On Wednesday evenings from 8 to 8:30pm ET, I host #MakerBizChat, an Instagram event to help Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs build a solid business foundation, increase your income, and use your business to create the life you love. Our topic tonight was THE &+$# TRUTH ABOUT ONLINE MARKETING TODAY.
I chose this topic because I am weary of all of the gurus telling you to do this and that to market your online business, and you end up frustrated and get no results. I am going to tell you the truth tonight. It may not be what you want to hear. Get ready.
You can read the full transcript on Instagram, including questions, tips and resources from the Maker community, at this link. Because Instagram is designed for mobile viewing, the entire chat on Instagram, which has dozens of comments and some great questions and discussion, is best viewed on a mobile device. Here is a summary of last night's #MakerBizChat.
Q1: WHAT IS ONLINE MARKETING?
A1(a) For purposes of this talk, “online marketing” includes everything you do, whether virtually or physically, to drive buying customers to your website for the purpose of making a purchase.
A1(b) It's important to define it because it means different things to different people. When I help people with online marketing, I am helping them take steps of all kinds, but the ultimate purpose is to make the cash register ring.
Q2: WHY IS IT NECESSARY TO KNOW THE “TRUTH” ABOUT ONLINE MARKETING?
A2(a) It's important because there are so many books and programs and etc. out there that people spend a ton of money on, which end up leading to nothing or to just a big Facebook following with no sales. I want people to know what they are getting if they spend all that time and money.
Q3: WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE MISCONCEPTION BUSINESS OWNERS BUY INTO WHEN IT COMES TO MARKETING?
Thanks for this question, @StellarLady!
A3(a) The number one misconception is this: “If I have a great product, I will make money.” That is not true. It's easy to have a geat product. What you need, that is harder to acquire, is the audience of loyal customers who not only buy your produce one time, but who buy it over and over again, and who tell their friends. Good products are like handsome men — they are a dime a dozen. A community? Priceless!
Q4: ISN'T ONLINE MARKETING FREE OR LOW-COST?
A4(a) Online marketing is never EVER free or low cost. When there was not so much noise online, it may have been low-cost, but if those days existed, they are gone. Today, not only do you have to market, but you have to be heard.
A4(b) Making sure you are heard means investing time *and* money, and doing is smartly. Not throwing spaghetti at the wall or rinsing and repeating what you see someone else doing. It means either buying sponsored posts on Facebook or simply not expect Facebook to deliver sales for you. There is just no way around that. It means investing time on forums like Instagram where you post pictures and graphics. You may be able to use Instagram without paying for it, but the time you must spend liking and commenting and hash tagging and filtering is anything but free time.
A4(c) You can get economies of scale with our marketing by developing a marketing system. That is, if you do the same types of things every day/week, then you have a system in place. Use the system and standardize it as much as possible so someone else can help you do it, or if you cannot get help right now, at least you don't ever have to wonder what t do next — because you have a strategic approach — a system in place — that you repeat over and over and over again. This way, you can stay focused on leading your business more than remembering to post to social media today.
Q5: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CONVERSION FOR ONLINE MARKETING?
Thanks for this question, @Lu and Ed!
A5(a) If by “conversion,” you mean, what's most important in terms of converting people from lookers to buyers? If that's what you mean, of the things you list, then email subscriptions wins. Email subscribers have opted in to hear from you. They have given you their email address, which is like the holy grail of business today.
An email subscriber should be treated like a customer. They have allowed you into their world, and you should value that. Once someone subscribes, they are a click away from sharing and/or buying. Once they confirm that they were smart to subscribe, your job is far easier than it is if you rely on Instagram, etc., alone to engage wit them.
Q6: CAN'T ONLINE MARKETING BE DONE QUICKLY OR, LIKE, EASILY?
A6(a) If you create some simple Standard Operating Procedures, yes, it can be done more quickly and more easily. But it's never quick and it's never easy. Maybe when all that thee was was Facebook, it was easy. But that's not the case now. If your brand is not actively present in at least 3 different places at once, your brand does not exist. That's the reality and it's not going away.
A6(b) Standard Operating Procedures allow you to streamline everything about online marketing. A newsletter at noon every other Thursday. An Instagram graphic/quote/product image every Wednesday at 7pm. Six Tweets a day, all pre-scheduled in advance using Buffer or HootSuite. A blog post every Monday at 7am. This is how you streamline your online marketing, so you have consistency and you can train others to help you execute — meaning you have more time to make your products and your sales calls.
Q7: CAN'T ONLINE MARKETING BE DONE QUICKLY OR LIKE, EASILY?
A7(a) No. I cannot tell you how many Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs I work with who have awesome websites and sponsored Facebook posts, etc., and they still are not reaching their financial goals. It's because they are always in a studio or behind a laptop.
It's because someone charged them a lot of money for tips and tricks to get in all done in an hour in their bunny slippers. No. Just no.
Donna Maria, Indie Business Network
A7(b) You have got to get out from behind your laptop and out of your studio and meet people. Meet your local chamber of commerce friends. Visit the local Indie stores and restaurants and bars and support their events. Host events of your own, either alone or in conjunction with another organization or Maker. You don't have to become Miss or Mr. Social Butterfly, but you do need to grow your chops as a business leader in order to make your business sustainable under the weight of the increasing competition we are all seeing today.
Q8: WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ONLINE MARKETING?
A8(a) Business, whether online or off, is about relationships. And since relationships require consistency and presence, then online marketing requires consistency and presence — otherwise, it's not possible to create something sustainable. You have to be consistent and you have to be present.
A8(b) Don't make it your goal to be the best Instagrammer ever, with the most followers. (Don't get me wrong, follower count does matter.) Make it your goal to set and reach financial goals, and to only use the online marketing tools that help you reach YOUR specific goals.
A8(c) Don't let anyone tell you that you have to be on all social outlets in order to be successful. You do not. You have to know **exactly** what you are trying to do in your online business, and then build your strategies (online and off) and choose your social outlets around that.
When Is The Next #MakerBizChat?
The next #MakerBizChat will be Wednesday, July 8, 2015, at 8pm ET.
Our guest and topic will be announced shortly.
#MakerBizChat takes place Wednesday evenings at 8pm ET on Instagram. Be sure to follow so you can catch all of the questions and participate in the live and lively discussion.
What do you think is the &+$# truth about online marketing? I'm so sick and tired of people being told it's “easy” or they can do it in a hot minute a day. What's your take? Please share your thoughts and feedback in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.