Social media is such a new field that many business owners don’t even know that they need someone to manage their social media assets. Even when they do acknowledge this, they don’t know who to hire, how much to spend on it, or how to know if it’s effective. It is up to you to educate business owners and to convince them this is a must-have service.
The best way to convince owners they need you is to show them results. Get your feet wet with 1-2 free or low cost customers. Agree with them ahead of time on what constitutes success and offer low pricing if they would be willing to provide a reference for you and be the subject of a case study. If you follow the steps above and deliver results, getting customers will become easier.
One way to get leads and convince business owners of the value of the service is to put together a report on their current social network presence. Whether they like it or not, and whether they keep it up or not, they have a profile on many of those sites without ever having created one. Yelp, Google Plus, Facebook, FourSquare, and TripAdvisor for example already have profiles for them with content aggregated from the web and posted by customers.
Potential and existing customers have access to this content at all times, and the business has no control over it. That is unless they spend the time or pay you to spend the time for them. Showing a business a few of its existing profiles when those include erroneous information or bad reviews, can certainly get an owner’s attention and earn you a meeting and a chance to convince them to give your services a try.
Another tactic is to show business owners examples of other businesses, ideally their own direct competitors, and explain how those businesses are using social media to their advantage. When you place a claimed profile with hundreds of likes next to their unclaimed profiles with very few likes, this can have a tremendous effect on business owners.
If you can’t find a competing business that’s using social media successfully, find a success story from another area of a business with a similar profile. The business pages of the social networks have a wide array of success stories to choose from.
You can also use general metrics about the proliferation of social networks and the use of review sites by customers to convince business owners that this arena cannot be ignored.
Getting your first clients will be the hardest. If you do well, it will get easier.
First, use your current network. Do you know any owners that will give you a chance? Perhaps a place where you’re a regular and know the owner? Can anyone in your network introduce you? Don’t be afraid to ask your friends on social networks for leads.
“Hi friends – Do you know any businesses that could use help managing their social media? I’ve decided to open up my own social media monitoring company. I will be helping business owners manage and monitor their online presence: website, facebook profile, pinterest, twitter, yelp, tripadvisor and more. Help me get started by referring a business owner you know. Special prices for the first customers! Thanks!”
Even if your current network can’t help, don’t despair. You’ll just have to do some legwork. Come up with a target list of a few local businesses. Perhaps look for businesses that have struggled a bit lately or for businesses with slightly older owners who are not very tech savvy. Spend some time at the business, get to know the staff and hopefully at some point the business owner. Talk to them and try to gage their level of understanding of social media and if they even know they have a problem. Don’t be sneaky about it. Tell them this is what you do. Offer some free tips perhaps. By the second or third conversation your offer to have a meeting about it might be received positively.
To pitch an owner properly, put together a professional report about the business, its current social media presence, its competitors’ social media presence and what you propose to do to help the business. Your proposal will serve as the basis for the in-person meeting. If you don’t have the time to meet the business owner in person or if it’s an online business, you can try reaching out online. Send the owner an email with your report, twit a link to it to them and if they’re completely non-techie, you can even mail it via regular mail. Don’t forget to include your card and phone number where you can be reached.
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