What do I mean by your elevator pitch? It’s that quick, succinct answer you give when someone asks “what do you do?”It’s also the foundation of your messaging. It’s what makes you unique and I urge you to consider yours if you haven’t for a while.
A friend of mine runs a family-owned plumbing business. And he asked me for help growing his business outside of his existing customers, who were mostly repeat customersMy first question to him was: what do you guys do? His response; well we’re a family owned plumbing business, been around since 1930’s, you can trust us.OK, I pushed further, what makes you unique? Well we train all of our guys, more highly trained than any others, so we do the job right the first time. And we show up when we say we will, and we’re clean and respectable. We all wear uniforms and don’t track mud into your home.
If you’re not already, I urge you to consider using an email service provider:Email service providers are easy to use and cost effective and can significantly increase your productivity. And they can help in a variety of ways-organization-automation-consistency with templates-deliverability (service provider works closely with Gmail, Hotmail to ensure messages go through)These are often cheap and can really increase productivityExamples of providers are Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, and Silverpop (for advanced users)
Engaging your best customers is what will keep your business top of mind. Routinely emailing these customers with an interesting message is an art-form every business owner needs to master. -Build a list of interested customers-Know what you want to achieve – more sales, generate referrals, provide information/expertise-Emails must be personalized, visually appealing and provide interesting content
After all the time you spent personalizing and crafting your email, the reader still only spent 10 seconds skimming it (Hey, At least they opened it!). Were the important points obvious enough that they understood what the email was about? -Use callouts for the most important information-Make requests actionable and easy/quick to follow through on-Be aware that images may not always appear depending on the viewer’s settings
You should always be following tracking metrics associated with your email blasts. Email service providers have automatic summaries that you should know how to read. Important metrics include: -Deliverability – Did everyone all of the email addresses you sent the message to work?-Open Rate – Who took the time to click into your email?-Revenue Per Email Sent – What was your ROI on the email blast?Knowing what intrigues your customer base and generates the best response isn’t always intuitive. Don’t be afraid to test different styles of messaging or different formats for the email.-Utilize your analytics (same as metrics from the previous tips) to determine an email’s success-Try sending at different times (Best practice: B2C on weekends or evenings, B2B Tuesday-Thursday)-test subject lines-length of email-how many graphics you use
TheFCC has stringent SPAM and privacy laws that regulate how you can market to people via email. -Be aware of rules against spam-Again, use an email service provider to aid in compliance-Customers on your list should have opted into the mailing listEXAMPLE - Don’t use FREE (in caps), lots of exclamation points – Often gets you caught in the SPAM filterCan-Spam – Legal regulations to deter SPAM (REFERNCE - link to those guide on handout)-Tell recipient how to unsubscribe-Physical Address at the bottom of the email
Twitter, Facebook? Do people still use MySpace? How many social networks should you be a part of? The answer is notall of them. Finding where your audience lives online is key to determining where you should be placing your social media efforts.-Realize what social media sites your potential customers are on and focus your message thereEXAMPLE:Do you only sell B2B products to farmers? The likelihood that they are spending significant time on Facebook is unlikely. Instead look to a site like Agweb.com. There are frequent blog postings by experts, and also 10’s of thousands of posts about farming on the discussion board. Visiting this site to ask thought provoking questions, or providing helpful answers to show expertise would be a far better use of you “social media” time.
Once you decide where your audience is online, you’ll need a plan on how to reach them. Thoughtful contributions to conversations your target market is having helps to demonstrate your expertise – which is often the value proposition for a small business. Be aware this requires a serious investment of your time. -Telling an intern to create a page doesn’t cut it-You need to be posting interesting content and updates regularly
Creating a refined and appealing message out can be so time consuming that you may forget to listen to your customers comments. -Develop strategies to get your customers to interact with you - Comments and Likes are metrics that help you gauge what the audience wants to see-Thank customers that take the time to respond, they like to know they’ve been heard
Remember not all responses will be positive. Many upset customers have no problem airing dirty laundry on a public forum. -Establish a policy for responding to negative feedback, -keep it consistent and professional -Customers appreciate active response to concerns from customers-Also highlight your posting policy. Make clear postings can be deleted at your discretion, particularly if they are abusive, obscene or contain SPAM. -Set Up a Google Alert with your company name to track what people are saying about your company in areas of the web you may not monitor regularly
Speaking of google alerts: do you have them set up for you, your company, and your products/services? Google alerts are an easy way to track what people are saying about you.
There are many basic level best practices that allow you to be optimized for search engines. Avoiding SEO is only hurting your companies chances of finding new customers. -The fundamentals are extremely important, getting those down is a essential (Reference – SEO MOZ beginner’s guide to SEO)-An SEO specialist may be your best option but avoid those that guarantee rankings – they’re lying to you from the startWhat does SEO mean for a small business?-Growing a customer base-Legitimacy, people are accustomed to click on top search results-Establishing a brand name related to a certain product (likely that means locally) EXAMPLE – A tree branch fell in my back yard, so I typed Atlanta Tree removal. This type of search likely focuses on local companies, is your tree removal service going to be at the top of that list?
Get listed in directories so that people can find your company (Manta). Name, Address, Phone Number-Find where your company is listed online and own that information, make corrections where you need to-All references to any part of N.A.P. should be consistent. -Local phone numbers are important for searches to define a company as being in a specific area
keep driving instructions below the full addressIf there is any question about it do the Copy and Paste Test-Copy your current address and past it into Google, did your location appear without difficulty?
When your customer is searching for a company or product, what keywords would they choose to put in a search engine?-Test this by showing a picture of your product (or even a competitors) to 10 employees or friends and ask them to write how they would search for that product. The variety of results will probably surprise you.-Use tools like those provided by Google AdWords Keyword tool (reference) to find most searched keywordsEXAMPLE: Don’t just pick the most common keywords. You need keyword phrases that you have a chance of winning. If you were to base most of you keywords on “Apple iPod” you will still likely be ranked on page 1,000 or higher in a google search. Combining “iPod” with “billings” and “service center” or “official retailer” is a way of identifying your niche.
They have some intelligence but they need to be guided. The clearer you can make instructions, the easier it is for them to understand. Saying you breed of the best dogs does little to guide a search engine. -What breeds do you specialize in? -Why is your service more effective? -What differentiates your business from others?*Define your Niche
-Don’t try “keyword stuffing” (i.e. putting lots of keywords at the bottom of a page) you will get punished for this.-Instead build content with the keywords you would like found in the form of blog posts, etc.-Do not use white text on a white background to hide keywords-Do not buy links-This is called “Black Hat SEO” and do it will get you punished or even de-listed from search enginesEXAMPLE - At one point BMW was completely delisted from Google for some of the black hat techniques they were employing which included “doorway pages” that showed the search engine one page, and visitors to the site a different page.
What question should you ask every customer or prospect you come across?Right – how did they find you? And don’t settle for the typical response: I found you online. Urge them to give you more detail, which specific sites and searches did they use?
20 Tips for Marketing Your Product or Service Online Kristy Campbell Director of Marketing Tweeting the Tips? Use: #Manta20Tips @kcampbell72 @Manta1
What is Manta? The world’s largest small business community.2
Why do more than 1,500 business owners – like you – join Manta every day? • To promote their business and be found by customers • To connect with prospects, partners, and vendors • To share tips and learn best practices from other business owners3
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The Biggest Fear of the Small Business Owner Im not marketing 38% effectively Ill never be able 33% to retire I cant stay abreast of new 20% technology Source: ECSB, 20115