Tag Archives: tips for small business marketing

Twitter to swim with the big fishes in business marketing

Most of the Twitter users who use it to promote their small business expect their company’s use of the popular microblogging tool to increase during the next six months, according to a recent survey by MarketingProfs.

The informal survey revealed that the practice of using Twitter as a business tool is gaining acceptance as an important piece of social media marketing. According to the MarketingProfs survey, 84% of respondents say their company’s use of Twitter will increase, with 46% saying the increase will be by a “significant” margin.

Twitter as a business tool

Twitter as a business tool

Compared to other social media tools, Twitter ranks second only to company blogs in perceived value. Company blogs and Twitter still rank ahead of LinkedIn and Facebook.

“This data shows that Twitter users, typically early adopters, no longer think of Twitter as just a personal networking tool, but as something that can provide real value for their company or business,” said Ann Handley, chief content officer for MarketingProfs. “Much like Facebook, Twitter is now moving into the business mainstream.” Additional Twitter research from MarketingProfs revealed that Twitter users are primarily motivated by the learning and immediacy components of the application. (MarketingCharts)

Twitter as a business tool

Twitter as a business tool

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If the Pope can 2.0, so can you

Pope2you

Pope2you

Think your company is too top-down, too conservative or too traditional to get involved in social media? Think again.

You’re never too anything to get involved in the conversation.

Seriously, if the Pope can do it, so can you. On the Pope’s new web site (http://pope2you.net), visitors can connect with other followers using his Facebook application, wiki, iPhone app and even the Vatican’s YouTube channel.

Get out there and answer the social phone, because your customers are talking about you whether you like it or not.

(Thanks to Workplace Learning Today for bringing it to our attention.)

Challenge #1: Proving the ROI of social media

As marketers, we’re under constant pressure to prove that our tactics are working. In order to show that what we’re doing is effective, we need numbers – cold, hard, measurable numbers to back up a high return on investment.

Unfortunately, when it comes to social media, finding those measurable numbers can be  quite challenging.

Marketers cited the “inability to measure ROI” as one of the largest barriers to adopting social media tactics by their company, according to MarketingSherpa research.

“This barrier is more of a perception than a reality because social media often requires qualitative measurement rather than the quantitative metrics that online marketers have become accustomed to,” say the Sherpas.

In order to measure ROI, you need two numbers: an investment cost and income returned. The easier you can find these two factors, the easier it is to measure your tactic and show that what you’re doing is working (or not).

MarketingSherpa’s most recent Chart of the Week reveals the social media tactics marketers find to be the most accurately measurable.

Proving the ROI of social media

Proving the ROI of social media

The top three most measurable tactics include advertising on blogs or social networks, online news release distribution and user reviews or ratings.

Instead of throwing out the bottom tactics – forums or discussion groups, blogging on a company blog, creating profiles on social networks – the Sherpas suggest factoring in more qualitative values into your perceived ROI.

“Those who don’t include qualitative factors in the planning of their social media programs may find themselves employing much less effective tactics, simply for the sake of perceived measurability, resulting in a loss of confidence in performance.”

B2B buying behaviors, more irrational than we thought

If you’ve ever been searching for research on business-to-business buying behaviors, it can seem like you’re stuck in a maze full of an overwhelming amount of information on consumers around each turn.

To ease our frustration, Marketo and Enquiro Research teamed up to perform some research of their own to discover exactly how businesses make complex purchases.

Yesterday, Jon Miller shared some initial findings from their research at the Marketo blog. Here are a few highlights:

Despite popular belief, business buying is not rational. B2B buyers are self-taught and use a trial-and-error process in their decision making, helping to simplify complex decisions. Instead of dealing with just one irrational decision maker, marketers must deal with an entire group of irrational decision makers, making the buying process that much more complex.

Emotions play a big role. After a purchase, a B2B buyer may not experience the full benefit of their purchase directly or may not be recognized for making the decision and making a poor decision can put that buyer’s job security at risk. Fear drives most B2B buying decisions. “B2B buying is all about minimizing fear by minimizing risk.”

So, it turns out that what we once thought was a strictly linear buying funnel is actually a buying process that may not be logical or rational at times.

Check out the full post for even more great information, including Enquiro’s advice for managing B2B buyer’s perceived risk.

Stop wasting marketing dollars and start getting creative

To get a clear picture of how much money marketers waste each week all most people have to do is simply take out the trash.

Every week marketers send out thousands upon thousands of pieces of direct mail. If they’re lucky, some will get a quick second look by their recipients before they end up in the garbage or recycling bin. Along with the money, marketers time and effort are also being taken out with the trash.

When most people find direct mail in their inboxes, the immediately classify it as “junk” and quickly dispose of it. To really catch your audience’s attention, you have to find a creative way to get noticed and make people take a second look.

Because we all receive multiple pieces of junk mail daily, it takes a truly creative approach to stand out from the crowd. Will V. at The Better Response Blog recently tacked the issue and shared some ingenious examples of direct marketing that isn’t a waste of money.

Two dollar bill DM campaign, The Better Response Blog

Two dollar bill DM campaign, The Better Response Blog

The first example is of a piece by the Seattle Art Museum to promote the Life Liberty and Pusuit of Happiness exhibit. The marketing piece took the form of a two dollar bill, something most people don’t see everyday. Will admitted he’d likely read it before throwing it away. At least it’s a step up from landing directly in the trash, without so much as a slight glance.

“The point I am trying to make is we should always try to create a piece that no one else is creating. Part of marketing is to stand out and not be typical. Being typical will not catch any attention and is a waste of money. This may be a thought that is always in the back of our minds, but we don’t always factor it into our marketing initiatives,” Will says.

Will showed another good example of a direct mail campaign that not only stood out from the crowd, but was “highly personalized.” As part of a sensory-based direct mail campaign, Proximity London crafted a letter made entirely out of chocolate. Yes, real chocolate.

I don’t know about you, but receiving a chocolate letter in the mail would catch my attention close to 100% of the time. Before I devoured it, you could bet that I would also be spreading the message and showing the piece to everyone in the office.

We’re not expecting you to go out and print your next direct mail piece on chocolate, but if you do just make sure I’m on the mailing list. What we’re saying is that it’s time to start getting really creative with your marketing.

“Do not send out postcards because your competitors are sending out postcards. Send out something you know your competitors will not be sending out. Remember, you are not just competing with your competitors’ pieces, but with the 50 gazillion other pieces who are not even from the same industry,” Will adds.

Ask yourself truthfully if you would stop and read what your company is mailing out. If you think it’s going to land in the trash, it’s time to rethink your idea. Stop wasting your marketing dollars and start grabbing people’s attention.

What creative techniques have you used recently in your marketing to grab your audience’s attention? Or, have you been the recipient of a cool piece of direct marketing? Let us know about it …

Taking terrible customer service to the Internet

Thirty years ago, when a customer was upset with a company over their poor customer service they could spread the word by calling friends on the phone, sending a complaint letter, or could possibly go as far as to write an editorial in their local newspaper.

Today, letting others know about shoddy customer service is as simple as pressing the power button on your computer.

Case in point, this disgruntled customer and author at Gaebler.com:

If you are doing business these days, you have to recognize that the world has changed. As consumers, we expect good customer service. If we don’t get it, we don’t just forgive and forget. We never buy from you again. We tell our friends not to buy from you. We tell the world not to buy from you.

That’s right. In the days of blogs and search engines, customers have the final word. That’s why you need to bend over backward to keep them happy. Because the happy customers stay quiet. It’s the angry customers who speak up, and deter others from doing business with you.

After a terrible experience with a major computer manufacturer, this customer made it his “new hobby” to let everyone know about it. He’s estimated that his tactics could potentially move $500,000 in sales away from the company by not buying their product for his organizations and compelling others to do the same.

Whether he hit his goal or not will continue to be a mystery, but it still shows the lengths to which an angry customer will go in order to get their voice heard.

Training customer service representative to resolve customer complaints is essential to the success of your business. As soon as a customer feels like they have been mistreated, they can quickly get online to start telling all of their friends and online connections about it.

Always remember the tried-and-true formula that a happy customer will tell one of their friends, but an unhappy customer will tell three. If that unhappy customer is active in social media, they may be able to quickly spread their story to 300,000 of their friends in just a matter of minutes.

Technology is forcing customer service to reach new levels of satisfaction. Representatives must be aware that the customer on the other end of the phone can easily spread the word about their experience just minutes after the call is over.

But it doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. When a disgruntled customer vents about their problem on the internet, it could give your company a second chance to resolve their problem that you may have initially overlooked.

Say you come across a blog post from a customer who recently had a terrible experience with your company, what’s the best thing you should do?

For starters, you could leave a comment on their blog as a representative of your company. Tell the customer that you’d personally like to help with their problem.

If you can’t personally do anything to remedy the problem, continue to work with the customer until they are satisfied. Connect them with someone else in your organization that could help and remember to follow up to see if their issue was resolved.

Listen to what customers are saying about you online with tools like Google Alerts. If what they have to say is positive, tell them ‘thank you’ for their kind words. If their words aren’t so kind, ask them how you can help.

When customers share their opinions about your company on the Internet it can either be good or bad (sometimes, really bad). It’s up to you to determine how to handle the comments once they’re made.

Improve product visibility with Google Base

Google Base is a free service from Google that allows you to submit information about your company’s products and services, along with keyword descriptions to help improve your online visibility.

The cool part is that you don’t necessarily need a website in order for Google Base to work for you. Anyone can list their products and services whether they’re sold online or offline.

Improve product visibility with Google Base

Improve product visibility with Google Base

The service functions just like a regular Google search. Depending on how relevant your product is to a person’s Google search, your product will either show up in “Google Product Search” or it will come up on the main search results page.

Google Base is easy to set up. First you need a Google account, which is free and takes minutes to create. Once you have your account, go to Google Base and login. You can either start adding your products and services one by one, or upload the information using a spreadsheet or XML file.

Similar to the way you optimize your web pages, there are ways to improve the chance of your products showing up at the top of Google Base results pages. Success mainly depends on your product descriptions and images.

Make sure that the titles and descriptions of each item are valid. Avoid using salesy descriptions or anything that sounds spammy, it will only hurt your rankings.

Upload a high-quality image for every item you list. Images increase the chance that people will click on your item to find out more information.

Google Base is an interesting tool that is definitely worth trying. Even if you don’t have a website, it’s a great way to boost your product visibility online.