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How to Maximize the Effectiveness of WhatsApp as a Marketing Tool – for small business owners

Updated: Jan 15

In many countries, WhatsApp has become the main means of communication, much more than phone, text messages, email, messenger. It's the one communication tool we check and use most often during the day to convey messages. Therefore, this means of communication is the one we consider our most cherished one, and as such most of us prefer it to NOT be full of nonsense.

On the other hand, precisely because of this close relationship we have with WhatsApp, many people (ab)use it; i.e. flood others with posts, ads, jokes, pictures, videos etc. - in private and/or in groups. As a Personal Finances Consultant who also works with small business owners, including on revenue-increasing strategies by improving their marketing tools, my heart really aches when I see the many mistakes small business owners make in their attempts to sell their products or services through WhatsApp.

These practices often lead to the completely opposite result to the one they intended – they put potential customers completely off. As more and more people are opening small businesses these days, using WhatsApp properly is more important than ever.

The name of the game in using WhatsApp as an effective marketing tool is:

Do it pleasantly and make it easy and don't be a pain!

Here is my list of Do's and Do's and Why:

Do: Write clear identifying details in your Profile: Your name in the Name field and your business name/profession in the About field and add your name there too.Why: Because the participants' list in a Group is another way for people to get to know your name and line of business. If all that appears under your phone number is "Suzi" and "Available" or an inspirational statement, you are missing an opportunity and are making it difficult for a potential client to find you.

Do: Place a picture of yourself in your Profile and not of the children/dog/beach/product, and it should even include your name/business name.

Tip: For your pictures to be visible to everyone, even those not in your Contacts, go to Settings/Account/Privacy and set is so that Profile Photo is marked as "Everyone" (same goes for About).Why: Very simply - because we prefer to communicate with a person whose face we can see!

Here are some examples from a Business Group I belong to. I graded each one on the right:

Do write your profession in your WhatsApp About
Do write your profession in your WhatsApp About

Do write your profession in your WhatsApp About
Do write your profession in your WhatsApp About

Do: Advertise only in groups where advertising is explicitly permitted & avoid advertising yourself/your business in non-business groups. Same goes for unsolicited recommendations about other businesses in non-business groups.Why: Because if the group is not a business group, but rather, say, a school/neighbors group, it's not only SO annoying to open a message and see it's an ad, it also creates antagonism towards the advertiser and the sender! The exception to this - if a group member specifically asks for a recommendation for a professional relating to the group's purpose.

Do: Check in the description of the (business) group what the advertising rules are – on which day, in what manner ads should be posted - and publish only according to these terms.Why: Because posting ads not according to the rules will label you as a nuisance, and who wants to buy from a nuisance?? Furthermore, this nasty habit might even lead to the advertiser being removed from the group.

Do: Your business post (in a business group) - about your special sale, service, new product – has to be concise, pleasantly worded, well punctuated, no exclamation marks or spelling mistakes and MUST include your name, phone number, website/Facebook page.

You feel you must post a photo? Post only one, just to illustrate the point, in addition to the text, but it's best to avoid using photos/videos.

And definitely do NOT send a sequence of photos or messages!

Avoid voice messages at all costs!

Why: Text is best because WhatsApp search is only textual, not visual. So only text will come up when people search.

And people do search.Your name must be written in the message because most people do not bother to store group members in their phone contacts.

It's best to avoid media (photos/videos/ PDFs) because most people nowadays do NOT open media*, and even those who do, quickly delete them from the gallery. So media is a huge waste! In addition, a flood of media in the Group feed is highly annoying.

(*It's a setting in WhatsApp, which most people use nowadays)

Do: When adding a link in a message, wait a second for the preview to appear, before pressing the Send button. And always add a brief explanation re what the link is about!

Why: Because one of the annoying things is getting a link without an explanation. No one has the time to just click on a mysterious link! And who's to say it's not a virus?? This nasty habit also easily creates antagonism towards the inconsiderate sender.

Do: If you send messages using the "Broadcast" feature always add at the end of your message:"To unsubscribe – just reply "unsubscribe" and I'll do so".

Why: Because many of the recipients feel uncomfortable asking the sender to remove them from the broadcast list. So, instead, the annoyed recipient either gets more annoyed at the sender or ends up deleting the sender from the contacts - two equally bad outcomes for a business owner.

Do:  If you are a business owner, you should use WhatsApp Business.

Why: Because it has features which really help run the business. Mainly: the business' details, automatic messages, quick replies to repeated questions, labels, product/services catalog. It's free of charge, but you need to transition to it (from regular WhatsApp) correctly and carefully, and learn in detail how it can benefit you. It's best to find a workshop that teaches you all of this.

Do: Use the WhatsApp status (similar to Story, stays only for 24 hours) as another way to market your business, gently and without being a burden.

Why: Although you will only see the statuses of people saved in your contacts (and only people you keep in your contacts will see yours) this is a nice way to get a message across without bothering.

Do: You don't have to store in your phone the name and phone number of every person you want to communicate with using WhatsApp. How? by using a separate (free) app such as SapSap Messages, Quick Wapp etc. They work very simply - you open them, paste/write the phone number of the person you want to message, click on a button, and your regular WhatsApp opens for you to type your message.

Why: Because it is not a must to keep every contact on your phone, although if it is a potential customer, you should store his/her number.

Most of the above recommendations are also relevant for non-business groups (social/ family).

You have other great tips relating to using WhatsApp as a marketing tool (without being a nuisance)? I'd love to hear! Send me an email.


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