Small Business Marketing Blog

May 18, 2010

Is it Time to Ditch Email Marketing?

Filed under: Business,Marketing — Robin Witt @ 9:13 am
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Customer reading email. With social media all the buzz, it might seem like email marketing is no longer a valuable tool for growing your business. Apparently that was not the opinion of the 300 or so people who took time to attend a Constant Contact email marketing seminar in San Diego last week. According to the event’s presenter, Ron Cates, 91 percent of people who use email, do it daily, with 25 percent checking it more than 10 times a day. He also said that accessing email via smart phones is rising steadily and is expected to double next year. Cates emphasized that not only is email marketing still very popular, it remains one of the most effective ways to increase sales, averaging a return of investment of $44 for every dollar spent.

After reminding the audience of the importance and value of email marketing, Cates recommended the following best practices for businesses to maximize results. 

Clearly identify who the email is “from.” 60 percent of email recipients decide whether they will open an email based on this factor alone.

Make sure the text, not the images, clearly conveys the message. Many email clients like Yahoo, Gmail, and Outlook block out images until the recipient clicks to say they are OK to view. This does not mean don’t use pictures; just make sure the message makes sense without them in case they are not present.

Don’t be an “accidental spammer.” An accidental spammer is when you unintentionally spam your customers. While the Can Spam Act explains what spamming is from a legal point of view, your customers might have different ideas. Possible triggers that get you labeled as a spammer by clients are: sending too frequently, not getting permission, or sending content your customer doesn’t like.

Make it easy for customers to sign up to be on your email mailing list. Display a sign-up field in a prominent area on your website and include a link in your email signature. You can also encourage people to sign up by offering them an irresistible incentive to do so.

Most importantly, share content that is valuable and interesting to your intended audience. If all your emails say the same thing “buy my stuff, buy my stuff, buy my stuff” that gets old over time. Instead, show your expertise and focus on building relationships.

Email marketing continues to be a valuable way for businesses to communicate with customers and demonstrate their expertise. By sharing useful and interesting information, businesses can look forward to both increased loyalty and revenue.

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April 23, 2010

4 Tips for Writing Blog Leads that Work

Filed under: Blogging,Business — Robin Witt @ 8:47 am
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When writing a small business blog, pay special attention to your very first sentence. This sentence is called the lead and after the headline, an interesting lead makes the biggest difference between someone reading your post, or moving on to something else. Here are four different types of lead sentences to try out on your business blog:  

Delayed Identity.  In this type of lead, the writer keeps the identity of the subject a mystery until later in the paragraph. Here is a successful example from Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert Blog

 I’m sitting in a restaurant in Cincinnati recently, surrounded by  televisions with the sound turned down. The bartender approaches, and asks if I’d like to hear the TV. I say “sure” expecting him to saunter over to a monitor, and turn up the volume. Instead, he reaches under the bar, and pulls out a Soundog unit.

Scene Setter.  Painting a picture, or creating a state of mind for the reader is the hallmark of this type of lead. Do it in a succinct manner and include emotional triggers like anxiety to create tension, momentum, or anticipation. Here’s one from a recent HubSpot Marketing Blog.  Notice how you feel like you are right there trying to solve the problem.

You’re sitting in front of your computer, trying to come up with a fantastic lead nurturing campaign.  You know you need to provide value.  You know you need to drive these early funnel leads to later…

Shocking Statement. Write a sentence that goes against popular belief, or has a bold opinion. This is from the Church of the Customer Blog talking about South by Southwest (SXSW), a wildly popular, interactive conference featuring music and film held in Austin, Texas each year.

The panels at the SXSW Interactive sucked.

Question. Asking a question can sometimes be the simplest way to get the reader thinking and engaged in a short period of time. Here is an example where a question is used effectively in a recent Duct Tape Marketing blog post.

Why are you captivated by some people, but not others? Why do you recall some brands, yet forget the rest?

Give leads the special attention they deserve by keeping them fresh. Don’t be afraid to try different types. You’ll be rewarded by readers that are more engaged and more likely to recommend your writing to others.

April 20, 2010

Chocolate Kiss Your Marketing Message

Filed under: Business,Marketing — Robin Witt @ 8:22 am
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A chocolate kiss is a metaphor for keeping your marketing message simple.In talking to other business owners, I have found that we are all doing more marketing than ever before. One of the contributing factors is that the products and services we are selling are pretty complex. Another factor is increased pressure from the competition. This, combined with the usual business factors, has stepped up the time and energy needed to explain our value proposition and differentiate ourselves.

But just because our task may be more complex than in the past, our marketing message shouldn’t be. In marketing your small business, the challenge is to make the complex simple. Here are a few tips from one of my favorite metaphors, the Hershey Chocolate Kiss, to help you remember to keep your message simple. See if you can use any of these ideas in your marketing business strategy:

Be recognizable. Hershey Kisses are an excellent example of effective branding. Although Hershey Kisses are available in several types of chocolate, and some varieties even have nuts, they have retained their iconic plume shape and foil wrapping. Customers easily recognize the Hershey Kiss and know what they are getting. What are you doing to create a consistent message and feel across your products and services to ensure an easily recognizable image?

Miniaturize the Message. With a Hershey Kiss, you get full chocolate flavor, but in a tiny package. Distill what you do into a small, bite size morsel that is easy to remember but is still delicious and valuable.  For Hershey Kisses, their tagline is simply, “Kiss someone.”  What’s your message you want people to remember?

Be easy to share. Hershey Kisses are individually wrapped making them easy to share. Getting others to share your message is one of the best ways to attract new customers.  How can you make your message easy to share on social media networking sites, emails, and blogs?

Just because your products and services are more complicated, doesn’t mean your messaging should be. Think of the Hershey Kiss to remember to keep it simple, memorable, and easy to share with others.

To find out more about how you can use a chocolate kiss approach to attract customers with social media marketing, contact Robin Witt: robin.witt@yahoo.com

April 17, 2010

3 Journalism Tips for Writing a Better Business Blog

Filed under: Blogging,Business — Robin Witt @ 8:33 am
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Many of the same foundation principles apply to writing bogs for your small business. Although the style of writing a blog for your business is different than writing a traditional news story, they both share the goal of communicating important information. To make sure you are writing clearly and with purpose it is a good idea to have a checklist of key questions to use as a guide. In journalism these are known as the five W’s: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.  Using that same idea, here are three essential questions to keep in mind when writing your business blog:

Who am I writing for?  The answer to this question is your customer, of course. It’s funny how easy it is to get off track on this one and write about what is of interest to us or our peers. Remember to keep your ideal customer in mind at all times and write in a manner that makes sense to them by avoiding “insider” jargon.

Why is it important?  Share information that will help your customers with their issues. Answer the question, “Why should my customers care?” Also, be sure to write about what will happen if they don’t adopt what you are proposing.  

What do you want them to do next? Put action into your writing by sharing tips with your readers on how to get started or how to get more information. After all, what is the point of information if it doesn’t change what you are doing or the results you will get?

Writing a business blog is an effective way to position yourself as a trusted expert in the eyes of your customers.  By answering the three essential W’s for business blogging you will ensure your content is appealing and helpful to your target client.

For more information about blogging or social media marketing for your business, contact Robin Witt: robin.witt@yahoo.com

April 13, 2010

Business Lessons from Kitchen Nightmares

Filed under: Business — Robin Witt @ 7:44 am
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The TV show Kitchen Nightmares provides tips for businesses to be successful. My husband sucked me into watching the reality TV show, Kitchen Nightmares featuring chef Gordon Ramsay.  Ramsay goes to a different struggling restaurant each week to help them get their culinary groove back (and hopefully some customers, too.) Although each restaurant has different chefs, menus, and locations, there is a surprising similarity to the bad business practices contributing to their current state.  Even though the show is about restaurants, I think there are important universal lessons for businesses of all types to consider. See what you think:

Don’t skip the basics. When people come to a restaurant they expect the kitchen to be clean and the food to be fresh. This is a basic requirement. Still, every week Ramsay finds filth in the kitchen, frozen food masquerading as fresh, and an overworked microwave. Is there any area in your business where you need to improve on meeting the basic expectations of your customers?

More is not usually better. Most of the restaurants Ramsay deals with are trying to provide too many choices. Difficult to pull off from a tactical standpoint, the restaurants end up trying to do a lot of things, but none of them well. Ramsay’s solution is always to trim the menu and feature a few signature dishes that the restaurant can be known for. Is your business trying to be everything to everyone? What do you need to trim from your menu? What is your specialty you can be known for?

Relationships matter. Communication is another missing ingredient in these failing restaurants. When business owners do not listen to feedback from customers and employees it creates tension throughout the entire restaurant. It takes everyone working together to make a successful business. Are the relationships in your business helping or hindering?  

Make sure that have all of the ingredients for success in place at your business.  Pitfalls that can get in the way of this include: not having the basics covered, offering too many choices, and not working together. Make sure you pay attention to these critical factors to avoid your own nightmare.

April 9, 2010

Don’t Let Writer’s Block Derail Your Small Business Blog

Filed under: Blogging,Business,Marketing — Robin Witt @ 7:45 am
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Writer's block  is a problem when writing small business blogs. Writing blogs is one of the best marketing tools small business owners can use to attract customers. Posting  on a consistent basis is essential to getting the best results.  One of the biggest stumbling blocks is not being able to remember any of your good ideas when you finally sit down to do the writing. The secret is to have a steady supply of story starters at your fingertips so your time can be spent on the writing instead of generating ideas.  Here are four tips to get you started. 

Make idea generation and blog writing two different activities.  When you sit down to write your blog posts for the week, your time should be spent on just writing not looking for ideas. If you try to do both activities at the same time it will take too long and there is a risk you won’t get it done. 

Have a way to capture ideas.  Finding ideas is an ongoing process and you don’t always know when inspiration will strike. Find a reliable way to save these ideas to be used at a later date. Some people write down ideas while other people like to store ideas in their phone or leave themselves a voice message. It doesn’t matter what you come up with for a solution. The important thing is that it works for you and is easy to do, otherwise it won’t be successful. 

Constantly be on the look-out for possible ideas. Great blog ideas can come from a variety of different sources.  For example, clients have questions, concerns, and issues that make excellent blog posts. When you are reading articles, ask yourself, “Is there something here that would valuable to share with my customers?” Just add your own point of view and link back to the original source.  Other sources of inspiration could be movies, books, or your life experiences. 

Fill in the blank. Simple  phrases  or fill-in the blank sentences can help jolt the creative juices. Here are some universal themes to get  you started: 

  • Avoid this mistake at all costs.
  • Do this to be successful.
  • What your _____doesn’t want you to know.
  • How to _______.
  • Thinking about______? Why that is the worst idea ever.

Writing blogs is one of the most valuable activities you can do to establish credibility and trust. Don’t let the pressures of time or an occasional case of writer’s block keep you from making the most of this marketing tool.  With a little bit of planning and attention to a couple of simple strategies you can have a large pool of ideas to choose from.

April 6, 2010

Don’t Let Your Social Media Sites Become Ghost Towns

Filed under: Marketing,Social Media — Robin Witt @ 8:28 am
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Socieal media sites can become ghost town without proper attention. No  fans or followers on your small business social media sites?  As a consultant I hear this complaint many times. There seems to be a misconception that if you put up a site, you don’t need to put any more effort into it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Creating a Facebook fan page or new Twitter account is just the first step.  To be successful long term, it’s important to avoid these three common mistakes.

Mistake #1—No goals. What is your desired outcome?  If you don’t know what you want out of your social media marketing, there is a very good chance you will fail. Like other forms of marketing, it requires clear goals, good strategy, and consistent effort to be successful.

Mistake #2—No plans.  Writing tweets, updates, and blogs all take time. It’s important to identify who is going to do it, when they are going to do it, and how much time they will devote to each activity. Planning this out ahead of time will save you heartache in the long run.

Mistake #3—No value. All the content you post should be aimed at your target audience. This is not about your interests, it is about attracting potential customers. With that said, does that mean you have to stifle your personality? Absolutley not, that is what makes you unique and real. You are not a robot after all! Just make sure you stay on message by keeping your ideal client in mind at all times.  

It is tempting to want to rush into social media because of the opportunities it offers small businesses.  Make sure you have clear goals, a well-thought out implementation plan, and a sense of what would be interesting to your clients before you begin.  If you fail to address these three areas your sites might end up being empty, lifeless ghost towns, instead of the vibrant communities they should be.

March 26, 2010

Small Business Marketing: What Can We Learn about Social Media from Alice in Wonderland

Filed under: Social Media — Robin Witt @ 8:39 am
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Maze represents learning in a new place.For small businesses looking to get started with social media networking, the thought of connecting with customers on Facebook and Twitter can feel like being thrust into a whole new world. This is similar to what happens to Alice when she tumbles down the rabbit hole and ends up in Wonderland. Besides not drinking the tonic and forgetting to bring a Smart Phone, we can learn a lot from the misadventures of Alice and the other characters. Here are three mistakes to avoid when you find yourself in a new space.

Don’t be in a rush. It’s easy to feel like the White Rabbit thinking you are late for an important date if you are not yet participating in social media marketing.  It’s true that you don’t want to delay in getting started with this new opportunity to connect with prospective customers, but don’t let that cause you to skip your homework.  Social media marketing is more than just setting up your networks. Many Twitter accounts and Facebook Fan Pages look like ghost towns because they were built without a plan in place. Don’t let this happen to you.  

Know where you are going. There is a well-known scene where Alice asks the Cheshire Cat for directions and he tells her that it all depends on where she wants to go.  Alice replies that she isn’t really sure, to which the wise Cat replies, “Then it doesn’t really matter which direction you choose.” Clearly identify your goals with social media.  Do you want a large number of followers, more traffic for your website, or something else? Unless you decide what your goals are ahead of time, you will not know if you are getting closer and if you need to change your game plan.

Learn the culture.  Each platform has different expected practices and if you don’t follow them you risk people calling out, “Off with your head!”  Well, maybe not that drastic, but a sure way to lose followers is to barge in without knowing what you are doing. Take time to learn about this new environment. The important thing is to approach social media as a place where you are sharing information, ideas, and helpful advice.

Whenever you are in a new environment  it takes time to learn new skills and practices. Social media marketing presents a wonderful opportunity to reach new and existing clients, so it is worth the extra time and effort to get on the right path.

March 23, 2010

Social Media Marketing: 3 Time-Saving Tips

Filed under: Business,Marketing,Social Media — Robin Witt @ 11:00 am
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Saving TimeNot having enough time is one of the biggest concerns clients tell me about when they are considering social media marketing for their small business. The thought of adding tweets, blogs, and other interactions to an already jammed schedule can seem overwhelming  to many. The result is some business owners become paralyzed taking no action at all to market themselves in this area, while others think about finding to an outside agency to do it for them. Both of these ideas are short-sighted. Unless the reason you don’t have time is because you have too many customers, doing social media by someone inside your company presents a wonderful opportunity to get closer to existing and potential customers. The trick is to use your time wisely. Here are 3 tips that will help you to get started with social media in a time effective manner: 
  1. Develop specific goals.  This begins by identifying what you want social media to do for you.  Do you want to create a large follower group, drive traffic to your web site, or provide a resource for existing customers?  All of these are possible goals for social media. Once you identify the end result, you will be able to develop a more targeted plan and approach. If you don’t, you will spend more time than necessary.  Different goals require different actions.  Get clear on your desired outcome.
  2. Define your target audience.  Second, identify your ideal client. It is tempting to say that everyone could benefit from your product or service, and that may be true, but trying to target messages to such a broad audience will generally result in scattered efforts.  Instead, clearly define who your best customer is.  See them clearly and then choose content that would be most interesting to them.  This precision will help you to sort through content quickly to find the best items. The clearer you are in this area, the more focused, targeted, and successful your strategy will be.
  3. Get experienced help.  This third tip will generally save new users the most time.  Trial and error is an effective way to learn, but it takes a lot more time. Small business owners can dramatically decrease their ramp-up time by finding an expert who knows what the time traps are and how to avoid them.

Even under the best of circumstances, getting started with social media takes anywhere from 1-3 months before new users see results.  Don’t delay the process with unclear goals, undefined customer segments, or a go-it-alone attitude.  With a little bit of help, small businesses can be up and running with social media and enjoying the benefits in 4-6 weeks.   The extra planning up front saves time and achieves better results in the long run.

 

  

March 16, 2010

Marketing with Yelp: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

Filed under: Business,Marketing — Robin Witt @ 7:23 am
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Woman talking loudly signifying Word of Mouth Marketing with YelpIf you are a small business owner who sells to consumers, you’ve probably heard about Yelp but may not know much about it. It’s important to get up-to-speed quickly with this new online review site where customers are describing their experiences with a business for others to see. Yelp calls it “word of mouth amplified.”  Don’t miss out on this important new online forum.  Your business can benefit by being active with Yelp right away with seven quick actions.

Complete your business profile. Go to yelp.com and access the section for business owners at the bottom of the page. Think about how you can make your profile as inviting as possible. Start by posting important information about your business like the hours you are open and your website address. Also include photos or a logo. 

Unlock you business page. Once you have completed your profile you have the opportunity to use tools that are geared toward businesses such as information about how many people are reviewing your business. A step-by-step video guides you through the process.  

Check in frequently.  You can learn from what others write about you. Where is your business doing well and where do you need to improve?  If someone is unhappy with your business you can take this opportunity to find out more and possibly turn them into a fan instead of a critic.

Respond to both positive and negative reviews. Online communities like Yelp are relationship extenders. Reaching out to people who have taken the time to talk about your business can make a big difference. You can respond to reviewers privately or publicly.

Be authentic. Who doesn’t want to have as many favorable reviews as possible? Just make sure you get them in an ethical way. Remember, the transparency of social media makes everything you do very visible. It is OK to promote and ask for reviews, it is not OK to offer rewards or manipulate this process.

Check out additional Yelp resources. There is a lot of great information for business owners including a section on commonly asked questions.  For example, why do reviews sometimes disappear? There are also videos with actual business owners you can access.

Realize you can’t please everyone. Sometimes you will come across someone who uses online communities to make unrealistic demands on businesses. In that case, you will just have to let it go.

Knowing how to effectively use Yelp can help your business find out what your customers are thinking and how to better meet their needs and expectations. By using Yelp’s ability to generate “word of mouth amplified” you can create better solutions, happier customers, and more referrals!   

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February 11, 2010

How to Get Noticed Without a Super Bowl Commercial

Del's Barber Shop owner, Dan Engelbrecht, with a customer, was one of four businesses featured in a 2010 Super Bowl commercial.

This year, one Super Bowl commercial caught my attention more than any other and it wasn’t because of creativity, humor, or special effects. It was a Miller Beer commercial and the theme was “giving it up for small business.” When the first business name and location came up, I nearly lost my pretzels. There on my TV screen was Del’s Barbershop, a family-owned business not too far from my home.

It was a great promotional opportunity for Del’s Barber Shop owner, Dan Engelbrecht. Not only was Dan lucky enough to be among four businesses that Miller decided to highlight, he also had the good fortune to be part of a commercial shown during the one broadcast where people actually watch the commercials.

What if you are a small business that wants more business but doesn’t have the Miller Brewing Company asking you to be a part of a national campaign? Don’t be discouraged, you can still capture the attention of potential customers. Here are a few tips to make sure your small business gets noticed.

Be visible and valuable on the Internet. People are constantly searching, exploring, and learning about things that they are interested in. As a business owner, you want to make sure when customers go looking, they find you! Make sure that you are creating content through company blogs, websites, and other online resources. Be sure to include key words that prospective clients are likely to be searching on.

Join in the conversation. People are spending more and more time on networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, talking with their friends, and interacting with brands. It is important that your business be present on these sites, as well. Remember that customers want two-way communication. Take the time to listen as much as you broadcast. Embrace this new two-way dialogue because you will learn so much about your customers, and how they feel about your products and services.

Even if you don’t have the good fortune to be featured in a Super Bowl commercial, don’t let that stop you from interacting with your current and prospective fans. With online marketing you can engage in a dialogue that will make your business an MVP in their eyes. Provide good content, be easy to find and approachable, and you’re sure to start seeing results. Congratulations again to Del’s Barbershop and all of the small businesses profiled in Miller’s campaign. If you haven’t seen the commercial yet, here’s a link: www.spike.com/video/miller-high-life/3338461

January 6, 2010

Small Business Marketing: Do You Really Need a Blog?

Filed under: Blogging — Robin Witt @ 2:22 pm
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Balance between website and blogging.Small business owners are constantly on the lookout for ways to be more effective in generating business. One of the questions I am frequently asked is, “Do I need to blog if I have a website?”

Blogs and websites are different.

A website is considered an essential resource. You might think of a website as an online brochure that tells what your company does and what you are about.  The information on a website, for the most part is set in place, and updated only as needed or as the budget allows. One of the disadvantages of websites is once a potential customer has looked at it, there might not be a reason to visit again anytime soon. This is bad news if you were not successful in getting them to buy on the first try because off they go looking somewhere else.

A blog on the other hand provides a way to add new content on a more frequent basis. Many bloggers write entries several times a week—some as often as every day. This is a nice complement to the static nature of a website.  In some ways, a small business blog can be thought of as an expanded Frequently Asked Questions page with blog posts often answering questions and concerns readers might be thinking about. Another way blogs are different is the style of writing tends to be quick and informal. Not only is this an engaging way to convey information, it also encourages frequent visits to see what the new developments are.

Both are important.

Having an online presence is essential for attracting customers today. Websites and blogs are both an important part of that equation.  While websites do a great job of serving as your home base, blogs really get into the nuts and bolts of what customers are looking for.  Do you need both?  You bet.  Use your website to provide a grounded presence and use your blog to provide some color and personality.

December 29, 2009

2010: Time to Look at Your Small Business in a New Way

Filed under: Business — Robin Witt @ 6:50 am
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Waiting in a long line on the day after Christmas gave me plenty of time to think about my New Year’s resolutions.  Surprisingly, resolutions and returns have a lot in common.  When making a return, you hope to exchange an unwanted gift for something better. When making resolutions you hope to exchange time and resources for better results. While getting a replacement for an ugly sweater you received as a gift is not going to have a huge impact on 2010, having goals that are thoughtful, compelling, and meaningful will.  Here are a few new ideas to exchange for some of your old ones.   

Work smarter. As you reflect back on 2009, identify what is working and what’s not. Take advantage of opportunities that garner maximum results. Sometimes we do things just because we have always done them, instead of whether they are desirable or necessary.

Focus your efforts. Expand or narrow your efforts. Are you trying to do too many things?  This can dilute your effectiveness—especially in today’s crowded and noisy marketplace.  Specialize and stay on message so you can stand out from the crowd!

Think about teaming up. Consider working with another business or affiliate that offers complimentary services. Not only can you offer more services, you can double your marketing reach too.  

Embrace new marketing channels Today, more and more customers look for information online through websites and blogs when deciding what products and services to buy.  Peer recommendations on Facebook and Twitter are also important.

Dream big. 2010 promises to be a year of getting real and being practical, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think big when coming up with goals. 365 days is a long time and you can accomplish more than you think. Do your research and come up with a thoughtful plan to get there. Passion combined with a well thought out business plan can make a big difference in setting you apart from the competition.

December 24, 2009

Don’t Give Out Fruitcake on Your Small Business Blog

Filed under: Blogging — Robin Witt @ 4:38 pm
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Good blogs and good gifts have common qualities.Gifts are a big part of the holiday season. Some gifts are personal, thoughtful, and just what you needed, while others are exactly the opposite.  My grandmother routinely gave me an itchy and ill-fitting sweater while my favorite aunt seemed to find something really special that I hadn’t even thought of. This got me thinking. What is the difference between gifts that are highly prized and ones that are destined for re-gifting? When I listed the qualities, I noticed the same could be said for blogs. So what do good gifts and good blogs have in common?

They are focused more on the receiver than the giver or writer. A cherished gift is personal and just what the receiver wanted. A valuable business blog is customer-focused, rather than product or writer focused. It’s not an advertisement, but rather information that is valuable and interesting to your clients and customers.

They anticipate the needs or desires of the receiver. A good gift giver finds something for you that you didn’t even know you wanted.  A good business blog writer does the same. For example, a potential customer might be considering doing a mail piece for their business and you are a provider of printing services. Instead of writing about your business, the quality of the paper, or how fast and accurate you are, write a blog on 10 ways to use direct mail more effectively.

 A good gift creates an enduring memory. It’s the thought that counts. Gifts given with little thought are quickly forgotten.  In contrast, when a gift or blog site is found to be valuable, not only is it used and enjoyed at the moment, but it is saved, remembered, and passed on to others. Good blogs, like good gifts, bring a smile to the face of readers.

This season show people you care about them and that you are thinking of them.  Take the time to choose thoughtful gifts that focus on them and what they most want. When someone gives you something that is of value, whether it is a gift or information, you think highly of them.

December 22, 2009

Small Business Marketer: Avoid Social Media Marketing Scorch and Burn

Filed under: Social Media — Robin Witt @ 5:12 am
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For small businesses wanting more customers and sales, social media appears to be a profit launching pad, especially if we can figure out how to go viral. This is every business owner’s dream because who doesn’t want instant success and of course, that’s all we hear about.  The reality is social media is not a magical elixir that will fix the ills of a poor marketing plan, nor is it a way to get rich quick. Although social media marketing is different in many ways from other forms of marketing, it still requires consistency, focus, and a well thought out plan to be effective.  Here are three tips to help you get started.

Begin with the end in mind. What is the purpose of your social media marketing plan? Are you trying to find new customers?  Drive traffic to your website?  Both? Write down your goals and track your progress. It may seem obvious but you would be surprised how many smart business owners skip this important step in their rush to get started.

Decide who your target audience is. Who are your ideal customers and what are they interested in? This should always be foremost in your mind. It is easy to get off track and have a diluted message if you don’t remember who this person is. Once you’ve identified your ideal customer, their profile becomes the guide for the content you post and what activities you use to engage them. 

Take your time. A big part of social media marketing is developing relationships and interesting content, both of which require time and attention. It is much more involved than just setting up networking sites. Many small business owners are eager to get started with social media, but often get frustrated when they don’t see immediate results.  Relationships take time to develop.  You can’t rush the process.  That is why it is so crucial to know where you are going and to make sure that your efforts going in the right direction.  

Social media is a powerful marketing tool for small business, but it will not fix a wimpy or non-existent marketing plan. With all marketing efforts it is important to know what the desired outcome is and how success will be measured; otherwise you can waste a lot of time and not get the results you are looking for.

December 20, 2009

Getting Started with Social Media Marketing: Look Before You Leap

Filed under: Social Media — Robin Witt @ 12:07 am
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For small business owners ready to get started with online social media marketing, it’s important to remember the benefits of going slow at first, so you can go fast later.  For owners and entrepreneurs used to moving at a fast pace, this can be a challenge.  Still, it’s important to understand the intricacies of each of the different platforms before moving forward. 

There is so much to learn about Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, especially in a business context. While it is tempting to just get started, a trial-and-error approach ends up being  time consuming and rarely produces good results. With a little bit of guidance, you can accomplish a lot more.  I found this out personally when I first got started. I had the good fortune of attending a social media workshop and was able to accomplish more in a one-day session than I had in the previous four months.

Successful people use personal trainers, get advice on investing, and seek out mentors.  Use the same approach when you’re getting ready to use social media. The amount of help could range from a one-day class, a guided three-month launch, or an all-inclusive program. A good coach or consultant will get you started on the right foot by educating you throughout the process.

Successful small business owners know that this is the time to take the social media plunge.  Just make sure you get some help before you jump into the deep end of the pool.  A social media consultant will help you learn more to get maximum results.  In the long run, you’ll save time too!

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