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Social Media and Marketing: Using Your Head

September 21st, 2010

During my usual weekly rummage through the delights of the Internet I came across this absolutely wonderful post by Frank Strong, the director of Public Relations at Vocus & PRWeb, a client of TopRank Online Marketing and featured on Top Rank Blog.com. It was called “7 Social Media Lessons from Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid”.

A well crafted, currently relevant (vis a vis Karate Kid 2010) and a fondly nostalgic blog post, it really summed up the best way to approach social media and the ways I myself try to approach it. However, out of all the words of Miyagi wisdom “using head for something other than target” hit home the most for me as I see this applying to all forms of marketing and promotion, not just social media.

The biggest mistake businesses make in marketing is trying to sell.

Marketing (removing advertising and direct mail from this) is not about selling. It is about communicating. It is about building relationships with your customers and those people you want to become your customers. It’s about trust.

And it’s hard to trust someone who just wants you to buy something and doesn’t really appear to care about anything else. This is why successful Twitterers are those who engage and share. This is why successful online (and offline) networkers are those who ask questions and listen. So coming back to social media and Mister Miyagi:

Here are my three Once A Day Tips to help you Use Your Head in social media:

  1. Share something relevant to your area of expertise with your community or
  2. Answer one question or reply to one comment, using your business expertise or personal experience, or
  3. Create a communication that is simply fun, spontaneous or interesting and nothing to do with your business expertise.

If you can do one of these once a day and avoid the sell, then your profile on social media platforms will become more credible and more valuable to the people you share it with. And in turn you’ll find it will become a more effective marketing strategy for you.

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Being Available – it’s all about the contact…

September 17th, 2010

I was reading a great post the other day about how to write a great FAQ page – you can see the whole post here. One of the tips (number 6 actually) was about Being Available to your customers. The point in this case was put a link to your contact page if the customer (or potential customer) has a question that hasn’t been addressed by the FAQ page. And the complaint in this blogger’s case was companies who don’t put their contact details on their website.

And I totally agree. If you don’t put your contact details on your site then it screams “don’t trust us!”. Ok you might not want your address on your site if you work from home (like I do) but there are sites out there that provide products or services but do not have any way for their customers to contact them

I find this so annoying and frustrating especially when it is a business that provides an online service and the only way to get help is to go to their help section which never really does the job. There are many companies out there that seem to be saying “hey thanks for your business and here is what we think you will need to know when using our product or service but if it isn’t then tough”.

I spent hours on one particular online service provider’s site trying to find a phone number or an email and could I? I think you know the answer.

So what’s my point? Well there are two.

If you use your website as a place for your customers to find out more about you or manage the service they receive from you then it is crucial to make sure they can contact you as easily as possible.

The second, is not as well known maybe but just as important, you may not want your home address on your business website and that’s fair enough, but it is a legal requirement to have your full company details and registered address on your website. It doesn’t have to be on your contact page but it can go on your Website Terms of Use page. (If you don’t have one of those on your site, get one now!)

So make sure your contacts details are on your site and that when someone does get in touch you try to get back to them as soon as you can. Customers only stay customers if they feel valued, and that means they need to feel they are important enough for you to stay in touch with them and to let them get in touch with you.

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Authentic Networking finally takes shape

September 14th, 2010

You may remember (or may not as it has been a while since I updated this blog – just blame the fact of being Just Too Busy!) that I did a post on how to make networking work for your business. If you don’t remember, and I won’t blame you if you don’t, then here is the full article from last November : “Networking: How to make it work for your business”.

Well, I am delighted to say that the authentic networking I mentioned in that article has now taken shape as an actual, real-live event: the new Authentic Networking group for small businesses based in Horsham, Worthing and everywhere in between.

Now in the context of a potentially (if not actually) global blog, that probably doesn’t sound like much. But for me it is a personal achievement that I have been wanting to do for some time.

I am a member of some excellent networking groups, but I’ve always felt that networking isn’t always undertaken with the right mindset – hence the formation of Authentic Networking.

Our first meeting is on 28th September at Whites Bar & Kitchen in Steyning, West Sussex and the attendee list for this fledgling group is looking very healthy indeed. So if you are, or know of, a business based in West Sussex that would like to do some authentic networking for their business then have a look at the site. And I hope to see you (or them) there.

Not much else to say on this, except hopefully it won’t be so long between posts. :)

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Is Your Business Wearing a Wedding Dress?

April 26th, 2010

It’s a blind date and you’ve been set up by your BFF with one of her boyfriend’s work colleagues. You’ve spent most of the afternoon getting ready, you’re on your way to the snazzy restaurant you both settled on and you’re starting to get a little nervous and wondering if he’ll be attractive, nice, interesting or funny – or all of the above.

Then you walk through the door and none of that matters. He takes one look at you and bolts through the back door! What did you do wrong? You didn’t even get to say hello. What on earth could have caused him to flee so suddenly?

Do you think the fact that you are wearing a wedding dress just might have had something to with it? Err duh! Of course! Who turns up to a blind date in a wedding dress? It screams D E S P E R A T E!!! And no-one wants to go out with someone who is that desperate – do they?

So is your business wearing a wedding dress?

What I’m really asking is: are you desperate for more clients? Has the last year and the economic crisis had a negative impact on your business? Is your business struggling? Would you do anything to get a flood of new clients through the door?

If you answered YES to any of these questions or would answer yes to anything remotely similar then your business is wearing a wedding dress and your clients and potential clients can probably tell that you are – just as easily as that guy could see the wedding dress (and his blind date) walking through the door of that snazzy restaurant!

The one thing that won’t get you more clients, more business, more money is looking like you are desperate for any of them. The key to having clients that are confident in you and your business is to maintain that confidence yourself. After all, most small businesses go through a quite patch at some point – mine did last summer – but what I didn’t do was panic.

Yes I was worried – it’s not nice to have a quiet time when you run your own business it’s lonely out there – but I stayed confident in what I was offering and the one thing I didn’t do was turn up in a wedding dress.

So what does a business wearing a wedding dress look like?

Quite simply it looks like any business that is doing this:

  • Slashing their prices left, right and centre
  • Over-marketing to the same groups of people or subscribers – this includes too many emails or too much follow-up
  • Knee-jerking by trying to create new services or products without really planing them properly or thinking them through
  • Coming on too strong in potential sales situations and then giving away too much too easily
  • And many more

And just as turning up to a blind date in a wedding dress can be a bit frightening to the other party, so are the actions of any business that is panicking. People are turned off by it and may ultimately wonder if there is something wrong with your business which is causing you to panic.

So, even if times have been or still are tough -and they are for many – the one thing not to do is panic. Your customers and potential customers will know it and this will not encourage them to walk through your door but rather run the other way.

Confident marketing and branding is always important but never more so when things are hard and it’s easy to have a wobbly. Have a sit down and think about what it is that is keeping customers away (it’s usually more than just money) and see what you can do to fix it in terms of your marketing or your business model. Get creative and have fun with it – after all you have some time on your hands so you might as well stay positive and put it to good use!

Just remember to keep that wedding dress locked tightly away in the closet and make sure you have your best Marc Jacobs or Caroline Herrera outfit on!

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Quick-Start, Kick-Start Marketing Checklist

February 15th, 2010

How to quick-start, kick-start your marketing….

If you know you should be doing marketing for your business but aren’t getting round to it then here are a few ideas to get your marketing off the ground, quickly:

  1. Find ONE networking group in your area and go along as a guest – more groups will let you participate as a member and you can meet new people quickly and easily without spending a fortune. It will also give you the opportunity to see if you might even want to join that networking group. If, however, you don’t think it’s for you then you haven’t spent a fortune to find this out.
  2. Sort out your email signature – if this doesn’t have – at the very least – your website address and your phone number in it – along with your logo, then you are wasting a FREE marketing opportunity every single time you send out an email. Ideally your email signature should also have a client testimonial in it and you can think about changing that every few months or so and perhaps promoting any special offers you have going on.
  3. Either start a blog or find one that perhaps you can guest post on. This is more simple than it sounds: go into Google Reader, browse or search for different types of blogs that have a relevance for your area of expertise or knowledge, visit the blog and send the owner an email offering your guest post services. You will get yourself some quick and easy online exposure (especially if it is a well-read blog) as your post will have your name, business and web link in it.

That’s it: a 1,2,3 way to quick-start, kick-start your marketing. It’s always hard to find time to market your business but if you need more customers then, without marketing, how do you think they are going to know about you?

Go on, get started today!!

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Internet Marketing versus ‘real’ marketing – a RANT!

February 10th, 2010

Yes I am having a rant!

Very simply, it really frustrates me to see “Internet Marketing” being touted as the answer to a small business’s marketing dreams. I come across so many instances of pure marketing being substituted with Internet marketing that I wonder if anyone who reads that information will ever move beyond the IM holy grail of building a list, selling online products and holding teleseminars and workshops (oh and don’t forget the flagship product of exclusive one-to-one coaching.)

So yes I am having a rant about how Internet marketing is portrayed and then perceived by its intended audience. What do I mean?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Marketing Basics: Article Writing & Submission

January 19th, 2010

Spreading the word – proving your expertise!

Article writing and its online distribution is an excellent, low-cost way to market your business and it achieves a number of very positive things for your business and your profile. It:

  • Establishes your knowledge and expertise on your chosen topic
  • Enables you to communicate with your target market (and more) on any topic of your choice (of course it should be relevant to them)
  • Provides a forum via your author biography or article resource box for you to ‘brazenly’ promote your business (in conjunction with the expertise piece this works really well)
  • Creates inbound links to drive people to your website or blog (as long as you remember to include the URL in your bio or resource box!)
  • Raises your profile and adds to your credibility as an expert
  • Gives your target market the opportunity to learn more about your field of expertise (and your business) in a non-sales way
  • Has a positive impact on your website’s page ranking and SEO results rankings
  • Provides you with a range of information that you can leverage in a number of other ways such as using the information for a newsletter, a blog post, put it on your website, use in a presentation, part of an ebook or series and more….

So you can see that just by writing one article and submitting it online the results of that can be impressive. Of course, the more articles you write the better and more impressive the results will be. It won’t work just to submit one article – but it is a start!

And that’s where most people STOP!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Ooh we’re all becoming teenagers…..!

December 22nd, 2009

No it’s not a magic trick or plastic surgery on a global scale or even some airborne virus from Fringe, but quite bizarrely we are about to enter the decade of the teens – the 20 teens and we are all about to become teenagers again. Woo…. Hoo?

It’s weird, I used to look at my driving licence after I had just passed my test and think WOW, 2043 – I can drive until then? I’ll be sooooooo old. :) And yes it’s still a way away, but now I am on the ‘other’ side of the divide and the fact that we are about to go into 2010 just drives home the fact that another year has passed us by and time just will not stop! Boo time!

I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, I just felt the need to express my thoughts about this, because like me I just know you are probably sitting thinking – crap that year went fast and I’m soooo glad it’s over over OR crap that year went fast – it was soooo much fun. Whichever it is for you: “Crap that year really went fast!” Read the rest of this entry »

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SEO for small business – a ridiculous argument!

December 17th, 2009

That got your attention didn’t it? LOL!

OK I just read the most ridiculous series of comments on a post from a blog I subscribe to (well used to subscribe to) – the original post was a response to another post that raised the question of validity of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for small businesses – but it turned into a slanging match between two obviously diametrically opposed ‘experts’ on SEO. As far as I am concerned there is no question on the validity of SEO for small businesses – it is a must and this post looks at why…

But first, back to the argument. It really annoyed me. Do you know why it annoyed me so much? Because in this slanging match you could tell these two SEO ‘experts’ (yes I use the inverted commas sarcastically because in the slanging match they conducted themselves as anything but) were more interested about trying to out-do the other, rather than discussing the real issue of whether SEO is still important for small business got totally pushed to one side. So I take up the slack and look at that here – without any slanging whatsoever.

The weird thing is I actually agreed with some points on both sides of the argument. Oh and the argument was: Is SEO still important for small businesses? (One said NO the other said emphatically and just a little rudely YES! Oh and at one point to highlight the ridiculousness of it all were arguing about the use or non-use of a question mark! Yep I know – crazy!)

Ok, so let’s forget about the silliness and get cracking… Read the rest of this entry »

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What to do when you’re suffering from Christmas stress….

December 16th, 2009

You WILL enjoy yourself this time of year, and make sure everyone else does, even if you have to half kill yourself to do it…..

DON’T…. GIVE…. IN…!

Yeah, that makes sense. Off you go.

Regardless of your religion – or whether you even have one – Christmas time brings about a change to our daily lives – and it starts about November 1st. Joy be to all – yes and we have to put up with it for longer and longer every year.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE CHRISTMAS! I really do. I love the excitement and anticipation of it all – both as a kid and a big kid with little ones of my own now. I love the socialness of Christmas – the thought of getting together with people you might not have seen all year due to the pace of every day life. And I love the carols, the fayres, the decorations and the giving of presents. I love it all.

But I DON’T love it – for 7 weeks before the day itself. I DON’T love the pressure to buy all the latest gadgets and toys. I DON’T love the commerciality of it all, I DON’T love chocolate advent calendars (what happened to the excitement of the different pictures each day and the countdown being enough?) and I certainly DON’T love the putting up of decorations before 13th December. So yes I guess you could say I’m a Christmas purist. And that means I am determined to enjoy myself this time of year despite it being rammed down throat for sooooooo long – and I will do it without the stress.

Read the rest of this entry »

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