Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The following is an excerpt from The Ultimate Guide to Instagram for Business, 2nd Edition by Kim Walsh Phillips, on sale now.
Here’s a secret I’d like to share with you: You and I were created with a purpose. The fear of what others will think is just a roadblock to our final destination. We were created with majestic intentions, not mediocrity.
If you don’t take action, no one will be blessed by what you were created to do. The product, program, or service that you offer will help those who need it so much that you have a divine obligation to put yourself out there for your audience. One way to make this happen? Start selling. Don’t focus solely on follower growth through your Instagram account. You have to get to the stage of selling so you can truly fulfill your purpose and, of course, receive an ROI from your Instagram marketing.
Here’s the thing, though: In order to sell, you have to do something most people won’t.
You have to be different.
You have to stop looking and sounding just like your competitors do.
Maybe you don’t think you do. Most of our private clients don’t realize it. When asked about their competitors, almost every new client answers, “We don’t really have any.”
Unfortunately, your prospects won’t see it that way. If your marketing isn’t showing up any differently, chances are you look just like everyone else—and that makes you a commodity. And commodities only compete on price. Which won’t work unless you are the biggest in your niche, like Walmart. “Being the cheapest sometimes on most of the days” is not a great distinction.
What makes you stand out from your competitors? And how can you leverage that in your marketing so that you can excel at sales?
1. Offer Value in Your Instagram Bio
Tell your qualified prospects why they should follow your page and how it will benefit them. You can even offer a lead magnet to give them a quick win in their relationship with you. Make sure they know right up front what’s in it for them if they decide to follow your page.
The Ultimate Guide to Instagram, available now at Entrepreneur Bookstore | Amazon | Barnes and Noble
2. Fill Your Posts with Value
Focus on your unique selling proposition—that one big idea that makes you different—and post valuable content centered on that one thing. My USP is that we connect marketing with sales, because you have value and deserve to be paid for it, and you have a unique purpose that should be shared with the world.
3. Make Your Posts and Ads About Your Target Audience, Not You
Focus on their needs and how you alone can meet them. Most brands emphasize their products and services. Stand out by concentrating on your target market instead.
4. Talk to Them
Ask questions and have a conversation centered on your one big idea. Engage with folks and build trust so that they know you are looking for relationships, not sales. When you ask questions, they are much more likely to engage.
5. Be Willing to Be Controversial
The most successful brands have raving fans as well as big detractors. Which means, some might not like you. But if you aren’t willing to go there, you also can’t attract a big following of raving fans. I speak up against “branding only” campaigns because I think they are a waste of time, money, and energy of small businesses who can afford it the least, but that is what many social media marketers charge for. Those that do speak up against me. I also share that you shouldn’t rely solely on referrals or word-of-mouth for marketing because you can’t control it. Those that only teach those strategies aren’t in support with my point of view. But I am OK with that. Just like a magnet, to attract some, you need to repel others.
6. Be Authentic
One of my pastor’s sermons focused on the masks we wear in different aspects of our lives. Wearing a mask is exhausting. (Did you ever try to work out in one? I did at the beginning of the pandemic—that was a one-time-only experience resulting in me turning a majestic shade of crimson.) Wearing a mask also creates a barrier to developing real relationships (are you smiling under there?). Take the figurative mask off. Stop trying to be someone else and instead, be real with your audience. Different is good. Different stands out. People relate more to those they believe are real. Occasionally let your fans in a little on your life, your family, and who you really are as a person. People want to do business with people they know, like, and trust.
Related: 21-Day Plan to Grow Your Instagram Following
7. Focus on Transformation, Not Information
This is the most important point to remember. Your competitors focus on the features of their products and services. If they are slightly more advanced, they also emphasize the benefits. But you are better than that. You will focus on how those benefits will impact your customers’ lives. How working with you will give them peace, take away pain, or bring them joy. This will not only help you make the sale, but it will also position you as the leading authority in your marketplace. The transition from Instagram follower to customer for life can be seamless and fast. Simply concentrate on telling them why they should pay attention and take action, and why it is the best decision they will ever make.
For more success strategies, buy The Ultimate Guide to Instagram for Business, 2nd Edition, available now.