There’s no doubt that COVID-19 and the new “stay home” lifestyle has impacted… well, everything.
A year ago, you could go to in-person events, get to know people, and pick up a new client or two.
These days, it’s online or nothing.
For those used to in-person marketing methods, it can be daunting.
You miss all the non-verbal cues and face-to-face communication.
Social media can feel like a vast ocean.
- How do you use it to find clients?
- What kind of content do your clients want or need from you, anyway?
- How do you keep up with creating content and responding to notifications, and build meaningful relationships?
If any of those questions sound familiar, you’re in luck. Because, in this article, I’m going to help you answer these questions and more.
My Personal Transition to Online
Five years ago, I transitioned my freelance writing business marketing to strictly online. I had been giving local presentations and going to local events, but I wanted to be location-independent and knew that I needed to focus online to make that happen.
I’ll be honest… for a while, I floundered. (Sometimes I still do.)
But a couple of years ago, I updated my “ideal client profile” to an established business with a solid online presence (and a need for ongoing content).
Which meant I could better target potential clients via LinkedIn.
I had a specific offer — at the time, blog posts for pet companies. I’ve since expanded my offer (and niches), yet, I always keep a specific customer in mind.
Having such a specific focus gives you guidelines.
Guidelines on where to be (I focus on LinkedIn and Twitter because that’s where my clients spend time). That in turn helps me decide what type of content to write and who to connect with (or follow) on LinkedIn.
An acquaintance and business coach, Brad Farris of Anchor Advisors, told me, “My positioning and messaging needed to get WAY more specific when I moved online.”
If you’re at a networking event, you can have a conversation with someone and naturally talk about work.
You also get to talk about other things and pick up on dozens of non-verbal cues.
But if you’re interacting online, there’s less context, so it pays to be specific.
6 Questions to Guide Your Online Marketing Efforts
One of the biggest things to keep in mind is that social media is meant to get to know people. It’s not a “Hi, buy my thing” culture. People will buy, but they want to find out how you can help them first.
It all starts with your strategy.
- Who buys what you sell?
If you sell email marketing for food-related tech start-ups, then you’re looking for a different type of client than someone who writes blog posts for e-learning companies.
- Which of your past, present, and future clients are active online?
For B2B writing, it makes sense to spend the most networking time on LinkedIn. You can easily look for past and present clients to request a connection. If you’re prospecting for new clients and not sure who you need to speak with, then look up the LinkedIn business page of said company, scroll to “people,” and click. It’ll give you a list, and you can search for Marketing Director, Content Manager, whatever title makes sense.
Some of those people are bound to be active, and when you connect online, you’ll see their posts and can “Like” and comment on them. This activity helps you build the relationships you used to go to functions to create. And you can do it at home in your pajamas.
- When are the virtual conferences/meet ups?
Since so many conferences have moved online, you can still participate and use them to find potential clients and connect with current ones. Google the conferences in your industry and find out when they’re scheduled. You can also Google “Biggest conferences in Y industry.”
Then attend if you can. Many events and associations also host Zoom happy hours or other events too. You can also host your own.
- Create (or share content)
Recently received a new Certification? Share your win on LinkedIn. It shows you’re curious and interested in learning. Plus, it’s a subtle advertisement about your skill set.
Share other people’s content. When you share other content, you demonstrate you’re active in the field. Bonus points if you add your perspective to the share.
Create your own posts to share. If you attend a webinar, you can write down three things you learned and then turn those into a post or three. While it can feel challenging at first, make it a point to write and publish posts regularly. It helps build your audience plus gives you insight into what resonates.
- Think about what you want to be known for
This is a tough one for many of us because the answer is often akin to a shrug and “I dunno.” And that’s okay. I’m a firm believer that asking yourself such questions lets them bounce around in your subconscious. Hopefully, one day, the answer bubbles up when you least expect it.
- Don’t be shy
To paraphrase an old expression, “timid salespeople have skinny kids.” It’s the same in the online marketing world. If you don’t show up regularly, no one knows you. It’s up to you to make connections. If you show up and regularly interact with the people in your industry, then you’ll build relationships.
Start with people you already know from your off-line marketing practices. Chances are, they’d appreciate an ally.
Online marketing doesn’t have to be complicated.
If you approach online marketing with a sense of curiosity and interest in other people, then you’ll find it easier to interact thoughtfully and spark interest in what you do.