tonyrestell

Tony Restell

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Ex-Strategy Consultant | Founder: Top-Consultant.com and Social-Hire.com| Entrepreneur with over a decade of experience in online recruitment and social media | Head of Social-Hire.com --> Social Media Marketing Agency for the Recruitment industry.

Please feel free to send me your questions any time!

FPC National Reviews Key Success Factors When Starting a Recruitment Business

This week I had the pleasure of hosting FPC National's Jeff Herzog, who joined us on a call to discuss the state of the executive recruitment market in the US and the key success factors when starting up a business in this space.

One of my colleagues had dropped into FPC's annual owners' conference in Florida a few months ago - and we'd been struck by the wealth of insights they had about building and maintaining a successful executive search firm. Having developed the business to the point that it has 66+ independently owned offices, it's a process that Jeff and the team have been through a fair few times! A recording of the full call is shared below for your review.

FPC National reviews success tips for Recruitment Businesses


On the live call Jeff Herzog shared:

  • A step-by-step checklist to going into business for yourself
  • Powerful insights into the Executive Search industry
  • A blueprint for beginning and fostering your growth as an executive recruitment business owner
  • The advantages of partnering with a franchisor versus “going it alone”


FPC National - A Guide To Owning An Executive Search Firm

 


I was particularly struck by the emphasis Jeff placed on technology having evolved the role of a modern recruiter, rather than having displaced the need for recruiters altogether. Also of note were the figures around the strong demand for executive recruitment services that we can expect to see as a result of demographic shifts. Contrary to the hype that's been around since the days when job boards were invented, this is an industry that's showing no signs of contracting any time soon!

 

How To Craft a Powerful Social Media Marketing Strategy

If you've been attracted to read this article, you're probably one of the growing number of entrepreneurs who's concluded that their business needs a social media strategy. As the owner of a social media agency, I've worked intensively on developing and deploying social media strategies for the last 4 years. Initially to drive interest in Social-Hire ... and thereafter to drive interest in the businesses of the clients we serve. So I thought it'd be a great way of helping you out if I put into words a number of the key things to act upon when drawing up and implementing your social media marketing strategy.

With that in mind, grab yourself a coffee, take a deep breath and think through all of the following before you begin putting your social media marketing strategy into place.

(Note: Once you get going, things will snowball and you'll soon find your time being drained by activities that you wouldn't have prioritised if you had thought through these issues from the outset!).

Powerful Social Media Strategy

Your Social Media Strategy - Key Considerations


1. Define Your Target market.

Who do you want to reach with your social presence? What demographic of user is most valuable to your business? If B2B, what sectors are you targeting, in which geographies and at what levels of seniority? If B2C, what does your typical consumer look like and what other interests do they have and companies do they typically purchase from?

Before you do anything, these are the questions you ought to ask yourself. In order for your strategy to be effective, you must have a clear and thorough understanding of who you want to reach so that you can develop your strategy accordingly. Knowing this information is essential to sourcing and creating content for your profiles and will help you identify the social media platforms your target audience are most likely to be using.


2. What Action Would You Like Your Target Audience To Take?

Looking ahead, what would constitute success for your team's social media presence? Purchases made direct from your website? Downloads of your brochure? Requests for a demo? Potential clients booking in for a consultation call? The answer will influence the tone of your social profiles, the content you share, and the calls to action you introduce in your updates.

The bottom line: Decide what you wish to accomplish with your social media presence and then guide your target audience toward taking actions that will help you get there.


3. How Will Your Social Profiles Be Valuable To Your Target Audience?

Consider how following your social profiles will benefit a member of your target audience. What information, insights, data, interviews, humour, content would a typical follower value receiving from you each day? Define this very clearly. Then, make your social profiles all about delivering this value, from the bio that appears on your profile page to the content that you deliver.


4. Brainstorm and Research Who Already Reaches Your Target Audience.

Chances are, you don't have as big an audience or following as you would like to have for your company. You can grow your audience by building relationships with non-competing businesses, organisations and individuals who reach the very audiences that you would like to reach. Figure out who they are-- focusing particularly on those who have a track record of regularly re-sharing other people's social posts-- by brainstorming with colleagues and researching your demographics' interests.

Go out of your way to share and comment on these influencers' updates. In no time, you will start to see some of them reciprocating which will allow your own updates to be seen by their sizeable followings and dramatically increase your reach and visibility.


5. Devise Tactics To Get Your Profiles Noticed on Each Social Media Site.

Typically, only 20-40% of a social site's user base is active enough to see your updates and engage with your brand. It's therefore essential that you devise tactics for each social site to ensure that you've isolated those users who are both relevant for your business and active on the site. Otherwise you risk the majority of your efforts being entirely in vain as you try to engage with accounts whose owners are simply never going to be aware of your attempts at engagement or see your posts.


6. Listen, Test, and Learn. Then, Repeat.

Pay attention to what people in your target market are saying on social media and the feedback you receive. Keep an eye out for mentions, comments, shares of your website content by others, etc. As well as direct feedback like comments, also pay attention to indirect feedback such as click data on your updates and resulting website traffic behavior when prospective customers and clients end up on your company site.

Facebook business pages, for instance, provide page insights that allow you to review the popularity of everything you post at a glance. Make note of the content with the highest engagement rate which measures the amount of people reached who then clicked, liked, commented on or shared your post. Do likewise on LinkedIn and on Twitter. Doing this will help you source and create stronger content in the future that will engage your audience more effectively. These are the steps that ensure you become a genuinely customer-centric business on social media.

In addition, track whether the desired actions you wanted your followers to take are actually being achieved and continually make adjustments to refine your presence. A company can have the most popular Facebook page by posting comics, memes and videos, but that would likely cause people to see the profile as a source of entertainment rather than a business that they might want to purchase from.


7. Make Time To Engage.

How and when will you engage with your followers and potential followers? Have you set aside the necessary resources/ hours to ensure you don't compromise on engaging with your audience?

The reason this is so important is because the single biggest wins from your social strategy will come from the time you invest in engaging with your current and potential followers. These interactions spark conversations with potential clients and customers, as well as with influencers. However, this is also the element of your social workflow that is most at risk of being compromised when other demands in the business are competing for your time. You mustn't allow other aspects of your working week to eat into this engagement time, or much of the benefit from your social presence will never truly be realised.

So there you have it-- some pointers I hope you will find extremely useful in helping you to take your first steps in developing and implementing a powerful social media marketing strategy for your business. If you'd like more help, or to find out how Social-Hire can support your social media efforts by having some of this work outsourced to us, don't hesitate to get some social media marketing help by setting up a time for a free one-on-one consultation.

 

Digital & Social Media Marketing - a Q&A Session for Recruiters

As Founder of social media agency Social-Hire.com, I had the pleasure last week of being joined by recruitment marketing expert Cameron McLennan for a live Q&A session. We shared insights on attracting candidate interest (and generating client leads) using strategies that are tried and tested in the recruiting world.
 

Social Media Agency and Recruitment Marketing expert share tips


We then turned our attentions to fielding your live questions during an engaging Q&A session which tackled topics such as:

  • For companies that have yet to adopt social recruiting, how would you suggest presenting the need for its adoption?
  • What advice would you give a start-up looking to generate results with social media?
  • What are some ways you've found that work to boost interactions on your social media posts?
  • My target audience is somewhat specific. How do I know which social media platforms I should focus on?
  • How many hours a week should we spend on it? And how much money should I spend on social media?

The full recording is provided below, please feel free to share it with your networks using the social share buttons on the left of the screen.


If you've questions of your own that you'd like us to help answer, feel free to book in for a free social media consultation with one of our team.

 

Hunted's Data and Insights Show How To Attract Top Recruiting Talent

I was fortunate to host a fascinating session with the Founders of Hunted.com earlier this week. With extensive experience in the recruitment industry - and lots of exposure to the Rec2Rec market - they have years of experience and insights into how to attract top recruiting talent to your business. What's more, through their Hunted App they now have data from thousands of recruiters worldwide to validate their theories.
 

Hunted Webinar on Talent Attraction


If you missed the session - or would like to revisit the key findings - you'll find a full recording below including the live Q&A session at the end. James Silverman knows his stuff and the feedback we got at the end of the session tells me that even the most seasoned of recruiters really got some great insights from the call. Hope you find it informative.
 

Webinar Recording: Attracting Top Recruiting Talent To Join Your Recruitment Business

 


We look forward to bringing you more insights from James and the team.

 

3 Things I Wish I'd Known About Social Media Effectiveness

IMHO there are just two types of business that would-be entrepreneurs can launch. The first is the business model that's been around for ages, has an established customer base, price points, business model and points of differentiation. Think of any business where someone learns the ropes and then leaves to set up what they hope will be a better version of the original. Indeed that's usually the model for success - learn from others what works and then strike out on your own knowing what it takes to succeed.
 

Social Media Effectiveness - No, Not Cat Memes!
Lessons learnt: no, the power of cat memes was not one of them!

The second type of business is the polar opposite. It's the business launching into a market that the founders believe can be created, or have just seen be born. But as no-one's done it before, there are no rules as to what works and what doesn't. You're literally experimenting and learning as you go along.

All of my entrepreneurial forays have been into this latter type of business, including launching a social media agency before they were mainstream. What I find intriguing about this is that you're always learning and you can't beat yourself up for making mistakes. By definition the right path has to be discovered - and indeed many such businesses fail simply because the finances wouldn't stretch long enough to allow that right path to be eventually uncovered.


Social Media Lessons Learnt

While I pride myself on the social media expertise that the team now provide, we've certainly had a learning curve of our own in getting to this point. Back in late 2011 the "right way" to get results on social media was very much something that people were experimenting with rather than were able to state with any certainty. And so it was for us.

With that said, then, here are the things I wish I'd known about social media effectiveness from the outset:
 

1. Email and social media complement one another

This is a mistake I really kick myself for making, since an earlier business of mine was built on the foundations of having a massive responsive email subscriber list. Yet I was blind-sided when setting up Social-Hire. My thinking was that gaining social media followers was the modern day equivalent of building an email subscriber list. The two were interchangeable, or one was superseding the other. And so for some time we generated a strong and growing audience of readers and prospects, for whom the only means of subscribing to Social-Hire was via our social accounts.

Big mistake. What I know now - and have put to good use on client campaigns - is that social media messages reinforce email marketing messages. Sharing resources, insights, promotions - whatever it is you need to get out in the market - will be far more effectively achieved if you expose your audience to the message across multiple media rather than just one. Sadly by the time I realised this we'd missed out on 18 months of email subscriber growth. Don't make the same mistake!
 

2. Avoid the herd mentality

In our earliest days, my focus was undoubtedly on building our LinkedIn network more than any other. This was essentially because recruiters were flocking there - and having initially focused on serving the recruitment industry I didn't want to miss out in the land grab. The only problem with this was that it ignored the reality. Facebook was then (and is even more today) the social site where our target audience could most cost-effectively be reached. Twitter, meanwhile, was the site where it was easiest to strike up business conversations and forge new relationships fast. Fortunately we realised this fast and re-prioritised to focus instead on building our Twitter networks.

When I see recruiters today who are slow to react to the decline in LinkedIn results that they're seeing, I'm reminded of this mistake. Just because it's the accepted wisdom that businesses in your industry need to be on XYZ social site, that may or may not hold up under closer scrutiny. Never take a decision based on opinions and gut instinct when there's hard data available that could prove or disprove this. Case in point here with these stats from Pew Internet.

Social Media Usage

Now remind me, which sites are you investing most of your social media $£$£s in right now?!


3. Engage rather than promote

This one is less something I wish I'd done differently - and more one I'm glad I got the guidance early on that meant I never fell into the trap. I'm talking here about the huge chasm in results that you'll see with a business that prioritises promoting on social media vs. one that focuses on engagement. (My thanks to Andy Headworth for the early words of wisdom here).

In a nutshell, most tangible business results you're likely to see from identifying your ideal prospects and engaging them on social media - rather than using it as a channel to promote your wares to that same audience. There are exceptions of course (Note: Bonus Lesson - no two social media strategies are the same!). But by and large, if you show me a business that's disappointed with the results it's getting on social media I'll almost certainly show you in turn a business that's being overly promotional and not genuinely engaging.


Concluding remarks

I hope this post has helped you think about your own social media effectiveness and things you've learnt (or could still learn). If you need more input on your social strategy, you're very welcome to book in for a free social media consultation with our team and we'll help you to figure out the approach that's right for your budget and circumstances. All the best.
 

Talenetic Founder Keith Potts on The Evolution of Recruitment

Recruitment Agency and Job Board Owners joined us yesterday for a briefing on the ways that technological advances have been impacting the recruitment industry. I was delighted to host Recruitment Entrepreneur Keith Potts for this session. Best known as the Founder of Jobsite - and more recently as the Founder of Talenetic - Keith addressed both the impact that technology has had to date and the further evolution of the recruitment industry that we can expect to see in the coming years.
 

The Evolution of Recruitment

A full recording of the session follows below. Personally the 3 key messages I took away from the session were: i) be wary of becoming over-reliant on any one channel for reaching candidates; ii) constantly be adapting to the ways that smartphones are impacting our behaviour; and iii) always be testing, collecting data and then refining what you do in light of the outcomes of your tests. For more insights like these do watch the recording below and check out the Talenetic Blog.
 

Jobsite & Talenetic Founder Keith Potts - Webinar Recording


The main topics addressed in the recording are:

  • The dramatic changes underway in the recruitment market - and how adapting can open up new revenue opportunities for your business.
     
  • The inside scoop on the recruiting technologies you could be incorporating into your Job Board, Recruitment Agency or Publishing business.
     
  • Question & Answer session with Keith Potts and Felix Wetzel.


For details of other forthcoming presentations, do register as a member of our inner circle.

 

3 Key Steps To Make Your Business More Social Media Savvy

I've spoken at length about the business upsides of investing in your social media presence. Whether you're looking to attract talent, generate business leads, drive online sales or raise the profile of your business, the right social media strategy can play a huge part in making you successful.

However, there are three challenges for a business to overcome if it wants to fully exploit social media...
 

Social Media Savvy


Those three key steps to make your business more social media savvy are:

  • Devising an effective social media strategy

  • Securing the social media skills necessary to deliver this strategy

  • Making the whole business more proactive on social media


Let's look at each in turn - and the changes you need to make in your business to exploit the full benefits that social media can bring...


Devising an effective social media strategy

Planning is essential when it comes to winning with social media. Once your team is let loose on social media, it can become a major time drain on the business. Your company needs to have a defined audience that it wants to reach, a specific outcome that it wants to achieve - and a funnel that takes people on that journey from first encounter to end result.

For some businesses this may be achieved entirely organically. You'll look to build up an ever larger audience and become increasingly effective at converting that audience into business leads, website traffic, online sales or candidate applicants. Yours will be a business that wins itself a rapidly growing fan base and engages to steer fans in the desired direction.

For other businesses the focus may be much more focused on direct marketing. You will become expert at using the wide range of advertising options and re-targeting approaches that are made possible by social media advertising channels. You will test, learn, test until you've found the formula of audience targeting, advertising copy, call to action and landing page that delivers a favourable ROI on your social media spend.

In my experience, most businesses will use a combination of both of these approaches to fully take advantage of social media and the business upsides it can bring.


Securing the social media skills necessary to deliver this strategy

You probably noticed that we've just uncovered a significant obstacle for any business wanting to make the most of social media. Having the skills in your team to do all of the above is a big ask. Maybe you'll choose to outsource your social media to dodge this challenge altogether, certainly this is an option that some SMEs have been adopting.

Many businesses want to have these skills in-house though. At which point you have two options. For the most rapid results, there's no avoiding the fact that you'll need to hire a proven Social Media Manager to lead the delivery of this strategy. You're going to need to involve someone in the hiring process who has deep knowledge of social media, or you run the risk of hiring someone whose seemingly impressive social media skills are actually quite mediocre. Or you're going to have to find the budget to engage a specialist social media recruitment agency who can select a proven expert for you. Obviously this ratchets up the cost of delivering on your social media strategy quite considerably.

Once on board you'll need to invest in keeping their skills current, given the rate at which social media best practice is evolving. Social media training like this actually opens up a second option though. Many businesses are trying to get social media results at a lower cost by turning to admin staff or interns to deliver their strategy. Without investment in their training, this can be a horribly ineffective option. Social media is often viewed as being free and easy to use. But there's nothing free or easy about getting business results on social media - and misjudging this is the single biggest reason that businesses fail to get results from social media in our experience.

However, if you can afford to wait a few more months to see social media results in your business, training up an under-utilised or lower cost member of staff may be a highly attractive option. Online courses make it possible for a staff member to learn these tools and approaches on the job - and to undertake training that is bespoke to the needs of your individual business. Take a look at The Unfair Advantage if you're thinking of going down the route of training staff in social media skills.


Making the whole business more proactive on social media

Numerous studies have shown that potential customers need something like seven touch points with your business before they will feel reassured and ready to "buy". Whether your "customers" are potential hires that you want to join your business, or people who you want to buy your services online, or businesspeople who you want to request a consultation... the same logic holds. If people have had more exposure to your business brand and its advocates, they are more likely to take the desired course of action and in a shorter space of time.

It stands to reason, therefore, that a team who all pull together in sharing a company's messages on social media will achieve stronger results than a company that's trying to get its message out there on its own. A company whose voice is multiplied is also more likely to be noticed and shared by social media influencers, taking your social media reach to a whole new level.

Success on this front comes down to two things. Firstly, conveying the message from your CEO that this is critical to the success of the business. You need your staff to really buy in to the importance of them being more proactive on social media. Secondly you need to give your staff the tools necessary to do the job. From curating the content to be shared to providing the tools that make that sharing hassle-free, the easier you make it for staff to get involved the more they will do so.

I hope this post has helped you in deciding on the right course of action for your business. If you need more input you're very welcome to book in for a free consultation with our team and we'll help you to reach the conclusion that's right for your budget and circumstances. Good luck.

 

Is Your Social Media Stream One Great Big Turn Off?

Many moons ago I worked as a cold-calling sales agent in the US. It was great life experience and equipped me well for the challenges of setting out as an entrepreneur. One of the things that really stuck with me is the mantra that people buy from other people they know, like and trust.

This advice is gold-dust when it comes to social media.
 

Social Media Advice - How To Attract Interest


As a business or a professional, you are probably active on social media for commercial gain in some shape or form. Maybe you want to attract new client leads for your business, maybe you're looking to drive online sales, maybe you're eager to attract talent to apply for your vacancies... or to grow your own influence in your market. But before you can achieve any of these end goals on social media, you need to have transformed strangers into people who know, like and trust you and your business.

Let's explore that idea a little further, because the implication may well be that what you're currently sharing on social media is completely unsuited to the end goal you're striving to achieve! Could it be that your current social media stream is one great big turn off?!


Become Known

So firstly, how do we get people to know us or our business? What we're striving for here is to consistently appear in the social media streams of our target prospects, preferably without having had a massive advertising outlay to achieve this.

Two things need to happen here - and there's a common theme when it comes to ensuring that both things happen.

Firstly, we want our social profiles to be compelling for our target audience to want to follow. If we succeed in "signing up" (as followers) 40 out of every 100 people who look at one of our profiles, then we are well placed to build our social media presence really quickly. If, however, we only "sign up" 1 out of every 100 people who look at one of our profiles, it's going to be extremely hard work to build even a small following on social media.

Secondly, we want people who start receiving our updates to choose to reshare or retweet them to their networks. This is how explosive growth in your business reach can be achieved - and therefore how you can achieve the first stage goal of having your target demographics know your business.

The common theme with both of these success factors is that your social media updates need to be noteworthy and share-worthy. When people look at your social pages for the first time, are they going to look at your last few updates and think these are insights or entertainment that they'd like to see more of? Or are they going to look at them and think they're too promotional and commercially driven? The answer here impacts both whether people will sign up to get more of your updates - and whether they'll start regularly resharing your posts once they do start regularly seeing them.

Now let's be clear here. Unless your company is selling $10 bills for $5 each, your promotional messages are unlikely to be so compelling that people will be queuing up to follow you and to receive a stream of these from you each day. They're also unlikely to be offers that people instinctively want to reshare with their networks. So do away with the constant promotions in your social media stream (run these as paid promotions instead if you need them in your business).


Become Liked

So we've figured out some key ingredients for ensuring our profiles stand a chance of becoming well known. But how do we also become liked? This part should be simple - although many businesses struggle with it!

As humans, we like people who show an interest in us. We like it when strangers call us by our name. We like being treated with respect. We like it when someone wishes us well or asks how our day is going. We like our contributions being noticed. We don't like being sold to.

Instinctively you know this, right? If you went to a conference today and were networking with people from your industry, you wouldn't launch straight in with a complete stranger and try to sell your product or service would you? No, you'd introduce yourself, show an interest in what they do, enquire how business is going for them, be appreciative of insights they share with you. Any attempt to sell would come further down the line wouldn't it?

So it always amazes me when I see people's first interactions on social media being a sales pitch. You've all been on the receiving end of a LinkedIn message that is a sales pitch from an individual you've only just connected with (or worse still, have never interacted with!). You've no doubt received an automated direct message from someone on twitter, where within minutes of being connected they're asking you to like their facebook page or check out their brochure. This is the social media equivalent of behaving like that dreadful bore of a salesperson at the conference. Make me like you first - and then you've earned the right to pitch me on what you can do for my business!

This really isn't hard to enact on social media, but it requires willpower and a change in mindset to play the long game rather than always going for the quick win.

Thank people for insights they've shared; ask them if they're having a successful month; reshare their updates with your own compliment or insights added; interact with them by first name. Try this for just a few weeks and you'll be absolutely staggered by the transformation in your results.


Become Trusted

Becoming trusted can be achieved in a variety of ways. But ultimately they all come down to being helpful, interacting with people individually and de-emphasising selling.

One way you'll become trusted is through social proof. If other people are regularly interacting with you, recommending you, resharing your updates... then that has a positive impact on everyone connected to you. I may already trust your business enough to buy from you, but the chances of that are multiplied considerably if I see someone else I know who's raving about your expertise or sharing with their network a promotion that you're running right now.

Familiarity also breeds trust. If I've seen your company active in the market for some time, I have more confidence in recommending you and using your services. As a business, you can accelerate this process by regularly interacting with your prospects or by paying to promote some of your updates to be seen in your prospects' streams. Of course the longer you've been investing in your social media presence, the more prospects you'll have who think you're a familiar name. Just one of many good reasons to invest in social media today rather than delaying.

My favourite tip though for becoming trusted is to give selflessly. If people are struggling with a challenge, wade in with the solution. Provide people with free resources rather than immediately pushing to make the sale. Be objective in the advice you give, rather than self-serving. Then when you eventually recommend that your goods or services are what they need, your input has far more credibility. Recommending that people do not buy some of the products or services you offer is one of the surest ways to have them trust the advice you give them - and so increases the likelihood of them actually buying from you when you are finally putting to them the solution that really is best for their own business needs.

Make your social profiles a fountain of insights and helpful resources for your target prospects and you'll build up goodwill that in time becomes trust. Interacting in ways that are helpful rather than self-serving shows that you have their best interests in mind. Get this right and you'll have completed the cycle of becoming known, liked and trusted in your niche market. Good luck and I hope this advice helps you accelerate your results on social media.

If you'd like ongoing help with developing your social media presence, be sure to check out our training programme "The Unfair Advantage" or explore how you can outsource your social media to us for a low monthly fee.

 

Key Social Selling Takeaways for Your Small Business

How can small businesses get results from social media? What time investment is needed for those results to start flowing? Is it realistic for businesses to do this themselves? Are they missing a trick by focusing so heavily on LinkedIn? And what does success look like?
 

Social Selling for SMEs


In preparing slides for a webinar I’m running to help small business owners, I’ve had cause to reflect on all of the above. I thought it'd be helpful to share some headlines with you in case you’re unable to make the webinar:


How can a business get results from social media?

In my mind there are two really distinct ways of effectively selling your company through social media. The first involves using social sites to run highly targeted advertising campaigns, seen just by people who fit your ideal customer demographics. Then there's the second angle, which is attracting customers by having a compelling social media presence and tapping into the pool of people who may not have even considered or been exposed to your business. Depending on the type of results you’re primarily hoping to see, you'll need to have one or both of these angles covered.

Whichever route you go down, to be successful you'll need to turn your social media presence into a sales funnel for your business - the end outcome of which being whatever you want your social media strategy to deliver for the team (sales, website visits, demo requests, calls booked… or just creating a buzz about your business). There are 4 key steps to achieving this which you can learn about on the webinar.


What time investment is needed for those results to start flowing?

In what timescales should you promise the business that the fruits of this social media presence will be felt? Clearly this is a function of how much resource you invest in building your social media presence. But you shouldn't be thinking about this as producing overnight results. Initial business results being seen within 3 months is achievable if you have an expert working on this. 6 months if not. Then you're looking at 12-24 months to really build an unassailable lead in your market and be a company that everyone knows and wants to interact with. Running some social media advertising can significantly accelerate results, but will of course require budget – the more you can afford, the greater the impact will be.


Is it realistic for businesses to do this themselves?

The answer here is yes and no. Success requires you to have a consistent presence on social media - and to be doing a multitude of things that are all needed to generate success. It also requires you to be expert at running social media advertising campaigns if you are going to invest in that side of things. Within a small business, it's inconceivable that team members could do this adequately; they’re unlikely to have the necessary expertise and are likely to struggle to devote the the time needed to be successful.

To this day I've never seen this type of social selling strategy be successfully undertaken in-house, unless the business has gone all out and hired a social media marketing manager with explicit responsibility for making this happen. More common is for companies to try and have an admin person or intern take this on – and then the results simply don’t flow owing to a lack of skills and experience on social media.


Are you missing a trick by focusing so heavily on LinkedIn?

Without question! Consider for a moment that a significant portion of all LinkedIn users only return to the site once a month. Now consider that many of those same users are logging into Facebook multiple times per week, or are active on Twitter several times a day. If you are entirely focused on researching potential hires or potential customers, then LinkedIn has a lot to offer. But if you're also wanting to build your brand and attract people to your business then it's the other social sites that will give you the frequent touch points and immediacy of interaction necessary to generate results. The under-utilisation of the more personal social media platforms is undoubtedly cutting you off from a huge section of your target audience, meaning you’re not generating the number of new customers you’d be looking for.


What does success look like?

Just as with the question of the timescales necessary for results to be achieved, clearly the results you will see in your business are going to be a function of the time and resource you invest into your social media presence. But to help you quantify what could be achieved in your business, I do share in these webinars insights into the types of results you can expect to achieve - be that visits to your website, purchases of your products or services, or active online conversation about your company.... What's key, though, is that by turning your social media presence into a sales funnel, you get to the point where there's a clear end result being achieved for any given level of investment in social media advertising. And that everything has been turned into a lead generation or sales process that is scalable and repeatable without being reliant on the Founder or key sales people in the business.
 

10 Ways Small Business Can Benefit From Social Media

The infographic below made it to my inbox this week, reflecting on B2B opportunities arising from Social Media. Some interesting stats contained within - and whilst I can't see the exact source for each of them, I was pleased to see the array of small business benefits arising from social media getting some coverage.

What small business wouldn't want to:

  • Remove marketing expenses or improve sales?
  • Grow business partnerships or establish themselves as thought leaders?
  • Improve Google search rankings or generate leads?
  • Provide market insight or develop loyal fans?
  • Increase traffic and increase exposure?

Of course there are plenty of people out there who'll rubbish the notion that businesses can achieve all this on social media - and that's principally because they've tried and failed to do so themselves. While using social media is still largely free, getting results from social media is far from straightforward. So thinking you can do this on a shoestring, without investing in skills development or outside assistance, is a sure way to becoming another of those who cry foul.

What's the number one action point you take away from this infographic? Do let me know in the comments below - or tweet me on @tonyrestell


Final Thoughts

If you've been meaning to generate more results from social media for your small business then do join me for our Small Business Webinar. Or if you'd prefer you're welcome to reach out for a free social media consultation to talk through the specifics of your business and the markets you serve.

 

Small Business Tips: Focus On Engagement Rather Than Promotion

With the mass adoption of social media, the small business owner’s marketing arsenal is broader than ever before. The number of tools and approaches available to attract customers has ballooned – as has the hyperbole about the most effective ways of attracting prospective customers!

Social Media for Small Business

Engage don't shout on social media!


What is increasingly clear is that some small business owners get Social Business – and others really don’t get it at all.

The good news is there is a simple litmus test you can take. Simply look at the current ways you are using social media in your marketing strategy and ask yourself this:
 

  • What proportion of your social media use is aimed at engaging prospective customers, informing people about you as a business and interacting with your target audience by offering them fantastic customer service, insights and content? That’s to say, fostering loyalty to your brand and engagement with your business?
     
  • What proportion of your social media use is actually pure advertising of the products or services you’d like to sell, calling out to people to purchase these via social media just as you might do via an email marketing campaign?


The reason for this litmus test is that interaction and engagement with prospects should be the primary aim of your social activities. This places the emphasis firmly on befriending people, building up trust and enthusiasm towards your company – and thereby securing interest from individuals who otherwise might not have considered your company at all - or who were a long way from having decided to purchase from you.

Now look back at the litmus test above. It should be self-evident that any business owner simply pushing people to buy isn’t breaking any new ground or distinguishing themselves from competitors. They’ve just taken this new media and used it as a channel to push out the same old advert they’ve always promoted on a slightly different medium. There’s no attempt at engaging with a whole new audience of prospective (but as yet unengaged) customers. There’s no pretence that people can now interact with the business where previously they could not – or indeed that such interaction would be welcomed. It’s rather a case of “business as usual”.
 

Carving Out a Competitive Advantage with Social Media

The businesses really carving out competitive advantage for their organisations are those who have instead grabbed social media as a way of talking to customers and interacting with them as much as possible in a conversational and approachable manner.

Social media has given small businesses the tools to be able to understand what motivates their target audience, to engage with them, to overcome their objections… and to solidify their decision to buy.

Those who have grasped these possibilities are building up followings of intrigued – and often devoted – advocates and customers. People who increasingly aspire to the products or services the business offers. People who may also evangelise about your company and what is sells, who will speak warmly about as a current customer or as someone who’s been won over by the business. The truth is that you have to give to get in social media – the polar opposite to the advertising mindset and the reason that so few small businesses are yet fully capitalising on social media.

Going head to head against such a business with a simple promotional feed of products and services is like pitting a caveman with a spear against a modern day soldier. The only explanation is that many businesses simply don’t understand they’ve left themselves at such a disadvantage.

So take away this key message. If you will focus on engagement – rather than promotion – then you’ll leave yourself well positioned for success. You’ll also find it a more rewarding way to spend your working day, engaged in a series of warm conversations rather than soul-destroying “cold call” campaigns.

Of course there's a lot more to social media business success than just this. If you've been meaning to generate more results from social media for your small business then do join me for our Small Business Webinar. Or if you'd prefer you're welcome to reach out for a free social media consultation to talk through the specifics of your business and the markets you serve.

 

Social Media Marketing: The 4 Steps Small Businesses Must Embrace

Today I thought I’d share with you the 4 steps we consistently see our small business clients need to have implemented to become successful business brands on social media... and by successful I mean they are extracting tangible business results from being active on social media. How many are you genuinely doing in your business?
 

Start with The End Goal in Mind

The first step sounds very obvious but a great many businesses we speak with actually haven't taken this conversation to its conclusion. The first key step is being very clear about the audience you want to reach with your social media presence - and precisely what do you want your growing social media audience to have done several weeks or months down the line that will have made your investment in social media worthwhile?

The answer here will be different for different businesses. Some will be focused on bringing customers to their premises. Others will want to boost the search engine rankings of their website through stronger social sharing activity. The overall goal will be influenced by what it is your small business is dealing in. The key thing is to have actually defined this at the outset so that all your social media activities are undertaken with this end goal in mind.


Become a Magnet for Your Ideal Business Prospects

The second step is to think about what will make your social media profiles amongst the most valuable, entertaining or insightful for this target audience. Often small businesses are guilty of their social streams being nothing more than a parade of their latest products or services, plus maybe the occasional team photo or special offer. This invariably means only appealing to people who were already predisposed to buying from you. Whereas having a focus on helping, entertaining or informing your ideal prospects is what draws swarms of them to you! Add in some more personal touches to appeal to your prospective customers on a more personal level and you will have differentiated your social presence from the majority of small businesses you compete with. Remeber, just because your goal is to sell doesn’t mean your social media page should reflect this!

Now if you want to become a magnet in your industry that attracts your desired target audience, a focus on selling, selling, selling simply will not do. You need to become an invaluable resource in your niche market, one that people will come to view as indispensable and whose updates they will want to share with others in their network. This is where the huge value on social media can be derived. For example, several of the accounts we manage have twitter followings of 30,000 to 60,000 followers. But when we look at the reach those profiles enjoy each month, their messages are often seen by 1million+ twitter followers. Even with smaller accounts, a similar multiplier effect can be achieved if the right things are being done. It’s this network effect that gives your business huge visibility amongst - and access to – the target audience that you want to reach. But this is only achieved when the updates you post are consistently valuable or entertaining and share-worthy. It’s also paramount that you are regularly active, posting updates on all your accounts... not letting it slip. It doesn’t take much to slip into obscurity either online or on social media!


Attract and Convert Customer Interest

The 3rd step is equally key. If all you do is Steps 1 and 2, you will have a social media presence that looks professional when people click to your profiles from your website. But you will not be growing an ever larger audience who go on to do the things needed to start bringing your small business really tangible financial results.

That’s why Step 3 is so key. Step 3 involves understanding each of the social platforms where you have built a presence on and figuring out the steps that are needed to get your profiles seen by more and more of your target audience. Purpose plays an important role in this, so ensure you understand each social platform and its role. What's also important is maintaining consistent and informed activity across your social networks in order that your follower and fan base grows month on month.


But Don't Forget To Engage!

Last but absolutely not least, Step 4 involves engaging with your target audience on social media. This includes reviewing the profiles of everyone who has interacted with your business on social media and following up accordingly. Or it may mean discovering conversations taking place in your industry and jumping in and participating in those conversations. But essentially it revolves around taking that awareness that your company brand now has on social media and turning it into meaningful conversations taking place with prospective customers. Social media is also the ideal platform to respond to queries and receive feedback from your potential and existing customers, as it allows your customer service to be more efficient and personal than ever before - so ensure you’re making the most of the opportunities it presents.

Just keep in mind that you can't ever fulfil Step 4 effectively if you haven't already done a great job implementing Steps 1-3.
 

It should go without saying that we're only scratching the surface in this post. If you've been meaning to generate more results from social media for your small business then do join me for our Small Business Webinar, lifting the lid on how to do this effectively in your business. Or you're welcome to reach out for a free social media consultation to talk through the specifics of your business circumstances if you're eager to act as quickly as possible.

 

Targeting Your Ideal Customers Using Social Media

Social media has had a massive impact on the ways that small businesses attract new customers and market to their existing customer base. Let's have a look at some of the ways social media has affected businesses - and how you can profit from these trends.
 


Background

Before the arrival of social media, your small business may have attracted customers in a number of ways such as:

  • Attracting customers via localised advertisements, perhaps utilising area specific magazine space, business cards, or an invasive leafleting method.
     
  • Being thrifty and relying on old school word of mouth. This not only required established customers, but also that their experience with your business was positive enough for them to recommend your services to others.
     
  • Reliance on cold calling and an aggressive sales team to persistently "knock on doors"


Why Might A Small Business Owner Now Look To Find Customers Using Social Media?

These dated approaches to winning customers have distinct drawbacks. With localised advertising the business is hostage to whether they’ve placed advertisements in the right places, whether that method of advertising is persuasive enough, and whether the target audience is likely to respond to it – or even have access to the places in which the adverts are running. The up-front cost of such advertising may or may not be modest - and if the business is still establishing their brand, it may not have the desired immediate effect.

Old school word of mouth, on the other-hand, is a more personal way of attracting your target audience, but is far from ideal for a young business looking to generate a large number of customers in a short period of time. If you don't yet have a big pool of existing customers, you're ill placed to generate mass word of mouth unless using the multiplier effect of social media.

So how can a modern day small business owner attract their target audience using social media? How has the balance therefore changed?
 

Social Media Explored

Using sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+, a business is now able to:

  • Research markets and find the ideal target audience via social media so that you’re aware of exactly who you’re reaching out to, and where to find them.
     
  • Directly approach potential customers via social media channels - bringing an element of direct and more personal marketing to the traditional advertising model.
     
  • Influence customers through the sharing of updates on your services and/or products and business insights via social media.
     
  • Share articles and images that are likely to attract your target audience to your social media pages. If you’re a bakery, for example, sharing images of baked goods or updates on baking competitions will result in more clicks.  Ensure you have an active online presence, and maintain the momentum!
     

Social Media Has Created A Hybrid Approach

Social media has fundamentally transformed the methods in which we are able to find potential customers and its global and boundary-free nature ensures we are able to reach our target audience regardless of location. It has effectively created a hybrid approach to marketing that sits part way between mass market advertising and personalised individual outreach. In essence this approach allows better results to be achieved and for word-of-mouth referrals to be accelerated, whilst facilitating the A/B testing of your product messaging and calls to action.

Business owners not using social media to market themselves and build a pipeline of prospects are likely to put their companies at a competitive disadvantage; restricting their pool of customers to those who are already inclined to seek their business out, rather than the far broader pool of viable prospects who are out there waiting to be engaged.

Have you researched your sector recently to see how other small businesses have adapted their advertising strategies? Could be an exercise well worth undertaking...


And Finally...

We're of course only scratching the surface in this post. If you've been meaning to generate more business wins from social media then do join me for a SME webinar lifting the lid on how to do this effectively in your business. Or you're welcome to reach out for a free social media consultation to talk through the specifics of your business circumstances. Putting this off is no longer an option for any business owner wanting to ensure they're not left behind by more innovative local competitors.

 

5 Challenges That All Entrepreneurs Face

What are the 5 most critical challenges for you to address if your business is to thrive and leave you able to enjoy the fruits of your work? Here I'd like to share my own Top 5, based on the 16 years I've spent building a number of successful small businesses.

Entrepreneur Challenges

During that time I've had the privilege of serving, partnering with and buying from a wide array of small businesses. The following are the challenges that I've seen hold small businesses back most consistently - and that Founders have often found it hardest to address:
 

  • Bringing Leads Into The Business
  • Conquering Cashflow Issues
  • Learning To Delegate
  • Choosing What To Outsource
  • Building a Scaleable Business


Bringing Leads Into The Business

This first one is such a critical topic I'm addressing it through a series of presentations (see info). One major constraint on the rate of growth a business achieves is its ability to bring in a consistent and sizeable flow of quality leads. If the quality of leads isn't high enough, profitability will always suffer from the sales costs of interacting with such a high number of "prospects".

A key success factor for any small business is to find ways of bringing leads into the business that are i) not reliant on key individuals, ii) are readily scaleable and iii) are pre-screened so that sales efforts are focused only on the most promising of prospects. Can you disappear on holiday for a couple of weeks and come back knowing that there'll have been no discernible blip in new client leads and sales volumes? If not - or if that thought makes you feel anxious - there's work to be done on improving your lead generation activities.


Conquering Cashflow Issues

The second challenge is poisonous. Worrying about cashflow, about whether you have the funds in the bank to pay your bills, can be a huge drag on a business. Firstly it can be a huge source of anxiety for the business owner and distract them from being the inspirational source of motivation and leadership that the business really needs. Secondly it can hamper the speed at which you grow - since your ability to invest in smart ideas is constantly constrained by your ability to finance them.

Some of the most successful small businesses out there have built their products or services around payment plans and practices that mean the business actually gets the money in the bank before it's had an outlay of costs to deliver on those sales. If your business sells either to consumers or to other small and medium sized businesses, you'd be amazed to discover just how many businesses have sold their offerings in ways that involve payment being received up front. Challenge yourself long and hard before caving in to any conclusion that this can't be done in your market. The upsides from removing cashflow worries from your business are worth more than a cursory thought - and indeed are worth restructuring your whole offering around.
 

Learning To Delegate

The third challenge is undoubtedly tough. As a business owner, you need to focus your time on doing the most value-adding things in your company. When you started out you may well have gotten involved in everything. You may have become quite the expert at a whole variety of business-essential activities, tasks and tactics.

There comes a point though where your limited time becomes a serious constraint on the growth of your business. There are only so many years you can burn the candles at both ends without paying the price. To ever fully enjoy the fruits of your labour, you're going to need to learn to delegate much of what you do to other people. There are people far more knowledgeable about this subject than me, so I'll defer largely to their wisdom.

For completeness though, my own experiences suggest you have to be prepared to accept periods of time when you feel like business results are suffering, in order that you may invest the necessary hours in bringing your colleagues up to a level of expertise that you can live with. Notice here I say "that you can live with". Some aspects of what you've learnt to do you've become such an expert at, it's not realistic to expect anyone else to jump in and fill your shoes to your complete satisfaction without a considerable window of time for learning. A key part of delegating is accepting that someone doing a job 80% as well as you might have done it is still driving the business forward. It's a mindset that many business founders struggle to accept - and in doing so, therefore inadvertently make their own time limitations a massive constraint on the growth of the business.


Choosing What To Outsource

What may seem like a related topic is becoming ruthless at deciding what can and cannot be outsourced. There's often a certain prestige associated with growing a large team of staff and strolling in of a morning to that ever growing office space. Be wary though. Outsourcing can give you access to levels of expertise that you simply couldn't have afforded to hire in-house. It can allow you to react and adapt in your business far faster than if relying on internal hires. It usually involves a far smaller financial commitment and so leaves your business much more resilient to riding out any financial shocks that the business may suffer as well.

I still remember the weight that was lifted from my shoulders when I first outsourced a key element of the operations (our finance function) in the early years of my first business. The time that was freed up in my day was a real boon for the business - and being able to turn to real subject matter experts paid off time and time again. I challenge you to think about every aspect of your business - your lead generation, your website, your social media presence, your HR function, your Finance function.... and force yourself to justify why that particular part of the business needs to remain in-house. There are almost certainly cost-savings to be made by outsourcing. You'll probably become more expert in that area if you outsource too. So unless it is so strategic that you business just cannot let go of it, think seriously about outsourcing.


Building a Scaleable Business

Last but by no means least is the challenge of building a scaleable business. So many small companies I've worked with have grown in a piecemeal fashion. They've evolved how the business functions from year to year to adapt to the fact that they're now a bigger operation. But that is entirely different from building a business to be scaleable from the outset. All too often, businesses become locked into the way they do things - locked into extremely costly and ineffective processes and supplier arrangements - because the founder hasn't regularly stopped to think about scaleability.

So I encourage you to think about your business now and imagine it being a business that is ten times larger. What challenges would you face that you barely face today. What processes and tactics could you do totally differently today if you knew with certainty that you would soon be ten times bigger? Wherever you identify something that would need to be done very differently, try to build the business from today onwards in a way that accommodates that need for efficient growth. You'll end up being able to grow far faster and with far less stress and pressure in the long run.


Final Remarks

I've thoroughly enjoyed thinking about this post and the various challenges I've encountered in my time as an entrepreneur. I really hope it's given you at least one thing you can go away and reflect seriously upon in the coming days. If you have other points to add to the list, please do comment via the box below - or fire me across a tweet on @tonyrestell. Best of luck to you and may you take your business to a totally different level in the coming years.

 

Determining Your Best Source of New Client Leads

There are three metrics that are critical to success in the overwhelming majority of small businesses. The first is how frequently (and consistently) new leads can be brought into the business. The second is how effectively those leads can be converted into actual sales. Whilst the third is whether each customer can be transformed into a repeat customer.

Your Best Source of Client Leads

One of the things I love about social media is how important it can become as a source of new business leads, almost regardless of the market the business serves or the size of the company. It's such a weight off the shoulders of a business owner to provide them with a scaleable source of new business leads - and refreshing that this isn't constrained by the availability of key salespeople or indeed the Founder themselves.

Note: if you've been trying to figure out how to do this in your own business, do join me for a presentation on this very topic.

What I'd like to share with you here though is the importance of tracking the source of your own business leads, so you can decide where to invest your time and money in a more informed manner going forwards. Here's an example of what I mean, looking at the relative cost of generating a quality lead via a variety of lead generation channels:
 


Clearly you need to determine what constitutes a quality lead for your business. What demographics do you need to reach to have a qualified buyer for your products or services? And what step do they need to have taken to become a genuine lead for your business? Maybe you need people with a certain job title to register for a demo of your software. Maybe you need people in a particular income bracket to request a promotional code for your services. The important thing is to define this - and to make sure that the step you're requiring them to complete does mean they're self-selecting themselves as a genuine prospect for your business.

Having done this, you'll then want to test a variety of channels for bringing in leads. Ideally testing each channel until you've optimised that channel to get the best performance from it. Then once you have each channel delivering at peak performance, putting an equal budget into each - over the same timescale - and then seeing how each performs in otherwise identical market conditions.

If you do this well, you should end up with a chart not dissimilar to the one above, but showing you the comparative costs of generating leads via each of the channels you've tested. For small businesses with limited budgets, you're clearly going to want to exhaust the most cost effective channels first before investing too heavily in the channels that produce smaller profit margins. So this one exercise can give tremendous focus to your business activities - and in all likelihood demonstrate the overwhelming case for investing more heavily in your social media presence.

If you need help getting this right in your business, you're welcome to reach out for a free social media consultation - or better still, join me for a presentation where we'll explore these tactics in greater depth.