Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a live Facebook chat—yes folks, it can be done—focused on small business. As always, I played the role of observer, took a few notes and brought the best wisdom back to you. You can thank me through generous checks, or simply adulation. I’m easy to please.
Without spending a ton of time on the preamble, let’s jump right into the best questions and answers. If you’d like to see more, visit the event page on Facebook and soak it in.
Questions revolved around ways to improve marketing efforts and business in general, and how to build a fanbase in the fickle and ephemeral online world. A lot of focus was on when a business knows it needs a makeover for its image, or changes to the way it presents itself to customers generally. There was also a lot of likes and encouragement, enough to keep any small business feeling warm and fuzzy through the winter months.
One of my favorite questions was actually the first one asked, by businesswoman Ivana Stepanov-Taylor:
Stepanov-Taylor: Hi Anita Duncan Campbell – if you’re thinking about making over your business, where would you say you get the most bang for the buck?
Anita Campbell: Hi Ivana, to make over your business I would first evaluate where I got the most profitable sales in the past year or so, and focus on trying to convert more leads into sales of those. The temptation is to rebrand your business or do something with a lot of glitz — but I suggest you act based on data of what has worked best for your business. Then try to improve your close rate or lead conversion rate of that. Along the way that will cause you to shed less profitable or productive activities and offerings, so you can focus on the profitable offerings. Voila — you’ve made your business over.
Why am I so fond of this answer? It gets to the heart of one of my mantras, which is that you should adapt but never make change just for the sake of making change, or because it grabs on to a trend that might collapse in two years. You should re-brand and make subtle changes to position your company for the future, and it should always be backed by a commitment to see those changes through.
Questioner Kevin Westermann followed up with one—I’m paraphrasing here, because I don’t want this to turn into a 2,000 word screed—whether 2012 would prove to be a good year to reach out to investors. Campbell predicted it would.
Also of interest: The importance of getting into a niche. In other words, don’t just be a business blog, be a small business blog (ahem), a business blog focused on pet stores or a financial advisor to businesses. Pair blog posts which analyze the day’s news—which are valuable—with interviews, research, and looks at white papers and webinars most people don’t have the time or inclination to read in full (ahem again).
Do a service for your readers and customers, in other words, and you’ll be rewarded by them often enough to make it worth it.
It might seem a bit meta to have a discussion about a question and answer session on Facebook, but we embrace meta here at BizEngine. So let’s talk small business in 2012 and Campbell’s Facebook discussion from yesterday.
I’d like to hear your opinion of some of Campbell’s answers, which again you check out here. Care to share?
Photo credit to iStock