The rise of small business is incredible these days! Only 3% of Australian businesses have 20 or more employees.
With the increased accessibility of technology comes to ease of creating, sharing and selling products and services online.
With the ever-popular emergence of the “side hustle economy”, and more and more people getting in the game, I am betting that many of you can think of a friend or family member that has a business or hobby that they can share to provide a product or service. We may not need there offering ourselves but how many times does the “word of mouth grapevine” get activated when someone needs to solve a problem. If you want to support your friends, there is no better way than to referring someone to them and I have a few simple things you can do that will make a big impact.
1. Buy. Use. Refer
It’s simple… become their customer or client! Does your friend sell hand-painted signs on Etsy, buy one. Does she make custom cakes, order one for your next celebration? Did she open her own spa, go get a massage. (Yes please!) Whatever your friend is up to, become a customer or client and refer others to do the same.
Now, I am not suggesting that you visit your friends business every day or buy every product they offer. Sometimes it may not be appropriate to use the services they provide, you may not be their ideal client or you may not be in need of what your friend’s business is offering. That’s ok! You may be able to refer other people to their business or when the time comes and you do need what they offer, you’ll know exactly what to go!
2. Like. Share. Post
If you’re not interested or able to be your friend’s client or customer there are other ways you can support. One of them is through social media. Liking, sharing or posting about your friends’ business is a huge gesture in this digital age. Most businesses use social media to build and gain trust with potential clients. You can help speed up this process simply by interacting with your friend’s business wherever they are.
Read their blog posts, check out their website, follow them on social media and most importantly like, comment, share and re-post whatever resonates with you and as often as possible.
3. Be like glue and stick people together
Having an understanding of what your friend’s business is all about will help you be a master connector. As you meet ideal clients or customers for your friend’s business it will be natural for you to suggest that they connect.
Remember, that the purpose of recommending that two people connect should be mutually beneficial. It feels amazing to be able to refer someone to your friend when you know it will genuinely benefit that person, as well as your friend. This is that magic of networking taken to a new level!
But wait… there’s something in this for you too! When you’re a person that actively builds your networking skills through connecting others, you remain top of mind for those people that you have introduced to one another. In turn, they will think of you like someone to recommend or connect to the right people when the opportunity arises. That’s what I call a win-win!
4. Ask what you can do
It’s not easy starting or running your own business, even a side business takes up a ton of time and energy! If you really want to support your friend in their new venture, try asking them how you can help.
You might be surprised at the simple answer you get back.
I have taken some of my friends up on their offer to help by asking them to look over my website and give me feedback before I launched it. They were happy to do that! I got some really awesome feedback from them. Typos that they caught, suggestions on style, colour or design, even some revisions of my writing. I was thrilled! I took many of their ideas and I credit their feedback to making the site better.
Ask your friend how you can help and if what they suggest is manageable for you then do it! They will appreciate that gesture more than you can imagine 🙂
5. Give honest feedback or just be a Cheerleader
This can be tricky, but true friends want you to know your opinion (usually!). If your friend asks you for your input, then share it lovingly. You probably know them better than most and that’s why they are coming to you for the feedback in the first place. Your insights might be just what they need to improve their products, services, business space or website.
If your friend has not asked for your opinion then you get the best job of all, Cheerleader! Be there to support, say nice things and encourage your friend as they navigate the crazy world of small business.
You can do it!
Don’t give up!
You’ve got this!
No matter how you choose to show up for your friend I am sure they’ll appreciate it. And a special shout out to my friends and family that continue to show up and support me every day 🙂
Whilst it can be difficult to hand over the reins to someone else, many of the best leaders, business owners, and entrepreneurs have grown their businesses to amazing levels by delegating and outsourcing as much work as possible. Time management and researching cost effective business solutions, however, can be a fulltime task all on its own. Luckily, there are many options available to business owners today.
The focus of marketing has gone digital, and to maximise this properly it requires a specialised skill set but your business may not have someone with the know-how to ensure that you can make digital marketing work for you. Even if you can write great blog posts or the office manager knows how to manage social media, that’s probably not the best use of your or their time. Furthermore, when individuals with multiple responsibilities are handling the marketing, when an urgent matter arises in another area of the business, marketing efforts often end up taking a back seat or get abandoned altogether. This stopping and starting of marketing campaigns can sink even the most well-conceived strategies and make it difficult to assess whether a campaign is even working.
Here are a few steps to help determine the best way to outsource your organisation’s marketing:
Outsourcing and delegating work is an investment in your business’ future, and it isn’t just reserved for large businesses. Small businesses, start-ups, and independent entrepreneurs are taking full advantage of it too. Even if your business is your “baby” or a labour of love, letting go of the compulsion to control or oversee every aspect of it will ultimately help you reach your goals.
Even in today’s digitally focused world business is still principally about personal relationships. Many businesses still rely on word-of-mouth and customer referrals to grow their business. Whilst the need to develop personal relationships is important so also is how people search and evaluate products and services. If people are having difficulties finding you online, then you’re missing out on business opportunities. But building an online presence does require you have to have knowledge of digital marketing activities such as social media, search engine optimisation, online advertising and content creation. Many small business owners don’t have this specialised knowledge and don’t have the time and resource required to build an online presence. Hiring a virtual assistant is a cost-effective and productive way to delegate your business’ marketing so you can focus on managing your company.
• Blog Management
You probably have a long list of ideas for blog posts, but not the required time to write them. Putting together a proper blog requires research, drafting, finding images to go alongside the blog, editing and more. This is a perfect marketing task to delegate to a virtual assistant who has blogging, writing or content marketing experience. Let your VA know what kind of content you would like them to assist you with and the timeline you need. In the beginning, as you build the relationship you will want to be involved and to review the content before it is published, but eventually, they may be able to let them take over this task completely. You can also work with your VA to draft and submit guest blogs on your behalf to help increase your SEO, visibility, and online reputation.
• Social Media
As a small business, being on social media is incredibly important. But productive and beneficial social media use requires regular and relevant posts and interactions, which many business owners don’t have time to do themselves. Instead of trying to squeeze in a bit of social media when time allows, turn to a virtual assistant for help. Give your VA access to all your current social media platforms and determine a posting schedule for each platform. Provide your VA with the information of who your ideal customer is and let them know the style of content you’d like to see posted. Use scheduling software such as Hootsuite to set up drip campaigns. Make sure you VA also links back to your blog posts and any guest blogs you have done for additional visibility.
• Search Engine Optimisation
It has been quoted that “the best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google”. This concept is absolutely true. If your business cannot be found by Googling key terms, you might as well not exist. With all the competition for valuable Google real estate, it can be difficult to get your site ranked anywhere near the top. A critical way to make your website searchable and rank higher is with search engine optimisation. Given the complex nature and constantly changing nature of Google’s search algorithm, utilising the knowledge of a virtual assistant with SEO skills is of critical importance.
• Email Campaigns
You know that you should be building an email database and reaching out to them with regular email newsletters, but it is just another task on your ever-growing to-do list. Your VA can take over this task for you. Share the lists you have begun building and have your VA manage them for you. Your virtual assistant can also create newsletters, marketing emails, call to action buttons, and landing pages for other email campaigns. Most importantly, they can track the numbers and report them for all your campaigns.
Marketing is a fundamental component for companies small and large, old and new. Because it is so important it can often feel stressful to find time to do what needs to be done in what is already a busy workday, but it is also scary to hand over the reins to someone else. However, if you select the right virtual assistant, the process of successfully integrating a VA into your small business operations will be far less painful and difficult than you might think, and additionally, you will reap some serious productivity time management and financial benefits to not only you personally but to your business overall.
We’ve all heard the term ‘content is king’. We can see this in the digital space with such platforms as Netflix and Amazon (as well as others) starting to create original program content only available on their channels to drive viewers to their offerings. But this approach also holds true for small business also. Small businesses can do the same thing with their blogs, videos, eBooks, social media posts and infographics to capture the attention to clients and new potential customers.
If you’re relatively new to introducing new marketing tactics to your small business and aren’t really sure where to start then grab a copy of our GUIDE to help you with the steps require to get the creative juices flowing and to guide you in the right direction without having to spend hours on the task.
Including content marketing in your marketing strategy provides you with a relatively inexpensive way to engage with your potential clients and maintain a relationship with current clients. By providing your knowledge for free (or in return for your contact information) you are instantly generating value before the client makes a purchase. Because posting content online and indexing it in a search engine is virtually costless, the potential return on investment (ROI) for content marketing is high. Content marketing can not only help to engage new customers but also nurture the relationship with existing customers. Additionally, it can be an important component to essential word-of-mouth marketing by encouraging sharing, liking and commenting on social media which all contribute to increasing your audience and viewers.
Do you need some inspiration with your content marketing then download our free content marketing guide by clicking here.
One of the most challenging hurdles for many small businesses and start-ups is increasing visibility and getting found by new customers. Being present and consistent on social media is an ideal place to start but it won’t necessarily guarantee the leads and ensure that people can find you when they perform online searches. This is where Google can help you out. The widely used search engine – in addition to Google AdWords and Google Analytics – now provides a free one-stop-shop for businesses to select, monitor, approve and alter the information that appears across Google about your business.
If your business serves customers in a particular location or within a designated service area, Google My Business can help you be found online. It allows you as a business owner to manage your online presence across Google’s many web functions, including Maps and Search.
The fact that your business relies on local customers does not mean that you don’t need an online presence. We are constantly hearing about instances of consumers relying more and more on the internet to get referrals about where to shop. One study discovered that online reviews influenced 90% of the consumers surveyed. Yet many businesses still don’t have any significant presence online. The 2018 Telstra Small Business Intelligence report revealed that only 50% of small businesses have their own website.
Promoting your business to the world used to be the path to take but these days more business owners are realising the importance of attracting and sustaining businesses locally as well, particularly for those with bricks and mortar stores. Local marketing has become more than just handing out flyers, advertising in the local papers or on the local radio station. By using Google it allows your local customers to find you easier online which is as critical to your marketing strategy as ensuring that you are hanging out your “open” sign or that you are situated in the right location for your ideal customer.
Whenever I ask a tourism operator this question the resounding response is “I simply don’t have the time.”
So how do you make time and how can we assist to make things easier for you?
I want to help you out by sharing the 7 key tips that I have found really helpful.
Tip 1: Make a Plan
Spend the time planning your digital marketing strategy. A well-developed plan can steer you in the right direction and help you identify and achieve your digital objectives. Never underestimate the power of taking the time to build a solid foundation as a well thought out plan will ensure that you are catering to the needs of your target audience and you are tapping into the hidden desires that they forgot even existed. Planning is a skill that no tourism marketer can afford to ignore but so often we leap ahead.
A well-crafted content calendar can be a huge reliever of the stress associated with your digital presence. You can see what days you have you have to create content on, how many times you have to post (and exactly here), the topic, you budget allocated to the promotion and the key message of the campaign you are focusing on. But most importantly, you can see why you are taking the actions as you have developed the plan based on your ideal customer.
Tip 2: Analyse, Fix & Go Again
Yes you need to make a plan but never be afraid to ‘tweak’ it or veer from it. So you ask – first we have to make the plan and then we need to change it? Yes, the plan is always a work on progress and if it’s not working them you will need to give it some tweaks.
Analysing and reporting on the success of your digital campaigns regularly will allow you to check what is working and what’s not. This is one if the key features of digital marketing in comparison to print based marketing. If you put an advert in a local magazine you do not have the analysing and reporting options and ability to alter it like you do with digital. By delving in to the analytics you can identify what is not giving you the return on investment and needs to go. Then you can invest your time and investment into the tactics which are meeting your objectives such as generating you bookings.
Tip 3: Use the Right Tools
It’s important to use the right tools to save you both time and also your sanity. Take advantage of automation tools that allow you to make to best use of your time.
If there’s a tool that can ease your work load and budget constraints or increase your productivity then grab it with both hands – you owe it to yourself.
Tip 4: Keep Learning
Have you ever met a digital marketer who isn’t still learning? No, we are all constantly learning and evolving in a world that is moving at what sometimes seems lightning speed. Make sure you stay up-to-date with the tourism marketing trends as staying curious is important.
Tip 5: Self-Motivate
Digital marketing is new and rapidly changing and can often become overwhelming for many tourism operators. Focus on picking just two channels and getting the basics right for them. For example SEO to ensure that can get found on those all important local key searches. Then when that is done perhaps put a plan in place to write two blog posts a month. This is where building that foundation digital plan becomes so important as you know exactly what you need to diary time for.
Tip 6: Seek Help
You are not an island – don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. Building a support network around you so that you have someone to reach out to is important. Seek out the help and support of mentors so that you can ask questions, welcome feedback, to gain knowledge and have the accountability that you may require.
We have developed the DigitalKickstart Facebook group to provide a forum for tourism operators so that you have a place to ask questions, share their knowledge, obtain feedback or get that accountability that we need in a supportive environment. We would love you to join us as we grow this group. If you would like to talk to us about how we can help you with your digital presence then please drop us an email and we can organise a time to catch up.
Tip 7: Switch Off
Don’t risk burnout, anxiety and insomnia always recognise the importance of switching off. Every day there are hundreds of thousands of pieces of content published in relation to digital marketing – there is no way that you can read them all so why even try? Arriana Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post, is one of many key influences who advocate the taking of well-timed breaks from technology.
She suggests implementing such rituals as meditation, mindfulness and switching off your phone at dinner and during holidays to help you relax, unwind and recharge your batteries. You need to do what works best for you and your tourism business but always remember that awaking refreshed and rearing to go each day will help with the creation of your next epic Tweet.
Do you want to create awesome content that makes an impact? It isn’t always easy to create the buzz you are looking for.
In this post, I will share with you my top 10 tips to that will help you create a social media content strategy that resonates with your customers.
#1 Develop your content strategy so that it is aligned with your tourism businesses social media goals.
Determine what your businesses goals are so that when you develop your content strategy you can align your end goal with best metric to determine the achievement of the goal.
Always keep these goals in mind when developing your social media content.
#2 Approach your content strategy with a big-brand mind-set
If you are a small tourism business, then approach it like the big businesses do:
#3 Outsource content development as required
Can your tourism business keep up-to-date with all the tasks associated with maintaining a presence on social media eg developing and sharing awesome content and responding to customers comments.
Steps that you can take as a business to ensure a successful social media campaign include:
How many hours a week does it realistically take for your tourism business to maintain a presence on social media? Don’t let the shortage of your internal business resources stop you from achieving your online marketing goals. Outsource your marketing to maximise every opportunity to achieve your goals.
#4 Engage in real interactions
The usage of auto posting tools are beneficial to ensure consistency of posting but you must also engage with your customers. Through having conversations, you will achieve better results and add more value to your social media. By not just posting and forgetting but by being available to your customers in real time it will mean that you can have more meaningful interactions.
#5 Keep up to date with changes on social media platforms
History has clearly shown us that change is inevitable on social media platforms. You only need to search Google for “Facebook changes” to see the large number of results for a range of topics.
You can keep up to date with Facebook changes by:
No one wants to be surprised by a change that they didn’t know about so they couldn’t be prepared. Keep up to date with the developments so that you don’t miss out.
#6 Use hashtags to help your customers find your content
Hashtags have become important to how we communicate online.
They can be used in several ways:
#7 Ensure your website is mobile friendly
It seems that we are visiting websites more from our mobiles devices today than any other way. But there is nothing more frustrating than opening a page that isn’t mobile friendly and having to try and navigate it to find the information we are wanting.
To make your website more mobile-friendly:
#8 Network in all the right places
When determining who, your ideal customer is you must always research the social media platforms that they frequent.
#9 Present your human side
Including photos of your team is great social media content to share. It helps to show your customers the people behind the business and helps to build a relationship with your online community. Always remember that your team are your biggest raving fans so don’t forget to include them in your social media strategy as they can often be the providers of some awesome content.
#10 Be consistent with your branding across all platforms
Make sure you have a consistent brand identity across all platforms. This includes such items as being consistent with your colours, fonts, image styles and logos.
If you are unsure if you are demonstrating a consistent brand experience, then take a look at all your marketing side-by-side and see if there are any changes that you could make so that they will look like a set rather than individual items.
If you would like to find out more about creating awesome social media content for your tourism business, then download our free guide.