Hey, Nicki here! Well, this is an article that we all need, whether it’s to check in with our own current practices or to cast our virtual and physical nets wider, to increase our visibility and get us seen by new customers.
Read on for our visibility hacks for small businesses…
Here’s an interesting thought… We think we are marketing to sell our products – but what if we let the selling take care of itself, and focused on marketing to gain trust with customers, and show that we are present?
This is something we often forget as small businesses. Marketing is about nurturing and growing your audience and if they love you/your brand/your business (which ever level they connect with), they will tell their friends and family and will buy (regularly) from you. This doesn’t make marketing any easier though! There’s still a mountain to climb and that takes time, dedication and a huge dollop of resilience. Instant results will not happen, but it’s about building visibility and trust over time.
Try not to fall into the trap of ‘I did it and gained nothing’, just because you didn’t see an immediate return. Being present in magazines, markets, in blogs, or social media, whether it’s on or offline, it’s all part of a wider picture. People ARE engaging with your business in so many places and different ways, they are thinking and talking about your work, that you have no idea of and cannot track.
Around 99% of people that come across your business will not speak up and introduce themselves (whether in brick and mortar shops or on social media). They stand in the shadows, just watching. They might follow you, they might interact with you, but generally they won’t tell you. I recently received this message which reminded me that people are watching from behind the scenes:
I don’t get chance to check in much on the Pedddle Instagram account, and I know I don’t comment much, but I just wanted to say I’m quietly here, super grateful for all the hard work you’re putting in, and the amazing opportunities you’re creating for all the makers.Lauren at Moon Sage Jewellery
Messages like this are few and far between (and very lovely indeed!), but it just proves that this is happening all the time to us, to you and every business out there. People are watching and may not have time to comment or tell you that they appreciate and love what you’re doing. So what you must know is that people are seeing your brand once you’re being active and showing up – even if they don’t always tell you.
Ask yourself, are you putting out a clear brand message for people to easily access and understand? Are you targeting the right audience? Are you trying to reach customers using different channels? Once you’ve worked these things out, you can focus on how best to serve and reach that audience.
The rest of this article is going to look at places to be seen, and how to use what you currently do to guide what you should do next.
Places to be seen for FREE!
I recently recorded 11 short videos about this topic for our private members-only Instagram channel. These videos focused on visibility and SEO, but here is the bones of what I shared:
- Your business social media – be present! This doesn’t mean you have to be posting all the time. Simply chat with people on their posts, leave comments, engage with Stories, interact with your audience and generally spread some small business joy.
- Your personal social media – tell your friends and family what you are up to with your business, get them to share things, like and comment if they can. Add Stories telling people what you’re up to. However, I would limit sharing business posts on your personal social media, as you don’t want to bombard people – but they might not all follow your business account.
- Other people’s social media pages – do collective shares or go Live on Instagram. Add some stories and tag other businesses – we need to generally support one another where possible. It can be a lonely world but you also find some of your best buddies online via social media platforms – and remember that is what they were originally purposed for, to be social and interact with people! The fact we also get a place to advertise our businesses for free is just an added bonus.
- Put links in your bio to the places where you want to direct your customers, and every social media platform you can. Links to your Etsy, selling platforms or website, get them to sign up to your newsletter, your Pedddle page – wherever you want to take them. Top tip: have a link page on your website – linkt.ree or an equivalent is fab for social media, but if you can add a specific link page on your website that you can pop in your bio, that works best.
- Have a website/ online marketplace – have somewhere people can purchase your products from you. I always suggest both of these platforms because those more cautious buyers might prefer to shop via a marketplace such as Folksy, Etsy or And So To Shop, as they have built TRUST in that online platform already. The more places they can shop from you, the better! If you just pop ‘DM to buy’ in your social media bios, customers may not have as much trust that they’ll get the goods.
- Create an email list – these are free and you own this audience once you’ve got their emails, so you can take them on your small business journey! Look at free email platforms such as Mailerlite or Mailchimp, or you could consider more advanced paid options like Flodesk.
- Write blogs – Get involved in blogs where you can. Write and publish them on your website, or write some and publish them on your friends’ websites if you don’t have one yet.
- Google Business – Set this up asap! It’s free, you can share images and write articles on there. You can even list products and link to your product listing (wherever that may be). Google is great – and again builds TRUST with your audience.
- YouTube or Pinterest – these platforms are more like search engines than social media, although they sometimes get bundled into that category. Link to products or blogs wherever you can. Again it’s your chance to show up online, and you just never know who might see you!
- Get your images online – people search via Images and if you are sure to label images that you upload ANYWHERE on the internet, people can find you! Make sure you label them and get your business name in there as well as the product title.
- PR & Advertising. We recently had Rosie from PR Dispatch do a workshop with Pedddle members about this topic. You send emails out to the media/journalists and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get featured in a newspaper or magazine. Whether that is online or offline, you will be seen for free – this should not be paid for, a reputable news outlet should feature you for free.
Paid for Visibility
- Markets or events – offline – these are the ones you stand at and chat to people. They are GREAT for sales but sometimes footfall and sales are out of your control, and they can be bad. However, the relationships you make at in-person markets and events are very important. As always, it’s all about building credibility and getting seen out there.
- Markets or events – online – these are like some dark force where you cannot see exactly what is happening, but you have to trust that people are seeing you and connecting with you! If you’re interesting in selling at or hosting your own online markets or events, check out Tresstle.
- Directories – this is where Pedddle sits. There are lots of other alternatives out there too. Directories give you a business listing usually and this helps to give your brand good SEO juice. The other benefit is people that like your type of business know where to find you – so niche directories are best. The more places that you show up with your business that are on good authority websites the better. Pedddle has great SEO, so we help our members to be found online. You basically want to tell Google that you hang out in all the best places and this gives you better brand and domain authority (domain authority if you have your own website). You can use Alexa Rank to see how good a website is. Website age and content plus interaction all makes a website’s SEO, authority and ranking increase or decrease accordingly in search engine results.
- Paid for Advertising – this has it’s place but it’s just a question of where you are paying to be seen. Think carefully if it is your audience. Would Facebook, Etsy or Google ads work for you? Is that where you audience will look?
- Influencers – Social Media Influencers can be useful. Whilst you don’t always pay them, as such, some do take payment for posts or some accept free products, so technically they cost money.
- Wholesale – again this is about sales… but I am putting it here as some shops ask for an upfront fee then a % of sales. Again, wholesaling can get you seen by a whole new audience and builds their trust too, by getting you seen in a reputable shop – something else to consider.
All of these things will bring traffic your way. Can you always tell where the traffic has come from? No! We can have analytics but this is only a guide. You don’t know where that source originated from or exactly how they found out about you. You don’t know that a week last Wednesday your friend’s Mum told someone in passing about your business and they found you and are following you and might buy something soon… you just don’t know!
It’s so vital to be present, and have a mindset of building audience trust, to help your audience and therefore your business grow. When we think of it like this, maybe we should stop thinking wholeheartedly about the sales and think about increasing visibility and brand trust – your watchers and followers will then become customers as a result.
What is working well? Do more of that!
Social media – Watch carefully what your audience likes and responds to. Check your analytics. See what type of posts they engage with and give them more of that type. Watch how they interact with your stall when out at events. Test images on online markets. Send emails and see which time of day works best. All of this testing is pretty essential! However, it doesn’t have to be time consuming.
Be aware of how your business is performing and know that usually it’s as a result of a collective of things that build to make change.
Try not to be impulsive – online things take time. you can’t try something once and expect immediate results – give it a good test run. What you do now will impact you in 6 months’ time, and if you look back after 6 months have lapsed and you are getting more sales (even if it’s slow), you are seeing positive progress and that’s great! If not, re-evaluate and try again. As I’ve said, it’s like climbing a mountain – it takes time, patience and resilience.
ALSO, during a pandemic is a tricky time to evaluate, as nothing about the last 18 months have been normal! It’s a weird time for us all, so more important than ever to stay strong and hang on in there – keep trying.
I hope you found this a useful article!
Founder of Pedddle.