business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

One Terrifying #Smallbiz Reality

fear

Customers who engage with companies over
social media spend on average — 30% more
with those companies than other customers.
(Hootsuite)

30% More Sales!

When I quote a number like this to #SmallBiz Owners in my networking circles, their eyes narrow a bit, eyebrows raise, and I can just see the sweat collect on their brow as they stop breathing for a second…..

Fear.

I think the reality of knowing that your customers are engaging with companies online is one reason to cause some stress and pain, but having to face the fact that these customers might be spending more money too?

It is bad enough these giant, Mega-superstores sell cheaper products and services, but we all know they also have the resources to hire a team of nerds and geeks to post and tweet too!! Wait a minute, I am getting way ahead of myself here. It is just not true!

The companies that are competing for the #SmallBiz sales are not the ones with teams of people posting, blogging and tweeting. In fact, the statistics show that most of these “big guys” have only one or two people creating the social media buzz.

The beauty of utilizing social media as a marketing strategy is that every employee in the company–from the intern to bookkeeper—can contribute to the social media growth and sales of your small business.

Think about 30% more sales this month.

Is that worth sitting down and making a plan to incorporate social media into your marketing? Of course, it is, and not just because of the 30% sales, but because social media IS marketing!

First part of the strategy is acceptance.

This is what has changed and if #smallbiz does not get on board, then we let the big guys win. And every economy in the world needs #smallbiz.

What are you doing to incorporate social media?

Stay tuned for my #smallbiz tips posts on how to get with the social media plan.

Original post from www.linkedin.com/in/mariabereket/

business, Design, Marketing, Personal Brand, Social Media

8 Key Visual Trends in Marketing

Imagery, imagery, imagery

Getty images have been blowing this horn for years, but recently they changed their whole arsenal of stock photos to include descriptions you can search by the following trends. These trends are key when you are trying to find new ways to tell the stories of our brands. It is not just our words, but the images that resonate with our emotional need to join in the conversation.

So how do we “speak” the language of the branded story?

Here is the horrible truth: the selfie –even if you despise it–has redefined our need for the authentic look and feel, and its not a world of “self-absorbed” teenagers, it is the way everyone wants to be addressed in advertising and media: REAL.

Keep in mind the visual facts here: Our eyes are able to process billions of images and information every second in our day. We are thrown sounds, colors, light, words, and wavelengths that pull our attention away or into a message.

We think with our eyes.

Our eyes pull our attention into the world around us and acts as first-line filter to what we will stop and read.

#1 Authenticity:

Real people, Instagram-like photos. Source: Nike

#2 Glitch Aesthetics:

Messy, unexpected, double exposure. Source: Donna Karin

#3 Blurred:

Out of focus, user-generated, Polaroid feel. Source: Ataxia Non-profit.

#4 POV:

Point of View, raw and unfiltered: Source: Instagram

#5 Female Rising:

Women as strong, athletic, and in control. Source: Fidelity

#6 Dad as Important:

Connecting to their children. Source: Huggies

#7 Body 2.0:

Being comfortable in our own skin. Source: Aerie

#8 The New Old:

Seniors are not put out to pasture. Source: First Independent Bank.

These are the defining visual moments of marketing.

How are you getting in on this conversation? What can we as Marketers do to guide our clients to this visually important trend?

Post originally written for LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141021172724-57146434-8-key-image-trends-in-marketing

business, Marketing, Social Media

Must Have PR Tool: Infographic on the Press Release

Some small business tools are so absolutely amazing that you have to share it everywhere!

pR front pr back

This infographic (created by Small Business PR) is perfect for anyone trying their hand at writing a Press Release.

With the slow down of the printed press, people today assume that sending out press releases are dead and gone, but don’t be fooled.  Local newspapers have a strong and powerful reach within a community; and if your business is hosting an event, launching a new product, or sponsoring any kind of experience that involves the community you serve–then do a press release.

http://www.smallbusinesspr.com/pr-learning-center/diagrams-templates/Infographic-Press-Release-Diagram.html

KEY POINT:  just be sure to include that bottom boiler point paragraph about who you are and how you fit the community you are serving. This offers news editors a chance to find local business heroes.  The more you take part in your community, the more support you will find there for the success of your business!

Source: http://www.smallbusinesspr.com/

Have a good Press Release story to tell?  Share it with us.

business, customers, Marketing

Your Business is Still About Customers

Poor Service

Consider this:

80% of executives believe their company is delivering a superior customer experience, yet in 2013, only 8% of companies surveyed received a top grade from their customers.”

Interesting. Only 8% got top marks for customer service…why do think that is? With all the tools and data we have at our fingertips today, 80% of executives believe they are giving good service, but somewhere things got lost in translation.

Isn’t social media suppose to give us all the things we need to make our customers happy? All those cool sites to post stuff on so we stay in contact with customers on a daily basis. And what about the other hundreds of “free” ways to get the word out about your latest products and services–customers love all that stuff, right? The kitten posts? All those people who “liked” your kitten photos? Is this really what your customers want?

Social Media is not a replacement for good old customer service and it certainly isn’t going to help the guy who wrote in ketchup. It isn’t a strategy, in fact, when it comes to customer service things haven’t changed at all. Facebook is a tool for business. It can’t help the guy waiting to order his lunch, but it will impact that restaurant when that ketchup photo goes viral. Business is still about the people we serve. That is what counts. The customers we serve. All the tweeting and posting in the world mean nothing without customer service.

So here goes, a simple checklist to get back on track:

1. Website: By the time people come through your door they have made 80% of their decision to buy from you. They don’t want your brochure; they want to see how your product looks or works. They already know what it costs, and they know your price is something they can afford. Customers are doing their homework on the internet. By the time they get to you, they are ready. At that point its how they are treated. (And if they are not coming through your door, it’s time to review the information are you offering them.)

2. Be Where They Are: If you are in business, then you probably already know who your best customers are, you just need more of them. That “new-fangled-social-media-thingy” exists. That is where your customers are, so figure out which sites they love, and then get out there and have a conversation. Don’t know where to start? Find your competitors sites and see what they are doing. It’s ok to look, in fact, its expected. Learn from them.

3. Optimizing Content: One of the worst things business owners do is that they go out and set up all the social sites they can think of and then start posting “look at me” signs. It takes a lot of hours to post and generate content on the internet, so why not step back and figure out which posts work for you, and which ones do not. We call that optimizing and that could be something as simple as using keywords in your descriptions. Don’t just post to post, post to become relevant, searchable and customer focused. If you don’t have time to read how to “optimize”, then hire someone to teach you how to do it. It doesn’t have to be hard, or difficult, but it is necessary.

4. Personalize: This is a part of marketing that has changed. One ad in the local paper does not bring in lots of new customers. Just like one post or one online ad will not make you a millionaire. Find your core customer and offer them what they want. Be laser focused on their needs, who they are, what they like, what they don’t like…and then give it to them. It’s not “all mom’s”, it is “moms with pre-school children who have food allergies”, or maybe its “middle-aged men and women who have lost a significant person in their lives and they want to feel connected again”. That could be a great pizza ad—on one site and a totally different pizza ad on another site. Same pizza place, different, personalized message.

5. Step Back. It is necessary and more than OK to take a step back once in a while. How can you possibly know if your message is correct and getting to the right people if you don’t stop and take a good long look? Being organized, getting organized takes time and a plan; so stop rushing around trying to meet the needs of everyone, everywhere, and figure out where you are. Once you know that, you can move on to where you want to be.

6. Strategize: So where exactly do you want your business to go? Yeah, we all want customers who buy stuff, but where exactly do you want to be? How much stuff do you want to sell? Are you changing lives or just getting rid of inventory? It is not possible to effectively use social media sites if you do not understand where you want to go. People don’t care what you do, they care why you do it. That is part of making a strategy that works in social media.

7. Lead Don’t Manage: And now let’s deal with your low-cost “intern.” How on earth can a 20-something intern possibly know what and where to post your most important thoughts if you haven’t given them your mission statement and a training manual? And more important than that, why would you want a 20-something intern to post things on the internet without a very clear set of rules? There is nothing wrong with having your intern manage your social media, but they need you to lead them. In fact, your whole company needs to operate with a clear mission that has specific goals attached them. That empowers them to do the job you need, and it forces you to become the leader you always dreamt you would be.

So take a moment. A breath. Now figure it out–before your competitors do!

Quoted Data by Forrester Analysis 1/14
Image: IstockPhoto.com

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

4 Ways to Grow Your Small Business

31-1013tm-cart-economy

The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests that businesses that generate less than less than $5 million in revenue (only) set aside between 7-8% for marketing.” -SBA.gov

What does that tell you?

Well, it tells me that most businesses are only spending 7-8% on marketing. That is the small retailer, the dentist up the street, the daycare, and your favorite restaurant. All businesses vital to our community– and sadly, they are probably worried constantly about finding new customers and making ends meet. So then, why are they spending so little on something that could grow their business?

I know, its a jungle out there. With all the overwhelming buzz about social media marketing, how can you blame a small business for feeling overwhelmed and frustrated? Don’t be overwhelmed. Marketing is still marketing. It takes a strategy, attention, and most important, a budget to make it work. So let’s get to the ways it will help you get things done.

#1 ATTRACTING NEW CUSTOMERS: Getting new people to come into your business is not as easy as placing an AD in the Yellow Pages, but that is how most smaller businesses are hoping people will knock on the door. Sure one or two may filter in the door and tell you they saw you on YP.com, but getting the right people in front of you is the first key to small business marketing success.

  • Start by identifying who they are—demographics, location, interest, life-events, and stages. Knowing these things allows you to reach out to them through blogging, posting, advertising and web optimization. You need to be where your customers are—not where you are.
  • Your customers are using social media, and most likely they are using it from their smartphones, so what does your website look like on mobile phone? When was the last time you changed your website? Does it still have a cute Flash video? Did you know that iPhones can’t view those? Your website is important. It is the single most important part of your marketing plan. Everything you do on social media–all the tweets, the posts, the incredible blog posts are intended to lead people back to your website. It’s the lobby of your business. It is what will attract people into your door.

#2 CONVERT: So once your customers find you, are attracted to you by all the awesome and relevant information on your website, there needs to be some kind of call to action so that you can welcome them into your business.

  • Are they signing up for your newsletter that never gets written and sent? Are they filling out contact forms that never get responded too? Are they liking your posts (assuming you are posting)? How do you keep track of all this contact data? Do you have an email list? Contact software? ….hello, is anyone out there? How do you even know that customers are looking at your business to help them solve their problems or meet their needs?
  • Do you have someone on your staff who understands how to respond to your social media presence? It’s time to think about hiring someone.

#3 CLOSE: I know, you don’t have a sales department. Who does? The sales department of 1980 closed up in the 90’s, so its time small businesses understood that “closing the deal” is something customers control in the 21st Century.

  • If customers are calling you or stopping in for a visit, they are ready to buy. Yes, they are ready to buy. Even aging baby boomers have smartphones and use the internet to get their information, so the days of visiting to get your brochure are over. Be ready to reach out, shake their hands, and sign them up!
  • The question here is: do you have enough people coming in to buy? That is not a sales department problem, it is a social media problem. Get someone to help you get the word out.

#4 DELIGHT: This is where most small businesses really fail, and it’s a shame because it is so easy to delight your customers today. You see, while you were cutting your costs by letting go the receptionist and the extra staff, you also lost a key part of customer service—oh yeah, it’s called CUSTOMER SERVICE.

  • Who is thanking your customers? Who is welcoming them? Who is contacting them to see if they are happy and need anything else? I don’t care if you clean teeth, change diapers or sell pizza, customers want to be appreciated and given a reason to delight in their decision to come to you.
  • What’s your plan? Are your employees trained on customer service? Do they know your mission statement? Are they happy and smiling, because if they are not, then your customers will not be happy and smiling either.
  • Customer service did not die with the internet, it exploded! This is an important part of your marketing budget.

“Marketing is food, not medicine. It’s the regular, sustained nourishment that gets your business where you want it—and keeps it there.” James Archer, Forty.co

Marketing is not something you scramble to when the economy skids, or when you lose a top customer, or your enrollment is down. Marketing is the blood of your business. So avoid the need for a transfusion and keep it healthy and flowing 24/7 with a strategy and a plan. And the best part is that small businesses have the advantage. They can act quickly, test faster and quicker than the big guys—it is just a decision to start.

So let’s start a small business revolution and double that marketing budget from 7-10% to over 20-30%. What do you think would happen to your business?

Image: Graphic Stock