It’s July (!!!!) 2021, and for some of the world, it seems as though we are “done” with COVID, and “ready to get back into the studio with real, live people. Problem is, some of us don’t want to go back in-person, now, or ever again. If you’re in that boat, I’d like to share with you some considerations on how to transition to an online-only voice business by reviewing your marketing needs and strategy.
Depending on how effectively you were able to deliver your service over the last year, this may or may not be a lot of decision-making and change. I find that many people have to reframe what they are used to doing and being in order to be successful at this transition.
Starting June 3, I began giving itty bitty bites of info on each of the concepts noted below in the bullet list. My hope is that you’ll have some time to chew on each concept. I would love for you to gain some headway in how you approach your transition!
These blogs will not be a “this is exactly what you should do” checklist. Think of them more as “here are some things to consider as you move forward”. Essentially, you are opening a new type of business.
When you choose to remain online, you’ll want to reframe your mindset around a few things:
- The offer(s)
- Changing business delivery model (and perhaps the entire model)
- Your ideal client profile
- The inquiry and first lesson process
- Your marketing needs and strategy – this blog!
Shall we begin? Today, let’s talk about your marketing needs and strategy.
It doesn’t start with marketing needs or strategy
There is a strong reason that I’ve made this marketing needs and strategy email last, even though many people come to me wanting to deal with marketing first.
Usually, this is because we’ve got a whole bunch of stories in our noggins about what marketing is and isn’t, and how we are “supposed” to do it, and therefore put the cart before the horse – we try to market things we have not yet defined.
I talk about marketing a lot because most people that come to me seem to think that their issue is that they do not know how to market.
A few questions in, we are able to realize that there isn’t a marketing issue as much as there is a clarity issue.
You cannot market what you cannot define. If I ask you, business owner, to tell me your top three selling offers, and you answer “voice lessons” – this is an indicator to me that we do not yet have a viable product with proven results explained in an effective manner.
This is why marketing is hard. Not because spending time on socials is hard, or making graphics is hard, or even creating an ad is hard.
Marketing is hard because few people actually know what they are marketing.
Now, if you are fortunate enough to have built a local word-of-mouth brand, then you may have never had to wrestle with this concept. Your offer is implicit via interactions with you face-to-face, people sharing your contact info, and social proofing.
If you’re wanting to enter a brand new market (the internet), you’ve got a long way to go to establish brand awareness, increase leads (people who know about you and want to buy from you), and create KLT (Know, Like, Trust factor) or customer affinity.
It doesn’t matter how beloved or reviled you are in your local market – as soon as you open up shop on the internet – you’ve got a blank slate. Which is fabulous!
So, if you haven’t already, go back and read or re-read the first four blogs in this series. I’ll wait right here for you.
Marketing Needs Have Shifted
Several marketing firms have begun to release their reports on how the market and marketing trends have shifted over the pandemic. I believe many of these trends are here to stay.
Contrary to some strategists, I think that these marketing needs are applicable, albeit in different ways, to both the brick and mortar model AND the online model.
Here are some “tough things” in what we are seeing in marketing needs and strategy:
- Online presence is non-negotiable: There’s a rise of the “most aware consumer”. At home human learned how to “research before they buy” anything. Remember when we could just run down to the local music store to ask about lessons, or boop on over to Target for some tampons and curtains? That shifted drastically, and while we are at home, we spent time pouring over WHICH curtains to buy, from which seller. This is the same for online businesses. Consumers want to spy on you ahead of time.
- Convenience is crucial. Two words: LOW. CAPACITY. Folks just do not have the time, energy, desire, brainspace, or wherewithall to try to figure out anything clunky any more. If you are going to have an online business, it’s needs to be EASY AS [SWEAR WORD]. Leads will be lost if the marketing strategy you’ve set up is complicated, difficult to navigate, or takes too long to swtich a stranger from curious to converted.
- Video marketing is replacing print for scaled brands. Do not be mad at me, I just share the trends.
BUT WAIT! THERE IS GOOD NEWS, TOO! Here are some “Sweet relief!” things in what we are seeing in marketing needs and strategy:
- Do More with Less: People are tired of being bombarded by noise. They were getting tired in 2019. Now, in 2021, people are DEFINITELY over it. Marketing is taking a turn toward quality over quantity – especially after a brand has been established.
- There is going to be a time of “brand awareness” that needs to be cultivated. This is the time for quantity. Literally getting you name out there. Once there begins to be a trend toward growth, consider adjusting your strategy to include more valuable content over more “look at me!!!!” content.
- Your ideal client will determine what is valuable. What do they need to know about your business in order to get from curious to converted? (Hint: RESULTS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN FEATURES.)
- Repurpose over different platforms… just be sure to adjust the content for the platform you’ve repurposed to.
- Stabilty is in relationship over features of offers. Voice professionals, are perfectly primed for relationship building already. We don’t have to shift much to develop strong relationships with our clients – we’ve just gotta keep doing what we are doing well, and prune off the dead weight issues. People will stick around because they are committed to the relationship with your business – and you can be flexible and fun with experimenting with new offers, often, to keep the spice of life!
- Virtual is here to stay! YAY! For music and voice professionals, I think the number one this that COVID did for us was that it finally legitimized the amazingness of online lessons, their potential for better and better softwares, and the limitless possibilities about whom and where we can serve. I AM SO HAPPY ABOUT THIS! It was like pulling teeth getting folks to even admit it could be DONE, let alone done WELL and as a genuine option for those who had never tried it before! We no longer have to convince people “online is a real and valuable way to learn voice/body/msuic/etc.”
The Strategy will Shift with Your Model
Okay, got your ideal client, offer, model, and new inquiry process figured out? Great! Now let’s take what we know from the previous blogs, what we just read about marketing, and talk strategy.
You’ve got to decide how to get a person to the inquiry phase. For now, that can be your entire goal for your new online business.
Don’t try to find committed students. Try to find inquiries.
Once you have an inquiry, you can show them how you can serve them, and invite them into the next steps that will eventually lead to a fabulous relationship!
Here are the first three decisions (and their child-cisions) to make when determining marketing strategy (AFTER you know your IC):
- What would a stranger need to know about the results my business can bring to clients in order to be compelled to inquire?
- Enter “Discovery marketing”. It really is thinking through what kind of content/offer/thoughts will teach people about you – it’s total “new friends!” converstaion.
- Simple and dumbing down are not the same thing – keep it simple, while trusting your IC to “get it”.
- What kinds of things are attractive to my New Friends? What is their “plate of cookies?”
- Where would that stranger get the most value from my content?
- Yes. This is where the “How should I/Should I even use social media?” question comes in.
- Email lists – they are such an intimate and personal way to connect with people! (YES! I JUST SAID THAT!)
- Ultimately, you’ll have the most control over your clients experience by sending people to your website, so let’s work to get them to wind up there to learn more about you so they inquire.
- How do I want to spend my time?
- THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT. Please decide this up front. If you hate writing, do not tell yourself you’re going to write weekly blog and email. If you hate being on camera, do not commit to weekly FB live video masterclasses.
- You can review what’s already working… SPEND MORE TIME on what is already working BEFORE you add a new thing. If you always seem to get a student after you speak at that local high school choir? MORE CHOIR TALKS.
Once you’ve answered these questions, write down a general plan with timelines.
Have some goals around how many inquires you’d like to have by certain dates.
Begin to create the systems that align with your goals:
Block out time in your calendar for marketing and content creation, create a budget line item for marketing (generally speaking, this is between 7% -12% of total revenue for small businesses. For micro-businesses, some recommend 1-3% of total revenue. More on that, here.). and find the software tools that will work best for you.
When you’re ready for a more robust plan, reach out and we will point you toward resources, people, and programs that can help with this if we aren’t equipped to help you.
If You Opened Up a Micro-Business, Your Job is Selling
You will always be selling your stuff to the people ready to buy. No matter the offer, the client, the inquiry process, whatever,
You’re doing it already, any time you move from inquiry to new student agreements signed.
There will be times when it feels natural, leading to great joy. Selling will also feel uncomfortable, and times when you’re just not feeling it at all, leading to great frustration.
This is true for your online voice studio and any other online business you may have in the future. And it would be true if you were staying brick and mortar, too.
As you develop this new business, take with you what you already know about selling. If you’re uncomfortable with selling, take the time to really get clear on what selling actually is, so that you can get really great at it!
If you aren’t sure how to sell, or want to explore ways to sell, this is your invitation to join The SpeakEasy Cooperative, where we chat about this stuff often.
As I wrap up this series, I’d like to encourage you that you already know how to do this.
You’ve got everything you need to make this new online-only studio a success – now all you’ve got to do is modify it so that it honors the ways your model has shifted.
I have no doubt in my mind that a transition to a 100% online studio is possible.
And, I have no doubt that you’ve got the mojo to pull it off.
Have a wonderful weekend and here’s to your new online business! Cheers!
All My BeastyBoss,