insightfulmarketing

Simple, effective and insightful small business marketing

5 Business Reads for 2013 January 9, 2013

How many of you have set some New Year Resolutions either in your business or personal life?  Most do…I personally like to call them goals for the year.  I like to focus on achieving these goals and not just trying to resolve to do something more, less or better.   One of my 2013 goals is to read at least 3 business related books.  Maybe one of your goals or resolutions is too, so here’s a list of some of the recommended business reads from last year that I’ll choose from:

By David Novak “Taking People With You”

Forever Books

is the result of a program that Novak teaches up to eight times a year within the company; a step-by-step guidebook and workbook. Think of this book as your own personal MBA course with one of the most successful executives on the planet. And like any MBA course, it takes time, diligence and patience, or as Novak says, “To do this right, you need to take your time, reflecting on each step and on your own leadership style.”

By Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think,” the authors offer a boldly contrarian and optimistic book for today’s cynical times. They make the case that we are indeed on the cusp of a new era, an era when the lives of millions are improved.

Think of this book as the ultimate “Yes, we can.”

In “For Better or for Work: A Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs and their Families,”Meg Cadoux Hirshberg, a columnist and the wife of the founder of Stonyfield Yogurt, offers her account of what life in a startup really looks like — from the inside.

“Breakthrough Branding: How Smart Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs Transform a Small Idea Into a Big Brand.” There’s something different about entrepreneurs whose startups take off and those whose just sputter along – beginning with how they begin. Catherine Kaputa

Engagement from Scratch – Danny Iny. The real life advice from real people is invaluable and you can instantly apply it to build your blog, paid membership site, forums and discussion boards is invaluable. This book also covers how to do this for the all important email list community and social media platforms.

Maybe one of the books from this list will spark your interest or perhaps you have another list in mind.  Either way, I hope you achieve your goals and better yourself with a good read!

 

Seasonal Marketing March 15, 2012

First quarter is coming to an end…where do you stand with your marketing plan and accomplishing your annual goals?  For many businesses, there is a seasonal upswing in the summer months.  Whether you own a landscaping, childcare, vacation rental or other business that see sales increase during the warmer months, then you need to start thinking about what your marketing tactics look like now.  It’s not too late! What is the message you want to convey to new and returning customers? How do you plan on reaching them? Do you have longer lead advertising, like print, set?

Marketing Plan

One of the best things to do is create a reverse timeline. Working backwards from what you considered to be the kick-off of your busy season, will help you get printed materials in full gear with plenty of time to spare. In addition, it gives your business the opportunity to hone its messages, regardless of the medium you choose to deliver them with.

During your non-peak season, you will also want to keep your brand in front of your target customer. At this point your business can save money by having fewer ads and less promotional activity.  However, you should continue to promote brand recognition so that they will draw instant attention to your seasonal marketing plan once it launches. A brand, even one with a seasonal business should not disappear altogether as the ramp up period then becomes more arduous as businesses attempt to re-connect with their customer base.

The critical aspect of your overall business plan is to have your annual marketing plan in place well in advance of your peak season(s) and plan your marketing budget accordingly so you can manage cash flow effectively.  By managing marketing expenses throughout the year, you’ll have tactics in place for the peak times as well as non-peak times when you want your brand to stay in the minds of the consumer, thus creating a very effective overall strategy.

 

How Pinteresting February 22, 2012

How many of you are pinning?  Pinterest, the newest social media site, just hit more than 10 million unique visitors, making it one of the fastest growing websites ever. In the past six months, visits to Pinterest grew by 4,000%, receiving 11 million hits in just one week! I have been seeing or hearing about the site everywhere…from the delicious recipes I was perusing on Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures that had a link to her Pinterest page to the friend at my son’s basketball game last weekend that shared she recently got an amazing recipe and her kid’s Valentine idea from the visual pinboard.

English: Red Pinterest logo

Pinterest was named the best new start up of 2011 by TechCrunch and is doing a great job of driving traffic, leads, and sales. In fact, early research indicates that Pinterest is more effective at driving traffic back to a website compared to other social media sites, even Facebook. Josh Davis includes some interesting stats on his blog:

  • Pinterest is now driving more traffic to the Real Simple website than Facebook is.
  • Warbly Parker, the hip but inexpensive eyeglass retailer, reports that 11% of its social traffic is coming from Pinterest. 18% is coming from Twitter.
  • Like many early bloggers, Kate Bryan managed a blog that was based around her interests, but it never generated many readers. She blogged about her professions of hairstyling and jewelry making, and also her craft projects. Hairstyles are extremely popular pins on Pinterest. Kate started pinning her own work and rapidly started generating traffic. In five months, she achieved over 14,000 new subscribers to her site as well as generating over one million page views from Pinterest.

What’s unique about Pinterest compared to most social media websites, is that it reduces the number of steps from discovery to the coveted conversion. This means that visitors from Pinterest convert into leads or sales faster than from other social media sources. Pinterest is also a great tool for increasing links back to your website, thus driving more traffic.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Let’s look at Twitter, as one example. If a person reads a tweet regarding a product, it’s less likely that a user will buy that product from just seeing one tweet – well, we’re all a little shallow so maybe unless it’s celebrity-endorsed. Are you in the market to pay big bucks for Snoop Dog, Tori Spelling or the Kardashian’s to endorse your tweets? Ummm, probably not!

The site now connects with Facebook, according to a recent Open Graph announcement, which enables users to automatically post new pins to their Facebook news feed for others to see. This translates into more people from other channels getting access to the images you post to Pinterest. However, for business marketers, right now Pinterest only connects with personal Facebook profiles, not business pages, so there is no way for businesses to automatically share their pins to their Facebook pages. In order to do so, marketers must manually share the link to the pin on their business page.

Yet, if marketers sign up for Pinterest using the same email address used for their corporate Twitter account, they can automatically share the pins they post to their Twitter account.

So ask for your invitation and start helping your customers plan their wedding, select their next pair of shoes or just let them get to know your business brand better through the visuals you pin.

Happy pinning!

 

5 Branding Tips for Small Business February 16, 2012

Filed under: Marketing,Social Media,Uncategorized — insightfulmarketing @ 9:51 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Even though you may not be the size of a corporate giant like Coke or Microsoft, engaging in branding is important for your small business.  Here are 5 branding tips that could make a difference for the long-term success of your small business.

English: English and Hebrew Coke labels in an ...

1.  Create a logo and put it on everything.  You don’t need to spend a lot of time or money creating your logo, but you do need something that stands for your business that customers can recognize.  You then need to put it on everything from letterhead and invoices to your website and newsletter…and every communication in between.

2.  Start a blog. A blog can be a great tool for a small business. With it your site will rank better in search engines, you can communicate to customers and grow brand involvement. Blogs help you share valuable information and help you become the expert customers will trust when the time comes to make a purchase decision.

3.  Prepare a one-page business overview. This one pager will be critical as a leave behind when you meet prospects. Be brief – Use short sentences in short paragraphs – people like to read quickly. Also make it very conversational; it’s not a white paper. Your one page overview should include your value proposition, target audience benefits, customer testimonials and a mini-case study – and don’t forget to put how to contact you!

4.  Participate in local business events and network.  Participate.  Get involved.  Going to events is wonderful, but you’re just a face in the crowded room. Ask to be on one of the committees or chair or sponsor a meeting. Interestingly enough, it’s as easy as just asking most of time. Groups are looking for volunteer to help and it’s a great way to elevate your status and visibility among the entire organization and your local community.

Proper branding is critical to your long-term success. A lot of people think of branding as just logo development. But in reality, branding is managing the thoughts and feelings of your customers through the whole sales process to ensure that you can bring the benefits they desire. If your desired brand image isn’t what’s in the minds of your target audience, you’ve got to figure out where the gaps are and how to address them. And fixing those issues is hard work because the old adage still rings true – the customer is always right.

 

 

 

Local Business + Social Media January 27, 2012

Your small business can learn a ton from large corporations and their social media tactics. It’s not rocket science and you don’t need a dedicated team to do it.  Local businesses have a unique opportunity that doesn’t often present itself in the face of big corporations. If your local company isn’t trying these local social media opportunities, it’s time to get started! Here are 7 productive ways to begin that cost you nothing…but your time!

 

Creative Ways Local Businesses Can Use Social Media

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

1.) Complete all of your profile/page information. I know, it’s not very creative, but the easiest to accomplish. As search gets more social, it’s more and more likely your social profile could show up in search results. Make sure you’ve filled it out with adequate information about who you are, what you do, where people can find you, and how to get in touch with you. Of all the social media networks to consider when leveraging an organic search presence, Google+ is currently at the top of the pile. With its consistent incorporation of Google+ profile and page information into search results, brand presence on Google+ is quickly becoming a social media must. Are you there?

2.) Monitor social media mentions. Of your brand…of related products and services…and of your competitors. When people are talking about these things, you should be the first to respond with a coupon, information about your product or service, or just a helpful answer to their question. People use social media for real-time information, and if you’re the one who provides the answer, you elevate yourself as a local expert and a trusted source. This tactic will help you generate new leads, close more sales, or just keep prospects, customers, and your community happy.

3.) Do a little investigating. Check out your fans’ and followers’ profile information to see what they like, and edit adjust marketing activities and communications accordingly. This helps you create buyer personas, refine the style, tone, and content of your messaging, and ensure you’re talking about the things your audience likes to prompt more social engagement.

4.) Become a resource for local events in your industry. Keeping your ear to the ground on events — whether live or web-based — that your audience would like to attend makes you an indispensable resource. Aggregate everything that’s happening in your industry, and maintain groups on social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, or Circles on Google+ that keep interested parties up to date on can’t-miss activities. And be sure to show up to these events, too; your future customers will be there! Why not create another impression?

Image representing Yelp as depicted in CrunchBase

5.) Maintain your presence on local review sites. Sites like Yelp! often appear among the top results in search engines. How does your reputation look? Consumers hold peer reviews in high esteem (I do), and it’s crucial that their first impression of you is a positive one. Plus, these sites help answer common questions for customers like addresses, hours of operation, and contact information that people are frequently checking on their mobile devices when on the go. You should be actively involved in maintaining your reputation on these sites by keeping your business information up to date, soliciting positive reviews from satisfied customers, and working to resolve issues with those who have posted negative reviews of your business.

6.) Ask your employees to use their social networks for your business. National companies may ask their employees to do this, but they won’t reap as much benefit unless their employees connect with people that are overwhelmingly interested in their industry. What do people tend to have in common with lots of their connections? Location! If their networks know their friend or family member works for a local company, you can be sure they’ll contact them the next time they need a local dentist, doctor, health food store, pet sitter, t-shirt maker, custom closet designer…well, you get the point.

7.) Connect with other local businesses and consumers. Get active in online conversations. Connect with people that live in your city and businesses that are doing cool things in your area (especially if they could act as a referrer of business!). It’s important to stay locally connected and network with people even if they’re not directly related to your industry; you never know when someone has a secret passion for something you offer or a need arises further down the line for your products and services.

Your local business can use social media to remain a fixture in the local online community and at your storefront.

 

Get More From Google Search January 20, 2012

Filed under: Marketing,Uncategorized — insightfulmarketing @ 10:02 pm
Tags: , , , ,

If you’re like me, you probably use Google many times a day.  However, unless you are super techy, you probably still use Google in its simplest form.  If your current use of Google is limited to typing a few words in, and changing your query until you find what you’re looking for, then I’m here to tell you that there’s a better way – and it’s not hard to learn.  On the other hand, if you are a technology geek, and can use Google like the best of them already, then I suggest you keep this list of Google search tips.  You’ll then have the tips on hand when you are ready to pull your hair out in frustration when watching a neophyte repeatedly type in basic queries in a desperate attempt to find something.

The following Google search tips are from an article on Hubspot.  The list is by no means comprehensive.  But, I assure you that by learning and using the 12 tips below, you’ll rank up there with the best of the Google experts out there.  The descriptions of the search tips intentionally terse as you’re likely to grasp most of these simply by looking at the example from Google anyways.

12 Expert Google Search Tips

  1. Explicit Phrase:
Lets say you are looking for content about internet marketing.  Instead of just typing internet marketing into the Google search box, you will likely be better off searching explicitly for the phrase.  To do this, simply enclose the search phrase within double quotes. Example: “internet marketing”
  2. Exclude Words:
Lets say you want to search for content about internet marketing, but you want to exclude any results that contain the term advertising.  To do this, simply use the “-” sign in front of the word you want to exclude. Example Search: internet marketing -advertising
  3. Site Specific Search:
Often, you want to search a specific website for content that matches a certain phrase.  Even if the site doesn’t support a built-in search feature, you can use Google to search the site for your term. Simply use the “site:somesite.com” modifier. Example: “internet marketing” site:www.smallbusinesshub.com
  4. Similar Words and Synonyms:
Let’s say you want to include a word in your search, but want to include results that contain similar words or synonyms.  To do this, use the “~” in front of the word. Example: “internet marketing” ~professional
  5. Specific Document Types:
If you’re looking to find results that are of a specific type, you can use the modifier “filetype:”.  For example, you might want to find only PowerPoint presentations related to internet marketing. Example: “internet marketing” filetype:ppt
  6. This OR That:
By default, when you do a search, Google will include all the terms specified in the search.  If you are looking for any one of one or more terms to match, then you can use the OR operator.  (Note: The OR has to be capitalized). Example: internet marketing OR advertising
  7. Phone Listing:
Let’s say someone calls you on your mobile number and you don’t know who it is.  If all you have is a phone number, you can look it up on Google using the phonebook feature. Example: phonebook:617-555-1212 (note: the provided number does not work – you’ll have to use a real number to get any results).
  8. Area Code Lookup:
If all you need to do is to look-up the area code for a phone number, just enter the 3-digit area code and Google will tell you where it’s from. Example: 617
  9. Numeric Ranges:
This is a rarely used, but highly useful tip.  Let’s say you want to find results that contain any of a range of numbers.  You can do this by using the X..Y modifier (in case this is hard to read, what’s between the X and Y are two periods.)  This type of search is useful for years (as shown below), prices, or anywhere where you want to provide a series of numbers. Example: president 1940..1950
  10. Stock (Ticker Symbol):
Just enter a valid ticker symbol as your search term and Google will give you the current financials and a quick thumb-nail chart for the stock. Example: GOOG
  11. Calculator:
The next time you need to do a quick calculation, instead of bringing up the Calculator applet, you can just type your expression in to Google. Example: 48512 * 1.02
  12. Word Definitions:
If you need to quickly look up the definition of a word or phrase, simply use the “define:” command. Example: define:plethora

Hope this list of Google search tips proves useful in your future Google searches.  If there are any of your favorite Google expert power tips that I’ve missed, please feel free to share them in the comments.

 

Branding November 17, 2010

Brand

I believe a “brand” lives in the mind of the consumer. What the consumer perceives your brand to be – is what your brand is. Being a high caliber company is only true if the consumer believes it to be true. Branding is by far one of the most important factors influencing an organization’s success or failure in the marketplace, and can have a dramatic impact on how the “organization behind the brand” is perceived by the discerning buying public with, for the most part almost limitless purchasing options. In other words, the brand is not just a representation of a company’s products and services; it is a symbol of the organization itself, and that is where the core of brand loyalty lies. To build brand equity, all elements of the promotional mix are required to develop and sustain the desired perception in the mind of the consumer. Initially, the challenge is to build awareness, then to develop the brand personality and reinforce the perception. This leads to another important factor in brand-building: the need to invest in the brand over the long-term. Building customer awareness, communicating the brand’s message and creating customer loyalty takes time, but ultimately translates into sales and reputation on a local and national level.  Successful organizations “invest” in their brand, often at the expense of short-term profitability.