I’ve been on my entrepreneurial journey for a few years now, and it’s safe to say that it’s been an absolutely incredible ride so far. There have been massive highs and I’ve learned a lot. I mean a lot. I know this is a journey and I’ve always believed that you never stop learning in life so for me, that daily challenge really fuels my fire.
I’ve worked with some amazing women and have never looked back since I finally made the decision to leave my day job. I’ve been so immersed in doing my thing, and helping ambitious female entrepreneurs get to where they want to be, that establishing myself as a business leader is not something I’ve sat back and thought about before. But the more I do think about it, the more I realise that I’ve been able to do just that. And I’m only just getting started.
So how have I done that through my marketing? Well, having been there and done it myself, I always try to use my experience and the lessons I’ve learned to help my clients get where they want to be, as quickly as possible. So as I sat down to write this piece, it felt like that was a great place to start.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR AUDIENCE AND WHAT THEY NEED
This is one of my biggest points when it comes to building a brand. That’s why it’s so critical in terms of marketing. At the end of the day, before you start creating anything, you need to know who you’re talking to.
Understanding your audience is massive. You need to know what they like so that everything you spend time creating grabs their attention. You need to know when they’re online so your hard work doesn’t get lost in the algorithms of social media. You need to know where they’re online as well. There’s no point focusing on Twitter and Instagram if your audience spend most of their time on Facebook.
When you have that information and knowledge, you can start to work out what they need. Everyone is busy these days. Everyone is bombarded by messages. They scroll, a lot. In fact some research suggests that the average person scrolls 90 metres per day. Your marketing has to somehow stop that. It has to grab their attention and hook them in, otherwise it will just get lost in the noise.
WHAT’S YOUR MESSAGE? WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR?
The moment you know who you’re talking to, you can start to define what you want to say. What’s your message? What do you want to stand for? It could be authenticity, or it could be locally sourced materials. It could be craftsmanship, or it could be going above and beyond to deliver the best service possible. But whatever it is, it needs to be tailored to appeal to your audience.
It needs to appeal to them and you need to stick to it. That way, you will start to build a reputation as the go-to person in your field. One of the key things I’ve learned is that if you have a clear message, targeted at fewer people, you will have more success. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it does. You build up an engaged audience, who become returning customers. Most importantly, they also become advocates for you, recommending you to their friends, meaning your hard work is being converted into the oldest and cheapest form of marketing – word of mouth.
Consistency always pays off, and the strongest brands, with the strongest marketing stick to that clear message. Just look at a brand like Nike for example. Just Do It has been their marketing line since they launched. It’s simple, it’s clear and it’s at the heart of everything they say. On top of that it inspires their audience on a daily basis and forms the foundation of all their marketing. They simply find new ways to express it based on the sport, the athletes or the moment they want to talk about.
This point ties into my first, but it’s a core component of my marketing strategy, and it should be in yours too. Everywhere you turn, every app you open, it seems like there’s a new piece of ‘marketing’ fighting for your attention. Not to mention all the holiday snaps, baby pics, food pics and selfies across social media.
One of the best ways to cut through that is to always add value to the daily life of your audience. I try to curate everything I share on my social channels to do just that. Otherwise it’s just white noise. It also helps to post when you know they’re online, but at its core, your marketing should deliver a benefit to them in some way. That could be an inspirational quote, or a tip, or some of your latest work that gets them thinking about their own business, but whatever it is, it should make them feel something.
So how can you make sure you keep adding value? Well for me, my Facebook group The B Studio plays a huge role. It’s a free community, where I deliver tips and set challenges, but it also acts as a massive market research tool. I’m engaging with my audience on a daily basis, so I get to know what they’re struggling with. What are their pain points? What do they need to know more about? From there I can make sure I’m answering those points each time I create my content strategy for the week.
DON’T SHOUT, ENGAGE
Adding value is great, but what’s also important is being engaging rather than shouting. No-one wants to be told over and over again to buy something, as if they’re being hit over the head. As I said earlier, there is a lot of noise for people to scroll through, and actually with how digital everything is today, and the saturation in everyone’s feeds, what people are missing and what they’re craving, is an emotional connection. Your marketing needs to build that with your audience.
One of the things that’s worked well for me, is building an engaged community. This is where my free Facebook group comes in again. It’s aimed at my target audience and offers a supportive, friendly space for ambitious female entrepreneurs to access tips, share their success and ask for advice. I motivate them, they motivate each other and we all keep each other accountable when it comes to achieving what we set out to do. I’m in there every day. Whether it’s speaking to people, setting challenges or hosting Q and A’s I always try to nurture my audience.
The group plays a huge role in my marketing plan, and building a community can do the same for you. If you do it right. Communicate with them on their level, engage them and build them up with lots of valuable knowledge and insight. Then, when everyone’s invested and bought into who you are and what you offer, you can start to sell.
BUILD YOUR EMAIL LIST
Groups on social media are one way to build an engaged community, but they are by no means the only way. Regular emails and newsletters are another crucial tool you can rely on to have the same impact. I don’t mean boring, corporate emails with standard subject lines. You still need something that will cut through and make people want to click.
The subject line needs to stand out in the sea of sameness, and the main subject of the email needs to offer your opinion, or your perspective on a topic that relates to them. Get it right and not only can you show off your expertise, positioning yourself as a business leader in your field, you can also build a real rapport with your subscribers. I’ve even had people share some of my emails on their Instagram stories!
Also, from a purely data and results point of view, what’s great about an email list is your ability to see and analyse what’s working, and what’s not. It’s not quite the same on social media with the ever-changing algorithms, but here you can see who’s subscribing, who’s clicking through and work out which topics or subject lines are resonating best with them. On top of that if, for example, a large social media platform changes its rules, it’s worth remembering that your carefully nurtured audience could disappear overnight. With an email list, the people on it have subscribed. They’ve opted in, and because of this, your super engaged audience belongs to you and no-one else.
BLOG, BLOG, BLOG
To put it simply, if you want to be a business leader, you have to be an expert in your field. But what you can’t do is just regurgitate and repeat what everyone else says. That won’t help you stand out. You need your own opinion on the key topics. An opinion formed based on your message, and what you stand for. An opinion that will at least get your audience thinking, even if they don’t necessarily agree with it straight away. Blogging is a great way to do that.
You can position yourself as the go-to person in your field quickly and easily by writing a blog once a week. You don’t even need to worry about the topics. Why? Because if you’re engaging with your audience you know exactly what they’re struggling with. So you can tailor your blog content to suit the challenges they’re all facing right there and then. It sounds simple, but honestly, imagine how you would feel if you had a roadblock in your business, and then someone you follow offers you a fresh perspective on it. A perspective that could help you move forward. And one that would make you feel good. At this point you’re more likely to see what else they could help you with. That’s exactly the journey your audience will go on, if you’re keeping that blog up to date.
Plus blogging is a sure-fire way to boost that all-important SEO, so that you can be found quickly and easily online. Again, it sounds simple but how often do you click beyond the first page of your search engine when you’re looking for expert help?
Finally on this point, you can easily build your blog into your marketing plan. For example, on the day your blog goes live each week create a post about it as part of your social media strategy. Or even better you can send an email about it. The body of the email can give a short synopsis of the blog, or what inspired you to write it, and you can drive people there with a link at the bottom.
PAID VS UNPAID
A big question you have to ask yourself when it comes to marketing is whether to use paid or unpaid posts. It’s a question which I asked myself a lot, and at the beginning I even started getting to grips with the ins and outs of creating paid adverts on Facebook and Twitter myself.
As a self-made, self-funded entrepreneur, social media has played a massive role in helping me get to where I am today. In the beginning, I relied solely on unpaid posts. I posted at the same time, and used the hashtags I knew my audience followed and engaged with. However, by doing this you’re simply throwing your message out to the world and hoping that the algorithm is kind to you.
What paid adverts guarantee is that your audience will definitely see your marketing. You can target them directly – which is great. However, if you do go down this route I would definitely recommend working with a specialist in terms of targeting, spend and, of course, understanding all the functional guidelines of what to post. For example, did you know that paid posts on Facebook are penalised if more than 20% of the image features text? There are all sorts of tricks you can implement to ensure you’re maximising your reach and engagement, so your investment delivers the benefits you want.
As I said above, I tried it myself, and honestly I can’t stress how much working with a specialist has changed my results. I trust her to find the right people, and I’ve noticed massive lifts in traffic and sign ups to my group. If there’s one thing I would say, is that you need a balance between the two. You can’t have a feed that’s never updated. It will just put people off. So keep up the daily posts, and put paid spend behind big moments that you really want to push.
PUT THE YOU IN YOUR MARKETING
I’m a firm believer in the fact that people buy from people. It might be an old school saying but it goes back to a few of my points around building that emotional connection with your audience. I actually think it’s what gives us entrepreneurs our edge.
Why? Well, we live our business almost 24/7. We’re the driving force behind it, the reason it is wherever it is, and our audience love us for exactly that reason. We represent it, and it represents us, so putting ourselves at the heart of it can have a real impact. Plus, in the era of #fakenews, authenticity is more important than ever before, so why not position yourself at the heart of your marketing strategy.
Don’t hide behind your logo (however amazing it is). Get visible and put yourself out there. Embrace live video on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Not only are these great tools for sharing who you are, you also get that all-important real-estate at the top of the feed, and your audience get notifications too. Share your opinion and your stories. Showing people the face behind the brand, and letting them hear the voice behind it too, is a sure-fire way to engage and connect with people. Just stay true to who you are and let that shine through your marketing.
SHOW UP AS THE EXPERT. OWN IT
Building on that last point, if you really want to establish yourself as a business leader you have to back yourself. Use your marketing to showcase your talents and educate your audience on what you and your brand can offer. Never give up, and if you believe in the message you’re putting out there, your audience will too. Show up each day, bring the energy and be the expert. Do that and if you’re getting your marketing in front of the right people, you will get to where you want to be.
On that note, I’ll leave you all with a question. Are you considering all of these factors in your marketing? If not, why not?
Nicki Louise James
About the author
At 29, Nicki Louise James has achieved more than most people do in a lifetime. As a child she remembers hiding from the bailiffs because of the antics of her ‘wheeler-dealer father’ who was also a violent alcoholic.
Her mum decided to leave him when Nicki was seven and up until the age of 11, Nicki never lived in one place longer than a few months. It meant she found it hard to make and keep friends and in secondary school was called a teacher’s pet and bullied for her looks. But with the support of her beloved Grandma and her Mum, she excelled, becoming the only person in her family to go to University, where she studied graphic design.
On graduation, her artistic and design talents were recognised and by the time she was 27 she had become the Art Editor for Olive magazine. But knowing that something was missing, Nicki launched Betty Lou, a successful wedding stationery brand in memory of her Grandma, who had previously told her she was destined for greater things.
As soon as she was able to match her earnings from the business, Nicki left her 9-5 and the long commute to Hammersmith. Not long afterwards her branding and coaching business B by Nicki was launched. Publicly the B stands for Brand, Business and Beyond. But Nicki also recognises that on a more personal level the B stands for her greatest cheerleader, Betty.
Within two years of launching, Nicki started to earn six figures and is well on her way to triple her income in 2019.
With her desire to help other female business owners excel through their brand and a watertight business strategy, Nicki has won a legion of clients all drawn to her honesty, authenticity and integrity.
She would say she’s nothing special, but Betty disagreed and it’s this that continues to fuel Nicki’s on-going success.
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Kizzi Nkwocha is the editor of Business Game Changer Magazine and publisher of The UK Newspaper, Money and Finance Magazine, the net’s fastest growing wealth creation publication. Kizzi Nkwocha is chair of The Ethical Publishers Association and co-chair of The Logistics Association. Kizzi made his mark in the UK as a publicist, journalist and social media pioneer. As a widely respected and successful media consultant he has represented a diverse range of clients including the King of Uganda, and Amnesty International. Nkwocha has also become a well-known personality on both radio and television. He has been the focus of a Channel 4 documentary on publicity and has hosted his own talk show, London Line, on Sky TV. He has also produced and presented both radio and TV shows in Cyprus and Spain.