Small Business Marketing Tips to Implement in 2015

Today’s guest post is from Chris Bibey – Enjoy!

spruce-image(3)Now that 2014 is in the books, it is time to turn all your attention to the new year. From a marketing perspective, there is one question you need to answer: what can you do in 2015 that will improve on the success you had last year?

Since you only have so much time and money, it is essential to create a plan that will yield the greatest results. Here are five tips to implement in 2015:

1. Don’t give up on what worked in the past.

Which marketing strategies brought your company the best results last year? Once you have an answer to this question, you should carry these over to the next 12 months. Until you see otherwise, you can assume these tactics will continue to produce.

2. Focus on mobile.

This blog post shares some interesting stats related to mobile use, such as the fact that 75 percent of Americans take their phone into the bathroom with them. Along with this, 80 percent of consumers use their smartphone to shop. If you don’t have a strong mobile presence, you are missing the boat.

Additional tip: at the very least, make sure your website is mobile friendly. Along with this, consider contracting with a developer to build an app for your website.

3. Use the internet to increase sales.

This marketing tip doesn’t apply to every business, but if your company sells any type of product or service, physical items in particular, you should focus on building out a powerful online store. You don’t have to build your store from scratch. Instead, you can consider one of the many ecommerce platforms that millions of other store owners are using. From Shopify to Volusion, you have options.

4. Hire outside help.

Let’s face it: you only have so much time to spend on marketing related tasks. This is definitely true for companies with only a few employees, all of who are wearing many hats.

While there are reasons not to hire a marketing consultant, there are quite a few benefits to keep in mind:

  • Free up time in your schedule for more important tasks
  • Professional advice and guidance
  • Somebody who can offer fresh ideas that you and your team may have overlooked

5. Track and measure your return on investment (ROI).

If you aren’t doing this you will never know what is and is not working.

There are many tools that can help you track and measure results, with each one providing data that will assist you in determining where to spend your time and money in the future. You may be surprised at what you find once you open your eyes.

What Now?

These marketing tips may be all you need in order to achieve greater success in 2015. Regardless of what you have done in the past, there are always changes you can make in the future.

The small business landscape is changing from a marketing perspective. If nothing else, consider implementing the five tips above. You may find that one or more of these allow you to reach all your goals.

Chris BibeyHeadshot is a corporate blog specialist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He specializes in providing content and consulting services to organizations of all sizes, ranging from start-ups to publicly traded companies.

 

Tips for Building Marketing Strategies

Today’s guest post is from Evelyn Golston– Enjoy!

Business people in headsets in meetingThe size of your business doesn’t matter that much, it’s the size of your dreams that decide whether a business venture would be a success or not. Every big company in the world started off small and made it big through constant hard work and a tiny bit of luck.

One thing was common in almost all these success stories; they knew how to build a marketing strategy for these businesses from its childhood days itself. And it’s a path that all entrepreneurs must follow if they want to hit the target with their business.

Unlike the big fishes out there, you might not have a specialized team or budget that works on a marketing strategy, but there are a lot of things that could be done within the limits and budget of your small business.

Build the brand through customers

No matter whether a business is small or big, customers are Gods, period. Building a long-term relationship with each and every costumer that stops by will be crucial for the growth of your business as a brand.

It’s through these customers that your business is going to get noticed by other so every interaction made should be with good intentions. Never promise things that you cannot deliver on time and always play it safe if the business is just standing up.

A customer giving a bad review is the last thing we would want while things working the other way around will make the brand building process much easier.

The internet is a game changer

We all live in an era where not using the Internet as a marketing strategy for your business could go down as a sin. Using the same mantra could be a game changer for all the small business out there.

The business could get an infinite amount of reach if it maintains a good hold in the internet. This includes having an ever so active Facebook page or LinkedIn page which can bring in an array of new customers.

Constantly showing off all the positives through the internet will prove to be an excellent tactic and the best part is that: this idea does not take much out of your budget as it only requires a chunk of some quality time here and there for the updates.

Stay away from inconsistent advertising

Inconsistent advertising could be a big waste of money.  Earning some money and investing all that into an advertisement might sound like a great idea but it isn’t. If we look at the trends that are going around the market, consumers are attracted to products which have a constant advertising throughout a period while the products that came with an advertisement every now and then are ignored.

Smaller businesses often don’t have enough firepower to challenge the biggies out there and it’s better to stay away from these risks and play it safe with the internet as mentioned earlier.

Uniqueness is the key

There might be a lot of businesses out there that gives the customers the same product that you offer. So why the customer should choose you? It’s a question that needs to be answered before embarking on any marketing strategies.

A motto should be there on why your business stands out from the rest and all the marketing should be done around that motto. This should be strong enough to attract new customers and keep the current ones happy.

The uniqueness factor might be as simple as serving cookies and milk in your office, but still, it’s an upper hand over your competition.

Network, network and more network

While expanding your brand through customers is a great idea, seeking new markets through your competition can be equally effective. Know the clients with which your completion interacts with and explore the possible options.

Meet new people on a constant basis and never be hesitant to start a conversation with anyone who shows a bit of interest in your business because you never know where your next customer is going to come from.

Evelyn Golston is an internet marketing expert with an experience of 7 years in the industry and she also works as a freelance writer at essaypro.com

Your Best Marketing Opportunity Just Walked Through The Door

Today’s guest post is from Sean Freidlin – Enjoy!

door
photo credit:123rf

The success of any marketing initiative is predicated by its ability to reach and capture the attention of an intended audience.  No matter how compelling your creative may be, it can’t do much if it isn’t seen, which is why on February 4th, 2004 the world of marketing changed forever.  That date marked the launch of Facebook, and serves as the starting point for a decade long boom in social and mobile technology that shows no signs of slowing down.

Over that ten-year stretch, Facebook, Twitter, Google Adwords and other new marketing channels have emerged as viable solutions to help web-based businesses get noticed, drive traffic and earn revenue…but can the same be said for physical businesses and the owners of these offline venues?  The answer isn’t so clear-cut.

These channels are valuable because they make it easier, faster and more affordable to communicate a message to an audience.  For web-based businesses, the analytics, data and insights from these channels naturally tie into their web traffic to paint a picture of what drives results for their audience and whom they should target.

Physical businesses, however, are in a different boat.  Web traffic doesn’t directly translate to foot traffic, and, their audience online isn’t necessarily the audience they should care about.  Every new Facebook fan or page view isn’t directly tied to an in-store purchase or representative of a real customer.  A disconnect exists between digital initiatives and real world behavior, putting the owners and marketers of physical businesses are at a crossroads.

Should their marketing efforts be focused on foot traffic or web traffic?

My vote is for foot traffic (let me hear yours in the comments).

Web traffic does have its advantages over foot traffic, and those advantages rest in the data.  Every person that visits a website or online business has one thing in common: cookies.  A cookie is “a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser while the user is browsing that website.  Every time the user loads the website, the browser sends the cookie back to the server to notify the website of the user’s previous activity.”  These have been critical to the online shopping experience as they provided a way to implement shopping carts on websites.

So if cookies exist for the digital world, what is the real-world equivalent?  If every visitor to a website has a cookie, then what is something that every visitor to a physical business has?  By asking that question, business owners and marketers can identify new opportunities and channels for reaching their most important audience.

Before Facebook, and before 2004, finding something in common between every person that walks through your door would be considerably difficult.  Today, however, finding the answer to that question isn’t so difficult.  According to the Pew Internet Project, 90% of American adults own a cell phone as of January 2014.  Every one of those devices shares something in common, and it isn’t a cookie.

The only thing that every mobile device has in common is they all connect to WiFi.

So what if your business or venue provided free WiFi to customers?  What if you created a guest network and put a “free WiFi” sign in the window.  People would connect to that network, right?  If everyone in your store has a phone, and that phone always absorbs a share of their attention, then your WiFi network is accomplishing two things:

  1. Empowering your foot traffic to connect with what matters to them, acting as a bridge to their most beloved social networks and web-based activities.
  2. Capturing the attention of your visitors, guests, leads, and customers while they are on site, in your business, before it gets lost in their inbox or newsfeed.

For years, physical businesses have been searching and experimenting with online marketing channels to find the best solution for their goals.  If you ask me, their best marketing channel has been in their store all along.

seanDTMpicSean Freidlin is a blogger, social media manager and marketer for SocialSign.in currently living in Brooklyn, New York.  To read more of his insights and thoughts on marketing trends, follow him on Twitter and visit the SocialSign.in blog, which is updated weekly with new content.

5 Steps to a Perfect Google My Business Listing

Today’s guest post is from TJ Mitchell – Enjoy!

local_search-statsLet’s start this post with a few numbers: 80, 78, 59, and 37. No, these aren’t lucky lottery numbers–they’re key statistics about local search that may surprise you.

Search may be one of the most important drivers of local business, yet only 37% of local businesses have claimed their listings! If you’re not listed you’re losing potential customers every single month. Period.

So how do you start? The first step is cleaning up your profile on the largest local search portal of them all: Google My Business.

Your Starting Point: Google My Business

Google My Business is the number one starting place for optimizing any physical business for local search today. Like I noted before, 59% of customers use Google for local search at least once per month. That’s a massive amount of people, and a massive amount of cash you’re leaving on the table by not fully optimizing your listing.

Before you optimize or claim your listing, there are a few pieces of information about your business or your client’s business that you MUST have. I’ve given you access to the sheet I use to organize business info for my local search clients so you don’t have to create your own.

Step 1: Find Your Business on Google

For businesses without a local listing. Visit this link and click “Get on Google.” This will direct you to a map where you’ll have to first type your official business name or address. You’ll be able to add multiple locations if you have them using this page after you create your initial listing.

If you’ve correctly entered your information and nothing shows up, click on “I’ve correctly entered the name and address” and then enter your information in the associated form. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Use a non-800 phone number
  • Select the correct category. Your business category describes what your business is not what it sells.

Google will send a verification code to your physical business address. Save this code and input it when prompted on your manage page. This may take a couple of business days. After that, you’re all set for claiming your business!

For businesses with an existing local listing. Log into your Google+ account dashboard and click on the proper business page you want to optimize.

Step 2: Delete any duplicate listings

MapMaker ScreenshotIf your business has multiple listings for the same address, that’s a bad thing. I see this a lot with professional service firms that have individual Google My Business profiles for each person. Don’t fall into this trap. To find out if you have any duplicate listings, visit Google MapMaker. You’ll see something like the image below:

Remove any Google duplicate pages you have access to and reach out to owners of pages that share your business’ address, name, or phone number like the example image above.

Step 3: Optimize the essentials: correct email, physical address, and website URL

Instead of using an @gmail.com or any of the like, I recommend you use an email address associated with your domain name. This gives you or your client complete access to their listing and it looks more professional.

Another quick note when filling out essential information; the landing page for the URL you list on your page should be relevant to what you think people will want to find. If you have multiple locations, make a dedicated landing page for each location (myplumbingbusiness.com/edina).

Other information to place on landing pages may include:

  • Menus
  • Services
  • Testimonials
  • Contact Information
  • Relevant local videos
  • Driving directions
  • Advertise local deals and sales
  • And ALWAYS a Call to Action

If you want more information on how to optimize landing pages for local search, check out this really useful Guide to Local Landing Pages.

Step 4: Optimize your Introduction

Your introduction is a key part of your business page because it’s where you can explain what makes your business great. In the intro make sure to explain what your business is, what services/products you provide, as well as a brief history.

This is also where you’ll include keywords and keyword variations that you or your client has chosen before this process started. My recommendation is to fill out a description of 300+ words. The more relevant information you can put in your intro the better.

Step 5: Insert High-Quality Photos

A business page with better images is going to get more clicks. It’s as simple as that. I recommend taking clear, high-quality photos of your business as well as including a clear copy of your logo. Here are a few ideas of what else you can take pictures of:

  • Your physical location
  • Your popular products
  • Anything visually appealing related to your business
  • Your (smiling) employees

That’s it! If you complete these 5 steps when building your Google My Business page, then you’ll definitely see an increase in visits to your website and your store. Remember: the more relevant information you include on your page, the better. How has local search impacted your business? Let me know in the comments!

Mktg_Ops_TeamPortraitsTJ Mitchell is a digital marketing professional and founder of Marketer Guides where he chronicles his journey from unknown marketer to his first 1,000 subscribers. He also shares tidbits on SEO, content marketing, email, social media, and more. If you’re interested in learning something new every week at TJ’s expense, sign up for the 1K Journey list here. You can also follow him on Twitter.

 

Why you are failing at Video Advertising

Today’s guest post is from Mike Tyler – Enjoy!

photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

How does a company, like yours and mine, succeed in advertising? How do we make our companies grow like Grandma’s tomato plants every year?

A million dollar question, no doubt.

Video advertising is a medium that is statistically and actually proven to work, from small companies to global corporations. Yet, we see companies try video advertising and fail.

Why is that?

As someone who helps companies succeed at video advertising, the same mistakes happen across the board. The problem isn’t in the physical results, it’s in the whole idea, the strategy. The problem is…

Unclear message and call to action

Hey, we get it. When you’re risking a good portion of money into doing something, you better make sure your decision is sound and sweet like a sun-tanned raspberry. And since we are all just children in adult bodies, we need confirmation. We need someone to say, “Yes, that’s good.” You’ve got to align the different departments.

But the problem with this is that there is no clear message. There is no single thread of purpose that runs like a strong stitch through the fabric of the company. Every person involved thinks they know what is right. The result is the lowest common denominator between all the decision-making parties. The “idea” that keeps everybody happy, but may not resonate with your customers. Sure, that might be good when deciding where to go for dinner but for your advertising? Groupthink is a devilish thing.

The result is an ad that has no focus, doesn’t tie the big picture together, and is cluttered with different thoughts and ideas. It reads like an essay written and edited by different people. It just doesn’t work.

So what needs to be changed?

Simplicity

Sit down and think it out. You’ve heard it a million times, be simple. Simplicity is about choosing the most important idea. Your selling point, your magic, your muse with the bag of creative dust.

photo credit: Sigalakos via photopin cc
photo credit: Sigalakos via photopin cc

The good companies I’ve worked with who churned out great video advertising campaigns get this.

They know who they want to talk to and know what they want to talk about and they know what they want them to do.

Having more than one message or call to action confuses the market. Get rid of all social links get rid of all distractions other than making it easy for your target to do what you want.

Point is, if you’re thinking about video advertising (which I am biased towards suggesting, duh), know what it is you want done with video advertising. Don’t say “increase sales for our company that sells outdoor goods” or “create a promotional video for our new water bottle”.

Aim for something like “I want to offer a discount to purchases towards our new water bottle product designed for outdoor camping purposes to people who go camping and don’t want to buy chlorine filters because it’s expensive and time-consuming and unhealthy.” Get rid of the clutter outside of this purpose.

The result of this combined with video advertising is results that do all those business jargon metrics you want it to do. It increases ROI, revenue, sales, brand awareness, etc.

Rather still, do this even if you’re not planning on video advertising.

Understand your business so we don’t have to figure it out mid-project. That’s your million dollar answer right there. 

MikeMike Tyler is the CEO of War Room – A digital agency that plans, executes, and measures online video advertising campaigns. He enjoys dirt-biking in his spare time.