In this blog series we are discussing a few different areas of business you might have time to dig your teeth into during your down season. Last time, we discussed planning all of your sales and events before business ramps up and today we are jumping into the business of selling yourself online. Now, more than ever, your company’s online personality carries more weight. There are plenty of different ways to ramp up your online presence that might be easier and more fun than you think!
Once you know who will be responsible for the creation of your site, decide what the site’s purpose will be. Do you want to keep it as a simple landing page to give potential customers your contact information, or do you want to add more flavor and information? The more detailed your website, the better you are able to manage people’s expectations when hiring you. Add real images of the work you have completed or include a page of staff biographies. Make sure to proudly showcase any awards you have received or associations you are a part of. Including a simple text box for visitors to request more information can organize and streamline the process of collecting new leads. You can make certain fields a requirement, perhaps their city or pool size? When all else fails, look to companies you admire and note how they are using their website to bring in new business and represent themselves online. Your website is also a wonderful place to link to your Online Bill Pay portal.
Now that your website has been set up you have a destination to send people to. But how will they get there? You can’t just depend on landing on the first page of a Google search for pool companies in your city. Your next step will be to set up (or clean up) your social media. Making the leap from the comfort of your own website to the vastness of social media can seem daunting, so just like with your website it’s best to begin with a goal in mind. Start small – maybe on just one platform – and build out from there. Once your foundation and routine are set up with one form of social media, begin to dabble and work on the next. Change your Receipt Text and email signature to include any links to your website and social media profiles, and link all social media to each other.
Facebook is most likely going to be the best place to begin your journey with social media, as it is heavily used by all demographics and is easy to edit. After creating your Facebook page, reach out and “Like” local businesses or organizations in your area. Ask your employees to “like” the business page. Get active on your account – set aside maybe ten minutes a day to work with it and get comfortable. No matter what platform you start with, be consistent in your postings – for example, don’t post a Throwback Thursday only one time. Be consistent.
While consistency is key it is also important not to spam. Limit your posting two times a day at most and don’t oversell either. Make postings a mix of selling your company’s product/services, share articles from the industry or your neighborhood, and add fun memes or photos. Make a post requesting your customers to share a photo of your work on their timeline and tag you in it – the photo with the most likes will receive a prize! Holding a contest like this will circulate your business’s name into social circles where you might not be well known and also be a fun way to interact with your customers. And don’t forget that as your customers like your Facebook page, you update their Direct Mail Type to include “Facebook Follower,” and send out a blast email to your followers when you are holding a contest. Posting tips (#TipTuesday, perhaps?) on pool care is a sly way to up sell products while not coming across as too aggressive. Tag your vendors in your tip posts and, you never know, they might share it to their expansive audience!
By now you are a Facebook pro, right? You’re posting consistently, sharing photos of your work and your team, and interacting with your audience regularly. Once you’ve got a few months under your belt of these good habits take a dive into the Facebook Insights tab that is linked to your page to see what postings are getting the most views, likes, and shares. Is there a certain time of day or a certain type of post that is always the most popular? Do your homework; learn from your mistakes and successes. If you’re finding that you need an extra boost, Facebook makes it easy to promote your company’s post for very little money. It’s a small cost to pay to reach about ten times as many people as you normally would.
Once you are familiar with Facebook and your website, it is time to go above and beyond in order to really stand out. Start by responding to reviews. Look beyond Facebook and dig as deep as you can into the internet to find all possible areas your company and services might be reviewed. Yelp and Google Places are two popular landing spots for customers to do write-ups. Once you have obtained ownership over your company in these portals, set your sights on responding to any negative reviews first. It’s a dirty job but companies that respond professionally, courteously, and quickly to negative reviews are considered to be more reliable than those who don’t. The best course of action here is to request that the customer call or message you directly, to move the matter into a private conversation – showcase how you are prioritizing your customer service. And make sure not to leave out anyone who gives you a shout out – letting your customers know how much you appreciate their kind words might inspire more kind words in the future.
Pinterest is not just for photos of sunsets and makeup routines. Your business can benefit from having a Pinterest profile and making regular postings. Share your work with your company’s name attached and hashtag popular themes such as #summertime, #goals, #TGIF – you’ll get your work spread far and wide in no time. Find photos of immaculate work that inspires you and create a board entitled “Work We’d Love to Do” to get the poster’s attention that you are a willing and able company. If you post any tips or blogs to your website, Pinterest is a great place to circulate them too – just make sure you make good use of hashtags and buzzwords.
Twitter will probably be the last stop for most small businesses. If you do chose to use Twitter make sure you are creating posts specifically for Twitter, and not just sharing Facebook or Pinterest links to your page. A page full of links isn’t inviting to a potential customer. Utilize Twitter much like you are Facebook, but post more photos of your work and hashtag your company or neighborhood. Get involved in fun and positive trending hashtags that have to do with your industry. For example, if a current trending hashtag is “TellASadStoryInThreeWords” you could post a photo of a pool you’ve worked on, include the trending hashtag, and make your sad story “Pool Closing Season” – it will share your post and work to a grander audience and maybe bring in some new customers.
No matter what way you decide to expand your business’s presence online the offseason is a perfect time to start. You can work on your company’s social media from anywhere, and tap into many different resources to get any help or opinions you might need. Whatever you do, just remember that if you’re posting consistently and expanding your content you are probably ahead of the game. The whole point is to gain more online attention and continuously legitimize your business. Run your social media as part of your business – not as a side project – and you might be surprised at your results!