by Louise Brace
When you’re starting out in business. No matter how long you’ve been in that business. Doubt creeps in about your capacity to make it work. Do you know your sector as well as your competitors? How will customers respond to your proposition? And first and foremost, how will you attract clients?
Let me give you a tip… You need to become the oracle of your industry. The entrepreneur, or business, everyone turns to – including the media, when they want inside industry knowledge.
Here’s an illustrative example: You have a neighbour, let’s call her Mrs Wise. She knows everything about what goes on in your street and everyone visits her to find out the latest goings-on. No one comes away empty handed. Now you need to be the Mrs, or Mr Wise of your industry.
Let’s look at ways you can project your knowledge to develop leads and conversions. It takes a little patience and determination, but with just your knowledge, you’re equipped to make it happen.
Blog like crazy
Writing about your business and related topics, will demonstrate your knowledge and dedication to the industry. Companies, such as analytics guru Kissmetrics, or SEO sage, MOZ, build their businesses around the content they deliver. Clients feed off their knowledge and when they need an analytics or SEO company, who do they turn to? The all-knowledgeable ones.
The more content you create, the more your business will be seen as an expert.
Smart tip: Great headlines are as important as great content. Attention grabbing headlines draw the reader in. And once they’re in, they’ll find out just how knowledgeable you are.
Smart tip: List posts are like marmite. You either love them, or hate them. Whichever, the case, list posts can be an extremely powerful tool for your blog. Why?
Firstly, any post, with the headline Top 10… or The 7 best… makes the post easily identifiable, readers know exactly what they are going to get. Secondly, they are scannable. Your reader, can get a good sense of what you’re offering, just by scanning the content. Thirdly, lists can become umbrella posts. From a list, you can write a more indepth article about each subject. More content, more knowledge.
Smart tip: Guest posts. Google does not like the term ‘Guest Post’, but it’s the easiest term to explain the idea. Offer to write for your sector peers, or industry media. Now you’re delivering your knowledge outside of your own domain and your content and knowledge will now have a much farther reach. More customers will bookmark you as one to watch.
Once you have curated a decent amount of content on your blog, you can start to deliver it through email marketing. Send your clients regular chunks of information via an email newsletter. Offer teaser paragraphs from your posts, to draw people back to your website, or blog.
You can also include subtle sales messages; or even a full on Call to Action, to drive people to a special promotion. This will remind clients that you’re not just a content source, but a real business that delivers solutions.
The dreaded networking
Being someone with more life online, than off. I was rather averse to networking in the real world. Having to meet people face-to-face didn’t appeal to me. What would I talk about? How would I come across in real life, when my online persona was so much bigger than the real me?
A few weeks back I made the leap from my virtual world, to a real face-to-face networking event. And I was hooked.
When you have a passion for your work. When you know your subject and you get a chance to present it face-to-face, it’s a much stronger sales pitch, than any virtual conversation you might have.
Smart tip: Be selective with the networking events you go to, because socialising in the real world, takes a lot more time than in a virtual one. Pick your event, based on the guest speakers and the guest list. What will I learn, who will learn from me?
Monetise your knowledge with an ebook
Write a book, you say? Are you mad! Don’t sweat, I’m not talking about writing a 1000-page novel. But think about it: you have all this amazing knowledge, you’ve written it in your blog, you’ve sent it out to your subscriber list. Why not curate it, and make a book?
Unlike your blog, which you write for free, you can sell an ebook, whether on Amazon, or via your own promotional landing page. Now you are starting to get paid for what you know.
Smart tip: If you sell it, it has to be complete knowledge. An alternative is to offer free downloadable ‘white papers’, which offer parts of your knowledge, but not all. These can be promoted on your website, via your email newsletter and through affiliates and collaborators.
Collaborate with like-minded influencers
Online or offline, business collaborators can be valuable resources for your business. And the more influential your partners, the more you will gain.
Develop relationships with businesses that already have a strong influence in the market. Their influence will go a long way to get you noticed.
Smart tip: A good way to reach out to other influencers, is by sharing their knowledge through your social channels. Or reach out and ask if you can share one of their articles in your next email newsletter. Introduce each other to your clients. Recommend each other’s products.
Smart tip: Look for affiliates who work within your sector, offering complementary products or services. Once you have agreed to collaborate, plan a way to promote each others products and services. After all, the point of this exercise is more leads, more conversions.
Make your content share-worthy
It goes without saying that influencers spend time developing engaging social media profiles, which act not only as outlets for their content, but also as a channel to share industry knowledge and connect with potential customers. People who engage frequently on social media, are generally considered influencers. From a social influencer, to an authority in your industry.
However, building a social media presence takes dedication. Ultimately you have to decide how relevant social is to your business. How many of your clients are on it – not on a personal level, on a business one. And you’ll need to decide, if you do it yourself, or get an ‘expert’ to run your SM strategy for you.
Smart tip: If you decide to manage it directly, there are a number of good tools, such as HootSuite and MeetEdgar, that will help you schedule your posts. Saving you valuable time.
Smart tip: Make your posts relevant and study the time your clients and influencers engage on social, so your messages don’t get lost.
Offer to be a guest speaker
Woah, now it’s getting serious. But there’s no better way of demonstrating your authority, than guest speaking at an industry event. And it’s not as difficult as you might expect to get a gig. To begin with start contacting some of the smaller annual events, or start-up events, to see if they need guest speakers. I promise they will. Present a compelling subject and they’re sure to say yes! Don’t expect to get paid in the beginning. But the endorsement your business will receive, makes it worth it.
Smart tip: Video your appearance and get it on your blog, in your email newsletter and share it.
Smart tip: Read Jurgen Appelo’s article on starting out as guest speaker.
Rock your reviews
Every positive review, or testimonial about your business, should be proudly displayed on your website. The more people talk about you, the more customers will want to do business with you. Remember a review isn’t about the experience of the person who wrote it. It’s about the 500 potential clients who see it.
Smart tip: Don’t hide negative reviews. Reply, empathise, take action and tell them what you did.
Create, curate and deliver your knowledge. If you don’t become a Mr or Mrs Wise after all this, you’re doing something wrong!