This week on The Whin Big Podcast, Katie speaks with Alan Martin from Chat Marketing.
In this week’s episode, you’ll hear Katie and Alan talk about Facebook groups, LinkedIn, and Alan shares his tips on keeping on top of a hectic content calendar. As always, Katie grills her guests on their favourite business books, and there are plenty of resources featured from today’s episode at the end of the show notes.
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Alan’s business journey
Alan is a social media coach, and he helps people make sense of the different platforms to reach their business goals.
Before going self-employed, Alan was a marketing manager for Dundee Science Centre, where he had hands-on experience growing the business through social media. He knew he wanted to help other people find the same marketing success using digital marketing rather than traditional activities.
Alan helps small to medium-sized businesses work out where their audience spends time on social media and then create marketing strategies that fit their existing sales pipelines.
“I believe that social media needs to drive business results for your customers, rather than being good at social media for the sake of it. It’s about being good at business because of social media, rather than the other way around.” – Alan
Alan’s preferred social platforms
If Alan had to pick just one social platform, it would be LinkedIn. For Alan, the biggest draw to LinkedIn is that there’s less pressure to post several times a day to be visible. You can be much more strategic, and it’s more predictable, which means he can coach clients in a more structured way.
He’s also found Facebook groups as a great way to build your audience and get better engagement.
Marketing strategies for Chat Marketing
Chat Marketing is ten years old. During that time, Alan’s offering has moved from standard social media coaching into lots of other niche areas, such as Facebook and Google advertising, content marketing and creating online courses.
With such a diverse range of services, it can be challenging for him to know which part of his business new followers are interested in – so Facebook Groups allows him to build niche communities to serve his audience better.
One of the main attractions of having two Facebook groups is being able to segment his audience. Despite having an extensive email list, Alan has steered away from email marketing over the last few years purely because he could not assess what subscribers were interested in. He’s since created two niche newsletters – one for LinkedIn and one for course creators, and he’s much happier and more active, now he’s segmented his list this way.
“I realised I wasn’t sending out as many emails as I should because I wasn’t clear on my audience. These were the growth areas I wanted to focus on with my business, and I’m much happier to create content and send it out now.” – Alan
Keeping on top of content planning
With two Facebook groups, two to three segmented email newsletters, a Linkedin and Twitter profile and blog articles to produce, Katie wants to know how Alan keeps on top of everything.
For Alan, it all comes down to planning. He runs two bootcamps a year, so he themes his content around what he’s promoting at any given time. This month he’s planning a LinkedIn Bootcamp, so all content fits around that – everything he produces, including blog posts, are on this one theme, so it works more cohesively.
Working with a VA
Alan gets support from a virtual colleague – Shay – who began working for him as a student intern and has moved into an essential part of the business. Katie also has experience working as a virtual assistant and is frequently asked by listeners how to set up and manage a working relationship with a VA.
Shay tends to focus on the additional content that comes with the boot camps Alan mentioned earlier. Among other more traditional VA tasks, Shay will:
- Design graphics on Canva
- Create landing and sales pages through ClickFunnels
- Engage and support group members
Repurposing content for regular launches
Due to the repeated cycle of Alan’s Bootcamp, he works with Shay to repurpose content for each launch rather than starting the process from scratch. Often this means adjusting minor details like dates and links rather than writing brand new sales pages.
Katie agrees wholeheartedly and takes on a similar approach for her course launches.
“People are hesitant to reuse stuff because they worry their audience has already seen it. But when you go and talk to your community, they struggle to remember what you were talking about yesterday, so it’s not a problem at all.” – Katie
Best performing posts in Facebook Groups
Katie has little experience running a Facebook Group and was curious to learn more about what posts get the most traction for Alan in his groups.
He reminds us that his mission is to help business owners get better at business through social media – and not the other way round – so he regularly talks in his groups about this concept.
A year ago, when he was planning his workshops for the next six months – he posed a simple question to his Social Media Dojo group, asking them what workshops they would like to participate in. The responses gave him enough steer to create events and workshops that his audience genuinely wanted and needed.
Importance of validating your marketing ideas
Alan talks a lot about sense checking his plans and ideas with his audience. For him, seeking validation from his community forms a critical part of his business development strategy. If he has plans to run a workshop or course, he’ll find out from his followers first if it’s something they’re interested in.
“I made this mistake with my first online course. I chose the theme based on what I thought everybody wants, then created the course and recorded the videos and then didn’t sell very many spaces. Now I pre-sell places; that’s the best form of validation.” – Alan
Best piece of marketing advice
The best advice Alan’s had throughout his career is:
“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers” – which goes back to what Alan talked about around seeking validation before creating products and trying to sell them.
What’s on Alan’s business bookshelf?
Alan is a self-confessed book geek, so he found this question tough to answer!
*Building a Story Brand with Donald Miller
*Business for Punks by James Watt – one of the co-founders of Brew Dog
He picked this book because the key message is to build a mission, not a business. Many businesses are just about profits, so the book talks about getting passionate about the category of business you’re in.
Keep the conversation going with Alan.
* Links marked with a star are affiliate links to Bookshop.org. When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to support your local bookshop, and a small amount comes to The Whin. So the books won’t cost you any extra!