Does direct mail still work effectively in today’s marketplace? It can, but Cidnee will share you a few pointers you need to consider to make this small business marketing tactic one of your Strategies for Success.
Intuit is running a contest where they are granting small businesses $5000 to do something cool in their business – check it out for your own business here!
We have currently posted our wish as the grant would help us develop some software for small businesses that create strong marketing plans easily and affordably. Winners are decided by votes.
So if you could click on the link below and vote for us, we can help you and/or other small businesses like you even more than we currently are.
Thanks for your support!
According to Pew Internet & American Life Project back around 2008, only about ½ the North American population even used online devices and a mere 8% were deep users of the web. Today North American internet users have climbed to 79% (US Census Bureau) with a whopping 90% of these users claiming they use the web to help them make purchasing decisions (Fleishman Hillard 2012 Digital Influence Index).
So it’s no wonder that a website that acts like a static brochure of your company is now a dinosaur in the digital world. Here are some criteria to help see if you’re website is hip and happening or pathetic and passé?
Do you have user friendly navigation and quality content?
There is so much that can be said here and they say a picture can say a thousand words. This wonderful infographic is a must when deciding on effective web design.
Are you coming up on Google (at the very least locally) for key search terms?
To have a site that no one can find is devastating. While it’s great to have a nice looking site, if it’s not being found it’s useless from a marketing perspective. You need to focus on your Title Tags and Headers Tags and ensure they have the right keyword search terms (keyword research here is a MUST). You need these keywords in your content, you need new and fresh content with your keywords in them, you need links to your site from other credible sites, you need to make sure your pictures use the keywords in their alt tags, you need to be registered on Google Places, you need a sitemap, and this is just the beginning! If you want to see how you are doing, try many of the free website grading tools available online, then start making the necessary changes.
Do you have Google Analytics installed and do you monitor your traffic at least once a week?
To have a website and not know how it’s performing is like investing a ton of money into an ad campaign and not caring if it provides you with results.
The good news is that Google Analytics are still free and luckily most web developers can easily add the proper code to the pages on your site and even set up a report to arrive in your inbox once a week. I like to look at the following at least weekly and then deep dive twice a month in to other areas:
How many unique visitors am I getting? How long are they staying on the site? What is my bounce rate? Where is the traffic coming from, including referring sites, what are the most common search terms, and what pages are the most popular?
Do you have multiple forms of media (video, photos, audio)?
To assume that everybody is going to read the content on your site is a bit naïve in today’s market. I recall a leader in web trends saying that before long websites will become mostly video in format instead of text. Why not start preparing, by climbing on the YouTube express and even creating a few Infographics of your own. Not only do multiple mediums appeal to different tastes, but they can then be strategically used on other online sites like YouTube, Pinterest, Slideshare and more. This again gives you more online exposure as well as valuable links back to your site.
Do you treat your website as just the hub to your entire online presence?
John Jantsch the fearless leader of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network of which I’m a part introduced me to this great concept of the hub and spoke model of your online presence. It’s important you claim your online real estate and then post various forms of content to these other sites, encouraging them to visit your website. According to Universal McCann’s Wave 6 study, company websites are losing ground to social media sites in terms of credibility and popularity. These other sites, are places people will be seeking valuable information and engaging with your brand (see below) coming then to your website to show them how you can help them solve a problem or achieve a desired result. Implementing the hub and spoke model increases you online presence tenfold if not substantially more!
Are you allowing prospects/customers to ENGAGE with you?
Websites used to be a one way street. You shared information with readers and that was it. Not in today’s world. Now people want the ability to communicate back. Your website should encourage conversations by including a place for people to comment, share ideas and become part of a community. You should promote downloads of quality information via eBooks, Subscriptions to your newsletter, Surveys or Forms that help visitors find answers to their problems. Finally you website should definitely include some calls to action.
Can you easily change the content on your site and are you?
Needless to say, if Google relies on content to help with their search engine results, you better be adding to and updating it on a weekly or (at a bare minimum) monthly basis. This means you need to be able to change your own content and not rely on an outside source.
Did you know that according to HubSpot, sites that blog at least 20 times per month generate 5 times more traffic than those that blog only a few times per month?
Content is king in today’s online marketing world – it’s time to claim your throne if you aren’t already.
Is your site mobile and tablet friendly?
Just like landlines are giving way to mobile phones, so are PC’s losing ground to tablets and smart phones. In fact Fleishman-Hillard found in their global 2012 Digital Influence Index that 2 of the 3 consumers they surveyed, use a mobile/smartphone to gain information on a brand, product or destination at least 3 – 4 days a week.
That makes it a no brainer that your site better pull up quickly and be easy to navigate on these devices.
To be clear, this doesn’t just mean your site comes up on a mobile device. It means that instead of a tiny, tiny, miniscule version of your site, there are nice big buttons that allow me to get what I need easily and even call you in one easy click of a button.
If you want to see an example of what your site should look like – go to Dudamobile.com and type in your URL.
That’s why today’s websites are now built with what is called a responsive theme that automatically adjusts the site to different sized devices.
If you want to get a quick idea how your site is fairing on some of the above elements, check out HubSpot’s free Marketing Grader. It’s a great quick snapshot of your current website’s performance.
So how do you feel you did?
Hip and Happening
Better than I thought
Retro and proud of it, or
Definitely time for a new site
One of the best ways I know to get something new done that really matters in your business is to give it the importance it deserves. There are few ways you can do this.
The first is to understand the role it plays in your business and/or life. You may have come across this grid before, but it’s always a good wake-up call.
Year End Tax Submissions
Long Term Planning
Learning & Empowerment
Many phone calls
Some Phone Calls
TV, Gaming – time wasters & escape activities
Normally we address what is urgent and not-important over what is important but not urgent. When we are trying to make changes to our marketing this typically falls into this “important, not urgent grid.” So the key is to first RECOGNIZE its IMPORTANCE and then obviously find a way to MAKE it URGENT which leads me to my second point.
Think about treating this new activity like you would an important client or prospect and schedule it in your Outlook (or Google, or whatever you use) calendar. If you had a meeting in your calendar with a client, or potential client, you wouldn’t cancel it to check emails or answer a call or to get paper for the printer. So start making appointments – real appointments that you keep and don’t allow distraction. Be careful though. Making one BIG appointment in the week (e.g. many, many hours) is dangerous for two very good reasons.
Reason 1: If you do have to cancel it (for something that falls in the urgent/important category) you have now lost an entire week’s worth of productivity.
Reason 2: Long hours for anything new might seem daunting, especially for a new habit, so it can make it unproductive and “un-fun.”
Look instead to breaking it down into multiple, manageable chunks over the week, then monthly and quarterly appointments as well.
Finally, the third way to ensure you will begin making headway on a new marketing activity is to stop trying to go it alone. Accountability also breeds urgency. Consider hiring a coach and/or announcing to your followers or friends your intended new path. You can also work with another like-minded peer and form an accountability partner model. This latter model is highly effective as long as the two partners involved state the ground rules ahead of time. In other words, look at how often the two of you want to communicate, what level of information you feel you should be sharing and what the consequences are if the deadlines are not reached and what the rewards are if they consistently are.
Here are few habits I intend to change to help me transform both myself and my marketing through more writing:
Feel free to hold me accountable.
So what new marketing habit do you want to integrate this quarter?
It seems like 2012 was the year of Social Media. Not only did we have even more new players, but there appeared to be more pressure than ever for businesses to get on the bandwagon of posting and tweeting to their market.
And just when it seemed the business owner managed to get his or her Twitter and Facebook accounts, Pinterest and even a ton more interest in Google+ showed up on their radar. Not to mention that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all had facelifts meaning previous profiles needed a tune up.
Every time I spoke this year the #1 burning question remained the same – “How am I, the small business owner, supposed to keep up on all this stuff and how is it going to help me get more business?”
I would say that 2012 was more accurately the year of Social Media tools maturing in the small business marketplace, but 2013 is the beginning of an Online Renaissance. A time when business owners can finally find their voice and yell their message from the online rooftops.
Stop worrying about where you should be online and how long a post should be. That will overwhelm you rather than motivate. Instead, start thinking of what your passion, your company and you can bring to the table to help your target market.
You have the ability to become the “new” media. You have the ability to influence people in a positive way. You have the ability to make a difference. Isn’t that really why you got into your business to begin with?
So what is the key to successful Social Media in today’s environment? Create a strong strategy instead of focusing or worrying about the tactics. Leverage social media.
As less and less people are turning on their television sets, or reading a print magazine in lieu of electronic publications and the internet, the influence of traditional media is giving way to bloggers and what’s trending on Twitter. Start thinking strategically about what you want to post and not so much about which site that’s going to happen on.
How can you do this?
Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, authors of the New York Times bestseller Trust Agents, launched their new book in 2012 called “The Impact Equation.” They talk about the concept of pretending you own a TV Channel. To build your strategy for social media, they suggest you think about what types of programs you would air on your TV Channel. Let’s face it, they can’t all be the same or no one would watch, but if you have an overall theme, like “Golf” because you are appealing to golfers or the Oprah Winfrey Network because you are appealing to women, you can certainly think of all kinds of shows that might be interesting.
Maybe one program (or series of posts or categories) is “interesting people or clients”. Another might be a “How To” show. Yet another might be a Talk Show that shares conflicting opinions on a specific topic. How about the Daily or Weekly News?
The premise here is that if you focus on your passion and EVERYTHING you can bring to the table to share that passion, the followers and customers will follow. Remember people are smarter and savvier shoppers. They will buy from you because they like and trust what you are standing for and not because what you’re offering is the cheapest.
So find that voice, get excited about it and get it out there and share it. People are dying to tune in!
What type of TV channel would you launch?
by Megan Webb-Morgan
Link building is a powerful SEO tool; through various tactics you can boost your search engine rankings and niche authority. Along with standard online marketing practices, such as good web design and social engagement, you can increase your page rank and gain a much broader fan base.
When links to your website are found on authoritative or popular websites, Google associates their authority with your website, therefore enhancing your position. As an online marketing tactic, link building will bring you a constant stream of new visitors, better niche placement, and higher authority on the web.
Overall, your link building strategy can include both long-term and short-term tactics; using both will allow you to spread your links throughout the web in a strategic manner. And the more links you have pointing to your website, the higher your rankings will be.
Some methods of creating backlinks to your website take long-term effort but reap high rewards. However, short term methods can still be valuable in the link building process as a whole. It’s how you go about it that will make all the difference.
The most effective backlink strategies are long-term. Still, you’ll only need to take a few minutes each day or week in order to accomplish them effectively. The goal with these methods is to create a constant, authoritative presence on the web.
Search engines take into account the number of backlinks it finds and the authority of the pages where those links are found. Though getting valuable links takes constant effort, a vigilant attitude and a cohesive strategy for getting it done can help make your website an online success.
Megan Webb-Morgan is a web content writer for Resource Nation. She writes about small business, focusing on topics such as web design and online marketing.
I often say that if you want to understand Twitter think about that person in your life that is the communicator extraordinaire. For me that’s my Mom….she tweets she just doesn’t do it on a computer.
For a start, my Mom has taken on the role of communicator in our family for at least as long as I have been alive. Guaranteed, a week doesn’t go by where she hasn’t made contact with everyone in her inner circle – not just her children, but closest friends and relatives. (My father often wishes he had shares in their phone company). It would be a terrible mistake to not answer those calls. She would take it personally and then there is the guilt.
On Twitter – it’s also a good idea to communicate with those relevant in your life. It’s not as much about the # of followers as it is the quality of those followers. They should enjoy what you’re sharing and respond, but you don’t need to bring on the guilt – leave that to your mother.
My Mom shares often. When I say at LEAST once a week, the norm is often 2 -3 times a week. What does she share? She gives me updates on everyone in her circle, what they are up to and if she feels I don’t know this person, rather than omit the update, she simply goes into “history-mode.” With many of these individuals being over the age of 75 – the “background” can sometimes take a while.
Mom would be great on Twitter because it’s great to be posting what you deem to be valuable information at least 2 – 3 times a week (2 -3 times a day is even acceptable). It’s also great to share some of that background information from time to time.
Here’s something else important. For my Mom to be telling me all these updates, she has to GET these updates from her circle of contacts. The same goes on Twitter. It’s as much about listening (sometimes more so) as it is about posting.
In a nutshell, just like Twitter, Mom “follows” all the pertinent people in her life, so she can keep her “followers” up to date with the most valuable information.
Now I have a confession. Sorry Mom, but there are times when I’m not really interested in a certain update or history lesson. So I zone out for certain parts of the conversation and then zone back in when I’m interested. I can do the same thing on Twitter, by setting up my “listening post” to only notify me of topics I’m interested in.
So you see, Twitter has really existed in your world for a long, long time, just not necessarily in an online format. Maybe like me you can learn more about how to use it from your Mother than a 20 year old computer whiz!
As small business owners, we tend to avoid a deep dive into strategy at the best of times. Face it, we are usually too busy fighting the day to day fires, keeping up with communications, and managing the finances. Yet the time always comes when we need to put down the fire extinguisher long enough to take a hard look on HOW we are going to take our businesses to a new level.
This process usually begins with scouring over the financials, reviewing actual results against projected goals, and gauging client satisfaction. While data and analysis are sound approaches to strategy, this approach doesn’t allow for a ton of creative, out of the box thinking.
Henry Ford said that if he had asked his customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. Ford certainly wasn’t focused on his company data, to find a faster solution to get around.
Do you want to be more innovative in your business? Then try this solution-based strategic approach complements of the co-authors of Playing to Win!
Create Choices – There is always multiple ways to reach the end goal. Create completely different ways to get you to the same result.
Specify Conditions – Once a list of possibilities has been established, review each one independently as a viable strategy. Ask your team what conditions would need to be in place for that possibility to be successful? Note you aren’t asking if these conditions exist already.
Identify Barriers – Now that the conditions have been identified, review each one and decide which of these are the highest risk of coming to fruition.
Design and Conduct Tests – Look at research, or conduct surveys to see if there are ways to reduce the risk of these identified barriers. This is where data can be very helpful.
Make Your Choice based upon the solution that has the highest chance of succeeding.
Maybe you won’t be as famous as Henry Ford, but this approach has certainly helped many businesses get out of the rut of status quo and positively impact the direction of their company.
I discovered this little piece of heaven on holidays this year. It’s a place on the Sunshine Coast in Canada, and I fell in love with it so much, I have gone back twice already. Both times that I caught a glimpse of the view, I got goosebumps and my eyes welled up with tears. In other words, I experienced 2 pure moments of “WOW.”
I think as we get older we have less of these wow moments. Think about it, children can discover multiple new things in a day that WOW them, but as time passes we have higher expectations and sadly less new experiences. So a “WOW” when you’re my age is extra special.
So let me ask you this, can you recall those moments when you have experienced something so “out of the park” amazing that it took your breath away? Maybe the birth of a child, an incredible gesture of kindness or a beautiful view? Now think about your business. This business that you chose to leave corporate life to do. This business that allowed you to pursue your passion. Now, let me ask you, “when you look at what you are delivering to your customers” are you delivering, (I mean TRULY delivering), that WOW?”
I was recently reading a great book that really brought this topic home. It’s called “Platform” by Michael Hyatt and he suggests that the definition of a successful business is one that recognizes when the Wow is absent and refuses to settle for anything less. So today I’d like you to think about what you could do to blow the minds of your customers. To cause them to experience such a rush of positive emotions that they are bursting to tell others about you and/or your offerings.
Here’s some ways that hopefully will help you think of how you can go that extra mile.
Over Deliver – Review what you currently offer verbally, in your proposals, in your printed materials and on your website. Now offer something that increases the value by at least 25% for absolutely nothing. This could be a bundle of your favorite books, unlimited email access to you, an additional program that is super popular, a VIP only event….the options are endless.
Up Your “New Customer” Experience – When a new client comes on board do you do something to truly welcome them with open arms. How do you present your products and services? Do you include a welcome gift? Do you outline next steps clearly? Do you have special touches or privileges for your customers? Consider setting out a budget for a new customer just to put towards packaging, additional time spent with them and/or a special gift or special delivery. Go way beyond what a competitor is doing.
Up Your Communications – How often do you talk to your customers after the initial purchase and in what fashion? Consider mixing up sending them thank you’s or reminders or cards in the mail with emails, phone calls and even a personal meeting. If your competitors send Christmas cards, send Christmas chocolates or a Christmas basket. Send them thoughtful information or connect them with another useful resource.
Thank them when they leave – as small business owners, we can be easily offended when a customer chooses to no longer work with us. Imagine their surprise if you show gratitude even when leaving. It’s very important to collect as much information from departing businesses as possible to learn what you can change and improve. Make sure you ask them and then also thank them for their business and let them know you are genuinely sorry to see them go. Ask them what they liked and what you could improve upon and then send them your thank you in the mail in the form of a handwritten card or even a small gift.
Your Challenge (should you choose to accept it)
Some say that one of the quickest way to go out of business is to invest your marketing dollars in a bad (or blasé) product or service. But it can also be tragedy to lose your passion for you business and go on day to day knowing you could do more. Make it count, be memorable and keep upping the “wow” bar. What’s one thing you can start doing today to blow your customers away?
And, hey, feel free to share your “wow” moments too. I’d love to hear them.
It’s been fun transitioning over to Timelines for Business Pages. Wow does this give you much, much more functionality.
4 quick steps
1. Add a cover image – 851x315px – there is a free site a bit glitchy but it can help you design one in a few minutes - www.timelinecoverbanner.com.
NOTE: You can’t solicit in your cover banner (so “No Like this Page, BUY, etc)
2. Add a profile button. You probably already have one of these but might want to change it so it works better for you. Size 180x180px.
3. Check out the four boxes under the cover banner! These are apps and with the exception of photos and events you can change the cover of the app (so I made one point to the Like” – hint, hint)
But I discovered the best “app” that can make these extra pages for you in about 5 minutes. It’s called Lujure.com – first page is free and if you use the templates and follow instructions you can create really neat pages, super quick. And it’s only a one time fee of $30 for unlimited pages… rock on!
4. Watch your “about” section. This is coming from your settings and can be altered to make more sense now that it’s got some prime real estate.
Now for the over-achievers:
5 . Fill out your Timeline with some fun facts about your companies history by clicking the Milestone button in a new post (but want to unclick “post to wall” if doing a bunch).
6. Pin a post on top. In any post – top right corner click “pin” and it will show up at the top of your timeline for a longer period.
Hope this helps!