Don’t Think Big, when you need to Act Small

Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer (35) reaches second ahead of the throw to Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) on a double in the third inning during Friday's baseball game on May 1, 2015 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

We have all heard the old business saw: “Think Global, Act Local”, But how can we take this lesson into our own businesses? Simply studying the Big Guys, and taking their most successful ideas to help your business may not be right when trying to get further into your own, local, Prospect Communities.

Big business includes constant change and turnover. Fortune 500 clients that have outgrown their own Marketing Departments simply employ agencies to do it for them. However, they also change their agencies often, so everyone is in constant pitch mode, planning the next campaign and trying to sell it to the client. It has become normal, therefore for these pitches to excite at a ‘gut level’, and feature metrics that don’t have too much based in reality. These agencies, therefore, compete on the boldest, biggest ideas that move a brand or company in huge leaps – they have to be different so there is no time to be timid. These client companies trust that the agencies are looking after all of the metrics, and are doing it right, but most often the budget is taken up by large-scale items that overlook many details.

Who is to say, therefore, that these brands and their marketing agencies are doing it right? While we applaud social Marketing campaigns that receive incredible numbers of likes, shares, and Plus-One’s, who is to say they couldn’t have done more if they had done it right? Who says the major, one-off, Home Run is the only place to go? Last Year’s World Series has shown that a small ball, good fielding, single hit Kansas City Royals can be successful, too. Just be like them, and make sure that your fundamentals are correct. The big boy’s job is to ‘reach eyeballs’. Yours is to sell your business.

You can’t just create one sales pitch and marketing material created for one platform, throw it up on another one, and then be surprised that people don’t engage with your efforts. You have to take the time to understand each platform, what it is best used for, and take a long-term approach to developing a community. If you want to become influential on that platform, you need to act like the consumer. Of course, your content also has to be amazing. Effective social media marketing is about engaging your audience in compelling stories. Do it right, and continue doing it over a long period of time if your engagement numbers grow.

Your number one job is to tell a story. No matter who you are or what you do, your only job is to tell your story to the consumer wherever they are, and preferably at the moment when they are making decisions. Social media can help, especially if your SEO is done well. Social media is overtaking the search engines the same way TV overtook radio and the Internet overtook the newspaper. From now on, everything you do should have a social component. Of course, you can also look at those these broadcast channels, too.

There is only the 365-day marketing campaign, in which you produce content daily. Do not do something just because a large Big Box store does it, they are doing it for different reasons that may not be good for you. If you really want to start understanding your audience, you need to know what drives them and what their buying behaviors are.  A great storyteller thinks like, and is tuned in to, his audience. He knows when to slow down and when to speed up for the best effect. A story is at its best when it’s non-intrusive. On social media, the only story that can achieve business goals is one told with native content. If you want to talk to people when they consume entertainment, you need to be entertainment.  Content for the sake of content is pointless. Businesses are on social media because they want to be relevant and engaged, but if their content is banal and unimaginative, it only makes them look like amateurs.

So, you could learn what to do properly, by not doing what the big boys are doing!

How to make your website ‘Engage’ people

We hear it a lot: Why doesn’t my website do what I want. This usually means: ”Why don’t Prospects do what I want them to when they visit my site?” The answer could be buried in all kinds of small details that are stopping your prospects finding the interesting facts they are expecting to find. After all, many large Corporations have time to test their websites, and go through an ongoing diagnostic set of exercise that ‘tweak’ these tiny details. You probably don’t have the time or expense to do this, so here’s some basic ideas that will help you get your site up to the standard that these large Companies take for granted.

Create Great content with Google Trends.  If you could only use one SEO tool to develop an Internet marketing campaign, this product would be a serious contender. Google Trends is a search tool that allows you to search and connect your keywords and search terms through four basic parameters: Web search, Worldwide or Country specific, time (from the present to multiple year-range), and by category. You are immediately focussing attention through Google based on exactly what you are promoting on your site.

Upgrade your hosting, if required: Everyone hates slow upload time on a website – get yours to open as soon as possible, and you will ensure that more visitors find what they are looking for.

Study your Bounce Rate: Which pages just aren’t of interest to anyone? Use Analytics to discover your quietest pages, and change them.

Mould your headlines: What are your top five visited pages? Change their headlines and keywords to focus in on exactly what you want people to do. Concentrate on Benefits, not details.

Correctly place our Call To Action: Use SERP snippets and e-mail forms to entice people to see their interest almost immediately, and contact you about it as soon as they can.

Make sure your contact form is Mobile-Friendly. Everyone is on their mobile devices, and are more accustomed every day to get the information they want. Make sure they can contact you from their devices.

Get a 3rd Party checking tool. Don’t trust people with a vested interest in seeing your site do well to do your analytics (Especially you!), get someone that will give you cold, hard facts.

Images work: Ensure that your images entice visitors by being all about your Goods or Services, and make sure they are linked to information that visitors want. Upgrade those photographs and graphics to ensure they stand out, and are inviting.

It’s worth paying the money now, so that you don’t launch a ‘dud’ site that no-one likes. By following these steps, you will ensure that your site does what it is being built to do, to engage people in an entertaining way that results in business for you. The extra outlay will soon be recouped, and you will be ahead of your competition.

Don’t dump the MMB – that’s the Mobile Marketing Budget

qr code, flashcode, smartphone

While small businesses have to be budget conscious, and always ready to work on the infamous, shoe-string, your overall Marketing plan shouldn’t be part of your fat trimming. You need as many avenues as possible open to your customers and prospects, no matter where you are. Even if you can no longer afford tea bags for the 3.00 pm Friday brainstorming meeting, you really should still be ‘out in the world’ somehow, making sure that as many people see you. After all, they don’t know what size of concern you are – unless you are using small as a selling point.

You can always cut back your avenue expenditure, but where to start? Taking a little bite of each marketplace may be the way to go, but don’t be tempted to entirely dump, or shelve plans for, an entire avenue. Let’s look at Mobile marketing. It is tempting to ask: “Do we need this at all?” Well, if you are a business with an open door, yes you do. Prospects are walking past your open door, and they have they’re mobile devices standing ready, if not actually working. These Mobile prospects also love sharing their opinions on various businesses that they visit. Why would you run the risk of having a positive response available for the world to see, to be added to another site, like Yelp?

Get ready for the future – soon it will be 2015, and mobile isn’t just here to stay, it’s going to expand into areas that we have no idea of, yet. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of this? Here are four reasons why Mobile Marketing works.

Your Business is Online or Software-Oriented

You are going to need to have your mobile strategy ready before you open your doors. Hundreds of Thousands of businesses in these fields don’t – make sure you steal a march on your competition in as many areas as possible. Go mobile, and show off what you can do to savvy buyers right now.

User Interaction IS Your Customer’s Experience

You have the opportunity to show prospects EXACTLY what you have in the same arena that they access their social, gaming, and favourite applications. You can ensure that your Interaction is every bit as clear, simple, and effective as all of these. The User experience is paramount on Mobile devices, so get your interaction into the same field as the big boys, and get those visitors through your door.

Your Business can become a Data Hub

Every business that is looking to spread their marketing will look at Mobile. You will be in the position to offer businesses just like yours results of the Data that your API has collected. You will suddenly become an expert in your field to other start ups, and other companies within your area of excellence. That’s Power!

You can raise funds for your favorite mission online

As more and more people move away from desktop computers and lap-tops for their major daily online time , and no matter what your business is, you can expect people to get ready to give money based on emotional impulses through their mobile devices to missions that match yours. If you are supporting a major, suddenly fashionable, cause – remember the Ice Bucket challenge – people can access it through your working site, while they are ‘on the go’. This will give them an incredibly positive view of your business, and a reason to come back and visit you for a sale.

Mobile is only the tip of the iceberg. If wearable technology sounds like Science Fiction, and more and more apps.  are being loaded into automobiles, while these cars drive themselves, the entire world is ‘going mobile’ Whatever you learn about this kind of promotions now will get you ready for the next step, as well as pay dividends in the short term.

10 SEO Techniques for Local Businesses – Part 2

local-business-graphicIn our last post, we showed five pointers to a better website, optimized to the local community where your prospects and customers are. They were simple ideas all aimed at making your businesses’ website easily found, organised, and optimized.

For those of you looking for deeper, more advanced level optimisation techniques, either check these out, or get your webmaster to do so, and ensure that your businesses’ window to the community is firing on all cylinders:

  1. Tempting Title Tags

Your best URL is one that explains exactly what your business is, but Title Tags are the best way to give your prospects a complete sentence on what that page of your website is all about. They also mirror your anchor text as it will appear in linked text, so think about what you do, and where, then make sure your title tags reflect this. You have a maximum of 70 words, so you have ample opportunity to add two or three: Hardware Store in Central Chicago, for instance, directs those that need your service to the top of their search results.

  1. Let the People Speak

Make your site accessible to those that want to contact you. Not just E-mail, and perhaps a chat box, but if you write a blog, ensure that those that want to reply to it, can. Customers are impressed when businesses’ talk back to them, we have all heard of the positive comments a “real person actually spoke to me” comment shows. Ensure you start from day one doing this.

  1. Grow your Networks

Ensure you are becoming part of growing communities online, so that those that appear on your various social streams grow in terms of size. Starting with the geographic community you are selling in or to, and the various sub-sets of communities that may shop with you, grow to larger scale Professional Organisations, Industry leaders, larger industry partners, vendors, and customer support groups. Everyone on your social feed should reflect your business as part of a trustworthy, bigger whole.

  1. Just Picture it.

Photographs, graphics, maps are all very good, because, of course ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.

If you can find a reason to place a pictorial, rather than words, do it – but make sure everything looks good: Sharp pictures, bright colours, and exact matches. Check out the business sites you like, and study the pictures they use. They explain, and illustrate a point, but they look professional.

  1. Goldilocks Optimisation

If you try to seed your site with too many keywords, if everything is pointed toward the sale, search engines will smell this, and start marking you down. Be clear, point prospects to your services, but don’t oversell. Be a real person first, someone that prospects will find interesting, and ensure that anyone that bumps into you online gets the point, but don’t hit them over the head with it: be a person, be an expert, and be real.

Not too much of a salesman, not overly shy, but be Goldilocks: Just Right.

How the One-Man Band beats the Symphony Orchestra

one man band

If you’ve ever struggled to develop your business’s presence in today’s major content channels, you aren’t alone. In fact, it appears to be such a Sisyphean task sometimes that many small companies either cannot find the time to start an online branding campaign, or keeping it up when they are getting no responses. Here are a few tips on using your time and your branding vision, to its utmost to gain the highest success rate.

Firstly, concentrate on creating your own quality content, and forgetting ‘what’ other businesses are doing, only noting ‘how’ they are doing it. There are lots of ways you promote your business, but remember that it’s yours: Your idea, your vision, and your future customers and evangelists. Forget the clever, eye catching, ideas that others have. The chances are that they aren’t even in your marketplace, have your prospects, or have your ideas. Just because something is better than you can do, it doesn’t follow that our prospects will have the same positive reaction that you do to these branding points – you are looking from a creator’s point of view, they are browsing.

If you don’t have the staff, or the outsourcing possibilities that other companies do, you could have a march on them. What? Yes…you don’t have to come up with an idea every day, because that’s part of your contract, as a marketing specialist employee. You don’t have to take part in endless meetings, brainstorming compromises, or endless focus groups. Quality trumps quantity, and you have the opportunity to find the time when you post, the content, and how you approach your prospects. You can change direction, throw something new into the mix, and change things up without having to ask for any committee’s Ok to do so.

Check out the auto posting services, organisation tools, and auto-response systems that are on the market these days. Not only are you the sole marketing department, you are also in charge of the budget for your business, so find out how you can automate your content marketing to make the most of your imaginative branding efforts. Is it worth it? While you are making a face-to-face sale, you could be gaining the interest of a prospect, and be in both places at the same time! Whether social, or the result of networking, ensuring that you maximize the time that you have is worth the outlay (especially when these company’s offer free trials) to do it all at once.

Finally learn how to listen to what your prospects are saying. Don’t get too excited about actually receiving a like, or a follow. Find out why the positive reaction came, and hone your marketing to keep attracting the Ideal Customer.

When you are “time-poor”, don’t think it’s too much for you. Learn how to do what you need to in a streamlined manner, and use the right tools to do so. You will compete in your marketplace, and can concentrate on closing the sales that your Branding efforts will bring forward – just give it time.

8 Ways to Use Twitter for Your Branding.

Twitter logoAre you intimidated by Twitter as part of a Marketing campaign? Do you find it difficult to get your point over in the famous 140 character limits without resorting to an unprofessional ‘teen-slang’? There may be some points about this online social community that you are missing. It is definitely a great way to send bulletins, enjoying over 500 Million users, and the host of almost 70% of all public brand mentions on all social media. If you need help to ignite your imagination, recent changes may help. Did you know that you can add photos and Vine videos to your tweets to further engage people?

Here are 8 ways that Tweeters get their information. Try to tweak your message into these structures – they stand out:

1. The Tweet that shares content

Sharing other people’s content is the best way to generate interaction. Include the author’s @Twitter handle and a #relevant hashtag to make the subject matter easier to find.

2. The Tweet that solves problems

Everyone loves to have a problem solved. Share either your content or a link to another website that provides trouble-shooting advice.

3. The Tweet that asks for an answer

Ask questions of your followers that generate discussion, and rewards sharing.

4. The Tweet that adds value

Don’t just click the retweet button, add a brief comment of your own to share your perspective and create engagement.

5. The Tweet that gives advice

Sharing tips and guidance about your industry is a great way to build both your expert status, and credibility.

6. The Tweet that shares the love

Don’t just share content, but add your own ‘thanks’. Don’t forget to include the author’s handle so they see that you acknowledged them.

7. The Fact/Statistic Tweet that offers facts or stats

Similar to the advice share (#5) show stats and facts that inform your followers in the area of interest or industry. Once again, encourage engagement by asking them to learn more via a website link

8. The Tweet that Inspires:

We have all seen these inspirational or motivational quotes. Do you know why: Because they are popular. Once again, re-tweet to share, and encourage others to do so.

Twitter can be not only a great way to brand yourself through, it is very quick to deal with, once you know how people like to share and learn. Don’t be intimidated, get tweeting!

An SEO Crash Course: Part One – On Page SEO

SEO logoStill confused by SEO? Still thinking that this is something that you shouldn’t be involving yourself, because it’s too technical? Think again. With a little research, and – more importantly – an understanding of what the final result should perform for you, you can address many of the basic problems of most business websites.  Small businesses, especially, use websites that are hurriedly put together, or an amateur-looking one. However, most sites’ low rankings can be improved with some tweaking to your site’s code and look. As of this writing, these are some of the most important things that you can ensure your site is doing. Think about what your site is trying to do, and use those answers to fill in the gaps below.

1. Title: This is most important. Keep it as interesting as possible, keep it simple, and answer a question that your prospects will have.

2. Meta Description: The Meta description comes directly under the title. The first 10 words should convey the message. Don’t be a ‘writer’, be a businessman. What do you do, and how do you do it. Speak from the customer’s point of view, and ensure your keywords are included in a natural manner.

3. Meta Keywords:- Forget about them. It is an old fashioned keyword stuffing system that everyone looks down on – including the big search engines. Find more information on this direct from the famous Matt Cutts, and you will get the idea. No matter what any expert says – forget them.

4. Keywords: Use these sparingly, and use synonyms wherever possible. If these phrases don’t fit into regular copy (Think of regular conversation), then change your copy style, or change your keywords. Try to put them no more that 4 or 5 times in an article or post, and find different ways to state them. How to get them? Don’t listen to anyone else. Google will show you how to choose your keywords, what are the most popular ones, how much they cost for a PPC campaign, and your own research will show you who is using them by using search. The only expert on this subject is you.

5. Long-tail keywords: These keyword phrases are usually less expensive as part of a PPC campaign, and are easier to put into prose. You may want to focus on a particular prospect community, and aim keywords directly at them. Now that search engines are getting more and more intuitive, be creative, and ensure that your site can be found. Try two systems of keyword search: Short, and direct and long, and inviting.

6. H1, H2 (Heading): Obviously, your H1 heading describes the overall theme of the copy, and H2 is an examination of a certain area of that these. Look at Magazine articles on how that is done (see? It’s been happening for decades, but no-one really notices it.), and ensure that you Keyword is in the H1 heading.

7. Site load time (page speed):  This is also vitally important. Search Engines don’t like sites that take more than a handful of seconds to load. Whatever you have in your site that is slowing down your load time, get rid of it. Clear, simple prose always beats any ‘special effects’ that you think are cool. Shoppers don’t wait for a site to load, they move on.

8. Image ALT Text: You can ensure that the overall theme of your site is cemented by adding alternative text to every single image on it. If you leave them blank, this is the same as having no instructions to tell Search Engines what the picture is about. If you confuse search engines, you confuse your customers and prospects. Ensure that everything on your site has a reason for being there, and they all point to the same conclusion.

Soon we will look at the best system for Off-page SEO, but concentrate on getting these straight-forward on-page points all doing the same job. It’s like getting all departments of a large company working toward the same goal.

More Linked In Tips

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We received a lot of comments on our last Linked In post, and most of them are concerns about the size of the site. As soon as you become a member, you are inundated with connection requests, and the more you accept, them more ‘come out of the woodwork’. The first reaction, of course, is “Can I be that popular?” So, is there a pattern that you can follow that ensures you maximize your connections from Day One. Or, is there a way you can cull and slim your existing Linked In family?

It is true that Linked In is an incredible tool. Reliable figures show more than 150 million registered users in more than 200 countries and territories with 21.4 million monthly unique U.S. visitors and 47.6 million globally. So, when do you accept, ignore, and respond to invitations to connect?

I look at Linked In as a two-way mirror. If you became interested in someone‘s services that you ‘met’ in this massive networking event, you have the ability to check many details on them, including whom they are connected to. Too many questions that arise when you see this list, will definitely make you think about linking with this person – and the same is true of your connections list. Bear this in mind when you check on your own connections, or a readying yourself to join Linked In for the first time

What is your Strategy?

You don’t want to splash around in this huge pool without too much of an idea why you are there, so think about what you want to achieve, make the target as inclusive as possible, and aim everything at that target. Ask yourself, how do I want to be seen? As an expert, that posts and answers questions lucidly, and based on your entrepreneurial, or experience talents? Or as a beginner that is looking for information?

What is your time commitment?

However you want to be seen, you want to be able to fit it into your daily, or weekly, calendar. Come up with the time that you can spend online reaching that strategy. If it’s an hour a week, or five hours per month, then aim your posting and connecting at that time frame. This trains you to finish thought processes, and be as economical with your information sharing as you can. You don’t want to hook someone with an idea, and then not get back to them for a month – everyone is suffering from the same time deficit, so they will soon forget you. Be clear, concise, and log out giving you plenty of time to get back to your other tasks.

Who is your target audience?

Once again, this comes down to your Value Proposal and your Perfect Customer. Performing searches based on these two benchmarks show you companies, groups, and individuals that fall into those categories, and those alone. Limit your searches to those communities that can help you, and don’t rely on ‘the bigger, the better’ rule. The more contacts a company has, or the more members a group has doesn’t automatically mean that all of these people are good for you. Perhaps they are ‘wanderers’ simply looking for the largest communities they can – don’t become one of those. You will soon be inundated with contact and information requests that completely fill your time commitment. Make your time pay.

Your Connections.

Do you know the people in reality? Do their connections include someone you have met as a real life human being? Do you like them, respect them?

If you don’t know them, do their profiles offer you something that you need, or you admire? Do you have something in common with them. Can you see yourself being connected to these people in reality? Can you do business with them? Do you aspire to be like them for whatever reason?

What groups and companies are they connected to? Can they help your business, or can you add to these group’s knowledge base?

Finally, check out their invitation. Is it personalized to you? This means they want to get to know you. A regular template response means that they are usually connecting ‘en masse’. You don’t want that.

These are simple rules to follow that you will soon get accustomed to. Linked In is a one-of-a-kind resource, but only if you put thought into it that will help you, your business, and your contacts. As with most other marketing tasks, a little forethought saves you a lot of possible problems down the road. A little preparation will ensure that you gain the right people in your contact list, and enjoy trading valuable information with them.

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