In a world of social media mirrors and cable news networks that elevate more and more people to their “fifteen minutes of fame”, someone starting a home business might think that it is easy to generate brand recognition or awareness. In over a decade of experience as a small business owner, I haven’t found that to be true.
There are so many information outlets bombarding people each day that it is actually very difficult to get noticed, be remembered and become the subject of conversation. One advertising executive actually described the continual shower of messages on us as a ‘cloud’ or a ‘fog.”
I put my first website up several years ago and took it down soon after when I realized that no one would have any reason to find it. It wouldn’t be like looking for a needle in a haystack, it would be like looking for a needle in a cornfield.
Fast forward to the present day. I have a website (lloydlimsolutions.com) and I have put a variety of content on it, including some of my blogs published on other websites, some YouTube videos and a few free items including a free screenwriting tool. People won’t go to a website unless they can find something useful there. I am using my free screenwriting tool, among other items, to drive people to my website so that they can be led into looking at my most recent work – including my latest book “Business Tools, Not Platitudes: With Staff Training Modules.”
Learning to use social media can be a challenge, in no small part because of the “forever” nature of the things we post. One has to write for many audiences with many different perspectives.
I personally trained on email with people I knew for a few years before I ventured out on a real social media platform. Getting the tone right is the key and never easy. And nowhere is this so tricky as with humor.
It is common to try and implement a funny photo or gif to make yourself memorable, but this tactic can sometimes fall flat and leave people disgruntled. Therefore, be careful of using a humorous tone when reaching out to a new audience. Be mindful of your climate and cautious with your tone.
Using social media means posting with the hope of eliciting a reaction. This requires continual creativity. Which in turn requires throwing elements together in a way that others would not. Creativity involves seeing things in a manner that others don’t. And social media is the prime platform for presenting innovative material. Don’t be afraid to highlight your originality. You want your social media voice to stand out with your own inspired ideas, not blend in with the noise of nearly 500 million tweets a day.
I augment these electronic communications with actual interpersonal interactions! When I go to business or informational meetings I am not above striking up a conversation about myself and my wares and dropping a business card on someone with a little note scribbled with a pen that I have in my pocket. Even if you don’t use business cards, you can use standard 3 x 5 index cards. Indeed, the latter might make you appear less predatory from a business standpoint. But if someone that you are speaking to seems interested in what you are saying, why miss an opportunity to develop a new lead?
Finally, we must distinguish marketing from consumer education. Both are aimed at developing the market, but marketing implies that you take the market as you find it, whereas consumer education implies that you are trying to increase the size of the market demand before you sell into it.
For example, if I try to promote the local symphony orchestra with conventional marketing I will tend to attract people who have prior experience with classical music, especially those who have played a musical instrument and children. But if I want to expand the market to include people who don’t know much about classical music, then I might have to make various and repeated efforts to teach some of them music appreciation. Otherwise, they may just ignore the marketing altogether. The more complex the topic, the bigger the uphill battle doing the consumer education outreach program.
Consumer education is difficult because any market is really just an aggregation of disparate human beings who can’t read each others’ minds. Spreading a message through a market can be difficult, so you should go at it from different angles.
Navigating the landscape of social media can be challenging, especially when attempting to start an at-home and potentially obscure business venture. Nonetheless, in today’s world of tweet, texts and posts, it is a fundamental endeavor that accompanies a home business.
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