Tag Archives: small business marketing

Loose Tracking Methods – #1 Reason for Business Failure

Small business owners don’t have money to waste on loose tracking methods, but they keep doing it. It’s the number one reason for business failure because it means you’re constantly bleeding cash into advertising that produces little or no result.
ad-tracking2
Here are three effective, easy to do fixes for loose tracking methods.

Loose Tracking Methods Fix #1 – Continue reading

Relationship Marketing’s Rebirth – Sad for Small Business Marketing

Pundits and cow-patty gurus galore are squawking about relationship marketing being a “new thing” in small business marketing. You could get the idea business owners have never heard of things like word of mouth or referrals.

Once upon a time, relationships were the only thing that mattered.

We could secure credit for our small businesses based on a handshake or a promise. People honored their word, and put out every effort necessary to meet their commitments.

The truth is that relationships are nothing new. They are, and always have been, the foundation of small business marketing, and even of success itself.

How is it that we – small business owners – have fallen for Continue reading

Listener Questions Answered

Welcome to this week's episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

A listener question that has been coming up a lot lately is "How do I connect social media with the rest of my marketing?"

Smart business owners are wanting to let their social media contacts know they have a print newsletter. It's their most powerful marketing tool, and they want to move potential customers onto a mailing list. When you consider that over 70% of people still prefer to marketed to through mailed promotions, you can see how these business owners are definitely on the right track.

So we start the show off this week with how to connect your offline and online marketing. There are several things you can do to move people off social media sites (EXTREMELY good idea since you don't own the list when it's on a social media site), and there's one particularly important thing you should NOT do.

Making this one mistake can completely destroy your efforts to move people onto your mailing list.

"Showrooming" is becoming such a large problem for the big box retailers that Target recently sent a letter to its suppliers asking them to come up with special items exclusively for Target.

(Showrooming is going into a store to see the item you want, then purchasing it online through your smart phone while standing in the store.)

They have the right idea - they're looking for the solution. And they're trying to eliminate price comparison shopping by having exclusive items. But they're trying to solve the wrong problem.

We have no loyalty to these big box retailers precisely because they don't care about us. They have zero customer service, and their employees know little about the store and almost nothing about specific products.

On the bright side, this presents a huge window of opportunity for you to step in and fill that customer service gap. Listen to this week's episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy to find out how.

Then we wrap up the show with another listener question I've been getting frequently over the last few months: How do we use the online business listings?

The truth is that online business listings represent some excellent low-hanging fruit. Google and all the other search engines are putting a lot of time and energy into making Local Search useful to us a searchers and as business owners. So it makes sense to take advantage of the free business listings.

This week, I walk you through which listings to go after first. All the search engines talk to each other, so getting a few of them right takes care of any others you might miss.

You also have a lot of options for the types of content you can include with online business listings. This is a case where less is more, and there's one type of content you definitely want to avoid including with any online business listing. Listen to this week's episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy to know what it is.

Forrester Research CEO Predicts Doom

The Web is Dead, Social Media is Saturated, and Social Business is Our Future...

George Colony at LeWeb 2011

At least this is what George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research, thinks. He unveiled these predictions during his presentation at LeWeb in Paris this year. I caught this story through the Logic & Emotion blog, and decided to include it in this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

You can watch George's presentation and read the transcript on his blog.

According to George, the web is moving away from a network/browser model to something that leverages devices, apps and the cloud in a more powerful way. Not exactly an earth shattering prediction, but I think George misses what the future really is.

My prediction: Apps become our electronic servants – ever more sophisticate and specialized. Vivint is one current example. Apps are the precursor to software that will operate robots in our homes and businesses.

George’s second thunderstorm is the saturation of social media. He thinks we’re running out of hours and people to provide audiences for all the social media sites out there. He even predicts the demise of sites such as Foursquare.

Obviously George vastly underestimates our ability to find creative ways to waste time. Not to mention the more than half of the world’s population who have only just begun to access social media.

If a service like Foursquare dies, it won’t be for a simple lack of audience participation. It will be because they fail to engage business owners and show them the power of Foursquare as a rewards program for customers.

And finally, George predicts businesses will make use of social media tools to increase productivity with employees and for making better business decisions. It’s an interesting prediction that smacks of utopia.

There will certainly be some businesses – such as Dominoes – that use social media well and profitably. But the vast majority will simply add it to their business model, overlay it with bureaucracy, and end up wasting more time and effort than ever before.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I think George has some interesting ideas but missed the boat completely. For the guy in charge of Forrester Research, I expected him to have a much better understanding of human nature. Listen to the whole story on Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

Small Business Conquers The Corporations

Article first published as Small Business Conquers the Corporations on Blogcritics.

Little Dudes and Divas is going head-to-head with the likes of Nordstrom, Macy’s, Babies “R” Us and even Diapers.com.

This small business does 90% of their sales through the internet and the rest through their brick-and-mortar store in Rockaway Park, N.Y. Even with the bulk of their business being done online, the founders of this company say their greatest strength is relationships with customers.

Steve and Susan Karasanti founded Little Dudes and Divas seven years ago. They sell clothes and accessories for infants and toddlers – everything from diapers and stroller blankets to diaper bags car seat covers – and now have 3 employees. They ship around the world and are always ready to help a customer find what they need.

The Homepage for LIttle Dudes and Divas

When a call comes in from a customer wanting to know how to pack a particular bag in a certain way, the staff at Little Dudes and Divas makes a video. They walk through how to pack each item, special tips for preventing leaks or breakage, and then make it available to everyone on their site.

I spotted the Karasanti’s and their business in Gabriel Shaoolian’s column (You’re The Boss) in the New York Times. There are two things in particular that he’s looking at with Little Dudes and Divas – the trust factor, and reasons for buying. In addition to what I share here, you can listen to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy to discover the one mistake Gabriel is making that will truly make the difference between massive growth and stagnation in any business.

Competition has certainly stiffened since they started seven years ago. Mr. Karasanti says “It’s very hard to compete with the bigger online companies on price, but we can compete by giving our customers personal attention.”

That personal attention is a key element in business success at any time, and it’s becoming increasingly important in today’s marketplace. We’re experiencing a crisis of trust – everyone is sceptical of everything (even this statement) – and business owners are feeling the pinch.

Here are 3 strategies for to make your customer relationships stronger, and help your business stand out from the competition:

Show Appreciation

One of the simplest things to do is run a birthday program in your business. Simply ask customer for the month and day of their birth so you can give them special attention on their birthday.

The same thing can be done for anniversaries, customers who bring in referrals, frequent shoppers or any other criteria you care to use. The key to all of these programs is choosing the behaviour you want to reward then building a program to reward that behaviour.

Encourage Communication

Restaurants do this all the time. I’m always spotting comment cards at the table in restaurants, and you can use the same approach in your business. All you have to do is make the cards available and give customers an anonymous way to drop them off.

Blogs and social media can be good ways to encourage communication if you actually listen and respond. Like a comment card, you have to be seen to be taking action on what people say.

Reward Referrals

Your existing customers are the easiest people to sell to, and the person they refer is the second easiest. This alone is a great reason to encourage referrals.

When someone refers another person to your business, they’re also increasing their commitment to do business with you. Now that they’ve told someone else how great you are, part of their personal credibility becomes wrapped up in continuing to do business with you. For this reason, you also want to treat referrals very well. As easy as a referral is to turn into a customer, getting it wrong just as easily means losing the referral as well as the referrer

Another way to strengthen your customer relationship is through cross-promotion. This one takes a little bit of time and effort. It also yields multiple benefits to your business.

No one business can satisfy every need of their customers. So to help you be more important to your customer – and more appreciated by them – connect with other business owners who fulfill your customers’ needs. Whether that be a hair salon, landscaping, or dentist, the objective is to make your customer’s life easier.

For example, I know a painter who advertises on a local pizza joint’s boxes. They both serve new-movers, and this cross-promotion has paid off handsomely for both businesses.

In the case of Little Dudes and Divas, they could easily cross-promote with another shop that sells strollers and car seats. That’s an obvious one. What other businesses can you think of that would make good cross-promotion partners for Little Dudes and Divas – or for your own business?

OWS Splits, Small Business Succeeds and Forrester Predicts Doom

As I have been predicting, the Occupy Wall Street movement is splitting.

The leaders and achievers in OWS are producing a live media outlet (article from New York Times) while the OWS wanna-bes and masses are organizing protests that hurt the working man (article from USA Today). Listen to this week’s show to know what’s happening and where the OWS movement is going.

Then we look at one small business that is succeeding – online – against competition from the likes of Macy’s, Nordstrom and Diapers.com. The business is Little Dudes and Divas (www.LittleDudesAndDivas.com), and they sell diapers, diaper bags and all sort of baby accessories.

The story comes from Gabriel Shaoolian’s column (You’re The Boss) in the New York Times. There are some really good points about this business, and there’s one spot where Gabriel and I disagree.

Listen to this week’s show to know how we disagree, then you tell us who’s right.

And we wrap the show with a look at George Colony’s predictions of doom. George is the CEO for Forrester Research. He presented his Three Thunderstorms at LeWeb this year, and in two cases I think George is dead wrong. And he simply doesn’t go far enough with the third thunderstorm. I picked this story up from Logic & Emotion, and just had to "set the record straight."

This story is so important I let the show run long this week. George raised some really good  points, and unfortunately missed the boat with his predictions. So I’m going to add a special blog post Thursday, 22 December to expand on what we discuss during this week’s show.

So listen in to the show now, then watch for the blog post Thursday, 22 December. Then you can tell us who is seeing the future, and who is a touch off their rocker.

Small Business Marketing Gets A Boost

Several things have happened over the last year that are now resulting in great rewards for Small Business Marketing. And with those rewards come some risks.

The first is a service called ValuText. You can guess from the name that it lets you send text messages to people who have opted-in to receive them. And it does far more than just that.

ValuText allows you to be very targeted about who receives your message, and when. This gives you huge potential for creating events and promotions specific to your location, the day of the week, even a change in weather.

It also carries a significant risk for how you use it. Many retailers are going to be caught in a laziness trap. Be sure you rise above the crowd, and leave your competitors behind, by injecting personality and experience into your use of this very practical and profitable service.

Listen to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy for all the details.

Then we have a look at Square.

It’s an innocent looking, little device that makes payment processing simple and easy to use. Small businesses and charities across the country are using Square to process billions of dollars worth of transactions – and Square is little more than a year old.

Are you going to an event and need to do back-of-room sales? How about a community market down the street from your store? Or even a special promotion in the parking lot? Square gives you the versatility to turn any smart phone or tablet into a portable cash register.

Tune in to Social Media: Cheap and Easy to discover how it works.

And we wrap up this week’s show with a look at how the world of search engines is catering to small business marketing. Google, Bing and Yahoo are all jumping to milk their newest cash cow – small business.

The attention they’re paying to serving us is making it a lot easier to understand how Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising works. That’s because they’re putting a lot of effort into developing support tools for all of us who can use a computer, but we’re certainly not technology pros.

As good as the support tools are becoming, there is one in particular you want to avoid using.

The search giants are offering done-for-you services where their staff  handle creating your ads and setting your bids. Even if that seems a little vague, what you need to know about this type of service is crystal clear: Avoid Using This Service At All Costs!

Remember: They get paid based on how much you spend on PPC advertising.

It makes no sense to let them determine how much you pay per click. It makes even less sense to have their rank-and-file employees create the ad you’ll be spending money on.

And there’s an incredibly ironic point you definitely don’t want to miss. Google, Bing and Yahoo are foaming at the mouth to get you using their PPC services, but they’re using a completely different media to persuade you.

Listen to Social Media: Cheap and Easy to hear what it is, and why you should follow their example rather than their instructions.

Ad Agencies Failing With Social Media

US ad agencies – 95% of them – are using social media to identify potential clients for themselves. Unfortunately, their social media efforts are only generating 10% of their new business.

That just has to hurt...

This news is from a study done by RSW/US and RSW/AgencySearch. (Ironically, two divisions of an ad agency.) And it’s reminiscent of the news that came from Nation’s Restaurant News in 2010.

Then it was restaurant owners going whole-hog into Facebook. Their customers, on the other hand, were less than interested. So while 65% of restaurant owners were using Facebook Pages, only 3% of their customers cared. Still, that’s 50% better than what the “pros” (ad agencies) are accomplishing.

Hear my take on why ad agencies can’t even find the boat at www.smcande.com (It’s short for Social Media: Cheap and Easy, and it reads like candy. Perfect for Halloween.)

Ad agencies, after pouring lots of time energy and effort into using Facebook, have discovered that only 2% of potential clients prefer to be contacted though Facebook. Something tells me they’re saying “oops,” and someone – maybe a few someones – are now looking for alternate employment.

In fact, of the options provided, most US marketing decision makers prefer to be contacted via e-mail (79%). Snail mail comes in second at 41%. And LinkedIn vastly outperforms Facebook with 16% of decision makers accepting contact from ad agencies.

Simple Truth: Social Media cannot save a sinking ship. But it can certainly sink a healthy ship.

Most business owners hear me say that and immediately think about people bad-mouthing their business. Just like information piracy, bad reviews are really not the problem. Just look at the success Domino’s has had by publicizing bad reviews.

Social media can ruin a healthy business precisely because it takes time, energy and effort. Getting an account is free, using that account can be a huge drain on your resources.

After you listen to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy, listen to the previous two episodes. In them, we take a look at a company called Collective Bias. They’re an ad agency – although completely unlike any other ad agency I’ve encountered – and they’re getting social media right.

Where ad agencies can’t get a grip on social media – Collective Bias is producing increases in the range of 51% for year over year sales.

The key element is HOW they’re using social media.

In carpentry, and all trades, there’s an adage that the tools don’t make the carpenter. It’s how you use the tools you have that makes the difference. And while everyone else is focusing on Facebook, Collective Bias is making effective use of the most powerful social media tool available: Blogging.

They have a massive community of bloggers with engaged audiences. They also keep a healthy distance between those bloggers and the brands. Why? Because the brands would poison the well – often without ever meaning to, or realising they’re doing it.

I could go on for pages and pages. So seriously, you need to listen to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy, plus the previous two episodes. Then come back here and start posting your questions and comments. It’s time for every local business to give the boot to ad agencies, and start enjoying some real success with your marketing.

 

The Bloggers of Collective Bias

MaryEllen Tribby says blogging is dead, but these bloggers boosted sales at K-Mart this spring by 51% over last year. Don’t seem dead to me...

There were 4 bloggers from Collective Bias at the Shopper Marketing Expo last week when I stopped by. And I got to meet a fifth blogger from Chicagonista.com at a social event that evening. We cover what they do, and how it fits in with Collective Bias on the show – www.SocialMediaCheapAndEasy.com – but I want to give you some more detail about the bloggers, what they do, and how to find them.

Let’s start with who they are and where they write.

Liz and Douglas are a husband and wife team. (Last names left out as a courtesy. Visit their blogs to find out more.) They blog full time and maintain 3 blogs plus 6 e-zines. They have a combined audience of about 10,000.

Liz and Douglas maintain

Vanessa is a Chicago mom who blogs part-time, and contributes to Continue reading

Social Media And Small Business Marketing – Joining The Conversation

Word of Mouth marketing is the ultimate goal of every business owner. Social media is supposed to the golden ticket for small business marketing, yet less than 1% of small businesses are succeeding with social media? Why?

The flat out truth is that YOUR MESSAGE SUCKS!

On the other hand, there are thousands of bloggers out there with engaged, active and purchasing audiences. And they’re interested in what you sell – whether that’s accounting, home repairs, or doctor’s visits. There’s a blog – a popular blog – for every interest.

Hear the truth at www.SocialMediaCheapAndEasy.com

Collective Bias has built a community with over 1,200 of those bloggers. Their results are phenomenal precisely because they’re tapping into the conversations that are already happening. Just like we talked about in last week’s show with the Occupy Wall Street movement, the UAW contract talks, and the Sims Social game.

So in this show, I walk you through what Collective Bias is doing with their bloggers. It’s something you can do for yourself – just hook up with an already popular blogger. Now, I won’t kid you. Tracking the results takes effort, and the payoff is well worth that effort. A campaign done earlier this year for K-Mart resulted in a 51% increase in year-over-year sales.

Then we take a look at what’s in it for the social media services. We know what’s in it for us as business owners, and some of what’s in it for us as consumers, but have we really thought about what’s happening to our information?

Get my social media prediction at www.SocialMediaCheapAndEasy.com

We wrap up the show with an in-depth look at how you can tap into the social media that’s happening all around you. The conversations are already in motion; all you have to do is join in.

There’s a special question for you at the end of the show. Collective Bias wants to know what you think –whether you’re really listening or just sitting on the sidelines. Show us you're more than a bystander - leave a comment here. We'll close the comments after we hit 100.

Be a leader at www.SocialMediaCheapAndEasy.com