Stay visible to be viable

Business Buzz for Birmingham & Warwickshire

One of my colleagues from the Business Buzz for Birmingham & Warwickshire team has a very simple mantra. He says “To Stay Viable You Have To Be visible”. Simple to say, but challenging to achieve!

So, how visible are you in your business? This is a question you should ask yourself on a regular basis. With so many places to be visible it can be so easy to disappear altogether. If you are marketing for clients, then it is possible, without even realising it, that your business misses out on being in the spotlight. If you become so engrossed on running your own business, that your own marketing takes a backseat, you can fall off the grid completely & your pipeline of clients vanishes. Trying to be everywhere, diminishes your impact & you fade into the white-noise of social media & marketing. So, what can you do to stay visible?

I cannot cover every aspect of being visible in this blog, so I have picked out some of the elements that are important to me & my business. Generally small business owners refer to, buy from & recommend other small business owners that they know, like & trust. Being visible is the best way to maintain trust once gained. Most sectors are crowded, so small business owners need to find ways to be head & shoulders above the rest. As the Regional Lead for the no fuss networking brand of Business Buzz across Birmingham & Warwickshire, I believe that networking should form an integral part of any business’s marketing plan.

When networking, there are a couple of points to consider. Firstly, find a networking format that works for you, Some, like Business Buzz are relaxed & informal, while others are highly structured membership organisations. There is a raft of variations between these two ends of the spectrum. Whichever one you choose, become a regular at an event that is geographically close to you & your customer base. Even in these times of lockdown & reduce social contact, make sure you attend events where the types of businesses & customers fit with your own business values.

I prefer Business Buzz above all other networking, because our events are accessible. There is no membership pressure. When Buzz operated face-to-face events they were friendly, relaxed, informal & without the need for an elevator pitch. Now, that we are running events in the virtual world we have retained many of our differentials. By not following the route of so many other networking organisations who all opted for Zoom, Buzz offers a unique virtual experience. Buzz took time to find an online platform that replicated our physical meet-ups. We use Remo! It offers a café style solution, where visitors can freely move around to talk with whomever they like. Business Buzz is innovative & continues to adapt. We have a great team who talk about, advocate for & believe in the power of Buzz, which means as a networking brand we stay both visible & viable.

Do you know where your customers hang-out? I like online marketing, it allows me to showcase my creative skill-set. There so many options, where does one start? Trying to be on all platforms can feel overwhelming & be demanding. In truth, your customers may have a presence across all social media, but it is very unlikely they buy services this way. If you have done your market research & building your customer profiles, you should have a good understanding of where you can find your customers & the research will help you refine your messaging. Generally, the most appropriate online platforms for business-to-business marketing are Twitter & LinkedIn. To help you be more visible on the internet, My Google Business is a great place to start, collect your positive customer reviews here, as this will help improve your Google ranking.

You want to be memorable in a good way. Have a clear & current headshot photograph for any online profiles & your website. If you are networking, people you meet will want to connect. Make it easy. Be mindful that for many of us other people share our combined first & last names. You & I are one among many. Headshots help differentiate you so you can be found online. Expect to be sent connection or follow requests. Don’t have security settings on your business profiles that restrict connections or access to content. These barriers limit the ability to build trust & people will skip past you to connect with others. There will be someone else offering a similar solution, so if I & other people cannot connect easily, your initial momentum & time investment is lost because it will have move to the person that made it easy to engage.

Across social media & your website, video is a more powerful tool to support your brand. You can have professionally made videos, these tend to be expensive, but for some businesses this kind of slick marketing & information sharing is paramount. For most small business owners on a limited budget there are simpler options. Use your smartphone & record a short video (a minute at most). The first time you make the effort to record your own video, it is scary, it will take time & you will probably have to do many takes until you are happy. The more you persevere the easier it becomes. Other people watching your video(s) will not see the flaws or the things you don’t like about yourself.

I have only scratched the surface of how to market one’s business. There are some crucial actions to take before jumping head long into the world of social media, marketing & networking. If you are already immersed, take some time to take stock of what you are doing & the outcomes. Find your niche & your audience. Do this by building & documenting your ideal customer. Targeted messaging is more powerful than using broad brush strokes in the hope of snagging any customer that comes along.

Finally, build an organic marketing plan that can change as you find the best ways to reach new customers. Every action you take, whether sitting & posting on social media, attending a networking event, the follow-up conversations or setting time aside to record a video, should all form part of your working day, week or month. Constantly review your marketing plan. Whatever route you take, there is a lag between your actions & the effect on your business. Look at what has worked to generate new or repeat business or to improved your brand awareness. Do a little at a time, become proficient at a couple of things: networking & twitter or LinkedIn & a fortnightly video. You don’t have to be all things to all people, just be the best version of yourself for your ideal customer.

James Brodie
Business Buzz for Birmingham & Warwickshire