Browsing Date

July 2013

4 Innovative Ways to Market Your Company On LinkedIn

By July 24, 2013 No Comments

LinkedInAuditWhen LinkedIn launched back in 2003, some people were skeptical. After all, social networking was an entirely new concept and the idea of sharing personal information on the web wasn’t really embraced.

How times have changed. Today, social networking is an integral part of almost everyone’s lives and LinkedIn has firmly established itself as the leader in online business networking with more than 200 million users.

So how can small businesses utilize LinkedIn to build visibility and attract potential customers? Follow the four tips below for the best results.

Post one status update per day

First, create a LinkedIn page for your small business. Follow the tutorial and fill out all necessary forms. Once your page is live, notice the blank box under the “Activity” header. This box is for you, the business owner (or your social media-dedicated employee/consultant), to type status updates.

According to Josh Turner, founder of Linked University, these updates should be business related. Examples can include links to blog posts you’ve penned about your industry, links to industry-specific articles from other sources and one-sentence, discussion-starting questions.

“Keep these questions business focused on your industry or on a general topic like, ‘Where do you see technology taking us in the next couple years?’” says Turner. “I’m based in St. Louis, so it would be fine for me to write, ‘Go Cardinals!’ but don’t get too personal with your updates like you may on Facebook.”

Invest in newsfeed advertising

Have you ever noticed the sponsored ads in your Facebook feed and clicked on one of them because you found yourself interested? LinkedIn offers a similar adverting concept on its platform.

“Ads on newsfeeds are a really good thing for small businesses to try because they can target specific demographics,” says Turner.

Join non-obvious groups

If you are the head of an accounting firm, you may be inclined to join finance-related groups on LinkedIn, but Turner guards against the practice.

“Join the groups where your customers hang out—be it CEO, COO and CTO groups or the groups of your customers’ industries,” he recommends. “You aren’t going to get in front of new customers if you hang out in places where your competitors are.

“Once you are in a group, post valuable content no more than twice per week. You don’t want it to look like you are spamming your group.”

Dig through your connections

LinkedIn can help you find qualified referrals, you just have to look through your contacts for people who may be connected to the potential client you have in mind.

“It can be laborious to go through your contacts to find people who are connected to each other and then request an introduction, but it is absolutely worth the time,” he says. “Anything that gets great results takes more time than strategies on autopilot.” 

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Nextiva Tuesday Tip: 6 Ways a Simple Follow-Up Boosts Sales

By July 23, 2013 No Comments

SalesMainKilling two birds with one stone is always a plus for busy small business owners. Following up with your customers after the sale not only improves your customer service, but it’s also a great way to increase sales. It’s simple, really: The more you communicate with your customers, the more you’ll be top-of-mind when they’re ready to make their next purchases. Here’s how to create a post-sale follow-up plan that keeps customers buying.

Develop a system. Systematize your follow-up program so all your salespeople and/or customer service reps are on the same page and nothing falls through the cracks. You can use CRM software to automate reminders and even some of the outreach, such as sending follow-up emails or offers.

Time it right. Determine the appropriate time frame for the initial follow-up. For a product, you want to give the customer time to receive the product (if it was shipped to them), use it and work out any initial kinks. For a service, it’s best to follow up shortly after the service was performed to make sure everything is working as expected.

Choose your methods. Depending on your business and your customer base, different follow-up methods will be appropriate. For instance, if you sell a B2B service that requires lots of hand-holding, you’ll probably want some type of personal follow-up, such as a phone call or visit to the customer. If you sell products to consumers online, an email to see if they’re satisfied with their recent purchases and asking them to submit product reviews might be all it takes. If your customers are senior citizens, who are typically less tech-savvy and enjoy getting mail, you might send a follow-up letter or postcard.

Solve problems. The first goal of follow-up is to see if the customer was satisfied with the product or service and to resolve their questions or concerns. Take note of any information that could be useful in improving your product or service. Only after you’ve made sure the customer is happy should you move on to upselling.

Upsell. Once you know the customer is happy, tactfully suggest additional products or services that could complement the purchase. Depending on the situation, this can be done at the same time as the initial follow-up, or in a letter, phone call or email later. Offering a discount, package deal or other special offer based on their recent purchase works well, too.

Lather, rinse and repeat. Plan to touch base with the customer on an ongoing basis, such as:

  • At regular service intervals (such as when the client needs a dental exam or HVAC servicing)
  • On dates when you know a product is likely to need replacement
  • On an anniversary (a year after a customer bought a birthday present for his or her child)
  • When you have a sale or special offer 
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Marketing Method Mistakes- Don’t Base Your Marketing on the Movies

By July 22, 2013 No Comments

moviemarketingThere are all kinds of methods that businesses can employ when marketing and some can be very effective.  On the other hand, some remind me of bad, straight-to-DVD style movies in particular genres that you just can’t sit through all of the way. If your marketing methods are like any of these movie genres, you may find your business prospects on the cutting room floor:

The Action Movie- The Thrill of the Chase

If your blood, sweat and tears are focused solely on chasing down new customers, you are employing “The Action Movie” style marketing method. Here, all of your efforts and energy are spent trying to get the attention of potential clients or customers with loud, action packed fireworks, explosions and distractions. But once you have gotten their attention, you don’t really do anything with it.   All kinds of businesses use this method from major appliance companies to car companies- they’ll spend a ton of money chasing down new customers, but once that customer is sold, they don’t do anything to foster customer loyalty and retention.  If you get someone’s attention, do you make the sale?  And if you actually do make the sale, do you strive to have them keep coming back for more, making them feel valued and appreciated?  If you are all about the thrill of the chase, but have no follow-through, your marketing method is like an action movie gone wrong.

The Comedy- It’s all About the One-Liner

If you are just too clever for your own good with marketing focused on making the best jokes that you can think of, you are utilizing “The Comedy” style marketing method. With this strategy, you hope that your shrewd ad campaigns and humorous one-liners are enough to get potential customers or clients to purchase your goods or services.  How many times have you seen a funny commercial and told someone about it- only, when you are asked what company it was for, you have absolutely no recollection? Are you hyper-focused on punchy campaigns with little regard for what you are actually selling and what’s in it for your customers?  If so, you may initially get someone’s attention, but it will be difficult to convert them to actual paying customers and will do absolutely nothing in terms of establishing a viable, lasting relationship. If you are all about the funny one-liners, but do nothing to engender customer loyalty, your marketing method is like a bad comedy.

The Romantic Drama- Wham, Bam, Thank You, Ma’am

If you start off by wooing potential customers, initially promising them the moon and the stars and the sky, only to eventually leave them high and dry, you are using “The Romantic Drama” style marketing method.  With this method, your marketing efforts start with some incredible offer to entice new customers, but then- wham, bam, thank you, Ma’am- after the date is over, you move on to the next one. Businesses do this all of the time- they roll out the red carpet for new customers to get them in the door, but once the initial offer expires and that honey-moon period is over, they give that amazing offer to some other new customer and forget all about their existing customers. If you do this, you will lose your scorned customers, as their love will fizzle as quickly as your initial offering and they will leave you for another. If you are all about love at first sight but wind up taking your customers for granted, your marketing method is like a terrible romantic comedy.

The best marketing methods will allow you to have as many sequels as possible, so don’t make the mistake of being categorized in these movie genres.

Do you know any other “Movie Genre” style marketing methods that businesses should avoid?  Share below.

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How to Get More Financial Credit for Your Business

By July 19, 2013 No Comments

The most successful small business owners know that sales are meaningless without the accompanying cash. Cash flow is the life blood of any growing business since all companies fail for the same reason: they run out of cash. Vendors only want to give credit to the company that can responsibly use it and has a track record of paying it back. Here is how to get the cash you need to run your business:

Measure the actual business cash flow.  Knowing how to read and monitor a cash flow statement is a critical skill for all small business owners. If you can’t read it, learn. The first step to having strong cash flow is to know what elements of the business affect it the most. Track changes in accounts payable, accounts receivable and inventory.

Use business or personal assets as collateral. Most lenders will lend more if the loan is secured by assets. This can be real estate, inventory or accounts receivables. Lenders will typically use 50- 80% of the value of these assets.

Earn longer terms on payables.It is important to build trust with vendors by not going past term, but negotiating for longer terms after a track record of a year has been established. Vendors appreciate a company asking, instead of just taking longer to pay.

cash-flow

Form a relationship with people at a bank before a loan is needed. People make loans to other people, not only businesses. Let them build trust with your business a year or more before actually needing a loan.

Find peer to peer loans. Companies like Prosper or Lending Club can be a source of loans through their websites. While interest rates are higher (8 – 35%) and amounts are lower (about $10,000), it is an alternate source of credit. Loans can be up to 3-5 years.

Ask friends and family. This is a very common, but dangerous source of credit. If you take a loan from a person close to you, sign a structured loan agreement so expectations on repayment and interest rates on clearly known up front. Detail the risk that the person providing the loan is taking.

How do you get additional credit for your business?

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Barry Moltz helps small business owners get unstuck. He is a motivational speaker, author and consultant. Barry can be found at www.barrymoltz.com

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3 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

By July 18, 2013 No Comments

A well-thought-out marketing strategy will attract clients to your business; a strategy with holes in it will allow customers to seep through the cracks. Here, Josh Turner, a marketing expert and founder of Linked University, a consulting firm that helps small businesses market on LinkedIn, offers his top three marketing mistakes to avoid.

Engaging in an empty social media campaign

You want your company to have a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, so you sign up and start posting. You fail to regularly check comments on your updates, re-tweets and follows and then wonder why leads aren’t flooding into your inbox. Does this sound familiar?

“If this describes your social media practices, don’t worry because you are not alone,” says Turner. “I think a lot of companies are misled to believe that if they just get on social media, potential customers will come their way. That is simply not the case.”

Instead, Turner recommends small business owners develop a clear strategy linking social media marketing activities and sales outreach. As long as the two are working together (i.e. sales is alerted and follows up when a positive comment is left on Facebook, etc), success should follow.

Failing to add real value

Think back to your last client-facing email newsletter. What did it contain? Did it describe your latest and greatest products? Your company’s most recent awards received? Maybe your latest big client landed? While all of those pieces of information are important for internal use, they create an annoying, snooze-fest of a newsletter for clients.

“You don’t want to seem too promotional with your marketing,” says Turner. “You need to make sure that you are providing real value. Instead of pushing your brand all the time, try offering your clients a helpful white paper on their industry and other resources to help them do their jobs better.”

Creating a stark division between marketing and sales

Marketing and sales should not be viewed as separate functions, according to Turner. Instead, the two roles should be complementary.

“The most effective companies are those that use marketing to nurture suspects and sales to help make those suspects into prospects,” he says. “Don’t do different things in your marketing and sales departments and just wait for the phone to ring. Use those roles in tandem for the best results.”

Sales-and-Marketing

 

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