As 2018 draws to a close, I sit in the peace and quiet of my home office reflecting on the last 12 months. But as I ponder the changes of the last 12 months, I find my mind wandering back to the last nine years and realise that it has been a journey that has certainly had its challenges, but boy has it been an exciting one!
As many of you will know, Green Umbrella was launched at the end of 2009, with our very first social media training sessions taking place in January 2010. I recall those early days of a room full of local business owners, a PowerPoint presentation and no a squeaky giraffes in sight. I was nervous, as back in those days I was just getting accustomed to presenting. As soon as I started, I was on a roll, and it was brilliant to watch this fledgeling group of business people implement my proven techniques and watch their own businesses soar in the online world.
If there is one thing that I love about the online marketing industry is that it never stands still. I appreciate for some business owners that may be frustrating, but if anything, it has kept me alive and away from the “boredom bucket” for many years!
I was talking to a fellow business lady whilst out walking last week who asked me the simple question, “How has business been for you this year?”. Without waiting for a response from me, she told me that her own business was just under the national average of increase in turnover, which apparently was 2%. The competitive person in me retained that figure in my head, and that evening I downloaded a few Xero reports to see what Green Umbrella's figures were. We were actually up by 12% on the previous year, which is rather amazing considering the increase in overheads.
If there is one thing that Green Umbrella is good at, that is keeping ahead of this fast-moving industry. I have just checked out a few of our competitors, and I can see that they are still implementing strategies that are so last year (or a few years before that!). So, without further ado, here are my top tips to keep you ahead of the game for 2019.
Tip #1 – In 2019 think “faces not logos”
As you start to consider your content strategy for 2019, it is important to embrace the characters that you have within your business – especially for small businesses. I know it is a cliché, but people really do buy from people. As a business owner, you may feel that you need control and that everything needs to be “on brand”, but getting your staff involved in the day to day marketing not only enhances awareness of your team, but you will also start to attract a new type of customer. We are all attracted to different people. There is always that one client that makes your hackles stand on end when you see their number appear on the telephone screen, but your colleague cannot see what the problem is and has a fantastic relationship with the same client.
“People Branding” should be the essence of your “Business Branding”.
Last year my goals for the business were “be human”. All relationships are built on trust. Without trust with your audience, network, clients or suppliers you do not have a business. That trust cannot be with one person, that trust needs to be with your whole team.
How are you going to involve your team more in your marketing strategy for 2019? Do you have someone who would be happy to manage your Instagram or Twitter account? Do you have a newsletter, and if so, can one of your team have a spotlight each month? Embrace the quirkiness of your staff. Perhaps you have someone who has an Amazon delivery of a new pair of shoes each week, wouldn't that make a great unboxing video for your “behind the scenes playlist on your YouTube Channel”?
Tip #2 – In 2019 you need to “Go Long”
I remember watching a Hubspot webinar about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) a few years ago that said Google is ideally looking for 800 words on your website every two weeks. That number has been tattooed on my brain, and I have been teaching this method ever since. Times have changed. Apparently, Google will not penalise you for writing fewer than 800 words on your website, but you will certainly be rewarded for long-form content of 1000 words or more. I am no SEO expert, but when you look at the gurus in our industry, such as Social Media Examiner, TechCrunch, Social Media Today – they are all producing extremely long content. If you think about it, it makes complete sense. The more words there are in your article, the more juice there is for Google spiders to collect and index.
I also believe that 2019 is the year where we need to not think about keywords and tags. (I may be wrong, and I expect lots of SEO experts to comment below as to why I am wrong), but let me explain my theory. Look at how smart speakers such as Alexa and Google Home have taken off in the last 12-18 months. How do we search on Alexa? We ask it a question “Alexa, please can you set a timer for 12.15pm to remind me to pick up my car from the garage” – we don't give instructions to Alexa in keyword format such as “Alexa, alarm | 12.15pm | car” – we just don't do that. Why? Because we are human. I don't know about you, but I always thank Alexa for doing the simplest of tasks… just me? Ok, then :-).
So if we are now searching for things either online or via voice control (Siri, smart speakers), then surely keyword searching will soon be a thing of the past. Already we are told to add long tail keywords into our YouTube descriptions and our blog entries.
Write blog articles to answer questions that people are looking for. Create videos to answer questions that people are searching for. Go deep with your reply. Detail is good! But be aware of your customers time and don't waffle for the sake of it (a bit like I am doing now!). Think long-tail keywords and long-form content. Aim for a min of 1000 words per article, and always add long descriptions to your YouTube videos.
Tip #3 – In 2019 you NEED an advertising budget for online marketing
I remember the days when we could post something on Facebook and 20% of the people who had liked the page would see the post in the newsfeed. It was the same with LinkedIn and Twitter. Those days are well and truly behind us now. If your audience is active on Facebook then there is no beating around the bush, you need to pay to play! The social revolution is in full swing now and us marketers have saturated the space. Nearly everyone has caught up, and most businesses have a presence online nowadays. If you want to be heard then you really do need to have a budget for advertising.
Do NOT press that big blue boost button on Facebook. Make the effort to learn how to use Facebook Ads Manager properly (give Christina a call) and make every penny that you spend count!
Tip #4 – In 2019, keep learning
If there is one thing that I have learned this year, it is that taking your foot off the pedal when it comes to learning about your trade and keeping ahead of your competitors can certainly leave you behind. I am sure that your industry is the same? My goal for 2018 was to read a minimum of 24 books this year. In the last few years, I have smashed that figure as I absorbed books from the gurus of the industry such as Gary Vaynerchuk, Michael Stelzner, Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt to name a few, but this year I only reached a mere 11 books, and most of those were complete indulgence into my hobby, rather than learning my trade. As I write this blog, I am halfway through a book called Can't Hurt Me, by Navy Seal, David Goggins. It has given me a kick up the rear end, and I know if I want to take my business to a new level, and succeed higher than 12% increase in profit, then I need to keep up with the learning.
What books, podcasts and blogs will you consume each day/week/month to ensure that you are ahead of your competition. Consuming the content is only the beginning of the journey, you must also show the world that you are the best at what you do. If you are a business coach, then show your audience how you are thriving. If you are a personal trainer, then show your customers the latest techniques and theory behind being successful. Would you go to a personal trainer if they were overweight and had an unhealthy lifestyle? Would you engage with a financial advisor if they turned up in a rust bucket of a car and had holes in their shoes? Would you work with a social media company who never tweeted or posted online?
Continue the learning for 2019.
With any business, there needs to be continuous evolvement and development otherwise your company will grind to a halt. What changes will you implement in your business to help it thrive in 2019?