Archives for May 2012

Mobile Marketing Tsunami: 4 Reasons Mobile Is Taking Over

As the world becomes increasingly reliant on smart phones and instant information, business owners will need to direct more of their attention to mobile marketing as a means of reaching their target market. With useful search results and actionable business intelligence, mobile marketing is going to annihilate other marketing methods that have been around for far longer.

Why will mobile marketing overtake other popular marketing strategies? Here are a few facts to help explain why marketing to mobile customers is so important to your business.

1. Mobile Marketing is more effective than any other marketing method ever. For starters, people have their smart phones with them all the time and say they are reachable all the time. 91% of people have their mobile phones with arms-reach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Is there any other marketing method that provides access to targets 91% of the time? No.

2. Mobile coupon redemption rates are significantly higher (10 times higher) than standard coupon redemption rates (Source: Borrell Associates). Additional studies show that 90% of mobile searchers take action, 70% take action within an hour (Source: Google).

3. Mobile users don’t want to miss out just because they are out and about. They don’t use their mobile phones to do research. They use their mobile phones to buy. Over half of mobile searches lead to purchase (Source: Google). Your mobile customers are the ones who want to snap up your great deals.

4. Mobile marketing is more targeted than any other advertising method. You combine the knowledge of online marketing (cookies, past sites visited and history) with location. Mobile marketing will become more specific, more targeted, more immediate and more powerful than it is even today.

Estimates show that by 2016 mobile marketing will account for 15.2 percent of global online ad spend to become a 22.4 billion dollar piece of the marketing pie. Experts believe that between 60% and 70% of Americans will have smartphones by 2016. The mobile audience will become increasingly savvy, increasingly focused and increasingly ready to buy immediately.

For many business owners, the mobile marketing tsunami is just beginning and the winds of profitable change are starting to sweep through. What do you have planned to stay on top of the growing wave of mobile marketing?

How To Take Your Brand Seriously

How customers look at your brand sets the wheels in motion whether they will purchase from you or not. What are they thinking? Are they getting what you stand for? Is your image and brand promise resonating with them? How is your positioning affecting how a customer reacts? Here are some observations that might help you understand how even the little things can be taking opportunity out of reach:

1) Amateur Logos
Designed as art not a communications tool. Why is it you can tell the national brands from the local brands just by the design of a logo? The designer takes a world view. They take into a count the use and audience and deliver consistently.

2) eMail
Maybe it’s just me, but I find it very hard to take a brand seriously when their emails use gmail not their domain. I’m told that they’re worried about spam. Get over it and start pushing your brand. [email protected] says so much more than [email protected]

3) Authenticity
You might say you’re a coach, a mentor a leader but you’re not acting like one. As a matter of fact so many in this category don’t take their own advice. I know many in my region who profess to be management consultants but who have never had any reasonable level of success. Their advising out of someone else’s book. Be authentic – be yourself. I knew a person who sold CRM software but never used the system they were selling. Authentic?

4) Consistency of Everything
If I can take myself as an example. From the first point of contact through delivery and follow-up, my image and message are absolutely consistent. If we were to meet, you’d see me in my trade mark black and logged shirt. I’m approachable and willing to give free advice on the spot. When you ask for my card it too carries my brand colours. The same goes for my brochures, marketing materials, website, blog, social sites etc. Everywhere you check me out your sense of my brand will grow. The consistency develops trust. I appear to walk the walk. That is important. If given the chance to perform it is my opportunity to carry on this consistency of brand.

5) Invest in Yourself
This one kills me. I’m amazed how many business people tell me reasons why they can’t or won’t invest in themselves. Everything is on the cheap, looking for grandiose results. Only this week, I had a marketing person from a local Chrysler dealership proudly show me the flyer their 9 year old daughter designed and they were sending it out to win business. It was cute, but incredulous that they would even consider it. If they fail to get the result, my guess is they will fault everything BUT that 9 year old effort.

Another example is training. I was told by a business person that nobody would attend an all day session with an expert simply because the cost was $650 including lunch. Too rich. Really!? 7 hours of instruction for under $100. an hour. If this doesn’t convince, how about that it’s a right off. At tax time you mean you’d rather give $650 to the government for nothing rather than invest in yourself? The real opportunity is that for a handful of cash you will get real advice that makes you more money and perceivably much more than the training cost.

To have your brand taken seriously you must take yourself seriously. If you’re not worth the effort your brand has no foundation. Would you buy from a brand like yourself? If you even had to think about that question, tells me that you’ve got work to do.

How to Build a Reputation as an Expert with Content Marketing

To understand what content marketing is about, you have to be clear about what you want (and can) achieve with it and how you can get there with the tight content. The reason why Social Media for B2B seems to be so much harder than B2C is due to the totally different processes in the two.

Where in B2C an advertisement might bring you to buy a new pair of shoes – in B2B you are not likely to choose a business partner because you saw an add. The reason is easy: the wrong pair of shoes will be forgotten in a cupboard after a short while, the wrong business partner in B2B business could easily prove fatal or at least result in significant lower ROI (and some shoes you cannot afford to buy).

The impact of a decision in B2B networking and collaboration on your business can be strong, the bigger the possible impact on your business the more careful you choose and the more certain you want to be, that the person or company you are going to work with, is an expert in their field. That needs more reputation and trust than you will ever be able to create with an advertisement.

Reputation and Expertise:

Even though the main goal for all marketing efforts probably is to increase sales or find new business opportunities, in B2B Social Media and content marketing you have to step back and rethink marketing. In B2B Social Media what you really go for, is to build a reputation as a thought leader and expert in your field.

Unfortunately people will most likely not believe you, if you just say you are an expert. You have to prove/show it. The way to do that is quite similar to the ways you already know from offline work: inform, answer questions, explain, analyse, communicate, be helpful. If you give people the information they are seeking or needing, they are likely to turn to you in case they need something (a collaboration partner or a service provider) in your field.

What kind of content and where to publish?

Where offline you speak on conferences, write articles for industry publications or talk to colleagues and acquaintances on events – online the spectre of possibilities is much wider, the reached audience can be larger and the variety of content you can publish and spread is huge. That does not exactly make getting started easier. There is no right or wrong way to do B2B Social Media via content marketing that can be applied to every industry, every situation and every piece of content. What works one day can be fruitless the next. What works for one business or industry can fail for another. You have to try out, listen and communicate – and learn.

There are uncountable possibilities for content. You can use diverse formats like videos, texts, graphics, and pictures. Some ideas for stellar content you might not have thought of before and some examples of people who do a great job in content marketing are given in this White Paper about Content Marketing “The Social Media Way of Life for B2B Experts and Content Marketers” .

Why are Content Marketing and B2B Social Media related?

Once you have created great content, you want as many people (from your target group) as possible to see it. There is no doubt, that social media can reach a lot of people – if you get it right. Even though there are more factors in the equation why something gets spread in social media than just the quality of the content. But the quality of posts and the value they represent for your audience does not only influence the readiness of people to share and recommend, it also helps you build a following, which is crucial in social media to get more attention.

Social Media is only one channel to publish and spread content – but it is the channel with the largest possibilities. But take into account, that there are great differences between all the social networks out there, not only do they work in different ways, but the users also expect something different. Also some of the networks are good for publishing, some of them are better for spreading the word. For a deeper analysis of the main networks again have a look at the Whitepaper “The Social Media Way of Life for B2B Experts and Content Marketers”

How to get started

Once you have decided on the content you can provide and with which to reach your audience, you have to figure out where to publish it. First choice will probably be your own blog or company blog. Downside of this might be, that visibility for your own page (blog or homepage) does not come for free.

If you already have an active and interested audience for you blog – lucky you. If not, consider using a content publishing platform, that comes with an interested audience. As reader of your blog tend to be from the same field of interest as you, a professional content marketing site is also a great addition to your own blog, if you are looking for new connections outside your usual field of interest.

Once you have published you want your content to spread. You can wait for that to happen on itself. Chances are that you need a lot of good content before you see that happen. So it is a good idea to help your content along.

On all social sites the rule applies: the more good content you have already shared, the more attention your new content will get. So a very important fact about content marketing is: continuity. Having the best of content pieces once, will probably not get you the attention you are looking for. But consistently producing great content will in the end pay off.

8 Ways To Get More Out Of Your Chamber Of Commerce Membership

There are many reasons to join your local Chamber of Commerce. Some of the obvious ones are networking opportunities, community involvement, and the trust that Chamber affiliation builds with your customers. Of course, there are many more benefits you receive from becoming a Chamber member, but many people don’t fully enjoy them. They wrongly assume that by simply paying their annual membership dues lots of new business and friends will automatically show up. Without understanding how to make their Chamber experience work for them they give up on the Chamber in frustration.

Get Out Of The Chamber What You Put In

I’ve been a member of many Chambers of Commerce over the years and even served on several of their committees. That experience has given me the advantage of having talking to hundreds of Chamber members about their experience. Some people have felt the Chamber didn’t benefit them at all, while others claim it allowed their business to grow exponentially. How can two members of the same organization have two very different experiences? The answer is that you get out of the Chamber what you put into it.

If all you do is pay your membership fee you will get a welcome letter and a nice sticker to put on your front door. However, if you invest in building trusting, professional relationships with others through the Chamber the rewards in leads, sales, and friendships are potentially game changing for your business. Here are several ways to get more out of the Chamber by investing in other members.

1. Sign up for their newsletters or updates.
A great way to learn more about your peers at the Chamber and how you can support their business is to sign up for their company newsletter, ezine, or weekly email.

2. Support them online.
Support other Chamber members through any of the social media outlets they use and tell your network about them as well. Have you experienced their service or product first hand? Show your support by writing positive product reviews online.

3. Submit their news to other groups you are part of.
Be sure to share your Chamber peers’ news with other groups you may be part of. Think about professional, LinkedIn, or civic groups for example.

4. Invite them to be part of your seminars.
Invite fellow Chamber members to come speak at your company functions or the business seminars you are hosting. They will appreciate the opportunity to showcase their area of expertise and you will enhance your event with guest speakers.

5. Share or trade skills and expertise.
We are all experts at something. What is your “something”? Share that something with someone else at the Chamber. If you are good at writing ad copy and someone else is good at printing sales flyers then offer to share skills. You will probably help each attract more business this way.

6. Introduce them to your friends.
Be the first person to approach new Chamber members when they arrive. Be friendly and introduce them to others in the group. Your gesture will be remembered and appreciated forever.

7. Bring them to other functions.
Perhaps you are member of other organizations in addition to the Chamber. Invite one or two of your Chamber peers to attend other functions with you as your guest. Introduce them to your other associates. This will increase their circle of connections and you will look like a master networker.

8. Use their business first.
Support your fellow Chamber members by giving them preference when you shop. For example, if you need replacement windows for your home and one of the window companies is a Chamber member, give that company your business. Even if they cost a little more, the goodwill your business generates can be invaluable.

5 Ways to Get More Customers from Your Website

Every small business wishes they could drive more traffic to their website and get more customers. The big question is how do you drive more profits from your website? There are several ways to convert more web visitors into paying customers. Here are 5 ideas to try.

1. Improve Your Web Design

Has your website been updated since 1998? If it hasn’t, stop reading and fix your website before you do anything else. Seriously, your website design should be updated every couple of years.

2. Put a Phone Number PROMINENTLY on Your Website

I am routinely stunned by the number of companies that don’t have a phone number prominently displayed on their website. Sometimes they’ll bury the phone number in the ‘Contact Us’ section. Retail chains will sometimes force visitors to click on ‘Locations’ before they see a phone number.

Why would you make it difficult for someone to find your phone number? Phone calls are the most valuable contact a customer can make. If someone calls they are more likely to buy from you. Why would you hide a phone number? Instead of hiding it, you should put your phone number in a prominently location ‘above the fold’ of the website.

This phone number should be a local or toll free number provided by a call tracking company. This will allow you to track how many people call that phone number and help you figure out if your website is producing profits for you.

3. Make it Clear What you Do

Have you ever been to a website and after 2 or 3 minutes you still can’t tell what the company does? It is a common problem. Make sure your website clearly tells visitors what you offer.

4. Track Visitors and Calls to Your Website

We have a lot of small business clients. The other day I was talking with one and he said ‘I don’t even know why I have a website, it doesn’t work.’ I asked him why he thought it didn’t work. He said that his customers are usually walk-in customers or they find him in the phonebook. They don’t visit his website.

Here’s the problem: he literally has no idea what he’s talking about because he isn’t using a free web analytics tool like Google Analytics.

If you have a website, you should be tracking web traffic as well as tracking leads from phone calls generated by that website. If you aren’t tracking those things, you shouldn’t have a website.

5. Add Valuable Content

If you want Google to like your website and improve your search ranking, and if you want potential customers to buy from you after visiting your website, you need to create valuable content on your website. This doesn’t mean that you need to turn into an expert blogger. It does mean that you should start to improve your site content. Write interesting content or pay someone else to do it.

Why PDF is the Go-To File Format for Business

The PDF file format has become the publishing standard for most companies and businesses worldwide, particularly in the last decade and half – and with good reason.

Turning your documents into PDFs makes them immediately smaller, more mobile and generally easier to use. The versatility of the PDF is another aspect that makes it so perfect for business documents. This format enables you to deliver, share and store your business documents in an increasingly versatile and cost-effective manner, and it provides guarantees that the person to whom you are sending the PDF will receive a document that is universal and very easy to view, navigate, store, print and share.

If you are still not convinced that PDF is the most reliable and convenient format for all your business needs, here are five points that will provide some food for thought.

Stay Compatible

The best thing about PDF documents is that they always look the same for everyone. There is never any re-pagination or missing font issues to deal with, as is the case with most word processing documents. This is very important for business documents due to legal reasons, especially when dealing with contracts and agreements that must look exactly the same for all parties involved.

This is also important when dealing with application forms, tax returns, tender documents, invoices and things of that nature. PDFs ensure that the files sent to clients can be viewed across different computers and through various operating systems and platforms, without any change in the look and feel of the original document .

Become Versatile

The things that you can do with a PDF are virtually limitless. For example, you can make PDFs searchable, making them easier to navigate. So if you receive a long business document, you will be able to use the search function and find what you are looking for easily and quickly without having to read the entire document. PDF can also be magnified hundreds of times without losing any of its quality.

This is especially important when looking at visual aids like graphs and charts that might have a lot of small details and is essential when giving presentations. You’ll never miss the fine print in a PDF, because you’ll always be able to magnify it and see it. It is also the ideal format for storing and archiving documents. It is a self-contained and highly compressed medium that effectively manages bitmaps, vectors and text, which makes the PDF the perfect format for archiving and record keeping.

Protect Yourself

Documents are all potentially subject to manipulation and these types of things can be dangerous for any business. Fortunately, when using documents converted into PDF, they are at a significantly lower risk of being tampered with. PDFs offer 40-bit and 128-bit encryption, as well as password-restricted viewing, copying, and even printing. It also allows the application of watermarking to enable users to “digitally emboss” their documents with a unique watermark of their own that further protects all important business documents from being misused or tampered with.

Keep it Compact

The small file size of a PDF enables it to be easily share and store your business documents. The PDF masters what other file formats have not been able to do with compression and drastically reduces document size while preserving the document quality. Because of this, using PDFs significantly reduces costly bandwidth and storage issues. Converting graphics, spreadsheets and word processor documents to PDF reduces document size significantly, which adds up to real savings in expensive email server storage and bandwidth congestion. It also means significant time is being saved in retrieving emails from the server.

Save Money

In order to view a PDF, you don’t have to buy any special type of program. You can pick from a variety of available free PDF Readers to download. Sending PDFs is like having an incredibly fast and reliable color fax machine within your computer that allows you to send high quality documents more effectively than ever. Since it is compatible with just about every computer, your days of printing out material are over – not only for distributing documents, but for archiving your documents as well.

Thanks to the PDF, document management has never being easier for businesses and advancements in PDF technology continue to work to the advantage of the businesses, big and small, that are constantly looking for versatility, convenience, reliability and security.

How Turning Your Brand Around Can Be Like A New Pair Of Shoes.

Are you in this precarious position? Sales are flat. You’ve downsized as much as the business can stand. You’ve streamlined your processes to be more productive. You and the staff haven’t experienced a raise in some time. Moral is tenuous. What to do – what to do? It’s a scary position but every entrepreneur carries the word risk with them every day.

About 10 years ago I too was in this position. We wished our sales were flat. They were actually declining and the credit line was growing. We were looking for solutions in a fast changing economy. We discovered an opportunity in attending an industry conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The down side was the cost to attend for the week was in the $10,000 range. At the time the Canadian dollar was $1.40 for every American dollar. Ouch. What to do – what to do?

Well we (I had a partner at the time) decided that we already owed a large some of money, what was $10,00 more? What we couldn’t do – was nothing. You have to look for opportunities. Sitting back and hoping it will solve itself isn’t a smart option. As a matter of fact, a lot of that attitude carried us to this point. The conference topics addressed issues we were trying to tackle on our own. We needed another perspective. We had to talk to others within our industry and see where they stood.

Suffice to say, the conference was an epiphany. We were buried in deep conversation, morning, noon and evening. We were enlightened by similar experiences and brilliant concepts for success. That conference was a turning point for me personally. On our return, we were contacted by a few individuals we met at the conference with an interesting proposal. How would we like to carry on the conversation for the betterment of all? What this question gave birth to was a quarterly meeting with a handful of individuals who for the last ten years, meets every quarter at a member’s city and spends an entire friday, brain storming with the sole intention of helping each other succeed. We call the group “MOOB”, (Mind Our Own Business). As a matter of fact we meet in Gary, Indiana next friday (May 18th).

Are you letting money hold you back? Are you allowing fear to keep you from embracing a solution that is within your grasp? Are you throwing up barriers where you should be hurtling them? This article was inspired by a call I made recently with a lead I got. They definitely saw the benefit of strengthening their brand and clearly saw how it could increase sales. Short funds held them back. I was perplexed. If you see a path to increased sales, wouldn’t it offset the cost of the solution that could get you there? Obviously there are other internal issues holding them back. What ever the dilemma, doing nothing is not the solution.

Every entrepreneur including myself have been in their shoes. Some of us will bite the bullet and get new shoes. The rest struggle along with worn soles and a scuffed appearance. Nothing delivers like a new pair of shoes and a new attitude. Naturally the fit is important, but once you’ve done your due diligence, take them out of the box and try them on. It’s the first step in a powerful new brand journey.

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