Category Archives: Social Networking

6 Ways to Grow Your Small Business

Common sense, but overlooked pieces of advice on how to grow a business. Check these out to decide whether any of them could become growth-growing points in your business.

* Find an edge over competition. Look at your industry’s biggest cost and time constraints and focus on those areas of your business.

* Describe your business in 1-2 words. Own a phrase that illustrates your product or service. Then Google it to see if you have chosen the right one.

* Focus on one measurable priority for your company, not a dozen. For 90 days, focus on one problem area of your business.

* Control your cash flow. Construct a business model that fuels your growth without the need for outside financing.

* Use blogs, white papers, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter to align your marketing materials with the phrase you own.

* Make changes faster. The fastest-moving companies huddle daily to drive their priorities.

To Tweet Or Not To Tweet?

Some small businesses are hesitant to embrace social media. Blogging seems time consuming, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook scary or unknown.  At the same time, old marketing strategies don’t seem to work any more.

Business owners may not always realize that they need to re-visit their marketing plan to create and adopt a marketing system to get results.   The same principle can be applied to Social Media – do your research, learn from others  and create a well thought-out Social Media Marketing Plan to implement your Social Media Marketing System and benefit from social networking.

During last couple of months I have been helping my clients research social networking opportunities for their organizations.  They have been using Twitter and Facebook to listen and learn before they plan and create their own Social Media Marketing Systems.  This is what we’ve learned:

  1. Make Twitter a part of your marketing strategy. Create a Social Media Marketing System.  Determine whether your business could use free social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook for market research, customer service and/or for reaching your target market.
  2. Improve your professional skills by paying attention to what your competitors, potential clients  and current customers are talking about. Then meet their needs.
  3. Learn how to educate and inform your target audience.  Share information about the articles, products and opportunities that your followers/fans may find useful.
  4. Person handling tweets/posts/fan pages for your organization should be familiar with the web and web-based tools.
  5. Make it your goal to become an “informer” who has the potential to be a “trust agent” – someone who is an expert and has an ability to influence other people.
  6. Use each Twitter wisely. Listen first, then chime in.
  7. Avoid words and phrases that may attract unwanted followers/fans.
  8. 100 loyal followers/fans/subscribers who look forward to reading your tweets/posts may be worth more than 1,000 random followers.
  9. Learn to use Twitter/Facebook/Blogs as your company’s online reputation management tool.
  10. Don’t waste your time if you don’t have a social networking strategy.

Are You Fatigued by Facebook and Twitter?

GOP imageFacebook gave us a way to find old classmates and renew friendships, find clients and share ideas.

Email has given us a way to quickly conduct business or send silly stuff to co-workers and friends.

So now we have IM, text messaging, friends on Facebook, and constant communication by 140 characters or less on Twitter.

All of this messaging is great as it is supposed to bring us closer to our friends and find new ones, but if we aren’t careful, these interactions can harm our real-life relationships. Columnist Elizabeth Bernstein quite recently said that she is experiencing Facebook fatigue because loved ones are sending so many photos of their children or parties, forwarding funky quizzes, and posting dozens of jokes. And they are tweeting about their whereabouts and what they are doing at the present moment.

To improve our daily interactions, Bernstein says: Before posting an item, ask yourself if it’s something you would want one of your contacts to send to you. Reward people by responding to interesting messages.

While private blogs can be platforms for political ranting, it can be considered poor form on Facebook to constantly post your political opinions.

Edgy Presentations Add More Power to Your Social Media Marketing

Presentation Zen

I started looking for alternative presentation tools for one of my always traveling friends and found  Zoho Show .  It is completely free for personal use,  presenters can access their presentations from anywhere.  You can  export your slideshow to PowerPoint if needed, share your presentation online and track how many people have viewed it.

Presentation sharing site Slideshare is growing in popularity,  users can upload Word documents,  text files, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations,  PDF files as well as files created with Open Office (odt) and access them from the Slideshare site when presenting.  There is a 100 MB maximum allowed upload file size limit.

OpenOffice 3 Impress is a free software for creating effective multimedia presentations. You can use 2D and 3D clip art, special effects, animation, and high-impact drawing tools.  It is possible to save your slideshow as a PowerPoint file.

Google Presentations belong to the Google Docs and Spreadsheets family. One advantage that Google Presentations has over PowerPoint is the fact that all steps – the presentation creation, development, viewing and sharing can  take place online.

Sliderocket is another emerging web-based tool.  Users can incorporate video and publish their presentations online or embed them on their websites.  Their free plan provides 250 MB of storage.

And yes, you have to learn presentation design from Garr Reynolds

Spice up your presentations, spread your ideas!

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Rethink Your Small Business Marketing

Email marketing – Hire an expert if you feel that you are not cut out to manage databases and lists. Find a reliable vendor to work with.  Constant Contact and Vertical Response are good.

Direct Mail – How effective is your Direct Mail marketing? Are you measuring your results? Anything printed has to be carefully thought out as you may be wasting money, time and natural resources.  Maybe you could upload most of your marketing materials to your website and switch to email marketing campaigns.

Discounts – Are you offering special extras, online only content or freebies?  Consider online coupons, try Intellogy.

Viral Marketing – Are you creating compelling content that is picked up and shared person-to-person via social networking sites?
Have you considered creating your company profile on Merchant Circle or Facebook?

What Can Small Business Owners Learn From Obama

1. Leadership skills – he put together a great team for his campaign and motivated his people all the way. 

2. Never give up, believe in yourself, even if you have no reason to do so, polls did not always predict Obama as a winner.

3. Presentation skills – Obama is one of the most eloquent and self-confident speakers I have ever seen. Practice!

4. Social media marketing – get away from ads to building online communities, just like Obama did.

5. Viral marketing – get everyone talking and singing about you. Where are you now, Obama girl?

6. If you can’t get to young consumers otherwise, send them a text message or an email- speak their “love language”.

7. Go to gym and play some ball – relieve your stress, basketball plays big part in Obama’s life.

8. Buy some nice clothes and look sharp – I loved Obama’s suit on election night!

9. Supportive spouse or partner is always a blessing – keep your spouse and partner happy.  Have you noticed the smile on Michelle Obama’s face?

10. Humble beginnings don’t always mean humble lives – with hard work, passion and dedication small business owners can beat the odds, just like Obama did.

Obama Turned Out To Be the Best Marketer

Here’s what I wrote in my blog post ‘Who would make the best small business marketer – Clinton, McCain or Obama?‘ in May:

“Senator Obama has the biggest potential to be a web savvy small business marketer. I can see him being successful at creating and delivering marketing messages to/for professional services firms. He is a very good speaker who does not get into too much detail (tactics), but understands his audience and can win over younger decision makers.”

 As it turns out he did win over millions of young people by utilizing new technologies and creating vibrant online and offline communities.

Working Anywhere and Everywhere

digital-nomad.jpg

Digital nomad is not a title or a profession. It represents the mindset and lifestyle of people who have chosen or allowed to break free from a cubicle and make their living working anywhere and everywhere.  New technologies enable us to do so. One of my recurring nightmares now and then is a dream where I find myself working in a gray cubicle covered
with yellow sticky notes,  eight pairs of eyes looking at me all at once. This dream motivates me to get back on my laptop and learn new software in addition to developing  multitude of other new skills. Wikipedia states that “traditional nomadic behavior is increasingly rare in industrialized countries.”  Times are changing partially driven by corporate economies
of scale and societal circumstances.  I see this trend from cubicle to home based work expand in the future across national economies both in developed and emerging markets.

Read more about Digital Nomads on digitalnomads.com.

Where Can I Get Web 2.0 for My Small Business?

Several small business owners have asked this question.  Well, sometimes it’s hard to respond.

For me Web 2.0 is a mindset or a philosophy.  It is a way of creating dialogs with your audiences via the world wide web.  Everyone participating becomes a contributor.  Finally there is a level playing field for like-minded individuals.  Small business owners, hockey moms,  pet lovers, etc. can become thought leaders and create their own communities if they have passion for a certain topic or field and they are willing and able to share their  interest and  knowledge.

We don’t have time for this knowledge sharing stuff and online networking some small business owners say. Could I just put up my website and update it once or twice a year? Yes, you can.  But you may miss out.

Web 2.0 has opened new avenues for keeping up with global connections as well. I have been able to re-connect with people in different countries via social networking tools.  It is amazing – they can get glimpse of my life and accomplishments  by looking at my profile and I can see what they have been up to.   I can see their current photographs and family life…and avoid asking embarrassing questions.

Content is King, President and Pope

newrulesofmarketing.jpgI just finished re-reading an excellent book The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

Some stuffy PR guys would probably like to challenge the contents of this book as it does not promote the old truths of PR and marketing. David Meerman Scott has focused on explaining the world of opportunities that have opened up for aspiring journalists, marketers and small business owners via web-based tools and services. Free or low cost applications such as blogs, podcasts and social networking tools such as MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn are changing the old rules. Niche buyers can be reached with targeted messages that cost a fraction of big-budget advertising campaign. In addition, these marketing efforts often allow instant feedback and measurable results, so the “train can be stopped much sooner when it’s headed to the wrong direction”.

One-way interruption does not work as well as it used to. Instead, marketers have to create a dialogue with potential buyers and deliver useful content at the moment their prospects, buyers or constituents need it.

Readers learn that online marketing is not about pretty websites either. Per Meerman Scott, content is not only KING, but President and Pope as well. The key to interesting and entertaining content is the collaboration between the different departments of the organization. Websites cannot be stale either – content needs to be fresh and the reactions of the visitors should be measured and analyzed, so the content can be improved. I agree with all these points as I prefer information rich blogs and websites to flashy and design driven sites.

Here are some steps David Meerman Scott suggests for creating thoughtful content. These steps apply to websites and all social media tools in my opinion.

  1. Do not focus on writing primarily about your company and products. Content should be designed to solve buyer problems or answer questions.

  2. Define your organizational goals before you design your website.

  3. Based on your goals, decide whether you want to provide the content for free without any registration, or you want to include some kind of registration mechanism (much lower response rates).

  4. Think like a publisher. Consider buyer personas.

  5. Write for your audience. Use examples and stories, make it interesting.

  6. Choose a great title that grabs attention.

  7. Promote the effort like crazy. Offer the content with easy-to-find links.

  8. Alert appropriate bloggers, reporters and analysts that the content is available and send them a download link.

What is the main reason I like The New Rules of PR and Marketing?

It gives easy to read instructions on how to become a thought leader while remaining authentic and transparent. No need to pay a top dollar to reach your audience if you have expertise, find your voice, target a specific group of people and keep improving your skills.

Educate, entertain and motivate!