92% of small businesses reported that they had to “reinvent themselves” in order to survive the Covid-19 crisis, and even with most of the population vaccinated, the reinvention doesn’t end here. The truth is, there are always ways for your business to grow, which means there’s always room for innovation. You can always be thinking of ways to do things differently.
2022 will be another year of reimagination and, we can all hope, a better and brighter one for the growth of our businesses. In the spirit of entrepreneurship, social media guru Luke Lintz and I had a great conversation about how to grow your business and customer base.
Here are some of the insights he shared with me to boost your social media and sales game in 2022.
- Focus on building lifelong relationships
The best business people don’t treat their customers or team as interchangeable dollar signs— rather, as human beings they hope to build lasting, lifelong relationships with.
Lintz phrased it this way: “If you have a good product and strong relationships with your customers, they will be your customers for life. And if you are a service-based business, then you will constantly be able to give more value to your clients as you expand your services in the future.”
One reason why it’s so important to invest in sincere relationships with your customers and clients is that consumer trust is at an all-time low. 55% of consumers trust the companies they buy from less than they used to, and 69% of customers state they don’t trust advertisements.
Though disheartening, you should see those numbers as an opportunity when you’re wondering how to expand business. If 81% of customers trust family and friends over advice from a business, then the wise response would be to try to treat customers like family, right?
When it comes to your staff, you should be thinking similarly. Studies show that employees who build a meaningful relationship at work have 50% increased job satisfaction, as well as greater commitment to their jobs and a stronger sense of social impact.
When an employee actually feels valued, they will naturally feel more invested, and this will benefit your company as they translate significantly for your customer relationships.
- Know and focus on your core customer
Let’s be real, one of the keys to running a successful business is knowing who your bread-and-butter customers are and appealing directly to them. As with many things in business, finding out who your target audience is begins with collecting and interpreting data.
Of course, this includes basic demographic information— age, location, gender— but it also gets more interesting and revealing once you consider psychographics. What are their values? What are their spending attitudes? What makes them excited and what makes them tick?
Luke Lintz pointed to social media analytics as a critical tool to identify and begin to target your core customer. Lucky for you, once you begin building your business’s web presence on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you can gain better insight on your “audience.” The analytics data shows you age ranges, geographic location and gender, and gives you data on how marketing content is performing so that you can adjust— or continue doing what you’re doing at a higher volume.
We all have the impulse to market to as many customers as possible, but it’s actually much more effective to find your niche group. With 76% of marketers failing to use this type of data for targeted advertising, you can give yourself a real leg up by leveraging data to your advantage.
- Social media is one of the most critical tools in your arsenal
On the same note, social media is one of the most critical tools in your arsenal for other reasons than just collecting data about your consumers— it can be one of the most powerful ways to actually get new customers in the first place.
Paid social ads are now the No. 4 way consumers find out about new products, behind only word-of-mouth, TV ads and search engines. And, it’s not just that ads give you exposure on social media. On Instagram, 60% of users report that they have discovered a product on another person’s profile.
Of course, influencer-culture has become a huge phenomenon that can drive up your sales. 89% of marketing professionals rank it as a comparable or better ROI than other marketing streams. Suffice to say, that’s huge.
- Direct connections drive loyalty and interest
Direct messaging outreach on Instagram and other platforms can be so, so important as a marketing strategy to grow your business.
Lintz says that “Instagram DMs are as common to look at as people’s text messages,” and sure enough, the data agrees with him: 47% of millennials actively use Instagram as a messaging app. So, it’s safe to say, you shouldn’t gloss over the DM feature when you’re looking for ways to push the envelope and have a greater reach.
For Lintz, the numbers have been strong. He says that “Ninety percent of [his] business revenue has come from either [them] selling in the Instagram DMs or [their] affiliates selling in the Instagram DMs.”
As well as direct messaging, you can reach your audience through commenting and responding to outreach on social media. An example of this is the fact that 77% of Twitter users had a greater appreciation for a brand when their tweet was responded to or acknowledged.
If you’re taking the time to engage with potential clients and customers on social media, Lintz has a good reminder: “It’s usually not a matter of ‘if’ someone will open your message and possibly respond, it’s a matter of ‘when,’ so you need to be available to immediately respond and spark up a conversation.
- Reach out with concise offers
It goes without saying that the digital space is cluttered— there’s content everywhere. Keeping people’s attention is hard, so when you’re reaching out with offers, it’s best to keep them short and sweet.
The key is to strike the balance between quantity and brevity. This is important, says Lintz because “people don’t like being overwhelmed in their Instagram DMs, and if they are being pitched, they would like to see the offer as quickly as possible.”
This applies to marketing outside of just the space of social media, too, like in traditional marketing and email lists. And, you may find it useful to implement a targeted outreach strategy. Rather than mass messages, you can consider delegating marketing messages to a specific team or team member so that it feels more personal and purposeful, and less like spam.
Marketing messages had a 561% better chance of reaching customers when it came from an employee, rather than direct from the brand.
Here are a few steps from Luke Lintz on how to create the killer pitch that will draw in buyers and clients:
- Lead with your product or services.
- Make your offer more personally geared toward the person who is receiving the offer. While this may not be actionable for every message, you want to take all possible opportunities to connect meaningfully with potential customers/clients.
- Include data that packs a punch. Don’t go overboard with a string of statistics, but try to nail a few data points that emphasize the strength of your product or service, or the relevance of it with a certain sector or market.
- Close with emphasis on return-on-investment. Wrap up your pitch with compelling emphasis on the value that your product or service will bring. All the better if you can back it up with data or testimonials.
- Stay away from the language of doorbusters. Don’t emphasize that buyers have a short window, or that they have to “act now!” or miss out. It’s not Black Friday, and it’s your brand’s image at stake. Customers remember how you made them feel.
- Reinvest in your brand
We all get preoccupied, especially if we’re running a business— we worry about the next sale, the next quarter, or the next hire that we forget to ask ourselves how we can put money back into our companies to help us grow in the big picture.
This is part of the conversation that Luke Lintz had some great points on, reminding us that in today’s market, “a large part of investing in yourself and your business is with branding.” But brand value can be a difficult thing to measure— what even is “brand value?” Well, “brand value” is considered to be the perceived strength of a company’s name, image and reputation, and thus part of the “intangible assets” of a business.
Take the example of Starbucks. Their coffee is great, which is part of the reason it’s so loved around the world, but there’s so much more that goes into making Starbucks one of the most recognized brands in the world. What’s good coffee without red holiday cups, the green mermaid, and the annual revival of the pumpkin spice latte?
Here’s some questions to get you started on assessing your brands for areas that need more attention:
- Consider your brand aesthetics for strength and weakness. Does your branding scream you?
- Is your brand authentic?
- What kind of impression are you hoping to leave your customers with?
- Is your branding unified throughout social media and larger branding? Consistency is key: studies have found that a consistent presentation of a brand raised revenue by 33%.
- Does your branding distinguish you from competitors in your field?
Throughout my career, I’ve helped so many clients launch their business, but after connecting with Luke Lintz, I got even more excited about the future for entrepreneurs in 2022, especially when it comes to giving tips to grow your business with social media. Social media has opened so many doors, providing tools and access to small business owners everywhere. If you are savvy and forward thinking, there’s nothing stopping you from making 2022 the best year yet!