Five steps to connecting with your ideal client

Connecting with potential clients is crucial. But once you’ve identified whom you wish to work with how do actually get to engage with them? Perhaps it’s time to take a couple of steps back and ask yourself: ‘how well do I really know them?’

Without having a full, rounded picture in your head you will be unable to talk to them, either in the digital world or at a face-to-face meeting. In addition networking events can become all the more easier when explaining to others who you would really like to work with.

Profiling your target market and creating your avatar does take time but it is time well spent. There is an old saying amongst marketers that, ‘if everyone is your customer, then no one is’, and too many businesses seem to think that this is the better way to go. The belief being that if you throw enough messages out to as many people some of them may well stick.

group of people standing

Targeting everyone will lead to little success

Photo by Ralph Chang from Pexels

But this is not a numbers game. By streamlining your target base you can pinpoint exact problems that your customers are experiencing and in return offer solutions for them. One of the many positives to result from the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), that comes into force on 25 May, is that businesses are being forced to clean up their list of contacts and limit them to those who have opted-in to receiving their marketing messages.

Creating avatars may be time-consuming but as a fiction writer it’s an exercise I enjoy as it’s just like creating a character in a story. It’s about compiling a profile of an individual, understanding as much as is possible to know and getting under their skin so you will be able to talk directly to them. This is the person you have in your head each time you write a blog, when you develop the copy for your website, write a presentation or post a tweet, a Facebook or LinkedIn update. In fact anything you do to engage with them.

5 steps to making great connections

1. Let’s get personal – write down as much information as you can about your ideal client. Are they male or female, what’s their age range, what kind of job do they have, how much money do they earn, where do they live, are they in a relationship, with or without children, what are their hobbies or interests? The list is endless but you need to capture as much information as possible. Remember you’re trying to hone this individual into as real a person as possible.

2. Let’s get deeper – when you think you’ve exhausted the list, stop and take a break. And then continue with the process. What are their goals in life, what motivates them to get out of bed in the morning, what values do they hold strong, who are their heroes? Again you may wish to work for a set time, take a break and start again. I scribble all my ideas on A3 sheets of paper during this brain storming session.

woman jumping in sky

Have one person in your head when you’re writing any marketing messages

Photo by Sebastian Voortman from Pexels

3. Let’s hang together – identify the places your client likes to go to get information to help them. Are they book worms, which magazines or newspapers do they regularly read, which websites or social media channels do they interact on? Do they attend conferences or exhibitions or prefer face-to-face meetings? Without this knowledge it will be difficult to connect with them in their ideal location.

4. Let’s share that problem – what worries and concerns your avatar, keeps them awake at night, what challenges do they face each day? This information may come from your own experience or through working with existing customers and identifying these main problems will shape how you can help them.

5. Let’s give a helping hand – list the ways you can help your ideal client with their problems. What types of existing products and services will cater for their needs or what new ones could you offer? By establishing yourself as an expert in your field you can demonstrate how useful you can be to your ideal clients. Linking a solution to one of their problems gives you the opportunity to offer advice and potentially sell a product or service to them.

Only by undertaking this exercise can you really start understanding who your ideal clients are and how your business will develop. And while some products will cater for different kinds of people it’s ideal to focus on just the one type at a time.

What is an avatar?

An avatar is an icon or figure representing a particular person

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Be human: crucial for effective social media interactions

With the constant changes and upsets happening in social media land many of you could be thinking of turning your back on it all and finding a new way to reach your community. But all is not lost, there are still opportunities and advantages to using different social media channels, we just have to rethink our approach to it all.

Remembering to be human may come as a surprise to some, but it’s worth remembering social media channels have given everyone a voice, the clue is in the word used. But it become more relevant since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced changes to the algorithm the company was using.

On January 11 Zuckerberg said: “I’m changing the goal… from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

Zuckerberg was concerned that there were fewer ‘meaningful interactions’ between our friends and family and too much content from marketers and he was keen to redefine this. Which has meant that since January we’ve seen fewer posts from brands and organisations, more updates from friends and family and more sponsored ads from companies keen to keep their voices heard.

But what is a meaningful interaction? According to Facebook’s Journalism Project these are what constitute a meaningful interaction:

  1. a person commenting on or liking another person’s photo or status update
  2. a person reacting to a post from a publisher shared by a friend
  3. multiple people replying to each other’s comments on videos watched or articles read in the news feed
  4. a person sharing a link over Messenger to start a conversation with a group of friends

In addition there were a number of other criteria the algorithm would consider:

  1. long comments would be better than short comments
  2. video will get less watch time
  3. links to external pages will get less visibility
  4. the algorithm targets content everywhere – personal posts, groups, events

And while this is only happening on Facebook, it will over time be introduced to all other products Facebook own, such as Instagram and WhatsApp. Notice that the criteria focuses on the interactions and engagement between people, not pages or organisations.

group people in line at sunset

Are you engaging with your readers or just talking to them?

So the question to ask is: are you producing content that generates this type of engagement? Personally for too long my news feed was bombarded with the constant sales-driven posts which led me to hide a number of people I was linked to. In some respects this move was no bad thing as I’ve always believed that it’s been about creating quality content that is relevant, informative and useful to help your customers or the community you serve than just the hard sell of buy, buy, buy my products. The whole ethos of social media that it is social, there’s that word again, and we engage with one another. Too many businesses and organisations use it as though it is a broadcast medium.

The view from the experts is that it is not a numbers game anymore. Speaking at the Social Media Marketing World expo, founder of Social Media Examiner, Mike Stelzner says: “A smaller, more relevant and engaged audience is more valuable than a larger, less engaged one.” It’s making sure you are targeting the right people who match your target audience rather than trying to reach everybody. And it’s about establishing your knowledge and expertise that can build trust among your community.

“If you’re willing to connect with smaller, more relevant audiences, 
you can survive and thrive in this changing world,” he adds.

Brian Solis, digital analyst, anthropologist and futurist, is another who is passionate about people helping people, calling social media the human network. Speaking at the same event, Solis says: “Influence is not about popularity, it’s about building trust. And once you’ve earned trust among your peers this leads to reciprocity.”

How am I adding value should always be at the forefront of your mind when writing any posts. Guy Kawasaki, marketing specialist, author, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist, says: “Always add value to your customer. This earns you the right to promote your product or service every now and then.”

Promoting your products every and now and then, not all the time.

Solis also believes that every message has to be clear and concise. “A well-made Tweet is an art form. To get a retweet means you have to make a connection. It has to talk to and through someone. To stand out from the crowd we must quietly say only what is important. Briefly and with care.

“Make it the one post that converts and is remembered. This is how you get heard.”

How many of you can say your posts, using whatever social channel, do that? How are you serving the community you are engaging with?

So what can you do? Remember who your target customer is and talk to them as a human being. Offer up your expertise and knowledge, without expecting anything in return. If you read something that interests and inspires you comment on the post (the longer the text the better) and treat others how you would like to be treated. Share your insights and see where it leads you.

I’ll leave the last words to Brian Solis:

quote

 

 

I had a virtual ticket to this year’s Social Media Marketing Expo that takes place in San Diego each year. Over future weeks I’ll be providing information across a broad section of topics, looking at different social media channels as well as blogging, podcasting and content marketing.

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6 key components to developing a blog strategy

Are you a planner or do you fly by the seat of your pants? I ask the question as many people seem to fall into the spontaneous category, thinking up new ideas all the time but never quite delivering on them, never being as successful as they could be.

In some cases flying by the seat of your pants may be preferential, if you are struggling to meet a deadline. But in most cases I would advise sticking to being a planner, it lessens the amount of fire fighting you have to do (and having experienced that for chunks of time it is not a happy place to be, believe me) and it puts you on the right track.

The problem is most people who start in the spontaneous phase never seem to get out of it. They enjoy coming up with ideas and some even enjoy the increasing pressure they put upon themselves. But many fall at the first hurdle, after the initial buzz they lose their way and get disinterested in their blog because it’s not generating enough readers. They give up.

Because being spontaneous is easy, there are no rules, no restrictions. But it also means: no focus, no goals to reach and no way to measure the progress that you are making.

If you wish to avoid this then developing a strategy at the start of your project is essential. It’s about constructing a framework on which to build upon, a bit like starting with a skeleton and you add all the flesh, muscles, organs, blood and oxygen to keep your blog thriving and growing from strength to strength. When starting out I have six components which form the outline of my strategy.

skeleton

Developing a strategy starts with a skeleton and the different components flesh out the plan

Photo credit: stockdevil

Six components to developing a blog strategy

1. What do you want to achieve?

Or in other words what does success look like to you? Understanding what you wish to do provides real focus to your planning. Am I looking to engage with a specific community to generate an income by developing products, such as e-books or online courses? Or am I using it to demonstrate my writing commitment and style in order for me to win freelance writing work? If, for example, I wish to start a blog on health and fitness I’ll need to consider which aspects of this wide topic I wish to focus on before I can establish what would lead to a successful blog.

TASK: If you’ve decided to start writing a blog you’ve undoubtedly been thinking about it for a while. Take a sheet of paper and write down your ideas, thoughts and reasoning for the subject area you wish to concentrate on. You may well end up with lots of ideas and different angles, some that will fit together, others that will stand out on their own. Reject nothing at this stage as you never know how your thoughts can develop.

2. Why is this important?

Why is it worth your time and effort to start this blog now? What important problems need solving that can’t be found elsewhere? The clearer your reasoning at this stage the better. Continuing the theme of health and fitness I may consider looking at helping health professionals to communicate the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to patients. With the growing obesity problem around the world and the increasing costs to healthcare providers this is a topic that still needs addressing and could benefit from a fresh approach.

TASK: Take another sheet of paper and take one or two ideas you’ve already written down and explore further. What different angles will you be providing? Write down your justification for developing the different subjects. Is there a real need for the information you can supply?

3. Who do you want to target?

Within any topic that you choose there will be numerous types of people to target. Do you wish to target business people or consumers? And within those two categories who specifically do you wish to engage with? At this stage it’s always best to identify one type of individual and develop a persona for them. Are they male or female, what age are they, what’s their salary bracket, what does their job entail are all good starting points. Extending the focus on health professionals I could choose a practice nurse at local medical centres. They would be predominantly female, involved in giving regular health checks to patients with the opportunity to provide additional relevant information.

TASK: Grab another sheet of paper and start writing a list about your ideal reader. Draw a stick figure in the centre of the paper, give them a name and write as much as you can about them. This is the person that should be in your head when you write your blog as your aim is to provide solutions to your readers’ problems every time.

notebook, pen, camera

Jotting down ideas in a notebook is the best place to start when developing your strategy

4. Where will you go to interact with them?

Once you know a bit about your ideal reader you will also need to find out how you can engage with them. Written blog posts will need to be promoted through social media channels, so which ones do your readers use? And don’t forget the non-digital world, the opportunities where you can network within your community face to face. So, on my blog for health professionals identifying where my practice nurses interact online to gain further knowledge and which events, such as conferences, they attend will be crucial.

TASK: Now that you know who your reader is, list down all the areas where you think they will be found and explore further. Which online groups or forums do they regularly interact in? What other non-digital places are there where you will have the chance to engage with them?

5. When will you do this?

You will most likely wish to start straight away, but need to consider how the time setting up a blog and writing regularly will fit in with your other commitments. It’s good to build up a bulk of blog posts to show your knowledge and expertise of the subject so it’s worth holding off hitting the live button until you’ve done so.  That way you’ve got into your routine of regularly researching and writing articles and feel confident in the topic you are writing about. Ideally, I would have 20 blog posts written with photographs and relevant headlines ready to go, showing practice nurses my full understanding of the problems they face, suggesting pertinent solutions for them.

TASK: Draw up a timeline of the work schedule required to develop and launch your blog. Identify a specific date you wish to go live and work backwards putting key tasks within the time available. As a rule of thumb always be generous with this time as often tasks take longer to complete than first imagined. Keep a weekly list of goals to keep you on track.

6. How will you measure your progress?

Measuring how well you are doing is central at the planning stage, otherwise how will you know what is working and what is not. By putting measurements in place and reviewing on a monthly basis you can assess the types of articles which generate interest and those that don’t and use this knowledge to determine whether you need to change tact.

A word of warning: expect organic growth. We are all too familiar with successful blogs that have thousands of people signed up to their email newsletters which generate six-figure incomes for their writers. But this did not happen overnight. It took time and a lot of hard work.

TASK: Write down three ways you can measure the progress you make on your blog over a three-month period. This could include the number of email contacts you gain, the amount of comments you receive or your social media engagements, but choose a figure that you can realistically achieve. Put time aside to review on a monthly basis.

 

All this planning will take time but it is worth doing so to help you identify the best potential for your blog. Although developing a strategy may follow a particular formula it doesn’t rule out the creative element. There are plenty of opportunities for this when coming up with ideas of different subjects or different social media posts. And it doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous every now and then.

A good strategy will keep you on track and focused and ensure you remain passionate about both the topic and the community you are engaging with.

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5 ways awareness events can generate ideas for your blog

Want a never-ending supply of ideas to help you write your blogs? Then help is at hand.

Awareness days, weeks, and months have exploded in recent years. Almost every day we are recognising, celebrating or remembering some aspect of life, event in history, someone’s life. Any many can help inspire ideas for blogs.

This month there has been a focus on areas such as beds, vegetarians and on a whole host of them connected with writing – World Theatre Day, World Storytelling Day and Poetry Day. Coming up in April we have World Homeopathy Awareness Week and Earth Day among many others to look forward to.

Conducting a Google search is the easiest way to find what’s relevant for you. My recent search came up with different categories including health, national and international all of which could provide a number of different topics for you to write about throughout the year. Whatever the focus of your blog I’m sure you will be able to find a direct match on a particular topic or the subject area will provide inspiration to you.

screen shot awareness days

Some of the results when searching for awareness days

5 ways awareness events can help

1. Develop your editorial content calendar

Start to fill in your editorial content calendar by highlighting the different days, weeks or months throughout the year. If a particular slant for the blog comes to mind jot down a few notes to remind you when you come back to it later. For those days six months in advance I tend to just write down the topic and revisit it nearer the time.

Awareness days are an excellent way

to help you forward plan your content

2. Start using hashtags

Once you’ve written your blog you will want to share it with the world. Attaching the relevant hashtags (#) within your social media channels will bring your article to a wider audience as well as help show your support for the cause itself. Blogging after all is about sharing useful information and engaging with the world.

3. Create a series of articles

Any particular theme could generate a variety of different ideas that, useful if it is an awareness week or month. This gives you the opportunity to write a series of articles and expand in more detail on the topic in question, ideal if the topic marries directly with the focus of your blog. For example, when working with clients in the sustainability sector I write a series of blog posts for them to send out each day during Recycle Week, usually focusing on recycling hints and advice and asking readers to suggest tips of their own. Take the time to brainstorm your ideas on a sheet of paper and see where your creativity takes you.

4. Create a graphic

Take a statement or find a quote connected to the specific awareness event and create a graphic that can be used within your blog and to help promote yourself on social media. I’ve started using Canva recently and this free software (paid for options are available) provides numerous templates for a variety of graphics which you can edit to suit your needs.

5. Opportunity to re-purpose content

Many awareness events take place each year so once you have written a blog there is nothing stopping you using it again at a later date. Think about the different ways you can use the copy, perhaps something new can be highlighted or you have thought about another angle you could develop from the original text. Whatever you have it’s yours to use again as you like.

graphic of beach and sea

If there was a mindfulness day I would use this graphic created in Canva to promote the message

While using awareness events provides an amazing source of ideas there are just a couple of things to warn about. In an era of fake news it is essential to check your sources. Most prominent ones will have a website and social media profiles so always go to the actual organisers rather than rely on lists that other websites provide. This is a good place to start your research that will hopefully inspire plenty of ideas. The topic you write about must align with your values and it can’t be too forced. Just because there are plenty of opportunities to link into awareness events there should be direct correlation to the focus of your blog.

It’s important to continue to generate plenty of ideas for your blog to avoid the dreaded blank page staring back at you. Planning ahead works for me. It shows readers you are in touch with relevant events but takes away the stress of having to write blogs at the last-minute to show you are up to date.

Overall awareness events provide an invaluable resource to your editorial calendar.

 

 

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How to still get engagement on your Facebook Page

If you have a Page on Facebook to promote your business or organisation you won’t have failed to notice the amount of detail surrounding Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement to fix Facebook a few weeks back. His plans to ensure there are more interactions between friends and family connections will mean there will be fewer posts from Pages within your news feed.

This is a good time to review your approach to Facebook and develop another strategy. It’s no longer about the number of times you update your posts; now it is essential to provide quality content that educates, entertains and inspires. Personally I think this is no bad thing. I’ve been fed up for ages with the number of posts that just give the hard sell. Buy, buy, buy more of my stuff. The whole ethos of social media that it is social and we engage with one another. Too many businesses and organisations use it as though it is a broadcast medium.

To develop that quality content it is crucial to have a weekly and monthly plan identifying the different types of posts you will be updating. Having a strategy or campaign helps to focus the mind and should be incorporated across all social media.

letter blocks Teach

Posting comments that educate, inspire and entertain are crucial

Posts will still appear in news feeds that inspire meaningful conversations and interactions amongst people. Long comments that people have thought about and taken the time to write will be more valuable than simple likes. The job is to create news content that is shared and talked about. If you’re a member of any Facebook group you’re likely to see this happen frequently, where shared interests and concerns are discussed openly and in-depth. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Groups starting up over the next few months.

The other changes you may have already noticed is more live video feeds and an increase in sponsored posts that appear in your news feed. Live video is said to attract six times the amount of interaction and engagement to recorded video. Live video, if executed properly, gives you ample opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge on particular subjects. Start with a short video and see how it goes.

Advertising is set to increase and while it’s always been reported that you can reach a wide audience with little money, the jury is still out on whether if and how this will change in the future. Again start small and ensure you build in time to refine your key messages to get the best results.

Being strategic in your social media is now more important than ever. Diversify to other platforms, ensuring that you have a presence where your customers and potential customers are interacting. But don’t forget: Instagram is owned by Facebook and similar changes to that platform are likely to follow at some time.

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