How to know when it’s time to go Online
Something that I find myself discussing quite a lot within my Business from the Heart Membership is that it’s so easy these days to fall into the belief that an online business is the holy grail of a truly successful business.
What I see is that too many small business owners jump on the online bandwagon way too early and this actually hurts and hinders their business growth, rather than accelerating it in the way they hope.
Now let me be clear at this point – I’m a HUGE fan of running a business online. Having a fully online business was always my Big Dream, and my business IS now 99% online (apart from the very occasional speaking engagement, and in-person gatherings for my membership community).
I find it immensely exciting that we can reach a global audience, all without leaving home (I typically have people from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and all across Europe in my programmes – yet as I write this I’m sitting in my garden in the sunshine!). I also love that we can use online technology to automate our processes so that people buy from us or book themselves into our diary for consultations – even while we sleep!
So it’s all very exciting and without a doubt an amazing time in history to be running a business.
But the problems come when you try to go online before you’re ready…
Many members of my Get More Clients Saying Yes! programme are what I call “early stage” businesses. They are either just starting out, or have maybe been in business for a while but without seeing any significant number of clients.
For many of them, the rush to go online too early is counter-productive.
You see, when someone comes across you online you have a minuscule amount of time to “hook” their attention before they move on. This means that when someone lands on your website or social media profile it has to be crystal clear to them exactly what you do and how you can help them. They need to have that feeling of recognition: “Oh my gosh this is me, this could be the solution I’ve been looking for” feeling. Which makes them want to read on or click through to find out more.
If there is anything at all bland, vague or very generic about what you do people will be quick to move on.
The online world is much more unforgiving than the “real” world offline. Offline you can get away with being a little clumsy about how you communicate what you do, and a little vague and woolly about how you help people. This is because a personal relationship is also being developed, and a real-life conversation takes place that allows people to find out more about you.
But in the online world that’s just not the case. You need to be able to “hook” someone’s attention within seconds so that they want to stick around and keep reading to find out more about what you offer.
If you can’t “hook” someone’s interest offline and lead them all the way through a process that ends in them buying from you (which means them actually giving you money in return for your service or product), then you really have very little chance online where competition is fierce and attention spans are shorter than a forgetful gnat’s.
If you go online too early it can really hurt your business…
I speak to far too many people who spend hours endlessly tweaking website copy that just doesn’t sound compelling to any particular group of people, creating Free Giveaways that nobody wants, plucking up immense courage to do Facebook Lives that nobody takes any notice of, or spending hours and hours (and then hours and hours more) posting content on social media and then feeling confused and downhearted when it doesn’t seem to make any difference.
The end result is a huge amount of time and energy invested, no clients to show for it and these business owners start to lose confidence and doubt their ability to make their business work – it becomes a downward spiral.
You need to be “Velcro”
This is why I start all my programmes making sure that my clients are crystal clear about what they are offering and to whom, and that they know how to communicate it in such a way that their “ideal client” hears them loud and clear (and if not their ideal client then someone who knows their ideal client or someone who might be able to offer an opportunity like a collaboration or platform to share their work).
I call this being “Velcro”. When someone comes along you want to be so clear about what you do that these ideal clients stick to you like Velcro. If you meet them offline they ask you questions to find out more. If they find you online they want to keep reading, sign up for your Free Giveaway and then stay subscribed because they are finding value in what you share (if you’re reading this then it’s likely I’ve been Velcro for you). When that happens you are now able to take them on a journey through to deciding to become a paying client.
But what I actually see is too many people going online when their message and positioning are more like damp cotton wool than sticky Velcro.
What if you feel that now is the right time for you to bring your business online?
Well, that just means that you need to learn how to be ‘Velcro’! more quickly! Here’s where I recommend you start:
- Do the work to get clear on what I call your “one ideal client” (also known as an “avatar” in marketing-speak)
- Develop a clear message and positioning that speaks directly to that ideal client.
- Create a Captivating Introduction to communicate the value of what you offer very clearly and in a succinct way so that you’re able to “hook” their attention within moments as soon as they come across you.
- Get out into the world and start telling people what you do to get feedback (this could be online, offline or by reaching out to your existing network). You’ll quickly get feedback that tells whether you sound more like damp cotton or sticky velcro!
- Tweak your message until you notice it is starting to hook people’s attention.
When one of my course members typed her new Captivating Introduction into our Facebook group here’s the exact response she got from another member:
“Oh my god yes. How do I find out more?”
For your business to work online that’s the sort of reaction you want to be getting.
Once you know your message works to attract people, now you are ready to build out that online presence Yay!
Whether that’s a website, a landing page, or a Free Giveaway that people can sign up for so you can stay in touch with them as you build trust. You can then develop a journey you can take people on to become a paying client.
Because when you’re “sticky velcro” your marketing becomes easy. All you have to do is get that message in front of as many people as possible. This might be through content marketing (blogging, video or podcasting), social media, paid advertising or partnerships online. Or networking, speaking or collaborations offline.
All you do is get seen. Your “Velcro” will do the rest.
Create a Business you Love E-Guide
Because of my own journey on the way to creating a business that I love, I’m all about teaching you how to create a sustainable business that you actually enjoy running – rather than falling out of love with it along the way, and maybe burning out too. In this guide, I share the 4 key elements you need to consider if you are to create a business you can fall in love with – and STAY in love with. Sign up here for the Free Guide
How about you? Have you tried to take your business online before you were really ready and felt the pain of that?
Or are you already good to go and know you could actually be doing much more to get seen online?
Do let me know in the comments – I love to hear from you.