging with followers is a Social Selling tactic. If they comment or like, thank them on the comments or DMs. In your IG Stories, create ways to generate conversation. Interact and provide value.

  6. Collaborate & Co-Brand - Find brands, businesses, or other Solopreneurs to collaborate with or co-brand. Consider joining forces with a local business and charity to co-promote an event.

  7. Create a Unique Hashtag - Of course you should have your brand hashtag and use it often. You can also create hashtags for specific events, contests, niches, etc. Which leads me to the next one …

  8. Use Niche Hashtags - People get caught up finding the right hashtag. Whatever you do, don't pay a dime for hashtag services. Use this amazing thing called “The Google.” Just throw in your search, “Popular Instagram Hashtags for - Insert Niche Here.” You’ll find plenty of information. Read through a few articles and find the hashtags that fit your marketing goals or brand.

  9. User Generated Content - Ask for, use, and give credit to user generated pics and videos. You can do this by generating a specific hashtag. Then, once people start using your hashtag, repost images from your followers while giving them credit.

  10. Ask Your Followers on Other Social Media to Follow Your Instagram - This is simple, but sometimes a forgotten tactic. Your audience might not realize they aren’t following your Instagram. Or, they might not realize you have an Instagram. Either way, get on your other social media platforms and ask them to follow you.

  11. Run a Contest - I don’t know about you, but almost every day I see people on all social media sites sharing photos or posts b/c they might win something. Same concept here … people love contests! So find something to give-away that your followers want. Give them a reason to share, post, comment, etc.

Has your brand had a positive experience with Instagram Marketing? What would you recommend to other brands?

Stewart Swayze

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Content Marketing for Small Business

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For some people, the thought of content creation is scary. This post is designed under the assumption that you have limited time and budget. I’ll even share a few marketing automation tools to help as much as possible.

Start with a simple content marketing strategy

Content is one of the most important tools for your small business marketing strategy. So, to get started, let’s boil down your content creation into two simple goals – Attract prospective buyers and retain current customers.

  • 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content. - Marketing Tech Blog

  • 68% of consumers spend time reading content from a brand they are interested in. - The CMA

My goal is to get you started with content creation, as you learn and grow, you can develop a more robust small business content strategy.

Focus on creating & curating quality content that is engaging and sharable

As you begin your content marketing, focus on creating and curating content that your audience wants to engage with and share with their colleagues, coworkers, friends, and family.

Use the content distribution ratio of 30/60/10

You’re going to create and share only 30% of your content. This is called “owned” content. Your owned content is your blog, videos, pictures, infographics. You might be asking, why only 30%?

Because you’re just starting and don’t have a ton of owned content yet. As you grow, you can increase this percentage.

You’re going to curate and share 60% of the content. Curating content means you go find links to other content related to your industry, brand, or company. You plan is to share this content, but include your thoughts, recommendations, or point of view to add even more value to your audience. This helps you establish yourself as a thought leader and improves your personal brand.

By curating content, you reduce the time it takes to create content and increases your opportunities to engage with your prospects and customers on topics that are relevant to them.

Last, you’re going to create and share 10% Promotional content. Promotional content includes what you are selling to your audience. Your audience buys from people they know, like, and trust. Plus, they don’t want to be sold to all the time. People get turned off really quickly when someone is constantly selling. Provide value, value, and did I say value.

Keep your content topics simple

Let’s not complicate your topic selection process. You’re selling services online. You know your industry, prospects, and customers. You should know what topics will provide them value. .

  • Answer FAQs

  • Provide Thought Leadership & Expertise

  • Solve Common Customer Challenges

  • Share Industry News and Insights

  • Tell Your Brand Story (NOT SALES)

  • Share Company News, Events, and Stories

  • Provide Industry Statistics Relevant to Your Customers

Choose your topics based on your goals. A few goals to consider:

  • Brand Awareness

  • Thought Leadership

  • Generate Leads

  • Retain Customers

  • Generate Traffic

  • Answer Questions

  • Competitive Positioning

  • Build Trust

78% of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content want to build good relationships. - TMG Custom Media

Put Your Owned Content on Your Website Blog

For your owned and original content, centralize everything within your website, and on your blog. Not only will this help bring people to your website, but also this helps your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Create content in the form of a 500-1000 word blog post. Use that blog post to create new kinds of content to promote across many different platforms (see below).

Don’t forget to add a simple Call to Action at the end of your blogs. Examples include – Following you on social media, signing up for your email marketing, downloading a content upgrade, providing feedback, etc.

Use Your Blog to Create New Kinds of Content

From that single piece of content, you can break it down or expand it into other of content – a Podcast, YouTube Video, Infographic, Webinar, Meme, Instagram Post, etc. The type of content will depend on your audience and goals.

From collecting Voice of Customer and understanding where your audience hangs out online, break apart your content … change it from written word to a video, words to a podcast, and pictures to memes, etc. Find the most important, but small nuggets of valuable information and share it with your audience in multiple formats.

  • Neil Patel breaks down 15 Types of Content to Drive Traffic

Schedule and automate your content distribution

To reduce time, schedule when your posts will be shared. Your website hosting service could have limited, but built-in capabilities for scheduling and sharing social media content. But, there are many different content scheduling tools, but two good options are Hootsuite and Buffer.

Hootsuite: “Manage multiple networks, schedule posts, and engage your audience, all in one place.”

Buffer: “Buffer shares your content at the best possible times throughout the day so that your followers and fans see your updates more often. Get the most out of each post.”

Through content curation, you’re the filter for your audience’s valuable 3rd party content

Content curation is finding information relevant to your audience across a diverse set of sources. Then, sharing it strategically through your social media and communication channels.

We’re all constantly overwhelmed by information, insights, and data. By curating valuable content you become the trusted filter for your audience. You already read articles, have thoughts, opinions, and insights. It’s time to share them.

As you read, collect that content, provide your audience with a short insight or thought, then the link. You can even ask a question to engage them in a discussion. To make this easier, I’ll list out a few tools below.

  • Pocket: Install Pocket’s browser extension for easy curation. You can download the app on your smartphone for cross-platform usage. As you read an article, save and tag it to Pocket for future sharing.

  • Twitter Lists: Twitter can be a horrendous. It turns into a streaming mess if you’re not using Lists to organize the accounts you follow. A list is a curated group of Twitter users that you can create or follow. You can retweet great content provided by those you follow.

  • Scoop.it: Start with a topic of interest and Scoop.it not only generates the most relevant articles to view and share, but also includes complementary topics and other Scoop.it users to follow.

To get started with content curation, pick tools, start using them, practice, and learn from the response or engagement of your audience.

Don’t over-promote your products and services through the content you develop

People are tired of getting slammed by sales pitches all day. If you over-promote, they’ll turn you off, ignore your emails, and stop visiting your site. Use the promotional portion of your content very strategically.

Of course, I’m not saying you shouldn’t sell or promote your products and services. I’m suggesting is that you need to be very careful how often. To help you control your content development ratio (30/60/10), develop a very simple editorial calendar.

Keep your small business content strategy simple in the beginning

Again, since you have a limited time and budget, keep it simple. Don’t try to be too creative. Focus on “value.” Get your content out there, test different types, learn what your audience wants to consume.

Ask your audience how you can improve and what they want to learn. If you are providing valuable owned and curated content, you’ll draw prospects to your site and keep your customers satisfied. Sales will happen naturally, your promotional content will help to augment your other sales activities.

I hope this post helped. How did you develop your content strategy? What tips do you have for new content creators?

Stewart Swayze

 

 

 

 

 

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Marketing Strategy vs Business Strategy

How business strategy relates to marketing strategy

How is marketing strategy related to business strategy? 

I originally answered this question on Quora, but wanted to share it with you as well. It's a quick explanation. 

To keep this answer as simple as possible, your marketing strategy is a piece of your overall business strategy.

The steps below would depend a lot on your company size & structure. However, the steps below provide an example you can use and adapt to your situation.

  1. Company X develops Goals & Objectives for the next 3–5 years (G&Os)

    1. What do we want to achieve for the next 3-5 years? Where can we improve or grow?

  2. Company X plans how to achieve those goals (Business Strategy)

    1. This is your overall plan and strategy from a corporate perspective

  3. Company X divides the overall business strategy into specific functions, cross-functional teams, or business units.

    1. This is your plan from a functional / cross-functional perspective

    2. Sales, Marketing, Branding, IT, Human Resources, Product Management, R&D, etc.

  4. Company X executes the strategy, tacks progress, and adapts to “feedback” & data.

I hope this helps and let me know if you have any questions.

Stewart 

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Sales vs Marketing - What's the difference?

What is the difference between sales and marketing?

Updated: Oct 20, 2019

Often as a small business owner, you ARE the sales & marketing department. You may not have a lot of employees within the sales and marketing functions. 

However, knowing the difference between sales and marketing will help you develop a systematic approach to growing your business.  

The easiest, but not perfect, way to understand the difference between sales and marketing is to consider "Customer Touch." 

  1. Are you speaking directly with the customer? (Sales)

    • Examples: Phone calls, in-person meetings, events, etc. If so, you are likely engaging in sales. I'll explain the "likely" in the next section. 

  2. Are you indirectly interacting with customers? (Marketing)

    • Examples: Creating Content, Building Facebook Ads, Sending a Newsletter, Surveys/Polls, etc. 

Now, let me explain why I used the term "likely" above. Sometimes you'll engage directly with customers, but purely for marketing purposes. The best example of this would be interviewing customers and prospects to gain insights. 

Developing a Sales and Marketing Strategy

Once you understand the difference between sales and marketing, devote time to design an integrated sales and marketing process. 

The goal of your marketing efforts is to create the appropriate materials and resources to generate leads, enable selling your products and close deals, plus, retain customers - Block off time to develop your marketing resources.

The goal of your sales efforts is to convert leads to prospects and prospects to customers. A secondary goal is to collect any feedback that will improve your marketing efforts - Block off time to execute your sales efforts.

Try not to combine the two efforts. If you do, you'll risk confusing your customers and potentially upsetting them as well.

As you think through your sales & marketing strategy ask yourself, what marketing tactics do you have to:

  • Qualify to understand your ideal customer profile (buyer persona)? 

    • Market & Competitive Analysis or Buyer Personas

  • Market to attract leads aligned to your ideal customer profile?

    • Content Marketing, Lead Magnets, Search Engine Optimization, Email Marketing, etc. 

  • Sell to convert your leads into prospects?

    • Sales Call Scripts, Product/Service Presentations, etc.

  • Close to acquire your customers? 

    • Sales Call Scripts, Custom/Personalized Proposals, Common Objection Answers, etc.

  • Delight to retain your customers and generate referrals?

    • Reward Programs, Content Marketing, On-Going Support, Cross-Selling, Up-Selling, Down-Selling, etc. 

My Last Piece of Advice

You need to establish a process to review your sales and marketing strategy. Win or Lose:

  • What went well?

  • What can you improve?

  • What feedback will you consider?

  • How can you increase efficiencies and decrease costs? 

My Monday's are blocked off to build my marketing resources. I've devoted Tuesday – Thursday to Sales and client calls. Fridays, I review all of my business systems, process, strategies, and tactics. This includes analyzing my sales and marketing tactics to find incremental improvements. Small steps lead to massive action.

Stewart Swayze

"Become the Cause" of Your Life, Career, and Success

www.stewartswayze.com



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How to utilize your network contacts to promote your business

How to promote your business

Utilize your network to promote your business

This is a different type of network marketing. It’s primarily developing a strategy to use your established network of contacts to market your business, find clients, and cultivate prospects. But, it needs to be a mutually beneficial strategy. If you use your network, provide them value as well. Below are a few tips on using your contacts to find new business.

Turn your family and friends into your evangelists!

The first place to start is with the people that know you well, your family and friends. They all want to see you succeed. Turn them into your word of mouth marketers.

When you share content on social media, have them like and share it too. Sharing creates a significant impact on your social media and local marketing. They have friends that have friends that could be potential customers. Use them. Choose 5-10 people and ask for their help.

Before you ask for something from your contacts, give them something of value

When marketing your small business, tell everyone you interact with on a professional level about your business. This includes your accountant, attorney, banker, barber, etc. Let them all know you are open for business and seeking customers.

Ask if you can give them your business card, maybe even leave a few extra cards for them to hand out if they come across anyone.

Let them know you’ll send people their way too and do that! If you do, ensure that they know you’ve sent them a new customer. This referral exchange creates an informal referral system.

If you don’t have an office, find a Co-Working space

Get out of your home or office. Network at a Co-Working facility. Take part in their events. Don’t be the jerk that’s only trying to sell your products and services all the time.

Develop relationships first. Help solve a few of your co-workers' problems for free. Then, find an opportunity to offer your services for a fee.

Download your Outlook contacts into a workable excel

I’m going to assume you have Outlook contacts. You can download both into a .csv file, then convert it to Excel. Inform your contacts about your business and service offerings.

There are a few schools of thought here. You can be direct and try to sell them immediately. Or, you can provide your necessary information (website address, service offerings, etc.) and let them know you are producing content they may find valuable.

Get them engaged with your content, build a relationship, and then sell.

You’ll need to be the judge on the approach to your network.

Segment and prioritize your contacts to develop a Network Marketing Strategy

My recommendation is that you review your contacts and segment them into different groups. Then, develop different approaches for each group.

Segmentation will help you create a Network Marketing Strategy.

As an example, Segment 1 you meet in person, maybe buy them lunch. They are mentors, advisors, or potential prospects. Segment 2, you call on the phone (if you have their number). They are people that can introduce you to other contacts or live outside your state. Segment 3 you send a personal email. These are people you respect, maybe don't know as well, but want to develop a relationship.

If you are starting out, don’t spam anyone with a generic mass email. Take the time to email them with a personal note.

A few other words of advice

  • Don’t always ask a network contact for advice without ever offering to pay for it.

    • Example: If you keep asking for legal advice from a contact that's a lawyer. It might be different if this person is your mentor. If not, you should pay for his/her advice.

  • Don’t have alternative motives.

    • Example: Scheduling a meeting with someone in your network for advice, but then using the meeting as an opportunity to sell him/her something.

  • Make introductions for other people in your network

    • Reciprocity goes a long way

If you use your network strategically, it will go a long way to helping you grow your business. As you do this, introductions will happen, and your network will grow. Keep track of those too. You never know where your next customer will pop up.

Also, you may end up with a tremendous opportunity, but don’t have the full resources to tackle it on your own. If you have a reliable network, they can help and support you with resources. 

Stewart Swayze

Feel free to reach out and connect with me on social media.

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Social Media Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses

How to build a simple scalable social media marketing strategy

Social media marketing is important to small business marketing strategy

As a small business owner traditional marketing and advertising can be costly. Social media marketing is important to your client acquisition strategy. Plus, you can do social media marketing for free. You might not have to pay money, but you will have to put in the sweat equity.

Build your relevant social media business profiles

If you don’t have social media profiles for your business, build them. Build business profiles on the most relevant social media profiles for your business. Your audience preferences are diverse.

Where they consume content online will be different as well. Some will prefer to receive content on LinkedIn, while others on Facebook. Depending on your audience, it might be Instagram (follow me) or Pinterest. You’ll need to determine the best place to provide your valuable content.

First, I have a recommendation. Instead of building profiles on every single social media site, start with 3-4. Luckily, you’ll be using marketing automation tools to help. Buffer and Hootsuite automate distribution across different social media sites. 

Ensure your social media profiles are completely filled out

Only create profiles that you will keep up to date. If you don’t keep your profiles active, then your audience won’t follow you. Think about it this way, would you bring a client into a messy, outdated, and unorganized office? It’s the same concept.

Your social media presence is an external office that prospects and customers are visiting. These profiles help them determine if they should conduct business with you.

Your contact information is one of most important parts of your social media profile. Ensure it is complete, accurate, and visible. The goal is to convert your audience into customers. It's simple; they need your contact information. Use the exact same contact info for each profile. There are a lot of businesses that list different addresses or phone numbers on each profile. It’s easy to forget an area code or suite number. This can screw up your SEO or worse, confuse your potential clients.

Create two primary objectives and two secondary objectives for your social media profiles

You’ll need to determine your social media goals & objectives. Keep these simple. Limit yourself to the 3 or 4 goals. Maybe have two primary objectives and two secondary objectives. Examples few would be:

  • Brand Awareness

  • Thought Leadership

  • Generate Leads

  • Customer Retention

  • Generate Traffic

  • Answer Questions

  • Competitive Positioning

  • Build Trust

Use owned and curated content to share value with your social media audience

Let the audience know your plan to provide them value on social media. Clearly communicate the plan and give them a reason to follow you. Adding photos or gifs to your content increases interaction such as sharing, liking, commenting, and purchasing.

Share social media content on a consistent schedule. If you plan to share your blog post on Mondays, share it every Monday! Automated scheduling tools allow sharing even when you’re on vacation, traveling, or in meetings.

Ensure you engage with your audience through comments, social sharing buttons, and connections

Make it easy for your audience to add comments, share your content, and connect with you. If someone leaves a positive comment, give thanks. See if you can get them to write a full customer review. Share the review with the rest of your social media following. If it’s a negative comment, respond appropriately and take action.

Be human, not robotic, and develop social media relationships. Don’t be afraid to ask for social proof or reviews. Social proof and product reviews are a powerful marketing tool!

Schedule time to interact with your audience

You have limited time and resources. Schedule 15-30 minutes a day to respond to comments, answer questions, and give thanks. We’ve also only established 3-4 social media profiles. You should be able to engage on all sites if you keep up with it daily.

Once you scale and grow, you can hire people to manage your social communities. Until then, start small, remain focused on a few objectives, and have fun!

I hope this post helped. As always, I welcome feedback and comments. If relevant, please share it with your friends and network. Looking forward to hearing from you.

 

Stewart Swayze

 

 

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Effective Email Marketing in 7 Steps

7 Steps to Simple & Effective Email Marketing

Effective Email Marketing in 7 Steps

It’s time to develop an email marketing strategy. Combining social media and email marketing allows you to add a personal touch. The combination will enables you to offer value, products, & services in both locations. I’ve listed 2 email service providers below. 

1. Showcase your personality

Use your email service to automate sharing original and curated content with your contacts. You want to establish yourself as a content creator and 3rd party filter for your audience.

Provide value via regular emails containing your blog or a more formal newsletter. You can use email templates, add your content, and schedule the release.

When you publish a new blog post, add it to your email marketing and/or newsletter campaign. Always include a link back to the post on your website. Add a short descriptive “teaser” sentence and the title of the blog to increase clicks back to the post.

But, most importantly, show some personality! Make your emails an extension of you.

2. Encourage engagement from your audience

Ask questions. Link to your blog ask for comments on your on your website. Determine a consistent email or newsletter frequency. I’d recommending emailing at least once a week.

3. Provide email social sharing buttons

Include social sharing buttons within your emails. Add a footer with an opt-in to your newsletter or ability to download exclusive content. If you provide exclusive content to your email contacts, your audience will look forward reading your emails.  

4. Your audience is your friend. Personalize your emails and build trust

Skip the generics. Write your emails as if you are speaking to one person, based on your ideal customer profile. Your email contacts are people you respect. Your audience is a friend and you want to help them.

Develop trust with your audience. Provide a clear opt-out option. Don’t be sneaky with your sales pitch. Be upfront when you are selling them something.

Show empathy and compassion for their challenge. If you provide value and build trust, selling them will be much easier.

5. Spend time developing good subject lines; there are tools that can help

Craft subject lines that reveal exactly what your audience will learn if they read your email. Numbers and text that provoke emotion work well.

You can also read this post from Digital Marketer.

6. Keep your emails short

Keep your emails short, sweet, and to the point. Don’t send a novel. Make the text scannable. Break up your content, provide short subheadings and images. This helps guide your audience through the email. Your audience is busy … make it easy for them read.

  • Free Copy Analyzer to from Hemingway Editor to analyze & simplify your message (this thing is awesome!)

7. Know your metrics

Most email marketing services like MailChimp offer reports and analysis. Look for trends. What’s working, what’s not working, and adjust to the data. There will be patterns, try to understand those patterns to develop and improve better campaigns. 

Your email marketing technique will take some time to develop. Start out by using templates from your email-marketing provider.

Edit your text via the Hemingway Editor, and write catchy subject lines. Always provide value to your customers and gain feedback. If you use these tools, you’ll be well on your way to a great email marketing system.

I hope this post helped. As always, I welcome feedback and comments. If relevant, please share it with your friends and network. Looking forward to hearing from you.

 Stewart

 

 

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A Small Business Owner's Guide to Content Curation

Small Business Content Strategy

What Is Content Curation?

Content curation is the process of finding and providing 3rd party content to help with your small business marketing strategy. You, the “curator”, find the best and most trusted content from sources on the Internet. Then, you share it with your followers on social media platforms or via email marketing. 

Why Is Content Curation Important to a Small Business Owner? 

 First, as a Small Business Owner, you might not have a marketing department full of content creators. Typically, you ARE the marketing department. To have a well-rounded Content Strategy, you need to use Content Curation.

Curating content reduces your workload. You can provide value to your audience without spending hours generating 100s of blogs. 

Second, content curation helps build your Brand. As a content curator, you become the filter and expert resource on specific topics or themes that add value to your prospects and customers.

You find content, read the content, and write a few short insights on why it’s relevant to your followers. Then, share it with them. By providing small and relevant insights on the curated content, you can build brand authority over time. 

Third, you learn! By curating and reading the content, you stay abreast of all the trends, topics, tools, and news within your area(s) of expertise. It’s a win/win scenario. You learn, and your audience learns. 

Fourth, it breaks up your sell, sell, sell strategy. People are tired of getting slammed by sales pitches all day. If you over-promote, your audience will unfollow you, ignore your emails, and stop visiting your site. 

Where Can You Share Curated Content?  

Content Round-Up Blog Posts – Pick a theme relevant to your audience. Let’s use “Email Marketing.” Now, find five good, but different articles on Email Marketing. Read each article. Write a short paragraph summarizing the article with your twist on the key insights. Hyperlink the articles and provide the correct attributions.

Boom, now you have a value-add blog post that you can share with your audience on social media as well.  

Weekly Email Newsletter – Just like the Round-Up Blog Post, first find relevant content. Then, organize the content within your newsletter. Next, provide context or your insights. Last, send it off to your email list. You can include curated content alongside your content. Or, you can send this as a separate Content Round-Up email. The option you choose is up to you.

(Note: Your “theme” doesn’t have to be as narrow as “Email Marketing.” Just make sure to organize the curated content around a topic and not a random slathering of unrelated articles.) 

Social Media – Of course, you’re going to share curated content on your social media platforms. Social Media is the obvious one! As you curate the content, share it with your social media followers. Don’t forget to add your insights as well. One more thing, highly consider tagging the author or company in your post.

What Tools Can Help Me Curate Content? 

  • Pocket:Install Pocket’s browser extension and app for easy curation. As you read an article, save and tag (categorize) it for future sharing..

  • Twitter Lists: Twitter can be horrendous. Create Twitter Lists to organize the accounts that you follow. By using Twitter lists, you can save or retweet great content provided by those you follow.

  • Scoop.it: Select a topic and Scoop.it not only generates the most relevant articles to view and share, but also includes complementary topics and other Scoop.it users to follow

  • Feedly: Use Feedly's free option to aggregate news and articles to share with your audience on social media or email.

  • ContentGems: ContentGems scans hundreds of thousands of articles from the best online sources and presents a stream of relevant content

Now that you have the basics of content curation down, get out there and start sharing awesome content! 

If you're a Solopreneur, I recently wrote an Introductory Guide to Service Based Solopreneurship. It’s free and 100+ pages packed with content on starting and marketing your business. DOWNLOAD IT HERE

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How to Increase Market Share - Sales and Marketing Strategy

How to Increase Your Market Share

I originally answered this question on Quora, but adapted it for this post. 

Like a lot of questions on Quora, it’s is hard to answer without having information on the product, service, industry, competitors, etc. I’ll try to give some thoughts that might help.

Unless the market expands, you are working with finite numbers. Therefore, to “increase” market share you either:

1.    Take market share from a competitor

2.   Convince non-participating prospects in the Total Available Market (TAM) or Serviceable Available Market (SAM) to purchase your product

a.    Simple example: The TAM for Rooftop Solar Panels (Homeowners) is $10M. 3 suppliers are in this Market. Your company has a 10% market share. Competitor 1 has a 10% market share. Competitor 2 has a 20% market share. But, 60% of Homeowners are not participating. Theoretically, this 60% is part of the TAM, so “Not Participating” has a 60% market share. “Not Participating” is one of your hardest competitors. Let me say that again, choosing not to purchase IS A COMPETITOR.

There’s a lot of analysis, strategy, and tactics that a business can deploy to take market share from a competitor. I’ll list a few traditional tactics and then some non-traditional:

 

Traditional: High level, everyone should know these

1.    Marketing - You conduct competitive intelligence. You develop better Marketing Strategy and Tactics to drive more non-participants to your products or switch market participants from their current suppliers (competitors) to your products.

a.    Your marketing machine is so good, when people think of X product category, they only think of brand/product.

2.   Sales - Simple, your sales team is better. They go out there and attract non-participants and switch market participants.

a.    Your sales team is so good, everyone loves them, they have the best relationship, and people only want to buy from you.

Non - Traditional: More tactical

1.    Contracting - Better terms and conditions (T&Cs) than your competitors

a.    Example 1 - Your competitors ask for payment within 30 days, you offer your customer 60 days. Your customers can hold onto their cash longer with you.

b.    Example 2 - You assume more risk within your T&Cs. Your competitors try to push all the operating or product risk onto the customer. You assume more risk and offer extended warranties.

2.   Pricing - Your competitor wants all the money upfront and at Net 30 terms, but you:

a.    Offer traditional financing options - They can pay over time

b.    Offer better discounts

c.    Offer performance contracting or similar - Example 1 - Your product will reduce the customer’s cost. The customer pays you based on the actual cost reductions each month. This is continued until the product or service is paid off. Example 2 - Your product will increase revenue. The customer splits the actual increase revenue with you until the product / service is paid off.

d.    Switching from a CAPEX to OPEX transaction. There are different ways to do this. Example 1 - You hold the product on your books. Your customer pays a fee to use the product. Could be leasing or lease to own. Example 2 - You sell the product to a financial institution or partner. That financial institution holds the product on their books. The customer pays the financial institution for use of the product. Another similar example in software is SAAS.

e.    Price at 0 or negative margin - This is risky and only works on very specific cases. You sell the “product” at 0 or negative margin b/c you will make up the margin on aftermarket sales & services. Spare parts, labor, data, etc. In all of those areas you should have really high margins. Once the product is purchased, the customer has to come to you for them.

3.   Joint Technology / Collaboration Agreements - You partner with your prospects or customers in joint R&D. Lock them into your products b/c you are sharing costs, profits, intellectual property, etc.

a.    They are committed to you and your product / service b/c they benefit from using it and you selling it

4.   Master Agreements - You offer to sign master agreements, simplifying the contracting process and locking prospects / market participants into long-term agreements

a.    You reduce your customer's supply chain / contracting costs. Simplifying the process, agreeing on T&Cs, pricing, etc. upfront means less time negotiating, working through AP … and so on.

b.    You offer discounting or rewards programs within your master agreement. When they hit a certain $value of purchases, they receive a discount or reward.

There are many more ways to increase market share. Almost too many to list. But, I hope this helps give you a few ideas. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Stewart Swayze

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Pricing Strategy for Small Business

How to determine your rate as a freelancer coach consultant

 

Setting rates is a personal decision, but I’ll provide insights into my process

 If you google “what’s the average rate of an ABC123 you'll find all sorts of recommendations and information. Determining your rate can be extremely difficult. It's a gigantic “depends burger” with a side of fries (the market) and a shake (your competitors).

You'll have to sort through the plethora of information, test, and decide what the market will accept. You’ll have to look at your knowledge, skills, experience, and unique selling proposition. You’ll need to find comparable competitors to analyze. When I started, I spent hours researching rates specific to consulting.

Then, rates specific to sub-categories of consulting. Next, I spent more time adding in factors such as my education, experience level, and all that jazz. Finally, I built an Excel with segmented rate and financial models. None of it held up. The depends burger strikes again.

For me, my rates as a Coach and Consultant are different. However, I've gone through a lot of trail, error, and analysis to come up with my rates. The exercise below will help you determine the rates that are appropriate for you. 

At first, you might think the next few pages are more personal finance advice versus a pricing strategy. You are correct! Personal finance plays a central role in setting your rates. Stay with me. It will make sense in the end. Let’s cut to the chase and try to simplify this process a bit. 

I’m going to provide an illustrative example. The math is NOT intended to be perfect. Instead, it’s designed to help you think through your rate-setting process from a holistic perspective.

 High-level steps to determine rates

1) Determine how much you NEED to make in a year to survive

2) Add a small, but "wants" amount (vacations, entertainment, dining out, new furniture, personal electronics, etc.) 

3) How much for your contingency "oh crap" fund? 

4) How much do you want to add to your savings and retirement accounts?

5) Add a tax estimate on top of that. I use a conservative number of 30%

Let’s use an illustrative example with round numbers to see where we stand: 

1) NEEDS: Rent/Mortgage, Clothes, Utilities, Food, Car Payment, Credit Card Payments, Student Loans, Healthcare, and any other needs = $120,000 / year

2) Wants ($7500): $120K + $7.5K = $127,5003) Contingency ($7500): $127.5K + $7.5K = $135,000

4) Savings & Retirement ($10,000): $135 + $10K = $145,000

5) Tax Estimate (30%): 30% of $145K = $43.5K; $145K + $43.5K = $188,500

Again, let’s keep it simple and round up to $200,000. You’ll understand why I added another $11,500 in a second. 

 How does this illustrative calculation help you? 

Now, you have a goal that you can use to determine your rates. “Whoa, wait! I’ll have to generate $200K in revenue to cover what you need, savings, contingency, wants, and taxes … Yes. This example isn’t to scare you. Instead, it’s to make sure you think through and plan for the reality! Now let’s talk about that extra $11,500. 

 We are missing something in this pricing strategy

The amount could be large or small about depending on your business. Within the 5-step process, we didn’t calculate your startup or operating expense. Enter the extra $11,500. I have no way of determining your startup, monthly, or yearly operating expenses. Keep them as low as possible. $11,500 could be extremely high. You’ll have to estimate and factor those expenses into your rates at some point. For now, let’s use extra $11.5K as your startup and operating expenses and keep the overall revenue goal of $200K to continue the example.

How do we translate our above calculations into rates?

If we need and want to generate $200K in revenue, we can determine our “desired” rate. If you do a little research, you’ll find there are approximately 260 working days in a year. Now let’s do some calculations:

•    $200,000 / 260 = $769 dollars per day

•    $769 dollars per day / 8 hours = $96 dollars per hour 

Great! So, if your goal is to generate $200K in revenue, you just calculated your rate. Your rate is approximately $100 per hour.  

Sorry to do this again, but wait, this is an illustrative example. More than likely, you won’t have 40 hours of work every single week of the year. So, you’ll need to mitigate the potential for a variable workload. To do this, consider increasing your rate to $150 — $200 per hour. 

What if you plan on charging a per project or flat fee rate? How do you calculate that rate? We’ll discuss that next. 

Wait, I don’t charge per hour. I provide a flat rate per project

Hmmm…this might be true. But, if you aren’t calculating hours within your flat rates, you could be charging too much or too little. When I charge on a per project basis, I estimate how many hours the project will take. Then, I multiply the number of hours by my hourly rate. This calculation provides me with an estimate for my flat rate. 

Example: 30 hours to complete Project A. Hourly Rate of $200. Flat fee rate of $6,000. 

At this point, I may add or subtract from that number. Here comes the depends burger again. If it’s a new client with the potential for on-going projects, I might reduce my project rate. If it’s a rush project, I might increase my rate. There are other factors to think through as well. Will the “market” accept your rate? Or, is closest comparable competition charging less or more?  

Where do people make the biggest mistake? 

Let me be frank and excuse my language a bit. You WILL get kicked in the butt if you don’t KNOW your NEEDS and set aside money for taxes. You’ll be rolling along, having a great year, thinking, “Damn, I made $120K this year! Freaking amazing. I’ve covered all my needs.” 

Then, boom! It’s tax season. You needed $120K. You made $120K. But wait, you forgot about taxes. “I owe what in taxes? Oh crap! I’m short. My cash flow is crushed. My bank account is sunk. Mom, dad, friend, brother, sister … can I borrow some money?” 

Your mistake, you generated a “pre-tax” gross revenue of $120K. THIS IS NOT NET INCOME! If you don’t plan, set up your accounts, and automatically set aside part of your revenue for taxes, this can literally put you out of business. Done and dusted. 

This happens all the time when someone switches from a position within a corporate environment over to solopreneurship. When you’re working for a company, your taxes, retirement, healthcare, and everything else is automatically deducted from your paycheck. It just happens. You don’t do a thing. You know your take-home pay and budget based on Net Income. 

Now you’re in charge, and it’s a whole new ballgame. Don’t make this mistake. Talk with your financial advisor and accountant. Set up a bank account that, if possible, automatically transfer a certain percentage, for taxes, into a separate account. 

The moment revenue drops into your business account, transfer funds into separate accounts for taxes, savings, retirement, etc.

This article is an excerpt from my Free Guide: “Going Solo – An Introductory Guide to Service Based ‘Solopreneurship.” If you found value in this article, feel free to download the guide here. It provides a ton of information on the fundamentals of starting and marketing your business.  

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Simple SEO Tricks

Easy to Implement SEO Techniques

So, you're a small business owner. Or, you're an early-stage startup with some traction. You might be asking yourself, does search engine optimization (SEO) matter for me? The answer is YES! It does. 

You can't ignore SEO.

Plus, the earlier you build SEO into your standard operating procedure, the better. SEO comes in two different forms - on-page and off-page. On-Page SEO is your website, coding, and content. Off-page SEO links back to your website from your social media, reviews, etc. To help with your SEO strategy, you'll need to tackle both. 

I'm not going to get super complicated and technical. When we're just starting out, simple is best. As we scale, we can add more complicated SEO techniques.

Keywords within your content and website are one of the easiest and most important aspects of SEO

Take a little time to research keywords or key phrase development (long-tail keywords). Proper SEO can ensure your company appears on the first page of Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

Use high-ranking keywords specific to your industry, topic, website, etc.

The keywords you choose depend on your customer's challenge, audience, strategy, etc. Put yourself in their shoes, what would you search for on Google? The unaware population will search based on the problem, not a specific product. 

Research and use keywords that rank highest around the problem you are trying to solve. There are plenty of free tools to find keywords. There are plenty of free keyword tools. I'll list a few below:

Don’t overcomplicate keywords

When you’re starting out, don’t overcomplicate your keyword usage. Find a relevant set of keywords. Add them to your website, blogs, and content - on-page. Continue to refer to this set of keywords as you develop new content or update your website.

Start a blog and produce high-value content

As we’ve touched on before, content is king! Blogging with high-value content is essential to SEO. Use keywords in the body, titles, headlines, and subheadings. Share your content on social media (off-page).

Search engines crawl your website and the contained content. They determine if the information is useful. Create original content that answers questions your audience types in search engines. Ensure that you create content on a regular basis.

Use SEO Website Tools

Use free website analysis and content performance tools. The free version of the Varvy SEO Tool provides website and content performance information. It will also list the domains linking back to recent social media mentions.

Sign up for Google Analytics and create custom reports. You can choose many different variables and metrics.

SEOCentro SEO Analyzer is a tool that analyzes:

  • Social media ranking

  • Site usability

  • Online reputation

  • Meta tags

  • Site speed

It even gives information on top performing keywords.

Link the content within your site (on-page) and back to your site (off-page)

Your content might reference items located in other content within your site. Use hyperlinks to connect the two pieces of content. Remember to promote your content on social media. Always provide links back to the content on your website. This helps SEO, promotes traffic back to your site, and increases your authority rankings. If you’ve heard the term “backlink,” now you know what it is.

Use the free version of Moz Link Explorer. This tool helps tracking links coming back to your pages - https://moz.com/link-explorer.

Consider using free PR Services

You might be thinking that PR doesn’t exactly sound like SEO strategy. Think about it. Your press release will spread across the World Wide Web and shared on social media. It will contain keywords and links back to your site. This creates buzz, awareness, and traffic! SEO heaven.

If you are a local or more regional business, you’ll want to create local business pages

You’ll need to create local business pages. Plus, claim your business on Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, Google, Yellow Pages (YP), etc. In SEO world, this is called local citations. When someone types a search for Dog Sitter Springfield, MA ... your business comes up. You can read more about this on Moz Local.

Provide complete and accurate information on each page

Ensure your contact information complete and the same across each business page. Your phone number, hours, address, website, etc. Add several photos of your location. Chose the correct business category. You can select more than one category if applicable. I’ve listed a few tools below that will help you find and claim your business on various local sites.

https://moz.com/local/search - Moz uses data to score your business

Ask for customer reviews. Don’t be scared, just do it!

Social proof goes a long way. Ask for customer reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Foursquare, etc. Search Engines look for customer reviews. Not only will this help with SEO, but also with increasing local traffic. 

If you are hyper-local or hyper-regional, use long-tail keywords that include your location

Ensure you have local or regional keywords within your content. This will help search engines associate your business with your exact location. Example: You are a photographer in Austin, TX. You scatter "photographer Austin, TX throughout your content. When someone types “Photographer Austin, TX” into Google, you have a higher likelihood showing up in the first page results.

Focus on these few SEO tips in the beginning. They are easy to do and free. As you grow, consider hiring an employee responsible for SEO or third party provider. 

I hope this post helped. As always, I welcome feedback and comments. If relevant, please share it with your friends and network. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Stewart

 

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When You Can't Make a Decision

Indecision is in fact, a decision.

It also has it's own scientific term: Aboulomania. If you're paralyzed by indecision, here's what to do about it.

Don't fall victim to indecision. Often, we fear that it will be impossible to recover if we make the "wrong" decision. This is not the case.

hallway.jpg

Embrace the adaptation and expansion of the "Corridor Principle."

Indecision is like peering down a long, dark corridor with doors on each side, but not moving. You have no idea what awaits if you walk down the hallway and it stops you in your tracks. You ask yourself, "why can't I make a decision?"

Person 1: By embracing the Corridor Principle, you finally decide to walk down the dark hall without knowing what will happen,

You’re willing to risk uncertainty and fear, for the sake of moving forward, learning, and growing.

As you proceed down the corridor, new doors begin to open on both sides of you. The doors are full of opportunity.

You have the opportunity to gain new knowledge, skills, and abilities. You learn to be resilient and improve your habits.

You become a stronger person, business leader, and entrepreneur. You move closer towards your goals and closer to success.

As you continue forward, opportunities that you could see and could not pursue, before you made the earlier decision to walk down the corridor, appear all around you.

Person 2: Now imagine another person has the opportunity to proceed down the same corridor.

But, this person is unwilling to proceed until assurances can be made that they will succeed. He/she is stuck in indecision waiting for assurances that will never come.

He/she will sit on the sidelines watching everyone else pass them over. Nobody can guarantee or predict the future. You have to move forward.

Ask yourself, which person do you want to be?

How to overcome indecision

How to make a difficult decision:

- Research just enough so you can make an informed decision

- Write clear short-term and long-term goals

- Write down what inspires you, emotionally, to pursue those goals

- Imagine what your future will look like if you don't pursue your dreams.

- Imagine what your future will look like if you accomplish your dreams.

- Turn those visions into the motivation and energy you need to proceed.

- Commit to your ultimate outcome, but be flexible on the path you take to reach it.

- Identify any negative patterns, challenges, or obstacles that come up along the way, write down how you overcame them

- Recruit someone to help keep you accountable and mentor you along your path to success.

Success, no matter the venture, begins with a willingness to face uncertainty. Enjoy any new experience as an opportunity. And, take steps in the direction of your goal.

- Stewart Swayze


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What is Market Intelligence?

What is Market Intelligence?

What is Market Intelligence? Let’s keep this quick and easy, outline style! If you can fill in the information from this outline, you’ll have a tremendous amount of Market Intelligence. I’ve also provided links to relevant articles that I’ve written.

Customers

  • Voice of Customer (Read More)

  • Purchasing Habits

  • Preferences

  • Needs

  • Challenges

  • Demographics & Psychographics (Customer Personas)

  • Answer to: Why are they buying your products / services, etc.

Prospects

  • Voice of Prospects (Read More)

  • Purchasing Habits

  • Preferences

  • Needs, Challenges

  • Demographics & Psychographics (Customer Personas)

  • Answer to: Why aren’t they buying your products / services etc.

Competitive Intelligence (Read More - Using Open Source Intelligence to Analyze the Competition)

  • Who are your top competitors?

  • Communications Intelligence - gathering and analyzing publicly available marketing, communications, and sales resources

  • Technical Intelligence - gathering and analyzing of publicly available technical and product information

  • Financial Intelligence - information gathered from analysis of publicly available financial history

  • Human Intelligence - gathered from a person on the ground (sales, field marketing, etc)

Risk – A Simple PEST analysis should help

  • Political – Risk that political decisions, events, or conditions will impact the profitability of a business or value of an economic action

  • Economic – Risk that macroeconomic conditions such as exchange rates, government regulation, or political stability will impact an investment or business entity

  • Social - demographic and cultural aspects of the company's market

  • Technological - technology issues that impact delivery of product or service to the market

Product

 Market

I'm also running a "You ask, I'll Answer" campaign. So if you have any questions on Marketing, Sales, or Strategy, let me know. You can shoot me an email at stewart@stewartswayze.com

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to tag me in a comment or connect with me via social media.

Stewart Swayze

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WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE BURNED OUT AT WORK

Job burnout: How to spot it and take action

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In this video, I’ll discuss job burnout. One sign to spot burnout and how to fix it.

If you are suffering from this burnout symptom, find someone to help. I’m Stewart Swayze of stewartswayze.com.

I’m an Executive Coach for Career Development & Transitions and a Marketing Consultant for Coaches, Consultants, and Solopreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics, so if your interested in developing your career or marketing, subscribe to my YouTube Channel. Check out my links to my freebies at the end of this post.

Click play or read the text below

 

TEXT FROM VIDEO

Monday morning, at 6:13 am. Your alarm clock goes off. You reach over and hit the snooze button you've already done it once before. You didn't sleep last night because all you can think about was everything you had to get done this week.

You can almost feel the emails already coming into your mailbox. Maybe you’re thinking, should I start my own company? Should I change jobs? Your mind races a little bit. No, I'm good.

But, what did I forget? When is my boss going to call me into the office and call me out? What are the deadlines I have this week?

Holy cow it's going to be another week when I'm not present for my family!

If you wake up on Monday morning and it's hard as hell to get out of bed, and you're not enthused to go to work, and not happy or passionate about what you're doing ...

If you're already projecting what's going to happen and feeling the crushing weight of stress on top of you, you're burned out at work.

There is no reason for you to feel that way. There is no reason for you to wake up on Monday mornings and already feel stressed for the week to come. Like everything's coming down upon you and you haven't even gotten out of bed.

There are plenty of strategies, tactics, and exercises you can do to take back control of your life, so that you're not burned and you're pursuing your passion. All the while, your happy healthy and financially set.

If you'd like to learn any of those strategies or talk more about being burned out at work, feel free to connect with me. I'm happy to support you

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ABOUT STEWART

Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze, I’m a Career Transition and Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics. If your interested in developing your career or marketing your business, view my YouTube Channel  below.

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Overconfidence: The Silent Killer of An Entrepreneur’s Dreams

Overconfidence Entrepreneurship

Last Updated: May 23, 2019

What is Overconfidence Bias in Entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is a challenging journey. As an entrepreneur, you need to be confident in your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Confidence allows jump from employee to entrepreneur, start a company, and take risks that result in massive action.  

In fact, as an entrepreneur, you have to make decisions with limited time, resources, or people to ask questions.

But, you must be aware of overconfidence. Overconfidence bias can KILL your company.

Overconfidence bias definition

in relation to an entrepreneur’s risk of failure this definition states that “Overconfidence is overestimation of one’s accuracy, or, alternatively, an overestimation of ability relative to others, and links with increased failure risk of firms (Hayward et al., 2006).” 

As a coach and consultant to entrepreneurs, I see this all the time. Often, my clients overestimate their ability to find high-paying clients without developing a systematic approach to marketing.

If you have an overconfidence bias, often you'll wholeheartedly "believe" your assumptions are facts.

And, assumptions make an ASS out of U and ME.

You don't try to improve your understanding of a challenge, risk, or market. You don't crosscheck perceived "facts" or seek alternative perspectives.

How Does Overconfidence Impact an Entrepreneur? 

When you are overconfident, you use hindsight to reinforce your decisions. You look back at previous successful results and automatically assume a positive outcome without considering the full spectrum of possibilities.

You overestimate your talent and underestimate the risks. Your mind forms an answer that seems right, and you take action without the facts.

The problem with this mindset, you eliminate any notion of activities that were out of your control, but positively impacted the previous outcome. 

What if your previous decision was successful due to luck?

Maybe, the stars aligned and you correctly guessed the timing of the market. In hindsight, your mind turns that “guess” into a fact. The worst part, you won’t even know it’s happening.

Hindsight, coupled with overconfidence, is a dangerous activity.

Overconfidence Bias Example 1:

Research shows that overconfident entrepreneurs tend to ignore the strengths of their direct competitors (Moore & Cain, 2007). Next thing you know, your competitor disrupts the market and steals your customers.

Overconfidence Bias Example 2:

Overconfident entrepreneurs spend months and resources working on the most amazing product. They go through an awesome launch and bam, the product fails.

Why? They relied heavily on their knowledge and experience without verifying product market fit or asking for advice, help, or and feedback from others (Hayward et al., 2006).

Overconfidence Bias Example 3:

Overconfident entrepreneurs seek out the highly-familiar option while neglecting to evaluate any other options (Winston Sieck, Ed Merkle, & Trish Van Zandt). Any of these mistakes can be fatal to your business. 

How to Reduce the Risks of Overconfidence  

Know-Thy-Self!

Self-awareness is the first step to reducing the risk of overconfidence. Reading this article and thinking through your decision-making process is a positive action.

You need to set up counterbalancing or self-regulatory mechanisms (Hmieleski & Baron, 2008).

Guess what, you don’t have all the answers. Welcome to the club! neither do I! Check yourself. 

Before you crush your dreams because of overconfidence, try these tips:

1) Take some time to seek out alternative perspectives

Assign one or two people from your team to be the skeptic or devil's advocate. During a short discussion, have them sell or present other options.

If you don’t have a team, how long does it take to phone a mentor? Consider finding an experienced mentor that understands your business. Develop a network of diverse advisors, people outside your area of expertise, market, or niche.

Example: I’m a Small Business Coach & Consultant. But, some of my best advisors don’t know anything about Entrepreneurship, Coaching, or Business. They ask questions that completely challenge my assumptions out of pure curiosity and and aren’t afraid to call me out. Hire a coach to bounce ideas off. 

How much longer will seeking alternative perspectives take? Maybe, an hour or two. I’m willing to bet you can wait an hour before coming to a final decision, especially when it’s a high-risk decision. 

2) Consider conducting a more research 

Seriously, I shouldn’t have to tell you this. You can find anything on the Internet. You’ll discover a ton of information on blogs, downloadable white papers, and on your competitor’s websites.

It is crazy how much information I find conducting competitive intelligence. As long as it’s public information, you are good to go. 

3) Reach out to experts

Consider reaching out to a few experts. I’m sure you’ll find experts happy to share their knowledge with you. For my business, I interview experts all the time. Some experts may ask for payment, while others will speak with you for free.

Either way, let’s say the right answer will generate or save you $10,000. If you pay eight experts $200 for an hour of their time, was the $1600 investment worth it? Yep!

4) Hire based on diversity of thought

Hire employees (and contractors) based on diversity of thought. Teach your employees the skills they need. Don’t build a culture of “Yes” people.

Encourage alternative perspectives that challenge you and the status quo. But, find a balance. You’re the leader, when you make a decision it’s go time! Your employees know it’s time to work together, act fast, and execute at the highest level. 

Final thoughts

Maintain a high level of confidence. Go out there and build the company of your dreams. Fulfill your entrepreneur dreams. But, increase your self-awareness. Use the techniques above to create a simple process to keep yourself and/or your team in check. I’ll leave you with this quote: 

"If I should really WANT to answer the foolish question you have just asked, or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer ANY question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now, will you kindly tell me, WHY I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?" – Henry Ford

I hope you found this information useful. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. 

- Stewart 

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How to Create Multiple Revenue Streams for Your Small Business

Creating Digital Products for Small Business Owners

Growing your coaching revenue
 

As a Small Business Owner, growing revenue strictly from providing services is flat out tough! 

You have limited time and resources. Maybe you have a few contractors or employees, but:

  • You can only increase your rates so much before you’re priced outside the market and start losing clients

  • You can only take on a certain number of clients before you have ZERO time to work ON your business or live your life

  • Or, maybe you just want to MAKE MORE money!

How do you solve for this challenge?

Creating Digital Products.

 Look, if you’re already solving a problem for clients, big or small, then you know there are people out there happy to pay you for it. 

 With digital products, you develop new revenue streams that you can up-sell, down-sell, cross-sell, and increase the life-time value of a client.

You can add the digital products to your established services. You can use your digital products as a loss leader. Now, you’re not only your original services, but also selling digital products. 

Once you build a digital product, you can go to sleep and wake up with more money in your bank account. Without lifting a finger.

Shoot, you can even go on Upwork and hire someone to build your digital product for you (at low cost).

Your digital products can take on many different forms. You know what works best for you and your clients and your life.

 You are the author of your business. Create digital products that grow your revenue and compliment your current services.

DOWNLOAD your guide to 9 PRODUCTS TO GENERATE MULTIPLE REVENUE STREAMS for your small business. 

How to Create Multiple Revenue Streams for Your Coaching Business

 

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