5 Essentials of Small Business Marketing to Keep You Ahead of the Competition
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Archive for February, 2013

5 Essentials of Small Business Marketing to Keep You Ahead of the Competition

Posted on: February 27, 2013 by in Business Building
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Anyone who’s tried knows that small business marketing is not for the faint of heart. Promoting your small business depends on doing specific things and performing them well. The amount of competition we face these days is breathtaking, and understanding how to get your pages performing online is tricky.

Here are five vital steps to get ahead of the game!

  1. Create a Marketing Plan – A comprehensive marketing plan is crucial to success. You don’t want to leave anything to chance. It should be well thought out. Map out every marketing element, and exactly how you plan to get it done. At the minimum, it should paint broad strokes to success.
  2. Social Media Marketing – 91 percent of experiences social marketers generate improved website traffic and 79 percent generate more quality leads according to MediaBistro.com. How do they do this? They do not waste time with their social media marketing. Map out a strategy for social media an stick to it.
  3. Build a Mailing List – Countless businesses make the mistake of not collecting customer and prospect emails from the beginning. Email is far from dead. MarketingProfs.com tells us that email averages a return on investment of $40 for every $1 spent, far outstripping banner ads ($2) and keyword ads ($17). If you opt to neglect it, you’re leaving a big part of your potential profits up for grabs!
  4. Video Marketing – Research has shown a video is 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google than any other text page! That’s too good to pass up. Small businesses can engage in this by video marketing. The video market is still relatively untapped and having a simple video advertising your wares can gain you loads of Google traffic in addition to authority.
  5. Gain a Mobile Presence – Microsoft reports that by 2014 mobile browsing will overtake desktop browsing. If your company does not have a mobile presence, you will become invisible. This means your small business’s website better start optimizing for mobile users and it should do it quickly. Right now, the numbers are encroaching on the 50 percent mark. Are you prepared?

Don’t Make the Mistake of Going It Alone!

No one is a superhero and you needn’t be. The realm of online marketing is constantly changing and evolving. You need to learn what is working now, learn from the best, and hire the very best outsourcing you can find. In the long run, it will pay off greatly!

5 Big Business Marketing Tips that Won’t Bust a Small Business Budget

Posted on: February 19, 2013 by in Business Building
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Mobile marking is a goldmine!

But you wouldn’t realize it looking at the marketing activities of many local businesses…

While it’s true that the mobile revolution has arrived, local business owners are still struggling to catch up with changing consumer behavior. In a Web.com survey of 500 small-business owners, only 26 percent of respondents said they’ve invested time and money in ensuring that their site was optimized for mobile devices. Exactly what does this mean for you? It means you have a great chance to get noticed as a leader among local businesses—and poach competitors’ customers in the process!

More than fifty percent of all searches are now being done on a mobile device and you as a small business owner can take advantage of that. Even a small business on a tight budget can use these five ways to market to mobile users.

  1. Mobile Optimized Site – Ensuring that the site is optimized properly for mobile is step one, and without it pretty much everything else doesn’t matter. Make sure it is designed with mobile in mind, and is available on all platforms. According to a survey from Google, 61 percent of consumers will leave a website if it’s not optimized for mobile.
  2. Look into Mobile Ads – Mobile ads are cheap and efficient. This might sound surprising but at the moment a lot of the inventory goes unsold every month and this keeps the prices down. This makes it a prime time for you to jump in and explore the concept of mobile advertising.
  3. SMS and Push Notifications – SMS messages (text messages) have a high open rate. According to Frost and Sullivan, they are opened at an amazing 95 percent! Push notifications are an excellent strategy to keep in touch with your clients who choose to opt-in.
  4. Combining Mobile and Your Social Media – Nothing says social media like real-time connections with your subscriber base. This is the latest trend and the smallest of companies can get in on the trend by combining their social media site with a mobile devices. Combine specials, events, coupons or just link a YouTube video to create buzz. Then Tweets and traffic will soon start coming to your web site. The next thing you know your site’s search engine ranking will begin climbing and so will your Google . However, the best part is, you’ll be connecting with your client base in a real-time way and they’ll provide you with valuable feedback.
  5. Location Based Marketing and Passbook – Your small business needs to be found on the web. In the past, it meant Foursquare and Yelp. Although this still holds true, you also have to begin investigating new technology like Passbook in addition. Passbook is a great new app that permits its user to keep all kinds of stuff like boarding passes, gift cards, coupons, store cards, coupons and all sorts of mobile payments.

The most important thing for local businesses is to gather knowledge and always keep learning. Remember, it doesn’t have to be difficult and it doesn’t need to be extravagant. You just have to start where you are and never stop learning.

LinkedIn Is Your New Best Friend. Here’s Why

Posted on: February 16, 2013 by in Business Building
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LinkedIn needs to be ranked among the big three of social media sites, right alongside Facebook and Twitter. But LinkedIn is actually more important for your small business because as opposed to its rivals, this social-media site focuses specifically on business. Put simply, you won’t have people on LinkedIn posting about how good their oatmeal tasted this morning.

How smart companies are using LinkedIn

You operate a business. Your time is in short supply. Exactly why should you bother with LinkedIn? Here are several ways your peers (there are 1.3 million small-business owners on the network) are employing it to their advantage:

  1. Sharing wins: Promoting your successes is just good marketing. It will make you look good to prospective customers. And with 2 million C-level executives using the site, you might find yourself with a few influential new friends.
  2. Getting referrals: LinkedIn removes so much of the friction and awkwardness of giving and getting endorsements for the work you do. Best part? When someone gives you props on LinkedIn, everyone in your network will notice in their activity feed.
  3. Finding new talent: Growing? LinkedIn is a great place—scratch that, it’s the BEST place—to find new A players to add to your roster. It’s the largest directory of working professionals on the internet.
  4. Promoting events: LinkedIn’s event feature is a game changer! It’s never been easier to spread your message and boost attendance for upcoming events. You can even use their service directory to find a caterer for your gathering. Simple.
  5. Boosting website visitors: Here’s a little-known secret about LinkedIn: it’s very influential with Google, so if you have a presence on LinkedIn, you’re likely to see a bump in search engine visibility, too. More eyeballs, more prospects.
  6. Getting answers: LinkedIn is a goldmine for information on building a successful business. You can uncover great advice from a number of the savviest business minds in the world in LinkedIn Answers and Groups. There are over 2000 groups devoted to small-business-related topics.
  7. Finding investors, vendors and partners: It’s a networker’s paradise. Regardless of whether you require some capital, a new accounting firm, or even a business partner, you’re not going to find a better resource than LinkedIn. Anywhere.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, people. Visit LinkedIn and set up a page for your small business. Trust me; IT’S WORTH YOUR TIME.

Why Businesses Faceplant on Facebook

Posted on: February 14, 2013 by in Business Building
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With 9 billion users, Facebook is far and away the most popular social network on earth. If Facebook were a country, it would have the third largest population, behind China and India. And like China and India, Facebook has its own unique customs and norms, and you need to understand them so that you can fully leverage the site’s potential as a marketing tool. When I see businesses fail on Facebook, it’s often because they don’t bother to learn the local customs.

Tread lightly

What makes Facebook distinct from other social networks? It’s that users have strong ties with one another. They are linked to their friends, their family members, their in-laws and their long-lost friends from grade school. They share intimate areas of their lives. Things like:

  • Birthday celebrations
  • High school graduation footage
  • Baby photos
  • Wedding announcements

The upshot for business owners? They have to be conscientious and careful within their approach. You can’t apply the old forms of one-way, direct-response marketing on Facebook, since people aren’t there to listen to sales pitches. They’re not really in a buying mindset. They’re in a socializing mindset. You will need to respect that.

Don’t be that annoying tourist

If you attempt to port the old style of marketing into Facebook, you’re going to be disappointed. The natives can get angry and shun you. “With Facebook, marketers of any size can do effective, word-of-mouth marketing at scale for the very first time,” says Annie Ta, a Facebook spokeswoman. “But Facebook is about authenticity, so if your company is not authentic or engaging with customers in a way that feels genuine, the community will see right through it.”

Don’t be fooled: It’s meant to be hard

Marketing on Facebook can be quite effective. But it’s also very hard (and equally rewarding) if you do it properly. Many organizations believe that if they set up a page on Facebook, that’s all they need to do. But it really takes much more of a commitment than that. Don’t be lured by social media sirens who make crazy promises about effortless Facebook success. Social media is about building relationships and influence—and this takes time. But the payback is well worth the effort. Nearly two-thirds of companies involved in social media say that Facebook has improved their overall marketing effectiveness, and 80 percent report forming new partnerships after just two years of participation, as per a study from Social Media Examiner.

Do You Need a Mobile Website?

Posted on: February 11, 2013 by in Business Building
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Survey: Businesses Must Optimize Their Websites for Mobile Devices (or Lose Customers)

Our economy is recovering…slowly. Very slowly. And though Wall Street seems to have recovered nicely, many of us on Main Street are still worrying about losing their jobs to cutbacks and also their homes to foreclosure. In addition, many Americans remain burdened by credit card debt. In a nutshell, these are still trying times for consumers. Here’s what that means for you as a business owner: You simply can’t risk making it more difficult for customers to buy your products or services. Unfortunately, many local businesses aren’t making things easy when it comes to their websites. As more consumers are searching for nearby businesses on their mobile devices (according to Google, 1 in 3 searches are for local information) businesses are still running antiquated sites that look like crap (let’s face it) on smartphones and tablets.

Are you chasing away customers?

At first blush, this might seem like a small problem. It’s not, unfortunately. As the folks at MarketingVOX recently pointed out, there are very real financial penalties for having a mobile-unfriendly website. And as a growing number of consumers use mobile devices to access the web, the penalties are becoming stiffer. In a recent post, MarketingVOX pointed out research from Google showing that:

  • 2/3 of consumers say that they’re more likely to buy products and services from a mobile-friendly site.
  • 61 percent of consumers say that they’ll quickly leave a mobile site if they can’t find the info they need immediately.

The Google survey also found that 96 percent of consumers say they’ve found websites that were not designed for mobile devices. And fifty percent of consumers said that even if they like a business, they’ll purchase from it less frequently if the business’s website is not mobile-friendly. And on the plus side? A full 74 percent say that they’re apt to return to a mobile-friendly website.

Your challenge

What kind of mobile experience are you offering to your prospects and customers? If it’s bad, the research from Google is unequivocal: you’re losing customers. If it’s a good experience, you’re probably taking them from your competitors. It’s not hard to see why mobile website optimization is important. Look around you. The chances are good you’ll see someone hunched over a mobile device, swiping away at their iPhone, Android tablet or Kindle e-reader. This isn’t a passing fad. In fact, a recent report from Morgan Stanley projects that web browsing on mobile devices will outpace web surfing on personal computers within the next year. And according to a joint Google/Ipsos study, after consumers search for a business via mobile, 61% say they make a phone call and 59% say they will go to the business! Can you guess which businesses are going to hear the phone ring? Yes, those with mobile-ready websites. If you have a smartphone, here’s your homework: pull up your site with your mobile web browser. If your site looks cramped or illegible, you know what you have to do: fix it. Get help if you need it! Otherwise, you’re at risk of losing what every business depends upon. Paying customers.

Pinterest for Small Business

Posted on: February 11, 2013 by in Business Building
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Pinterest for Small Business? YES!

I know, I know. You don’t have the time for another social network. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t talk up Pinterest, because this image-centric social network has become an amazing place for businesses to:

  • Meet new customers
  • Boost website traffic
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Drive sales activity

What makes this visual social network so irresistible to users and small businesses? Let’s take a look:

Less annoying minutiae, more positivity!

Instead of being a platform for tedious updates about what people ate for breakfast or ALL CAPS rants from your weird uncle, Pinterest is about bringing people together who have common preferences, whether it’s fashion, art, food, crafts, architecture, photography, cocktail recipes, interior design..you name it. Copyblogger contributor Beth Hayden sums up Pinterest very well with this quote: “Pinterest is visually appealing, positive, and unlike Facebook, there isn’t any whining.” Can I get an amen?!

Why are marketers so enthusiastic about Pinterest?

For starters, the site is incredibly well-liked. Just last year, in a five month span, Pinterest rocketed to a jaw-dropping 10 million users. Nobody was expecting it. Even social media watchers were caught off guard. Virtually overnight Pinterest became a MAJOR driver of website traffic. Get this: Pinterest drives more visitors than YouTube, Google and LinkedIn—combined. Here’s one more thing: users love Pinterest. They can’t get enough. It’s addictive. As per comScore data Pinterest users average 89 minutes per month on the site and Google users average just 3 minutes per month.

So what?

Why should businesses like yours care about Pinterest? It’s really quite simple. For starters, the website is a low-key, non-threatening approach to meet consumers who are interested in what you’re passionate about! This built-in permission makes it possible to build new relationships with others in your target market. Secondly, Pinterest is an effective place showcase your products or services, stay top of mind and expand your “tribe” of like-minded folks. Just create an account. You’ll see an array of businesses on the site, such as…

  • Florists
  • Farmers markets
  • Furniture makers
  • Fly fishing guides
  • Fitness clubs
  • Fashion consultants

The list is endless.

No excuses; start pinning!

I can hear the gears turning in your brain … you’re contemplating explanations why you ought to ignore Pinterest, aren’t you? Businesses tend to quickly think of reasons why they shouldn’t use social media. They don’t become involved simply because they don’t think they have a natural place in a particular network. Look, folks, if a plumbing franchise in Waco, Texas can make Pinterest work for their business, you can too! Don’t sell yourself short.