“Can you help me fix it?”
Almost all my initial conversations with customers are summed up in this one heart-felt plea. The long answer is usually, “Yes!”
That’s the long answer…the one that gets backed up by varying degrees of, “But first we need to….” Sometimes that slows down the enthusiasm a bit. They are happy to know that it can be fixed, but put off by the amount of work it will take, the time until the results they are looking for show up, the part of the process and collaboration in which they will need to invest, and the cost, whether it is time, hours of work, or money.
If it was simple and easy, not only would everyone else have done it (“I just want to be able to sell my products and make a really good living.“), but it would likely result in a pretty mediocre solution (“Well, we kind of fixed that problem, but I didn’t realize all the other inter-connected parts to the business and what we’re trying to do…so really, I’m not so sure we fixed much.“) that might actually harm the business.
Here’s an example:
I am approached by a small business owner who tells me that she has a Facebook business page and a web site. She tells me that she posts 4 or 5 times a week on the Facebook page and has used the online wizards to create and run a couple of ad campaigns that resulted in a small amount of views and clicks, but no business. She regularly goes to a number of local business groups and events like Chambers of Commerce and networking groups. Her service is such that she runs it from her home, but sometimes meets clients at the local coffee shops or a co-working space in town.
Her business to date has been driven by face-to-face meetings and referrals, but she knows she’s missing the whole digital opportunity. Also, she can only go to so many meetings. She has to work for her customers, too, and her time gets sucked up pretty fast. She just doesn’t know how to get digital marketing to start working for her. After spending some time with her to get to know her challenges and a bit about her business, I take a look at her digital assets…
I see that her posts on her Facebook Business page have almost nothing to do with her business. She seems to be thinking about the content there in the same way she thinks about posting on her personal Facebook page. When she does post something about her business, it is about a sale or an offer. Her About info tells me almost nothing about what it is she is about as a business. I take a look at her Insights and see that the only posts that get any kind of engagement at all are (no surprise…) the offers.
I take a look at the Info in Ads Manager about how her ads performed and the audience she targeted. Having chosen no audience (she didn’t know how to use the Audience Insights tool to create custom audiences, and so she didn’t…), she targeted EVERYONE! I looked at the ads, the copy, the images, and so forth. There was no clear Call To Action, so even if someone wanted to respond, they didn’t know what they should do. She also equated Facebook Ads with other kinds of advertising, so she spent a Lot Of Money per ad. With the dismal response, she got discouraged and upset, choosing not to do THAT again!
She did have a link to her web site on her Facebook page, so I went there and took a look. The site, while created 3 years ago, appeared to have been designed 8 or 9 years ago. She mentioned that she’s asked her uncle to do it, since he had taken a web design course online and she didn’t have a lot of money starting out, so decided to leverage that relationship into a bit of savings…besides he’s a really nice guy! The site was text-heavy, not interactive, very generic messaging, difficult to update, and didn’t have any real way to capture visitor information or have visitors reach out to her except by email or phone (or going back to her Facebook page). There was nothing like SEO on the site, and a number of links led to pages that had content that didn’t message her business clearly….one even said “Under Construction….Stay Tuned!” even though it had been 3 years since it was published!
“Can you help me fix it?” she asked me…
“Yes…but first we have a lot of work to do…”
This example is a combination of a few conversations I’ve had with clients over the past year, but I haven’t exaggerated. The solo-preneur and small business owner KNOW that they need to be online. That’s unavoidable today. Being on a fixed budget, especially when starting out, is the norm for every business, so I get the need to control costs. But, you can’t afford to waste money and time, either.
Getting the right kind of expert help is critical, and it will cost you in some way. The upside, of course, is that you get someone (or a small team of someones….) who is good at it, gets it done right (and quickly, since they ARE good at it!) and gets you going in the direction you need for your business much more quickly and effectively than you can by yourself (even WITH your uncle’s sincere but dubious web skills…).
Be willing to look for and ask for help…not just ANY help, but research some professionals. Get good referrals….ask some of the other business folks at the Chamber and the networking groups who they have engaged and what their experience was. Talk to several of them and ask for proposals. Don’t be afraid to spend a bit of your hard-earned treasure. Get it right, and the ROI will be well worth it.