Step into the SME spotlight

 Step into the SME spotlight

Why stepping up your online presence is vital to stand out in a
post-COVID world.

You can't fit in and stand out all at the same time, especially now.
With 93 per cent of businesses being active on Facebook alone, you must
increase your online presence. It’s likely your competition already have, so
you must start now. Trying to emulate what the competition is doing isn’t going
to work, though, and will only see you blending in. This will waste your time,
money and energy which, honestly, no enterprise can afford to waste.

COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on businesses. For many it's meant
upping their social media game, and for others it's been the rocket in the
backside to produce an online presence. According to data released by Statista
global, online traffic is up by more than 10 per cent with online transactions
increasing by 32.9 per cent. That's a huge increase that you can leverage. With
this increased demand it will make it harder to stand out following a 15 -20 per
cent rise in posts.

Most industries have seen that it's getting noisier in their chosen niche. More companies are shifting online because they are all clamouring and fighting for their piece of the “internet pie”. What this can lead to is increased competition for visibility in newsfeeds and more pressure to spend more time online (not to mention money). This can be a huge source of frustration and overwhelm when it comes to trying to work out how to reach your audience.

“How can you leverage the uniqueness that is in your business outside of what you sell?”

Advertising and marketing has always been about meeting people where
they're at. Right now, everyone is online, which means you need to be, too. There is so
much BS in the realm of the internet these days, that it can be very hard for
your audience to make decisions about who they trust. It's imperative that you
give them as much evidence as you possibly can to show that you are one of the “good
guys” and that your business can be trusted using their time and money.

You must grow your presence online, but you need to do it strategically.
There's no business out there that wants to appear back and wish that they'd
done more, sooner. Now is the time for your business to step in and own the
online spotlight. Follow these five steps making it happen.

1. Do things differently

You dislike out if you look and seem like everyone else in your
industry. How can you leverage the uniqueness that is in your business
outside of what you sell? For a long time, businesses have had it easy if this
comes to marketing. All you needed to do was put some funky “packaging” or
imagery around that which you were offering and shazam! If it looked and felt good it
seemed to work instantly. But these days that is not enough.

Doing things differently these days means finding ways to build
relationships together with your audience. Building relationships with people means
letting people “in”. It means being open to sharing much more about who you are and
who your team is, and sharing the behind-the-scenes reasons for how you do
what you do. It is important for your audience to hear the reason why you do what you do as
well. Watch is made up of different people. Use this to your

Standing out requires courage, bravery and tenacity. It's worthwhile,
though, when you take a look around and you notice that everyone else is doing
“the same old thing”. You'll be the leader of the pack. This really is all about
sharing the human elements of your business. Not just the product or service
that you're selling.

2. Be laser centered on your ideal clients

When you speak with any marketer, you will be asked who your niche is. The
common response is “anyone who is willing to pay”! While this might be true, if
you really want to face head and shoulders above everyone else in your
industry, changing the way you look at this could be the game changer for you.

Be clear on exactly who you would love to have as your customer or
client. This helps you to make your marketing as well as your content creation
specific. To cut with the relentless noise online, your articles must be
relevant and engaging for your audience. It needs to get your audience thinking,
“How did they are fully aware what was going on in the back of my head?”

First and foremost, you must understand who they are and what makes them
different. Consider your best clientele: what are they like? What makes them
tick? What are their problems, their challenges, their worries and stressors?
When you are aware the answers to these questions, it helps you to then move
seamlessly in to the next steps.

3. Use authority marketing

Authority marketing is the powerhouse of marketing. This is where you
share your understanding and your expertise in a thought out and structured manner.
This kind of content provides the solutions to the issues your audience has
(see step two!) in a systematic, logical way. Give them some steps they
may take to solve a problem they have. You'll also provide them with a case
study or some evidence to back it up.

This is commonly known as creating your personal intellectual property. When
you start sharing this type of structured content, it shows your audience you
are an expert in your industry. That you can be their expert. This can help build
trust, which is a key in the online world these days.

4. Use content marketing

Content marketing consists of everything else that you share online.
This is the content that helps people to become familiar with you, like you and trust
you. This is how you help your audience to see that you are likeable and
relatable without pushing what you are selling. You're helping your audience get
to know you.

Think about your audience and just what motivates and inspires them. You'll
share content (photos, videos, livestreams and text-only posts) that do this
for them. Share hints, tips and general advice to help move them forward.

You is going to be surprised and delighted at the interaction you get when you
start sharing this type of content. People love it, since it doesn't feel
like you're always trying to get them to buy something.

5. Share everything far and wide

Share your content on all of the platforms your business is present on.
Make sure your business has a presence on the platforms that your audience is
also present on. Focus mainly on the big four: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn
and Twitter. If your audience demographic spends lots of their time on TikTok or
Snapchat, then overcome there as well.

Be mindful the content you're sharing can also be appropriate for the
platforms you're sharing on. Authority marketing is most effective to Facebook and
LinkedIn. Content marketing would work for most platforms.

This story first appeared in issue 30 from the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine

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