From hairstylists and barbers to local mom and pop shops, everyone in business has an online presence. Like it or not, the internet is where your customers are spending their days reading, scrolling, snapping, and tweeting, so in order to stay on top of your game, you must stay fresh online. Here are some of the top skills today’s entrepreneurs need to stay relevant and profitable.
1. Social Media
Other than word of mouth, social media is the cheapest, most effective form of advertising that exists. If you haven’t yet utilized this tool for your business, you should begin by discovering what social media platform/s are best for your business — and then post, post, post! Research tips on social media best practices for businesses in your industry, and since social media provides near instant feedback, with a little persistence and attention you can quickly determine what types of posts work best for your audience. If social media feels way out of your league, find a younger employee or relative to help show you the ropes.
2. Email Marketing
Email newsletters are still a good way to keep the lines of communication open between your business and past (and future) customers. You can use newsletters to run promotions and sales, and even free email newsletter services like MailChimp give you valuable analytic information about how recipients are interacting with your newsletter content.
If you followed the first two suggestions of joining social media and sending email newsletters, then you will soon be in dire need of images to post and place in those emails. Although you can buy stock photos online (and you may need to at some point), you can’t beat having the ability to take high quality photos of your products or services yourself. Today’s smartphone cameras are usually sharp enough to get the job done given that you have the skill to use them properly. Check out YouTube tutorials or other online resources for tips.
4. (Basic) Graphic Design
When you’re busy promoting your business online, you’ll quickly find yourself feeling handicapped if you don’t have (at least) some rudimentary design skills. Free, online software and apps like Canva allow anyone to design their own flyers, email headers, and social media posts. If you need inspiration, just look around at the style of what others have done in your industry or check the web.
“Blogging” in this context doesn’t mean publishing a riveting play-by-play of your last vacation. “Blogging for your business” is actually code for “content marketing”— a less fun phrase that means creating valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain customers. If you’re not the writing type, you can hire or enlist the help of someone you know who’s already blogging, and if you don’t have your own online platform where you can publish a blog, consider writing an entry for a pre-existing, popular blog. So, for instance, if you’re a hairstylist, you could write to a few hair blogs and pitch a short piece on the latest trend in bangs.