It might sound an odd thing to say, especially in the middle of a recession, but there really has never been a better opportunity for businesses to thrive and prosper. We are literally in the middle of a cultural and marketing revolution where all the traditional rules of advertising and marketing are being re-written.
The only way to reach a national or International audience would be to advertise in the national press, on the radio or on television.
This was (and is) beyond most local company’s means. Not many businesses have a marketing budget that would allow them to spend millions on a national or even local TV advertisement.
It was also frustrating for the consumer too. Finding businesses meant searching through the Yellow Pages and then ringing around to see if the company could provide what they were looking for. If they wanted to buy a product and it wasn’t available in their local area, they would have to travel to get it. Or in some cases, they could order via a catalogue or mail order company.
In addition, there was the uncertainty of whether the retailer they were buying from was reputable, especially if it was in a town or city that they were not familiar with.
With the fantastic invention of the Internet, how things have changed!
Consumers have ditched the Yellow Pages to find companies selling goods they want and they no longer have to travel to another part of the country to locate and purchase goods. They now rely almost entirely on the Internet to guide them to products and services that they want.
They are able to read online reviews from other consumers informing them all about both the product or service and the retailer themselves.
They don’t even need to be sitting in their homes or offices to do this. That information is freely available right there at their fingertips on their mobile phones.
It could not be easier.
It has also had knock on benefits for the retailers too. The internet is an essential, cost effective marketing and promotional tool.
Local companies now have a platform to compete on an equal level with the ‘big boys’ and can promote their business to the world. They no longer have to spend millions advertising to a national and international audience. Effective marketing is a mere drop in the ocean to what it used to cost and in a lot of cases it can be done free by word of mouth on social networking sites and in the search engines.
Then, just when you think that things couldn’t get any easier, Google decide that they want to show you some love by making an even easier and more effective way for you to promote your business with the launch of Google Plus Local.
If you are not familiar with Google Plus Local you are going to love it and be very excited.
Google created Google Plus Local as a way to combine its search engine, social networking and business directory features.
What this means is customers can now search out and find detailed information on local restaurants, shops and other services without having to do multiple searches. Everything is linked and available at their fingertips.
Google’s aim is for every business to take advantage of this powerful and popular tool and use their dedicated page as an effective advertising platform for their company.
Google assigns each business its own page. On your company’s very own Google Plus Local page you can include maps, contact details, photographs and other important information relating to your business. Once your page is set up and ready, your customers can use the page to rate your company, write reviews and add photos. Your page will be visible in Google search results and on Google maps.
It has added a feature called Zagat ranking and is an important feature of the business directory. Zagat uses a 30 point scale to rate different aspects of a company. For instance, if you owned a restaurant, customers could rate your food, décor and service using a rating system from ‘poor’ to ‘perfection’.
It gives you an opportunity for your business to shine on the Internet and bring customers flocking to your premises or to use your services.
Everybody knows Google. It is the most popular and important search engine on the Internet. It constantly evolves and changes to make the search experience even better for both the consumer and retailer.
Google Plus Local is based on its predecessor; Google Places. Google Places gave businesses the option to include a map and some basic information about their business, and in most cases this would rank it on the first page of a Google search.
That was enormously successful and was a huge help in getting local businesses found easily by customers looking for their types of products or services.
The most significant change with this new and updated version is its complete integration with the ‘Google Plus’ social network, which some claimed was Google’s answer to Facebook.
While the social networking aspect of Google Plus is not as successful or popular as Facebook at the moment, it is gaining more and more members as businesses catch on to how powerful this concept is for their company.
The main benefit of this service is its ability to increase the profile of your business. It also allows you to connect with your customers on a more personal level.
However, just like any other form of advertising, to make the most of your Google Plus Local page you need to develop a clear strategy.
For example, a plan of action would be:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
As part of an official Google service, your page already gets a boost in the search engines results. But to make the most of the service, it is still important to continue focusing on SEO. By including relevant keywords, keyword phrases, backlinks, regular updates and other SEO content you can guarantee to not only improve your business’s listings placement but also make sure that your competitors never beat you in the search engine rankings. (Don’t worry if any of this stuff has bamboozled you. We are on hand to help you or do it all for you. The important thing is not to let it put you off or decide to bury your head in the sand and try to ignore it. The internet is not going away. So in order for your business to be given a fighting chance you need to start now).
Integrate social networking
We are all familiar with Facebook, Twitter and the importance of Pinterest but don’t ignore the Google Plus social networking site. Google rewards businesses handsomely with higher rankings when companies interact with their customers on the social networking site. It can dramatically improve your profile in the local area.
Making the most of Zagat
The customer ratings you are given will be a very prominent part of your page. Don’t let this scare you. Even the best companies get occasional bad reviews. By encouraging your customers, whatever their comments, to leave a review, you can ensure that you get representative overall results.
Dealing with any negative feedback
As mentioned earlier, every business, no matter how good it is, will get a negative comment from time to time. It is impossible to please everybody all of the time. However it is wise to develop a strategy that deals with negative comments as soon as they occur. Always act in a professional and engaging manner which will stop it causing damage to your reputation.
Potential customers won’t mind the negative review but what they will be interested in is how you handle it. If you rant and rave, call the person who left the comment ‘a liar’ and insult them then new customers won’t deal with you. If, on the other hand, you are courteous and professional and offer a solution, it will reassure new customers to trust and buy from you or use your services.
Better Search Ranking
You will definitely see better search rankings. This is important as statistics show the majority of people only visit sites on the first page of their search results. Of that page, the top 3 results are far more likely to be visited than any of the others.
By using Google Plus Local to get your company’s page into this prominent position, you can guarantee more visitors to your website and get more sales.
Once you have increased your search engine rank, placing a link to your official business website on your Google Plus Local page will significantly increase its traffic and the number of customers you will get.
How to Begin
We know that the internet world is daunting for many small businesses. Our worry is that local businesses will either put off taking action or try to completely ignore the internet and kid themselves that it isn’isn’t happening.
Please don’t do that.
If you would rather spend more time running your business and less time trying to promote it online, hiring an online marketing expert like us is the ideal solution. We know exactly what we are doing and can get fast results for your business so you can speed up the process of gaining more customers.
If you or your company has never tried to implement a Google Plus Local strategy before, you could try and do it yourself. To be honest, any action is better than doing nothing at all.
However, there are lots of potential pitfalls to run into. Adding content that yields a very low search engine result, or building up a bad relationship in the social networking area with your customers, are just a couple of the potential problems you could face.
Why not make sure that your company’s Google Plus Local Page is in the hands of professionals who will not only improve your earnings and profits but also help ensure your business’s survival in the future.
Please contact us today. We are here to help and are looking forward to hearing from you.
PUBLICITY – It doesn’t just magically happen. For small businesses to stand out in an era of information overload, with wall-to-wall news and media coverage, you need to be ingenious and have something that will get you and your business noticed – like establishing yourself as a local authority on within your field.
Here are a few marketing ideas that could put your business in the spotlight and make it more newsworthy:
A number of journalists have been known to complain how annoying it is to be inundated with irrelevant press releases from small businesses that they have never had previous contact with. You can understand their situation. They receive hundreds of press releases per week, all of them vying for attention and trying to get some column inches for their own business.
However, social media makes it much easier to get connected with reporters and build up a relationship with them, and it is an avenue that most businesses overlook.
For example you could easily start making a Twitter list created around your local and national journalists who cover small businesses. Build a relationship with them in the traditional way. By talking about common interests, and responding to their queries that are not necessarily work-related, you are using your exchanges to build up a relationship that will grow over time. Try and monitor your list, keeping a close eye on it throughout the day to make sure you are the first to respond to any of their queries for information in your area of expertise.
Alternatively you can literally help a reporter out by answering their requests for information instead of trying to get your press release published. HelpAReporter.com (HARO) is one of the best ways to start getting press coverage and incoming links from online media sources.
It couldn’t be easier, as it is free and simple to sign up. All it takes is an email address and some basic contact information. Once signed up it won’t take long before you start receiving emails from reporters looking to connect with experts for interviews. While not all of the interviews or contacts might not actually transform into anything, it is simply too good an opportunity to pass up – it is free and easy to do. All it takes is one good story and it will give your business the promotion it deserves.
Don’t just focus on text. In fact, your next viral marketing content might not be text at all. With the popularity of Pinterest, Instagram and other social media, statistics indicate your chances of gaining explosively publicity are much higher if you use visual content.
These statistics show that it certainly makes good business sense to use more images in your marketing.
You might be convinced. You may even see the wisdom in trying to get free publicity for your business. What you might not actually have is the time or the confidence to do it.
That is where businesses such as ours can help. We can look after your marketing campaigns for you and turn your business into a market leader, beating your competitors and attracting brand new clients to your business.
Why not give us a call and see how we can help you. Our contact details are on page 3, and we offer a free consultation to help you explore your options.
Just as you get to grips with Twitter and Facebook, along comes another social media platform for you to get used to.
If you have not already heard of Vine, you soon will as it has, as the name suggests, been spreading in popularity online like a weed.
Vine is a Twitter owned company that was launched early in 2013. It allows users to record short six-second clips that play continuously on an endless loop. This tiny six-second video is considered to be the equivalent to the 140-character limit on Twitter.
Think of Vine being like Instagram except with videos instead of pictures.
Users add these videos to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and it is incredibly quick and easy to do.
So you may be asking yourself, ‘who wants a six second video and why would it be useful to my business?”
Well the answer to the first question is simple: Millions of people. Vine has already attracted over 13 million users in less than 6 months after its launch. There are thousands of blogs and sites that are dedicated solely to finding the bet vine videos and sharing them for everybody to see.
In answer to your second question here are some reasons why Vine is an effective way to promote your business:
If you have a customer who raves about your product or service, no doubt they will be very happy to agree to provide you with a testimonial. As the Internet is so visual, having video testimonials is the perfect way to showcase your testimonials. However, most customers, even if they love what you do won’t be too thrilled about the idea of appearing on camera for a long time to create a testimonial for you. Many of them will be camera shy and not comfortable in front of the camera.
But how about this for an idea: Instead of having then speak, why not have your happy smiling customer hold up cards with words that best describe your product or business. A six second video of your thrilled happy customer holding up cards such as “Saved Me Money”, “Easy to Use” and “Friendly Service” is the perfect way to get your message across and intrigue potential customers to look at what you are offering.
Instead of just having a static portfolio of your work on your site create an animated one on social media instead. It is such a simple idea that even small businesses without a large advertising budget could do. It will help spread the word about your product or service far quicker than any ad in the local press could.
Vine is perfect for creating suspense and intrigue, particularly if you are launching a new product or service or even adding an update.
You can start generating a buzz by giving your viewers a sneak peek. Simply link viewers to your website or information page where they can find more details.
The majority of your customers will be well clued up on social media and how it works. It is now part of everyday life. So use Vine to engage with your followers and starting a conversation by using a Vine video.
There are so many inventive ways that you could do this. For example one bookstore owner doesn’t ask what book his followers are reading. Instead, he gives visual clues as to what HE is reading and gets his followers to try and guess what it is. Genius!
People are naturally curious so why not treat your followers to a sneaky behind the scenes glimpse of your business. You could do this from a variety of different angles such as showing off a cool piece of equipment in your workshop, or putting faces to the names of the staff in your business. The list is endless and will thoroughly engage your clients.
If you are in the home improvement business, a landscape gardener, a beautician, an interior designer or any other kind of business where clients expect to see results then Vine is ideal for showing impressive before and after results. If the effect is really good then it will quickly go viral and have people rushing to your site to find out more.
You can show that your business is getting into the holiday spirit by creating fun videos and messages for your clients. This will help you to engage with your followers. You can also make them into marketing related videos by putting some promotions in the mix too showing your products relevant to the holidays.
Whatever you decide to do, it will go down well with your followers and they are bound to reward you with positive comments and spread the word about your video making sure it gets lots of exposure.
Use Vine to build up interest around any event that you might be planning by sending out a personalized invite to people that you want to visit your store, enter a contest or attend a seminar.
This is a particularly effective promotional idea: If you are attending a trade show get people to visit by doing a vine based “Where’s Wally” type promotion. Get your followers to watch the video and see if they can spot your logo at the show then offer a prize for the correct answers when they visit your booth. It works a treat.
Social networking has done a lot to ‘humanize’ companies and Vine is no different.
An excellent way to gain a new audience and potential customers is to show off your company being charitable or even of your and your employers having fun. If your company is throwing a Christmas party for example, post a video of your employees singing a Christmas carol. It is a nice touch and a fun way to interact with your customers.
We mentioned a great idea above for getting people to visit your trade show but here is another effective way that businesses are using Vine to great effect:
Use a Vine video with your conference hashtag to let people know when the conference or trade show is starting. You could even show a video of the speaker or your booth in the video too. It is a perfect way to attract a targeted audience and get additional visitors to your event.
The Internet is global but Vine is ideal for local businesses marketing to a local audience. Show your fans and followers how attractive your store or restaurant is and invite them to come and visit. You could even host a special event to bring extra footfall into your business.
Hopefully this article has provided you with inspiration and shown you how effective Vine can be for your business.
However, just before you dive in here are another 3 tips that will really help your videos to shine and encourage fans to spread the word and make them viral.
What makes Vine so different to many other video marketing strategies like YouTube for instance is this: you can’t upload something that you have already made. You cannot edit your video or go backwards once you get started. It really is a “one-take” process.
So with this in mind it’s important to know exactly what you want to record before you begin. Start by creating a simple storyboard or sketch out what kind of shots you want before you begin. Plan carefully what you want to film, the angle of the shots and how long you want each shot to appear for.
I know it sounds obvious but your vine video will work best if you have proper lighting and a series of steady shots. This is even more vital to remember if you are going to be using Vine to brand yourself online or wanting to show off your products and services.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just spend a few extra minutes planning your location and perhaps invest in an iPhone tripod to help keep your shots steady. It will make all of the difference to how well your videos will be received.
A lot of Vine videos don’t have any sound in them and that is fine if you don’t want sound in yours either. However, it may sound obvious but the Vine app will still record sound when it is being used. If you really don’t want sound in your video then you are going to have to find a very quiet location to film your video and try not to breathe too heavily when creating your video.
If on the other hand you WANT sound in your video you might want to consider buying a dedicated mic for your phone or experiment with the mic that comes with your iPhone headphones.
If you have already experimented with Twitter you will know firsthand how effective a tool it is and why so many successful businesses use it as part of their marketing strategy.
With the addition of Vine it will help keep your audiences engaged and reach an even bigger and broader audience than ever before.
Businesses are experiencing great results because the short videos create memorable impressions on their target audience and promote the business or product very fast by encouraging their target audience to spread the word and make the video go viral.
Businesses need all of the help they can get to get their product and services out there in front of the general public. By using social platforms such as Vine it is one of the best opportunities to grow your business through self-promotion and advertising.
Like all effective marketing strategies it can take a while to get to grips with how the media works or how to use it to its fullest potential.
This is how we can help. We have the experience required to help your business reach a much broader audience and attract brand new customers.
If you need any advice or would like to ask more about the marketing services we provide please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be glad to help.
Download and install the Vine app for your iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android phone.
Create a Vine account using your Twitter profile or email address.
Find people to follow by going to your profile and clicking the People icon at the top right of the screen. You can also go to your settings and use the Find People option under Friends.
Connect your Facebook account to share videos on Facebook as well.
Click the video camera icon to start recording videos. Tap your finger on the screen to record and release stop recording.
When you’re finished, click continue to share your video on vine, Twitter and Facebook.
It is that easy. Now you can get creative and make your brand go viral.
As a business owner, you will have witnessed first-hand how the Internet has had a huge impact on customers buying habits.
In fact by now, unless your business is based in a cave in the outer reaches of Siberia you should have either set up a website or at the very least had somebody seriously suggest that you should.
Despite all of the evidence, it is surprising to discover that there are still some business owners who remain skeptical, not fully convinced that having a website really is necessary.
One of the most common reasons given to us for not going online is the business owner feels a website would take too much time and energy to set up or that they are a luxury not a necessity.
Others claim it would be a waste of time. They get enough business from passing trade so they don’t need to bother going online at all.
Even if a business is doing well from passing trade at the moment, it is still good sense to go online. If you don’t, not only will your current customers who use the internet for as part of everyday life be surprised that you are not online but you will lose thousands of potential new customers.
1) Sell to a wider audience
Your bricks and mortar business is restricted to passing trade and how many people are in town that day. If you want to reach out to a wider audience traditional means of advertising in the local press, radio, TV and flyers are very expensive.
On the Internet however, you can easily expand your brand to a global audience for a fraction of the cost or even free using clever online marketing and search engine optimization.
2) People look for local businesses online using their smartphones
Smartphones can literally put your business at your potential customer’s fingertips. Statistics show customers regularly use their smartphones to find local businesses close to where they are. If they are using the Internet to search online for local businesses, your business really needs to be there so that they can find you. If it isn’t, they will just buy from your competitor instead.
How much would it cost in staff wages and electric bills if you were to keep your bricks and mortar business open 24 hours per day? Would you not be excited if you could keep your business open 24 hours a day without losing any money in the process?
Not just that but you could be receiving orders from all over the world no matter what time it was.
That is exactly what the Internet allows you to do. Even if your business does not actually sell a physical product, people can always contact you via email or learn about your business without waiting for you to open during your normal business hours.
4) People use the Internet to find out more about businesses they already know about.
Don’t think you should be online so that only brand new customers can find your business. One of the most common ways people use the Internet is for your existing customers and people who already know about your business to look online for research. They want to know things like: What time does the local coffee shop open? Are there any special deals at my dry-cleaners? Does my favourite Chinese restaurant have vegetarian options? If you want your customers to be able to know everything about your business, a website is the perfect way of making the information available whenever they want it.
5) Build a loyal following
Although the Internet is a huge, think of it as more than a vast wilderness to try and promote your business. The Internet is a community and with sites like Facebook and Twitter you can communicate and engage with your customers no matter which part of the world they come from as if they were your friends.
This allows you to connect with your customers on an emotional and personal level, which is much more effective than an ad in a local newspaper or a flyer. When you engage with them you will build a loyal following of fans and customers who will buy from you again and again.
6) Your competition is already there
Spend a few minutes on Google and search for businesses similar to yours in your local area. The chances are your competitors will already have a presence on the Internet. If they are, why let them steal all of the customers when you could have a website quickly and easily?
Having a website means you can always appear up to date to your customers. You can share the latest news, update your inventory, add relevant information you think your customers should know and even answer customer’s questions almost immediately.
So while your bricks and mortar business might not be open 24 hours a day, your website is. It is too good an opportunity to miss.
8) Promote your site for free
Google wants your business to succeed. It is your company’s best friend. It is constantly improving to make sure that when people search for businesses like yours, they will find you. Being found on Google is completely free and will boost your profits.
When you see the potential you will soon want to explore other avenues of online marketing, all of which deliver equally exciting results and a huge profit for your business.
If you have been putting off setting up a company website or thought that it was too expensive and complicated, please contact us and you will be in for a very pleasant surprise.
Not only will it be cheaper and easier than you imagined but you will be delighted with the extra sales that you will receive.
Don’t put it off and give us a call today.
Every so often we come across a client who refuses to acknowledge the positive effects the Internet would have on their business and think it is completely irrelevant to them. This is particularly the case with regards to social media.
“Oh my client base doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter” or “Our business isn’t aimed at kids.They are the only ones who use Facebook and Twitter. Our customers prefer the traditional methods of marketing”.
Can you believe that?
It is so frustrating for us as we can see their business struggling and we want to help them so much but there is not a lot we can do when they point blank refuse to reach out to a larger audience online using the Internet.
For anybody else who doubts the power of online marketing using social media platforms, here are some hard facts and figures that will make your head spin. The numbers are staggering and it shows the global impact that social media marketing is having on all aspect of business and personal life.
There are now over 1.15 billion Facebook users. People have been saying that Facebook has peaked but that figure is a 21% increase in just 12 months. Facebook is still the most popular platform and is now part of every day life.
We have talked a lot about Google+ recently. It has become the second biggest network during the last 6 months and continues to grow at a fast pace. It is finally reaching a point where Internet users are starting to become aware of it and are curious about how to use it.
Google+ now features in thousands of retweets, shares and traffic on the internet every day, which is a good indicator of how popular it is and why it shouldn’t be ignored.
Recent stats recorded on ExpandedRamblings.com reveal that Google+ has 343 million ACTIVE monthly users.
At the time of writing, Twitter is preparing to be floated on the stock market. Who would have predicted that when it first appeared?
Twitter is every bit as much a part of everyday life as Facebook and Google are. Almost every television program is using Twitter to obtain feedback and comments. News reports follow and report events based on Twitter comments. Everybody from movie starts to politicians use it to full effect to attract millions of followers and admirers. They know that it is a perfect marketing tool.
The concept is so easy and its power stems from that simplicity because it offers real time feed and news breaking capabilities.
According to a MediaBistro.com, the figure released in August 2013 show that Twitter has over 500 million users (35 million of those are in China alone).
Over 170 billion tweets have been sent, which averages out at about 400 million tweets PER DAY.
These are truly mind-blowing figures.
Facebook and Twitter are the platforms that create the most noise but LinkedIn, which is one of the older social networks, has been quietly working on making its platform more social over recent years and should not be ignored. In fact as a business this is the platform you should definitely be exploring to reach clients and contacts within your industry.
Again, the most recent figures reported by ExpandedRamblings.com reveal that LinkedIn has now exceeded 238 million users.
YouTube is the world’s most popular online destination for video sharing and creation and is absolutely fantastic as a marketing tool.
After revealing that every single one of the Ad Age top 100 brands had run advertising campaigns on YouTube, the social media giant recently reported this statement on its very own blog:
“….And today, we’re announcing a new milestone: YouTube now has more than a billion unique users every single month.”
The words ‘one billion users’ just rolls off the tongue and is too big to comprehend, but to put things in perspective and to show how enormous this figure is, the blog continues:
“What does a billion people tuning into YouTube look like?
There was a lot of excitement when Facebook first bought this fun and quirky image app company for $1billion. It hit headline news all around the world.
A lot of analysts thought that Facebook had more money than sense but it turns out to be a wise investment as it has helped Facebook move into mobile advertising and continues to grow every month.
From its launch in 2010, Nitrogr.am reports that there are over 150 million active users and over 16 billion photos have been shared (an average of 55 million photos every day).
Instagram is a great social media tool that will help your business to engage with your customers, build relationships and increase your sales.
Pinterest very quickly captured the public’s imagination soon after it was first launched.
The online “pinboard” social media platform has had a huge impact on how we use the Internet, even influencing the new Google+ design.
We have written about Pinterest before in previous articles but will be returning with another article very soon to show you just how powerful a marketing tool this is for your business.
To convince you of the popularity and influence of Pinterest, here are some facts and figures which again come from ExpandedRamblings.com:
There are currently 70 million users and Pinterest receives 2.5 billion page views EVERY MONTH. The average shopper on Pinterest spends between $140 – $180 on products.
Vine is relatively new and if you haven’t heard about it before, then you will find the article in this month’s edition very informative. Suffice to say, even if you have never heard of it before you will soon be hearing a lot about it over the coming months as its popularity spreads.
To put you in the picture mediabistro.com reports that 5 Vine videos are tweeted every second.
On the 20th August 2013 Twitter posted a tweet to announce that VINE had reached 40 million users and that figure is growing every day.
This is a huge growth considering it was only released earlier on in the year.
Tumblr is another company that was bought by an Internet Giant, this time Yahoo. The purchase was greeted with a lot of consternation especially from the Tumblr community whose audience are typically young and tech savvy.
Despite reports that the Tumblr users are deserting the site, Quantcast still report that it has 245 million unique visitors every month.
Despite being one of the oldest social sites (it was launched in 2009) it is one of the less mentioned platforms.
However you should not underestimate it, as it is particularly useful for bricks and mortar business giving them a stronger online presence. It is a perfect way to build a strong relationship with your customers by rewarding them with special offers and other benefits.
The number of users is around 30 million. Again, watch out for our future article, which shows you how to use this excellent business tool.
As you can see, rather than being something to ignore, social media marketing has become an indispensable tool to build relationships, engage with your customers and increase sales like never before.
The success in social media marketing comes from building strong and long-lasting relationships with your customers over months and years. You do this by providing them with the type of content and expertise that they will want to share with their friends, colleagues and family.
This approach will help to attract and keep loyal customers and is an approach worlds away from most traditional forms of advertising and marketing.
As the Internet evolves, so does social media. It is an ever-growing, ever-changing sector and as a result it is daunting for many businesses.
This is where we can help. We can help you with your social media campaigns while you concentrate doing what you do best, and that is running your own business.
If you had no idea how big social media marketing was until you read this article, or you have struggled running your own successful campaigns in the past, please give us a call and let us show you how we can significantly increase your profits.
“It’s only a mobile phone! What’s the point in making a website for that? You can’t see much on them anyway? If they’re interested they’ll look at it on their computer.”
What are we talking about? We are talking about how a website looks when someone uses a mobile phone or tablet to view it. Many, many small businesses have not chosen to make their website mobile-friendly, but does it really matter? Do small businesses really need to spend time and money to make a more design-responsive website?
Before making any decision that could cost money, a business is wise to look at whether there is a demand for what they are considering doing, but most importantly, whether it will have a positive, beneficial effect on their business and hence on their profits.
When the first cellphones were introduced back in the mid 1990’s, it was hard to imagine that these heavy, clumsy, over sized ‘portable’ phones would dramatically evolve into a tiny device that fits into the hand and would be capable of letting people instantly communicate verbally and visually globally with one another.
What was once science fiction is very much now science fact. All manner of daily activities are logged, recorded and shared on these devices. And once people had the capability to access the internet on their phone, regardless of where they were, smartphone development really began to accelerate. This portability has led to the rise of the mobile device but the decline in traditional desktop computers sales.
If you still need proof of how popular smartphones and mobile devices are, The Guardian newspaper reported in July 2013 that 90% of all phones sold were smartphones, with over 1.8 billion smartphones in existence at that time. Leading social media site Facebook recognized the importance of being mobile-friendly to its users. Because people were posting details of their lives as they lived them, it was crucial Facebook was able to offer a smooth and easy user experience, which could fit into the portable devices people carried with them. Facebook’s designers claim it can be viewed and used smoothly on around 7,000 different portable devices. The fact that there are so many different mobile devices is mind boggling.
There can be no doubt that if you want your business to prosper, you need to keep up with how people are shopping and where they are going to shop. Gone are the days when most people took time out of their evening or weekend to sit browsing on their desktop computer. People can access the web at anytime and anywhere they can get a mobile signal. It’s no longer about how a site looks; it’s all about speed – how fast they can get the information they are looking for?
People are internet window-shopping whenever they have a spare 5 or 10 minutes waiting for a bus, sitting in their car, on the park bench in their lunch hour or in the coffee shop. They don’t want to look at a pretty site design. They want a responsive site that loads quickly (less than 5 seconds), is easy to navigate around on their small device and a site where it is quick and simple to find the information they want.
That’s easy…just have a look! You may have looked at your site on your computer when your designer first finished it, but that may have been a number of years ago now, before mobile technology really came to the fore. You need to see if you have a responsive web design that will adapt itself seamlessly to the main percentage of mobile gadgets.
Take a look on your own phone, as well as on other mobile devices. Type in your web address and see what comes up. Notice:
If your site isn’t there in full and quickly, then you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, and that can be a big concern for your business. Over 80% of all local searches done on the internet are now done on mobile devices. Almost 50% of 18-25 year old website visitors consider their mobile phone as their primary computer, and that number will only go up, not down, as children grow up with more advanced technology. So if your customer is looking for you, the response of your website to their mobile device will determine whether or not they even browse your site.
There is no need to panic just yet. There is nothing here that can’t be changed or improved upon. Here are some really useful tips to consider when looking to make your website more mobile-friendly:
It might seem an obvious thing, but it is sometimes overlooked. There is no point creating a mobile site if nobody goes to it. When someone types in your web address on a mobile device, they don’t use a separate mobile URL. It’s the same one as your main website. So make sure your server is set up to recognise mobile devices and to automatically direct them through to the mobile version.
It’s pointless creating a mobile site if you cram it so full of content that the user has to wade through screen after screen of text to try and pick out what they want. Because your information is being viewed on a much smaller screen, realistically you can’t add all the in depth information you would have on a site viewed on a computer.
Your visitor hasn’t come to your site to learn more about you. They are there because they want something specific – your address, contact number or a product. So don’t cram each small page with as much text as you can get on, but add less (but more relevant) information to your mobile site in a condensed form. You want to make your visitor work less, not more, to find what they are looking for. If there is something that needs further explanation, like a full product description, then don’t be afraid to add in a link back to your full site.
It’s not just the content on your site that needs to be trimmed down. You need to look at simplifying how your visitor navigates around the mobile site. No-one wants to have to click here, then there, swipe and scroll and click again just to find your telephone number. Consider why visitors will use your mobile site and then put useful information within easy reach and the minimum of clicks.
The way your navigation looks is also important. Users want to be able to scan the home screen and immediately see where they need to be to get what they want. So keep your navigation clear and concise – don’t hide your navigation behind images. It is too confusing especially when they don’t have the roll over or hover features. It may look great on your main site, but it will annoy, frustrate and finally put off many visitors through the lack of friendly usability.
The rule to remember is mobile users have less time to talk and want to use that time to get the information they want and go. They certainly don’t want to have to fill out a 20 field opt-in form just to get a little information. The more fields a user has to fill out, the more unhappy they become.
When you need information from your mobile visitor, make sure you only add fields that are ABSOLUTELY necessary, and not what type of movies they like or whether they drink a brand of cola. You will engage your visitor more by giving them what they want quickly than by getting them to give you non-essential information.
Just because your mobile site is going to be viewed on a small screen doesn’t mean you have to leave out the most important thing – Your Brand Identity! When someone comes to your site, whether it’s the mobile site or your full website, they should be able to identify it immediately as yours. So use your corporate colors and logo together with your brand style on both sites so your visitor is confident both sites belong to the same company – yours!
How many times have you tried to tap the screen on your phone and missed the tiny button you were aiming at? Fingers come in all shapes and sizes. You wouldn’t expect a 6 foot 3 inch wrestler to have delicate slender fingers.
You may not be able to give people the option to change the size of button, but you can increase the button size to ensure visitors have a much easier time selecting the button they want.
The other thing you need to make bigger is the font size. It might seem logical that because you are using a smaller device, the text should be smaller too. But, in fact, the opposite is true. Because everything is being scaled down, you need to increase the size of font, otherwise your content will be unreadable. But this can work to an advantage. You can highlight features or areas of the screen by the selective use of color and larger, bolder fonts to pick out certain words and help the user understand the page more quickly.
It is easy to assume that visitors to your mobile site come there for exactly the same reasons as visitors to your mobile site, and so you arrange your site information in the same way. But is that actually the most likely explanation?
Visitors using a computer at home do not necessarily want the same thing as someone who visits your site on a mobile device. If someone local to your business is visiting your mobile site, they are most likely away from home using their mobile device because they want to know something more physical about your company. They could want to know your address or what hours you are open so they can make a personal visit. Or they may wish to contact you to make a booking or ask a question. They may even want to know what services you provide.
Whatever you eventually decide are the reasons someone would use your mobile site, make sure those pieces of information about your business are some of the first things that they can see and access.
Once you have made all the adjustments and changes to your mobile site, don’t forget to check everything works. Just because you can see your click-to-call function pops up, it doesn’t automatically follow that it will connect to your number. So check every pop-up, link and interactive function to ensure not only that they work, but that they work the way you want them to. Nothing is so frustrating to your potential customers as something that doesn’t work.
The whole aim of making your website more mobile-friendly is to increase the positive experience of your users. If people can come to your site and get the information they need quickly and easily, they will return back the next time confident that you have what they want.
Very few mobile browsers return to a site that is slow to load, complicated or makes them spend ages hunting down what they need. There are plenty of other businesses that do have mobile-friendly sites and they will move on to those sites without a backward glance.
By putting these guidelines into practice, you can make your user’s experience a positive one for them and a profitable one for you.
There are so many new ways to get information about businesses and branding out onto the internet, and new social media sites being introduced all the time. It seems every time you look at a blog post, video or online article, there’s a new symbol that has appeared to let you share the content with others. So it’s no surprise that some get overlooked more than others.
But in among all the tweeting, pinning and facebooking, there is one symbol that has been around for awhile – the rather unassuming ‘+1’ icon, belonging to Google Plus (+).
Google + is relatively new – it was launched at the end of 2011 – but already, it has a total of more than 500 million users worldwide. While many are familiar with the +1 icon, the Google+ business page, which was introduced at the same time, has gone mainly unnoticed. But the influence of Google+ is growing fast, and businesses should be joining the growing Google+ trend. Here, we give you an overview of Google+ and the benefits it has to businesses.
The first things you need in order to benefit from Google+ are:
1. A Gmail email account
2. A Google+ account.
Fortunately, Google make it so easy to do both at the same time, simply by visiting http://plus.google.com
TIP : Take the time to read through the brief overview information and watch the really quick videos (each under 2 minutes). It will give you a basic understanding of what Google+ is and how it works.
Once you have signed in, you’re ready to start….
Before you go anywhere, join anything, make a connection to anyone or hang out anywhere, it’s time to fill out your profile. When navigating around inside Google+, it’s good to know how to activate the menus.
TIP: Normally, you click on a button or icon to bring up the menu options, but Google+ uses a hover option. If you hover over things you will find menus and options appear for you.
If you are a little stumped on where to find your profile page, take your cursor up to the top left corner and hover over the ‘Home’ icon. In the menu that appears below the Home button you will see your profile icon. (You can also access it from the drop-down menu which is to the right of your top left profile picture).
When filling out this information, remember this is going to be seen by your potential new customers, so keep your profile entries more professional than personal.
Google+ profiles include 2 images – a small profile picture that act like an avatar (a small graphic picture that appears next to your posts and activity in Google+), and a cover photo which people see when they visit your profile page. Both of these images are important to your business profile, but for different reasons.
Profile Picture – Wherever you appear on Google+, (so in any Circle listing, a group, a post entry, etc), your profile image appears next to your name. It is a little piece of branding that appears every time you do in Google+.
Your profile images should ideally be uploaded at 250 x 250 pixels, and whether you use your profile image or a logo, it should be something that looks good and is recognizable when seen as a small image. BUT … your Google+ profile picture offers you an amazing opportunity to stand out in the search results. In among the Google search results, you will see that every now and again, one of the results has not only the title of the article and the webpage link, but a small avatar picture next to it too.
Doesn’t that entry stand out in the search results? This is their Google+ profile image, and although it doesn’t appear automatically, you too can easily get your profile image to be displayed in Google search results for all your blog and website entries.
How? It is a feature called ‘Google Authorship’ and you activate the feature from inside your Google+ profile by using the ‘Links’ section. You can use the link fields to add in and connect to all your websites, blogs and other profiles. To help verify your authorship, you can use a WP (WordPress) plug-in. (If you do a quick search in your site’s plug-in directory, you can find a suitable one).
It is well worth putting forth a little time and effort to extend your brand power and increase your visibility in Google search results in this way. It’s free, it’s very visual and it puts you miles ahead of your competitors.
Cover Picture – The cover picture is the 2nd image in your profile and is a MASSIVE 942 x 180 pixels. Not only that, but unlike other social media sites, there are no restrictions as to what information can go on it. So your business can take advantage of this massive billboard and add in calls to action, your website details, promote special offers, offer unique discounts… the possibilities are endless, and no-one is going to reprimand or ban you for doing so.
Once you have your profile sorted, it’s time to look around Google+. Here is a brief look at some Google+ features:
Running through the center of your page is the newsfeed of posts and you can choose whether to get a general stream of all the posts, or you can see posts from friends, family or other circles that you are connected to on Google+. You can also leave comments and replies on posts from in the newsfeed.
At home or at work, in our normal lives, we all have circles of friends, family or acquaintances we interact with. On Google+, you build circles of people you want to communicate to. It’s not just friends or family, you can build various circles of work colleagues, people you admire or follow or have a common interest with, people you find funny…the possibilities are endless.
Where Circles differs from other social media is you don’t need a formal invitation to connect with someone, so adding someone into a Circle is so easy. When you come across someone you want to add, hover over their name and it brings you up a list of all the Circles you have created. All you need to do is tick the Circle or Circles you want to put them in and you’re done, and YES, you can add people to more than one Circle.
Once you’re Circles are set up, you need to start building up your connections. You don’t need to send the same post to everyone. You can tailor which Circlesgets that post, so you can send it to as many or as few people as you like, which is great if you want to build up Circles of customers to send out targeted offers to every now and again, or a newsletter.
Since no-one needs to ask or be accepted to join a Circle, Google+ has a really handy ‘Added You’ button. This function shows people who have put you in one of their Circles. It makes good business sense to connect back to them and put them in one of your Circles. Just hover over their name and your list of Circles will appear for you to choose from.
This isn’t difficult at all – you simply type what you want to say into the ‘Share what’s new’ box. You can pretty much add anything else too – links, pictures or videos. Once ready to send, you can choose who to send it to. Below the post you’ve typed there is a ‘+ Add Name…’ field. You can choose to make it public, send the post to a specific circle or put in individual names in. But Google+ has a great feature, useful for businesses, in that it fully integrates with Gmail so you can send the post via email to your contact lists.
Businesses can add a business page to their account. This gives greater flexibility with the cover picture as businesses can choose to either have the one large cover or they can choose to have 5 smaller images at the top of the page. Not only does this option give businesses the choice to highlight 5 offers or aspects of their business, but it becomes so much easier to keep the display current and fresh simply by changing one or more of the smaller pictures, rather than having to produce an entire new large cover image every time.
A Google+ business page also offers more scope with statistics. Businesses can use the ‘Discover’ section to be able to see who is sharing their content, as well as ‘+1’ing their posts or content. Inside the Discover sector, businesses can also spot topics that are beginning to trend, and so stay current.
A community is a group, or forum, which has been created around a certain topic or activity, such as creative writing, fishing, internet marketing, etc.
Some communities are public, so anyone can join and become a member without having to ask, but some communities are closed. Closed communities are private communities. They only allow certain individuals in, in which case you need to ask to be allowed to join.
Inside communities, you can control what posts you receive. Posting in a community is different. Posts are divided into categories for different types of posts, so you can choose which lines of chatting you listen to. You can also choose to ‘mute’ receiving replied and updates from specific posts by hovering over and clicking the little ‘v’ at the top right corner of the post. This removes it from your Home page and prevent you seeing any more replies.
As a business opportunity, communities are great for doing market or product research inside a closed community. You can invite people who fit in to the target groups of your business to help you gather information and insight while creating a persona of your ideal customer.
Facebook has the ‘Like’. Pinterest has the ‘Pin It’. Well Google+ has the ‘+1’, and now that you know about it, you’ll see it all over the internet – in online articles and blog posts, next to pictures and videos and on websites and online shops.
+1 is your way of showing your Google+ Circles what things you like, find interesting or fun, or maybe you have found something you think others will find most useful or informative and you want to share it. There’s no need to fret about remembering which things you’ve liked or where you saw that really interesting feature. You profile has a +1 tab, which logs all your +1’s, so you can see them anytime.
Often overlooked, but crucial to branding your business, is the way your Google+ web page address appears within the browser. It is what your potential customer will type in or click on and can reinforce your brand’s identity with them.
A Vanity URL is a URL which is customised to reflect your company name. For example, https://plus.google.com/+davidbeckham is the vanity Google+ URL of footballer David Beckham.
The default URL assigned to everyone by Google+ is a long dull, unmemorable string of numbers that will impress no-one, and is instantly forgettable. Google+ does have a number of Vanity URLs, but is currently only assigning them to people who have either a high celebrity status, high business profile or a very large amount of followers. As a business, you can request to be given a vanity URL of your own, but unless you fall into one of the three categories mentioned before, it is highly unlikely that you would be successful.
Google+ has promised that more vanity URLs will become available in the future, but until then, there is a way of making your page web address more appealing and memorable. Sites such as http://gplus.to, http://plus.ly and http://gplusnick.com offer an alternative. They can set up a vanity URL to replace your current Google+ one.
So, on http://gplus.to,
That looks much better and is much more unforgettable that trying to type 21 numbers in without making a mistake.
Visual Branding – You can brand your profile with all sorts of marketing strategies, and you can make your Google+ profile appear in Google’s search results every time it brings up your website or blog entry
It is so very easy to separate people out into Circles and then target communication to them
Google+ Business pages offer more flexibility, have very few restrictions on branding and allow greater access to statistics
The huge Cover image is a great Billboard for promotions, special offers, Calls to Action, website and Social media contact details
Google+ offers full integration with Gmail, YouTube and Picasa
You can link to your website and blog easily
You can use Communities to help market and product research for your business.
Google+ is one of the best social media sites to display photographs on. The images are bigger and are shown off better inside the Google+ photo albums, which is great for displaying pictures of your products.
As you can see Google+ doesn’t just make sense for your business. It is an absolute must have and an essential social network for your company.
You have to jump in, and you know that. The only decision now is what you’re going to do with it.
Whether that’s creating a video series, highlighting your community, or using it for communication, you need to have a Google+ strategy immediately. If you don’t Google+ has the potential to disrupt every single online marketing plan that relies on SEO and social media to get traffic, generate leads, and make more sales.
We realize that you are too busy keeping on top of the day to day running of your business. There are not enough hours in the day to get everything done as well as trying to master online marketing tools like this which we admit can sound daunting.
So why not allow us to help? Our priority is to help businesses just like yours to succeed online.
We have the expertise and the experience so you can have full confidence that your business is in the right hands and is being well looked after. Our team is ready when you are.
Unless you have been living in a cave without any contact with the outside world you can’t have failed to notice that Facebook is the largest and most popular social media network in the world.
It has over a one billion active users who log into their Facebook account many times each day, and it has made even easier thanks to the popularity of Smart phones. Smartphones mean people can log in anytime time they want, any place they are, and the majority of your customers will be part of this socially aware group.
Businesses that are internet savvy have realized the importance of Facebook and are benefiting from joining the social network revolution. Learning how to harness the power of Facebook and other social media marketing has resulted in increased sales and given their profits a real boost.
Unfortunately, some businesses have been a bit slower to catch on. Their attempts to join the Facebook revolution have failed because they have not known the best way to master it.
Even though Facebook is incredibly powerful for business, finding the right information about marketing and advertising on the social site can be time consuming. If you do a quick online search, you will find there is so much advice out there about Facebook marketing. But for every good tip you read, you will be bombarded with misleading or outdated information which will add to your frustration – and worse – hinder your marketing campaign.
The good news is that finding and mastering the techniques behind a solid and effect Facebook marketing campaign is not difficult. Once you put these techniques in place, your efforts will be rewarded. You will be a Facebook convert and will finally discover what all of the fuss has been about.
As we mentioned earlier, Facebook is a relatively new marketing medium for businesses. Some businesses heard how amazing Facebook is and just tried to dive head first into their marketing campaigns, assuming it is just the same as owning another web page or another form of email list.
What some businesses fail to remember is that Facebook is a marketing medium in its own right with its own set of rules. There are some unique differences available on Facebook that can help their marketing efforts in a way that their own regular site can’t.
Once a business has set up a Facebook fan page, they might fill in their info tab with some basic information and add some posts…and that’s about it. They think it is as easy as that – just spending the minimum time and effort on their fan page will bring them huge results.
Yes, they might get a few people hitting the ‘Like’ button but recent statistics have shown that only around 1% of total fans who ‘Like’ a page ever go back to view it more than once.
So although it is a powerful marketing site, your Facebook page should never be your website replacement. It should be recognized for what it is; a social media platform used by people who wish to do socialize and hangout online.
Because of that, you need to keep in mind that visitors to your Facebook page are not there to support your business. All they are interested in is learning more about what you offer, via reading the posts on your Facebook wall.
Facebook and other social media sites have re-written all of the rules regarding traditional marketing. Once you learn about the differences involved in marketing directly to people using a social networking platform and do your best to incorporate these tactics in your own marketing plans you will grow your businesses significantly and turn over huge profits, just as you hoped you would.
There are some business owners who think that the whole idea of having a presence on Facebook is to bombard members with details of their products and services. So that is what they do… relentlessly! They tell people how wonderful they are and how great their product and service is.
That is the wrong way to market on Facebook. Genuine savvy business owners still manage to get their message across, but in a more subtle and entertaining way, which is what you need to do.
Why is this important? Recent polls show that business owners who constantly broadcast sales hype over Facebook end up losing fans (and sales) rather than gaining them. They forget that fans are seeking a way to connect and interact with you. They want to see that there is a real person behind the marketing hype who cares about what customers think and want and need.
Rather than broadcasting sales pitches to people who follow your page, engage them. Think of ways to offer your fans genuine, relevant content that they are interested in. Your job is to interact with them and give them irresistible and compelling reasons to want to connect with you. You can draw inspiration from investigating examples of really successful Facebook pages, like Coca Cola and Pizza Hut, to see how they go about things. Posting engaging content like this will keep your fans loyal and increase their interaction with you.
Can you see how, by changing your perception about what Facebook can do for you and your profits, and by starting to think more about what you can offer your customers, you now have the key to running a successful Facebook campaign? If you focus on offering good quality content that doesn’t constantly push your products or services into people’s faces, you stand a much better chance of succeeding on Facebook, AND it will give your fans a more authentic online experience that builds trust and loyalty.
Just because you have a huge number of fans on Facebook, it doesn’t mean you are going to see huge profits. You might be very proud to have a large fan base, but what does that really mean for your business? Not a lot, because as we stated earlier, statistics show that less than 1% of your fans are likely to return to view your page. This means the only time they will hear from you is when your post appears in their news feed, once you have posted something for them to read.
Quite often we will see companies trying to attract new fans with one-off contests and competitions, but these are not always as productive as they might seem. Once the contest is over there is no real motivation for those people to interact with the company any more.
It is not enough to focus solely on attracting a large army of fans. Once you have a fan, you need to give them reasons to stay with you. It is far more productive to concentrate on giving your fans compelling reasons to interact and become part of the community that you are trying to put together.
Attracting a high number of fans doesn’t automatically mean that you have a captive audience, but with a bit of effort it does provide you with the perfect opportunity to find ways to capture and retain their interest. If you don’t do that, the page will lose its value. If that happens, you and your business will become irrelevant to them. That is much worse than having no fans at all.
Focus on what your fans want and not what you want.
The main reason behind going into business is to make a profit. In order to do that and keep your business moving forward, you need to find new and creative ways to keep bringing in new customers. That is what Facebook allows you to do.
When advertising in the offline world, your marketing tactics are usually centered on trying to spread your sales message as far and as wide as you possibly can. The sole aim is to try and reach even small potential new prospects that might just turn into paying customers, so your sales pitch is more aggressive in order to convert the general public to buy from you.
Marketing on Facebook is completely different. Trying to focus on and drive more sales to your business simply doesn’t work on Facebook. Facebook is a Social Network – that means that it is more about conversation and interaction than providing businesses with another platform for advertising. So if all you talk to others about is yourself and how great your business is to the exclusion of everything and everybody else, your audience will quickly become bored and disinterested with you. After all, they can hear that type of advertising message anywhere.
You need to take some time to think carefully about the potential audience you have on Facebook and why people log into Facebook in the first place. People use Facebook because they want to interact with their friends, their family and make new acquaintances. They simply want to hang out, learn some interesting information, read fun wall posts as well as seeing what is going on in their online communities and generally, just be a social creature.
What they are not logging on for is to hear you tell them over and over how amazing your business is or why they should buy from you. To be honest, they don’t care. If what they hear from you doesn’t sound like one of their reasons for using Facebook and so they can’t relate to you, everything you do will be in vain. Constantly trying hard to capture their attention by telling them all about you isn’t actually a good way to get them to listen or interact with you at all. So stop focusing on what you want from Facebook and start to think about what your Facebook fans want. By adapting your marketing to your Facebook fan’s outlook, you will naturally increase your sales without even trying.
Marketing on Facebook really can offer you a fantastic opportunity to grow and enhance your business. The sheer power and popularity of social media networking in general really does broaden your customer base and increase brand awareness for your product or service.
However, as you have just read, it is not something that you can dive into head first without thinking of a solid marketing plan that will work well on Facebook.
You need to forget all the things you know about marketing in the offline world and start learning how unique and different marketing is in the world of social media.
Unfortunately not all businesses have the time, as they are so busy running their bricks and mortar business. The good news is that we provide a great range of services designed to help businesses, like you, get to grips with the changing face of Social Media. Rather than having to try and figure it all out for yourself and then attempt to put a Facebook marketing campaign together, our team can do this for you.
We have been in the industry for a number of years and know it well. With our marketing strategies and well-managed campaigns, we can dramatically increase your online presence and help you to gain all the extra sales and profits that you read and hear about.
We will make sure that when customers search for a product or service that you provide, they will find YOU first, and not your competitor.
So what do you do next? Simply give us a call or email us. You will be relieved and amazed at how friendly we are and we guarantee you will be excited when you hear what we can do for your business. We look forward to hearing from you.
You work long hours, take few (if any) holidays, and you bear the full responsibility for the overall success of your company. Your family and employees all look to you to make the business a success.
That is a lot of pressure.
This means you always have to keep looking for new and inventive ways to improve your bottom line profitability, and take your small business to new heights.
Most business owners agree that effective marketing would be a big help to their business. However, what puts them off is that they mistakenly think that hiring a marketing consultant will cost a lot of money and that they cannot afford it.
That isn’t always the case. In this issue, we are going to look at various ways you can put an effective marketing plan into action without it costing an arm and a leg…and you will also discover some very effective FREE ways to get much needed publicity for your business.
The article will be a good reference guide to effective marketing. Your business will grow as a result if you put them into action.
Most small local businesses focus all their marketing efforts on paid advertising or sales activities. This is totally understandable and is generally a good investment if it’s done well. However, a lot of businesses are struggling financially at the moment, so this article will cover the most overlooked weapon in a small business’s marketing arsenal: FREE PUBLICITY.
Easy. Be known as ‘the’ expert and authority in your field.
Despite what you might think, being recognized as an “expert” in the media is a very attainable goal – in fact you are probably already well qualified to do this, particularly if you have been in the business for a number of years. But even if you haven’t been in business long, the chances are that you have done a lot of market research and choosing your business wasn’t a decision you came into lightly.
Once you establish yourself as an ‘expert’, the benefits to your business can be awesome. If you have a solid market position but need more exposure and credibility to help your business grow, you can do this easily by investing some time and effort into generating publicity for your business through the media. If you do this, you are sure to reap the financial rewards.
When it comes to local news, there’s no reason a small business can’t compete with a business ten times its size. In fact, it’s fair to say that local news outlets like TV stations and newspapers are “biased” in favor of small local business owners like yourself, so you already have an advantage.
Think about the last time you watched your local TV news. There would have been the usual variety of depressing stories about car accidents, house fires and the economy. But there were also stories highlighting local issues. The people in these type of ‘Local News’ stories are usually people from the community appearing on camera to offer a comment.
For example, when the holiday season rolls around, a local reporter will often visit a local retailer to ask how busy it is and if their profits will be on target to beat the previous year’s takings. They might also consult another local trader who may have a different opinion on how busy it is, or perhaps to give some basic shopping reminders. Then they will interview various members of the public to ask them how busy it is and if they have all of their shopping done. They may also interview a local police officer to remind people not to drink too much during the holiday period, especially if they are driving.
Think about that for a moment; three LOCAL residents or business people all received valuable free exposure on a well-watched local newscast, and all they had to do was talk about what they do everyday.
That scenario is not unusual and you can probably think of many more examples. You might even remember a news item that featured on the news today.
It’s called publicity, and it’s probably the best marketing weapon a local businessperson has to get added exposure for their company at no cost.
But how do these people get on air or in print? Surely they must know somebody, right? Actually, no.
When you watch a news-related show and they consult an “expert”, chances are that person is no more an expert in their field than you are in yours. They got on air by simply pitching the story idea to the station or making contact with the local reporter or news station.
The local newscast is on every week night and quite often over a weekend. It doesn’t matter whether or not there was one hour’s worth of news during the day; they still have to fill the airtime.
On slow news days, news reporters are looking for local stories that will appeal to a wide audience, just like the one I mentioned above; one that they can put together without a lot of research or effort.
The same is true of newspapers. Reporters often need to generate a story idea for tomorrow’s paper, and they would jump all over a good local story that is of interest to a wide audience but not as time sensitive as, say, a local disaster.
So how do you get on air or in print? Follow these tips:
1) Send a news release in to a few local TV/Radio stations and newspapers with a good story idea. Remember, it has to be NEWS, not shameless self- promotion:
This is an example of self-promotion:
Visit my auto repair garage today because I want to tell you how hard I work to please my customers.
On the other hand, the same business could add this spin instead:
“As the winter approaches, now would be a good time for your viewers to have their vehicle inspected to ensure worry-free winter driving. As a local mechanic, I can help by offering practical information about what to look for in a mechanic, and what safety systems you should have checked on your car before the snow flies this winter.
Now that the reporters have your details and know that they have somebody to interview, they will be in contact once the bad weather starts to fill that criterion of the news.
“I’m a new chiropractor in the area and I’d like to build up business by running an article in your newspaper.”
Instead try this:
“Many local residents live with back pain everyday. As a local chiropractor, I’d be pleased to share with your viewers the 3 most common types of back problems, and the steps they can take to correct them now before the problem gets out of hand.”
Almost every news station focuses on health issues, especially if there is a celebrity in the news with a similar condition. For example, when Catherine Zeta Jones admitted that she suffered from bi-polar it raised awareness of the condition and news programs jumped all over it, interviewing people in the local community who were also struggling with the condition. So, as soon as they want to do a feature on back pain, because they know you are qualified to talk about that, they will contact you.
“My new gadget store took a lot of work to get up and running, and I think people would be interested in hearing about the exciting products that I have to offer. “
With a different spin this could become newsworthy:
“With the Christmas season rapidly approaching, people are constantly looking for unusual and useful gifts. As the owner of a local gadget store, I’d be happy to give you information on the latest crazes for the festive season, including what’s hot, what’s not, and some gadget buying tips for families to help them stretch their shopping budget.”
Can you see the difference? Shameless self-promotion is just that – it’s an attempt to promote your company through the news media, and it simply won’t work. Reporters will see right through it and will ignore you.
On the other hand, positive News Spin takes something that your business is recognized for and turns it into a story that a news outlet would be likely to broadcast or feature in print.
It is the topics and the same business but putting a slightly different spin on things makes all the difference.
That kind of exposure is very good for business.
Remember, the news channel doesn’t maintain its credibility by promoting businesses. Nobody in the press really cares about your business and it doesn’t really want to go out of their way to promote it. However, offer them a news story that involves your business, and it is no longer promotion. It’s news.
2) Switch on your PR antenna and follow the news
When something newsworthy happens, news media like to cover it from different angles (like the Catherine Zeta Jones story mentioned earlier). A story that was not very interesting yesterday can quickly become interesting today, especially if something has happens in the news to spark people’s interest.
Anyone who owns a security company should be all over this one. You could offer your local news station safety tips, information about how home alarms can protect your home, and so on.
Remember: when something is in the news it gets people’s attention. They are much more receptive to hearing what they can do to avoid the problem themselves.
In a situation like this where viewers are concerned about their health and safety, they will be very attentive to any news item about securing their homes.
The news media know that if they interview you to discuss safety, they’re feeding the public’s appetite for safety related articles. Just remember you are not on TV to pitch your product. During the interview, talk about alarms in general and provide general household safety tips. It will add to your credibility and the phone will be ringing off the hook the next morning as the public will trust you and you will be seen as the local authority on the subject.
There are lots of other companies that could benefit from this type of news such as self-defense classes, neighborhood watch programs, private security patrol companies… the list goes on.
You can find PR opportunities in almost any business. To prove this, go and buy a selection of today’s newspapers and give yourself 20 minutes to flick through them all.
As you do, think about how your business/products/services may relate to other wider topics that are reported in the papers.
Look at the news stories and features. Ask yourself, what topics are popular? Can you adapt what your business has to say to something that is already causing a stir?
Tear out anything that grabs your eye and start to compile a cuttings reference file for your desk. Repeat the exercise on a regular basis and include the Sunday papers now and again.
Don’t forget you can apply the exact same publicity principles to ANY information avenue – like trade publications. Your customers have their own publications that relate to and interest them,(for example, Restaurant Owner Monthly). What topics are hot right now in your industry or theirs? Does your business have something to contribute to an ongoing debate?
Pay particular attention to regional newspapers and business publications. Is there something happening locally that you can tap into? Helping the local community brings many benefits to everybody concerned.
For example, a local car hire firm might provide free minibus hire to a kid’s playgroup after reading about the theft of the playgroup vehicle just before a planned visit to the seaside.
This would be a great story, and would provide a good photo and branding opportunity for the business. Plus, it gives a great day out for the kids.
Being opportunistic isn’t a sin if it offers a win-win situation all round for everybody involved. It will enhance your company’s reputation, while giving genuine value to your customer.
Online Press releases are a great way to use your news to instantly promote yourself to millions of people around the world via the Internet and attract new customers as a result.
This is where our expertise comes in; we can help you reach a brand new audience by sending out press releases, which in turn will increase your rankings in the search engines.
We know how to reach thousands of journalists worldwide and generate a buzz for your business.
Contact us today to find out how we generate a real buzz and interest in your company and attract new customers in 24 hours or less.
We sure are. Yes, it is bad and businesses are struggling but it is not all bad news…especially for your business.
Here is the reason why:
Despite one of the worst economies on record, you can take effective action that will not only recession proof your business but will also provide you with the perfect time to blow away your competitors and dominate the market. We are in the midst of a perfect storm.
Everybody is scared. Your competitors are cutting back on their marketing.
Most businesses are totally confused about their online sales and marketing strategy (most don’t even have one).
The internet and mobile marketing now represent the biggest marketing opportunity in the history of mankind. We really are experiencing a cultural and marketing revolution.
Why is this good news for you? Because now is your time to shine. You are going to discover some simple but very effective marketing strategies so you can realistically become the market leader in your field.
You are going to rediscover your love for your website and realize why it is your most important asset right now. You might have forgotten to give it some love lately, but you will soon appreciate how this incredibly loyal tool that never sleeps, take time off, takes breaks and can close a sale for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year will make you a lot of money and explode your profits.
You might be looking at your website right now and thinking that it was a complete waste of money and it has hardly brought you many sales….if any! If you are, you are not alone. Most small business websites don’t work. The problem is; there is too much emphasis put on how they look rather than what they can actually do.
You might have a pretty web site and you might be very proud of it but does it generate any leads? If not then you can join the 99% of business owners out there whose site does absolutely nothing for them.
There are a number of reasons for this:
1) Most people have their sites designed by a slick designer who knows nothing about marketing.
2) The site talks solely about themselves and their business and how great they are, while totally neglecting the wants, needs and desires of the potential customer visiting the site.
3) There are no calls to action anywhere on the site. What do you want your visitors to do when they are there? Do you want them to buy, call you, email you, request a brochure? Whatever it is, you need to tell them.
4) The visitors coming to the site are not targeted.
5) There is no plan to build a prospect database (mailing list)
6) The website doesn’t fit in with their broader online marketing strategy (social networking, mobile marketing, etc)
There is no point in having a pretty site if it doesn’t make you money. Your designer has probably put a lot of time and effort into the site so that it gives the ‘right look and feel’. It might have perfect navigation, have a professional glossy logo and the right colours to create the right mood but there is so much more to having a successful web site than that.
The fact is, unless you have a system for generating leads, keeping in touch with them and being part of a bigger traffic and conversion system your online presence is dead and buried.
Let’s change that. We can help you to get a site that delivers profits for your business and do everything that you hoped it would do and churn out sales and leads 24 hours a day.
We are deadly seriously, it is the very thing that can make a business owner’s financial dreams come true but it is the number one thing that business owners don’t do.
Unless you are a famous rock star or celebrity, the main purpose of your website is to bring in business….and that means generating leads.
Did you notice it didn’t say ‘sales’, it said leads?
Of course the ultimate objective is to make a sale, but in most cases it is highly unlikely that somebody is going to visit your site for the first time and make a purchase.
To begin with, you need to engage with your visitor, building a relationship with them and gradually generating the lead. Lead generation is the lifeblood of any business that sells a product or a service. You are going to make many more sales if you capture the lead and nurture it before you get the sale.
There are so many reasons why a visitor may not be quite ready to buy your product when they visit your website.
• They might be in research mode.
• They might be comparing solutions or prices
• They might not trust you yet
• They might not have the money at the moment.
Whatever the reason, you need to make sure you engage them before they leave your site; otherwise they will be lost to you forever.
This involves encouraging them to leave their name and email details with you before they go. One great way to do this is by offering a free download, newsletter or special report in return for their name and email address.
People are always happy to receive gifts. It gives them a perfect opportunity to get a taste of what you can offer them before they buy anything from you. If you are willing to give them an attractive offer that they cannot refuse they will come back and do business with you.
The key to offering free stuff is that it has to be of value to them. Don’t just offer them junk. If they like what you give them their natural inclination will be to come back to you and buy something to return the favor.
When you produce a short downloadable book that you can give away for free, your potential customer will have valuable information at their fingertips. It gives them the opportunity to get a sneak peak at what kind of company you are and you might be able to help them in other areas.
Give them a step by step booklet that can answer questions that they might have regarding your products or services. If for example you sell carpets and flooring why not give them a guide to help them match up the kind of flooring they should choose for their needs, or a guide that explains the various kinds of flooring available.
An ecourse is simply a series of around 6 or 7 emails on a specific subject which are delivered over a specific period of time. You might think this sounds like too much trouble to go to and isn’t worth it but you would be wrong. Think about it for a moment. You will get a rare opportunity to interact with a potential client for 6 or 7 weeks. You not only get the chance to let them see that you are an expert in your field but the prospect to build up a rapport with them. Each email will bring them closer to doing business with you.
In this instance, giving something away for free is not a bad thing. In reality, it is a huge investment because in return for your efforts, you will get your visitor’s name and email address to continue to communicate with them.
If you didn’t do that, they might have visited your site and left. Even if they liked what they saw and planned to come back at a later date they might have forgotten about you, or been distracted and wooed by another site instead.
A word of warning though:
When the customer leaves their name and address with you, they have entrusted you with something special, private and important. It is vital you never abuse that trust by spamming them. Your aim is not to annoy or upset them but to build up a relationship in order to get them to buy from you.
If you want to turn your website into an automatic marketing, lead generating machine to get you lots of extra sales then you are going to have to give it a makeover. The last thing any business wants is to invest a lot of money in creating a pretty web site that looks good but just sits there and doesn’t do anything.
Your site needs to be given super powers to turn it from a very pretty but useless website into something that is going to earn you a lot of money.
Don’t think we are condemning good looking sites. Of course your site needs be well designed. It has to look professional and it should be visually appealing. But at the end of the day it should never be style over substance. It needs to be functional and work for you 24 hours a day, churning out leads and converting those leads to sales….otherwise what is the point?
All the fancy whistles and bells might impress your friends and family but they are not the ones you are selling to. If you site looks good but doesn’t convert visitors into customers all it does is show that you care more about what your website looks like and not what your customer really needs.
To convert visitors to sales, you need to have a ‘Call to Action’ on every page.
The goal of your site is get visitors off the fence and take some sort of immediate action.
What you need are prospects, but not just any prospects. You need qualified prospects, prospects who are interested enough in what you have to offer to take action, to learn more about your offer, to call you, or place an order and to do it now! That is why your site needs to be marketing-focused.
• If you want them to sign up for your newsletter or free report then tell them that they need to enter their name and email address.
• If you want them to call you for a free quote, then tell them and make sure that your number is right there for them to see.
• If you want them to take advantage of a special offer then tell them the reason why they need to do it right now (the offer is only valid for a certain time or you only have a specific number in stock)
Your website should never be passive, so they visit and then move on. On every page there should be an instruction or sales button. A ‘Call To Action’ (C.T.A) is simply a strong suggestion to get your visitor to take your desired action. C.T.A’s can be as simple as ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Add To Cart’.
If your site is just sitting there in cyberspace doing nothing, that is a wasted use of your most valuable asset.
Most business owners, and sadly the majority of the web design firms, don’t understand that a website isn’t a brochure. To maximize sales and get your website working for you it needs to be a marketing vehicle and should be designed to be pro-active in generating more leads, more sales and more profits.
It should never, ever just sit there doing nothing!
We see their eyes glaze over and they just don’t want to know.
Just in case you are not familiar with the term, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of maximizing the visibility of your site to the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing, which find and show your site to people searching on the internet for the type of products or services that you provide.
Search Engine Optimization is vital for your business. What you want is for your listing to be among the first that someone sees when they go to Google and type in your search term and location (i.e.: Plumber in Birmingham).
To have the biggest impact on your sales and profits, you need to be on the 1st page of the results presented to your potential clients.
The reason is simple: Over 95% of your prospects will never go beyond page 1 of the search results.
Being found on the first page of the search engines has never been more important than it is today.
• 90% of online commercial searches result in local offline purchases.
• 61% of all local searches result in a purchase.
Finding a local business today is almost ALWAYS done online. People have thrown away their Yellow Pages because all of the information that they will ever need is already in their hands on their smart phones. Almost two thirds of customers who make a local search will go on to buy a local product or service.
Thanks to Google Plus Local, businesses now have the opportunity to be more visible than ever to their local customers online…but only if they take advantage of the tools and resources provided.
This is amazing news for your business. Most people are not going to look for a local restaurant, plumber, accountant or any other local business unless they plan on using it. That means when people do a search for a product or service that you provide they are more than likely motivated and ready to buy. So the $64,000 question for you as a local business owner is this:
If you don’t know why not see for yourself. Go to www. Google.com. Don’t put in your business name. Try typing in something you think a potential customer would use when looking for one of your products and hit ‘Search’. Did your business come up in the Local Search Results (in spots A-G) for the keywords you entered? If your site wasn’t on page 1 of the Google then the reality is…..
But do you know who they will find? You probably saw them in the search results yourself. Yes, you’ve guessed it…..your competitors. In fact local customers will find everyone of your competitors except you.
The facts about local search are this:
If you are NOT ranking at the top of the ‘Local Results’ you could potentially be losing out on thousands of extra sales.
The only way you can be sure to crush your competition and get your local Google listings consistently appearing in the local results for your top keywords is to work with somebody who knows what they are doing.
Online marketing is a full time job. If you are busy running your bricks and mortar business it is not really something that you can learn in your spare time for a few hours per week.
That is why it is critical for your business that you work with someone who knows exactly what they are doing and knows how to take your local business and market it online.
You currently have 3 options:
What we can do for you
Among the Online Tasks that We Can Perform:
If you want your business to be an industry leader and get the extra sales that will be yours when you have a strong online presence, but don’t know where to start, then please call us today or visit our website.