Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

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.

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.

Pinterest for business, who knew?

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

The latest social media craze sweeping the net is Pinterest but what everyone really wants to know is “Can I Use it for Business?” and the answer is, strangely enough,  yes.  For those that don’t know, Pinterest is a new social media platform where users create virtual bulletin boards of images that interest them. The images can either be uploaded or pulled in from other sites on the net. When a new image is added it is known as “Pinning” and boards can be shared so others can “Re-Pin” things of yours that they find interesting. Although it seems a bit unorthodox to many business models, just about any business can benefit from using Pinterest, they just have to be willing (as with most things) to conform their marketing to fit the medium. So how can you use Pinterest for your business? Here are three easy ways

  1. Add a Catalog/portfolioAs always it is best to begin with the most obvious. If you already have images that represent your products or services, you are half way there. All you need to do is create a board (or boards if you have many categories of things) and start pinning. You can either upload images from your offline archives or pin directly from images you already have online. Then you just add a description to each image.
  2. Create Special Offers 

    A step up from a simple catalog but an infinitely more interactive option is to use Pinterest to showcase special offers. Good deals will always get re-pinned and it is a great way to spread the word and drive traffic. You can make the offers exclusive to Pinterest so that it is easy to calculate the ROI. Then you can post new offers on a regular basis to keep them coming back for more. People will make your boards a favorite and they will tel their friends to follow you as well.

  3. Have some FunIt is said that a picture is worth a thousand words and a great way for customers and potential customers to get to know your company is by showing them more of who you are. Pin images that describe your corporate culture. You can use original images as well as found art to give your customers and potential customers more of an idea of who you are. Make them part of the team by allowing them to feel they know what you are all about. It is also a great way to bring in potential customers that have shared interests because they will your re-pin your images based on that interest and then they might dig a little deeper to see what else you might have and discover what your company has to offer. You can also re-pin from other people’s boards to build this up as another way to get their attention.

These are but a few of  the many ways to dip your toes into the deep waters of Pinterest. As with any social media venture it will take regular updates to make the most of it but as you devote a little time to it, you will find more and more ways to connect with those potential customers and have a little fun while you are at it.

 

Timing is everything…especially with email and social media

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

No matter what you do from submitting a proposal for a very lucrative contract to trying to use the restroom after the latest summer blockbuster, timing is everything and online marketing is no different. Many of you might have some idea that when it comes to email marketing there are certain days and times that are more effective than others but did you know the same was true of social media? So what are the best times to make the most of your online marketing?

  • Email
    As a direct descendent of that old marketing standby direct mail, email has been around the longest but the ideal days and times for sending campaigns have remained the same since the beginning. The best windows for Email are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m. or between 1:00 and 1:30 p.m.. The research bears it out but the reasons are simple. Monday emails will either get lost in the morning or post lunch purge and Friday emails often go unseen because people are trying to finish up for the week and they end up being caught in the same combine as the Monday emails. The morning time slot is great for single time zone emails because they make it in after the morning purge, but before the after lunch purge and are generally seen. The afternoon time slot is best for emails that go to multiple time zones because they achieve the same result avoiding purges on both ends of the spectrum.
  • Facebook
    Social Media is somewhat new to the game but it has found its own windows for maximum traffic. Facebook falls in line with emails love of middle of the road travel with links sent between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. getting the most traction while Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. being the best time to post on Facebook all week. This does not mean you should stop posting the rest of the time, on the contrary, if everyone did that, the trends would change to accommodate the content patterns (besides, lets face it, not everything you have to say is a gem). All this means is that you should adjust the timing for your most important content to go out in that sweet spot to maximize visibility.
  • Twitter
    Social media is the great equalizer for marketing and Twitter proves the rule once again with its disdain for established timing. For maximum Twitter traffic, the best time to say your peace is on a Monday between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. ET. So just when you thought you would start taking long weekends, you realize that you will have something to do Monday after all.

So now that you have found some of the sweet spots for your marketing exposure, you might need to revise that editorial calendar I know you have for all of your communications. And if you don’t have one already, it might be time to start thinking about one so you can make sure that all of your marketing brilliance will not fall on deaf ears.

Using linked in as part of your social media strategy

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

To most people LinkedIn is just part of the social media landscape but in this location you will find not only your customers and prospects but employees and competitors as well all interconnected in a web of possibilities. And while the business uses of other social networks are still being explored, here you have one whose original purpose was business networking. With over 100 million plus users in over 200 countries (and getting a new member about every second) there are exponential networking capabilities but how can you make the most of your involvement in this business networking behemoth? It is all about the basics.

Optimize:
Fully optimize your profile. I know it sounds simple but those little nagging completion meters are there to help you. The more information you provide the easier you are going to be to find by potential clients. And don’t just go through the motions to get to that ever elusive 100% mark, make it count.

  • Don’ Bury the Lead
    Make the info you provide work for you starting with a strong summary-headline. Think of it like keyword optimization for your website. What is the best way to describe yourself for a search. Are you a Graphic Designer or are you an Atlanta Logo Designer. Once term will pull you up with about a million other people while the other significantly narrows the field
  • Show them what you can do
    Make sure to fill out your areas of expertise. You never know what skills a person might be looking for and the more well-rounded you are for the job, the better.
  • Give them a Call to action
    Make sure they can contact you. It does not do you any good to show up in all of the searches if people cannot find a way to connect with you once they determine you are the right person for the job. You need to strike while the iron is hot so don’t give it time to cool down while they are trying to figure out the best way to make your brilliance part of their project.
  • Let your music be heard
    Request recommendations them from connections you have done business with in the past. Testimonials from satisfied clients or praise from former co-workers can go a long way toward sealing the deal. Anyone can “enhance” their resume to sound better on paper but it is a whole different story when potential clients can hear people singing from the mountain tops about their amazing experience working with you.

Connect:
Making connections is what it is all about but it is more than just names on a list. You need to interact to make the most of the medium.

  • Lock and Load
    Add connections from your address book or search people out based on past work history. You have to start building your connections at home before you can expect to be found. And once you make your base connections you can expand your web by reaching out to people they may know. And then they’ll tell two fronds and so on and so on and so on.
  • Get Onboard
    And if you are a business owner, get your employees involved and leverage their connections as well because you never know where you might find that next project.
  • Follow up
    Keeping top of mind with people only requires you to keep your eyes open. Listen to what your connections are saying and drop a quick note congratulating them on recent promotions or other events notated in their LinkedIn account. It will start a dialog that will make you more memorable.

Socialize:
Get your other social networking involved to help spread the word.

  • Twitter
    Integrate your twitter feed into your profile to let people see what you are putting out there and give them an opportunity to follow your musings on a regular basis.
  • Blog
    Integrate your blog as well (if you have one) so people get all the info they need about your and what you offer in one place. Give them more than they bargained for and take advantage of the captive audience to dazzle them with your thought leading brilliance.
  • Trip-It
    If you travel a lot for business set yourself up on Trip-It so you can easily make sure people know where you are going and how long you will be there. That way you can kill two birds with once stone by setting up meetings with new potential clients while you are in the area.

Contribute:
As with any social network, what you get out of it largely depends on what you put into it so make a contribution.

  • Say it don’t spray it
    Use updates to give useful info, not just propaganda. Become a resource for people looking for your expertise. Best case you can become a thought leader on certain subjects and worst case you can provide information that can be a tipping point for determining whether or not your get a call. Either way you can never go wrong with providing useful information.
  • Get in with the In Crowd
    You will find a great many groups in Linked-In that cover a multitude of topics from Alumni associations to highly segments industry specific cabals. Find a group that makes sense for you and join. But don’t just join, in order to make the most of this type of interaction you need to participate. Join the conversation. Give your two cents and who knows you might just strike up a conversation with someone who is looking for you.
  • Sing for Your Supper
    The recommendation train runs both ways. Don’t be stingy! Make sure you are helping your connections the way they are helping you. And if you are still felling a little bit selfish,  keep in ind that writing recommendations can be just as useful as getting them yourself. What you say about working with other people says as much or more than the what others say about you. Remember, you never know what circuitous route a connection may take on its way to you. Someone could be looking for something completely different, read a recommendation you posted and realize that what they really need is a person like you for a totally unrelated project.

Do the Math
Connections through liked-in are like playing 6-degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon. You start out knowing a few people in the far-flung reaches of the world and the next thing you know the Bacon Brothers are playing for your next birthday party. Lets put it in perspective. I only have 141 direct connections through linked-in but those 141 connections actually balloon up to a potential 36,600 connections and that is only going a few layers deep. Just think how many that would be if I actually had to go more than 2 degrees to get to Kevin Bacon? Going all six would yield be a crazy number of connections.

The bottom line is that there is too much business potential to ignore so get it in gear, optimize your account, load those contacts and start some business conversations.