Use These Ten Tips to Pump up Your Marketing Efforts
Everyone is constantly searching for the easy button, yet when it’s shown to us, we often consider it and say, “there must be more to it that that”. Ignoring ways we can improve our businesses because they’re not interesting or the latest shiny new toy, is virtually demanding the “Closed” sign to be hung up. Remember the Pareto Principle; 80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of your efforts. That said, listed below are ten simple yet effective ways to improve your marketing efforts.
- Write a company blog – Use a company blog as your voice. It will result in better relationships with your customers, social reach and better customer service.
- Use specifics in your offers – Be sure you aren’t trying to market everything and anything. You will become recognized for nothing! Decide on a specialty and get great at it!
- Benefits not features – Your customers need to find out what it will do for them, not every detail of the widget. Spotlight the results they’ll get, and you hit the sweet spot!
- Make value your mission – Become known for the value you deliver, and you’ll sell long and prosper!
- Use social media – Make connecting with your people on social media a priority. It’s not only a great way to pre-sell, but also build relationship and deliver awesome customer service.
- Make videos – Find uses for video in your business, as this is where the audience is these days. YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, so it’s time for you to tap into some of that!
- Listen – Make sure to hear what’s being said to you, both on your site and in social media. It matters!
- Make good use of autoresponders – Using pre-written autoresponder sequences will easily and painlessly assimilate new subscribers into your business.
- Take care of your customers – Since it’s so hard to secure a new customer, why not spoil the ones you have? They are far easier to sell to.
- Make sure to have a call to action – If you don’t request the action, it is far more likely it won’t occur. Don’t be that guy. Ask for the sale!
Why You Desperately Need a Company Blog!
When sustained damage could come from a malicious tweet and be sent around the web within seconds, you must make sure you have a plan in place to cope with any damage that may have been done, and to prevent it from growing. This is the art of online reputation management.
What can you do in order to actively safeguard your online reputation?
Far and away the most effective line of defense with regards to your online reputation is making effective and regular use of your company blog. Posting fresh and relevant content can help eliminate any affects from the occasional negative social media entry, and provide you with additional search benefits at the same time! In s study by Econsultancy and Adobe, content marketing is deemed the number one priority for online marketers in 2013, and it can also be a great tool for reputation management.
Why posting on your blog makes a difference
Posting routinely to your company blog has a number of benefits, from having a forum you control to announce new products, build relationships, establish authority and more. But for the purposes we’re discussing here, the best way that your blog will make a difference is that posts made here will dominate the search results relating to your brand. Google will see your blog posts as more authoritative than the occasional tweet or Facebook posting, and will rank them higher in the search results. Which means that most if not all negative entries will most likely end up buried far down, away from searching eyes. The only time this might not be the case is in the case of a major flare-up that is getting LOTS of attention, in that case you’ll be forced to take additional measures together with posting to your blog.
5 Blogging best practices to get started
- Make sure you post at least several times a week. This will also considerably boost the amount of content you have distributed on the internet touting your brand.
- Employ smart use of keywords that you would like to be found in search for, along with your brand name.
- Be interesting! Use personality, current events and aim for shareable content.
- Be sure to merge with your social media channels, by linking out to them and viceversa.
- Be yourself! Even if you are a business, you don’t want to sound like one!
What Have You Given Them Lately?
In the past, it was quite often enough to slap up a site and open for business, and you’d most likely do okay. Not anymore. Competition is keen, and those who don’t recognize that delivering value is the primary goal of any business online are destined to find themselves scrambling to make ends meet. This is particularly true when it comes to marketing via email or social media. Let’s have a look at why this is so.
Why delivering value is job one!
The primary reason is it helps your brand stand out in a sea of mediocrity. Monitor conversations online and you’ll see, for the most part, two types: ones that slam a business or product and ones that effuse praise. Just about anything is ignored. Making these people talk about both you and your brand in a positive light is your job, and the the easy way do that is by over-delivering. That can happen in many ways. It might mean delivering surprise bonuses, sales, appreciation gifts and more. Any of these can delight the customer, who will in turn share their experience as well as return for more!
Why email and social media are different
While your website and other pages you have online have a measure of built-in credibility, you have to work a bit harder for the same results in both email and social media. This means delivering value! The main difference lies in the reality that while they are both, at least marginally, permission-based marketing vehicles, each audience is particularly attuned to being “sold to”, and won’t tolerate it. In email, it’s not as bad, as email has long been a marketing vehicle. What’s different now is the need to deliver value as part of your message, so as to engender enough trust that they’ll “allow” you to send the sporadic marketing message. In your social media channels, it’s a lot more volatile on the subject of marketing messages. However, that makes it a perfect vehicle for enticing them to the next phase with a value proposition. Once they opted into an email list from your social media channels, they are much more likely to be open to your marketing messages.
Make value your mission! When you do this, no matter which medium you are working in, you’ll discover a far more responsive and loyal crowd!
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
The great 19th Century Irish playwright and humorist Oscar Wilde uttered these last words: “Either this wallpaper goes, or I do.” Why some adventerous wallpaper company hasn’t used this is beyond me, nonetheless it does go to demonstrate the point that humor sells. Humor essentially disarms people, often by getting them to view your point in a way they hadn’t looked at before, and initiates rapport that you may have had a hard time creating some with your latest PowerPoint filed with facts. Art Linkletter told us that laughter is the best medicine, and he was spot on. It could be the cure for what ails your business too! Let’s have a look at 4 ways to use humor in your small business marketing.
4 easy ways to use humor in your small business marketing!
Use pop culture to your benefit – Jon Stewart and the rest of the late night crowd have made careers with this, so don’t hesitate to use current events to spice up you offerings. It’s not even completely necessary to be completely relevant to your products or services, (even so the ones that tie it in well are rock stars!) but merely to get your reader/watcher smiling and in a good frame of mind from the start. Showing events in a amusing way will get your posts shared faster than Lindsay Lohan skipping rehab.
Make humorous videos – It will only take a few moments on YouTube for enough evidence to convince anyone that a funny video gets lots of eyeballs! Even the lamest concept, shown in a quirky way will get views and get shared widely. It doesn’t require a degree in cinema to get it done either. Many just shoot them using their phone, o if you wish to go whole hog, use an app like GoAnimate or Xtranormal to produce quick and visually interesting animated videos.
Create a visual mashup – One way to make the most of both humor and the wicked hot photo-sharing world is to make a humorous meme. These are almost required on Facebook, and could be a great ice breaker and are capable of being shared far and wide though Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and other sites.
Use humor in your content – Don’t be timid in regards to getting a little edgy with your content. The payoff will likely be that people will see you as more like them, and not simply some stodgy firm bent on selling them a product. The more you connect on a shared (and funny!) level, the better people will like you and share your site.
How to Write Persuasive Copy
If you hope to sell anything to anyone on the internet then it is imperative that you learn how to craft persuasive copy. Not tough you say? Perhaps until you’ve tried it once or twice. You then start to understand why top copywriters get paid top dollar. You don’t need to throw in the towel just yet, however. You can discover basic elements of copywriting and persuasion to help your copy do what you want it to, and best of all, they can be learned!
4 Essential steps to persuasive copy
- Make it easier to scan – We all know that writing for the Web has become an exercise in who can make the most readable and scannable copy. Some ways to be sure that your copy is consumed by the fast-wandering web surfer are to utilize tactics like using plenty of white space, bullet points, sub-headlines, bolding and color, and compelling images.
- Write conversationally – Write as if you’re talking with a friend. No one wants a lecture. So regardless of the subject, and how technical it could appear, be sure you write as you talk. It truly helps in building the trust you are seeking to build with your reader, especially if you are hoping to urge them to buy anything eventually.
- Structure for your end result – We all like to be told stories, and you can use this to your advantage almost every time. We process information most efficiently when the content is offered in a narrative stream, so don’t be shy about telling your story! Use a beginning, middle and end, lead inexorably to a climax, which would be to get the reader to take whatever action you’re requesting.
- Be certain to use a call to action – Don’t be bashful about employing a strong call to action in your writing. Frequently this element is either missing entirely or so obscure that it may as well be! The fact is that if this is the situation, you’re likely disappointing and in all probability confusing the reader. Never write anything without having a strong call to action!
What About the Smaller Daily Deal Sites?
Now that Groupon and LivingSocial, though far from dead, are sorting out their businesses moving forward, smaller daily deal sites have jumped into the mind of small business owners as a viable option for this business model going forward. It’s not completely vital to choose the largest company, when in reality, a smaller daily deal site may be better for your business.
So who are these smaller daily deal sites?
There are several daily deal sites that cater to small business. No longer are you trapped buying huge inventories of deals, when you really don’t have the business to allow for it. Also, support from a smaller site is easier to come by, as you’re not being passed over for businesses spending considerably more money than yours. A short, albeit incomplete, list of some of these companies includes daily deal sites you may not have heard of yet. Everyone knows about the market mavens like Groupon, LivingSocial, Facebook and now Google, but the smaller, quite possibly more agile companies would include the likes of Woot, Yelp, eLocal, Local Response, ZipLocal, Signpost, CityMaps, Yipit, and ShowMeLocal.
How daily deals can work for hyperlocal marketing
Some of these niche sites have the flexibility to adapt change to your hyperlocal marketing needs. If your campaign needs tweaking or adjustment on the fly, it’s far easier to accomplish than with a larger company. They typically don’t have investors to answer to, and can often make adjustments and decisions that a Groupon couldn’t. They know that they need to come through for your small business, or your business will dry up. Also, in our social environment, and particularly with a hyperlocal marketing campaign, word of mouth can offer both a positive and negative effect. Don’t make the mistake of discounting the smaller daily deal sites when you are looking for offers. They may be exactly what you need!
This Just In! – The Web Design World is Indeed Flat!
Everything comes full circle, even web design. You might not have noticed it yet, but there’s a brand new trend out there, and its name is flat web design. It’s capturing the industry, and the thing is it’s really existed since Microsoft introduced it in 2006.
So what is it that makes a â€œflat” web design?
Flat design is basically a design devoid of drop shadows, gradients, and textures which have ruled web design for years now. Flat design employs brighter, solid colors and a good deal of â€œwhite space”. Typography often figures noticeably into flat design.
So why the change from 3D to flat design?
There are several reasons why this is happening, but perhaps the most persuasive reason is that it’s an invention born out of necessity. The 2D environment that designers often have to work in, in this ever-more mobile world, demands economy of scale.
It’s become harder and harder to cram all you might want onto a 4-inch screen, making a 3D simulation somewhat disadvantageous and incompatible with a terrific user experience. With a flat design pages load faster, are less bulky and are more responsive. In a competitive world where you have a few short seconds to win over and hook your visitors, every second counts.
Trend or is flat web design here to stay?
It might be easy to dismiss this as merely another fad in web design, and then leave it at that, However, with the next Apple operating system iOS7 rumored to be seeking a more flat design, can the rest of the web be far behind? While it may very well turn into a fad, its simplicity and user-friendly functionality might help it to stay around more than most.
Small business innovation – Some basics
It would only stand to reason that a smaller, more agile company would be best positioned to create the most ground breaking ideas. Well…this isn’t necessarily so. Deficient several key ingredients, such as money for R & D, available staff, and a lack of vision that big companies can make happen, small businesses have discovered that their challenge lies in learning to innovate in spite of, and sometimes because of these facts. Research conducted recently by Erik Hurst and Benjamin Wild Pugsley of the University of Chicago called “What do Small Businesses Do?” discovered that fewer than 50 percent of new business startups were born from a “new idea”. Moreover, they found that the majority of new businesses are essentially more of the same, offering an additional coffee shop, bakery or tax service to a marketplace full of these services. Not much innovation, greater competition, and little chance at exponential growth.
So so how exactly does a small business get from the morass of just another business to one that is offering new and exciting services and products people are clamoring to try?
4 Tips for building a culture of innovation in your business!
- Reward and encourage innovation – Give your staff incentives and tangible rewards for identifying and helping to implement new and innovative initiatives. Creating some enthusiasm around finding new and better ways to run your business should benefit them as well.
- Know what your market needs and wants – Keep your finger on the pulse of current trends and ideas within your market. Endeavor to not only sustain, but be on the leading edge, which is only possible if you are watching and listening!
- Be sure to connect with your existing customers – Listening and taking into serious thought what your customers say about not only your business and products, but about what their wish list would contain is extremely important in helping to understand a direction you might want to check out. Keep the conversation centered around what are the customer’s problems, and make use of those to help forge solutions!
- Be open to new ideas – Don’t be reluctant to try something totally new. A great demonstration of this in action is Behance.net, a Web-based platform for creative works, where artists can present their work regardless of their resumes, seeking to turn more ideas into reality.
Don’t Diss Design – It Matters!
Okay, so take a guess: how much time do you think it takes the average person to form a first impression after landing on your webpage? A study by researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2012 discovered that it takes all of two-tenths of a second to produce that impression. This makes your design ever so much more vital, as your visitors certainly have choices, and if they are not bowled over by your design elements, you can be sure they are going to seek more attractive pastures. This is also a big trust factor with your visitors: a poor design will frequently lead to the inevitable feeling that there might be other parts of your business which are just as shoddy.
How can we promote good design?
The first place to start is with some thought. Finding out how you intend to present your brand and products is largely influenced in the planning stage. That same study revealed that your logo gets the lion’s share of a visitor’s attention, with images and social interaction following closely on its heels. In other words, the visual elements matter! Now that you have the data, you truly have no excuse. I mean you really don’t, because expense is no viable excuse for inaction. Crowdsourcing sites like 99Designs, CrowdSpring and others have made what was past a very high-priced undertaking, into a very achievable endeavor.
How are the benefits?
The benefits of good design are more plentiful and quite often less obvious than you may think at first. While a killer look for your website and graphics is a no-brainer, other elements like product packaging, advertising, and even infographics are being shared, Pinned and ReTweeted from your pages. This can have a significant effect on your site’s reach, and customer base. Furthermore, the good feelings that an excellent design impart may be intangible, but not when you watch your site’s traffic increase because of it! Have a cold hard look at your design elements today!
Are Daily Deal Sites Really Tools of the Devil?
Despite all of the vitriol that’s been said about daily deal websites, and how they are all universally “out” as a means of promoting your local business, we’d beg to differ. There are a variety of factors that go into making these daily deal sites work for your small business, and a few well-publicized failures, shouldn’t be grounds for dropping the daily deal model. In fact, when researched closely, many of these failures had several things in common: failure to grasp how to run a daily deal promotion, poor negotiation of their deals, and not tracking customer redemption and/or spending. Lacking these vital pieces, it’s little wonder they failed.
So why all of the hate?
The well-publicized financial and structural changes Groupon and LivingSocial are going through are often cited causes of dislike. The press is only too quick to point out the negative issues with some daily deal sites. They typical point to things like spam complaints, a crowded marketplace of daily deals to choose from, “deal hoppers”, customers who hop from deal to deal and rarely become a regular customer.
3 Simple principles for making Daily Deals work for your business
- Understand the financials! – Make sure you clearly understand the numbers as far as your deal is concerned. Know your average sales volume and don’t exceed it with a daily deal. Negotiate credit card processing fees: most major daily deal sites will pay these!
- Follow up with your brand-new customers! – As many as 60-75 percent of these daily deal customers are trying you out for the first time, so it’s imperative that you have a plan to coax them back for a return engagement! Offer another coupon, or other incentives to be sure you see them again!
- Don’t go too big, too fast – Start conservatively, so that you can learn the basics and not be overloaded by the deals, and leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
The demise of Daily deal sites is grossly overstated, and you can still make use of these to grow your small business, by taking the time to do it right!