If you ask many startups and small businesses "where did you source new clients from," most will say through word of mouth, their existing network of contents, or networking in general. This is how Perspective started too.
Of course, for someone seeking advice on sourcing new clients, this is not very helpful. The answer is rather vague as many startups and small businesses, in fact, source new customers through a combination of timing and chance. So how do startups and small business acquire new customers, when they don't have the advertising budgets of their larger competitors?
Social media has become an inherent part of the way we connect with people, and businesses. The best thing about it is that social media makes the marketing playing field fairer for startups and small businesses.
It gives us the ability to build a following, whether it be in the form of connections, friends, followers, or subscribers for little to no cost.
The bare basics
You've decided to start your own business. You're great at glassblowing and you have been doing it as a hobby for years. Your friends and family think your ornaments make great gifts, and some of them have even asked you to make specific things for their homes. You've done your research, and there happens to be a market for your craft. Great.
Only thing is - retail space doesn't come cheap, and you don't necessarily have the start-up stock to fill a shop either. You're using most of your savings on a logo designer, packaging and glass supplies. You need some orders to get cash flow going. To get orders, your product needs to get seen. What do you need?
Website with e-commerce
Some chakra crystals for good luck
Nope. You can start with just Instagram.
I'm not kidding. At absolutely no cost - create an Instagram account and start showcasing your product. And, if we're being real - why not create a Facebook Page too? Also free. You can create shops on both platforms for free too. The two platforms are so intertwined, you can even post your content to both simultaneously.
Your content? There's an app for that. Actually, there are multiple apps (mobile and desktop) that you can create content on. Even better, if your product photography is on point, you don't even have to design content. These days most camera phones can work wonders with proper lighting conditions, and Pinterest has loads of tips on creative product photography.
Content is crucial. If you don't post quality content, don't expect fireworks. There are billions of accounts on a platform like Instagram, and people follow only 2 types of accounts: their friends, and the type of stuff they like to see. If your content isn't visually pleasing or exciting and doesn't offer any other value to potential followers, they'll scroll right past. You need to make an impact.
Ok, so your product is out there
Now what? Your product won't just show up on people's feed without paid boosting (but you don't have the budget for that yet). So you invite your friends and family to like your Facebook page. You follow your friends and family on Instagram, and they follow you back. You ask your mom to tell her friends and invite them to like your page too.
You share your posts to your personal Facebook profile to reach non-followers (your friends can do the same if they're supportive). You share your reels to your personal Instagram story to reach non-followers. You maybe even post your story content to your WhatsApp status every now and then too. Share your posts on local Buy & Sell groups on Facebook. Follow accounts similar to yours on Instagram. Follow their followers. Like and comment on related posts, or posts by other small businesses. Use relevant hashtags.
That's how you build a following. And followers = potential customers.
How do you keep a following? Content, content, content (more on this in our next blog).
You're making a living
Your hard work is paying off and you can finally afford to allocate some of your budget to marketing. This is the tricky part because, depending on how much you are able to spend, your options just became endless. Now we're really talking about Google Ads, boosting, maybe even an e-commerce website? Your choice.
For example, if you are still coping with the admin of orders coming in via Facebook & Instagram, then how about boosting one of your posts for a set amount? (We're talking about those "sponsored ads" that pop up in your regular feed that are somehow always something you were just talking about, or something you didn't know you needed). You'd be amazed at how many new accounts you can reach with a mere R300 boost on one of your posts. After boosting, you will have all the data about your campaign at your fingertips.
The boosting is working
If done right (and with some luck) your boosting will result in an increase in sales. This is going well for you and you find yourself earning more money in your pocket, plus having some more to spare towards marketing. Only problem now is: you're spending all day blowing glass to get all those orders out. You're happy because you get to do what you love full-time, but you aren't getting around to creating content (and you need new content to drive sales). You don't have time to manage your social media either.
This is when you should start exploring an e-commerce website to ease your order-admin-load and a social media agency for your content creation and account management. They can now handle your boosting, your DM's, your content strategy, and your posting during peak times.
This is your cue
So, there you have it. When starting a business, marketing doesn't have to be an expense - but social media is a necessity. This is your cue to create those accounts and start posting!
We can't wait until your business is such a huge success that you have to bring in the big guns, and give us a call.