Don’t give up! How the Hansel and Gretel approach is helping build your business

- April 7, 2022 5 MIN READ

Building your business and finding cut-through online can feel like a slow burn, but don’t give up! PR specialist Annette Densham explains how the old-school ‘Hansel and Gretel’ approach to building your online business profile is just as valid as ever.

Followers. Engagement. Influencers. Hits. Analytics. All very important when it comes to building a profile online. But it is easy to get so fixated on these metrics that you forget about the good old-fashioned approach to getting business – and that is through connection, giving great value and building relationships.

However, the world of online and social media is so intensely focused on these numbers that it is easy to feel as if you are failing if your post doesn’t go viral, or you do not have thousands of people following you on Instagram or have high page views on your website blog.

The Hansel and Gretel approach to building your business

While knowing the numbers is important in business, regularly dropping ‘breadcrumbs’ – being persistent and consistent with marketing and content – is important. Because these two strategies position you in front of people who will probably never comment on your post or let you know they are following you.

But following, watching and paying attention they are.

Line of young people using mobile phones

Your ‘lurkers’ have value

Have you ever had someone reach out to you to buy what you are selling and they’ve said, ‘I’ve been following you for a while. I love all you do’? You go back through your followers and database and they are nowhere to be found.

Most people are watchers or ‘lurkers’. They never comment. They never post. They do not subscribe to anything you put out. But they watch. They observe how you show up, they see your consistent content, and when the time is right and they feel they can trust you, they reach out.

For most service-based businesses – the ones without the sexy products or the big names behind the brand – if they judged their online presence by the number of followers or likes, it is probably not very impressive in the scheme of online metrics.

This can make you feel like your efforts, time and money are wasted because the business world is fixated with likes, engagement, followers and interaction. But it is not the only measure of business development and growth.

Pareto’s principle (the 80/20 rule)

Somehow, over the past five years, a business’ existence has come down to how many people comment on a post or likes on a page. What that isn’t factoring in are the lurkers – the ones who watch and pay attention to all you are doing.

This is where Pareto’s principle is alive and well, also known as the 80/20 rule. Pareto’s principle says 80 per cent of consequences come from 20 per cent of the causes. In the world of social media and online this means only 20 per cent of people will ever openly interact with you. The other 80 per cent will watch and listen, and you’ll never know they’re there until you do.

What this means for you and your business is it’s important to keep showing up, sharing stories, insights and ideas across all your channels. Dropping these valuable  breadcrumbs helps people get to know, like and trust you.

Every time you post or share something with your audience, you are building a relationship with them even if you have no idea of the impact you are making.

Business man's hand using watering can on arrow-shaped pot plant

Do more to be Google friendly

Building a brand and profile using this Hansel and Gretel approach takes time, but dropping these regular breadcrumbs is a powerful way to organically grow your online presence – to be Google friendly.

The more regularly you blog, contribute to articles, write content for online publications, enter business awards, appear on podcasts, create videos and other forms of content, the more you will show up organically in searches.

When the person who is looking for someone with your skillset or product searches using your keywords, you show up, solidifying the relationship you were unknowingly building.

Worm your way into the limbic system

Most of us do not buy logically. We like to think we do but more often than not, our buying decisions are driven by our emotions and how we ‘feel’ about something.

This connection starts in the limbic system of the human brain. As a business, if you have a solid marketing plan that encompasses regular content across multiple channels, then every time you post or share something to those who are ‘lurking’ and watching you, you are giving them a big fat old hit to their limbic system, deepening the relationship with them.

The tipping point

It’s easy to feel your efforts are being wasted because when you put something out, all you hear is crickets. This is where the tipping point comes in.

As Malcolm Gladwell says, ‘where little things make a big difference’. The tipping point is the moment of critical mass, the threshold where something goes from nothing to something.

If you consistently and persistently market and share about your business, people will come.

Forget instant gratification

To take advantage of the Hansel and Gretel approach to profile building, the desire for instant gratification and results has to be managed.

We all want lots of clients and customers yesterday. But this business of building a brand takes time, effort, and patience; it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes resistance, consistency and persistence.

There are no overnight successes, even though it seems that way when you are on the outside looking in. To become well known and in-demand is like being a duck on a pond – cool and calm on the surface but paddling madly underneath.

Consistency is key here – start with a plan and stick to it. Resist the voice in your head that says you are wasting your time on blogging or doing live videos.

Don’t be a workshop junkie, jumping from course, hoping to find the magic bullet. There isn’t one. Success will come from creating a plan, following it, doing the things over and over and being open to change if it is not working. Don’t try PR for one month or two and think it isn’t working. Marketing and PR  is all about relationships – it takes time to make connections.

Persistence is also so important – don’t give up. Have a plan and stick to it, but be willing to adapt and change. Just do not stop. Remember, it can take three to five years to build a solid business.

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