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Posted by . In topics: Marketing

Synopsis: Running a recommendation outreach program isn’t something that will just happen. You must take the right steps. Here’s how to get customers gushing about your services.

A stamp of approval is hard to come by, but when battling for customers it can really make the difference at the time of purchase. There’s a number of ways to get this approval, like speaking at industry events or having your business profiled by the local media. But there’s no better way than customer recommendations.

Having an enthused client gush about the quality of your services can do wonders for your marketing and advertising. By utilizing that recommendation on your website, marketing material and maybe even wrapping it into your advertisements, potential customers can now see that others approve of what you can do or offer. That serves as a convincing argument that you’re not just marketing to them, but can actually solve their problem.

Yet, getting these recommendations isn’t just a set it and forget opportunity. After all, if online community forums have taught us anything, it’s that a customer is much more willing to jump on and complain about poor service than regale readers about a wonderful experience. Instead, you need to go out and actually find the customers who are willing to positively discuss your business.

How do you accomplish this? Read more »

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Posted by . In topics: Marketing

Synopsis: A new report highlights the growing clutter on social media. This means for your company to break through, you need to go back to the basics. Here’s how.

By now, your small business probably has a Twitter handle or Facebook page. Raise your digital hands if you’re having any luck connecting with customers on the feeds? And I mean actually having conversations with customers as opposed to posting something and hoping they ‘like’ it.

My guess is not too many of us can raise our hand. But you’re not alone. Hubspot has put out an interesting infographic that shows how businesses (particularly, large businesses) have infiltrated the feeds, making it less about conversation and more about selling a product. This has also led to information overload, leading to many people turning their head, ignoring most of the conversations.

Hubspot, however, has a solution. The main reason for this shift is due, in large part, to the number of national brands on the sites. Hubspot thinks it’s time to think more like yourself. They quoted social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk, saying, “social media requires that business leaders start thinking like small-town shop owners [emphasis added]. This means taking the long view and avoiding short term benchmarks to gauge progress.”

That’s easier said than done, but what it really shows is that an entrepreneur or small business owner has advantage over the large brands online in the sense they already know how to react, communicate and talk to people like shop owners. It’s how the business has survived and grown.

AllTwitter likened the change in social media to that of email. Read more »

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Posted by . In topics: Marketing

Synopsis: While it’s sometimes hard to quantify B2B content strategy’s effectiveness, there’s still plenty of ways to ensure you’re reaching the right audience and decision makers. We talk about three goodies.

It’s not always as easy to test your business-to-business marketing initiatives. Purchasing decisions take a whole lot longer while selling products that often have a much higher price tag, leading to multiple meetings and follow-ups from your sales reps. And when it comes to marketing your services online, all you can do is shake your head at the attempts that business-to-consumer marketers throw out there, knowing that it wouldn’t work for your business. So is it worth marketing your B2B company online?

That question is very loaded, especially since it really depends on the company and the industry that the business is in. But let’s talk about the number one claim for not doing B2B online marketing, and that’s you’re not reaching the business owner or decision maker. And that might be true, it’s hard to tell if you’re actually reaching the C-Suite team. But Hubspot provided the right response to whether or not the executives spend much time on social media or searching the Interwebs:

“Even if a C-suite executive doesn’t spend a lot of their time reading blogs, using social media, and conducting research online, that doesn’t mean there aren’t others within their company whoare doing those things. And chances are, these people have some level of influence on the decisions of those C-suite executives.”

It’s a great point because you can reach the decision makers in a company by connecting with those that have access to the C-Suite. It’s a smart way to get into the door. On top of that, while you might not reach the C-suite executives using online marketing, you can reach them through advertising, then mirror that with the online marketing strategy. With the two working together, the executive will know about your company from multiple resources (one direct, one indirect).

How do you do this, though? It’s not as easy as running a few contests for free giveaways, like B2C gets to do. But there are a few tactics that you utilize, ensuring that your investment remains at a manageable level, while the results offer a new growth opportunity. Read more »

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Posted by . In topics: Marketing

Synopsis: Mashable has launched a live test study of one small business’s attempt to grow its social media presence in a month. Is that enough time? And will it have an impact on the bottom line?

It’s the eternal question when it comes to online promotion of a company. We hear about the success stories. We read how social media consultants suggest growing your online network. We see how social media companies continue to boom. But does it actually work? And, if it does, will it for small businesses?

Mashable has decided to try and find out. It has recruited a business that will receive free social media consulting, and the results of the company’s efforts will be publicized after the month long trial.

The recipient of this opportunity is a small business from Malaysia, called JumpSacBaby. After having a baby, Syazrina Ismail suddenly discovered the need for a baby sling. When it worked great for her, she tried selling her own to others in Malaysia. It took off, and now she has over 12,500 Facebook fans and a steady flow of business.

But not much has come from all those followers. So Mashable connected Ismail to Katy Lynch, a Chicago-based social media expert. Here are a few suggestions that Lynch offered Ismail:

  • Create a Pinterest page – And offer a way to win a free sling
  • Run a Contest on Facebook – Which would draw interest and notoriety to the brand
  • Grow Twitter Following – Looking to jump into conversations already happening on Twitter

Now, those are all great ideas. But the real question is will a month be enough to show strong results from a limited following? For example, Ismail has a Pinterest page, but no pins at this point. Unless she already has a strong email base – meaning one that’s dedicated, loyal and interested in what she has to say – then it will be hard to see significant increases in the Pinterest page after only a month. That is, unless the giveaway she offers truly stands out among her target audience.

The same goes for Twitter. Read more »

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Posted by . In topics: Marketing

Synopsis: An important avenue for growth is getting media coverage. But how do you go about getting in front of the journalists that might write about you? We discuss.

One of the great ways to get your company noticed by your audience is to have someone write about you in a local or national publication. Getting the seal of approval from a trusted third-party, like the local newspaper or industry blog can be a boon for your business. And the media coverage can be shared on your website, in advertisements or on social media.

You probably realized that, but do you still struggle to get the notice of the media? It’s not as easy as just sending out a head’s up to the journalist. They receive potentially hundreds of pitches from similar companies everyday, so you will need to stand out. But it’s also not just about standing out. You must ensure you’re reaching the right media for your audience because it does little good to get the New York Times to write about you, when your target audience is in Nebraska, and rarely reads the NYT.

So how do you go about getting the right media coverage for your business? We have provided some tips below, which should help you in your quest for press:

  • Target Your Pitches: One of the biggest mistakes a business can make when promoting a new product or offering a look at a new technology is reaching out to the wrong type of media. Often, you want to be as precise as possible when reaching them. So if, for example, you’re a technology company, make sure you reach the journalist that covers your specific technology. Since many organizations have a number of technology writers, you must make sure you reach the one that covers exactly what you do, or else it will end up in the deletion pile Read more »
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Posted by . In topics: Marketing

Synopsis: Social media can become a dangerous place for your company to interact on during a tragedy. Here’s how to handle your platforms, when a national or local disaster occurs.

It seems as if anytime something horrific or truly tragic happens, there’s inevitably a business that steps on it, by trying to sell their product while using the tragedy on social media. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, another such incident occurred.

Epicurious, the food blog, managed this when the day after the bombing, they began tweeting insensitive posts on Twitter. Some of the posts included: “In honor of Boston and New England, may we suggest: whole-grain cranberry scones!” or “Boston, our hearts are with you. Here’s a bowl of breakfast energy we could all use to start the day.”

Eventually, Epicurious apologized for the tweets, saying they were “insensitive.” A little late to the party, but better than their original response which was to auto respond to everyone who showed anger towards the tweets, with “We truly regret that our earlier tweets seemed insensitive. Our hearts and prayers are with the people in Boston.” And only after people got upset with the notion that they “seemed” insensitive, did the blog apologize.

Talk about a huge mistake on the social media front. And for a growing business, this type of disaster could force your sales to a grinding halt. And you simply don’t want to be that company that everyone is talking about for all the wrong reasons, when so much emotion is at stake. Epicurious isn’t the first or the last company that will make such an error. But how do you avoid making the same mistakes? Here are a few ways to handle social media activities during a tragedy: Read more »

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Posted by . In topics: Marketing

Synopsis: With the competition online to stand out being so intense, the chances of your online video going viral are slim to none, unless you use these techniques we outline below.

It may be the most vague term in all of the online world. “Viral Video.” What does that mean? How many views does it take to go “viral?” What does that bring you, if you do manage the feat? And how can you ensure it will go viral?

Some of these questions can’t be answered, but let’s first discuss what exactly it means for an online video to go viral. It’s about how it’s shared. For a video to go viral, it means that it becomes popular using online tools like email and social media. That’s fairly straightforward.

But then what does it mean to become popular? That really falls into the category of depends. That’s because you shouldn’t look at the success of your video by the number of views, but by the number of views that reach your target audience. The Internet is littered with videos that became massively popular, yet the (accidental or intentional) creators never came close to actually profiting off of the video. The reason being, is because they either didn’t have systems in place (like a website, product or service) or they weren’t reaching their target audience in a productive and profitable way.

So then that obviously leads to the question of how do you create a viral video that will reach your target audience? And that’s the question that experts and amateurs alike can’t truly answer. Because for every major win, there’s 10 to 1,000 duds. With 72 hours of video uploaded on YouTube every minute, you can see how much of the content gets lost in the ether. How do you make yours stand out? Here are 8 tips to help your next viral video take off: Read more »

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Posted by . In topics: Marketing

Synopsis: The importance of word-of-mouth marketing has become a vital aspect to online success. We had author of Brand Echonomics, and former TV anchor Jeff Brady explain how to accomplish this.

You have the business up and running. You have satisfied customers. You have cash flow.

But do you have a tool to attract new customers? A sustainable lead-generation engine? A platform to generate buzz?

If not, then consider the concept of brand echonomics as a means of growing visibility and attracting new clients and commerce. It’s more effective than any other concept in media because it works on all technology platforms, it’s more authentic and far more affordable. In fact, it costs nothing. We often call it word-of-mouth marketing 3.0. A brand Echo is created when one well-connected client has an extraordinary experience with your company, product or service and tells someone else… who tells someone else… who tells someone else. One person might call a friend. Another might Tweet about your amazing brand. Another might mention your brand at a networking event. And so, the brand echo has begun.

Here’s the key – you need to give him or her a great story to tell. And it’s NOT a story about your product, service or company. It’s a story about the CUSTOMER who was AMAZED by the product, service or experience your company provided. It’s a story that customer tells organically. Unprompted. Unsolicited. Unaltered.

Yes, word-of-mouth or referral marketing has been around for a long time, and many companies have been built on its power. Now, however, we have entered the ‘Era of Influence’ when those people with loyal followers – are at the apex of the marketing chain because their voice is heard above most all others. And it rises above the din of all other messaging – because people listen to and believe trusted voices.

Clutter is the problem.

We have more media clutter now than ever. Read more »

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Posted by . In topics: Marketing

Synopsis: Want a great idea to market on social media? Think about how you can turn social media into an offline interaction that will improve the whole business. Here’s how.

When you have a strong social media presence, or any social media presence, one thing you need to do is look for opportunities to take the conversation offline. And the more creative you can do this, then the more buzz you can build.

Bud Light did something similar, taking a conversation that was posted online, and turned it into an offline experience. During the Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak this year, forward Shane Battier discussed superstitions with NBA.com. Battier said, “Well, I try to drink the same beer – Bud Light – but that’s about it. You never know. I don’t want to chance luck and switch up brands, so I’m staying loyal to Bud Light.”

When Bud Light heard about this, they turned an online conversation into an offline meeting, by delivering 1,100 cases of beer to Battier’s home. You can see the video below.

 

 

But this isn’t just an attempt to reach Battier, for Bud Light. By doing this, they’ve created an online video that has the potential to go viral, developed fantastic advertising material, helped grow their image of a fun, lighthearted brand, and have ensured a customer for life.

We’ve seen this marriage of online conversation turning into offline interactions all the time from big brands. Wheat Thins most recently did a similar tactic, using fans that mentioned the product on Twitter. Soon after, these fans would find a van full of Wheat Thin boxes at their door. And this is a tactic that you can use as well, just on a smaller scale. Read more »