Social media is a great tool for growth. But what if you can’t, or don’t want to, use it?
Here’s how to grow your practice or business without social media.
I recently met a beautiful lady through the Business Ignite Project, an initiative created to help small business owners in Queensland thrive post COVID-19 by providing access to over $4,000 worth of training. It’s a great program, and as part of it, we give training in digital marketing and content creation, which, of course, touches on social media.
One lovely member of the group reached out to us. Her background was as a dog physio, but she had recently gone through an ugly divorce. And her concern with social media was that it would impact her privacy. She was also worried that if she put up anything about her business publicly, she could be making herself vulnerable and exposing her business to negativity or even outright attack.
So her question to me was, ‘Can I grow my business without social media?’
How to Grow Your Practice or Business Without Social Media
It’s sometimes easy to think that social media is an essential part of your overall marketing strategy. But that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, I work with plenty of businesses where social media is not in their best interest. And even in situations where social works great, there might come a time where it’s best to turn it off, and instead, focus on the clients and customers that are already committed and loyal.
But, in the case of my client from Business Ignite, social media could really be useful for her business. But it just isn’t something that she’s willing or able to engage in. Luckily for her, there are plenty of other options for growing your business without social media.
Your first point of call should be your physical location. Take a look around and think about what you could do to increase awareness at the place where you actually do business. This might be a sandwich board, a prominent business sign (which includes your tagline describing your business) or something else out front entirely. As long as it’s bold and easy-to-see, it will bring you brand awareness.
Private Facebook Group
Just because you aren’t using social media publicly, doesn’t mean you can’t use it privately. Set up a private Facebook Group (not a page) for just your clients and potential clients, or for people that meet your predetermined requirements. This is a great place to build your community and provide valuable leadership and advice without unnecessarily exposing your business. Ensure you get an email address when they sign up so that you can also communicate with them offline through a newsletter and invites to events, for example.
A great example of this is the Melbourne Bulldog Clinic. People who are interested in learning about the breed, or who have specific questions about their bulldog, can post and the experts at the clinic will respond and advise. This has been an excellent brand building tool and has created a beautiful community that spans the entire world. It has also positioned the MBC as the premier bulldog experts globally, without exposing their business to the negatives that sometimes come with social media.
Research shows that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. But the probability of selling to a new customer is only 5-20%. Research also tells us that your existing clients are likely to spend up to 31% more than anyone else, and 50% will try any new product that you release. So, nurturing your existing customers is an excellent way to grow your business. And a great way to do that is through consistent newsletter communications.
Newsletters allow you to communicate with your list on your own terms, share your value and nurture those clients or potential clients that are already connected with you.
Events are another excellent way to create and lead a community, gain exposure and so grow your practice or business without social media. Create an event that will bring value or enjoyment to your customers, and then advertise those dates in your Facebook Group and newsletter.
My client is a dog physio, so her events would naturally be aimed at people who are passionate about their dogs. She might consider putting on an educational event, where she provides a morning tea, a short presentation on a topic that interests her clients and opportunities for the dogs (and their human owners) to socialise and meet other like-minded people.
Events present the opportunity to shift your mindset and elevate your position from being a practitioner to being a leader. And experts believe that people crave that feeling of belonging which communities and events help to create. Michael Port, the author of Book Yourself Solid, says you always have to have something to invite people to because while people don’t like being sold to, they do like being invited, as long as it’s relevant.
Another great offline way to market your business without social media is to look at who might be a good referral partner for you. For my client, this could be local vets, breeders or groomers – those people who have a clientele that crosses over with her own. With your own referral partner opportunities, you could consider dropping round brochures or meeting over coffee to discuss how you might best refer work reciprocally to each other. You’ll also want to ask if you can add them to your newsletter so they will know about the events you have coming up and pass this along to any of their own interested customers or clients.
Create a Subscription or Membership Option
Robbie Kellman Baxter, author of The Forever Transaction, is an expert in subscription-based businesses. She believes that almost every business has the possibility to become a subscription or membership business. When you want to grow without social media, consider what you could do to create value for a monthly fee.
My friend might want to provide a monthly socialisation event, educational videos or online information about dog physical therapy. Maybe she’d include a quarterly health check or wellness information. These would allow people to be proactive about their dogs’ health and wellbeing rather than reactive.
You simply have to consider what cadence of care you can provide. Then create a model that would allow your customers to become a customer for life.
‘The transaction is the starting line, not the finish line, in your relationship with customers.’
– Robbie Kellman Baxter
Reviews and Testimonials
Getting reviews and testimonials help potential customers to see the value that you add. If you are worried about being online at all, you can ask for these and then upload them to your own website. If you’re open to using Google, then Google reviews are a great way to gather that social proof. This social proof builds trust, but if you’re concerned about exposure, as my friend is, you’ll want to put it in a place where you can control it (such as your own website).
So what does all this mean for you?
If you’re thinking about stepping away from social media, you’re not alone. Many people are worried about exposure, but many others simply don’t trust the platforms. In fact, a recent survey showed that 44% of social media users still have a negative opinion of Facebook because of the Cambridge Analytica data breach.
The good news is whatever the reason for your stepping away, you can still grow your practice without social media. You simply need to think beyond social media platforms. And remember there are both online and offline activities that can work very well for you.
1. Order or update your physical signage.
2. Set up a Facebook Group (not a page) for your community.
3. Create a newsletter strategy.
4. Schedule and market an event.
5. Contact referral partners.
6. Consider a subscription or membership offer.
7. Ask for and publish reviews and testimonials.
I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Jane Anderson is a strategic communications expert, speaker and the author of seven books including the upcoming Catalyst Content. She has over 20 years of experience helping people to communicate confidently. And she is obsessed with authentic influence and human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. Jane delivers Content Creation Bootcamps (Virtual and Face to Face), Coaching and Keynotes. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.