Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Social Media

Your Digital Footprint: Are Your Potential Customers Finding You? Edit article

the-digital-footprintBasic digital marketing strategy begins with a review of your social media/digital footprint.

The confidence that people and businesses have when asked about this process is very alarming to me. Why? Because in 2017 most of us should be aware that no matter how much you post or where you post–your life and business are no longer private! Everything, and I mean just about everything, can be found by a potential customer looking for your products or services. And that should be a good thing.

With all the information that is “out there” in the digital world, there is incredible potential for you and your business when your information is branded and threaded together.  Then, the more information you share with consumers, the more your expertise rises. It’s called Thought Leadership and anyone with a specialty has the potential to attract new customers by creating a digital strategy of thought leadership. And the benefits? Inbound Marketing Leads.

Attention Small Businesses

I know you are all posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But did you know that “posting” needs to strategic too? What is it your customers want to hear? Buy me or Teach me?

Ask yourself how you make your purchasing decisions. Do you follow and like every “offer” being made on your newsfeeds? Or do you research and find information, reviews, and articles to help you decide where to spend your money? That’s what I thought.

By the time your prospects actually reach out to you–by phone or email–they have made 80% of the decision to buy from you already.

So what information are you offering that is supplying that 80%?

Steps for Small Business

  1. Update and Brand all your social profiles.
  2. Figure out who your customers really are and then where they are on social. Then be there, not everywhere.
  3. Review, revise and get your information strategy together. Posts, blogs, articles and materials all have their purpose in social media. Is what you are posting a bunch of “fluff” and “sales”? Then you will not get inbound leads. But, if you are out there, being a thought leader…well, wouldn’t it be nice to actually have an inbound strategy in place that is working? Thought so.

Attention Professionals

It is amazing to me how few professionals utilize blogging and social posts to grow and advance in their careers. The days of “updating” resumes to get ahead are long gone! This is the digital/information age and if you cannot be found where we are looking, then no one will find you!

Steps for Professionals

  1. Update and Optimize your LinkedIn profile.
  2. Brand and thread all of your social media profiles together.
  3. Blog and offer information that is searchable and will offer you an inbound stream of leads and contacts.

Branding and Thought Leadership are not just trendy words that marketing professionals use. They are the new reality of marketing. Take the Digital Footprint Test for free (from me) and see where you could (and must) improve. It might just be worth 25% more leads or more sales that are inbound to you!

Maria Bereket is a Digital Media Marketing Consultant and Coach, LinkedIn Strategist, and Social Media Trainer. Her work focuses on bridging the gap of the digital divide by teaching people how to use social media to grow their business through social media thought leadership. She is an innovator and creative task master, so don’t contact her if you are not looking for growth and change. Teaching people to embrace technology and learn how to communicate in a digital world is her super-power. Connect @mbear88 or email her at if you are looking for an INBOUND MARKETING STRATEGY that works!

Originally posted on LinkedIn

business, customers, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Social Media

Your Business Needs The Digital Touch

Are you thinking this is a SciFi post about virtual realities? No Sir, this is about your business success.

The “digital touch” I am referring to is CONTENT. And “content” is not some technical, marketing lingo. It is your new reality as a business. It is something that has to be accepted, learned, and given priority to help your business grow. Here is a definition that I like:

Content: Something that is to be expressed through some medium, such as speech, writing, or any of the various arts.

In other words, “content” is merely INFORMATION. And Information is what people need to buy products and services. And where do they get their information?

Oh yeah, through digital media! Ahh, now you know where the digital touch comes from.

Start with this question: Why is posting information about your products and services – via digital channels- so important to the growth of your business?

It is important because “information” (content) is essential to a buyers journey. It influences their decisions on what and where to buy. Just look at this awesome graphic below:

So, as a business owner do you want to influence the outcome of the purchasing decisions made by your customers? Sure you do!

Well, regular content is your best way to do that.

A study by Google shows that 10 pieces of content (information) are consumed before a purchasing decision is made.

Every post, every article, every blog has the power to direct attention to your business. It is the digital touch–tap-tap-tap and your future buyers are looking you up while waiting to get their teeth cleaned. Cool article on Twitter? Tap-tap and it’s bookmarked in the Pocket App for later. I do not think anyone can dispute the reality of our Digital World but is your business “digitally touching” potential buyers as he or she are browsing the world wide web?


  1. Customers do not have to go directly to you anymore to find the information they are looking for. That is why your phone doesn’t ring! If a customer saw something at a friends house, they turn to the Internet to find the answers to their questions. They go to your website first to see what you have, who you are, and if you have written any articles that address their questions. They look up at the top and click your social media links going to their site of preference–some Facebook, some Instagram, some Twitter. They ask themselves: What do they post? Are there pictures? Events? Anything useful? And then, they go back to Google and find more.
  2. Technology is embedded in all Generations. Sorry, it’s not just the young’uns anymore who live and die by their iPhones. Grandma has figured out that she does not have to get in her car to drive across town in the rain or snow to shop for something to give her daughters on Valentines Day. So if you are on her “Favorite Facebook Pages” and you have not started posting your Valentines quotes and ideas then some smart, savvy business is going to entice her to click on their paid AD along the right side…and off she goes gathering her ten pieces of content for when she is ready to buy, from them.
  3. The most painful of all is that you NEED NEW CUSTOMERS. The collectors, the rewards members, the people who have bought every model and color…they eventually move on and you need someone “new” who has never heard of you or your awesome “thing-a-ma-jig.” These folks have to find you, then read your ten pieces to learn more about how a “thing-a-ma-jig” works, and then they have to trust that you are real and not some Russian hacker trying to get their credit card number. The digital generation is everyone now. Just like when automobiles eventually replaced all the horse-drawn carriages–we all use digital media for information.

It’s Time To Start Saying “Content.”

These are not confusing times ruled by millennials with selfie sticks. It is 2017, and we are all part of the social media marketing universe—all of us. So go ahead, say it:

That is the first step in reaching across the digital aisle to potential customers. And although you will need a strategy for posting and content the hardest part is accepting reality. Your charming personality, your creative store windows, the coupon in Valpak, well, they just are not enough to keep your business a float. You must first accept “content” as your key to success in the digital world we live in.

#Content #BuyersJourney #BusinessSuccess #Customers #SocialMedia

Maria Bereket is a Digital Media Marketing Consultant and Coach, LinkedIn Strategist, and Social Media Trainer. Her work focuses on bridging the gap of the digital divide by teaching people how to use social media to grow their business through social media thought leadership. She is an innovator and creative task master, so don’t contact her if you are not looking for growth and change. Teaching people to embrace technology and learn how to communicate in a digital world is her super-power. Connect @mbear88 or email her at

Design, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Social Media

5 Valentines Posts To Do Right Now

I am a huge supporter of the Annual Content Calendar for social media posting. With Valentines Day fast approaching its time to get serious about using it. So I will start with a few statistics and then share five ideas that you can incorporate in your posting efforts over the next couple of weeks.

Let’s Start With The Numbers by Statistic Brain

$116.21 is the average amount people spend on Valentines

61.8 % is the percent of consumers who do celebrate Valentines Day

Why are these important?

53% of women say they would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentines day.

I love the 53% break-up statistic! Serious business Valentines Day! It’s the war between the sexes: Women want to be thought about and rewarded for all the things they do – even when they say they don’t want anything it doesn’t hurt to surprise them with a small token of your love. Same goes for customers. They say they don’t want you to post too much, but when it comes to dropping some dollars, they only are kind to those who share information.

So as a small business, you can (and must) help your customers by offering them information and ideas–for Valentines Day help them know what to write in their cards, put in their gifts, or just keep them focused on the most important events of the day. In other words, be relevant to your customers so they don’t “break up with you.”

So Let’s Get Started with Your Posts

You should be scheduling a post every day no matter what the theme or holiday. Let’s start with some post types: quotes, articles, images, stories, and offers. Use a program like Canva (below) to help you make pretty posts for your Facebook and Instagram accounts. Then start off the year by beginning to think about your products and services differently (like through the eyes of your customers, especially those who have no idea who you are) and then think about how you can repackage and offer them in ways that appeal to a different generation. The goal for every business is to grow your customer base.

So let’s begin with Valentines Day. I know what you are thinking: a good number of people only buy chocolate and flowers on Valentines Day, but offering your customers a warm, fuzzy feeling over the upcoming holiday theme of “Love” is good customer service. And remember: not everyone cares about Valentines Day as a day to “get something.” But we are all aware that the day is happening and it is nice to be included in some way.

Here are 5 ideas to Inspire Your Valentine Content:

#1 Create Gift Guides – Who doesn’t love a good gift guide? Come on, we are all really, really busy lately and spending a few hours figuring out what to get our significant other is a huge pain. So make it easy and fun by putting together a few of your products especially for Him or Her. Just in those two groups are lovers, spouses, family, and friends. Why not share the “love” with everyone by including everyone to give gifts? My Dentist is quite creative by offering unique gifts for his customers at Valentines—he buys a few boxes of chocolate and wraps them with a Teeth Cleaning Certificate!

#2 Contests – “Best Engagement Story”, “Silliest Valentines Gift”, “Cutest Pet Couple”…the possibilities are endless when it comes to contests that ask customers to share their stories with pictures. Ask people to post them onto your page with your specific contest Hashtag. Offer them a movie night as a prize. Why would you do that when you are not a movie theater? Because it is relevant to the holiday and the contest. But most important is that the more people who post on your page, the more they share with their friends (who don’t yet know you), and the more people who see your page, the more engagement your posting will have—and that is the goal here. Traffic and engagement! Becuase that will lead to sales.

#3 Date Night Ideas – This is a good time to think about your neighbors and ways to co-brand your business. What could be a fun “Date Night” on your main street? Outline it, have menus, ask people to share their ideas. Post lots of fun ideas, silly ones, and of course, ask people for their stories and ideas so they will share. Magazines are filled with ideas right now—share the links to the articles and offer your personal take on them. Be the source for information.

#4 Love Notes – Post some interesting poems and even some famous love letters to give your fans and customers ideas on what to say to their beloved. Do some DIY ideas here too—perhaps hosting a Valentines Card get together with craft items so people can make a personal statement and then post the card onto your page to enter them into a drawing. Emojis may be fun but they do not say “I love you” like a love note!

#5 Anti-Valentine’s Day – So think about my dentist for example. He is taking an anti-teeth product (sweets) and placing it with something he does (teeth cleaning)—and it says I love you, right? Well, there are plenty of people who hate sweets, hate romance, hate spending money on holidays. Post comics, gag gift ideas, and anything “Anti-Valentines” that gets people sharing your posts from your business page. Have fun and be sure to ask people to share their stories with you!

So now, just get to it and make the posts. Track your fans, likes, and foot traffic. Notice how many people are noticing that you are posting something daily and relevant instead of just “Buy My Stuff” content. And please, share your stories with me on well (or not well) things went.

Maria Bereket is a Digital Media Marketing Consultant and Coach, LinkedIn Strategist, and Social Media Trainer. Her work focuses on bridging the gap of the digital divide by teaching people how to use social media to grow their business through social media thought leadership. She is an innovator and creative task master, so don’t contact her if you are not looking for growth and change. Teaching people to embrace technology and learn how to communicate in a digital world is her super-power. Connect @mbear88 or email her at

Original Post:

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Speak in a Language we all Understand!







I saw this quote on a webinar from the Content Marketing Institute that immediately struck me as something I knew that I would have to save, share  and often recall its wisdom when writing a post. It’s simplicity and wisdom are worth repeating:

Speak to the dog in the language of the dog, about what is in the heart of the dog!

How simple is that to remember when reaching out to clients and people in our blogs and posts? Too simple it seems. Every morning I read newsfeeds, twitter feeds, pulse pages and articles and I am always surprised at the number of would-be articles that are filled with tech talk and self-promotion. I feel dupped when I am drawn to a wonderful article that is eloquently titled to solve my problem and then am put to sleep with a bunch of “blah, blah, blah” phrases filled with technical language and statistics. Uh, that is why I am searching for you…I do not understand your business!!

And don’t get me started on the sheer quantity of posts that are so self-promoting. Take out an ad, please! So jot this wonderful quote down and pin it next to your computer for it contains two wonderful pieces of wisdom:

#1 When you are talking to me (or any potential client) we do not have a dictionary of terms about your SEO, Tech-talk, or special product lingo….we have a need and you are there to help us resolve it. We are searching for information to help us because we are not in your industry and have no clue what is required to make our problem go away. That means that when you want to help us solve a problem with your product and service we want you to learn our language. Get down off of your knowledge-filled podium and remember that your customers are looking for answers to problems. Speak to the dog in the language of the dog!

#2 We are assuming that you are fabulous, that is why we are reading your article or blog in the first place, but do not tease us with your catchy title and then give us all your self-promoting, greater-than-thou phrases about all your fabulous clients and how you solved this and that problem. We want you to get down in the trenches and remember that we feel special, rather we want you to make us feel special, by speaking to us with relevant information that gives us confidence in your services. Who wants to be sold in an article that should be giving us insights into problems? Take a moment (or two) and figure our what is important to us, and then offer some insights–uh yeah, for free–so that we can take those few tidbits of knowledge and start to trust you with our business. Speaking to what is in the heart of the dog is akin to being our friend and ally–and that is who we want to do business with, not a circus promoter!

It is as simple as that. We, the customers of the internet world, are searching for information that speaks to us, informs us, guides us, and ultimately, helps us to choose the right person to solve our problems.

So take a moment and re-read your latest post and put on our glasses. Forget all the certifications you have, and keep in mind that we have no clue what your technical background is–and talk to us as if you spoke our language.

Image source: CMI

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Stress Reliever! She is a Trainer, Designer & Small Business Strategist who helps busy professionals, business owners, and educators feel stress-free when setting up their social media profiles and marketing programs. Design Bear Marketing is her Social Media & Design Company. @mbear88

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Finding Your Written Voice

chart 8

The most common concern that people have when faced with the task of writing a company blog, tweet or post is: “what should I say?”

I offer a simple solution:
Forget about what to say and focus more on how you say it!

Your business and professional life are full of stories to write about in social media posts. You can Google topics in your industry and probably write out several months worth of relevant, informative posts that your customers would love to have as reference points. But what makes those pieces of information relevant and authentic is the sound of the voice you speak when writing.

“Sound?” you say. “Written words don’t have sound!”

Of course, written words don’t have sounds, but they do have a voice.

Technology may have made it easier to write out words and then spread them quickly across the internet to thousands of people, but technology left out the human connection that it takes to resonate with buyers and customers.

So think about that quote for a moment:

“Speak to the dog, in the language of the dog, about what’s in the heart of the dog.”

Your written voice must contain within it the values and passion that you have for the messages you want people to hear. Your written voice must carry in it the purpose and reasons why you are who you are. What you do is of no importance to the customer because in our social media world they have already found you among the millions of voices that beckon their attention.

Who you are, matters. Why you do what you do, matters.

That is what is in the heart of the dog: values, passion, emotion, purpose, vision, relationships, and conversations. All intangible things that do not involve profit and loss, line item budgets, and overseas manufacturing.

Start by figuring out why you started your business.
Then figure out what truly drives your career.
And finally, figure out the core passion that makes you different from all the other voices and you will have found your true voice. The voice of the dog.

And then?

“Speak to the dog…about what is in the heart of the dog”.

Not what is in the heart of your business, or your last board meeting, or even in the results of the survey monkey. What is in the heart of your customers is usually a value system that makes them “get what you do” because they know and understand why you do it.

They just get you. And that, my internet friends, is the voice of the dog!

#smallbiz, #content, #contentmarketing, #socialmedia, #designbear, #customers, #values, #valuedrivenbusiness

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

What is the Living, Breathing Part of Your Business?

I just came back from a local business owner networking group.  Our monthly meetings are informative and inspiring, but no matter the predetermined topic, eventually we wrap things up with everyone complaining about social media.

Today I heard all the reasons why small businesses do not need a blog.  No time. No money. No staffing. No results. My observation:  FEAR.  Fear of writing.  Fear of content.  Fear that customers will read it.  Fear that customers won’t read it. Fear of making mistakes. And most importantly, fear brought on by a lack of understanding at the simplicity of creating a blog.

It’s important to understand this: Social media is not about one time hits and viral posts that make it on the Ellen Show. It’s about building loyal followers, over time.  Followers that really enjoy what you have to say.  They get you! They want to experience your process, your thoughts, and your vision of the future.  They identify with your company values.  You are part of their Newsday.

How simple is this: One day you have the Engineering department post some cool blueprints and then the staff in HR write a post about how they collected food for the local food bank (with pictures and passion of course.) Finally, your design team posts a few sketches (because who doesn’t love seeing the sketches of products next to the actual, final version?)  The reader gets to be a part of your process like a secret agent.  It is not about selling or presenting your mission statement.  Your blog is a living, breathing part of your company. …the right brain part!

“Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.”    Andrew Sullivan, former editor of The New Republic

Just focus on the extreme sports part of that quote, and don’t freak out about the writing part.  Believe me; every company has lots of things to say.  And I am confident that you have more than enough people who work for your company who can (and would love too) contribute to your company blog.  You just need to ask. Ask who is interested.  Ask for topics.  Ask people to contribute photos of anything related to the company.  Ask people for articles that relate to their jobs.  “Many hands make light work,” so show the people behind the process and you will find loyal followers who will buy your products and services.


Need more convincing?

Here is the list on the importance of blogging:

  1. Blogging gives you a fast, cheap and fun way to spread information—and that includes marketing, public relations and branding efforts. Some statistics claim that businesses that regularly blog generate 54% more website visits than those that do not blog.
  2. Blogging is an effective way to court new customers and if you include some form of call-to-action (contests, discounts, freebies) which will take your visitors to a special landing page, you will find more appointments/orders for your sales department.
  3. Blogs which regularly publish fresh, fun, interesting and informative content (that is optimized for search engines of course) will grow organically, generating traffic beyond belief.
  4. Think of your blog as the perfect platform to launch new products and respond to any questions that potential or existing customers may have. This is especially true after your annual trade show.  Link your Pinterest page and share photos. Invite people to join in on the conversation.
  5. You do realize that you own your Blog, right?  You are not sending out press releases and packets to get “in the news.”  You own this, you are the news, and the beauty is that any department can step up to the plate and hit the ball!
  6. Blogging can support all your social media marketing efforts. It helps to make that overwhelming job seamless and coordinated.  Why wouldn’t it?  Your blog content gives you something to talk about on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Create content (from a variety of departments) so that you have a mix of topics that will appeal to your whole audience.
  7. And do not forget, blogging gives your business a voice on the internet. Blogs give businesses an opportunity to explain their vision and passion, as well as their management philosophy.  It doesn’t have to be dry and hum drum, and it shouldn’t be!  Put in the proper tags and your company will show up more often where it counts, on the search engines.

One of the business owners at my networking meeting said that he read  “only 35% of businesses today are blogging.”  His perspective was that it wasn’t a proven tool.  My perspective is that you can establish yourself as a pioneer with a strong following before every business has a blog.  Of course you need to have a social media policy in place and someone who will coordinate content on your Social Media Calendar (both absolutely essential to success) but you can (and should) start that blog as soon as possible.  Just get it on the agenda and make it happen.  You will see results.

How has your company benefited from a regular blog? What challenges did you face in getting it started?


business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Outdated Blog

Recently I had post show up on my Facebook news feed: ” Hey, I just updated my blog. Please take a look….”

I was excited because I don’t hear much from this business.  I clicked and found a very nice looking Blog.  It has what I call “sneaky” posts, because they have no dates attached to them, but her last post was talking about an event that she was speaking at in October 2011!

Hello, its April 2014 and we are all busy people.  Bogging posts everyday is not possible for everyone (for most people), blogging once a month is challenge, but less than one post per year?  And then you announce it to the masses because you have nothing better to say? Really?

This is my number one pet peeve of any social media.  And I am not free and clear here, in fact I am to blame as well.  Spending so much time on other people’s content that I forget to even do my own!  When people ask me to review their “Social Media” I find that outdated posts (on any site) are worse than not having a site at all.  It is telling your potential clients that you have nothing to say, and I know that everyone has something to say.


Content is everywhere.  Re-posting from other social sites is a great way to update an outdated blog:

Pinterest:  Create boards with interesting content related to your service or business.  Post them and link it to your Bog, Twitter or Facebook. Its visual. It is so easy too.

Goodreads: My newest favorite site. You read don’t you?  Well, post your books, review them, link up with other readers of subjects that pertain to your business and interests.  Post them and then link it to your Blog sidebar widgets menu.  It tells people you are interesting, updated, and on top of your game.

LinkedIn: Post articles that you are reading from a variety of sources….”Like” magazines on you business Facebook page and tons of articles will come across you desk daily.  Like them, share them, re-post them on your other social media sites.  Write a brief Blog opinion about that article.  Show people what you do everyday–learn and grow.

Twitter:  It has not been a favorite of mine since the beginning.  How can a small business compete with celebrities and large corporations?  Well, its just a news-feed if you follow the companies and people that are part of your business.  Scroll down a couple of times a day and learn what people are saying–people who you respect and admire in your industry.  Re-tweet, link that tweet to your Facebook or Blog.  Its circular, share the love and information.

Instagram: Its just putting all those pictures you take, or save, or find (quotes too) and post them to your Instagram account.  Who says a lawyer can’t post something of interest to his or her clients?  Interesting courthouses, judges, or prosecutors (like My lady in South Africa that is flooding the news.)  There must be something that leading people in your industry post, see what it is and then do your own thing.  You will pick it up.

It only takes an understanding of multi-tasking to really get the hang of finding information for your Blog.

And to go back to the Facebook posting from my friends business, really?! You have nothing else to post other than to direct people to your outdated blog?  No jokes, no quotes, no articles you have read.  How about an excerpt from your book that is so prominently displayed everywhere?  You wrote a book, you have lots to say!

It is time consuming, I get it.  I do it all day and really, and I mean really, do not want to do it for myself too.  But it has to be done.  Once a month, once a quarter.  Come on, we can all do once a year.

Design Bear