Every entrepreneur faces the same dilemma at some point on their journey. The point where growth has slowed or stagnated and you know you need to do something big to jump start it. With limited time and money you can be like a deer in headlights and end up not doing anything. Don’t let that happen. Inaction is the path to failure.
Luckily the Internet has many free tools that you can use to reach more customers, engage them, and create more sales. These five tools are a great place to start.
Social networking has been big for years and it showing no sign of slowing down. If you aren’t active on social media then you are missing out on interacting with potential customers every single day. If you are active then you know what a challenge it can be to maintain profiles on so many different platforms.
Buffer is a tool that helps you manage your accounts on all of the social networks including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+. You can schedule posts, post to each network, and create content all in one place. You will save a ton of time and reach prospective customers no matter which site they are on.
Not every post leads to a sale but keeping people engaged keeps you on their mind when they are ready to open their wallet.
While social networking is still growing it has not yet, and maybe never will, replace email as the best way to get in front of your customers online. Everybody has email and many of us spend a good part of our day inside our inbox. What differs from social media is that email allows you to really cultivate a relationship over time and build trust with your audience.
Every business should have a mailing list and the easiest and cheapest way to start is with Mailchimp. It helps you collect email address and segment your subscribers so that you can target them with the best information that will eventually lead to a sale.
The best thing about Mailchimp is that you can set it up to automatically send personalized emails to your subscribers. Once it is set up a new subscriber will start receiving emails from you with no additional effort on your part.
YouTube itself is the second largest search engine on the Internet (after Google) with over three billion searches every month. People go there to be entertained, and more importantly for you, to learn.
Creating videos where you answer some of the most common questions you get in your business can really help you increase sales. If your business is a service business you can answer the easy questions and people will reach out to you, and pay you, for answers to the hard ones.
If your business is physical goods then you can talk through what they are made of, how they are made, as well as related items you sell. Even better is to talk about other aspects of your niche. If your business is pet toys then you can create videos about the advantages or disadvantages of different types of pets and breeds, great pet names, or pets that look like celebrities.
Each video can should start with your logo and a title screen and finish with a way to get in contact with you whether that be a URL for your website, an email address, or a phone number.
Ebooks are a great way to establish authority in a field and Leanpub is one of the easiest ways to create a good looking one. I personally have used them for all of the books on entrepreneurship that I have published. They’re not paying me to recommend them–I’m just a happy author.
You can create the book inside your browser on their site or write on your computer and share the files with Leanpub via Dropbox. Create a cover with Canva (the next tool in this article) and you’re set. Click the preview button to make sure everything looks good and then hit publish. You can share your book in their marketplace or save the .pdf, .mobi, and .epub files to sell or share elsewhere.
Ebooks don’t have to be long. You can create shorter ones around smaller topics that you then send out to your mailing list (that you have created on Mailchimp above) or to your existing customers. Providing value is a great way to rekindle a relationship with a customer.
If you are active on social media then you probably find that you are more likely to read a tweet or Facebook post if they contain a graphic–particularly a high quality one. Canva makes it really easy to design those graphics along with other marketing materials such as flyers, business cards, presentations, and ebook covers.
Many elements are free while some premium ones are $1 each. I recommend trying out some of their free templates and seeing what you can come up with in just ten minutes. I guarantee it will be higher quality than one you can create in any other program in an hour.
Being active in many channels gives you marketing breadth and helps you learn what works best for your business. When you find one or two channels that convert the best into sales then you are going to want to double down on those for your marketing depth. For example if your videos are attracting eyeballs to your site but generating few sales, while at the same time your mailing list attracts fewer visitors but ones that are more likely to buy, the more you grow your list the more sales you can expect.
But each channel need not be independent of each other. Recommend that your YouTube audience subscribe to your mailing list and read your ebooks. Point your email subscribers to your YouTube videos and use the ebooks as lead magnets to grow your subscribers.
A growing business by definition means attracting more customers. It takes time and hard work but it will pay off with more sales!