business, Marketing, Social Media

Damn, You Missed Your Exit. What Now?

Damn, You Missed Your Exit. What Now?

Who has time for delays?  Business is slow, the days are shorter and shorter, and did anyone realize that Christmas is like six months away?

Now you have that nagging feeling that everything is out of control. You got into your own business to have freedom, joy, flexibility, and the right to miss an exit once in a while and be late.  But this?  This is just too much to bear. Curse you social media I have got enough on my mind without having to worry about missing my exit to your lane to the future!

Perhaps you are the Preschool Owner who is trying to figure out how to balance the needs of communication with a younger demographic vs. the attention paid to the education of young children.  Parents want tablets, pictures, real-time communication…you get it, but all that requires skills and time, and oh yeah, training. Training costs money and time. How can you pull teachers off the floor and make this work? How can you get the word out about the importance of education at this age? Without social media, the good work fades alongside the trends.

What about the executive who is more likely to embrace the challenge of tweeting or updating profile headlines, but has an almost arrogant perspective that succumbing to the social media pressure will lessen their experience and skills?  These young kids are at your heels dreaming of your job while they are posting updates and comparing the newest apps for productivity.  When is there time to learn all this technology, and still lead a team of people who roll their eyes at you every time you pull out your mobile phone?  How do these kids afford these phone upgrades?

If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.

Small business owners have the greatest career challenge when faced with the social media “elephant in the room.”  Most act as if the “exit” sign came up without warning and yet most of these platforms have been well embedded in marketing for over ten years now.  While you were paying the Yellow Pages for their “better deals” year after year, the marketplace turned to experiences.  Your websites are outdated; your employees untrained in new customer service skills, and what about Amazon? How does one compete with the king of online sales?  When is there time?  How can staff be trained when you are learning too?  And then, all of sudden there is a fury of activity from that Facebook ad you ran but no sales. Does this Social Media Stuff Work?

There is a time when you have to stop everything you are doing. Clean off your desk.  Wipe your calendar free and just decide what to do, learn to do it, and then get it started.  Social media is a living, breathing, circulatory process of marketing–so whenever you jump in–you are on your way!

The problem is that most people of a certain age, are their own worst enemies. It’s not technology that changed, its the process of making decisions that changed.  We [the buyers of the world] needs lots and lots of information to make decisions.  And we [the buyers of all ages] want that information right now. So why do business owners think that we [all the buyers in the world] will just walk in and say, “I HAVE TO HAVE THAT!”?  Is there no dating before marriage? No dinner before dessert?  Where is the story? Where is the process? The information that captures my attention and stirs my emotions? That is where the circulatory system of social media comes into play.  It spreads information.  It gets the heart beating.  Social media is not optional, it is breath.

So think about that exit sign that you passed: THE FUTURE.  We cannot blame “the past” for the future, so why try to blame “lack of time”?  Personally, when I miss an exit, I just get off at the next one and circle back.  Or sometimes I just let my GPS recalculate—and sure, it may bring me into a few sketchy neighborhoods, or over a pothole or two, but I get there….. and isn’t that the goal?

So pull over and figure it out.  It is not the process of learning that is hard–it is accepting reality.  So stop fighting, blaming, justifying, and avoiding….Download Waze and find a new, faster route into the future.

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Consultant, LinkedIn Strategist, and a very animated Speaker. Her work focuses on bridging the gap of the digital divide by teaching people how to use social media to grow their brands through thought leadership. Her passion is working with small businesses and non-profits because she feels that it is through their work that our communities will be stronger and better for everyone. Teaching people to embrace technology and learn how to communicate in a digital world is her super-power! For a different perspective follow her @mbear88 or just email at  

Marketing, Social Media

60-Second World

hand reaching images streaming as internet concept
hand reaching images streaming as internet concept

What does it mean when everything is measured in 60 seconds?

For the youngest people in your office, it is an eye-rolling statement of fact, but for the rest of the workplace there is a love-hate relationship with reality.

For every “ding” and vibrating phone on the desk, there are chemicals being released in the brain that make us humans happy.  We love the sense of urgency of being “needed” or “alerted” to the latest news.  Being ‘first” to know is better than any drug in the marketplace but like any addiction, there is a need for more “dings”, faster and faster, to make us happy and happier.

And for the Luddites in the room, who are proud that they are not on Facebook and Twitter, I ask that you turn off your cell phones in the meeting because you are most likely the ones who have the ringers turned on and will answer by saying, “I can’t talk now, I am in a meeting!”  Yes, you too are an addict of the 60-second world.

Here are the latest stats:

Social Media in 60-Seconds:

  • Tumblr – 4.7 million posts (including reblogs)
  • Twitter – 433,000 tweets
  • Facebook – 293,000 statuses are updated
  • YouTube – over 5 million videos viewed
  • LinkedIn – 120 new users
  • Pinterest – 3,400 pins
  • Vine – 540 vines

What does that say about the workplace?

First of all, it is an amazing statement of fact about the quantity of information being shared today, instantly.  Mostly what it is saying is that it is time for everyone to embrace the reality that we need our information quickly, visually, and regularly.If your customers are updating their status 293,000 times in 60-seconds, then why wouldn’t we want our business to do the same?  Don’t we all have something relevant to say?

What are you waiting for?

It isn’t hard to set up a Facebook account that offers customers a view of your workplace culture and business expertise.  It isn’t hard to tweet out a few interesting articles you found on the latest trends in your industry.  Sharing information is how we live our lives today.  It is the wonderful 60-second way to becoming a thought leader in your industry.

So learn to share and yes, do it quickly.

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Stress Reliever! She builds Social Media Strategy on a Foundation of Solid Marketing and then manages the day-to-day information sharing that gets you started. She is also a Certified LinkedIn Profile Optimizer and Strategist for busy professionals who want to get ahead in this digital world. Design Bear Marketing is her Social Media & Design Company. 

Data Courtesy of:

Originally posted on LinkedIn

business, customers

Are You Forcing Customers to Quit?

business man and woman at desk sign quiet on phone

Here are some interesting numbers that I came across this morning:

Why Customers Quit:

  • 1% die.
  • 3% move away.
  • 5% develop new friendships.
  • 9% for competitive reasons.
  • 14% product dissatisfaction.
  • 68% quit because of an attitude of indifference toward the customer by some employee.

I know that this is true because I have been one of those customers–many, too many times–in almost every area of my life.

Restaurant: Friday night I sat in a restaurant with good friends laughing and talking and waiting for our food. 30 minutes after ordering I began to notice that there was no waitstaff to be found anywhere. I assumed it was a back in the kitchen, and when I got up to find someone, and it took a minute or two, the waitress came out and went over to the table behind me–the only person with food!

There was a flurry of activity after that. The manager came out to deliver meals, discovered that one order was put in wrong. He asked me if everything was alright and I told him our experience and that his waitress needing some re-training. He took care of the meal and made us feel better, but the young lady never came back until our bill was paid, and she straining to apologize for the mess up on the meal–not her avoidance of us. My friends left a horrible review on Yelp.

Medical: Visiting my father in Rehab following surgery, we asked to see the nurse discuss medicine changes. Two hours later as we were walking out, she was defensive about her schedule and inability to see us, jotted down our number and said she would call later. At 11 pm, we called them and the nurse on duty told us that “When we called she was supposed to help us.” Sadly she said she was new and didn’t have much information. The next day I asked to see the nurse again (same day nurse) she remembered me and said she would be in. Nowhere to be found after 45 minutes later, I went to the supervisor on duty. She came and was immediately defensive about what I was saying. She told me the nurse last night was “wrong and that what she meant to say was she was off duty for a week” (hmmm, how did she know that?) and then defended the day nurse, told us too much about the weekend staff and left. Our concern is dealt with as “complaints” and there is a terrible awkwardness to the relationship now.

Childcare: I spoke with a woman from one of my trainings last week who told me that she moved her child from a preschool recently because the teacher in the classroom was always telling her how busy she was, how little she knew about what was going on in the center, and recently her attitude that she (the parent) was taking up too much of her time. The parent tried to stay positive, complained a few times, but decided that if her child’s teacher was always too busy to know anything or help, then she needed to put her child in a safer environment.

All three are employees who are perceived as “not caring” and much too “distracted” to be serving customers. Looking closer they are all empathy issues, with a strong touch of “lack of training”—leading to the destruction of the relationship.

What is the purpose of our work? We are all here to serve customers. We all have them–every single person who works has customers. Yet we forget that without those people who pay money for our services and products, there would be no job in the first place.

So what needs to be done?

First, there is a huge gap in training these days. People are put on the floor, at their desk, in front of customers without the proper training and understanding of the company mission and values. How can anyone do a proper job if they don’t know what that job fully entails? My waitress didn’t know how to deal with the kitchen, nor did the other wait staff, so management is cutting back on something key here–train and teach your people their job! The preschool teacher and the nurse supervisor are both fighting the same battle: Their stress and overwork make them oblivious to their customers needs. They are so involved in their issues that they cannot understand what the customer feels.

Secondly, with budgets so tight, someone needs to sit down and figure out that losing customers costs more in the long run than training staff. Empathy is key. Knowing what the customer is feeling and needing is the first step to responding. Knowing your job. Here is a great video that can help us all to remember that our customers are living their own lives (

In the meantime, sit down with your team and ask them to put on their customers shoes for a moment. Write out what they are thinking, dealing with, and how they got to be in your business in the first place. What would they say? How do they feel?

Now step back and see if you are responding to them, or just pushing your own expertise or stress back as an excuse for not being kind and serving them.

I would love to know what exercises you use to train your staff in empathy. Are you talking about it? What are you saying?

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

Source: Fotolia

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

One Terrifying #Smallbiz Reality


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

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…..


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

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

4 Ways to Grow Your Small Business


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.”

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, 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,

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

business, Marketing, Social Media

5 Social Media Facts For Small Business


Did you know that there are over 1 billion smart-phone users?  Did you also know that 40% of mobile phone searches are for local businesses?  According to Eventuality, these two statistics are important reminders that everyone, yes, even you and your small business, must have a strong web presence if you want to be found by customers.

But it’s hard, right?  Finding time to understand social media, getting started, and being inspired to just consider it.  No matter how long you have been in business, or how small your business is, today if you are not using social media as your marketing strategy, you are not living up to your business potential.  And wouldn’t it be great to earn more money, double your enrollment?  How about attracting top teachers to your program?  Superstar employees who get what you are doing?  Social media offers the small business owner all of these wonderful benefits, so why then, are you still resisting it?

Here are 5 Social Media facts to remove the clouds around your head.  Facts help to remove all the glitzy headlines and clutter and offer a perspective, clear and focused to help put Social Media Marketing on the top of your To Do list:

Fact #1: Print is not dead…but if you are using materials that are not readable and legible, then your business will suffer. (Source: CMT Marketing) Technically, not a social media fact, but remember, social media is not just videos and pictures.  It is filled with written information. Small businesses make this mistake every day.  Multi-colored letters, curly, comic sans fonts, and lines and lines of text without a photo….these are forcing the eyes of your future customers off the page and right to your competitor. For every business: all of your materials should look crisp, clean, and branded (and all that means is that they must have a similar look and feel.)  If your materials are hard to read, then no one is reading them. Take the time to update everything: Stationary, business cards, brochures, handbooks, display signs, flyers, and anything printed that represents your program.  Then go to your website and make sure its the same. Use clean, readable fonts, with contrasting colors.  Add photos that are crisp and clear, and make sure everything written is simple and clear.

Fact #2: 97% of all consumers search for local businesses online. (Source: Eventuality) That means that by the time they get to you– they have already made most of the decision based on your web presence.  So, what does that tell you? If you are not getting the people inquiring about your program or services, it is probably because your web information is not giving them what they want—information, expertise, and a social presence.  Having a social media strategy does not have to be hard or overwhelming, but it does have to be written out and implemented.  The biggest obstacle most programs make is that they leave social media off the line item budget.  New materials and products are great, but if you don’t have sales or enrollments to hire more qualified help then all of those new, shiny products and materials will just collect dust.  Social Media is a 60% time cost.  Time that will be taken away from your business, the classroom, or the front office.  Time needs to be in the budget! Think of it this way, would you not budget in a person to stand at the cash register?  Then why leave your social media unmanned?

Fact #3: 78% of small businesses attract new customers through social media. (Source: Eventuality)   That means that your competitors are full and growing because they understand that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging, and Google+ are not going away.  They are doubling growth and enrollments every year.  Having a budget for the Yellow Pages and not one for social media is the kiss of death.  Take a look at what your competitors are doing.  What does their website look like?  What social platforms are they are on?  Do they have a Blog?  Now take a look at your internet presence.  Was your last Facebook post 8 months ago?  Is your website still displaying text and images from 2008?  You are on LinkedIn, right? Social media marketing needs a daily push to help your business become the thought leader it is in the community.  It’s time to be realistic.

Fact #4: Reviews are unavoidable.  If reviews are your reality then you should use them to your advantage.  Encouraging satisfied customers to use online review sites by giving them a hard copy survey right away, and include the relevant sites where they can post online reviews as well.  Ask your customers if you can use their survey comments to draft up a testimonial for your website.  Offer to send it to them first and then use their whole name and photo if possible. Be aware that most review sites also rate your staff, so the attitudes from your employees will impact your reviews.  And don’t tell me that you don’t have any reviews because you do, you just haven’t looked in the right places.

Fact #5:  61% of Generation Y checks social media before deciding where to go when “going out”. (Source: Eventuality)  Generation Y, or Millennials, are a growing target market.  If not today, then next year, and every year after that, so why would you alienate your most important customer?  Times change and you must change with them or be left behind.   It’s time to upgrade your flip phone and join the 21st century.

Some final thoughts:

  • Your programs need to focus on the needs of your customer.  It is these customers that read your materials, search for you online, and ultimately are called to action to buy, visit or enroll, so isn’t it time you were easily foundwhere they are? (and it’s not in the YP)
  • Use your expertise to become a thought leaderby posting updates and blog articles.  People are hungry for information.  Why shouldn’t your expertise be a part of the conversation?
  • Being penny-wise and pound-foolish about having an online marketing strategy will costyou in customers and free PR.  Hire a professional to help you set things up, get a social media policy in place, set up the sites, and get you rolling!  The hardest part is getting it off the ground.  It is never too late to be a part of the conversation.
  • Don’t make the mistake of being “too busy” to do social media. It is not optional any more.  On your staff is probably one or two people who would love to help you grow your marketing online.  Add their time to your budget to get the most bang for your buck.
  • Finally, embrace social media!This is what lets your customers and community know that you are current, relevant, and using social media will allow them to follow you and share all the information that are positing.  Become a thought leader in the industry, there are few out there now, so take the lead!

Photo Source:

For a free “social media” check-up of your web presence email me:  Getting a fresh perspective and then getting starting it all it takes.  I work with every budget, and specialize in small businesses and independent schools like yours.


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, Design, Marketing, Social Media

Small Business Marketing

Inc Magazine published a great infographic today.


It confirms what we all feared….drum roll….the old rules of marketing still apply.

What?  No Facebook?  No Twitter?

Well, yes, but take a moment to remember the old rules.

Word of Mouth, Customer Remarks 86%

Of course, in today’s tech world, word of mouth might be on Facebook or Yelp, but it is the review of a person who has experienced your product or service.  I meet people all of the time who have never heard of Yelp, or they say “I am not a restaurant so why should I bother?”  Well that doesn’t cut it anymore.  Dentists, Malls, Gas Stations, Graphic Design Studios, and even Restaurants, get reviewed through social media on Yelp.  I use Yelp to help me get addresses and directions…it is much faster than google by a long shot!  It matters.  Pay attention and respond to what your customers are saying.  Make it part of your business and  the happy customers will review you too.

Networking with Other Businesses 53%

I know, we all hate new situations.  Sweat and discomfort.  We gotta do it.  Just remember to do it regularly and correctly.  I just love it when a business owner goes out without business cards.  I have mentioned before why I think business cards are so important, but if you are going to meet other business owners, this would be networking 101.  But, even before you stuff that card in your bag, you need to make it a habit to go out and network, and not just with groups of people you like!  There are so many networking groups that it would take a full eight hours a day to get through them all.  LinkedIn Groups, Meetups, Local Chambers, local everything for that matter.  Just get a newspaper (yes the kind with black and white ink) and you will find several groups in your neighborhood that meet regularly.  Just attend.  Then attend again.  Smile, listen, shake hands, and hand out your business card.  It is human contact in a very non-contact world. You just need one new customer a month to make a difference.

Advertising – print, booklet, radio, etc. 52%


Despite what the makers of Kindle want us to think, Print is NOT DEAD.  In fact, there are tons of studies in the tourism industry that highlight how important that take home tri-fold brochure is to the plans we make, or don’t make.  Plans are created and changed by good print pieces.  Once that brochure is made, you can follow it up with an interesting booklet–your story perhaps, and then if its possible, talk with the radio people and get some exposure.  Reading off the side of the cereal box is still accepted practice at breakfast.  We think with our eyes first, so have something to give out.  We all get stuck at the dentist, the train is delayed, the cab ride is stuck in traffic.  Our phones are not the only thing people read.  Place a nice ad once in awhile.  Consult a graphic person of course, and then do it.  It works.

Direct Mail or Email 45%

Most people hate writing.  It is a lost art really.  But nothing resonates more with people than something written.  Think out of the box too.  What would you like to read?  What gets you to open your mail?  Which things do you open first? Pay attention to things that work, and the things that don’t.  Model yourself after those.  But remember, writing can only capture us for so long.  You need a compelling beginning to keep us occupied for 2 minutes.  Throw in an image or two.  Make us laugh.  Have white space to guide us through your piece.  And of course, use good typography!  Apple knew the secrets.  One main font, maybe two colors, readable and legible.  Fancy does not keep our interest.  Learn the basics if you are doing it yourself.

Social Media 41%

Of course everything comes back to social media.  It is the core of the business world today.  But behind it are people.  People writing, people responding, people serving, people expressing their views.  If you are not using one or two social media sites to promote yourself, you are missing business.  For every person who says they found you there, I am sure there are several more who just didn’t tell you.  That is how social media works.  Its why “check in” offers are so successful.  Its the coupon of the new millennium.

The last is for all the old veterans who are determined NOT to accept Social Media Marketing.  Its fun if you would just stop being right and move on.  But hey, that is a whole other topic all together.

Design Bear