Friday August 31, 2018
After being in business a few years, we've learned a few things. We still have a lot to learn, no doubt, but the blood, sweat, and tears taught us some good lessons. Here are 5 take-aways we hope startups and established businesses alike can benefit from:
1. Decide on your ideal customer from the start.
When we first started at Social Reach, it took us a little time to settle on our ideal customer. Of course, we knew we were looking for businesses who needed help with social media. But in the early days, we aimed too low too often - selling our services to businesses who weren't ready to commit to a fast-growing social media presence. About 6 months in, we realized we needed to go for businesses who already saw the value in social media marketing and were ready to seriously invest in it.
Even if you're not a startup, it's important to know exactly who your ideal customer is, what they want, and how to reach them. You may have several different ideal customers depending on your product or service. A coffee shop may attract college students, businesspeople, and young families for different reasons. But deciding on who your audience is will help you specify your branding, customize your marketing, and hone your product or services.
2. Create a complete, cohesive brand.
Once you know who your ideal customer is, you should create a brand that speaks directly to them. From the beginning, Social Reach focused on branding to make it cohesive and consistent throughout the business. We chose our colors and our font, but more importantly, we chose the message we wanted to send through our graphics and style.
Whether you're starting out or wanting to improve, creating a brand is more than designing a logo and choosing colors. It's a good idea to think about every place your business will be represented - website, print materials, social media, t-shirts. How do you want your customers to see you on that platform? How will the purpose of that platform uniquely showcase your business? How do all the platforms fit together? Creating a brand for all platforms that is both cohesive and compelling is important to growing well and growing quickly.
3. Adjust your systems to make them work for you.
Systems are the cogs of business. If you don't have a process to deliver your products or services consistently and with quality, your business won't succeed for long. But sometimes, the systems you have in place don't work the way they were supposed to. Maybe you need to add an extra step in the follow-up process. Maybe you need better organization to keep track of content. Whatever the problem is, don't be afraid to adjust to fix it. It's better to go through a little change and improve your business than continue with something you're used to that doesn't really work.
When Social Reach was starting out, we had to go through several different tools to manage our content, keep track of hours, and organize payments. We even had to adjust the tools we used to do our business, which changed our day-to-day flow. But whenever we changed something, we moved toward a flow that was really streamlined and worked for us and our customers. Now, a year later, we've found the tools and system that works for us. We're satisfied and our customers are satisfied. But it was only after working and adjusting to figure out just the right combination.
4. Keep records and gather data.
Of course, keeping financial records is an obvious, important part of your business. If you don't do it, you could be in trouble with the IRS or your customers quickly. But keeping records is important in every part of your business. If you question whether or not you should keep a record of something, you probably should do it.
We keep records of when we submit guest blogs to other websites, of when we send proposals, of all the ads we run, of samples of our social posts, and of our monthly growth reports for social channels. We can reference the records in future and track our success and growth. You can always throw out old files, but you can't access files you need if you didn't save them.
5. Stay long-term focused.
Sometimes it's easy to do the quicker, easier option instead of the option that would be more beneficial in the long run. The temptation is especially strong when you're just starting out. You have to balance short-term needs with long-term goals. But when you're making decisions about staff and partnerships, think about the long-term effect on your business.
For example, hiring someone who is passionate about growing with the company but needs training may be a better choice than hiring someone who's trained but not career-focused in the field. By the same token, partnering with another business who's well-established but whose connections won't help you may not be as good a choice as waiting to partner with a business who is established, trusted, and can give you a leg-up in the market. Considering where you want to be in 6 months and 5 years will help you make the tough decisions business requires.
We're so happy to have been helping businesses grow their social media marketing for one year. We've had a lot of fun doing it, and we can't wait to see where we'll be next year. If you'd like to partner with us to grow your social media presence, we'd love to hear from you! Contact us via email or Facebook Messenger, or set up a consultation to talk with us about how Social Reach can help you!