By Rebekah Lambert
Imagine you wake up one day and a Godzilla smack-down has happened between Twitter and Facebook. They’ve formed Street Fighter-style teams and have taken all the lesser social medias with them in a fight to the death.
If it were the end of social media as we know it, what would you do?
All crazy Japanese movie animals aside, with our increasing reliance on social media, it’s important to remember there could come a time when access to it, especially for business purposes, could be drastically reduced.
The most recent round of changes to Facebook highlights one very simple premise: the platforms are in it for the money, not to provide a free service. Time to get prepared!
We never own any of the content we place on social media platforms, nor do we own access to the database of fans or followers we accrue. The aim of the game should always be to effectively market without social media holding all the cards.
Before anyone raises their hands full of flyers for the local cafe, I will stop you right there. No trees need to be harmed in the making of your marketing strategy.
Here are the real, effective and surprisingly simple ways to ace marketing without social media (or murdering trees).
1) Encourage your existing customers to bring their friends.
You likely already know about 2-4-1 offers or refer-a-friend discounts, possibly so much that you’ve become immune. So why not step it up a notch?
Some really great ways to get your friends talking:
- Have an Open Day where clients bring their curious friends to find out more and participate in free sessions
- Host a business anniversary party and open your doors to clients and their friends, serving them food, drink and happiness
- Give the client who spreads the most word-of-mouth each month a private VIP experience
- Ask your existing audience for help market your business, and ask them to set the reward. You’ll be surprised how many clients will respond to a simple request for assistance and cheerfully name their reward for doing so.
TIP: Fostering a sense of belonging is far more effective in inspiring friend referral programs or financial rewards. So make it special!
2) Get people talking about you through giving
We all know great customer service can make or break a business, but what else can you do to create an extraordinary customer experience people will talk about? Put your customer at the centre of your experience by giving.
Here are some lovely things you may want to try:
- Pay for other people’s coffees. Buy $50-$100 worth of coffees at your local café and ask the barista to give them to their cafe customers with your business card
- Be kind to hairdressers. Hairdressers talk all day for a living. Give them something awesome to talk about. Get your haircut and send a dozen cupcakes with your logo made of icing together with a thank you card. You’ll be talked about all day!
- Pay the parking meter. Instead of cars in your local area coming back to tickets, let them come back to a happy, cheerful message about how you topped out the meter … with your name and website on the message of course!
TIP: Showing a little everyday kindness can make another person feel great about you and give them a wonderful story to share. And it doesn’t take much to do it, either!
3) Practice talking about your business
One of the most common questions we’re asked when meeting someone new is “what do you do for a living?” So be prepared! The whole “gee, shucks, I only do X” kind of patter doesn’t endear you to others nor get you new clients.
Here’s how you can make yourself pitch perfect:
- Write a brief explanation (30-50 words) of what you do and why it helps people
- Practice saying it in front of the mirror
- Remember to ask the other person what they do
- Ask the additional question “why do you enjoy your job?” and once they are finished, share why you enjoy doing yours.
TIP: Having a strong response when asked what you do for a living (without boring the socks off people) makes you seem confident and good at what you do.
4) Make friends with like-minded businesses
Sharing your audience with other businesses is a great thing to do. Here are a few ways to reduce your marketing dollars through friendships with like-minded businesses:
- Have a “friends of my business” page on your website. This not only gives the businesses the warm and fuzzies, it also promotes that you are community-minded, not cash-minded.
- Partner up on jobs and campaigns. Don’t say no to that awesome corporate health pitch because you need extra skills that you don’t have! Instead, make use of partnerships to win bigger opportunities.
- Use PR opportunities to best advantage. Most journalists are super pressed for time, so if you’re the person they can rely on to find out who they should talk to in your industry, you’ll find you get a lot more coverage and will gain tremendous goodwill from other business owners too. So name drop, have an open door policy on sharing who the right contacts are, and make yourself a fountain of industry knowledge.
- Run informal meet-ups. Bringing people together once a month to talk about their challenges, have a drink or a coffee, and chat through everything really helps. Especially if there are work referrals to be had.
TIP: Helping fellow business people with connections and advice while demonstrating the hand of friendship will have even your fiercest competitors talking about you in a positive light.
Using social media tactics offline
If you look at any of the marketing techniques listed above, you’ll probably notice they look like social media. The one thing we often forget when using social media is that the same principles apply in the real world.
All marketing (social media or otherwise) is built on these key points:
- Leveraging your existing audience to create new clients
- Generating positive word-of-mouth
- Knowing how to describe and sell your business
The often-forgotten rules are: make sure your marketing delights people and remember that it’s not about your business, it’s about the client. Once you have a handle on these foundations and rules, it won’t matter if social media explodes like a supernova or if the internet is eaten by Godzilla, you’ll always be able to find clients.