It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. You’ve just launched your site and are awaiting the avalanche of traffic and sales that is sure to be just around the corner. But as you obsessively refresh your Google analytics day after day your enthusiasm begins to drop rapidly. Spreading the word about your business, driving eyeballs to your site, building brand awareness and ultimately sales is the part of your business that is probably driving your anxiety levels up.
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Before you go calling it quits understand that launching your business is only the first step and from this moment forward you need to consider yourself in the business of marketing. So stop obsessively refreshing your Google analytics, and instead use helpful guide to brand yourself, your business and become an expert marketer.
1. Know your target audience
It’s a big world out there and nothing is scarier than being a new business or blog and feeling unknown. The good news is that you only need a tiny portion of the world to pay attention, read your blog, or buy your products, to achieve fabulous success. So instead of harping on the challenge of attracting the whole world to your new website, just think about your niche and the people interested in what you are talking about and selling. That’s a much smaller world than you think. Be confident in what you are and in what you aren’t. Think back to the classic “he’s just not that into you” mantra. Consider that in your business, not everyone is going to be into you but be totally sure you know exactly who your perfect match is.
3 questions to ask yourself when determining your target audience:
1. Who did you have in mind when you started?
2. Who has a genuine need or desire for your point of view, products, posts, etc.
3. Who gets the most benefit out of your product or service? Who would pay for what you are delivering?
2. Create the top 10 list
I encourage every new business or blog to create what I call “The Top Ten” list. It’s a list of brands or blogs that you want to model yourself after. Either because they are a competitor, you share a space with them, or they are in your niche. Make sure that they are successful at what they are doing and someone you want to emulate.
After creating this list you will be amazed at what a point of reference it will serve as. Refer back to it whenever you need inspiration, have to make a decision or want to see how others have done it.
3. Brand yourself
How you brand yourself to the world through your online presence is everything! It’s how your visitors will determine if they like you, your work, your posts and your products. Your users, prospects and potential readers are making assumptions about everything they are seeing and hearing regarding your brand. This entire checklist shows you how to look great on the web but when it comes to branding it’s more about the story you are telling. Be intentional and use these 4 points to guide you through the process of creating your online brand.
- People are interested in other people before they are interested in things. Become known for what you do or sell through sharing your story and what you are all about rather then just promoting your products or services.
- What do you want people to know about you? Create your story by sharing how you can help others & identify what problems you solve for them first. Then develop your story in to a few keywords, bullet points and sentences.
- Take your story and share it. Post it on every social profile, your blog and your business website. Be consistent and live your message by publicizing what you stand for through sharing your story.
- Above all be human and have fun when branding yourself. Share the real you, be vulnerable, honest and don’t try to hard to project perfection. Most of all your readers and customers want to be able to relate to you and your message.
- Bonus: Take your branding to the next level by looking for opportunities to provide value to others. Share your knowledge as it relates to your story and offer help whenever possible. This will help you to quickly develop a reputation as an expert in your space.
4. A killer profile photo
Put your best foot forward with a great profile picture. When meeting people online all they have to go on is your picture. You want to come across as trustworthy and friendly. It’s not much different than an online dating site when it comes to the rules to follow for a great picture (no sunglasses, pictures of you at a party, a picture with your ex torn out of it, etc….)
5. Social media
Set Up your social profiles. This may sounds elementary, but once you get started you’ll see there is actually a lot involved. Choosing a profile pic or avatar for each of the social sites you will be is a matter of re-sizing to fit each specific dimension and putting up the various cover photos, background images and bios.
After you have created accounts for each site take a few hours and start to fill up your Facebook page, Twitter timeline and Pinterest boards. If someone were to come by make it look like someone is at home. It’s all about faking it until you make it 🙂
The set up is crucial, and when you invest time up front, you will only have to do it once and it will give you a wonderful platform to build your business or your blog from.
A quick social media breakdown:
- Use Twitter to connect with interesting people. Don’t be shy! Jump into conversations whenever relevant and even start a few by just tweeting directly at someone you follow.
- Pinterest should reflect your aesthetic and goals for you & your company. Keep it classy and reflective of your story and branding. Anything personal or off brand should be pinned onto a secret board.
- Instagram is the perfect platform for behind the scenes shots, hints at new products or sharing your daily routine. You can be more informal when posting pictures here but always be conscious of the image you are projecting.
- Make sure to post daily to Facebook so that you are showing up in your fans news feeds frequently. It’s a noisy place so stick to content that will add value to your followers or be something of interest.
6. Be visually appealing
We’re living in a visual world, so as an online business, blog or brand this has never been more critical. Your pictures need to be first class. Whether it’s daily outfit photos or product pictures, you need to make sure they look great and represent your brand.
For product photos, take crisp clean and clear photos on a white background that is well lit with no shadows. Think about creating some lifestyle shots, setting up vignettes for your products and giving thought to your backgrounds in outfit posts. When you present gorgeous images you are telling your customers or readers that you have an eye for beauty and you are a tastemaker and the expert here. Editors will want to feature you, people will want to share your images and when it comes to getting re-pinned you will gain traction simply because your images are beautiful.
7. Create content
I’m sure you are sick of hearing ‘content is king’ so let’s crown content queen for the day instead. Creating content that is on brand for your business is all about telling a story about you; your brand, products, posts, and ultimately point of view.
Content can mean something else to everyone. Content for your business might be daily tweets or quick videos you film on your iPhone. Don’t try to be someone else with your content. Tailor your content to your target audience and share it with them in an authentic way. Give people original and they will give you their approval through a like, share or re-pin.
8. Know your target audience
Now that you’ve set the stage it’s time to get out there and share your work with the world (read: target audience). Just like you need a target audience of customers & readers so to you need a target audience and partners for your marketing efforts. Your time and resources will be better spent if you are reaching out to people who are pre-determined to like your blog or be in the niche of your products. Start a spreadsheet and fill it up with potential sites, bloggers, friends and family to share your business with.
9. Digital PR
The web has created a leveled playing field – unlike the more traditional PR methods. Don’t get me wrong, personal relationships still trump all, but it’s easier then ever to create and develop a relationship with a stranger. Grab your courage and reach out to everyone on your list from #8.
Important outreach tips:
- Always make it personal and never use a mass email or a template.
- Pay them a genuine compliment.
- Don’t ask for anything on the first email! Just connect and if possible add some value to the relationship.
10. Build it
It can be very daunting to face an empty social profile in the beginning of your business. Seeing the 0 followers column on Twitter is never fun. Here’s how you can jumpstart a following while putting your brand in front of your target customers:
Find your top ten list on social media and start by following them. Then go on a following spree with their followers (this works really well on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram). Aim to follow around 100 people on each platform and almost immediately you’ll start to see some traction as people start to follow you back. It’s important that your social profiles feel alive, current and active and you will be well on your way to achieving that!
Now that you’ve completed this checklist I give you permission to go back and check out Google analytics and your traffic metrics. I fully expect to see a big smile on your face. Pour yourself a glass of celebratory wine and then get back to work! Oh, and share your website with us in the comments below so we can all support you in your endeavors.