Before I start out, let's be clear: we're all in business in some form or another, whether we're business owners or individuals seeking opportunity. Gaining traction, traffic, attention, and followers doesn't have to be expensive, and putting your best foot forward in order to showcase your talents and make moves doesn't have to be an agonizing process. Here are five easy ways to get some extra mileage out of things you're likely already doing:
Something that's difficult for many busy people is staying consistent (myself included). It's much easier for me to commit to a schedule of something I'm managing for my clients than for myself (full disclosure), because they simply come first. But I know, especially because I tell my clients the same thing, that consistency is key. When internet marketing and content development are part of your brand, the presence of your voice needs to be consistent. If you have a flurry of social media activity for a couple of days and then you fall off the face of the earth for a month, you're pretty much yelling into a void. Any traction or momentum that you gain from internet marketing can quickly be lost when you take your foot off the gas pedal. If you normally blog once a week, or if your email list is accustomed to hearing from you regularly, don't let dips in activity prevent you from having anything to say.
Develop a content calendar ahead of time that you populate with at least a week or two of content to be scheduled and automated. Time-block a few hours at the beginning of your week (or over the weekend) to do this and make it a weekly habit, so that your voice is always resonating and your audience always growing. And keep it brief: don't overwhelm yourself or your readers with dissertations and white papers all the time. A page or two on the long side is plenty, with clear and linear sections for ease of skimming. Anything less than a page in length is easiest to consume on-the-go (on a mobile device).
2. Content Variation
It can be tempting when your business is starting out or when you're eager to find new opportunities to over-promote yourself or your brand. Buyers, prospective clients, employers, or potential business partners are interested in more than hearing about you, you, you: they want to know what makes you good at what you do, do, do and what you think about topics that are relevant to your niche or area of expertise. One way to showcase this that fits into point number 1 is to vary your social media posts, blogs, and other content-driven marketing efforts. For example, if you're posting on social media six times per day, only one or two of those posts should be self-promotional. If you want to be seen as an authority in your field, it's important to curate, share, and create content focused on relevant topics (always giving credit to any original sources, of course).
The same goes for your resume or online portfolio, job-seekers: a great resume is like a highlight reel. Showcase your strongest achievements and most relevant career experience, but don't list every single piece of professional work you've ever laid a hand on. Leave room for an employer to want to call you and interview you to find out more. Pepper your resume with numbers, percentages, and other figures to highlight exactly how much you helped your last company grow, how many people you managed, and other specifics that can be digested in bite-size morsels of information instead of run-on sentences and paragraphs. Don't be afraid to use words like "team" and "department" to show that you're capable of not only working with other people, but recognizing them.
3. Add Value
This is the "why" of everything you do. When sending out a message, whether from a personal or professional account, you're creating a sort of brand perception. Every bit of information you share, create, post, and distribute should have a clear "why" behind it. What were you trying to achieve? Who were you trying to help? Why should the reader be interested in this bit of information?
Everyone who's marketing, whether their business or themself, has something to offer. Unless what you're offering is so far out of the ordinary that you've got no competition, you have to add value. Something has to set you apart or compel someone to click that link, pick up that phone and call you, submit that contact form. Sure, reading emails and blogs is free, so is scrolling through social media, but you can't assume your audience's time is free. You've got to give something back, or their attention will drift elsewhere. To win your audience's loyalty, you have to provide content that is interesting to them on at least three of the six levels below on a regular basis:
Helpful and useful
Breaking news (you're their source)
Time-saving or money-saving
Memorable or poignant
Helps them meet a goal
Sending out an email detailing all of your products and services, even if they're on sale, will get tiresome after the second consecutive email. Let people know that when they open something from you, they'll be getting something out of it instead of just being advertised to and prodded to buy or sign up for something. And if you're going to ask for something, like contact information or a referral, then you should have something to offer in return (like a free downloadable resource or graphic).
4. Have Multiple Calls to Action
We live in an automated society where most people are fantastic at multi-tasking. This can hurt you because the busy person's shortened attention span diminishes your window of opportunity for capturing their attention and getting them to take action. This effect is dramatized by mobile devices. People commute or quickly scroll through an email or a feed while in between other tasks. If your message takes too long to get through without any clear call to action, then it will most likely not be revisited or even remembered.
One way to avoid this is to share short snippets of information on a varied (yet linked) group of topics, with a clear call to action for each. This call to action should serve the reader or prospective buyer and it should help you. Clicking a button or link and/or submitting any information should take them further into something they're interested in. Providing the ability to choose to explore any of your snippets in more detail (instead of throwing it all at them and making them sift through it) will inform you of your readers' interest and which topics, products or services are resonating with your audience in addition to ensuring that more of your content per session is seen. If you only have one link or call to action and it's buried at the end of a rather long piece of material, then your likelihood of engagement decreases.
For individuals, if you've got an online portfolio, a resume, a business card, or some other way of promoting yourself to your network, make sure that the things you want people to know first are displayed prominently, as well as more than one method of contacting you. For your LinkedIn profile, whether you're between jobs or a freelancer, your title/description should be something original that will command attention and hint at your strengths.
In its purest form SEO applies to businesses or websites within the context of this post, but you can apply similar principles to your resume, online resume and CV, and LinkedIn profile if you're an opportunity-seeking individual.
Search engine optimization is something that gives all websites a boost and helps them get found by people performing related internet searches. Without getting overly technical, your website and any online content should provide high-quality, relevant information; be well-structured and layered (show hierarchy and progression with headings and formatted text instead of having everything look the same); be keyword-rich (use the words and phrases that you hope will lead people's searches to your site); pages should have meta descriptions and images should have alt tags; and should be optimized for multiple channels.
Think of employer buzzwords as the SEO for your resume, online portfolio, or LinkedIn profile. When hoping to attract the attention of prospective employers or business partners, get creative. Use words that will attract the kind of attention you want, but try not to use the same words or phrases that everyone else like you will be using. Be specific and targeted.
Everything I've listed here can be executed for free. It is definitely possible to grow your business or network organically. For questions about implementing any of these strategies in your life or work, contact us anytime.