A Platform For Your Small Business With Lori Lyons

When your business has just started out and it is just beginning to find its legs, normally one of the issues you’re likely to run into is how to sell it to your target audiences. But at the core of all small business marketing is making sure to keep your content simple but consistent. This is the belief of Ignite Marketing‘s Lori Lyons, a small business marketing expert and consultant. Lori explores the importance of these core principles with Jen Du Plessis, drawing from her own experiences in marketing. Feeling like your small business is in a rut? Let Lori and Jen show you a newer, simpler way to go about things.

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I am delighted that you have joined us. If this is your first time, thank you for joining us. We welcome you to our community. We hope that you find that your time spent with us is beneficial to your personal and professional growth. If you have been with us numerous times, thank you for your support and your continued support. I ask you please pay this forward and share it with one of your colleagues who you feel could benefit from reading this as well. We have a great guest. Her name is Lori Lyons and I love this opportunity to introduce you to her. She began her career as a teacher before moving into the dreaded corporate world that we all are experiencing or trying to get out of these days.

It’s where she learned marketing, sales, graphics and design and realizing corporate work wasn’t where she wanted to be. She began working for a small startup business and gained the knowledge and experience to run a business of her own. She saw how these long hours saw risks that everybody was taking and said, “What can we do to make this simpler for people to get their message out to the real world?” It’s taken her many years of small business ownership experience and developed a boutique business helping small business owners with web design and marketing. Welcome, Lori. I’m happy to have you.

Thank you, Jen. I’m excited to be here. This is fun. I’m looking forward to this.

One of the best things that I love about your business is that it’s called Ignite Marketing, which I mentioned to you when we met at New Media Summit that this is cool because this is one of my high-level programs with my clients like mastermind program. It’s fitting that we should be spending time together. Tell us a little bit about what upsets you as it relates to marketing that you see in the marketplace. If you could hop on a soapbox for us.

The biggest thing that drives me crazy is everybody feels like they have to do everything. This is the only way you can do this. Everybody in the digital world are bazillionaires. They forget to tell you it’s sometimes going back to the basics and it’s plain and simple hard work and long hours. It would be great if we could all post stuff on the internet and money would flow in. Unfortunately, a few of us that happens to. That’s the biggest thing that is not setting a good expectation for a lot of people.

That defeats people too. I’ve tried this and I’ve tried that. They told me to do it this way and they said, “Use hashtags.” They said, “Don’t use hashtags.” They said, “Use 30,” and they said, “Don’t go more than five.” It’s all these missed messages and all this white noise that we hear out there that makes people finally say, “I’m not doing it.”

They’re paralyzed by the overwhelm. Not the over-analysis, but the overwhelm. That’s such a disservice to small business owners because it can be simple and it can be fun. For me, it floats my boat because there’s a lot that you can do out there that is simple. You can keep it minimal and not drive yourself crazy and still make money in this world because there’s enough for everybody to go around.

It's all about going back to the basics: hard work and long hours. Click To Tweet

Let’s talk about what are some of the things that we need to be doing. A small business owner, someone who is a salesperson, a mortgage person, a real estate agent to make their marketing simple. Do we throw away things? Is this a process of analysis first or is it a process of throw everything away and start over?

Both can be valuable and here’s why. I use the analogy of a professional athlete, let’s say a golfer because they’re known for their coaching. If something is not working in their swing, they get a new coach. They change tactics. What happens when they get this new coach is they go right back to basics. They start with their stance. They start with the way they held a golf club. They start with their grip. Those are basic things for a golfer. You would think that a golfer that’s making millions of dollars a year on the pro tour, why would they go back to that? Because you have to fix the basics. For a small business owner to sit back and analyze, to your point, who their ideal target market is.

It all goes back to that basic marketing goes back to who your ideal client is and how you serve them. That’s where the analysis comes in. Sometimes that changes. If you’re a real estate agent or you’re a mortgage broker, as things move around you and have a nosy economy changes, your market could change. Your target market could change and your ideal client could change. Unless you sit back and take a look and say, “Who am I attracting? Who am I looking at?” it may pass you by you and it may not even be a way or that your target has changed. I tell my clients to start from the basics and start from the beginning.

That’s a good point specifically for professions that change. As a small business owner, one of the things that I always think of all the time is I want to set it and forget it. There are certain aspects of your business that are living things and that need to be addressed all the time. It’s going back to the basics. What are some of the basics?

It’s funny because the last time I looked, most of our clients were live, so we need to treat them and remember that. If we look at what we do and this is a great example I use quite often with my clients, is if you’re a realtor to your market is you don’t sell three bedrooms and a kitchen and a couple of bathrooms. What you sell to your clients is you sell memories. You sell education for your kids by what schools they go to. You sell a social life because a lot of times our neighbors are who we socialize with. There’s a lot more that you sell than brick and mortar homes or brick in whatever homes they are. We forget that. We forget that we are not selling to people, we’re selling to what they need. If you go back and you think, “What is my sweet spot? What do I do?” that will take you a long way. Identify who your target is and so forth and go from there.

Do you think we need to have a large net, a small net or multiple nets?

We have multiple nets. They can be small multiple nets with a large one thrown in here and there. Because marketing now is even though I talk about keeping it simple all the time, there are a lot of moving parts to it. How do we keep it simple? How do we identify what is going to be right for our company and for us and for our clients? If we look at it, either hit maybe the top three points of what you do and how you offer services to your clients and focus on those because you can market those in a number of different ways. Let’s go back to our realtor point that is offering memories or offering an education to the children that they’re selling to. They can market to the different school systems and all the different places. Talk about what you look for in a school system. You could talk about class size, you can talk about what activities are available for the students in that area, for their children in that area. That’s all marketing things you can do and probably will set you apart because most realtors are not doing that. I’m focusing a lot of realtors because that’s a big part of your market. That sets you apart.

Small Business Marketing: People get paralyzed not by the act of overanalyzing what they’re doing, but by how overwhelmed they get.

Because what I see with most realtors is that they’re taking pictures at closing with the sold sign and they’re showing their new listing. That’s it. I see that bouncing back and forth. With loan officers, I see rates are low, high, pre-qualify. I love that allows you to expand on your content too because that’s something that everyone says, “I don’t have enough content,” and I totally don’t agree with that because I know that you can build content any minute. I have different ways that I do it. The content that builds it around something that’s unique and different and highlights you as somebody who’s different and unique.

For your mortgage people, if they look at what they do, granted they work with a lot of realtors and homeowners and stuff like that, maybe you’re a mortgage company who deals strictly with first-time buyers. There’s much content you can write around first-time buyers or downsizers. What can you do with downsizing? From a mortgage perspective, how do you work? What do you do? There’s much out there that you can do. The little small nets are the different places that you put it. You identify where your market is on. For example, social media. We were chatting, you said, “Do you have to do social media?” You do. How do you do it without driving yourself crazy? One of the ways that you do is you don’t have to do all the platforms that are out there. The last count I saw was there were 384 platforms or something. If you look at where your market is and LinkedIn is having a resurgence. I listened to Gary Vaynerchuk talking about LinkedIn is the next big thing. LinkedIn has been coming and going. For professionals, if your clients are high-end professionals, the average salary on LinkedIn is something like $125,000 for professionals.

It’s most of the average in the country. It’s totally worth it. That’s one way to make it simple because dabble in the others, but become an expert in one particular platform as well as niching. That’s what it is that we’re niching in there. I know there’s a scarcity in that. That’s what creates some of that overwhelm is that other people will be passing by while I’m playing with my niche and I won’t get anything else. The bottom line is you’re going to get everything because you attract everything.

Just because it’s your niche doesn’t mean you won’t sell to the outside of your niche. “You’re not in my niche. I can’t sell to you.” That’s crazy. We’re all going to do that. It’s strictly who you speak to and how you speak to them is what your niche is.

What are some other things that we can be doing? I’m going to direct a little bit here and then other things that I’m not even aware of. It’s a timing issue. I don’t want to ask all these questions, but I’m saying from a simplistic standpoint, what is the best way to make it simple to get my message out whether it’s social media, sponsorships at a local networking event that’s going on? What’s the simplest way instead of us feeling like we’re trying to get our feelers out there? We have to be everywhere. Is there a way to be everywhere without being everywhere?

The best way to be everywhere without being everywhere is social media because you can be everywhere and put it out there. It’s picking your platform and it’s picking what works best for you and what’s comfortable for you. The beauty of it is there are no rules. If somebody says, “You have to do this,” no I don’t. I want to do this because it fits in what I’m doing and I can keep this simple and it will work for me. My main business is websites and while I firmly believe that every business, for a lot of reasons, needs a website. It could be a simple one-pager. You don’t have to have a 400-page website with everything that you know and everybody you know on it. It can be as simple one-pager because keep in mind social media is the soundbite. They get the full story on your website. This is where you can post blogs. Even though it’s a one-pager, you can still have blogs. You can still put content out there. You can write.

Post what works for you, but post it consistently. Click To Tweet

We’re getting away from what is simple because half of the audience will go, “I can do that.” The other half of the audience will go, “Blog? No.” There are many options and even with the website, there are websites now where you can build your own. You drag and drop a few boxes and it’s better than not having anything at all. Keep it as simple as you can. All you’ve got to remember is you’re talking to your target market and you’re talking about problems and solutions that you solve. What are the problems that they have? What are the solutions that you solve? You can’t get it any simpler than that. It’s the medium and where you put those messages that can get overwhelming.

A lot of people also think that they know what the problems are. I know what loan officers’ problems are. I’ve been a loan officer, I get it. The words that my clients use are different than the words that I may have used when I retired. Because when I retired, I was at a totally different level than when I started out. It’s important to know not only your target avatar, but also the different levels or phases that an avatar is going through. Those challenges and those problems are different. For example, when you’re brand new, you want leads. That’s your problem. When you get leads, now it’s, “My system isn’t working because I can’t handle the leads. It’s growing and I need to hire people and I don’t know how to do that because I’ve never done that.” These problems constantly change. To keep it simple, this is where you were saying cast a big net, a small net, and segmented nets. For example, “Are you a business owner?” “Yes.” Do I want to talk to all business owners? Do I want to say, “Are you a business owner who has less than five employees?” Now I’m segmenting the market.

You’ve been in business for less than a few years. You and less than five employees can whittle it down and narrow it down and keep going. The more you go, the scarier it gets because all of a sudden you feel like, “I threw out half the people in the world.” Something also that I want to point out is you were talking about the language that you use. Talk in your client’s language. I had a client where we’re building her a website and we were talking about the different ways. It’s going to be photo-heavy because it’s a visual medium. We were talking about the different ways to segment it. She was a floral company.

She said, “This is an on-person floral arrangement.” I said, “Your clients wouldn’t know that, so we’re going to call it attendant bouquets,” because that’s what people know. On-person means you’re putting them on yourself like corsages or boutonniere. It was like, “We have to talk in what your clients are looking for because they’ll never get that.” That goes across every industry. I find myself doing it myself when I’m talking about marketing. As much as I try to keep it simple, you get into marketing speaker or whatever you do speak and it gets easy to go back to the light.

That’s important to listen to the exact verbiage that they use. I’m trying to think of the example. I had a client on the phone and I’ve used somewhat of the same verbiage because it’s common anyway. I said, “What are you struggling with?” She goes, “The bottom line is my business runs me.” That’s a great question. I had been saying, “Do you run your business or do you own your business or does your business own you?” My business is running me. That’s a completely different concept of ownership versus what’s happening on a day-to-day basis, which implies overstressed, overwhelmed. What are some other simple things that we could be doing to make it simpler to execute?

It is planning ahead. People tend to go, “I have to plan this stuff. I can’t be spontaneous and off the cuff.” There’s a certain amount of that with social media. That’s a good thing. If you sit down and you plan it out and you take your time, then there’s a lot of comfort in knowing that you know what’s going to come next. You can be aware and be on the lookout for marketing tips and tools that will help you and your clients. I hesitate to use the word editorial calendar because that’s scary and it’s not simple, but that’s my language. What an editorial calendar does is you can do this on a simple Excel spreadsheet or Google Doc or whatever you use. You break down the twelve months of the year.

Within those twelve months of the year, you break down the weeks of the month. You’ve got twelve months, four weeks and say, “This month, my content is going to be first-time homebuyers.” Within those four different weeks, I’m going to do how to get a loan for a first-time. What paperwork do you need for a first-time homebuyer? What are my options? What do I do once I get to my house? There’s the four weeks of content and all of a sudden, you’ve chunked it down to that old saying of how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. We’re going to take it one week at a time, one month at a time, and one day at a time. That makes it simple. You can be on the lookout for things. If you know what’s coming up next, then you can be on the lookout for some fun marketing stuff that you can use. You can watch for fun memes or you can watch for quotes or even photo opportunities that you can say, “That looks spontaneous,” but maybe not quite.

Small Business Marketing: Just because you have a niche doesn’t mean you can’t sell outside of your niche. It’s all about who you speak to, and how you speak to them.

I was smiling when you were saying that because it’s an accountability thing too. It guarantees implementation. When you know that you’re having, in my example, an event in March or April or whatever, I know everything I’m doing every day is, “Do you want to come to the event?” It’s picking that reticular activator as an alert for yourself. The flip side of that is because it is laid out for the entire year, if there’s a major shift in the market, it gives you the opportunity to know where to place it.

I even advise if a year is overwhelming, then look at six months. If you still feel that tightening of your throat over six months, do it for a quarter. If that did, at least do it for a month and say, “When I’m two weeks into this next month, then I’ll do my next month.” Eventually, you’ll start working out once you get the hang of it. It doesn’t take that much time and it can be a simple, strong marketing tool that you can use. Because then it doesn’t matter what platform you’re on, you know where your marketing’s going.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the twelve-week year. Each week represents a full month of the year. Putting together something like this and doing it, most likely you’re going to get the results in twelve weeks that you would normally have gotten in a full year of doing random acts of marketing.

If we let ourselves get caught up in the overwhelm of what we should do, then we won’t do anything. We want to make sure that we’re not caught up in that, that we’re taking a step back. Sometimes taking a step back in your business and looking at all those basics. Who your target market is? What problems do you solve? Look at them with a fresh eye. Talk to somebody about them and say, “Here’s what I’m thinking. What do you think? Give me some feedback on this.” Those are simple and they don’t cost a thing for anybody to add to your marketing.

Especially if you don’t know what their problems are and you want to be the solution. It’s like coming in and dumping out your toolbox and saying, “Pick a tool to solve your problem,” versus taking the time to ask them. That’s a great question. These days on social media, everybody’s asking questions. “Are you thinking about buying your first home? If so, what are some of the concerns or struggles that you have?” Let them respond. There’s your content right there once you see the thread of it.

I did this not long ago on my Facebook page. I said, “If a fairy godmother could come in,” and I had a little picture of Cinderella’s fairy godmother, who I love, “Do something with you to help you with your marketing.” I can’t remember exactly how I word it, but it was crickets. I had one person respond and I was trying to get engagement going. I was responding to that and I said, “You think you don’t have enough time.” Sometimes it’s the way you word it or the timing of when you did it. Don’t let the fact that you don’t get any response. Try it again and reword it in a different way or post it at a different time or even take it to a whole other platform. People tend to get discouraged like I put this out there or those that go to a network. I went to a networking event and I didn’t get any leads so I stopped going. Social media is the same way. Be consistent with it in simple ways, then it can come back to bite you a little bit.

How often should someone be executing on marketing online, hosting and stuff? I don’t want to get into the weeds of it. Yes, no, hashtags, whatever. If we’re keeping it simple, what’s the minimum I could do to make an impact?

On top of creating your own content, there's also so much content out there that you can repurpose. Click To Tweet

It depends on which platform you’re in. We’re going into the weeds a little bit, but I would say if you’re looking at 2 to 3 times a week consistently, it’s not necessarily how much, it’s being more consistent. If you’re only going to post once a week, post every Monday morning or every Tuesday morning and there are all kinds of analytics that will tell you what the best time to post is. I don’t know if there is any best time to post anymore because if you look here, you get one opinion. If you look here, you get another opinion. I would say post what works for you, but post it consistently. That’s the bigger key. If you’re posting here on Tuesday and then you don’t think about it for another 3 or 4 weeks, then you’re not consistent and people don’t know what to expect.

It’s like back up a little bit, do an assessment on who your target markets are, the couple target markets that you want to address, making sure that you know what their problems are and what your solution is. You pair yourself to go to the next level. What are the solutions that you’re going to provide to them in a calendarized manner? Also, putting it on your calendar. Write on your calendar to do the posts because if you don’t remember, you have to schedule on your calendar.

Take advantage of some of the scheduling tools that are out there that are free that work that is simple for you. Different minds think in different ways. There are some social media posters that they don’t work for my brain, but then there are others that are simple. You have to look and see what’s out there for you.

Any last, overall, one big tip that you want to give to everybody that we haven’t discussed that you think would help people?

It’s to keep it simple. I would say to step back. We’ve talked about stepping back, but step back and take a look. It’s a great time to do it. It’s the end of the year, end of the decade, heaven forbid. Simply plan and evaluate where you’ve been, what’s worked for you, what hasn’t worked for you, what you can recirculate because there’s a lot of talk about evergreen. Evergreen is fine. Go back and look at what you’ve done and update it and make it more current. That’s a simple way to do it and it saves you time because you don’t have to go and totally revise it. If you had a post a few years ago let’s say on your business Facebook page, go back and find that photo. Maybe tweak the saying a little bit to make it current or put the year on it and use it again. That’s a huge tool to save time.

It’s something that, I’ll be honest, I haven’t put in place because I’m not consistent online. I’m not because I’m doing this all day. I’m not consistent in going, “Everybody, I’m at the grocery store. I’m getting donuts.” I’m not consistent. I wish that I was more, but that’s an important part is making sure. I appreciate that you shared that with everyone. To step back and make the planning happen because I preach that, but I don’t do it. That’s the honest God’s truth. It’s not a priority for me because I do it in different ways. I’ve picked my platform. That’s what it is. I dabble in the other platforms, but my platform is face-to-face relationships and that’s the platform I picked.

That’s perfectly okay. I would not beat yourself up over the fact that you’re not consistent on social media. There’s a gentleman whose only platform is YouTube. He doesn’t live too far from here. He’s great. He’s a men’s lifestyle guy. My son, who’s 22, loves him and watches him. I sit there and watch it with him because he’s cute as a button. I love what he does. I love all of his marketing and stuff and all he does is YouTube.

Small Business Marketing: Looking at what you’ve done and updating it to make it more current is a simple way to keep your content fresh without completely revising it.

Isn’t that crazy? What’s his topic? Is he affiliate?

His name is Alpha M., Aaron Marino. He posts five days a week and has for a few years. Every day, he does his own editing. It’s gotten to be a top ten of men’s lifestyle. It can be clothing. He talks about everything men-related. It’s great.

I would think after a while I’d run out of content, but there you go. That’s a perfect example. The fact that there’s much content out there. Repurposing other people’s content is also good. If you don’t have your own, but you see an article that you love or see a post that you love and you want to share and say, “This story hit home for me. I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to make a change in my life,” or whatever. That still gives you the authority because of its proximity. It’s also a good marketing strategy to compliment other people. I love that. My last question to you is what are you reading? How is that impacting you?

I’m reading a book called Instagram Secrets. It’s the secrets to Instagram and it’s a couple of years old. You know how when you’re on Amazon, they’ll give you the suggested reading. I clicked on it. I started reading this and as it turns out, the gentleman who wrote it, there’s a lot of good tips in it. I kept trying to find him on Instagram and he’s no longer around. Don’t go get the book. There’s a lot in there. Part of me is the stubbornness to keep finishing it. I finished binge-reading Mark Schaefer whom I adore and I love. He’s my marketing crush. His latest book is called Marketing Rebellion and he has several good marketing books out there.

He’d probably wouldn’t want me to say this or you can get on Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited. He has a book called Known, he has a book about content. He has one on Twitter, but Marketing Rebellion was good in that it talks about where we are with marketing and a lot of the things we’ve talked about as far as how unsettled the marketing world is. It’s unsettled in that it’s not you go buy an ad in the Yellow Pages and you wait for the phone to ring. That was simple. You put an ad on TV, which a lot of the business could afford or you put an ad in a magazine or newspaper. You had print or media and that’s about it. Now, it could be anything.

Thank you for joining us and helping us. There’s a little relief in my mind because we’ve had a lot of people that talk about social media and what to do. Go back and read all of those shows and absorb the things that resonate with you and let the others go. Let them go. Go back and get ideas because we’ve talked a lot about videos, we’ve talked a lot about interviewing people on videos. You’re talking about the consistency of posting and avatars. There’s a lot of information there. I would go back and read some of these that we have and choose those that resonate with you and align with your avatar and your style. Move forward with one for now. Test it for a while until you get some better results. Make sure you’re doing it. That’s the key thing. Lori, how do we get ahold of you? If someone says, “I have to talk to Lori. I’ve got to be in touch with her and get to know her better and maybe she can help you.”

My website is IgnitingYourBusiness.com and I have a freebie for everybody, a little gift. If they go to IgnitingYourBusiness.com/success, there are three things that you can do immediately to shift your momentum in your business and your marketing in your business. All my social media links are on that page as well. They will find every way they can reach me right there.

Thank you for the gift of the 3 Simple Shifts to Create Momentum for Your Business. I can’t wait to find out what those are all about and appreciate you coming on and sharing your wealth with our group. I hope that someone reaches out to you and makes a change and a shift in their business as well.

Thank you for having me, Jen. It’s been fun. I always enjoy talking marketing and especially with somebody in a little bit different field. Mortgage and real estate are cool. Thank you for having me on. I’ve enjoyed it.

You’re welcome. Thank you for joining us and giving us some of your time. I encourage you to please rate and review us so that we can continue to grow. As always, please pay this forward by sharing it with your colleagues so that they can learn how they, in this case, can simplify their marketing efforts. Go out and make it a great day. We’ll catch you next time.

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About Lori Lyons


Lori began her career as a teacher before moving to the dreaded corporate world where she learned marketing, sales, graphics and design. Realizing corporate work wasn’t where she wanted to be, she began working for a small startup business and gained the knowledge and experience to run a business of her own.  She saw the longs hours and she saw the risk someone else took, and decided it wasn’t for her.
Lori has taken her 30+ years of small business ownership experience and develop a boutique business helping small business owners with website design and marketing.

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