The Digital Marketing Productivity Hack for "Solo" Founders
Definition: The rate at which goods are produced or work is completed
Entrepreneurs want to get things done, sometimes, more than they can handle at once, within a specific time frame. Most business owners are juggling marketing, public relations, accounting, human resource, inventory management, including administrative tasks. As you can imagine, things can get overwhelming pretty quickly. Especially with Digital Marketing.
Digital marketing plays an integral role in growing your business in the early stages. Having a digital marketing strategy enables companies to generate leads, and increase sales. How is this done? Through communication channels such as social media, email, videos, newsletters, podcasts, etc.
Here’s how it works:
Digital marketing assists companies with building brand awareness, while providing brands the opportunity to engage with consumers. Customers are expecting to find you online, outside of your website. It would be great if customers only needed to search for your website online for your products and services. The truth is, some of your customers have yet to learn about your company to even know that your brand exists, let alone your products and services. With digital marketing, you’re directing customers to your online store, or selling platform of choice.
Okay so, I know I need a digital marketing strategy, however where do I begin?
I’ll share with you what I learned as a solo Founder creating a digital marketing strategy that worked best for my business. Earlier in my entrepreneur journey, I did everything. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a Co-Founder, or a team, so much of the work fell onto my shoulders. This included, Digital Marketing. I’m no marketing expert, however I understood the importance of having an online presence and was determined to get it right. I pretty much researched everything related to digital marketing and applied tactics and best strategies I learned along the way.
At the time I was selling business related e-books and offering consulting services. I used social media, blogging and my newsletters to build my credibility as an expert by sharing information, resources, and offering free webinars. My website housed all of my e-books which is the reason why it was important for me to direct traffic from the social platforms to my website.
How I got started
I started out creating content literally every single day. My form of communicating to clients was through blogging. I used Instagram and Twitter as a tool, to drive traffic from the platforms, to my website.
I was “hustling backwards”. I would literally write 2 to 3 blogs a day. The problem? I was balancing working a 9-5, while growing The Corporate Concierge Group. I couldn’t afford to hire an agency or consultant. My resources were very limited! I had to be resourceful. That meant researching and learning about the subject of marketing, social media, calendaring, posting, email marketing, and hash tags. It was what I needed to do until I was in the financial position to outsource and or hire a digital marketing agency.
One of my strategies for driving traffic to my website included list building. The idea is to attract leads by capturing customer information to build an email list to market to customers. I set up a subscriber form on my site for customers to sign up for my mailing list on website and blog.
Sounds straight forward right?
Here’s how I did it
At the end of the day, we learn to be resourceful while building within our means. You don’t necessarily need a “robust” marketing campaign just a strategic plan for attracting and retaining prospects and customers.
In the beginning, I started out creating content every day. That lasted very briefly. I needed to better maximize my time to work more efficiently. I started creating content every month, for the entire month. What I should’ve done in the beginning was plan my content out for the entire year (we’ll get into that later).
Here are a few tips that may help solo Founders to best maximize both your time and resources. Especially those individuals who don’t have the ability to hire a social media or branding agency to handle digital marketing.
First, marketing itself is extremely time consuming! There is no “quick fix”, nor are there any tactics that will produce immediate results. This is a numbers game that takes time to master. You will definitely learn trial by error. Just patient with the process.
Set realistic goals
The best way to approach your digital marketing strategy is to set goals. Determine what the goal is. Assess what do you have to work with and how can you get it done efficiently to help you reach your goals? A few examples:
“We want to grow our online community to build a social media presence”
“We want to introduce our brand to potential users of our products”
“We have an upcoming event and would like to have at least 200 people attend”.
Whether you want to raise brand awareness, generate new leads, or nurture leads, it’s important that you clearly define your goals and desired results:
Generate new leads
Establish authority and industry expertise
Think about how you want to communicate to your audience:
Each of the listed above items requires a different approach. An example, creating a podcast may entail video content or simply voice. With email marketing, subscribers are able to read your content, however, you would need to incorporate a way to engage with readers once they’ve read your content. This is where your strategy comes into play.
You decide to launch a newsletter as the preferred communication to your audience. Once the reader views the content, then what? How do you do gain feedback from readers? How do you know if the content was interesting?
Here is where you would add an engagement strategy for connecting with readers. Use Twitter or Instagram to pose questions regarding the newsletter content. Open ended questions, helps brands engage with audiences to learn more about their customers. You can tailor content based on the reader’s feedback.
Here’s a tip to help you get started with creating content that speaks to your audience:
Research industry trends and topics. Industry related news and content can help you understand what’s happening in your market, and provide you with content to share with followers. Industry related Trends and topics can also help you craft relevant content for your audience.
Define Your Success Metrics
Defining your success metrics really boils down to what is your bottom line? Growing the number of subscribers for your YouTube channel? 500 retweets on Twitter regarding an important issue you’re raising awareness about? Once you decide what your goal is, you can then craft a strategy that enables you to execute your goals. Measure your results by tracking your data on campaign performance, including audience demographics. This method helps you to understand what content your audience is responding to which can assist with creating tailored messaging, marketing campaigns, products and services.
Plan your content
As I mentioned previously, in the early stages of my business, I was trying to figure out how to manage my time wisely. What helped me greatly was prioritizing my tasks for the week through scheduling. I would set a day and time to create content. Typically, I set aside a day (usually on the weekends) to outline what I’m going to blog about. I started out by writing a list of topics to blog, and a few articles to share.
I used a calendar to write out all of my topics which helped me plan my content a month in advance. In using this method, I’ve been able to go from planning my content up to 90 days in advance, to 12 months. Meaning, I have 12 months of content already typed, ready to publish, and share.
I used a social media management tool. Buffer to publish my content on my platform of choice. My website provider Wix, has a built-in feature that enables push post capabilities as well. Planning out my content in advance, allows me to focus on other areas of my business for the rest of the year. The only thing I have to do once the content is published is tracking and monitoring the results daily, weekly and monthly.
Here’s an example of my calendar
Here’s a “business case” example to help illustrate how to create a digital marketing strategy
Business: Vegan Chef
The great thing about being a Chef is the ability create on your own terms. As a Chef, you’re in one of the few industries where you’re rewarded greatly for not necessarily following trends, but evolving and growing as an individual.
Customers are always looking for you to create the next best dish, elevating their dining experiences. One way to translate your creativity, skills, and food, is through communication forms such as, newsletters, videos, e-books, email marketing and social media.
As the seasons change, so does the food. Strawberries in the spring/summer, pumpkin in the fall. Seasonal foods can be used to create recipes for customers, in the form of e-books or social media posts.
Communication channel example: Instagram
One way to build your brand, and increase your visibility as a Chef on the Instagram platform is to curate a food page that speaks to your audience. Create a monthly photo series of seasonal foods. Ex. If there are 30 days in a month, create 10-20 professional photos of seasonal fresh produce and recipes. The photos can be taken using your smart phone. Teach your audience how to prepare their favorite dishes using videos. Food prep videos give your audience a “sneak peek” into what you’re prepping for the day.
Here’s how your month would look
Content strategy: 25 Short videos for the next 30 days
Goal: Build an online community with 1,000 followers
Metrics: 1,000 Instagram followers, sell 100 $10.00 digital recipe e-books, convert 50 new customers
Weekly content strategy:
7 short videos of food preparation daily
5 seasonal food photos
4 shared free recipes posts
5 promotional posts advertising $10.00 digital recipe e-book
Share 5 industry related articles
Why use video content as a form of communication?
Video content is known to outperform blogging and any other form of text on social media. Statistics show that 55% of people watch videos online every day, and social media videos generate up to 1200% more shares than texts and images combined.
Newsletters can be used to share recipes with customers and followers. Create easy, flavorful recipes for customers. Decide how many recipes to create per newsletter. Ex. 3 recipes to share per month. Need inspiration? Find recipes online and put your own spin on it.
Email is a great way to get the word out about your upcoming events, while staying connected to customers.
Do you need new clients?
Email can be used for seeking new opportunities such as, new personal clients. Perhaps you added meal prep services to your business. Get the word out via email!
For consultants, I recommend using Twitter and LinkedIn as the platform of choice over Instagram and Facebook. The reason, Twitter enables you to connect with just about anyone with a simple click of a button, while engaging with your ideal audience live. LinkedIn is a professional platform that allows you to connect with peers and potential clients. Your audience is likely to use these social networks.
Create informative short blog posts, no more than 300 words about topics related to your expertise. Pose questions to gain feedback from your network.
Share industry related articles. Add context as to what you’re sharing and why
Create slides using Power Point that includes relevant information. This method can be used in lieu of creating blog posts. Another tip, create a blog post, then simply add tips, and key points into presentation slides. It’s easier to read and straight to the point.
Join LinkedIn groups
Create your own LinkedIn group. Creating your own community, is an opportunity to promote services and products. You’re in complete control over who can join the group. This limits your competition, and the ability for users to sale their products within your group.
Create conversations around your content. Use Twitter as a communication form to have conversations, asking questions, sharing articles, polling and surveys. It is truly an engagement platform that requires you to be active.
Who to follow and engage with on Twitter?
Follow thought leaders
Following thought leaders on Twitter puts you in front of an audience you may not have access to and potential clients. Each time you respond to the users Tweets, it’s an opportunity to engage with their following. This helps you build your online presence, engage with like-minded individuals and potential clients.
Engage with industry peers
Building online relationships helps to increase your visibility and the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals. You may even find your next opportunity using Twitter.
Retweet with intent
Retweets are forwarded messages, and articles posted by Twitter users. It’s literally one of the most unique ways to gain notoriety through viral posts. Find thought leaders on Twitter. Retweet an interesting post, include a comment when forwarding insightful articles. This method can help boost your profile. When users retweet messages, their entire following sees the retweet, thus boosting your visibility in front of a new audience.
The great thing about Twitter is that you don’t have to create content consistently however, try to engage at least once a day.
Create content in “batches”.
You may not have the time to create, photograph, or shoot every single day. For some entrepreneurs, their days are unpredictable. Choose a time that works best for you to create as much content as possible. In using this method you can probably create a considerable amount of content in less time than you think. Entrepreneurs can literally follow this model to create a year’s worth of content in advance.
Automation is your friend!
Automate social posting and email campaigns. Who has time to sit there and post each blog or social content daily? Social media automation tools enables users to plan and publish content. You can even publish content on the go! Buffer is one of the many social media management tools that can be integrated with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Mailchimp for email campaigns automate emails. Users can schedule the date and time when to publish content.
Social planner Planoly, is used for scheduling content. I’m a “visual person”. I use a regular calendar to schedule and plan my blog, articles and reports. Once I can visually outline my content, I’ll then use the social media management tools to automate my content.
I know this sounds like a lot of work but it works for me. Again, this helps me to stay organized and on top of my content. Calendars are also helpful with tracking content engagement. This method assists with tracking and monitoring how well your posts are performing and how the content resonates with your intended audience.
Respond & Engage
Building an online presence requires you to be active, while engaging with your followers. Try to schedule time in your day to respond to comments, questions and other feedback. I know it may seem like a lot, considering every other task you have to complete within your business, especially if you’re a “one person show”. Try to designate at least an hour of your day on social media.
I know this may seem a bit “overwhelming” in the amount of work that needs to be put into creating a digital marketing strategy however, it is necessary for growing your business. We can’t assume that customers will find your website online. Use social media as a tool to direct customers to your website. The object is to create an effective strategy to attract and maintain your customers while building an online community. A little planning and preparation, can help you minimize your “to-do” list allowing you to focus on other areas of your business.