Posts Tagged ‘Advertising’


Mondays with Mike: Improve Your Client Relationships With Social Media

In the olden days – you know, before Facebook – the success of a marketing campaign was often simply a measure of how much money you had to spend.  After all, we know that if you repeat something often enough, then people will believe it. 

My, how times have changed.

People consume information so differently now, that the weight of a single television commercial or magazine ad is often diluted by all of the impressions that we get from other forms of media, and that’s a huge opportunity for small businesses.  You can build your brand without investing tons of money, if you’re willing to invest a little time.  Consumers are looking for a genuine connection and a way to interact with a company, and you can give them what they want by using social media.

There are lots of serious minded folks who dismiss Facebook and Twitter as frivolous fads – wasters of time and energy.  What those folks don’t know is that their company is most likely already being discussed on social media.  Whether you run a restaurant or a carpet cleaning service, chances are good that there are online reviews of your business.  If that doesn’t scare you, it should.  The conversation is happening.  The only question is whether you want to participate and start to shape that conversation into one that presents your company in its best light.

Responding to reviews on Yelp or Trip Advisor is a great opportunity to thank happy patrons for their business, and it’s also a chance for you to see what your customers didn’t like about their experience.  If it’s appropriate, a public acknowledgement of their complaint and a promise to make it right shows that you value your customers and are invested in providing excellent service.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Social media also gives you a chance to invite prospective customers in for a virtual visit.  You can post pictures of your daily special at the restaurant, or you can write a quick blog post about why you’ve chosen a particular brand of environmentally safe cleaners for use in your customers’ homes.  You can run silly little contests on your Facebook page, inviting folks to provide suggestions for your newest drink creation or offering a freebie for the 1000th person who likes your Facebook page.  The idea is to get your customers involved on your social media platforms.  Invite them to share pictures of your business on Instagram, and make sure you monitor all of the possible sites that might have reviews of your business.  It’s possible that you’ll luck into some great, unsolicited free advertising, but if you carefully cultivate your social media presence, you’ll end up interacting with far more consumers.

Your company’s reputation depends on your relationship with your customers, and you can manage that relationship – in part, anyway – by using the free social media tools available to you.  Whether you’re in love with Facebook or not, you’re missing out if you don’t acknowledge the powerful opportunities that it provides you.


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: Selling to Millennials? You Need a Loyalty Program

Stocksy_txp65da3129op6000_Small_134151If your small business doesn’t have a loyalty program—but does have Millennial customers as part of your target market—you may want to reconsider and add some type of rewards program to your marketing mix. The 2014 Loyalty Report from Bond Brand Loyalty reports that U.S. Millennials (defined as aged 20 to 34) are more likely than other age groups to participate in loyalty programs. What’s more, they’re more likely than other age groups to change their shopping behaviors based on a loyalty program, the study says.

A whopping 60 percent of Millennials would switch brands and two-thirds would change where they buy in order to get more loyalty rewards. In addition, 67 percent contend they wouldn’t be loyal to a company without a good loyalty program.

Consumers overall are enrolled in an average of 10.4 loyalty programs, and are active in about seven of those. While loyalty programs are widespread, consumers are getting slightly more unwilling to share personal information with them. Some 32 percent say they worry about divulging personal information, compared to 29 percent last year.

What works to get customers to spill their data? Offering discounts based on prior purchasing behavior, inviting customers to special events, customizing offers for them and inviting them to online communities for loyalty program members are all effective ways to get users to share their personal data. In addition, users say that when a company’s loyalty program makes them feel valued and important, they’re more likely to share personal information with that business.

However, there are some important differences in what works for Millennials as opposed to other age groups. Millennials are more likely to want to interact with your business on a mobile device. They’re also more likely to care about non-monetary rewards, such as getting recognized by their peers or being able to share their experiences with others.

Craft your loyalty rewards program to appeal to your desired customer base, whether that’s seniors who want plain old punch cards or mobile-loving Millennials who want to track everything on their smartphones. Your efforts will pay off in greater loyalty and higher sales. 


20 Words to Get Your Posts Read

The key to getting any business content read is its headline. Take a lesson from print media, articles with boring titles never get read. Here are 20 words to make sure that prospects and customers read what your company posts:

  1. Numbers:  3, 5, 7 or 10 are a clear winners. Even numbers are less popular. Every reader wants a simple step by step list to accomplish their task.
  2. Easier: They want your business to make it easier for them. They seek an easier way out or an easier way to solve their pain.
  3. Rock star: Most customers have a secret desire to be a famous rock star even if it is only in their immediate world. They will pay anyone to get there.
  4. Capture: The best word to help customers get what they desire. It denotes things that are not easy to accomplish.
  5. Killer: This is a powerful, yet controversial word. It can backfire if used in times of domestic violence.
  6. Secrets: Every customer wants to learn the secret formula that not everyone else knows so they can benefit from it.
  7. Stocksy_txp870288944a3000_Small_22647Perfection: Consumers are always striving for this ideal. They know they can’t really achieve it, but it does not stop them looking for help to get it.
  8. Quick: Customers have no time. They want something fast (see “Easy”). This can be learned from the popular fast and prepared food craze.
  9. Dangerous: Many customers lead fairly mundane lives and seek safety. They want to read about dangerous things they should avoid.
  10. Clever: Customers hope to gain an advantage by being cleverer than the next person. This is a quality that is almost universally admired.
  11. Next level: Every customer wants to go up, forward and to the next higher level. They will buy whatever can help them get there.
  12. Guarantee: This helps mitigate the risk a customer is taking in their purchase. If the results are “guaranteed”, they feel more comfortable to act.
  13. Boost: Customers want quick help to get higher. The “boost” is a popular and warm image from childhood.
  14. Latest: Many customers are addicted to the “shiny object syndrome” and always want the latest and greatest. Companies feed that desire.
  15. Mega: Americans always like things which are large. In fact, the bigger, the better. Many believe that a higher quantity means increased value.
  16. Absolutely: A better way of saying “the best”. It leaves no room for doubt.
  17. Ridiculous: Customers like to hear about the “crazy” so they can pass along these stories to friends and associates.
  18. VIP: Every customer wants to be part of something that not all people can join. It makes them feel special.
  19. Limited time: Customers will act if they believe there is scarcity.
  20. Worst: Unfortunately, people are more attracted to the negative, than the positive. This is the basis of the popularity of every reality TV show.

What are your best headline words?


Work Your Biz Wednesday: Market on Social Media

Build a social media empire for your business in just one hour per day! Learn how with these 5 tips from Melinda Emerson, The Small Biz Lady.


Mondays with Mike: The 7 Techniques for Cutting Costs with Zero Downside

coin-jar (1)The start of a fresh year is the perfect opportunity to take a look at your business and assess the ways in which you can improve your bottom line.  Cutting costs can yield benefits, but it’s important to make changes that don’t end up stifling growth or affecting your ability to bring in revenue.  Let the notion of productivity transfer – achieving the same results with alternative resources – guide your steps.

  1. Pool your resources.  Consult with other small businesses in your area to determine which products you all need to run your businesses and commit to working with one supplier exclusively for a period of time in exchange for a discount.  Your supplier will be thrilled to have guaranteed revenue, and you’ll see real savings.
  2. Hire contractors.  If you’re paying full-time staff to sit around and wait for work, then you’re not using your payroll dollars as effectively as you could be.  Find contractors, pay them a higher hourly rate for their expertise, and you and your staff will be more efficient. 
  3. Free advertising.  Ever see billboards that advertise for a business that’s closed up shop?  Call the phone company and have the phone number redirected to you. After you inform the callers that you’re ready to supply the goods or services to satisfy their needs, you have instant prospects! Why pay for advertising when you can get it for free?
  4. Cut phone costs.  So many businesses bleed enormous sums of money in their phone plans.  Check out the free and nearly free options that you have. Nextiva is one example that lets you actually improve the number and quality of services you enjoy, while slashing costs at the same time.
  5. Assess your office space.  Look at what you pay to rent your office space and take a hard look at your options.  If your staff can operate from home, you can eliminate your office rent altogether.  If your business requires a physical office, look around for other businesses that may be renting more space than they need and see if they’re willing to share some space for a reduced cost.  Also, keep in mind that landlords with vacant space may be willing to renegotiate rent if they’re anxious about keeping you as a tenant.
  6. Train your own talent.  Experienced staff is expensive, no two ways about it.  If you have positions that you can fill with inexperienced folks with great potential, you can train your staff in-house.  Accepting applications from inexperienced folks also lets you take a look at interns and people with disabilities – folks who might have trouble gaining experience, but can be gems once they’re properly trained.  Think outside your typical talent pool.
  7. Get your staff involved.  Sit down with your employees and lay it out for them:  explain that you want their expertise and suggestions for how to cut costs and make the company healthier.  You’ll get ideas that would never have occurred to you, and your staff – rather than worrying about their job security – feels like a vital part of a team.

The overall measure of success for cost cutting measures is the bottom line, and it’s important to take the time to ensure that you’re making changes that result in a leaner, healthier, and more efficient company.   


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: How to Encourage Online Reviews

Have you ever been in the mood for a certain type of food and hopped on Yelp to look for a new restaurant to try? Then you know that online ratings and reviews from customers are key to driving new customers to your business and growing your sales. The more reviews you have, the more trustworthy your business will appear to be. But too many small business owners aren’t doing all they can to get customers to post online reviews. As a result, they have few or no reviews and get passed over in favor of businesses with more feedback.

How can you encourage customers to leave reviews? Encourage is the key word here, because actively soliciting or requesting reviews is frowned on by review sites, and providing incentives such as discounts or freebies in exchange for reviews can get you in trouble. Try these steps instead:

  1. Give them a sign. Posting signage in your store, restaurant or office is a simple and subtle way to remind customers that your business is on review sites and that you’d love a review. For example, Yelp has downloadable “Find us on Yelp” banners you can print out as signage for your store window or point-of-sale counter.
  2. Provide postsale reminders. Your store receipts or restaurant checks could say: “Like us? Review us on [list the review sites where you have a presence].” An ecommerce company can send follow-up emails after the sale to make sure the customer was satisfied and include a reminder that your business is on review sites.
  3. Spread the word. Put icons for the review sites where you have a presence in your print marketing materials, on your website (you can use the downloadable Yelp banners there), in your email signature and anywhere else you can think of.
  4. Make it easy. Everyone’s more inclined to write a review if it’s not a big hassle, so if your site says, “Like us? Review us on Yelp,” make sure there’s a clickable link so they can do so in a minute.

Whatever you do about online reviews, there’s one big “don’t:” Don’t fake them or have friends and family write them because you’re worried you don’t have enough. Use the tips above to grow your online review status organically. 

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How to Take Advantage of Small Business Saturday

small-business-saturday1-e1320932175381Black Friday is always a difficult day for small business owners to compete with the hoopla around early morning discounts at big box retailers. The day after Black Friday has become a day to focus on shopping at small businesses. American Express started Small Business Saturday in 2010.

Here is how to take advantage this year on November 30, 2013 to drive customers to your company:

  1. Give $10 gift to each customer. Promote that American Express is offering a $10 credit to card members who register and use their card to shop at small businesses on that Saturday. Multiply this $10 when they use it at your company.
  2. Build a specific campaign leveraging this day and American Express’ brand. There are few times when a small business can tie their company directly to a national brand and promotion. This gives them the leverage of a large big box retailer. Build marketing offer specifically for this day. This can be exclusive pricing, bundles, free add ons or availability.
  3. Customized marketing material. Use free customized online ad cards, logos and other recognizable images provided by American Express.
  4. Social media starters. Use Twitter and Facebook templates available to help spread the word about your company leading up to this day. Use the #SmallBusinessSaturday hashtag on Twitter. If your business has never used social media, these templates are an excellent way to easily get started.
  5. Welcome mats. Free Small Business Saturday Welcome mats (literally) are available from American Express.  If you do not have a physical retail location, use the mats in creative pictures on Facebook or Pinterest.    
  6. Join a neighborhood circle. Get involved with local merchants to drive traffic to each others retail locations (or online sites). American Express will help you form this relationships. This is an excellent way to work with other local businesses that can extend well beyond this promotional day.
  7. Get on the map. American Express has built an interactive map to help their cardholders find and shop at small businesses. They are also giving their members an exclusive offer redeemable only at merchants that appear on the Small Business Saturday Map. Get found!

How will your business be promoting Small Business Saturday? 


How to Get to the Top of the Search Rankings

Every small business owner wants to be number one. This remains the same when it comes to being listed in organic search engine rankings. They not only want to be on the first page, but they want to be listed in the #1 position. Most search engine experts believe that being listed first is important. Studies from online ad network Chitika show that the top listing in Google's organic search results receives 33% of the traffic. Number 2 gets 18%. The top 5 spots get 75% of all the traffic. In fact, according to this study, 91% of Google’s traffic is on page one of the search results.

For every business, search rankings are all about relevant content and strong authority on a given subject area for targeted visitors. Here is how to come out on top when it comes to organic search results:

  1. Use lists. People and search engines love lists. For example, “7 Ways To…” should list relevant content that ties to the company’s brand and has many links to relevant sources. Sharing the “link love” to highly respected sites will give the company’s web site a boost.
  2. Interview industry experts. This will get their well searched name in a ranked result from the company’s site. As a result, this will make the site more findable.
  3. Make it easy to share. Include a share widget on each page of the website. It’s an ideal way to increase traffic and relevant links. Share content from the company’s website through all active social media platforms.
  4. Check web analytics. Through Google Analytics, find out how unique visitors find the company’s site and where they come from. Test new content and recheck.
  5. Ask for links. Email reputable industry sources and ask to exchange links. Focus on the company’s competition. This can easily be found by searching for link: http://theirwebsite.com within the search box.
  6. Write a guest post. Select sites that have relevant content and similar visitors to what the company needs. Alltop.com is an excellent resource to get started. Write an expert piece and link back to the company’s site.
  7. Tag the content.  Use standard tags such a meta description, title, and header. Grant Simmons, Director of SEO & Social Product at The Search Agency also recommends adding “new and necessary tags, OG for Facebook, Twitter Cards, and schema.org microdata formats…” 

How did your company get to the top?

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Work Your Biz Wednesday: 5 Ms Of Marketing

Remember the 5 Ms of marketing to help run your small business! The Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson, breaks it down for you in this week's Work Your Biz Wednesday.




 
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