Hey, Nicki here! I’ve been asked a lot recently about visibility hacks for small businesses – ways to be seen, without it costing lots of money.
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.
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?
Marketing is key
One of the biggest visibility hacks for small businesses is the right marketing – if you start spreading the word about your business, it will eventually gather momentum itself. 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 are rare, 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. Keep going!
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, and most of this you will have no idea of and cannot track.
Over 90% of people that come across your business will not introduce themselves (whether in brick and mortar shops or on social media) and you are likely to not ever know where they found you. 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 Lauren Clegg 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!
Want more FREE visibility hacks for small businesses?
- Your business social media – be present! This doesn’t mean you have to be posting all the time – far from it, just try to be present. If you plan to post twice a week – try to stick to it if you want some growth on your account. However, being there in some format with good quality posts is better than not being there at all. 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 – and your own friends and family can be a tough crowd and they might not all follow your business account. Don’t take it personally – it’s actually pretty common.
- 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. On Instagram now you can insert 5 links to external sites. Make use of these or use a link page if you have more. Links to your website shop directly or other selling platforms, your about us page (if you have one), link to sign up form for your e-newsletter and even your Pedddle page for up to date event details – wherever you want to take them. If you need more links than this a Top tip: have a link page on your website rather than linkt.ree (or an equivalent). If you can add a specific link page on your website that you can pop in your bio, that works so much better for your SEO as all the traffic is going directly to your website an Google can see this.
- Have a website/ online marketplace – (free option available but the paid options are better) 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 initially as they have built TRUST in your business and they may have shopped on 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 (some are paid for) and these customers are then yours – opposed to social media followers! Once you have your audience building, 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. If you are thinking of starting one, here’s a few things to consider: If you have a website, check whether you get an email option with it. Shopify definitely does for all their paid packages. Also check how many emails you can send a month on the free packages – when it says 1000 emails – don’t be fooled, this might be one email but send it out to 1000 people and you have reached your limit then posting is tricky. 10,000 emails a month or 2000 subscribes on your list is ok for new businesses.
- 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. If you select ‘I deliver goods and services for my customers’ your address won’t show on the web/Google maps.
- Google Reviews – Reviews are such a great way to gain trust with your customers and future customers. Once you have a Google Business listing then you are able to collect great customer reviews! 💥 It’s just a case of putting out the ask to your customers once they have bought from you.
- 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
So, you’ve tried some visibility hacks for small businesses… but aren’t quite hitting all of your desired goals. If you want faster or bigger results, and have money to invest, think about…
- In-person markets & events – They are great for lots of reasons – sales is the first thing we think about but sometimes footfall and sales are out of your control. However, the relationships you make at in-person markets with customers and also other stallholders are very important. As always, it’s all about building trust/credibility and getting seen ‘out there’, and making sure people trust your brand and remember you to buy from in future. Capturing email addresses at this point is really important and telling customer they can find you on Pedddle (if you are a member) will give the customer one place to find you retrospectively.
- Online markets & events – Look what’s on on Tresstle! Online markets are almost like some dark force where you cannot see exactly what is happening – which does feel weird and quiet when sat at home, but you have to trust that people are seeing you and connecting with you! If you’re interested in selling at or hosting your own online markets or events, check out Tresstle. Online markets are about visibility as much as anything – even if people don’t purchase from you during the market, they will remember you in future and hopefully they clicked through to your website when looking to connect again.
- Start a Patreon – This is a fab way to gather your ideal customers. Lots of brands use it to share more about the behind-the-scenes within their business and this builds trust and connection for the customer. Obviously it is also a steady source of income as a monthly fee is often involved.
- Directories – this is where Pedddle sits. There are lots of other alternatives out there too. Directories give you a business listing, usually a full page about you and your business which links to your website/marketplace and this helps to give your brand/website 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 and because we link with markets when you check-in it increases the chances of your business being found. 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 Similar Web to see what the traffic is like for a certain website and this will show you how good it is for your business – zero results mean very little traffic. Website age + content + 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 Meta (FB or Insta), Etsy, Pinterest or Google ads work for you? Is that where you audience will look? Then think carefully about your imagery, caption and links in order to make this successful.
- 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. Most times it is best if you can get your own customers to share. They may not be big influencers BUT they will influence their friends and family so it could be a great way to get your products out there. Seth Godin (marketing guru) always says other people talking about your business is the best form of advertising.
- Wholesale – again this is about sales… but I am putting it here as some shops ask for an upfront fee then a % of sales. Wholesale can get you seen by a whole new audience and builds their trust too if you are sitting within a reputable shop. It also is much less time consuming than standing at a market for 9 hours as you just pack it up and send it on. Check out Faire, Ankorstore and Creoate which are all online wholesale sites that connect you with
All of these things will bring traffic your way. Can you always tell where the traffic has come from? No! We can use analytics on our websites but this is only a guide. In every situation, you don’t always 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 on apps like Insta. 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 – building a business 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. It takes time, patience and resilience.
ALSO, following a pandemic, a war, a cost fo living crisis and who knows what’s next, people are cautious, is a tricky time to evaluate, as nothing about the last 3 years 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