Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Mondays with Mike: Don’t Let Storytelling Ruin Your Message

Storytelling is as old as time, and it’s one of the most compelling ways to get your message across in a memorable way.  Good public speakers understand the power of storytelling, and they also know how difficult it can be to effectively weave a story into a presentation.  Understanding some of the difficulties you may face when you’re telling a story can help you prevent public speaking disasters.  Let’s take a look at some of the common pitfalls.

  1. Putting yourself in the starring role.  No one likes a braggart, and while telling stories that prove your experience and your first-hand knowledge can establish you as an expert, make sure you don’t push your audience away by building yourself up to be larger (and better) than life.  If you must tell stories in which you’re the primary focus, make sure you do it in a self-deprecating, humble way, taking time to make it clear there’s more than just your ego on the stage.  Your audience – large or small – wants to hear more than “me” and “I.”  If you consider part of the goal of storytelling is to create a connection between you and your audience, you’ll be able to avoid this pitfall with ease.
  2. Making the story your sole focus.  Unless you’ve sold tickets, and your audience is simply there to be entertained by you, you’re speaking for a reason.  Don’t ever let your story get away from you to a degree that obscures your message.  Whether you’re trying to make a sale, convince prospective clients to give you a try, or get your employees fired up for a new project, always keep your primary goal clear in your mind so you can clearly articulate it to your audience.  Your story should always function in a supporting role.
  3. Failing to meaningfully link your story to your message.  There’s a reason even the best writers need good editors:  Things that are obvious to you – the expert – may not be clear to your audience.  Think about stand up comics – they use callbacks and repetition to drive home their primary points.  Likewise, you need to make the connection between your stories and your message absolutely, explicitly clear.  Don’t ramble on about a story and expect your audience to understand why you told it.  You have to connect all the dots and ensure your audience is with you all the way.
  4. Neglecting your call to action.  Whether you’re talking to one person or one thousand, every pitch, every speech, and every presentation must move your audience to do something.  Buy my product!  Champion my brand!  Do your very best!  Just like the connection between your story and your message, you must link your stories to the outcome you desire.  Business isn’t the place for subtle hints and innuendo.  Don’t expect your audience to read your mind.  Tell them what you want them to do!  Explain the benefits and be direct.  Don’t ever waste your time with a great presentation and fail simply because you didn’t ask for the sale. 

A great story is one of the most powerful tools a public speaker has, and once you master the skill of artfully embellishing and supporting your presentations with carefully chosen, effectively conveyed stories, you’ll find your audience enchanted and enthusiastic about your ideas.

Why Your Email Signature Matters

The single marketing message that any business person sends the most every day is in their email signature. This is why it is critical to use only the information that reflects the company’s brand and further builds a relationship with the recipient.

The essentials

Name, title, company, email address, web site URL, phone number and social media links where you are active. Include your email address since many times it is not included in the header of the reply.

Forget these closing salutations

I am not a fan of legal disclosures since it adds unnecessary length to the email especially since it  probably will be opened on a smart phone. I question the legal effectiveness even if these are used. I also do not believe in using motivational sayings unless it is part of your brand.

Stay away from silly closing salutations like “Blue skies” or “Cheers”. Now I am not an ogre, but these are not always appropriate. Consider that you just told someone in an email they did not get the job and then close with “Cheers”. This does not help your ongoing reputation or brand. I am also not sure what “Regards” means. Is this “Best regards” or “Kind Regards”? I also don’t like “Sincerely” because it always seems patronizing. Also forget “Reach for the Stars”, “Peace Out”, “Your Boy”, “Your Girl”, or “Your Compatriot”.

Use these closing salutations

Think of something that is more closely tied to your brand. I use “here’s to getting unstuck and moving…forward”. If a branded one does not work, use old standbys like “Hope this helps”, “Thank You”, “Much Appreciated”, “Let me know where I can help”

Other email signatures that work

  • The brand tag line with a link to more explanation like a video
  • Use a company logo or a very small photo
  • “Here is recent recognition we received! Thank you!” with a link
  • “Come see us at _______________ (upcoming event)” with a link
  • “We are growing! Know someone that would make a good ___________ for our company”
  • “We were recently honored to be featured in _______________” with a link

Remember, the email signature should be changed no more than every quarter so it can make multiple impressions on the recipients.

Overall, keep it short and in plain text with no animations (except for a photo or logo). Remember, most will be opened on a mobile device. Test out what looks good on various devices, but also on different web browsers and on Gmail and Yahoo mail.

What is in your email signature?

Should You be Using Online Video on Your Website?

Now, more than ever, companies are developing their websites with the visitor experience in mind. Competing for website traffic has become a battle of who can provide easily-digested, engaging content at the fastest speed.

This is where the unsung hero of the 21st century comes in—online video. Once a tedious and expensive process, video has become the preferred avenue to reach consumers. The reason for this is that videos are easily understood and less intimidating than a page full of text. Videos are capable of transmitting an incredible amount of information in a short time span. The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” should be updated to “a video is worth a thousand words” to align with today’s fast-paced world were consumers lose interest in a matter of seconds.

When is the right time to consider online video?  

Truthfully, now is the time to consider using online video on your website and social media channels. Present-day technological advancements have made posting videos a lot more convenient, not to mention affordable.

Why is now the perfect time?

Production Costs

From a production standpoint, video creation has never been so affordable and simple. If you have a smart phone, you most likely have a HD or even 4k UltraHD video camera right in the palm of your hand. Some sound equipment, editing software, and a few lights might have a small initial cost, but they will make a huge impact on the quality of videos you can produce. Countless additional tools are available if you’d like to take it up a notch. Professional-grade cameras can now be purchased for less than $2,000.

Distribution/Online Hosting

Now that you know how simple and inexpensive making videos can be, you may be wondering, “how do I actually get the videos on my website?” Todays online video hosts, such as YouTube and Vimeo, will host your videos for free.

Think of each hosting site as your own personal film theatre. You simply insert your embed code created from the hosting site, and put it in the code for the desired location on your website.

Trackability/Advanced Metrics

Online video puts even more power in your hands. You get access to advanced metrics that will show you how many of your website visitors clicked and watched a specific video. This provides tremendous insight in to the behavior of your online visitors, such as the type of videos they find engaging. You should use the analytics your videos provide to influence future video creation and improve the visitor experience.

If you consider how revolutionary email was, wait until you see the impact video will have on your business.

How to Develop Compelling Content

If you need to drive traffic to your website to generate sales, one surefire way to get your numbers surging upward is with compelling content. Content is what you write for your blog, email newsletter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and anything else digital. Writing powerful content is about having the right vision in your head and the right attitude before you even write one word. 

Write content well and you've cemented your success with sales. Here are a few pointers I've put together for you. Be sure to stick to each one because one without the other will tank the entire project.

  1. Your customers have a problem only you can solve. Identify the things that make your customers cringe. Present the benefits of working with you. It could be, "We handle that for paperwork for you." or, "Our clients have often received 25% more sales from our consulting." The customer will think, "I want a 25% increase!" Now you have their attention.  
  2. Focus on one product or one service at a time. Do not, under any circumstances, list 10 products and expect to win sales. It's actually easier for you to write information about your products when you feature just one.  
  3. Have a conversation. Imagine your ideal customer is sitting across from you at a cafe or restaurant. The words and phrases you would use during that coffee or lunch are the same ones you should use when writing your copy. It's about a conversation, not stuffy facts and figures. Be chill. It will relax your prospect and make them more open to what you have to say. 
  4. Keep the copy short and to-the-point. There's no need to write the Magna Carta here. State the benefits of what you offer. Follow up with features. Include testimonials from happy clients, rinse and repeat. 
  5. Focus on what makes you stand out in your industry. Be sure to relay a special technique or addition to a product no one else in your industry offers. It's amazing how that one key element of your content can be the difference between an "I need this right now!" and a "Maybe I'll buy next quarter when we get the new budget." 
  6. Ask for the sale. Just as with face-to-face sales calls or sales presentations, there comes a time when you have to go for it. Always include a clear way for your prospect to become a customer. It could be clicking a link, replying to an email, or giving you a call. Make sure you give only one option, though. You want the prospect to take immediate action, instead of deciding which way to get in touch with you. 
  7. Monitor your results. Some people only have eyes for their profits and loss statement. You know better than that. Proper positioning of your offers leads to more sales, so be sure to keep an eye on how many people are visiting certain pages on your web site. Note how long they're staying there and then you can make key decisions on which products or services to feature in the future.

I can sum up every one of these seven steps in one sentence: Write knowing who you are, who your customer is, which problem you're going to solve, and how you will ask for the sale. If you do those things, you will get a positive response from your prospects and existing customers.

Customer Service is the New Marketing (it’s even better than the old kind).

Customer service is the new marketing.  And it's even more powerful than the old kind.  Here’s what I mean: Once upon a time, you could guarantee success for your product or service if you just slathered on the mass-marketing real thick. You could hire a real-life version of Don Draper or Peggy Olson and have them add that that coating of marketing magic to the product or service you wanted to sell.

It didn’t matter so much if your washing machines weren’t reliable; what mattered was that the marketers working for you had dazzled the buying public with a brilliant mascot like the lonely Maytag repairman, making sure that your appliances seemed reliable.

It didn’t matter if your product was Coke and had a lot more to do with cavities than with world peace, suddenly in these genius’s hands, buying a coke was magically made to relate to creating “perfect harmony” worldwide.

With such marketing genius at your disposal, and a purchasing public that still believed that there was truth behind these kinds of mass marketing messages (“if it wasn’t true, they wouldn’t let them say that, right?”) your product would sell.  Your work would be done. Your business would be on its road to success.

Over time, the business landscape became more challenging. It came up against consumer cynicism, and it came up against enhanced word of mouth made possible through cheaper and faster communication methods (including such now-forgotten factors as the reduced cost of air travel and even the move from expensive to essentially-free long distance calls).

And, of course, the biggest chinks in the armor of marketing-driven products and services have come via the Internet, especially the websites and social media outlets powered by user-generated commentary.

Businesses are agitated about this changed landscape, and rightly so. This new, transparent marketplace is a scary place in which to do business. But it’s where all of us have to do business today. The balance of power has changed, with that power now weighted toward the customer in a big way.

Don Draper’s obsolete world of the “4-P’s” (product, place, price and promotion) has now been replaced by the dominance of human interactions, customer-on-customer and employee-on-customer, the “big H” as I call it, for human beings.  Today, all customers care about is how their fellow humans, online and off, have been treated by the humans who work for your company. This is the reality of our new, customer-driven world.  

And we all need to adapt: When customers no longer care what some actor on TV–the Maytag repairman, for example–says about your product, because they can look to their Facebook friends to find out the truth, you’d better make sure those Facebook friends are, in fact, inspired to say something nice about you–about how you responded to their service inquiries and product concerns. Inspired, that is, by how you treat them as customers.

There’s no better way to grow your brand, customer by customer by customer, than by getting this right.

How to Leverage Facebook Ads to Grow Your Small Business

12-9 Facebook Ads smallFacebook has grown from a purely social networking site to a marketing machine. Fortune 500 corporations and small businesses alike have realized the potential of the website’s reach. The social networking site boasts an astonishing 1.44 billion users of which 65 percent are daily. If you previously ruled out Facebook’s marketing tools, it’s time you took another look and research what it can do for your small business. With a budget as low as 5 dollars, small business owners can launch a Facebook Ads campaign.

1. Targeted Ads

Mari Smith, “Queen of Facebook,” said set aside a practical budget for a Facebook Ads campaign, calling it “the most targeted traffic your money can buy.” Facebook Ads enables you to target your marketing down to the slightest, most precise details. You can target your ads to other Facebook users by their precise location, basic demographics and even based on what type of device they are accessing Facebook on. The feature’s “advanced targeting” techniques also allow you to remarket to people who previously visited your website and can generate “lookalike audiences” of Facebook users who exhibit similar behavior and interests as those who “like” your Fan Page or visit your website.

2. Drive Traffic

Facebook ads “hide” cleverly in plain sight in a user’s newsfeed. While company ads were once completely located down the easily avoidable and camouflaged sidebar, the ads now appear directly in front of them as they are scrolling through their news. The ads appear to be shared by another user as original content and by clicking on them, the user is taken directly to the advertiser’s website which is quite often a page where the item is purchased.

3. Reporting Tools

Facebook Ads makes it incredibly easy for you to tweak your campaign to reach optimal results. Once you move forward with a Facebook Ad campaign, Facebook keeps you updated with how well (or how poorly) the ad is performing. The customary reports are so detailed and thorough you will easily be able to find out how the reach and engagement of your campaign did. The reports give you insight into what is, and is not, working in your current campaign. You can then go in and make changes to your current marketing efforts in order to yield better results from Facebook Ads.

4. Boost a post

Marketing strategies aren’t always catered around raising interest in a product or brand with an ad. Depending on the type of content you produce you might want to utilize the boost a post feature. With boosts, you can increase content views by increasing where on Facebook the ad is featured. Your budget is the only thing that will affect the potential reach of your ads. You can use this to promote your page overall, increase conversions on your website and even increase the engagement

The ads are more than just practical – they’re effective and budget-friendly. If you have a good idea of who your target audience is, Facebook Ads can get you to them. 

Why Online Reviews Are Flawed (and What to Do About It)

11-20 Online Peer Reviews smallPeople have always placed a lot of credibility in the reviews of others. On Amazon, eBay, Yelp or TripAdvisor, when they read what other consumers have said about products and services purchased, they place a higher value on this than any direct advertising from the company. This should not be a surprise since consumers see it as unbiased. But is it and how accurate are these reviews in judging the real performance of the product? 

Here is what is wrong with peer reviews:

  1. Consistency among star ratings. No one really knows what constitutes a five-star rating and what is a one star. Everyone’s scale is different so it is nearly impossible to tell. Some customers are generous scorers and others are painful critics. What one person sees as single star could be a four star to another.
  2. More lovers and haters post reviews. There are three types of customers that post most reviews. People that really like the product, people that really hate it and anyone being paid to do it. Realize that reviews by their very nature are going to skew toward the passionate positive or negative and may not reflect the opinion of the majority of customers who may fall somewhere in the middle.
  3. Gaming the system. Many companies try to pump up their ratings by offering incentives to people that post positive reviews about their business. While there may not be anything inherently wrong about this, it does skew the results in the company’s favor and is not a representative view of what the majority of the customers think. This happens because if a consumer is asked by the company for a review and is given an incentive to complete it, they are likely to be more positive in their comments.
  4. Fake reviews. These can either be very positive which are posted by friends or very negative which may be posted by competitors. Either way, they are inaccurate since they are not from customers. Amazon is now being very aggressive suing fake reviewers.   

How to add credibility to your company’s online review ratings:

  1. Encourage everyone to post a review. Follow up with customers with an email and a link. Do not offer any type of reward or incentive. Thank positive reviewers and be empathetic to the negative ones. Get details about their actual purchase when necessary. This will help make sure that they are actual customers and if there are actionable steps the company needs to take to improve. This type of user generated content will also reach the search engines for better organic placement.
  2. Delete only fake reviews. Do not delete bad reviews. Instead, respond with understanding and a solution. Companies that respond to negative reviews by wanting to fix the problem are viewed more favorably than companies that do not display bad reviews.
  3. Give a suggested ratings scale. Suggest to customers what a one-star review should be and what a five star one could be to get more consistency. For example explain: “Rate your experience as a one star if we did not meet your expectations. Tell us exactly what went wrong and how we can remedy the situation. Rate your experience as a five star if we far exceeded the expectations you had for the product and where we excelled.”
  4. Do not repeat reviews in multiple places. Some software will also automatically place the review on the company’s website, Facebook, and Twitter. This duplicated content will be viewed negatively by search engine algorithms. In addition, if a prospect reads the same review in multiple places, they will become suspicious and may think it is fake.
  5. Place reviews on multiple pages of the company’s website. This again will add to search engine rankings. It also is a constant reminder to prospects of how good the product or service is. Many of them may not get to the page where all the reviews are listed.

What story does your reviews say about your company?

The 4 Ps of Marketing (and How to Incorporate Them in Your Marketing Plan)

When many business owners think of marketing, the things that often come to mind are techniques like writing advertising copy or crafting messages for social media. While those tactics do eventually become part of the plan, they are not the sole components of marketing your services. The first step to successfully developing your businesses’ marketing plan is defining the four Ps and understanding how they inform the strategy in its entirety. Let’s take a look at the four Ps and how to include them in your marketing plan.

What are the Four Ps?

The ultimate goal of all marketing is to generate sales. As such, the four Ps of marketing are tools to help you effectively turn a profit, (which I believe should be the 5 p’s actually). Understanding what you need to maximize both profits and sales is key to developing an effective marketing plan. The four Ps — Product, Placement, Promotion and Price — help you do that.


The foundation of any business is the item or service you are selling. Hence the first P is product. Take time to describe in detail the product or service you offer. If it’s a physical item, write down the different options, packaging, features, and sizes.

Once you’ve described the product itself, delve into how that product meets the needs of the client, the features and benefits, and your competitive edge. Explain how it will be manufactured or performed. Then take it a step further and identify what deeper problem it’s helping the client solve. For example, the product may be a technology service that helps the client better track inventory. But it’s also helping the client attain sales goals and make more money each month.


The second P stands for placement, which covers how the product or service will be delivered. At this point, describe the distribution channels and physical facilities needed in order to move the product from manufacturing and storage to the consumer. For example, is the product placed in a warehouse, garage, fulfillment house, or office space?


The third P — promotion– is where many of the tactical and fun ideas for marketing your product come into play. At this stage, outline what advertising channels you will use to let people know about the product. For example, will you use the Internet, flyers, magazines or newspaper ads, direct mail, broadcasting, or social media? Write out all your public relations strategies and ideas. Then review your personal and business networks to determine who can help you implement the marketing strategies.


The fourth P is price, and it is here where you determine what the market will pay for the product or service. Pricing strategy is all about pricing your product or service for your different target markets. Determine the list price, discounts, wholesale allowances, markdowns, payment periods, and credit terms.

The good news is that much of the information you need to develop a marketing plan is free or low cost. Before you sit down to write your four Ps and marketing plan, spend time online listening to your potential customers and your competition. Go to the library and subscribe to industry publications. Join trade organizations, contact the local Chamber of Commerce, and talk to potential customers. Doing these things will help you articulate your four Ps and write a marketing plan that really targets your target markets with the right messages, and through the most effective channels.  

3 Keys to Writing a Powerful Mission Statement

5-20 writing a mission statement smallEstablishing your identity as a small business is a challenge. At first, you may be tempted to chase every dollar you think you can get in the attempt to bring in revenue, but the fact is that if you try to appeal to everyone, you will end up appealing to no one. It is important to hone and identify your core audience as part of your business plan. In doing so, you have laid the foundation for writing your mission statement.

While there are many examples of mission statements that are so grandiose, they are almost a joke, a good mission statement clearly communicates a business's services, the type of projects in which the firm specializes, and unique values offered. For example, as the SmallBizLady, my mission is to end small business failure. It sounds simple, but it is easy to get off track. In order to write a potent mission statement, here are three considerations to get you off to the right start.

1. Give Yourself Sufficient Time to Write.

Mission statements are deceptively simple. They usually consist of a one to three sentences that provide an overview of the business and its goals. However, a good mission statement will also provide a view into the essence of what sets your small business apart from others.

Identifying and communicating your core principle may be challenging. You’ll need to write several versions and give yourself time to edit them into one cohesive statement. It is best if you allow yourself several writing sessions over a few days in order to convey it in a direct and meaningful way.

2. Communicate What Makes Your Small Business Unique.

Many a mission statement has been written on the bones of another more established company's hard work. You may be tempted to take the easy way out and "borrow" a phrase or even direct quotes from a firm you admire. It’s fine to get inspiration from other companies’ mission statements, but yours should be unique to your brand.

3. Use This as an Opportunity to Further Refine Your Business's Core Values.

Not all of us enjoy writing or even think that we can write well. However, this mindset will sap of you of your strength and undermine your confidence. At its core, writing is a powerful form of communication, and strong communication is a central tenet of doing business. It’s all about what you want to be known for.

The exercise of writing your mission statement strengthens your ability to communicate in a compelling manner. It is vital to push yourself to do this significant work in a thoughtful and conscientious way. You might even, through the act of writing, uncover core values you hadn’t elaborated on before.

Your mission statement is the cornerstone of your marketing efforts. It provides clarity and focus on the essence of your business. When you put substantial effort into the creation of this document, you create a steady foundation that helps you move forward with more vigor and determination.

Nextiva's XBert

Contact an Amazing Service
Sales Expert
(800) 799-0600

See how Nextiva will transform
the way you communicate.

Nextiva's XBert

Contact an Amazing Service
Sales Expert
(800) 799-0600
Learn how much Nextiva can save your business.