How Being Helpful Can Grow Your Small Business



How Being Helpful

Can Grow Your Small Business

Have you ever had an acquaintance who joined an MLM (think Mary Kay, Pampered Chef or Avon) and suddenly wanted to be your best friend? They started sliding into your DMs like never before, gushing about the life-changing experience and company vacations and then, before even asking how the hell you’re doing, suggested you drop *one low payment of $200* on some magical lash boosting serum that can also cook pasta in the microwave.

Did you buy from them? I’m gonna guess a big hell no. Why didn’t you buy? Well, it may be a few reasons. 1) They were being annoying. (How dare they try to sell you something when you barely even got a hello at the high school reunion?!) 2) They went directly for the sell, before even attempting to be helpful.

I think most business owners (heck, most humans) would review this interaction and be able to immediately identify where it went wrong. What so many small business owners and entrepreneurs don’t understand, however, is that they often ARE this annoying acquaintance when it comes to their own social media channels.

The #1 Social Media Marketing Mistake Small Businesses Make

Far too many businesses join social media and immediately start posting about how great their products or services are. They post special offers, highlight their products individually or share details about their services and try to entice people to buy in. And, often, their followers don’t bite.

If you've done and experienced this, you were probably confused. Isn’t social media the ultimate selling ground for businesses today? Isn’t this where your clients are hanging out?!

The truth is, it isn’t the social platform that is the problem. It’s not even that you're attracting the wrong type of followers. The hard truth is (tough love time, people)’re doing it wrong.

It’s a natural instinct to want to promote and sell your product or service. After all, you started your business to make money! But immediately jumping to selling (and focusing on selling all the time) is not the right approach to small business social media strategy.

Instead, I tell my clients to focus on being helpful. It may sound simple, but it is really, truly powerful.

Many business owners are hesitant to try this approach, concerned that sharing their knowledge or a peek into their product or service is essentially giving their ideas and their hard work away for free.

After all, why would a marketing company (to use myself as an example), want to give away a free small business branding guide or small business branding tips on social media when branding is a service they offer?

Here’s why:

1) I want potential clients to get to know me, my ideas and my level of expertise. Sharing some of my ideas and practical tips helps people know, like and trust me.

2) Sharing my knowledge doesn’t hurt my chances of getting someone’s business. In fact, when a potential client is ready to actually sit down and create a visual brand for their business, who do you think they'll come to? Will they turn to the company that's been on blast about their services and prices on Facebook, or will they come to the person who was helpful to them when they were sitting down to research their business' needs and showed them (not told them) how they could provide value. (Hint: it's the second one.)

A Better Small Business Social Media Strategy

So, when you’re planning your small business social media strategy, I highly encourage you to prioritize being helpful before all else.

Some ways to do this:

  • Think about your most commonly asked questions and answer them in a series of posts.
  • Think about what your potential client might be searching for online, and post about those things.
  • Share expert tips or quick glimpses into your own practices and processes that might help your clients.
  • Tell a story about how you started your business, your other interests or your family.

Now, you can't forget about promoting your products or services entirely. The key is to ensure your helpful content is closely aligned with what your ideal client would pay you for. A marketing firm would share marketing tips, for example, while a pool cleaning company might share cleaning hacks to make pool maintenance easier.

The overall goal, of course, has not changed: to gain clients and earn money.

But by being helpful first, and selling second, you’ll help your audience more quickly come to know, like and trust you. Then, when it comes time to make a promotional post or feature one of your services in a post, it won't seem overly sales-y, it will be a natural extension of your regular content. It will be taken more seriously, too, because your followers will have grown to trust your expert knowledge.

So don’t be your MLM friend - you’re better than that! Take a look at your own social media practices and see if they might need a tune-up.