Tag: marketing.

STD. What do you think this stands for?

Yeah, me too. Sexually Transmitted Disease.

Well in some businesses it’s used for Sales Tool Development, Seize The Deal, Short Term Disability or Standard Testing Diagnostic. Hmm… would you have guessed that? Chances are slim that you would. Instead you’re probably still trying to not laugh out loud when that engineer keeps talking about that large piece of equipment’s accurate STD output.

Can we please just stop this? It confuses our customers. It stops communication dead in its track because people are trying to figure out what you mean without appearing stupid.

Take the time to spell it out and explain things clearly. Here’s why I think acronyms are stupid:

S – short sighted
T – too technical
U – ubiquitous (everywhere!)
P – passive
I – incomprehensible
D – disruptive

Take two minutes to write out (or say) what you’re talking about. It’s not going to take that much more time and it’ll save you headaches in the long run. And don’t blame texting! This has been going on long before texting was even invented.

So go seize the day, and skip the STD.

It’s time to take a close hard look at your voice mail system. If you don’t have one – don’t worry. I think you’re actually in better shape than most companies with a voicemail system! How many times have you tried to call a business and got stuck in Voicemail Purgatory? Last week I called a local station that I call frequently. I have a new sales rep and could not get to him. The phone system was overloaded with calls and asked me to type in his last name. I had no idea how to spell his last name. I needed something right away and this was aggravating – and I know their system! Think of how a new customer would have felt dealing with this same issue.

This week call your own office and listen carefully. I’m sure there’s something you can do to make your voice mail system work better. Your customers should be able to reach you quickly and easily. Don’t ask them to go to a menu or type in your last name or call another phone number. It’s dumb. It stops you from making a sale and is poor customer service. Rethink your voicemail system and seriously consider a warm live voice instead of a machine.

Sally just got done reading Manage Your Day-To-Day. The subtitle of this book is Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Mind, edited by Jocelyn K. Glei. Here’s some of the best business take-aways from the book:

If you find you’ve been working hard and hardly getting ahead, this book is for you. It focuses on how our work day and work world has changed. Too often we’re reacting and not working on our daily to-do list. The first thing to do is schedule your creative work first and schedule it at a time when you work best. This may take a little time to find – but instinctively you may know this already. Set routines and stick to them. If a project isn’t complete one day, calendar it and move it to the next day. Your capacity is limited. Schedule your renewal or “sharpen the saw” time. Stick to it. Schedule thinking time or alone time to plan. Plan blocks of time to work – calendar it and stick to it. Stop multi-tasking – it doesn’t work. Work on one project at a time, focus and finish it. Understand your temptations and resist them. In other words stay off Facebook and quit texting. Keep your workspace organized. Protect your DO NOTHING time. Your brain needs some R&R. Send really short emails. There is magic in a six-word email. Schedule your social media time and use it effectively to promote your business. Sally does hers at the same time she’s updating client posts. Sometimes your soul needs to rest – take a long break from being connected. Finally, stop thinking everything must be perfect. We are human. Only God is perfect.
Get the work done, do your very best and let it go.

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”  – Warren Buffet

1. Know Your Audience

– What time they check Facebook, what content they’re interested in.
– Target those specific people who ‘liked’ your page.

Knowing your audience will help your business tremendously down the road. It’s not enough to have a great product these days. You need to find those people who are your target audience and know what they want to see, their interests, likes and dislikes.

2. Engage with Your Audience
– Make posts specifically to your target group.

Once you’ve figured out their likes and dislikes, it’s time to put your knowledge to work.
Think about it – a follower is more likely to like or share a post if it is relevant to them or if they find it to be something they can stand behind.

3. Provide Great Customer Service

Once you have figured out your target market and how to get their attention, you need to keep it! Keep up on your social media; it shouldn’t be on autopilot for too long. Notice when someone comments on a post of yours or better yet, shares your post. Respond to your audience; people like to know that who they’re following is responsive and actually cares about them.

In short, nobody likes to be ignored. If people comment on your post or have questions, acknowledge them! It’s easy to become automated with managing your Facebook, but don’t forget that Customer Satisfaction still rules and will go further than any boosted post ever will.

4. Customization
You can schedule when your FB status is posted weeks and months in advance, specifically to better fit your customers’ schedules. When you go to make a status update there is a drop down box next to the “Post” button that gives you an option to schedule your posting. Use this free trick to optimize your social media!

5. Boost
You can also use the “Boost” button, which places your posts higher in the News Feed, so there’s a better chance your audience will see them. Although there is a charge to boost, but you can choose your own budget. The more you put towards your budget, the higher your boost.

Stay focused and use Facebook’s free platform to your advantage!

Power In Color

How do select color when you plan the design of your logo and marketing materials? Do you generally select just what you like? If so, you might consider putting more thought into your color choices.

Studies have shown that a product’s color influences 60-80% of a customer’s purchasing decision – meaning that color can make or break a product.  Color is the first thing a consumer will notice about your logo.

On both a conscious and subconscious level colors convey meaning. The use of color can bring your marketing materials multiple layers of meaning. You can use these meanings to underline and accent your branding messages.

Bright, bold colors are attention grabbing but can appear brash. Muted tones are more sophisticated, but can be overlooked.

Colors can be divided into two categories: warm – which are associated with energy; and cold – which are more about calmness and security.

We’ve created a cheat sheet for you to download with colors and their associated meanings. These are not rigid rules, but they’re worth keeping in mind. It’s also important to consider the global appeal of your color choices – especially if you’re a global brand. For instance, in China red is considered lucky, while in India white is the color of mourning and death.

In addition to the color cheat sheet, we’ve also included a color contrast guide displaying 18 color combinations that have been tested for visibility at various distances by the OAAA.

Think about your message and choose your colors carefully to portray your company’s image.

Download the Color Cheat Sheet.
Download the Color Contrast Guide.

The business world is changing. Ten years ago, you would have never understood “sharing your contacts on the cloud.” Two years ago Newsweek stopped all printed publications. Take a look around you. It’s time to move your company forward.

Last week I spent three days learning about new trends in internet marketing.  I’d like to share a few ideas with you that can help grow your business:

  1. Grow your e-mail list.  Take a look at how many emails you have right now and set a much higher goal. This is one of the very fastest and best ways to communicate with existing and potential customers. This alone will help increase your business. Then communicate with your customers on a regular basis… which leads to:
  2. Send an e-newsletter regularly. Keep it simple and benefit oriented. Fill it with tools and information your customers can use. The key is to send it on a regular basis. If you’re busy start out quarterly. Get a handle on it and move it to once a month. You can send twice a month if the content is good. I would not send much more frequently than that.
  3. Please tell me you have a website. If not, stop reading and go start working on it right now. It’s that important. Take all of your old yellow page budget and pour it into your website. Then I challenge you to use video on your website. It’s not hard – grab your cell phone, shoot some video and post it on YouTube then link it to your site. It doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to be beneficial to your customer.
  4. Build a business Facebook page and promote it. Most of the people in the developed world are on Facebook. It’s time you figured out how to use it for business too. Then when people LIKE your page, go to their page and thank them. Saying “thank you” never goes out of style. Take time every chance you get to thank each and every customer.

Thank YOU for reading my post and stay tuned for more growing your business ideas.

Sally Poole

Check out our Facebook videos to see Sally’s Secret Ninja Facebook trick! Find it here.

Social media can be intimidating – especially as a small business owner with limited time. We’ve put together a series of steps – a recipe – to get you started! Let’s get cooking!

PREP
Strategies are the bread and butter of a social media campaign. How do you develop one? Start with your target audience.

  • Interview your current & potential customers. Find out their age, gender, interests, profession, etc.
  • After defining the audience, develop your message. What are key problems and concerns of your ideal audience that you can address in your message?
  • Based on your target audience, develop the key marketing message you want to communicate.
  • Find out which social networks your target audience is using and start there.

ORGANIZE

  • Coordinate your message on all your marketing outlets. You want your message to be consistent.
  • Pushing people to your website is beneficial. It allows you to display your message on your website and push people from various outlets to one place. It also helps to automate coordination of your message – saving you time!

USE
Start using social media – but start small and build.

  • Limit your time. Spend 15-30 minutes per day on social media for your business. Schedule this time so you don’t forget – set reminders on your phone or calendar. This will help you incorporate social media into your daily schedule so it doesn’t get neglected.
  • Choose 1-2 outlets to get started. Don’t pressure yourself to be on EVERY outlet. That’s why in step one we found the outlets best suited for your target audience. Start with those, and then eventually you can expand – when you feel you’re ready.
  • Create a content calendar (here’s a free example!) to manage your posts and plan ahead. These calendars make social media easier to manage. But, be careful, over automating can be bad – spontaneity is vital to your success. So use content calendars wisely.

RELATE
Listen to your followers. Comment and respond – even to negative, especially to negative, feedback. Be relatable. This helps build relationships – which is the essence of social media. Share others posts. Just like you communicate with people on your personal page – communicate with them via your business page (just keep it tasteful and professional – remember this creates an image for your business!).

EXPERIMENT
Track and analyze your posts. Experiment with different times and days to find the best time to post that will elicit responses from your customers. Find out what types of content get the best results. Social media is constantly evolving, so your content should be too!

BONUS

  • Be authentic. Just relax and be yourself. Be personable. Try to avoid sounding like a textbook – people want to connect with a PERSON not a book. If technical jargon is imperative to your post – explain what it means in a non-condescending way.
  • Enjoy yourself! Remember you’re competing with real world activities! You’re competing with puppies and babies! Think about how you can phrase and post things so that they are compelling.
  • Be visual. Use pictures, graphics and video. They draw a much higher response than text only posts.
  • Positivity is always best. But, negativity is better than neutrality. Being neutral is boring, and boring posts will lead to failure.
  • Don’t forget a call to action. Tell your followers what you want them to do. Your response will almost always be higher.

Comment below with comments or questions! Please, share our posts with anyone you think would find it helpful!

Advertising just doesn’t work like it used to. It’s expensive and isn’t getting results. Worst of all it’s difficult to track. Businesses don’t know how to manage their marketing or advertising and don’t have time to do it right. Word of mouth works and can still be counted on. That’s why social media is growing fast.

Many small business owners would echo these sentiments. However, none of these statements have to be fact. While advertising can be expensive and time consuming, it has major benefits. On average, many small business owners cut marketing budgets first when they start having cash flow worries. However, it’s at those times that it’s even more important to keep your business brand front and center.

Social media is by far one of the most effective and affordable ways to reach your customers and build your brand, but it’s not the only way. Here’s our list of marketing tips and strategies to help you market your business the best you can, even when the budget is tight.

  1. The Elevator Speech
    An elevator speech is a 15 to 20 second description of what you do. The idea is that if you find yourself in an elevator with an ideal client, by the time you reach your destination, your prospect will have asked for your card. Start with your ideal client and determine the single most important thing you want them to know about your [product, service, brand, idea]. Then include what problems you can solve for them and what sets you apart from your competition along with a brief description of the results they can expect. Invest time in meticulously crafting your elevator speech. If you have a killer elevator speech, the return on investment will pay off big.
  2. Think Local
    You don’t have to market to the whole country, or even the state or region. Think local. You’re a small business; the majority of your customers and prospects live in your immediate area. Get involved in the community to get your name out there. Sponsor a little league team or a charity event. Hand out free paper fans at the 4th of July parade. Think about where and how your ideal customers spend their time and then find ways to get your marketing message in front of them.
  3. Collaborate and Network
    Round up a group of area business that are non-competitive and can easily work together and agree to cross promote. Collaborating can help you all reach an expanded customer base. Networking is one of the best ways to build your business. Get out there and meet people! Networking requires a time commitment, and it’s not always going to provide instant gratification, but it will easily become the strongest asset you can have. Just remember, its about building business relationships. Networking gives you the chance to help people know you, like you and trust you. When they do that, they will be ready to do business with you or refer someone to you. Which brings me to…
  4. Referrals, Referrals, Referrals
    The easiest new business comes from happy customers who send you referrals. Don’t be shy about asking for them either. Most people are willing to provide a referral, if asked, but very few will do it on their own. If your customers are truly content, they will be happy to help you and there is nothing more powerful than the recommendation of a happy customer. Don’t forget to offer up referrals for others when you can. Sometimes a successful referral from you for their business will result in a return referral from them.
  5. Keep Relationships
    This point ties right into numbers 3 & 4. It’s less expensive to keep a current customer than to get a new one. Establishing strong relationships with your current customers is vital. You can build these relationships by using social media, email campaigns and good old face-to-face conversations. Keep communicating!
  6. Speech, Teach!
    I know, I know, you hate public speaking. A lot of people do, but it’s a great marketing tool. Many organizations are constantly seeking qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their groups. As long as your information is helpful to the audience – and correct – people won’t care if you’re a public speaking pro. Plus, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Check with your local small business administrations, colleges, chamber of commerce, even the library. These opportunities to teach and speak to groups of individuals will establish you as a credible authority in your field. They will also open doors for collaborating, networking, referrals and relationships. (See the snowball effect?)
  7. Get More by Giving Some Away
    If you test or experience a product or service and like it, are you more likely to buy it? Probably so. Your customers are the same way! Chances are they will purchase more if you give them the opportunity to try it. Don’t be afraid of giving someone a free trial or sample. But, don’t give away too much, just enough to bring them back for more!
  8. It’s Not About You
    What? Yes I said this correctly. It’s kind of about you – but mostly it’s about your customer. Sometimes it’s easy to just tell your customer all about your company and how long you’ve been in business. But honestly, most of the time, they don’t care about that. They care about how your product or service benefits them. If you answer that first, then they will start to care more about your company and you. Focus on the benefit and/or solution you can give your customers.

These eight tips are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marketing. But they are enough to get you started and help you out if your budget isn’t that big. Just remember, engaging customers and building relationships are the heart of your business and will be vital in your business growth. You don’t have to spend outrageous amounts of money on your marketing for it to be successful as long as you put in the time and effort and focus on what’s important to your customers.

Infographic: Freepik.com; edited by Poole Communications.

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Photo Designed by Freepik.com, edited by Poole Communications.

Rose Anne Huck, manager of our Poplar Bluff office brings you today’s book review.

Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers.
By Seth Godin

Internet marketing pioneer Seth Godin says we must change the way almost everything is marketed today. 

Our author, Seth Godin, speaks to us about the demise of the age of interruption Marketing with the arrival of Permission Marketing. In this groundbreaking book, Godin describes the four tests of Permission Marketing:

  1. Does every single marketing effort you create encourage a learning relationship with your customers? Does it invite customers to “raise their hands” and start communicating?
  2. Do you have a permission database? Do you track the number of people who have given you permission to communicate with them?
  3. If consumers gave you permission to talk to them, would you have anything to say? Have you developed a marketing curriculum to teach people about your products?
  4. Once people become customers, do you work to deepen your permission to communicate with those people?

With case study after case study, Godin walks us through good and bad examples of using the power of Permission Marketing to grow a business and customer base.

We are encouraged to follow-up with a full “suite of follow-up messages” for permission given. The suite of messages is a leveraged sequence of communication designed to strengthen our position and build trust.

You can easily do the math. Drive traffic to your site to collect their contact information. For every x percent who give you permission, you’ll generate $Y in sales. To finish the equation all you need is your conversion rate which you may be able to pull from your sales and marketing records.

The key is not to focus on permission acquisition on-line but rather build to it into what you’re already doing in your marketing efforts.

Think of it this way: an Interruption Marketer is a hunter. A Permission Marketer is a farmer.

Seth Godin uses a charming analogy to demonstrate the differences between Permission Marketing and Interruption Marketing.

First Scenario: A man gets a new suit, shoes, all the accessories and heads to a singles bar. He has an engagement ring in his pocket. He proposes marriage over and over hoping for someone to take him up on his offer. As you can imagine, he suffers many rejections.

Second Scenario: A man chooses a likely prospective date. Asks her out to dinner and a movie (appropriate incentives). They spend time together. Go out again. Meet the family. Eventually he proposes marriage and gets an emphatic  “Yes!”

This approach is about building quality connections where there is mutual trust which in the long-term should result in greater sales per contact than any other system.

When we look at it this way, it is hard to imagine doing marketing any other way. It is also obvious that Permission Marketing requires a greater investment of time and resources. Permission Marketing results grow over time. They is measurable. These are the opposite of Interruption Marketing.

One hundred years ago small businesses ruled the world. They were responsive, trusted and capable. They offered samples or use of products before purchase and the company owner or sales person spent extra time with customers before the sale. It would not have been unusual for the company owner to be your neighbor. Oh my, how times have changed for most companies.

The KEY to Permission Marketing is in building a series of steps designed to get prospects to take the next step in the process. Let’s take a look at this example: Camp Arowhon

  1. Permission Marketing for the camp starts with an interruption message using an ad to order free information in the form of a brochure and video.
  2. The brochure and video are designed to sell a personal meeting – not sell camp registration.
  3. The visit sells the camp. After attending camp for one summer, campers are sold on the camp for an average of 6 summers plus referrals. This nets approximately $20,000 per family.

At each step the goal is to expand permission, not to make the final sale.

By not focusing on the sale, marketers are able to get far more out of their expenditures. Response rates to free samples, an affinity program or birthday club is 5 to 10 times higher than responses pushing for the sale.

When you are making your offer, the less you ask and the bigger the bribe, the more likely the consumer will bite. This guarantees your chance to deepen the permission with the next level.

Three important keys to keep in mind:

  1. Be personal.
  2. Be relevant.
  3. Be specific.

The first sale is the beginning of the relationship, NOT the ultimate goal. The Ultimate Goal is mutually beneficial – a relationship which grows over time. You supply their need. They pay you. You provide more. They buy more and so forth and so on.

If you find need to start with high cost interruption marketing, you want to leverage the cost of the first interruption across multiple interactions. In this instance it definitely pays to approach your audience in as many ways as possible.

TRUST is EVERYTHING! Without trust there are no sales. Trust means the prospect believes in the product and the company. Think of it this way, you have a different level of trust with a high-end jeweler versus the guy on the street with a briefcase of jewelry.

Building trust is a Step by Step process which requires time, money and commitment. Frequency builds familiarity and familiarity builds trust. When you first run your ad 10% of your market will remember it. If you run 30 days in a row, by the law of averages, eventually everyone will remember your ad. Frequency causes the consumer to focus on the message. Like repeating yourself to a 4-year-old helps get the point across – or training a dog or horse.

Statistically when you increase your frequency by 100% you increase your effectiveness by 400%! Frequency and trust outweigh reach and its glamour.

This book is packed with the fundamentals needed to connect with you audience in a way that resonates with them and will lead to relationships that are beneficial for you both.

One of my favorite examples used in the book is the LL Bean catalog company. Their inventory stays relatively unchanged year after year. There are a few tweaks but nothing extensive. LL Bean sends out catalogs over and over again even though the last book you got probably has not changed very much. Their loyal followers welcome these new books and peruse them and continue to buy from them year after year. This is the relationship we all need. Customers and prospects who are happy to receive our sales message and who trust us to deliver quality.

Permission Marketing was written in 1999 but remains an authoritative source of information. Many if not most of Godin’s predictions have come true. He was and is so far out front that even now, we are still working to implement what he preached then.

One last suggestion: Read it and read it soon.

To find out more about Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing book, visit http://sethgodin.com/sg/