Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Crock Pot Marketing: A fix to and forget it appraoch to online marketing

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Marketing is the bane of most entrepreneurs existence. On one hand it is necessary to communicate with your potential customer base while on the other hand it can be an incredible time suck taking you away from the business of running your business. It needs to be done and as the business owner you are the ideal person to get potential customers the info they need, so what is the answer? I can name that tune in one note…Automation.

Marketing, Marketing, Will Robinson

Ok, so maybe Robbie the robot is not exactly the type of automation we are talking about here but a factory analogy is not too far off. Think about it, the key to marketing (once you have figured out your message and the best way to present it of course) is messaging consistently over time to your potential customer base. The problem that most entrepreneurs face is the same issue that plagued the manufacturing industry in years past, volume. And how did manufacturers resolve the issue? Automation. So why not apply a similar principle to your marketing efforts? I know I am not making an apples-to-apples comparison here but you get the idea. It is all about having the time to generate the appropriate volume whether it be physical product or marketing content. We have established that the key to marketing is the number of touches (and no, not bad touches) you make with a potential client over time but just because you want to connect with them on an ongoing basis does not mean that you have to come back next week at the same bat-time and same bat-channel to bang out more brilliant insights. It is hard enough for entrepreneurs to get into a marketing frame of mind for their own business (even if that is what they do for others) so why not maximize that time when lightning strikes and begin filling a crock pot with marketing gems so you can set it to cook slowly, releasing your brilliance as it heats over the course of an automated campaign?

Recipes for Success

Ok, now you are sold. You know you can count on one or two good days each quarter when you can not only concentrate on marketing your company but you are actually interested in doing it. You have the ingredients, now all that is left is to find the right appliance to turn your marketing recipe into the culinary masterpiece you know it to be. So what are the Consumer Reports best buys for automated marketing:

Blog
One of the easiest ways to automate your marketing efforts is through Scheduled blog posting.  Blog platforms often allow you to set a date and time for your postings to go live. WordPress is especially good at this. You can hack out 10 blog draft blog postings and then schedule them to go live at the date and time of your choosing. This allows you to sit down on that one day a quarter and get it all out, all of the industry innovations, customer epiphanies and other nuggets of brilliance related to your business that have been building up but you had not been able to release to the wild. Then once you have extracted every last drop of insight, you can go through and set your wisdom to a slow drip so its magic fingers will touch your clients as regularly as possible. So then you can get back to the business of running your business secure in the knowledge that even though you are not even thinking about marketing anymore, your clients are receiving the benefit of your experience. And once your marketing build up reaches a critical level again you can just rinse and repeat to reset the circle of life.

Email
Email can work in much the same way with the added benefit of your appliance restarting itself for each new subscription so each individual feels the magic fingers at the exact same rate and in the exact same order no matter when they turned on the heat. How does this miracle appliance work you ask? The simple answer is “AutoResponder”. Now I know what you are thinking, “hey, wait a minute, that is what I set when I go on vacation, how can that possible fulfill the promise that you have laid out?” But worry not, the name might be the same but the function is drastically different. Email providers like MailChimp, aWeber or even a more involved service like 1ShoppingCart allow you to set up serialized  autoresponders that run as a result of a subscription to a given email list. These autoresponders generally allow you to set up multiple emails as well as a time delay from the initial subscription so that they can be sent in the order you want them received and with the appropriate time delay between each so your touches can trickle out at the proper rate.

Social Media
Social Media content distribution can also be automated  as an additional prong in your email and/or blogging efforts. Most blogging platforms and email providers offer options for direct social media integration so as soon as your blast of radiance hits your blog or email system, the same information can be immediately distributed to your different social media outlets like Facebook, and Twitter allowing you to magnify your audience all while you are focusing your time on servicing existing customer and business needs.

The bottom line is that through small time commitments and simple automation, entrepreneurs can effectively market themselves without sacrificing the business they are trying to build in the process.

Enhancing Your Networking (social or otherwise)

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Every entrepreneur needs to network in one  form or another in order to bring in new business. There are many different ways this can be done from local networking groups to online social networking and everywhere in-between. No matter how you you decide to network (and yes I am aware that the way you treat individual networks might vary greatly), the dynamics are universal. So when it comes to networking always remember to SPEW. No, not kind of spew (eww).  I mean S.P.E.W. as in Support, Participate, Engage, Woo. Still not getting it? Maybe this will help:

SupportGoing into any networking situation you should always be willing to give of yourself. No one knows your industry better than you so when questions and/or opportunities arise, it is time to rise to the occasion. Give advice and suggest where people can go for help. This will not only set you up as an authority within your group for your industry but it will stick with the members of your group when they are interacting with others. And when any questions come up in conversation that pertain to your area of expertise, they will think of you and refer you without another thought.
ParticipateGet involved in the conversation. No matter what is being said take the time to listen and offer your perspectives on the topic based on your experience. This will help people get to know you through shared experience and help build the trust needed for business exchange.
EngageBe sociable with people in your networks. Get to know them and help them get to know you on a more personal level. The key to networking is the “Know Me”, “Like Me”, “Trust Me”. Trust is obviously the most important when it comes to getting people to refer others to you for business but that trust has to start somewhere. That starting point can be as simple as a few words about a common interest
WooActively promote your network and the people in it to others. Listen to what your group members say so that when you are interacting with others and questions come up about group members areas of expertise, you can return the referral favor.

If you are serious about your networking or even if you are just dabbling, you defiantly need to SPEW. And once you start to SPEW, you will wonder why you weren’t SPEWing all along. You might even find yourself SPEWing in your daily life just for fun.

So why are you still hanging out here? Get out there and start SPEWing. SPEW in your social Networks, SPEW in your local networks and SPEW everywhere in-between.

5 Easy ways to Stress Free business blogging

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Everyone who has a business blog (and whose business is not blogging) has the same issue, content. You got into business to do what you do best not write about it but in order for others to know about it, you need to get them to your site. To get them to your site you need to enhance your SEO. The best way to enhance your SEO is regular content updates and the easiest way to regularly update your content is with your blog. Everyone knows they should be blogging but figuring out what to write about is not only a huge source of stress, but sometimes the bane of an entrepreneur’s existence. But it does not have to be that way. In fact if you look hard enough you will find that half of your work is already done.

So with that in mind I offer you these 5 easy content sources for your business blog (Ginsu Carving knives not included).

  1. Customer questions
    When it comes to content the first and best place to go (which is where most of my most polished gems emanate) is right to your customers. Those questions you answer time and time again with each new client. Those things that you take for granted and just roll off your tongue without a thought. Those are perfect fodder for new posts. And if you play your cards right, you can take one common question and turn it into a series of posts. Just think of all of the great material you have at your finger tips. No, seriously, think about it…NOW….See, there is a lot of stuff in there that you did not realize you had. No mater how run of the mill you think it is, if it is a question you answer regularly or information you routinely provide to new customers, then as Jeff Foxworthy might say “iiiit might be a blog post”.
  2. Competition
    Another great place to look is back to your old school motto, “When in doubt, plagiarise”. OK, well not exactly but stay with me. One of the best sources for information for your blog can be your competition. Yep, you heard me, competition. I know what you are thinking, “I don’t want to copy what they are doing, I am different”. Well true as that may be, they can still be a good source of ideas. Take a look at the information your competitors provide about their products and services and no matter how different you are, it will give you ideas that are all your own. And sometimes you might just find content that could be helpful to your clients on its own. In those cases you don’t actually want to copy what they have but take that idea and create your own version of it that is tailored specifically to your business and your clients. And you don’t have to limit yourself to direct competitors, you can look around the net and see who is doing what in your space and jot down some topics because, “iiit might be a blog post”.
  3. Webinars or other marketing materials
    When sourcing content for your blog you should never overlook existing materials especially things like webinars. Many companies put webinars on a regular basis to keep clients up to speed on products or services and with each new one you do you can be sure to find at least one posts-worth of information. Even if you have already covered the content in a cursory way on your site or in a brochure make sure to look closely because, “iiit might be a blog post”.
  4. Industry changes
    Changes in your industry are another no-brainer for content. When new reports come out that have any bearing on what you do, its time to play telephone and repeat what you’ve heard. You should try not to lose any meaning in the translation but you understand what I mean. First make sure that the information is potentially valuable to your clients and potential clients. Then all you have to do is take the information you have received and put it in your own words and,  “iiit might be a blog post”.
  5. Customer success
    When it comes to blogging, customer success is often overlooked but your blog is a perfect forum for sharing this information with current and potential clients. Think about it. You can keep it simple and just explain how Company X is making use of your product or service. Other clients or potential clients can see that and put themselves into the story. No matter how specific a product or service is, every company that uses it will use it slightly differently. This differentiation opens up the possibilities for existing customers to see new ways of making use of what they already have or why they might need something else from you. So when it comes to customers, no matter what you are doing for them, you can now look at them with fresh eyes and realize that, “iiit might be a blog post”.

There is a virtual plethora of other simple sources out there just waiting to make your life easier. So get out there and let them be discovered because you never know,  “iiit might be a blog post”.

2 Easy Ways To Get More From Twitter

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

It seems there are two very distinct camps when it comes to Twitter: the people who love it and the people who know they need to use it. Saying what you want in just 140 characters isn’t easy even for the best of writers, so Twitter has two easy and effective ways to squeeze just a little more out of every post: images and hashtags.

Yes, Images!

According to a recent article on the Small Business Trends website, Twitter has done a little remodeling to make itself more of a visual application. Here are a few suggestions from the article on using images more effectively.

  • Use the new larger header image to better highlight your company name or brand. Add your logo, a quote, product pictures, even employee photos. You can be creative, but be sure to stay consistent with your brand colors and overall design.
  • Click on the camera icon under the Twitter update box to directly add images to Twitter. (Note: The image won’t show up if you do this from Hootsuite or another third-party application.) According to Small Business Trends, image tweets get double the interaction of regular Tweets with links.
  • Create video “shout outs” to your followers. Put the You-Tube link into the update box and Twitter will embed the video.
  • Tag people or companies in your images. It increases the opportunities for re-tweets.

With a little imagination, there are any number of ways that images can be used to draw more attention to your tweets and your business.

Master The Hashtag

Placing a hashtag in front of a particular word or phrase (without spaces) makes your tweet show up when people search on that word or phrase. For example, a hashtag can be your business name or a keyword that people would use to search for your product or service.

If you’re having a sale and want to get noticed, use hashtags such as #sale or #coupon to get your tweet on aggregate websites which list all daily tweets showing that keyword. By using a specific code in your hashtag, you can track your sales and know who found you through your tweet.

Hashtags can be anywhere in the tweet, and you can use an existing hashtag or create one for your particular message.

When using hashtags, there is actually an etiquette you need to follow:

  • Don’t put more than two hashtags in a tweet.
  • Make sure you understand the purpose of any hashtag and use it appropriately.
  • Be sure your hashtags are relevant to the information in your tweet.

A quick Google search can provide more in-depth information on using hashtags effectively.

Whether you can’t wait to tweet daily or have to drag yourself to your keyboard for your regular posts, there’s value in knowing how to get the most of what Twitter has to offer.

Just because you build it, does not mean they will come

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Business owners often think that the mere act of building a website will bring in the droves of adoring fans that they want to make their business thrive but sadly this is not the case. A website is a tool and like other tools, it requires guidance in order to accomplish the task for which it was designed. Your website was not previously an Iowa corn field so you still have some work to do now that your obviously well thought out and impeccably designed site is complete.

You may not realize this but this but it is no longer 1993. Just getting your site listed in a search engine is no longer enough. There are millions of sites out there competing for the traffic you want and a whole industry has built up around it. If you do not have the thousands of dollars a month required to really make a go of it with the big boys you will need to do the leg work yourself to try and even out the playing filed. Now I am not taking about spending all of your waking hours on SEO but what I am talking about is putting your best foot forward. You need to make sure that your little corner of brilliance is doing its job by making sure you are not leaving anything on the table.

Think of the building of your website like the trip to see your friend Andy Dufresne. You have made your way to the obscure field in Buxton and found the box under the volcanic glass that has no business being there. Now all you have to do to realize your dreams is to be willing to go a little further. Your website’s Zihuatanejo lies just over the border, you just have to be willing to buy the bus ticket to get you there. And that ticket can be had with three words – Research, Optimize and Update.

  • Research
    The most important step of any site launch is to make sure that you do your research, in this case I am talking about researching search engine keywords (although hopefully at this point you have done some other research as well). I am not talking about the general terms related to your field that everyone uses but well thought out keyword phrases that not only make sense to your potential clients but ones that you can potentially own. What I am talking about is the SEO Sweet Spot. That nice warm area nestled snugly between number of searches per month and the competition for given keywords. Don’t get me wrong, it will take a little work on your part but there are tools out there to help you along (including some good free tools from Google). If you know your competition it makes things a bit easier because it gives you a great place to start.
  • Optimize
    Once you have put in your time on the research, it is time to rethink some of the content that makes you so proud. Go through your site and optimize the pages to make sure you are making use of your new best friends – your drippingly sweet keywords. Pick a hand full of the most high profile pages on your site (home page, product pages, etc) and optimize them using your new keywords. Makes sure to use them in the page title, the main heading and in the body text where it makes sense. Doing this will increase the keyword density on these pages and thus increase their rankability when the pages are re-indexed. Don’t get crazy, optimize each of the special few with only a few keywords so as not to dilute what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Update
    Once the pages are optimized then it is time to turn your site into a labor of love and update. Update early and update often. The best way to bring the search engine spiders back to your site is with regular updates. Any page will do but the easiest way to keep the coming back for more is to start a blog. These days a blog on a business site is like a moving buddy in Toy Story – if you don’t have one, get one! Many business owners do not see the value of a blog but what they do not understand is that blogs are not used simply for discussing your wife’s new hair style or what happened at the Bar-B-Que last week. Business blogs are the perfect forum to talk at length about specific aspects of your products and services, to help keep your customers up to date on new developments in your industry that might affect them or even just to toot your companies horn about community involvement. It is the easiest thing in the world to keep your site updated because there are so many different topics that you can pull from when developing the continent.

Once you get the basics in place then just rinse and repeat as needed (mostly just content updates but keep in mind that as your site evolves you may have to go back to the well with some new research and optimization as well) and you will soon see that uptick in traffic you were hoping for out of the box.

Simple Ways to increase your site traffic

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Everyone wants to bring more traffic to their website but the $64,000 question on every business owners mind can be summed up in a single word – How? Unfortunately when it comes to website traffic there are no perfect answers but outside of your standard search engine optimization (SEO) and link submission there are 3 easy ways to help increase traffic to your website.

  1. Blogging – I have advocated business blogging for years for this very reason. One of the fundamental parts of search engine algorithms revolves around the freshness of content. And the way the spiders work is that the more often your content is updated, the more often they will come back to reindex your site. If you and your competition are on equal footing from a search engine placement standpoint then the site that is updated more often is going to reap the rewards of higher placement simply by natural attrition. With this in mind it is important to update your site as often as possible and the easiest way to do that is through blogging because it allows you to diverge from your normal marketing content and dive deeper into tertiary subjects related to your business or product offerings. And this divergence not only opens up a myriad of content topics but also adds another level of depth to your SEO footprint.
  2. Email – Email marketing is another way to drive new traffic to your site while also being a catalyst for reengaging existing customers. Sending out regular updates such as a monthly newsletter keeps them coming back and offers opportunities to increase your reach through secondary exposure to your emails. To increase your numbers just add an opt-in form to your site (with the appropriate free gift to woo them into providing info). There are a number of programs available for sending mass emails as well as online services that can all help deal with email setup, sending and list management. I personally prefer MailChimp because of its outstanding Forever Free account that allows you to send to a list of up to 2000 subscribers, sending up to 12000 email a month at no change. This is a perfect solutions for entrepreneurs trying to build a list because it does not cost anything while you get it off the ground and once your list hits the tipping point you can stick with all of the tools you are used to and just pay as you go to keep the party going.
  3. Social Media – Whether you are using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any of the hundreds of other social media outlets to connect with clients and potential clients, they can all be used to drive traffic back to your site. You can even use the blogging and email marketing mentioned above to reinforce your social media activities. By making sure that you are posting often in your social media accounts with links back to your site or even if it is just to pass along a helpful article form a third party, it will increase your companies SEO footprint and ultimately drive people back to your site.

Other ways that you can increase traffic are through more old school means like print work (business cards and collateral materials that include your website). And when you absolutely positively need traffic overnight, you can always go with options like PPC (pay per click), paid blogging, banner placement and other paid services.

Putting in a little sweat equity with some of these easy steps (or actual capital in the case of the paid options) can go a long way toward building the kind of traffic your clearly awesome site deserves.

Making the Most of Your Social Media Contest

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Social media is all the rage right now and you are on the cutting edge right there with it. You have your Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In accounts setup (possibly among others). You are updating your accounts regularly and you are beginning to get some traction? So now what? You wonder how can you take things to the next level? Then it hits you, POW (right in the kisser)! A Contest.  All of the cool kids are having them and they seem to be doing pretty well. So you come up with an idea but that is where you falter. That brilliant idea that just hit you in the face has circled around and has now Gibbs slapped you in the back of the head as you realize you don’t know what to do next. So what do you do? That is easy, you turn your attention back to the 3P’s of Social Media (or in this case the 3P’s of Social Media Contests): Planning, Promotion and Participation.

3P’s of social media contests

  1. Planning – Like everything else you do in marketing, there is always some degree of planning required if you want to be successful. The key to any social media endeavor is figuring out your goals for measuring success before you start. Whether it is increased audience (likes, followers, etc), increased interaction or a specific behavior, knowing the goal going in will help keep you on the path as you begin to execute the promotion. Once you have decided the method of determining success just make sure that you also have the tools you need to gather that information or you may find yourself Gibbs slapped once again.
  2. Promotion – Now that you have your idea and know how to determine the ROI, it is time to promote. Depending on your offering and you audience, you will have many options form which to choose. No matter which ever elements you choose, make sure to cross promote your contest with other social media networks as well as on your website and in email. Each platform has its own unique set of tools for promotion, use them ALL. And keep timing in the back of your mind while you are at it. Like email, each social network has its own climate when it comes to the best times to promote each day/week so when in doubt just remember: Promote Early and Promote Often!
  3. Participation – Here is where we revert back to childhood and once again remember K.I.S.S., Keep It Simple Stupid! To maximize participation, make it as simple as possible. Simple is always  better, especially when dealing with the widely divergent audience that the internet provides. Simple also helps increase participation. If you make it too clever or crazy, people will drop out no matter what is up for grabs in your Amazing contest! And depending on what you are doing there are bound to be great tools already available to help you in this endeavor like Facebook’s quick survey options or even something as easy as having someone leave a comment on a photo. It dos not have to be expensive make use of the tools available on each given network to maximize participation.

With your little piece of marketing brilliance, coupled with a liberal slathering of the 3P’s, the real winner of your social media contest will be you!

The best things in life are FREE…Now including publicity

Friday, November 30th, 2012

You’ve all heard the song and it is true that the best things in life are FREE but now that old adage has been updated to include publicity. Yep, you heard me right, publicity. How much time do you spend each year trying to get exposure for your company or products using regular marketing channels just to get lost in the minutiae that is the internet? How would you like to get some of that much needed exposure, possibly even in national media like ABC and AP? Well…wait for it…NOW YOU CAN!

You may not be the inventor of the exciting new Miracle Wrench that tightens bolts, loosens bolts and even takes bolts all the way off. And in all likelihood you will not get your very own nuclear submarine absolutely FREE so that you can be the first person on your block to Level Cleveland. What you can do though is Help A Reporter Out and possibly help yourself out at the same time. So how can you make those kind of connections, you ask? Easy! All you need to do is become a  HARO Hero.

So what exactly is HARO and how do you become a hero? HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out and it is the easiest way to FREE publicity. HARO is a new type of social media service that helps pair reporters with sources for their stories and it is free for everyone involved. All you have to do is follow these three steps:

  1. Visit HARO’s site and register to become a source.
  2. Watch for emails for PR opportunities that are sent out three times a day.
  3. Respond to inquiries that you feel will benefit from your insights on the subject.

If your response fits the need you will be contacted by the reporter to follow up and you could find yourself with anything from some additional search engine links for contribution to a bloggers post all the way up to some national exposure for your expertise on a certain subject. You could be one of many sources on a subject or you could find yourself as the subject of the article altogether like our sister company Virtual Technique did when it responded to questions about hiring a bookkeeper.

You may have heard that “The Truth is Out There”, you just may not have realized that you could be the source. So put your knowledge to work to Help a Reporter Out and who knows you may find yourself with a whole new pool of potential clients.

3 simple ways to increase Facebook engagement…

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

You have your Facebook page setup just the way you want it and you are beginning to accumulate those ever elusive “likes”. Now the big question becomes how do you go about increasing the level of engagement you have with your new “fans”? You got them commit and say they like you as a friend but how do you get them to show you they “like you” like you? There are a great many ways to get your fans to show the love but here are three simple ones that you can start implementing right away:

  1. Pictures – Everyone has heard the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” but what it did not tell you is that it can be just as valuable when trying to interact with your new social media peeps. Facebook, like life, moves pretty fast and photos are much harder to miss whether you are looking around once in a while or not. People on Facebook do not always have time to read the latest and greatest bits brilliance you feel compelled to share with your ever-increasing audience but they will always scan their news feed for any interesting images even if those images showed up hours or days earlier. So if you are posting images to anchor the info it will be more likely to be seen by the masses.
  2. Captions –  Keeping with the pictures theme, the next best way to entice weary Facebook pilgrims into your web of marketing brilliance is to let them write the copy. Post an interesting photo and ask your social media minions to come up with a good caption for it. The photo can be of anything and it gives your fans an opportunity to be creative and gives you yet another opportunity for interaction that is separate from business that helps build a rapport with clients and potential clients.
  3. Questions – for those of you who just want to write and don’t want to be bothered with photos, another good engagement inroad is post questions for your Fans to answer. The questions can be about anything you like but usually the less formal the better because it opens up the field to more potential connections.

So what fits your personality best? Pictures, Captions, Questions or maybe a combination of the three? The ideas are simple but they all have the potential of new interactions at very least and the potential of going viral at most. So why are you still reading this, other than the fact that this entire blog is chock full of brilliance? Head on over to Facebook and start making some magic happen.

Marketing success for the summer or making hay while the sun shines

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Most small businesses ebb and flow with the seasons and summer more often than not is one of those slower times. The kids are out of school, vacations loom and clients are slower to respond even when they are very anxious to get something completed. During these times it is important not to lose focus. Don’t get me wrong, you deserve a break and should take some time to smell the roses but think of how much easier your life will be the rest of the year of you take a little of this time surplus and apply it to some of the housekeeping things you have been forced to ignore? So what can you do now that will make your life easier the rest of the year?

  1. Editorial Calendar
    As you know, regular site/social media updates are the cornerstone of any SEO success. I know you have your blog setup and have been dazzling everyone with the shininess of the pearls you have been putting on display but how much easier would it be for you if you had a calendar to rely on for your blogging, newsletter, social media and website update topics? Take some of the extra time you find yourself with this summer and rather than spending it trying to beat your old paddle-ball record, use it to sit down and come up with an outline of topics to get you though the rest of the year.
  2. Design updates
    If you are thinking about making updates to your identity in the form of design changes for your logo, website, collateral materials or social media themes, now is the time to put those thoughts into action. If you have plans for a new media blitz in the fall, you don’t want to lose valuable time going through a design process when you could already be reaping the rewards. Get the things you need done in process during your slow times so you can take as much time as you need to make sure any graphical updates are exactly what you want rather than rushing the process and accepting an inferior product because your are in a hurry to get things out the door.
  3. Blogging
    Now that you have your editorial calendar, why not take a little of this time to go ahead and bang out some of those posts? If you are using something like WordPress for your blog, you can go in and write as many posts as you like and schedule them to go live over time. How great would that be to be going into fall with posts queued up to run at regular intervals without a thought. Just fill up that marketing crock pot and let it run. And who knows, you might find some other marketing uses for your brilliant prose along the way.

Summer is finally here but fall is right around the corner so make sure to make the most of your summer and smooth out some of the business wrinkles for the rest of the year.