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Posts Tagged ‘Social media’

Face 2 Face Matters, Because You Can’t Shake Hands With A Screen (Phyllis K.)

In today’s social media-focused economy, it’s become increasingly common to have long, complex and lasting business relationships with other people without ever speaking to them face to face—or even on the phone. More of the average business’s sales support, customer service and other customer-facing functions are moving to the Web instead of being handled in person. And with cost-cutting foremost on everyone’s mind, conventions, conferences and meetings are all going virtual as well.

In this environment, you might suppose that there’s no longer much need to meet face to face. Well, you’d be wrong. In-person events are better than virtual events at capturing attendees’ attention, creating positive emotions and building relationships and networks.

Researchers found that face-to-face works best in three situations:

  1. To capture attention, especially if you are launching something new. Attendees at virtual events are more likely to multitask and filter certain information out. “[Multitasking] engages a different part of your brain, and information doesn’t make it into long-term memory. In contrast, the range of stimuli at an in-person event–from speakers to meals to meeting new people—creates novelty, which helps people be more open-minded and creative.
  2. To inspire a positive emotional reaction. An event that involves interacting with other people in the flesh creates a positive emotional experience. Those positive emotions become attached to the companies involved in the event, as well as contributing to make attendees more open to new experiences.
  3. To build networks and relationships. There a  distinction between sharing information—which can easily be done virtually—and creating networks or relationships, which still requires in-person human interaction. Relationships forged in person are stronger.   “Trust is built more effectively face-to-face.”

This applies to every meeting—even just between two people. You can Facebook, email, tweet and even talk on the phone all you want, but there’s no substitute for the kind of energy and connection that happens when you actually get together with a colleague or customer in person.

That’s why, no matter how busy I get, I always make time for face-to-face meetings. In my experience, they’re invaluable for building relationships that last—and that help grow your business.

 

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Trends That Can Make The Cash Register RING!

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Every once in a while it’s a good idea to sit back, take stock and assess how some of today’s current trends could benefit your business. Here are some to consider that have both marketing and operations implications for your company.

1. Go mobile. Mobile marketing is becoming increasingly important as consumer adoption of smartphones increases. Whether you market to businesses or consumers, your customers are increasingly accessing the Internet and using phones as shopping tools. But according to the fifth Small Business Success Index survey released recently, few small business owners currently use mobile marketing methods such as texting promotions to customers, creating a mobile site or mobile application, and advertising on mobile sites. Just 15 percent of entrepreneurs surveyed said these activities have the potential to be “extremely” or “very valuable” to their businesses. I think this is a big mistake. Young people are an obvious market for mobile marketing, but with smartphones becoming essential tools for everyone from soccer moms to businesspeople, no business can afford to ignore this trend.

And speaking of busy businesspeople, are you taking full advantage of your smartphone’s capabilities? With phones doing more and more, lugging your laptop is becoming less and less necessary. Whatever type of smartphone you have, explore its features so you can streamline essential tasks you need to do on the road.

2. Social deal sites. Social deal sites—where customers sign up to get daily emails of deep discounts on products and services in their areas—are sizzling hot. Currently, Groupon and LivingSocial are the biggest names in this industry, but there are plenty of local and regional offerings too. If your business caters to local customers, you’ll want to explore these sites as a marketing tool.

3. Subscription services. Slowly but surely, subscriptions have become woven into our daily lives. I’m not talking about magazine subscriptions (although they still exist) but the subscription business model in which everything from software to IT services to consulting is paid for on a monthly basis by automatic charge. Subscription services can streamline your expenses because you pay only for what you need. On the flip side, remember to keep track of your subscriptions and reassess them regularly, or it’s easy to end up paying for things you never use.

For your business, providing products or services on a subscription basis can be a smart way to boost your cash flow by generating recurring income streams. Just about everything can be sold on a set-it-and-forget-it basis, whether it’s a quarterly shipment of skin-care products, a monthly phone consultation or ongoing access to premium information on your website.

4. Seniors. Americans age 65 and older are a hot market, but one that’s too often ignored by small business. A recent MarketWatch article cited one expert who noted that while the teenage market is trendy, “there is … 10 times as much money to be made from seniors.” In fact, Census data show seniors are more affluent than most segments of the population, with the median net worth of households aged 65 and over at $108,885 in 2000, compared to a measly $7,240 for households under age 35. By 2030, people over 65 will account for 20 percent of the population—so if you’re not already targeting this market, figure out how you can.

Seniors can benefit your business in another way: as employees. If you’re like most small businesses, you could use some extra help right now, but you’re not ready to hire a full-time worker. Consider hiring retirees as part-time employees. Their experience and work ethic can make them valuable assets to your business, without the full-time commitment.

TRUST, A Social Media Missing Link!?

Having a Facebook Page WILL NOT bring instant sales.

Twitter WILL NOT triple your Web traffic overnight.

A press release WILL NOT get journalists banging down your door.

Harsh truths, I know, but ones that need to be heard. The problem with small businesses and marketing is they want instant coffee. They want to see a spike in sales or Web traffic instantly, and that simply doesn’t happen unless you’re the Old Spice guy. Freshly showered men aside, all your marketing efforts should lead to one thing:  T-R-U-S-T.

Why Trust Is Important

Is trust necessary? Not really. You could sell a thousand widgets to a thousand people and never see them again. Or you could work to build trust with these customers, and rely on them to become your brand evangelists, to let them tell others how great you are because you’re a trustworthy company. Let them blog, tweet and share their love on Facebook.

Trust keeps customers coming back. If what you sell costs a lot of money, it gives them the confidence to drop the $100, $1,000 or $10,000 on your product or service.

How to Build Trust

Every component of marketing is about trust-building, if done properly.

  • Social Media. Face it: You probably haven’t bought much from brands on Twitter just because they’re there. If a brand you’re following is having a promotion, you might click the link and buy. But that’s promotion. Not marketing. So your role in social media is to use it as a channel to build trust. Create conversations, whether they’re related to your industry or not. Share relevant links, even if they’re not from your own blog. Interact. Give people a reason to seek your brand out on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Press Releases. Sometimes trust is just about being there consistently. Putting out a press release each month can go a long way to say, “Hey! We’re still here doing awesome things.” And while journalists may not be clamoring to publish your news, searching for keywords that lead them to one press release after another from your brand certainly shows that you’re consistent. And consistency is one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship, is it not?
  • Blogger Relations. If you’re smart enough to be working with bloggers to spread the word about your products or services, kudos. But how you work with them can have just as much impact on your brand as what they think of the product. First off, pay your bloggers. Their time is as valuable as yours. But be there for them too. Make sure they know you’re partners in the blogger outreach campaign you’re working on, and make sure to address any questions or concerns they have before they post. If you build that trust, they’ll go beyond the call of duty for the campaign and talk about your brand on all the social channels, resulting in bonus play for you.

Now WHAT!?

If I’ve put you into a tailspin, don’t worry. Keep doing what you’re doing in marketing, but shift your thinking.  Don’t focus on how many (or few) website visitors that last Facebook contest netted. Instead look at how you built the trust of hundreds of loyal fans. If they are engaged in what you’re doing, you’re successfully building that trust. Keep it up, and those relationships will come to fruition.

Warm and Fuzziness: Keeps Them Coming Back!!

Customers are your business’s lifeblood. Without them, you don’t have a business at all. But woo them carefully with devotion, and your business sales can skyrocket. Who doesn’t love being romanced?

Want to know how to create those warm, fuzzy feelings? Use these easy tips and make your customers love you so they keep coming back for more.

Tell the World They’re Special

What do you do when you love someone? You want to tell the world how special that person is to you.

So tell the world about your customers and how special they are to you by giving them some spotlight attention. Display glowing testimonials proudly on your website. Write a blog post and mention kind words a client told you. Write a case study or success story. Talk about how much your customer’s life has changed since discovering your business.

By putting your customers in the spotlight and telling the world about them, you create a win-win. You help their business get some free exposure to new clients, and you show your prospective customers that your business creates positive results.

Take this tip one step further: Write a blog post about a recent project or sale. Talk about how much you enjoyed getting to know your customer and mention what you liked — friendly attitude, pleasant manners, or even a great smile. This definitely creates warm fuzzies for anyone!

Thank Them, and Mean It

Here’s an easy way to bring a smile to anyone’s face: Thank them for being customers in a way that shows you really appreciate having them.

It takes mere seconds to send a customer a personal thank-you note for having trusted your business to provide them with what they want. Send a quick e-mail a week or two after the purchase, or even better, mail them an old-fashioned handwritten note. People love getting these — really.

Double-whammy your thank you note by giving a little gift. Tuck a coupon into the envelope or offer your customers a five-percent discount on their next purchase.

Remember Them So They Remember You

Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes — which means that dropping contact with your customers can result in them forgetting your business exists. Or worse, showing that you don’t care.

That’s why staying in touch with customers over the months or even years can help retain their patronage for a long time to come. They never forget you — and they might even think fondly of you.

Don’t just stay in touch; get personal about it. Take note of details that your customers share with you either while making a purchase or in conversation. Note their birth dates. Mark down the name of their pets. Jot down that your client had a big golf tournament coming up.

Then use that information to show you were paying attention to your customers. Mention Rover in an e-mail. Mail a  birthday card. Ask how the tournament turned out on your next call. Your clients will love you for it.

Treat Them with Responsive Respect

There’s nothing worse than being put on hold and hearing a tinny recording say, “Your call is important to us.” (It’s even worse if you have to wait 20 minutes for a live person to actually back that up.)

So when customers get in touch with you — no matter who they are, no matter why they’re contacting you — respect them, and respond to them.

This is so easy to do, and responding to people in a personal way is actually so rare in the world of business that it pleasantly surprises people when it happens. Doing so can build huge loyalty and fond thoughts in the minds of your customers so they remember you for a long, long time.

So ditch the canned responses. Answer people who get in touch via social media platforms. Reply to e-mails, and do so personally if you can. The phone rings? Pick it up — don’t let the call fall into some robotic system. It may take extra time from your day, but it’s worth every minute.

Also, be personable when you talk with customers and prospects. Show them you’re a genuinely great individual who is interested in them by being approachable, friendly, and pleasant. Your customers will get the chance to know you, like you, and appreciate you and your business even more for who you are.

Check in on Them, Just Because

“Hey Jenny, I was thinking about you today and just wanted to drop you a note to say hi — no particular reason. Hope things are well!”

There you go, how easy was that? Sending your customers an out-of-the-blue e-mail like that can be a great way to show them you value them as people, that you care about them, and that you like them for who they are.

Business-wise, an unexpected “How are you?” e-mail opens up the lines of communication. You might find your customer replying, “I’ve been meaning to get in touch — glad you wrote!” and secure a new sale. You might just end up having a great conversation (which gives you extra notes about your client you can jot down and use in future communications).

Customers will enjoy the no-obligation, no-pitch contact, too. A “just saying hi” makes everyone feel better. That’ll make it a lot easier for customers to remember you when it’s time for the next purchase.

It all comes down to a very simple sentiment: People like to buy from people, not from faceless businesses that don’t care. So show that you do, and woo your customers carefully for a devoted relationship they’ll adore.

 

Don’t Fool Yourself!

Almost every day, I hear a business owner talking about how they resist or refuse to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter or other popular social media platforms.

And almost everyone of them suggests that social media is just a fad that will pass.

They are in good company.

Movie producer Darryl Zanuck predicted in 1946 that people would get tired of watching a television every night. Variety magazine predicted the death of rock and roll by June, 1955. Time magazine wrote off e-commerce in 1966, decades before it existed.

If you really think social media is not an important part of basic marketing today, you are fooling yourself.

There are tons of resources that will show you how to effectively use social media marketing, no matter what industry you are in. Start learning now. Find out what works and what doesn’t. And, most of all, establish at least a presence on all the popular platforms.

If you don’t have the time to learn it yourself, hire someone to fast-track your learning or handle it for you.

One word of caution: as with anything new, there are suddenly tons of so-called “gurus” out there. Make sure you at least ask around and try to identify the real experts from the charlatans before you spend any money,

Myths About Social Media That Need To Be Put To Rest

Social media gets a lot of attention these days. A lot of people make the choice to use social media for their business thinking that it’s going to bring in a lot of views, customers, subscribers whatever it is that you may want to achieve. The only way that will happen is if you social media the right way. Unfortunately, too many people are disappointed by the results of their social media efforts because they were misled by others to believe in the myths. So once and for all I want to put to rest some of the misguided information that is out there about social media.

Here are a few myths that I think need to be put to rest:

Myth #1 It’s A Great Place To Broadcast

John Maxwell said “People don’t care what you know until they know you care.”  This quote definitely rings true in social media. Everyone wants to be heard and many people are constantly fighting to shout the loudest, but none of that matters because once again it comes back to the listening factor. How do you expect people to care about what you’re saying, if to begin with, you never cared about them? Instead of using social media as a place to broadcast your message about how great your company is and how you have the best product out there a better approach would be to have conversations with people who have the same interest as you, people who you can help and of course you must be willing to provide something of value. That is what attracts people and using this strategy will get you a lot further than trying to be the person who shouts the loudest.

Myth #2 Automation Tools Work

Using an automated tool is not the key to success with social media. Instead automated tools can actually hamper your ability to achieve your goals in social media. The best part about using a social media platform is being able to connect with real people on the other end.  If you choose to use an automated tool to automatically follow people, send them messages or send out the same generic response to everyone, many will find that as very unfavorable and as a result will choose to ignore you because obviously you are not there to listen and only care about your message. Social media is more about having real authentic communication with others and helping people without asking for their business in return.

Myth #3 It’s All About The Numbers

You don’t have to have thousands upon thousands of people following you on the social media platform you choose to have success. It’s more about the engagement that you have with those individuals that will help you reach your goals faster than trying to play the numbers game. You see a lot of people on social media who have 5,000 or 10,000 plus followers and likes, but nobody is paying attention to them. Sure at first this might seem like the way to go because it looks impressive to have that many followers or likes, but it’s more impressive to actually see the amount of people who are actually engaging with you on the social media platforms and seeing the number of people who have actually taken an interest in what you’re saying that matters the most.

Myth #4 Using Social Media When I Have Time Works

Being involved in social media takes time. It cannot be used as something you do when you have free time on your hands. Instead you need to devote time to social media every day or a certain amount of time every week. Simply put, if you do not make the effort to be on that social media platform people will not want to follow you, like you or connect with you. Consistency on the web is always a key to success.

Myth #5 It’s Easy, All I Need Is An Account

Nothing just magically happens, but for some reason a lot of people think that truly happens on the web. That simply all that is needed is to have an account and magically you’ll be rolling in the dough, but that is not so. Having an account is simply the first step. Next you need to identify the goals that you want to achieve with a timeframe in place in which you want to achieve them and identify a few tactics to help you reach those goals in the end.

Myth #6 I Have To Use One Of The Bigger Social Media Websites

No you don’t have to be on Twitter, you don’t have to be on Facebook and you don’t have to be on LinkedIn. However, this is what many people assume when they look to join a social media website. What would be better is to pick the social media website that best fits your strengths. So if you don’t buy into the whole microblogging, kind of texting platform that Twitter has you don’t have to do it. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful simply because you didn’t choose to use one of the bigger social medias that are out there. Maybe instead you’re more of a video person and you decide to use Vimeo or Ustream because it plays more of your strengths, than that’s where you need to be. It will benefit you more in the long run because you will be better at it since it is one of your strengths and as a result you’ll be more motivated to be involved there as well.

Prospecting 101: Get Your Name Out There!

A key component of getting clients for your business is to get your name out there. You can be the very best in your chosen profession, but if no one has ever heard of you, you won’t get very many clients.

It can be difficult to build a professional reputation for a new business. In this post, I’ll provide ten techniques that you can use to help establish yourself in your chosen field.

Why You Should Get Your Name Out There

Let’s face it, business is competitive. There are likely hundred, if not thousands, of businesses who offer services in your chosen field. You need some way to distinguish yourself from all of those other businesses who are you are competing with.

Getting your name out there makes your business a known brand. This gives you a competitive advantage. All other things being equal, when choosing between someone who they’ve heard of and another business who offers similar services, but is not known to them, most clients will choose the familiar business.

10 Techniques to Get Your Name Out There

Fortunately, today’s Internet tools make it easy for businesses to build an online brand for their business. Here are ten techniques that you can start to use today to get your name out there and bolster your reputation:

  1. Create a Blog. I’ve sung the praises of blogs for businesses before, and I’ll do it again. Sure, you can run a business without a blog, but blogs are relatively inexpensive so why would you want to? Build a blog, update it regularly, and drive some traffic to it.
  2. Guest Post. Whether or not you create your own blog, you can benefit from the blogs of others by submitting guest posts to popular blogs that are related to your business. Be sure to send your best content, since what you write will wind up representing your business.
  3. Give a Presentation. If you get the chance to speak before a business group about your profession, take it. Giving a good presentation is a great way to establish your expertise in your field. Be sure to include handouts with your contact information.
  4. Participate in Social Media. Having a social media circle is the hot new way for business people to network. The good news is that everyone can take part in social media. It costs nothing to set up a profile on most social media sites. Just remember to keep your participation professional.
  5. Be Interviewed. If you get a chance to take part in an interview for a blog or with a journalist, accept it. It is usually to your advantage to share your knowledge publicly and the interviewer may have larger audience that you would normally reach. If some of your contacts conduct regular interviews, you may be able to volunteer to be interviewed.
  6. Do a Webinar or Create a Podcast. Webinars and podcasts are two great techniques provide two more great opportunities for you to showcase your expertise. Just as in any other type of presentation, be professional and include your contact information.
  7. Join a Group. Luckily, the world is full of professional groups that you can join (both online and offline). Joining and becoming active in a group of like-minded professionals will not only help you to network, it may also allow you to access educational and job bank opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available to you.
  8. Take a Class. A classroom setting can often provide networking opportunities. This is especially true for offline classes where you meet face-to-face in a classroom setting. Plus, you can enhance your skills while getting to know others. Check your local colleges for evening classes.
  9. Write a Book. The Internet has made it easier than ever for professionals to get published. It’s relatively simple to create an eBook that highlights your experience and expertise. And once you have created an eBook, it can continue to generate leads for your business for months (maybe even years) to come.
  10. Leave Some Comments. A simple, but often overlooked means of getting your name out there, is to leave well thought out comments on popular blogs in your area. While this technique is similar to guest posting, you typically won’t have the hurdle of getting your comment accepted by the site owner. As long as you are respectful and professional, most blogs will publish your comment.