Our new President, Donald Trump, spends a lot of time on Twitter. He’s tweeted almost 35,000 times and often tweets many times a day. But is all that time on social media well spent? Whether you have one of the world’s largest enterprises to run – let’s say one directly affecting 330 million of your fellow citizens – or just your own small business, perhaps it’s time to spend less time on social media and more time actually getting things done.
If you run a small business and you’re spending a lot of your day posting to your social media accounts, it’s time to stop tweeting and start selling.
A few weeks ago, my sister – a small business owner – attended a small business event in her community. The speaker energized the attendees, sharing the many ways they could grow their businesses using social media: targeting prospects on Facebook, networking with small business customers on LinkedIn, pinning pictures of products on Pinterest or Instagram.
The speaker was right: those are good ways to grow your business, especially if you’re willing to put the time and money to really learn how to use these sites well. But for most small businesses, what they’re really interested in is making sales, and you have to be really knowledgeable to make significant sales through social media.
In my sister’s case, as with most small business owners, she has limited time to spend on marketing and sales. She sells advertising specialty items, and she needs to make sure that orders get placed, any problems resolved, and invoices sent. She’s more interested in “sales” than “marketing.” So, regardless of how enticing social media seems, she’s going to spend the bulk of her time cultivating sales from her current and former customers, calling on prospects and leads, and networking with other local businesses rather than posting, pinning, or tweeting.
Of course, hitting the pavement is more intimidating than hitting the keyboard, but there are time-tested methods of bringing in small business sales:
** In-person meetings. To build relationships, whenever you can, meet your biggest customers and best prospects face-to-face. This way you build relationships, listen to their needs, and better meet their requirements.
** Entertaining customers and prospects. In-office meetings are great, but lunches, coffees, drinks, and dinner are even better for building rapport and developing long-term customer relationships. When was the last time you asked one of your best customers for lunch?
** Phone calls. Remember telephones? Well, many customers and prospects still like to have a person-to-person conversation, and they can often lead to sales faster than many back-and-forth emails. Don’t hesitate to suggest a phone call (you can set an ‘appointment’ for a phone call) with a prospect or current customer.
** Trade shows and industry conferences. I get the bulk of my leads and have landed my biggest customers from exhibiting at industry conferences. Generally, attendees are looking for new solutions, so they’re eager to hear what you have to offer. It’s an efficient way to meet many prospects face-to-face. You don’t necessarily have to fly across country; look for local industry association events or small business mixers.
** Direct mail solicitations. There’s a reason your mailbox is still filled with “junk mail.” Direct mail still works. Direct mail can be relatively expensive, but if you’ve got a good mailing list, use direct mail to announce new products, offer discounts, and remind prospects you exist.
** Email. If targets are carefully selected and have “opted in” to your list, your emails are welcomed and can be a good way to communicate new products or services and promotions. They also are fairly inexpensive, especially for the smallest of businesses.
** Online sales. Just because you’re not spending a lot of time on social media, it doesn’t mean you should ignore digital marketing and sales. Selling on the web is efficient, especially when you buy search engine ads to boost results. If you spend time to learn how to use data analytics, you can get better at crafting offers that convert to sales.
Of course, these aren’t necessarily as sexy as getting thousands of followers and fans, but I’d rather have $20,000 in sales than 20,000 followers on Twitter any day.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2017
This article originally ran in USA Today on March 15, 2017