ConfusionWhen I’m talking to clients about their reputation marketing I’m often surprised at how little thought they’ve given to:

  • Why they are doing it – what they want to achieve
  • Who they are trying to reach – their target audience
  • What activities are best suited to the audience
  • How they will use the tools available

If you’re finding your online marketing gets random results, let me invite you to stop DOING and indulge in a little reflective thought (maybe with a nice coffee and a bun or biscuit – caffeine and sugar will ensure your energy levels are up).

Why do you want to market your business?

It might sound like an obvious question, but it’s the detail that counts and many people haven’t got beyond very general goals.  I often start by looking at my RAVE acronym as the basis for why.  Rave stands for:

Reputation: actively promoting your reputation to build a positive image

Authority: becoming the ‘go to’ person for your industry

Visibility: being seen in all the right places so you’re the first person people think of for your skill

Expertise: sharing your knowledge so that you demonstrate that you ‘know your stuff’

This is helpful in getting focused on goals, but unless you know who you are trying to reach it’s academic!

Business group2Who are your target audience?

What does your ideal client look like?  Think of the best client you’ve ever had; a company who loved what you did/do for them and that you loved working for.  That’s a good place to start.  Describe your ideal client in as much detail as possible – type of business, size, number of staff, turnover, location, customer base, etc.

When you have a clear idea of who you want to reach, you’ve taken a huge step towards a really focused marketing campaign.

What do you do to reach these people?

Where do these people congregate?  Are they active on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?  It’s not sensible to be highly visible in a place that your key audience never goes!

When you’ve established which platforms they use you need to find out if they are in an industry group or on a forum related to their expertise?

It’s also useful to find out what they read; certain blogs, industry journals, local publications or business magazines.  If your target audience regularly read something online or offlline, it makes sense to be featured in that publication.

If you know what your target audience looks like, where they hang out, what kind of material they’re interested in and where they are actually looking you’re a long way towards being able to engage with them.

This may seem b******g obvious – but only if you’re already aware of all this and have started thinking it through or are already taking action on it.  If you are still trying to interest ‘anyone who wants what I offer’ in your services or products, this may be quite like rocket science to you!

So – you now know who your audience are, have identified that they are active on one or more platforms and that they are interested in the kind of material that is relevant to their business and specifically around subject X.  Now what?

How do you use the tools effectively?

4SM logosIf you can offer them expert advice around subject X this is easy – write a bank of tips and advice that you can share with them.  Post them on the platform where your target audience is active.  Link your tips to somewhere there’s more information.  Typically this might be a blog that covers a whole group of tips.  Nobody reads every update you post so if they just get one and can then go and read more, that’s going to give them something to remember you better.

Post on your chosen platform(s) daily at different times of day.  For value-based tips you can use one of the online tools to do this (like Hootsuite) so you don’t have to be hovering over your computer all the time.

This is all pretty straightforward, BUT won’t get you talking to people that are your potential clients.  That’s where being active in the right groups, answering questions, offering help in relation to requests for help on Twitter or in forums.  Engagement is essential.

For anyone who has ‘cracked’ Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest (or any of the other social media platforms) this probably all makes sense, but if you’ve got an account, but have no idea how to get the best from it the How will need to include some lessons in how to use the tools available on your chosen platforms.  If that’s where you are at right now take a look at these two websites: and