In my marketing and business consulting, many clients come to me after having success building their businesses either through personal networks or social media. And, that works quite effectively.
However, there’s also often an inflection point for many CEOs when their outgrow their personal networks or they simply burn out of the constant maintenance of social media-based marketing. Instagram, for example, requires video and many posts per week to truly leverage the platform to its highest potential. This can really put pressure on your capacity, even when you have a solid repurposing plan.
Clients wanting to leverage marketing outside of social media will also come to me when they want to reach more people, pivot their business from business to consumer (B2C) to business to business (B2B), reduce media overwhelm, or they’re looking to reach an audience that’s either more offline or time-crushed—neither of which is a great for attracting with social media.
To be clear, none of us at SM&Co are against using social media. It can be a source of fantastic connections, a creative outlet, or just plain fun to use. In fact, several of my own closest real life friends I met on Twitter years ago!
However, social media is absolutely not necessary to build and grow a successful business in 2023.
Let’s break down the steps you need to take to grow a business off of social media.
- Step 1: Evaluate why you don’t want to market your business using social media.
- Step Two: Take a look at your audience and understand their problems and aspirations so you can market to them more easily.
- Step Three: Develop a body of work that can be used in many ways.
- Step Four: Create an SEO-based marketing funnel as an alternative to Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
- Step 5: Network with your colleagues and competitors to build strong referral networks.
- Step 6: Experiment with and track metrics for different marketing tactics outside of social media to discover what works for your business.
- Step Seven: Collect data and refine your approach to marketing outside of social media.
- Three Key Takeaways: Marketing Outside of Social Media
Step 1: Evaluate why you don’t want to market your business using social media.
Before you decide to adopt tactics outside social media, I encourage you to reflect on why you want to grow without socials.
This is because too often I hear from folks resisting social media for the same reasons they resist all marketing platforms: they don’t have time, they aren’t confident in their message, they don’t fully believe in their offers, they aren’t sure who they’re speaking to, or they haven’t fully bought into their business.
This happens and is a normal part of business growth. However, I strongly urge you to tackle them prior to embarking on a new marketing strategy—trust me!
If you sense that it’s time to diversity your leads or reach people you aren’t connected to, then marketing without socials may help you. If you have discovered that your social media return on investment is low, then marketing without socials may help you. If you are personally feeling burned out and overwhelmed by the rapid pace of social media, then ditching or reducing the your use of socials may be the right move.
Step Two: Take a look at your audience and understand their problems and aspirations so you can market to them more easily.
When looking to leverage marketing channels outside of social media, it is critical to focus on strategic building of your audience. Deeply understand who they are, what they need, and what their biggest aspirations are.
In our marketing framework, the Aligned Authority™ System, we call this “Address Your Audience.” This is a crucial first step after developing your business’ framework, because without a deep understanding of “your people,” you will be doing a lot of guesswork, and you will quickly become frustrated. We don’t want that.
An easy exercise I recommend to clients is to visualize your favorite client, that one that got incredible results in working with you. (I know you have one!)
Think about when you first met them, look at their initial inquiry if you still have it. What questions did they have? What were their goals? How did your work facilitate a transformation? Write all this down! I often use a four-square grid to identify frustrations, wants, fears, and aspirations so I understand them thoroughly. (Fun fact: that’s where the idea for this article originated.)
Step Three: Develop a body of work that can be used in many ways.
Now it’s time to get to work!
I recommend that regardless of the off-social channels you set your sights one, you first plan a body of work that you can leverage over and over again. We use a methodology called “topic clustering” to effectively stake out a piece of online real estate that says, “Hey I am THE subject matter expert on this subject.”
(Our Get Found Blueprint Workshop is a crash course in this methodology.)
The crux of this method is to identify three to five core themes and then build authority around these by supporting each topic with additional content. This all lives in the blogging function of your website, but it can be called “Articles,” “Resources,” “The Playbook,” whatever fits your brand positioning. All that matters is that it’s focused on building your authority.
If you really hate the idea of writing articles, get creative: your pillar content can be a podcast, for example, if you create transcripts and Google-friendly headings and follow the clustering structure. The key concept here is to create foundational content that you can leverage over and over again.
Then, you need to commit to repurposing this foundational content. We have a guide to content repurposing that you can use as a jumping off point, but aim for three uses of each thing you create—at a minimum. If you can’t reuse it three times, rethink if it needs to exist at all.
Step Four: Create an SEO-based marketing funnel as an alternative to Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Here’s a fact you can’t ignore: ninety percent of online experiences originate in the search engine.
This means that ignoring search will likely limit your reach. If you’re a powerhouse networker, a popular podcast host, or have a thriving YouTube channel, then perhaps you can minimize the impact of the search engine on your visibility.
If you’re a mere mortal like the rest of us, Google is a beast that’s worth wrangling.
I won’t dive two deeply into what a search-based funnel looks like, but here’s the crux of it:
- Targeted content attracts problem aware searchers to your website
- Your content inspires them to connect with you through your newsletter or other channel
- That content nurtures a relationship with them (asymmetric intimacy) and some of those folks become clients or customers
Simple, right? Like so much in marketing, there’s an instinct to overly complicate it, but a search-first marketing funnel can look that minimal.
Step 5: Network with your colleagues and competitors to build strong referral networks.
Networking with colleagues and competitors (yes, I said it), is one of the most overlooked ways to market your business outside of social media.
In the book The Pumpkin Plan, author Mike Michalowicz talks about this extensively early in the book and it’s stuck with me over the years since I read it. He urges entrepreneurs to find people who serve the same clients they do, and forge relationships with them. For example, if you’re a copywriter, build relationships with web designers and social media managers. These become tightly knit referral engines that drive high quality business from aligned clients.
Think you don’t have a network? Think again. If you’ve done step four above, you already have potential referral partners who know about you and would be thrilled if you connect with them. All you have to do is ask—the worst case scenario is a “no.”
Step 6: Experiment with and track metrics for different marketing tactics outside of social media to discover what works for your business.
One of the missteps I see frequently is unwillingness to experiment with marketing outside of social media. (Oddly, I don’t see this often with regard to social media marketing—I suspect it’s the rapid feedback loop native to those platforms that encourages experiments.) On some level, I do understand. These kinds of tactics without good data can be expensive and scary. “Will it work? Will I look silly? What if I miss the mark?” These are common thoughts running through people’s minds when they try new marketing tactics.
However, experimenting with different tactics outside of social media are a great way to gather data and if you have a foundational message and framework, the risk is far, far less.
Here are fifteen ideas for marketing your business outside of social media that won’t cost you much, but will give you great data:
- Launch a YouTube funnel to attract clients into your marketing funnel.
- Create a podcast focused on your subject matter and invite your favorite experts on to talk about your subject area.
- Connect with your local chamber of commerce or business group and ask if they accept guest speakers.
- Ask a colleague if you can contribute an original article to their blog.
- Sponsor an event, either virtually (such as an online summit), a conference, or even a local fun run.
- Become a marketing partner with a nonprofit radio station with listenership that reaches your ideal demographic. (Really, lots of nonprofit partnership opportunities are great, but radio has amazing bang for the buck.)
- Attend a trade show and introduce yourself to 50 new people in your industry.
- Start an affiliate program.
- Answer questions on sites like Quora.
- Sign up for Help a Reporter Out and pitch media.
- Teach a professional education class (this is how I got started).
- Mail postcards to people introducing yourself and your services.
- Contribute to Medium publications.
- Advertise in an industry publication (print or online).
- Apply to speak at a conference.
Step Seven: Collect data and refine your approach to marketing outside of social media.
Once you’ve spent at least 90 days marketing without social media using steps four through six, you’ll want to take a step back and really evaluate what works. (Which is why I push collecting data so heavily.)
Social media gives us an instant data point: the likes, the shares, the comments. Other techniques lack immediacy and can be difficult for us to see immediate results. That’s why we need to collect at least three months worth of data to observe trends and identify what’s worked.
Ideally, for each marketing experiment you’ll be able to see the following:
- What was the return on investment?
- Did this attract aligned clients or were they a mismatch?
- How much time did it take me and my team to execute and follow up with each experiment?
- What’s the sales lifecycle the results from each experiment and how long can I count on it to create leads?
That last question can be the hardest to answer, but it’s also the most important to understand. One of the most tantalizing elements of social media is the straight line you can draw from a direct message to a sale. Non-social platforms tend of have less linear paths, so understanding how long, say, a blog post takes to show up in the search engine and start generating leads is important. This way you can 1) plan your business’ sales cycle and 2) know when to make adjustments (or even scrap it) if it is underperforming.
The other questions are, of course, also very important, because all the leads in the world aren’t worth anything if they are a poor fit or if it kills your profit margins.
Is marketing outside of social media viable for businesses in 2023?
It sure it! However, you want to take this action with purpose and following a strategic plan. Otherwise, you’ll be ditching the social media rollercoaster for another carnival game that will burn you out and frustrate you just as much as socials.
Three Key Takeaways: Marketing Outside of Social Media
- Marketing without social media is absolutely possible—but you need to be smart about your strategy.
- SEO drives far more traffic than social media, so it should be a pillar platform if you’re looking to reduce your organic social media efforts.
- Collecting data about your marketing tactics is a must—otherwise you’re just guessing and will find yourself frustrated.
When you’re ready to think about your marketing strategy in a fresh, focused way—Team SM&Co is here. Just reach out to learn how we can support you.
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