Apr 22

Does your target audience know what they want?

As a business owner you are told over an over again, for success in social media marketing write good content and direct it at your target audience. Yes good content is indeed important but how do you know that what you’re writing about is indeed what your target audience needs? You can go around and ask them what they want and you’ll no doubt get some really clear answers but, is what they want really what they need? If you think that this is an odd question then consider this: Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 25

Google+ Business Page Basics

The question “Why You Need a Google+ Business Page” was the topic for discussion at a business breakfast meeting that I attended recently. It’s an interesting subject as many business owners have often asked me why they should spend the time adding and maintaining yet another social network. Many small business owners who I deal with tend to be time poor and adding more work is not a really attractive proposition. If you’re in that situation and specifically if you are a local business owner then I would recommend that you watch this video about Google+ basics that I’ve put together for you.

Google+ Page

If you already have a Google+ business page but it’s not delivering your Google Ranking as well as you had expected then go through this checklist and make sure that you tick all the boxes.

  • Does your cover photo clearly represent what your business is all about?
  • Do you have a good and recognizable profile picture? It can be your logo but a personal picture would be better if you are a small business owner.
  • Have you listed your website in the About section?
  • Do you post regularly? (At least once per week)
  • Do you use hash tags in your posts?
  • Is your YouTube Channel connected to your business page or profile?
  • Do you have a Google+ custom URL?
  • Do you tick the “include email to Circles” option with your posts?

There are many more reasons and business scenarios to make a case for why you need a Google+ Business Page but I’d like to think that this summary of the basics has given you a good starting point.

What is your experience with Google+? Is it working for you or if not, why not. Please share your experience in the comments.

Dec 31

How to Set Achievable Business Goals

Have you set your business goals for 2014? Regardless of where you’re at you’re your goal setting, there’s just one very important thing to keep in mind –

Don’t Focus on Outcomes

Focus on Behavior

This applies to all business goals but one of the biggest challenges that most people who I work with face is to set realistic goals and budgets for their social media marketing strategies. You may have set outcomes oriented goals like “get 100 new email subscribers” or “publish a blog post every week – even though you haven’t done one at all this week”.

If your aim is to get better results from your social media marketing then you’re not likely to get there by simply resolving to “post something every day this year”. You’d get much better results by developing better and realistic habits. Here is an example:

Every week in January I will:

On Monday

Spend 1 hour researching online topics relating to my business.

On Tuesday

Select a topic from Monday’s research and spend 1 hour free writing on the subject. (By free writing I mean, keep on writing without interruptions and don’t stop to check spelling or do any other editing.)

On Wednesday

Spend 1 hour editing and refining the material written yesterday

On Thursday

Spend 1 hour posting the material to a blog or other suitable channel and creating back links from my other social platforms.

On Friday

Spend 1 hour creating a video based on the published text and upload to YouTube. (Use Animoto or a similar software package to make this task easy)

On Saturday

Spend 1 hour checking Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and any other statistical reports to ascertain the results of the work done to date.

On Sunday

Take a break!

Once you’ve done this for one month, repeat the process with variations to suit your business, for the following months of 2014.

To get better results from your social media marketing you need to build habits that will help you reach your business goals. Give it a try and let me know how you go.

Best wishes for Prosperity and Success in 2014. May you reach your target for every business goal that you’ve set.

Achievable Business Goals

Sep 23

How to improve your Google Page Ranking

Most business owners would realize that Google reviews have a strong influence on their Google Page rankings. What many aren’t aware of is the fact that you need more than just Google reviews. To improve your Google Page Ranking you also need reviews on third party sites such as CitySearch, TrueLocal, InsiderPages, etc. Here are some notes to keep in mind when you’re planning your online strategies for climbing the Google Ranking ladder.

 

Improve your Google Ranking

Climbing the Google Ranking Ladder

 

To rank in the top 7 of Google Places you will need customer reviews on at least one well established third-party site. I need to emphasis the “well established” here as there are various local directories that have come out over the last few years that promise to deliver great online ranking but they are not considered authority sites by Google. You would need to carefully consider the online benefits that these publications may or may not be able to deliver. Examples of well ranking third party sites would be True Local, Trip Advisor, City Search and Yellow Pages.

 

So how would you get your name into the top 7 Google Places ranking? Simply start by asking your customers to write a review on at least one of there favourite sites. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need a minimum of 5 reviews to achieve your ranking goal. Once you’ve attained it you can start working on improving your Google Page ranking further. As a first step, check how many reviews that your competitors have and the third party sites of those reviews. You will need to aim for more reviews and/or more different sites to move up into the first two positions. As a general rule, aim for a minimum of 8 reviews on t least 2 sites.

Having said all this, there is one very important thing to remember, you must at all times MONITOR YOUR REVIEWS! Your objective should not be to just get enough reviews to improve your Google Page Ranking but to get good reviews that will build your brand reputation. Put yourself in a potential client’s shoes. Given a choice between a business with a significant amount of great reviews and one that has bad reviews, I would bet that in most cases these prospects would choose a company with positive reviews over companies with bad reviews.

If you’ve collected nothing but good reviews or at least a very high percentage of good reviews then keep doing what you are doing.  If however you’ve received a lot of bad reviews, then you are turning business away and you need to look at the following recommendations:

  1. Monitor Your Online Reputation – Keep a close watch on what people are saying online about your brand.  You can automate this process using programs such as Google Alerts or Mentions to report on mentions of your name and relevant keywords.
  2. Respond to Bad Reviews – Make sure that you respond to bad reviews that have been posted. It is the best way to turn a bad situation into a positive one.  If someone isn’t happy with your product or service, then see what you can do to make it better for them.  By responding to bad reviews, you will show others that you are listening and that you do care.

If you monitor and manage your online reputation and add great reviews, this should have a positive effect on your business.  Make sure that you include an Online Reputation Management process to your every day work practices. Improving your Google Page Ranking is not an unsurmountable task but without careful planning of your online marketing strategies you will face an uphill battle. Any questions? Don’t forget, use the booking form on this page for an obligation free call now and get the answers that you’re looking for.

Jun 22

Reputation Management and Trade Marks

How safe is your brand reputation? You’ve worked on establishing your brand online for a couple of years now. Your blog posts have a great following, you’re at the top of page one on Google and you’re the go to guy for info in your niche. Now that sounds pretty solid. Or is it? If you haven’t trade marked your brand and have your reputation management under control then all your business building efforts could be shipwrecked overnight!

business brand reputation shipwreck

Does that sound scary? Of course it does but it can really happen and it could happen to you if you don’t take the right precautions. The best example here is what happened recently to a guy who has a great website that he has been working on for over two years. His blog posts from around the world give a good picture of what you can expect if you want to get ideas about working in different places. He gets regular comments on his blog posts, is in 157 Goole+ circles, has over 2,700 Likes on his Facebook page and has a legion of Twitter followers. I would call that a pretty solid brand, but like many other online brands, he didn’t trade mark it. I have no idea if this was an oversight or bad advice but the fact is that he is now having a big problem because a large staff hiring corporation has trade marked the text of his domain name and has been using it online for a contest. Just imagine what a situation like this would do for your business if your brand was hijacked like that.

What do you need to do to prevent you business form finishing up in the same situation as Turner? The answer is – implement good Reputation Management. It’s a term that is often associated with no more than watching over who says what about your business online but there is a lot more to it than that. It doesn’t matter if your business is an offline business, offline with an online presence or a totally online business. Once you have established a persona in the form of a company name, brand name, domain name or logo there is only one guaranteed way that you can keep it uniquely yours and that is by securing it with a trade mark. If your business is purely local than a country based trade mark would most likely be sufficient but an online business would need international trade marking. And it doesn’t stop with that. Once you’ve registered your trade mark you need a watching brief to monitor applications for names that could be similar to yours and hence could cause confusion or even have the potential to be misleading.

I don’t have any legal qualifications and don’t claim to be knowledgeable in the field of trade marking or any associated legal topics. I do however speak from experience. My first business, after I left the corporate world, was a vineyard and a graphics designer came up with a truly unique logo. Fortunately I had a good lawyer overseeing the legal side of establishing the business and they recommended that I trade mark the logo. I followed their advice and I also asked them to keep a watching brief over trade mark applications for similar designs. That has proved well worth it as there were two applications within a short period of time that we needed to object to.

Do you have any potential trade mark issues with your business? If so, I would suggest that you seek legal advice about your situation. It may involve some costs but it could be well worth your while in the long run. Get your brand reputation under control by safe guarding with a trade mark as the basic starting point.

Don’t forget, if you have any questions about reputation management that you’d like to run by me, all you need to do is use the online booking form on this page to get a 20 minutes obligation free consultation call with me.

Jun 20

Using Color in Social Media

Color is the one of the most important factors in almost all purchase decisions. It’s therefore no wonder that using color in Social Media plays a significant part in the success of our online conversation. Here are some interesting statistics:

  • 1% of consumers will purchase a product based on smell or sound.
  • 6% will purchase because of texture. (It feels good)
  • And a huge 93% of all consumers will purchase a product based on visual impact. Within this group, 85% named color as the most important factor in their purchase decision

If you are trying to build a brand image for your online or offline business then consider this:

“Colour is the THE most important aspect that you have to get right!”

This infographic from The Logo Company is a great example of how color is used so effectively by well known major brands

 

Color Emotion Guide

 

Last but not least, did you know that you can target specific demographics based on color?
  • Impulse buyers will most likely respond to the colors black and red.
  • People working within budget restraints tend to go for blue or teal.
  • Pink and pastel colors such as rose or sky blue or any other non-prime colors are more likely to be preferred by traditional buyers.
Have a play around with color to see which advertisements get the best results and incorporate those results in your next social media marketing plan!

Mar 29

Shake off Business Stress

Depending on where you live, you may or may not celebrate Easter. This message is for those of you who do and for anyone else who enjoys a cheerful greeting. Easter is that time of the year when, in the northern hemisphere spring is starting to show its colours and in the southern hemisphere where I am we’re starting to see that beautiful autumn glow. Time to relax and shake of any business stress that may have been creeping up on you over the last few months.

Unwind this Easter and forget about business stress

On the subject of stress; the stress that affects business owners most is often of a personal nature such as problems within the family. This means that personal problems are most likely to have a detrimental effect on the successful running of your business. Most people find that they are sufficiently technically skilled to operate their business from a product or service production point of view. Monitoring their online presence and taking care of their Social Media Reputation Management can however easily feel like a bewildering maze of tasks. This feeling of overwhelm can lead to business stress and taking that home will most likely aggravate the problem and result in tension on a personal level.

I have often been asked if I know of any simple tips and techniques that can help alleviate this problem. The best advice that I can offer here is to get qualified help. By getting help from the right source you can change your focus from business stress to building your business and stay on an even keel in your personal life. While getting that organized, try to take a breather and do something totally different over the Easter break. Another good quick stress relief tip is to do some simple stretch exercises several times during the day. Sitting or standing up straight and taking a few deep breath is the quickest and easiest pick-me-up that you’ll find for shaking off business stress at any time of the day or night.

Don’t know how to build a stress free Social Media scenario? Book an obligation free consultation call with me using the booking form on this page and I’ll be happy to give you a helping hand.

Feb 20

Driving Traffic to Your Website

Social Media plays a very important part in today’s marketing mix. Your conversion rates are important in the end result, but if you don’t drive enough traffic to your website to start with, the results of your Social Media Marketing efforts will be very disappointing. In the previous post we talked about building a solid brand reputation. Here is where that fits in when it comes to driving traffic to your website.

Sales funnel for driving traffic

Social Media is all about brand building which, when done consistently and with the right approach, will drive traffic. The end result will be increased traffic to your website where you can concentrate on conversions and lead generation.

 

The big mistake that many business owners make is looking at Social Media as just another marketing tool. The principle of the traditional marketing 4 P’s: Product, Place, Price and Promotion, is well known to most business people but, with the expansion of Social Media into the business world, this model has become rather outdated. The reason why I’m saying this is that the 4P’s model concentrates heavily on the product features and quality. These are important factors but they don’t really differentiate sufficiently. What’s missing with the 4P’s is emphasis on building a case to explain the benefits of a product or services. In other words, you need to promote your business by explaining to your customers that they need your product and/or service because it solves a problem. Spread the word that you can solve a specific problem better than anyone else and you’ll end up with a product or service that your customers simply can’t live without. This is where Social Media comes into play.

It is today’s word of mouth!

Word of Mouth

Social Media as a Marketing Tool

In days gone by business owners would use a variety of traditional marketing tools such as subscriptions in local directories, special events, advertisements in newspapers, etc. They would also, as incentives to increase their sales, offer discounts, free items or perhaps run loyalty contests. These tactics have well and truly proven to be effective and are still an indispensable part of today’s marketing promotions mix. The difference is that most of this is now also very effectively and more efficiently done online using any number of Social Media Channels. Replacing outdated offline advertising with Social Media marketing can save you time and money. The most important thing to keep in mind though is that you need to track your audience’s activity to measure your Social Media marketing’s ROI. We’ll go into this in depth in the next post.

Social Media as a Brand Reputation Builder

Promoting your business with Social Media to build a solid brand reputation involves more than just talking about you and your products or services. To get your audience to sit up and take notice you have to follow the 70/10/20 rule which means that whatever you publish on channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. it has to be 70% your own informative and relevant content, 10% other relevant content and only 20% actual product/service promotion. Give your visitors a chance to get to know you and trust you. Visitors to your social media sites who enjoy what you have to offer will often share your posts with their friends via Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest etc. It’s this increase in reach that builds trust and enhances your brand. It will increase traffic to your website and bring you more relevant visitors.

Have you heard

As I’ve mentioned earlier, Social Media is today’s word of mouth and it’s the spreading of the word about what you have to offer that acts as a referral service for your business. Your conversion rate will improve drastically when targeted prospects start arriving through referrals.

 

In the next post I’ll show you some tips on how to convert your website traffic into leads. In the meantime, if you have any questions about driving traffic to your website or other topics relevant to brand reputation building, use the form on this page to book an obligation free consultation call with me.

Feb 14

Happy Valentine’s Day

Yes it’s that time of the year again. Valentine’s Day, celebrated on the 14th February around the globe, is the day when we express the feelings and passion between our loved ones. It’s celebrated with the exchange of gifts, Valentine cards, flowers, heart shaped balloons, etc. Red roses are specifically associated with love on this day.

There is however a general misconception about Valentine’s Day. It is often assumed that it is a special day for lovers only but the real meaning of Valentine’s Day is that it is the day where we show our care and feelings for any relationship that is important. It can be your parents, grandparents, siblings or any personal friend.

Hopefully you have a loved one who you can share this day with. But, there are many other ways that you can share the love. How about your customers? We use our Social Media channels to be Social but how about you make it something special today. We often take people for granted so today I would like to say to my customers:

“I appreciate our relationship. You are not just a customer, you are the person who I want to get to know better so that I can serve your needs and solve your problems to the best of my ability”

Happy valentine's Day

Feb 02

How to make Social Media Marketing work for you.

There are many small business owners who feel that Social Media Marketing is not working for them. While they realize that Social Media is playing an increasingly vital role in the marketing strategies for most businesses they feel that they are not getting anywhere near as much out of their efforts as they had hoped.

If this scenario applies to you and your business then the tips and tricks provided here should help you get on track.

The three main problems for most small business owners are the lack of understanding how to:

  • Build brand advocacy to establish a solid brand reputation
  • Drive traffic to their website and
  • Generate leads.

In the following sections we’ll take a close look at each of these issues.

How to Establish a Solid Brand Reputation

Social media success is all about building relationships that will create loyalty and trust in your brand. It’s about turning your customers into loyal followers who will spread the word about your brand and in doing so become the advocates for your business.

Here is an example of some of the most well known brands that have, over the years, created a huge following of loyal advocates.

Company Branding

It goes without saying that, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll recognize each one of these logos. As a small to medium sized business owner you’re not likely to achieve world wide acclaim like these brands have but, by the same token, to build your brand you have to present your business in a way that will make people sit up and take notice. The more social media followers that you attract, the more likely that your content will be shared and impact on the results in the various search engines.

Publishing good content is the first step to building relationships but, it’s the sharing of your content that increases your overall reach and that in turn will create trust. It’s really all about today’s word of mouth. So what actions will achieve your relationship building objectives? I recommend that you implement at least the following tactics:

  • Clearly identify your target audience i.e. your ideal customer
  • Optimizing each piece of content to speak to this ideal customer.
  • Share valuable information that your audience will find useful.
  • Publish your content on channels that are frequented by your audience
  • Include social share buttons on your website.
  • Include a blog on your website and publish regular posts.
  • Email your existing customers to encourage them to interact with you on social media

 

The first point here is the most important of all. Address the wrong audience and no one wil hear your message. Social Media Marketing and establishing your online brand is all about establishing a relationship between you and your ideal customer. I’ll go through some tips on how to identify that ideal customer in a later post but in the meantime I’d like you to have a look at how you are presenting yourself to your audience. Does your profile present you in a light that your prospects can relate to? If your readers can’t relate to you then they’ll probably lose interest in your story.  But if you can make readers love you story then it’s easy to get them hooked.

I’m not promising you miracles overnight but if you communicate with your target audience on a regular basis using the tactics outlined here, you will find that your Social Media reach will increase. It’s a guaranteed way to establish a solid brand reputation across the various Social Channels.

In the next post I’ll show you some tips on how to use various Social Media Marketing tools to drive traffic to your website. In the meantime, if you have any questions, book an obligation free call or leave a message and I’ll get back to you asap.

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