Every business has certain parameters it needs to meet in order to begin. One of the most critical would be what problem does my product or service solve? The next would be, who wants this problem solved? The last essential parameter would be, how much do they want it?
There are of course many, many more parameters to meet but this would be where you would initially start with a sheet of paper and an idea!
First and Foremost
Create an Avatar(s)
This is you picturing who your audience potentially is and giving them a full identity and even a name!
If your audience potentially covers a wide age range then segment them further. A 23 year old single female won’t have the same budget, time and interests as a 47 married mother of two who’s been back to work for 10 years.
To take into consideration, add these areas to your Avatar:
Age, Marital status, Children, Full Time or Part Time roles, Social Interests like sports, playgroups, Facebook Page Admins, disposable income, what kind of pages they like.
Once you have these in situ, remember to update them with accurate information you find in Google Analytics and social media Insights on each platform. They will change as your brand gets better known and you better understand where your business sits in its space.
This is an absolute must! There are grants you can apply for that can assist with this, check with your local business support structure and get details. They don’t all have to have all the bells and whistles from the beginning, this can be updated as you go along. The important thing is to claim your URL and have an About You, About Your Business, Contact Details, Sign Up for details (this will create a mailing list) and a section that is updatable. Maybe a blog, a calendar of events or new products and services?
The updateable part is fairly critical though. If you don’t update it at least once a month, your website will go gradually down in the rankings and disappear onto page 2. (Whilst your competitors update theirs anyway).
Another absolute must is getting this added to your website. Unlike your website though, this is FREE. However, learning to understand it can be a bit tricky. One thing I have noticed over the last 7 years is that Google now realizes that more and more people want to understand it – so they are making it more user friendly in each update.
There are several YouTube videos you can follow that will help, just make sure you watch ones with a recent date stamp as it can go out of date very quickly.
The Product Solver
Let’s say your business is selling garden plants and gardening tools. As a shop, you’ll need to find a location that can be accessible to your audience. Arrange decent signage with the local council if possible and of course make your branding bright, relevant and memorable.
Finding an audience for a location is much easier than working remotely or online. As a location you can add a pin to a Google Map (on your website and on Facebook and Google My Business) for instance, sign up to local directories and of course do leaflets and sandwich boards.
The Online Solver
If however you‘re an online business or work remotely then you’ll need to think outside the box so to speak. For you there is no tangible “ground” that you get known for. No one passing you by on a daily basis, to see you and recommend you. In this case you’ll need to work a bit more smartly!
Although social media is of course an absolute must. To gain your audience here you will also need to gain trust, authenticity and responsiveness. This can be by networking and meeting people in local businesses and Chambers of Commerce.
Might be an idea you also attend events with a bunch of cards or better still, speak at events about your business and have a stand that people can visit.
This is the tricky one for a lot of Startup businesses. You want to attract an audience without having to spend ALL of your time on it. There is however an expected level of work you need to put in on social media certainly at the beginning and that can depend on how often you post and how many platforms you’re on.
If you’re a visual business like a gardening company, decorating or perhaps a golf course, it’s an awful lot easier to create content and imagery. If however you’re a service, then that can involve a lot of creativity on your part trying to convey what you do in pictures that isn’t you!
For Business to Business
Facebook and LinkedIn are always superb platforms for B2B. They tend to reach the decision makers and you can create ads in both to meet their expectations.
My pet favorite was Google+ but now Google My Business has stepped in that space and is doing just as good a job.
I’m based in Ireland and the majority of people who search over here will use Google as their prime search engine. It makes a lot more sense that I place my business in Google My Business as when they (Google) display a search result they will always favor their products first and my business will show up in greater detail and on the right hand side of the screen.
It’s worth checking if you have one. It’s called the “One Account”. If you have a gmail address, you will have a Google My Business address. You just need enter it to complete it. In that account you have YouTube, Google Maps, Google Docs and a whole lot more. So sign into your Google browser (if you use one) and then click the Google Apps button next to your profile pic (if you have a pic) and scroll down to Google My Business and complete it. It’s a little gem. If you remember to add content here frequently enough then Google Ads may not be necessary!
For Business to Consumer
In my opinion pretty much all of the platforms are good for this though LinkedIn would be less so. Check out the age ranges in your location/country for Instagram and Twitter (both very content hungry beasts) and of course Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok are excellent for video and going Live as well.
Going Live / Recorded Content
Another vital part of reaching and understanding your audience would be making yourself accessible to them as often as possible. If you reach a point where you’re starting to get busy then going to networks and speaking gets harder and harder. You can still reach them by Going Live or even prerecording your message.
Not all people consume your information in the same way. I personally love writing but consume a lot of information by watching video, so these days I tend to create the content in both ways for my audience.
You can create weekly or monthly themes that match your client avatars and over time your reach and engagement will increase. Video will always garner more traction and attention if you have fun with it, make mistakes, accept that and you’ll go far.
You can of course initially surmise where you’ll find your audience but over time as you gain traction and recognition you can use all of these free channels to monitor and measure your success with content.
Admittedly, there will be a level of trial and error as you develop your brand, manage your time and build a strategy.
Once you have these in place, you can then perhaps start to use a monitoring platform like BuzzSumo or or AgoraPulse that can – with the push of a button – print out a report that you can work with.
As always, the most important part of a Startup is to get started, so don’t waste all of your time on social media unless you push yourself. No one buys from a new brand – they need to know what you stand for. Speak either in front of the camera or use your voice if staying behind. Be yourself and be authentic.