Let's Talk About Marketing 
Discover new strategies from other small businesses and non-profits.
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Filler words include "um," "ah," and words such as "like," "so," and "ok," which are used as a verbal bridge to the next word.    These words just fill in space while you remember or think of something to say next. Rather than being effective bridges, they are roadblocks, distracting the audience and interrupting the flow of your message. These filler words weaken your presentation and give the impression that you don't know what you're talking about. Starting every other sentence with fillers (for example, "you know" or "like I said") can also be interpreted as verbal expressions of your anxiety or lack of confidence.   The good news is that you can learn to eliminate filler words.  And like with so many bad habits, the first step towards change is to become aware that you're using them.   How can you become conscious of the filler words you use?  Listen to yourself as you speak, record yourself or ask someone in the audience. Or attend a Toastmasters meeting (an international organization dedicated to helping people improve their public speaking www.toastmasters.org ) , where there is an official Um and Ah Counter. He or she tallies up all the filler words used by the speakers and then reports on it at the end of the meeting. The point is to hear yourself using them so you can cut them out.   Once you have become aware of when you use fillers, here's how to eliminate them: Stop speaking when you hear yourself use a filler word. SILENTLY pause instead of filling the space with words. Breathe. Move on to your next word. Here's an exercise that you can use to practice this at home: Speak for 1-2 minutes about something you know, like your job or what you did today. Every time you hear yourself using a filler word, STOP, breathe and repeat that sentence – eventually, with more practice, you will get through the entire 2 minutes without using any filler words! Cutting out your filler words will help you convey your message to the audience without any distractions getting in the way. And you'll sound more polished and professional.  Gilda Bonanno is a speaker, trainer and coach who helps people improve their presentation and communication skills so they can be more successful. Sign up to receive more public speaking and networking strategies from Gilda's e-newsletter: http://www.gildabonanno.com/Pages/newsletter.aspx
Let’s talk about lead funnels.  What the heck is a lead funnel? What is a lead magnet? What is a sale cycle? Truth be told these are all just marketing jargon that we toss around that may sound a little funny to the average business person. However, let me tell you the magic is in the funnel and in this blog post I plan to break it all down for you and show you exactly the path that a person will take from prospect to lead and converted into your next customers. And not just any customer but a raving fans tell their friends about it and post on Yelp customer.   So let's start with the basics. First and foremost a lead funnel is basically just a path that someone takes from prospect to sold.  I have included here my lead funnel road map to break it down in a more visual way.    Lead path worksheet from Stellar Media Marketing     So what is a lead magnet? This is a question that I see a lot. Basically a lead magnet is something that you give for free in exchange for your prospect’s contact information, thereby turning a prospect into a lead. Lead magnets are incredibly effective when utilized correctly and when targeting the right type of prospect.   A lead magnet helps you to better segment your email marketing lists so that you can personalize your email messages, thereby increasing your open rates, your click-through rates and of course your conversions. As far as I'm concerned your email list is pure gold. But only if you build it right! So let's break down a couple of ideas when it comes to lead magnets AKA free offers.   Before you even start to build your lead magnet you need to make sure that you are building the right lead magnet. But how do you know? Well, you start with asking yourself who is your ideal client? What do they need help with?   The easiest way to find out what your ideal client needs and how you can help serve them in that need is to simply ask. Jump on to Facebook or shoot out an email and ask them “what are you struggling with in your business right now”  This will open the doors for your current customers, prospects, current subscribers, and social media followers to give you the information you need to build the right lead magnet to meet their needs.   Another fantastic way to figure out what type of lead magnet you should build is to jump into some Facebook groups where your ideal client hangs out. You're not in those groups to pitch or sell. No no! you are there to listen.  Go in and scan the feed to see what people are struggling with. What are they asking about? Is there some kind of theme that seems to keep popping up. If you see something that you know the answer to pop up time and time again than that my friend is the next topic for your next lead magnet.   Once you have the idea for your lead magnet or offer, it's time to figure out what format fits best for delivering your message. Below are just some of the examples of what you can create and turn into lead magnets:   Checklist Guide books Resource guide Email Course Series Video Course Series Live Webinars and Recorded Trainings Case Studies White Papers Templates Blueprints Step by Step Instructions Audio Books   Samples Coupons Free Services   I have found that a lot of the time I already have the content created in my content library that is perfect for repurposing into a lead magnet. For example I have a ton of webinars I've done over the years. I also have a ton of live broadcast that I have done, as well as video trainings. It would be very easy for me to create a video lead magnet or mini-course that addresses the needs of my ideal client using this content. So the first place to look for your next lead magnet is with the content you already have. Do you have something in your content Arsenal right now that addresses the questions that are being asked in the Facebook groups or being answered by your question you posed? There you go! However, if you don't have a current library of content at least you have a jumping off point and you know what you need in order to address the concerns of your ideal client.   Here is just a word to the wise, keep it simple. Or in the famous words of many a marketing professor back in my college days KISS Keep It Simple Stupid. In other words don't, overthink this. The checklist and one page guides tend to do far better than the white papers. Of course this is very much dependent on your ideal client.   Once you have a lead magnet created, the next step is creating a landing page. Otherwise known as a one-page website. This is where you will capture your lead’s contact information and this is also where you will showcase your lead magnet and the benefits it will bring to the people who sign up.   Once you have obtained your lead’s contact information they should then go into your email marketing service account where they will be segmented into a specific list having to do with the topic that you are presenting. You want to make sure that you're always segmenting your contacts and leads so that in the future, when you are sharing information, you can share it to the right people, at the right time and your conversion rate will be much higher because of the personalization that you're going to give in your content delivery.   Once your lead gets into your email system you'll immediately send them your lead magnet that they signed up for. This is typically where most marketers stop, but not you. No, you are going to take it a couple steps further and that is going to be the difference in your success. A couple of days after the initial email you should have a follow-up email to request that your lead connect with you in other ways and see what questions they may have about the lead magnet they download.   About a week after that send one more email asking them if they wouldn't mind filling out a very short survey so that you can learn more about them and make sure that you deliver customized and timely content that benefits them the most. This is a great way of learning more about the people on your email marketing list. Following that, you can throw them into your regular correspondence and continue to nurture your lead with value-added content that is customized and personalized to them. At the end of the day they will learn how to know, like and trust you, thereby making it a cakewalk to sell to them and  increase in your conversion rate. Cha-ching!   If all this sounds a little confusing, or if you want to learn how to build this exact system and then some I want to invite you to come and join me for my free 5 day email marketing bootcamp where I will teach you how to create this very process. This very strategy. This very lead funnel.  over the course of the five days you will be given a daily assignment and access to a daily live  webinar (which will also be recorded so you can access it at your convenience).   As far as I'm concerned your success is my success so I will be available to not only help you with in my private Facebook group but I will also have several opportunities the following week after the boot camp to join live Q&A sessions and pop on with me so that we can walk through any concerns or questions that you have after the boot camp. No marketer left behind! Click here to sign up for the free boot camp which starts February 20th but feel free to join us anytime during the boot camp.
Many small business owners hear about Twitter, maybe even have signed up for an account, but still question its value for their business. While Twitter may not be the top social networking tool for every business, it may still generate valuable leads and establish relationships that are advantageous for your business. Above all else, Twitter is a great place to connect and share information with customers, prospects and leaders in your industry.    So, if you’re wondering how Twitter can be useful for your business, take a look at the five areas below. Chances are your business could benefit from using Twitter to reach out in one or more of these ways.   Marketing/Sales: What to Tweet: Current or upcoming sales and promotions, new products or services, upcoming events Tips: Track everything you can. Use coupon codes for your sales or promotions. Use a link-shortener like bit.ly to track click-throughs to your new products or services on your website. Encourage your followers to RT or @mention you to their followers for a special offer.   Public Relations/Company Info: What to Tweet:  Company news, press releases, blog posts, press or media spotlights, behind the scenes or meet the staff, customer/client news or success stories Tips: Mention people in your posts. If you tweet about how you helped a client or customer, @mention them in your post. Also if there are any news articles or stories about or featuring your company, @mention the newspaper or TV station where the story appeared, or the journalist who wrote the article.   Customer Service: What to Tweet:  Customer support, customer satisfaction and feedback, how-to’s, Q & A’s, product tips, FAQ’s, blog posts, helpful tips and tricks Tips:   If a customer support issue becomes a back and forth conversation or requires specific customer information, make it private using the DM feature. This is also a great area to use content you already have. For example, share those FAQ or Product Tips on your website or the blog posts you wrote about how-to do something. It doesn’t have to be specifically about your products either. Expanding into general industry information will help you become a go-to place for support.   General Info: What to Tweet:  Industry news/articles, RT posts from industry experts, ask questions, request help/suggestions, personal info Tips: Your tweets should reflect your company’s personality. Don’t be afraid to use your own voice. Sharing personal information or asking questions for help/suggestions can be a great way to engage with followers, but remember to use discretion.   Market/Competitor Research: What to Tweet:  Responses to any comments or tweets about your company, links to polls and surveys Tips: Monitor conversation about your company, any competitor’s and your industry. Search for your brand/company name or product name using Twitter’s advanced search feature. (search.twitter.com/advanced) You can set specific keywords, location/radius and language preferences to get more specific results.   The goal is to tweet interesting, relevant information that will engage your followers and expand your reach. When you post photos, videos, quotes or Q&As, you’re more likely to be retweeted or to start a conversation. And once you start networking and building relationships using Twitter, you’ll see how it can easily bring value to your business.   BONUS: Tips on how to get more followers and find others to follow!   Get More Followers:  - Post awesome tweets and get retweeted by posting sharable content – photos, videos, links, Q&As, and quotes.  - Add your Twitter URL and links to your page everywhere: on and off-line, in your emails and newsletters, put a tweet button on your blog posts, and add a Twitter button to your website.  - Engage with your followers:  respond to @mentions and reply’s, promote among current clients/customers, and have conversations with others.   Follow Others: Strategic following – who you should follow:  - Customers/clients, staff members, colleagues in the field, vendors, distributors, relevant journalists, social influencers, keynotes/thought-leaders, and even your competitors.   How to find users to follow – Twitter tools:  - View suggestions – based on who you follow and who follows you  - Browse interests – categories segmented by interest  - Find friends – search your contacts for friends already on Twitter.     The Collin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Plano, Texas offers no cost, customized business consulting and training to help entrepreneurs grow successful businesses. Through the collaboration of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the State of Texas and Collin College, the Collin SBDC promotes business success by providing management education. We assist small businesses in creating jobs and economic growth by utilizing the elements of quality counseling and training, community involvement and the leveraging of resources.    
Keeping Your WordPress Website Secure from Pat Altvater on Vimeo .
Why WordPress from Pat Altvater on Vimeo .
You’ve designed a great looking email. It’s mobile responsive, complements your website perfectly, has a strong call-to-action, and incorporates all the standard best practices for email marketing. If you say so yourself, your email looks very nice! That’s a great start, but are you getting the results you want? Hopefully the answer is a resounding YES, but if not, keep reading for an overview of how a few of our clients met or exceeded their goals with GREAT email marketing campaigns.     EMAIL MARKETING ENGAGEMENT   Overview A traditional organization has expanded into online ecommerce and has the need to promote their new online shopping experience. They have a two-fold approach, engage directly with the customer and encourage their staff to promote the experience.   Approach Our approach was simple. Design a fun, uplifting, interactive experience for their team members. By including contests to win prizes for the most referrals, special promotion offers and helpful tips to use along the way, their team is fully onboard with promoting their new online shopping experience.   Testimonial “ Our CEO was so excited with the results. She just loved that the email was so interactive and fun !”       LEAD GENERATION   Overview A consulting firm who provides face-to-face and on-line training has developed an award-winning eLearning training series for employees of large organizations. Their goal is to utilize email marketing to generate leads for sales of the program.   Approach We worked with our client to create a single question ‘poll’ to identify the pains of their audience relative to the training series being promoted. The process was simple. Answer one question and receive a free interactive demo of the actual product. The demo contained enough content to demonstrate how easily their teams would benefit from the training. This was a two-step approach. The first campaign focused fully on the poll, the second touch was included as part of the monthly newsletter.   Using the survey function to create the ‘poll’ enabled us to ask readers to enter their contact information to receive their free demo. We then provided the client with the list of individuals who requested the demo. By following up with these quality leads in a timely fashion, the client was able to move these subscribers right into their sales funnel, all the while receiving valuable input on their clients’ needs.   Results The end result was that 5.1% of those who opened the email requested a free demo and thus entered the sales funnel. The organization was very pleased with the percentage of leads and with the ability to quickly identify and act upon the leads.       THOUGHT LEADER   Overview We have the opportunity to work with an individual who is truly a thought leader in his industry. The goal is to use email marketing to build the relationship and trust of an engaged community to support future sales of a book.   Approach This approach is unique, but very fitting for this thought leader. All content, every single word, is 100% his perspective and is provided with no strings attached. Every month an article with a unique perspective on life is shared with his audience. When the time comes to promote the book, his audience will know exactly what to expect. They will receive quality, thought-provoking content that will have an impact on how they view life. This client understands the value of first building the relationship with his audience and the value of the soft sell.   Results The testimonial is in the numbers! With a consistent open rate of 43% (73% above industry average) and a click rate (41%) that is five times (500%) the industry average of 8.2%, this client will very likely achieve his goals with the sale of his upcoming book.     These are just a few examples of the many ways to achieve true engagement with your audience. We will share additional client scenarios focused on increased sales, community awareness and branding in an upcoming blog. In the meantime, we’d love to hear what email marketing strategies have worked best with your clients.     Be creative. Be bold. Engage with your Audience!
In a way that will bring you some amazing results.    There are a variety of practical steps for you to take for better marketing and advertising your company’s products and services.    Let me run through a few ideas and tell me what you think.   Building your marketing and advertising is like building a home. There are many pieces, some equal in use and some are unique. The result is a very practical home meeting the needs of many people.   This post is a walk-through of what you can consider and use to build better marketing and advertising tactics for your #smallbiz. Using digital marketing. Social media. Email. Websites. Just about anything you can think of to get a message to your customer. You want it to create a reaction, such as a purchase, using an offer that is hard to refuse.   Keep in mind: There are no magic bullets, wands or séances in the #smallbiz marketing and advertising I recommend. When you try to sell anything, you are dealing with another person. For example, why does an email, when sent to your customers for a second time, have different results? You’re not a mind reader, but using a few ideas presented today, can give you a few ideas why.   Hopefully you agree there is a marketing  strategy on how you plan to sell your products and services to. You’ll need more than one strategy to reach as many people as possible. Unless of course, you are a mind reader.   First, I recommend using a  direct marketing strategy . Direct marketing means just that – sending a relevant message directly to a prospect or customer who more than likely will make a purchase.   A customer-centric marketing strategy, will help you prepare marketing segments and profiles, to increase response.  For example, look at your product and service features. How many customers align with a marketing segment? Now you can start selling the benefits and not the features.   Based on what people purchased and how, start building customer profiles.   Don’t overthink when it comes to customer profiles. Start with simple goals. Capture a little customer data, analyze, test and record. Keep in mind – the value of a customer-centric marketing strategy is – “Taking the time to listen to, talk to and understand your customers. In time, it can greatly increase your marketing results, customer acquisition and customer retention.”   Our definition is – Customer-Centric Marketing means to fulfill all the needs and wants each customer expects, with a passion to succeed, provide an extra step of service and do it all with a smile, and a strong value proposition to keep customers coming back.   Summary   Data Management is critical when using both direct and customer-centric marketing strategies. Without data management, everything else you built in marketing, is wasted.   Secondly, if you don’t record your data correctly, you’ll never meet your goals. Today’s marketing automation tools and CRM’s are easier to use. You no longer have any excuse not to use one daily.   Thanks for reading. I’m available to answer your questions and share with you the right path for success.    Teaching and Coaching – It’s what I do.   Need more information on direct and customer-centric marketing? Sign up today for our monthly email, All Marketing Is Direct.   Don't procrastinate, evaluate! At times, some of the smallest changes in your small biz marketing, have the greatest impact.   New year, new lower mcg-eVal rates.             Mike Deuerling, aka, MarketingDoc                             Marketing Communications Group, Inc. 800-251-3608 answerme@dmcm.net   © 2017 by the Marketing Communications Group, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or reproduced in any way, including but not limited to digital copying and printing without the prior agreement and written permission of the publisher. Photographs are purchased from such companies as I-Stock, Windows Clip Art, HubSpot, PhotoPin, DepositPhotos, Solid Stock, Unsplash or John Deuerling.      
You can create Facebook lists and use them for added privacy when posting sensitive content.   By categorizing your Facebook friends in lists you control who sees your family pictures and status rants and/or your party pictures and business notifications; yet remember it's good practice to think of all posted information as public.   Below are instructions on how to create a list within Facebook and use it to adjust your privacy settings.   Creating a Facebook List   After you have logged into Facebook, click the "Home" button at the upper right corner of your screen. Within the left column you will see a category called "Friends" - hover directly to the right of "Friends" and the word "More" will pop up, click it.   If you haven't created any Facebook Friend Lists so far, you will see a few lists that are automatically generated by Facebook.  One of them will be "Close Friends", click on it.   Click on "Manage List" at the top right.  You can add and delete people on the list by clicking "Edit List".  You can also change the name of the list from this option.  (Unfortunately, you are not able to change the name of Facebook's automatically generated lists - but, you will be able to modify lists that you have created.)   The "Manage List" button is also where you can choose which updates are shown on the list's news feed which you see in the middle of the current page.   Click on "Notifications" to turn list notifications on or off.  Please note that if you choose "On" you will get a notification every time someone on this list updates their profile, uploads a photo and/or any other activity that you have choose to show on the list's news feed.   Ok, now you know the basics, follow directions in paragraph one and click on "Create List", name your list and add a few of your friends, then click "Create".  (Don't worry your friends won't know they have been added to a list and all your lists are private.)   Go to your profile by clicking on your name at the upper right of your screen. Click on "What's on your mind?" below your profile picture. Click on the button directly to the left of the blue "Post" button.  This button will be labeled according to your current privacy settings. Click "Custom".   "Make this visible to" section : From the drop down menu choose "Specific People or Lists".  In the box below "Specific People or Lists" start typing your new list's name.  Once you hit "Save" and "Post" this specific status update will only show to your new list.   Type your list's name in the box.  Once you hit "Save" and "Post" your status update will be hidden from your new list.  The status update will be visible to the people you selected in the "Make this visible to" section.   Other Privacy Settings   Do the same process for photo albums, privacy settings (i.e. How you Connect, Timeline & Tagging), about me section, relationship status, etc.
If you aren’t going to do anything with the numbers, don’t bother taking the time to measure web performance. As a number geek, it is hard for me to even write that sentence, but I mean it. Looking at numbers for the sake of bragging rights – look how much web traffic or how many fans on Facebook  – is a waste of time.      The numbers only have value if you dive in to understand what they mean, and use them to take action.   What type of action?   The answer to that question will vary based on your business objectives, but at the very least when you measure web performance you should treat the data like clues in a treasure hunt. Take time to follow the information like I did back in 2009 when I noticed an unusual spike in traffic to one obscure blog post.: SHOUT OUT TO VINCENT HIGH SCHOOL   In that example, I tracked back and found a connection between a referral source and a particular piece of content. Since the spike was caused by a group of students who are not necessarily my target market, I wrote a nice blog post, but didn’t have any intention of going any further.   But the process of looking for unusual spikes is one I repeat often. Doing so on a regular basis has helped us discover areas of interest among our readers, and communities we should be connecting to. That is what happened when Peter wrote an article about  SumoMe.com.    I t was a good blog post but a few days after it was published, the traffic blew up. It turns out that there is a user group for this software product on Facebook and one of the members shared the article. As web developers, we actually joined the group and got involved in the conversation.    Where do they go?   It is good to know where your visitors come from, but you also want to look at where they go next. Do they look at your contact form, your service page or simply leave? How do I know where they go next? I simply use the Behavior Flow tool, one of my favorite tools in the Google Analytics page. Using Behavior Flow, you can see how people move through your site.   We used the tool to study one of our most popular blog posts. Every day people come looking for information about Dropbox. Unfortunately, that is all they are interested in. The vast majority weren’t hanging around. They didn’t look at our other information, sign up for newsletters or seminars or fill out a contact form.    rom the data we came to two conclusions: Although the blog post was popular, we probably weren’t going to do more on the same or related topics because the people reading that post, much like the students in the first post I mentioned, weren’t in our target audience. We needed to at least try to capture some of that traffic. So we began experimenting with different links to other information in the blog post. While the vast majority of the traffic still drifts away at the bottom of the page, we have seen a slight increase in people looking around a little more. The bottom line? Take a little time to go on a treasure hunt of your own. Who knows what you will find, buried in the data if your take the time to really measure your web performance.    
It does depend on the type of business that you run as to how you are going to market during a time of natural disaster. My own marketing business was not top of mind for people who lost their homes. Here are some of my observations after our recent disaster.    People did not have access to phones - People have access to Facebook   Facebook was the communication tool people turned to during and immediately after the storms and flooding.  One of the major phone carriers had a station go out and most people were without access to phone calls.  Social media and email are how people learned what had happened, who had flooded and how badly.    Here are my top three tips for marketing after a local disaster (I hope you never have to use them.)   Let people know you care .  Ask how your clients and staff are on social media and request a comment or reply. Sending out an email to let your list know how you are and,more importantly, asking them to let you know how they are, shows that you care about them on a personal level.  Let people know your business  status !  Are you affected?  Are you open? What are your hours? Are you stocked with supplies people are needing?  (Many businesses here could open but did not have the staff to open regular hours.  The Sheriff instituted a curfew so restaurants had to close early enough that their employees would not break the curfew.)  Share good information/links to resources you are seeing on social media or get in your own inbox.  I shared information on applying to SBA and FEMA that I got from social media and in emails.  Not every person sees every post, so don't assume that it is old news. The more you can share the links to good resources, the better the chance it will be seen.  It also puts you in your community's mind as a good resource of information.     In the midst of the disaster and in the first days of cleanup, it is hard to see that there will be an end in sight.  If you regularly post and can't, then tell people your situation and let them know when you think you will be able to "re-open" and start back to your regular routine.     As with any marketing, it is about communicating your message.  Keep people informed as best you can.     As a side note: We found if we looked for the unexpected joys, it helped us to take a step to recovery.  You might get to spend time with your family that you are not able to otherwise. People found lost items like wedding rings. Seeing pictures of the "Cajun Navy" reminded us that we are kind to each other no matter skin color or religion.     I hope you NEVER have to use any of these tips, but Weather Happens!  
  and how your customer “ connections ” are unique and their needs are different.   If it took you three seconds to read the headline and the subhead above, there are only five seconds left to convince to buy. Then before you know it, they move on to the next company.   But wait -  customers have the answer you’ll need to connect with others.   Imagine an auditorium full of people waiting for a concert to start. There is a lot of noise.  Thousands of conversations are occurring simultaneously while waiting for the show to begin.   The only conversations that “connect” are usually between people, who know each other, standing very close to each other and they are still shouting at the top of their lungs.   The marketing game of attention.   What a company must do today is to create the attention and within a few nanoseconds. In other words, learn to eliminate any purchasing barriers. Then at the same time, to increase the ability to connect with the customer.   “Advances” or customer benefits will cause a hesitation. An answer for a potential customer is “what’s in it for them?” Product features are usually the glamor of owning your product, but the “advance” always add to the bottom line.   Start looking at your potential “customer profiles.”   Certainly,  you have  or  have not  updated or defined a variety of customer profiles. If you answered no, you have not, but now’s a great time to start. In case you haven’t noticed, this is already 2017 and accordingly, 2017 is going to run many bytes faster!   When you work with customer profiles, at the start, keep it simple. Put customers, anyone who has purchased into one group and the other prospective group who may still purchase, now and again, calling them prospects.   Getting back to the “advances,” they make a wonderful segment on your customer profiles. Simply, why did they buy?   Next, you need to put customers into like segments. It can be something as simple as male or female, geography, age, occupation, but use whatever simple characteristics that stand out across all contacts.   You may ask, “Why do I need to do this?”   The key word in this post was “ connect .” You need to connect with customers and potential customers with a message relevant to their needs.   What are the buying traits of your customers?  Here’s four to start your thinking process.   The best buyers purchase at specific intervals and are usually found in the top twenty percent of purchasers. Occasional buyers who are familiar with your product. Prospect/Past Customer. This is a tough one. Build a list of ideas to test that may lead to a re-connection Someday/Maybe prospects. Hopefully, the smallest list of four. Look carefully into each contact and try to determine how the original connection occurred?  What channel did you or they use to connect? Was it email, social media, direct mail, web site or face-to-face?   Summary.   Go back to the auditorium. People who know each other, will talk to each other.  They increase their volume  to deliver the message no matter how loud the other conversations may be. If you thought of multi-channel communication for future marketing campaigns, you are on the right track.   Learning more about your customers and upgrading their profiles accordingly will give you a much-needed boost in sales for 2017.   Learning and Coaching – It’s what I do. Want to learn more about  direct and customer-centric marketing strategies  and how it can add customers to your QuickBooks? answerme@dmcm.net   Check out are marketing evaluation program specifically designed for a small business. We’ll examine your present marketing, learn your goals and aspirations, and prepare a marketing plan for your company based on your information.  Check it out today! Thanks for reading.           Mike Deuerling, aka: MarketingDoc 800-251-3608   Don’t procrastinate, eValuate. At times, some of the smallest changes in your small biz marketing, have the greatest impact.   Need more information on direct and customer-centric marketing?  Sign up today for our monthly email, All Marketing Is Direct.   Our data policy: Short meaning. Any data shared with us, stays with us.  Complete Privacy Statement © 2017 by the Marketing Communications Group, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or reproduced in any way, including but not limited to digital copying and printing without the prior agreement and written permission of the publisher. Photographs are purchased from such companies as I-Stock, Windows Clip Art, HubSpot, PhotoPin, DepositPhotos, Solid Stock, Unsplash or John Deuerling.
  Are you starting a startup or thinking of starting one? If so, you may want to strongly consider the cloud. Why consider the cloud? Well, for the typical reasons: time and money. And while you are considering the cloud, you might as well consider one of the top clouds in the world: Microsoft's Office 365. Microsoft was recognized by Gartner as a leader in cloud in the Magic Quadrant since 2014 (latest blog here: http://blogs.gartner.com/merv-adrian/2016/01/31/mi crosoft-in-40-gartner-magic-quadrants-january-2016 ... ) and Microsoft's cloud, Office 365, can save you both time and money.   You Don't Have All the Time in the World You are starting a business and time has become an even more precious commodity than it already was. There are only 24 hours in a day after time to eat, sleep, rest, and take care of yourself and loved one, the time in a day is short.   Consider the time it takes to start up an business. Time with paperwork as well as possible office space planning and setup and hiring people can be a big investment of time. Setting up the company IT infrastructure can also be a time huge investment but you can get some of that time back. Imagine getting the tools on an infrastructure that you don't have to setup, only have to subscribe to. Office 365 (Not to be confused with Office. Learn the difference here ) contains all of these things that most startups (as well as established organizations) need: Exchange – Keep everyone in sync with professional, enterprise-grade email and shared calendars they can access at their desk or on the go. Get business-class email, shared calendars, 50 GB of storage space per user , and the ability to use your own domain name. Also, archiving and legal hold capabilities, plus unlimited storage on the E3 plan. Ask Yourself : Are you thinking of using Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or the like for your organization? Doesn’t look too professional, right? You may be getting some business at first but there are a lot of people who will not take you seriously if you are using a consumer email address. How much does standalone email cost? Can you afford to give all of your staff email? What about the other tools you need? Skype for Business  (Formally Lync. Not to be confused with Skype. Learn the difference here .)– Connect immediately or set up and host online meetings for up to 250 people with multi-party HD video conferencing, real-time note taking, and screen sharing. Connect to Skype user and hold meetings with people who don’t have Lync, Skype, or Skype for Business. Ask Yourself : Are you thinking about paying for WebEx, GoToMeeting, or the like? If so, how much will it cost you? Are you having to share accounts? Did you know that you can get two E3 and one E1 subscription of Office 365 for the same price as one WebEx account? SharePoint – Collaborate with teammates, partners, and customers with documents that are always up to date and accessible from almost anywhere. Have the ability to create separate sites for different purposes. Share documents and so much more like project management, dashboards, online forms, and automated workflow in a 1 TB shared space that can be as large as 25 TB. And it is permission based so you can invite those who need to be. Ask Yourself : Have you wanted wanted/needed to share documents and make sure everyone can get to the latest and greatest? Planning to you use a fileserver but concerned about how it is hard can be to navigate and know which is the latest and greatest files? How about automating paper forms and slow workflow processes? Considering a product like Basecamp? How much does that cost? OneDrive for Business (Not to be confused with OneDrive. Learn the difference here .) –  1TB of personal storage they can access from anywhere and that syncs with their PC, Mac, and mobile devices. Easily share files internally and externally and control who sees and edits them. You can also use co-authoring so that you and your team can work on a document at the same time. Ask Yourself : Is your data backed up? What if my computer goes down tomorrow? If you are considering DropBox or the like, how much will it costing you? Microsoft Office Professional or Professional Plus desktop applications (depending on subscription level) - Subscription to Office Pro or Pro Plus for up to 5 PCs/Macs and 5 mobile devices per user. Office Professional Plus includes Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, and InfoPath. Ask yourself : How much of a capital expense is it for you to upgrade? Wouldn't it be great to have everyone on the same version of Office. Site mailboxes – Store and share email and documents in project-specific folders, allowing for easier team   collaboration. Office Mobile – Don’t have a Windows phone? No worries. Access, edit, and view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on iPhones, iPads, and Android. Depends on subscription. Office Web Apps – Create, store, edit, and share Office docs online for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Website – Market your business with a website that’s easy to set up and update via Wix or GoDaddy and get 50% off the first year. Worry-free, continuous data backup to geo-redundant servers  Access securely from anywhere on any web connected device Much more! Speaking of security, it is secure and compliant, all without you having to lift a finger. If you go to http://trustoffice365.com , you can read all about Microsoft's compliance, security, privacy and transparency measures. Namely, the following: Built-in security Service-level security through defense-in-depth Customer controls within the service Security hardening and operational best practices Privacy by design Your data is not used for advertising You have extensive privacy controls You can take your data with you when you want Continuous compliance Proactive processes to meet your compliance needs Customer controls for organizational compliance Independently verified to meet evolving standards Transparent operations You know where your data resides and who has access Visibility into availability and changes to the service Financially backed guarantee of 99.9% uptime   Leveraging the cloud as your company's infrastructure can minimize some of the time you would spend setting it all up from scratch. And speaking of time…   Time is Money Time is money so saving time is equal to saving money. The less time you spend setting those parts up the more time you can devote to other things and the less money you have to devote at your payrate or at your IT person's payrate to do something that is already done. Why recreate the wheel? Check out this blog and this whitepaper for a more in-depth look at the return on investment (ROI) that Office 365 offers.     Images from: https://sadasystems.com/blog/microsoft-solutions/o ffice-365/blogmicrosoft-solutionsoffice-365the-fiv ...   Money is Money So how much does it cost? Check this out!     Full Enterprise plans pricing chart with features: https://products.office.com/en-us/business/compare -more-office-365-for-business-plans       Full Business plans pricing chart here: https://products.office.com/en-us/business/compare -office-365-for-business-plans   When you take those costs and compare them to how much it would cost to buy the server, the Office software, tools that enable mobility and backup recovery, tools for collaboration for each of your employees, you can easily see the cost savings. So get Microsoft's cloud, Office 365, and watch your ROI grow!   Need help calculating the ROI, the TCO (total cost of ownership), and/or a demo or Office 365? Need to talk this through more? We understand and are here to help. Reach out to us at service@cartermcgowanservices.com and we will happily answer your questions. We can also work with you to bring Microsoft Office 365, Azure, and SharePoint as well as this and other solutions to your organization. To learn more about how we help, please see our website at www.cartermcgowanservices.com .
with the right marketing questions.   The small business market can be a challenge for many suppliers of products and services. Some people prefer to go after the bigger fish. Their reasoning usually centers on, “small business is such a waste of time. There’s more money to make working with larger companies.”  Yada, yada, and more yada. Plus, you'll need the extra money for aspirin.   For some business people, it’s their personal satisfaction. In simple terms, any small business providing a beneficial product or service to the marketplace, may need outside expertise to build a better business. If it was easy to operate and grow a small business, everyone would have one.   Most rely on an accountant to keep the books sparkling clean. An attorney to guide them through the legal system. Many small business need marketing and advertising to grow their business. Usually when they are churning of customers daily and losing repeat orders from existing customers.   Every business, at some point, needs your expertise.   Attracting new customers is usually rather high on the to-do list of any small business. But advertising in the wrong place is not a solution. Or have a hard time finding a niche market and waste a lot of money going after a niche market the wrong way.   If you provide a product or service for a small business always strive for a “working relationship.” Take some time to learn more about their small business. You may provide a spark for a new idea. And then, they may need more of what you are selling.   If a small business has a good product and/or service to sell, that is a leading indicator for success. More than likely, the small business owner probably has a desire to grow the business even more.   A customer-centric marketing strategy helps you sell.    I post regularly on the value of a customer-centric marketing strategy . For a small business today it's a smart move. A quick definition is - "to understand why the customer buys, how a customer uses the product or service, and what other need(s) the product or service can resolve." Sounds simple enough. Being a provider to small businesses, it can serve you extremely well.   Another way to look at this strategy is thru your “customer service.” Ask yourself, do you really provide great customer service or are a few pieces missing?   When you talk with another small business owner simply ask, “What else can I do to serve you better?” Together, you and the small business team have the winning remedy to keep you and them, grow healthy for as long as you both like.   Thanks for reading. I’m available to answer your questions and share with you the right path for success.   Learning and Coaching - It's what I do.   Check out are marketing evaluation program specifically designed for a small business. We’ll analyze your present marketing, learn your goals and aspirations, and prepare a marketing report for your company based on your information.  Check it out today!   Mike Deuerling. aka: MarketingDoc 800-251-3608     A click-free-zone. Our data policy: Short meaning. Any data shared with us, stays with us. Complete Privacy Statement available . © 2017 by the Marketing Communications Group, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or reproduced in any way, including but not limited to digital copying and printing without the prior agreement and written permission of the publisher. Photographs are purchased from such companies as I-Stock, Windows Clip Art, HubSpot, PhotoPin, DepositPhotos, Solid Stock, Unsplash or John Deuerling.
  First off, you have probably known Skype for years. Heck, you were probably using it! Then, all of the sudden… out of the clear blue… there was this thing called Skype for Business. If you were saying "Now, what the heck is this thing?", you are not alone. Believe or not , S4B (Skype for Business) didn't come out of the blue although it may seem like it. S4B was born out of the cloud and, in particular, out of a thing called Lync. What's up with the re-name? Honestly, I don't know except that it was a rebranding effort. Why rebrand Lync to the brand Skype that people already know then added "for Business" on the end? Again, don't know (haven't been able to get a straight answer) BUT let me tell you what I do know which is the differences between Skype and Skype for Business.   HIGH LEVEL Skype is the consumer product that has been around since August 2003. Skype for Business is the product for the business side per the "for Business" postfix on the product name. Skype for Business was born out of Microsoft's cloud, Office 365. It start off as Lync then morphed into Skype for Business in April of 2015. Skype for the most part is free with some "for pay" premium features and S4B is "for pay" all the way.   They have similar symbols but the color is differently. S4B (Skype for Business) is white with a blue border and blue "S" in the middle. Skype is blue with no border and white "S" in the middle. Note the coloring when I search for Skype.     Confused a little? Yep.   I touched on the differences but they are more than skin deep when we get down into the weeds. So, let's go there, shall we?   IN THE WEEDS The Interface (Just a little more skin) Skype looks like this when you open it to login:     S4B looks like this:   When logged in Skype, it looks like this:   While S4B looks like this:   The Features Here is a chart pointing out the features of each. Note they are mostly the same until you get into the "business" features. Skype ( http://www.skype.com/en/features/ ) Skype for Business ( https://products.office.com/en-us/skype-for-busine ss/compare-plans ) Calling Skype to Skype calls Call mobiles and landlines worldwide at low rates. Get a group of people together on one call Your friends call a number and you pick up on Skype wherever you are in the world. Forward calls Caller ID Call international numbers from any phone at low calling rates. Skype Click to Call   Same here depending on subscription Video One-to-one video calls Group video calls Same here Messaging Mojis and emoticons Video messaging Instant messaging Send texts (SMS) Voice messages GroupMe All except SMS and GroupMe (although you can instant message and audio call a group) Sharing Send files, photos and videos of any size over Skype. Screen sharing Group screen sharing Share a contact, number and Skype Name easily. Same here Other features Get online at over two million public hotspots worldwide. One tool to create accounts, allocate credit and assign features. Make Skype calls through your existing SIP-enabled PBX.. Go from chat to video in just one click, right from your inbox. Add a button to your website or blog and with one click anyone can call or IM you. Share button Skype Translator Get fast access to Skype features like sharing from your browser. All except the hotspots but can also include enterprise features such as: Advanced meeting options including Polls and Q&A Schedule meetings in Outlook See your contacts' online statuses, schedule meetings in Outlook, and start conversations from apps like Word and PowerPoint. Conversations are protected by strong authentication and encryption, and you manage employee accounts and features. Broadcast Skype for Business meetings on the Internet for to up to 10,000 people Skype for Business Room Systems and Surface Hub         The Intended Audience As I eluded to earlier, Skype is intended for consumer users while S4B is geared towards the business user. This is not to say that Skype can't be used by businesses and vice versa. On the contrary, I personally know of companies who use Skype to interview potential employees and of consumers users getting Office 365 which comes with S4B and using it to talk to their friends and family. The latter is not as often as the former but you get the idea.   So basically…. If you want to talk to your friends or a small group of people (25 and under), you can use Skype. If you need to meet with larger groups (up to 250) or to broadcast your meeting (up to 10,000), use S4B. If security and permissions is not a big concern and AES encryption is enough, use Skype. If you need stronger authentication and/or more control over the Skype accounts, use S4B. If you would like to integrate Office apps into your experience (controls what people see on your screen) instead of just sharing your screen, use S4B. If not, use Skype. If you need a conference room setup, use S4B. If not, use Skype.   What it boils down to is personal/small scale vs. business/large scale. Which works for you? BTW, if you have Office 365 then chances are you already have S4B.   Hopefully this has helped to clear up confusion but, if you still need more help, we understand and are here to help. Reach out to us and we will happily answer your questions. We can also work with you to bring other solutions like company portals, business intelligence, workflow automation, social media, and email marketing to your organization.   Other references: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2920337/skype-vs-sk ype-for-business-who-can-stick-with-the-free-app-w ... http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com/buyersguide/ article.php/3816716/The-Pros-and-Cons-of-Skype-for ... http://www.business2community.com/brandviews/getap p/skype-vs-skype-for-business-whats-the-difference ...
Mark Mikelat Be the Solution to the Noise Pollution.jpg
  Social Media Marketing - Be The Solution to the Noise Pollution   by Mark Mikelat , president of Building Aspirations   Click here to subscribe to our newsletter   Help me! I am overwhelmed by social media. It is crazy, is it not? Just, wait ten minutes, it will get crazier. There is a cacophony of noise. It is not conversation, it is not communication, it is just noise. Noise is just value-less sound. Please do not add to the problem. Follow these tips and you can be the solution to the social media noise pollution.   Noise Pollution is bad   Please do not confuse a noise and a sound. Perhaps a scientist with expertise in acoustics might correct me, but please allow me to share my opinion. A sound has some redeeming value, while a noise does not. A bird chirping is a pleasant sound, but a hundred birds squawking is noise. I recall an apartment with thin walls I once had next to a couple prone to loud arguments. Frustratingly, they argued in Arabic, and hence I could not understand. Since I did not understand the source of the argument, there was no entertainment value for me. That was noise. Social media is overloaded with noise, and it continues to get worse. But, with your help, we can be the solution to the pollution.   Silence is better than noise   Often times it is better to remain silent. Sometimes silence is good. I remember one of the best managers I ever had. He very seldom said anything in meetings, and when he did, it was invariably the most important thing said. He only spoke when he had something to say. Please adopt that attitude. Do not remain silent forever. Simple, wait until you have something important to say. The exact amount of wait time will certainly depend upon you, your business and your social media channel. While not posting on Facebook for three months might be problematic, posting ten times a day grows our noise pollution problem. Simply break your silence when your have something of value to share.   When you say something, really say something   What you share does not need to be earth-shattering, or brilliant. It just needs to be of value to your target market. If the market wants you to share, post, or communicate very often, then this is certainly not noise, because there is value. Remember, however, that you do not determine the value, your target market does. If you are creating engagement with your posts, then you have confirmation that you are not noisy. You really are adding to their online experience.   Do not speak about which you do not know   Even if you have supportive social media fans, your relationship with them can quickly sour if you do not stay in your lane. Because you have the ear of your fans, in one area, it does not mean that you are loved in everything. Stay in your lane by sharing and conversing in your area of expertise. Pontificating about new and random topics will quickly alienate your fans. My mom would have called this being a busy-body. I would call it being a Cliff Clavin. If you are under 30, please Google that reference, and then come back. Talk about that which you know, otherwise you are just being noisy.   Be the pollution solution   So, now that we have a clear understanding of the problem, let us offer a solution. Know when enough is enough. This strategy will be very specific to your circumstances, but you can determine the proper threshold by monitoring and managing your social media marketing presence. The market's reactions in the form of their engagement, or lack thereof will help you determine where your message crosses the line into being noise. Just like you management your web traffic, you too must manage your social media influence. Noise can quickly change your social media influence to market nuisance.   Treat others like you would like to be treated   Along with the analytic strategy just described, there is a more general, but more powerful edict to follow. Simply treat other people as you would like to be treated. You do not like it when people overwhelm you with stupid messages, aggressive sales pitches, or a stream of Facebook invites to the new ridiculous game of the week. You consider this noise. So, please do not be noisy back. Show respect to people by sharing messages that are loaded with redeeming value. Share messages that are educational, inspirational, motivational, funny, intriguing, or otherwise of worth to your social media fans.   Please be the solution, to the social media noise pollution   Do you need help implementing the pollution solution? Building Aspirations can help put this success plan into action for you. Connect with us today. We are experts with social media marketing. You know your business. Building Aspirations knows social media.
Yes, IT CAN lead to more customers!   This post is about cans. We’re not talking about trash cans, empty tin cans, cans of soda, or a can or two of beans. We’re writing about the problem with the word “can” when it is preceded with the wrong word.   For example, people often say “you can” when they really mean to say “it can.” If you’re not yet a master website builder, for example, you know what happens when you enter a discussion group for using and building WordPress websites. People in the discussion group are quick on the draw, with the latest WordPress release “you” can do with this  amazing latest upgrade .   So, you finally decide to take a chance. What “can it” hurt. You purchase a website subscription service from a company rep in the discussion group you frequent, providing  all the bells and whistles you’ll ever need  in a WordPress website. As  you  begin to unbundle the files,  you  begin to wonder what “can” I really do. You can’t do it – why you can’t get it to do all the amazing things as promised.   If the company rep promised all “it can” do, your level of expectation might not have been so high and your disappointment, so considerable.   So, because “you can” is used so often in real life, and you really can’t, instead of celebrating new web technology, you are frustrated, angry, and feel more than a little taken.   Frustration begins to set in.   Even if “it can” can leave you feeling that you’ve been taken advantage of. You’re still left holding the bag.   What the rep probably should have said was “we can.” That is, “We can help you build the website. We can help you learn it. We can help you gain its maximum value.”   The same holds true in direct marketing. The more you facilitate your company’s customers’ full and complete utilization of your product, the more favored you can become to them as a valued provider of products and services.   Sure, people often seem to have more questions than you can answer. And not all companies are equipped to handle the volume of questions and inquiries. Think about the  little  ways “you can” begin to implement the “we can” strategy. Perhaps it’s simple online support, simple instructions, simple webinars, simple advice, or more use of social media. The key is to keep it simple and understandable from the customers’  point of view .   There is no better way to strengthen your customers’ reliance on you and solidify your relationship than when you say, “We can!”   So, what “can we” do for you?   There is another post we wrote earlier this year about word selection.  Here’s the link to  “one word not used correctly can sink a direct marketing message.”   Thanks for reading and please tell others, except your competition.   Learning and Coaching – It’s what I do.   Want to learn more about  direct and customer-centric marketing strategies  and how it can add customers to your QuickBooks?                             Don’t procrastinate, eValuate.   At times, some of the smallest changes in your #smallbiz marketing, have the greatest impact.   Need more information on direct and customer-centric marketing? Sign up today for our monthly email, All Marketing Is Direct.   Our data policy: Any data shared with us, stays with us. Period.   Mike Deuerling             Marketing Communications Group, Inc. 800-251-3608      © 2016 by the Marketing Communications Group, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or reproduced in any way, including but not limited to digital copying and printing without the prior agreement and written permission of the publisher. Photographs are purchased from such companies as I-Stock, Windows Clip Art, HubSpot, PhotoPin, DepositPhotos, Solid Stock, Unsplash or John Deuerling.
Building a quality email marketing list should be a goal for every business and non-profit. Yet many are reluctant to event try email marketing because “they don’t have a list.” If you have existing customers, donors, vendors, and volunteers – you have very powerful list that you need to leverage. Your primary goal should be to reach out to your list at least once-per-month with a focused email marketing campaign. But what could you do to augment that once-per-month frequency without being seen as sending too much or over saturating your audience? It’s time to think about segmentation. This means you need to drill down and understand not only your customers, prospects, fans, and super fans but you must also understand what your business provides and how those offerings are perceived by the various people on your master list. You may want to segment based on location. If you have customers and audience across the country or around the world, you may want to consider segmenting based on time zone.  Timing is important in any marketing activity. You need to reach them when they are available. Los Angeles is having breakfast, while New York is thinking about lunch and Hawaii is sound asleep.  Sending your email when they are most likely to view it is crucial. Your email marketing reports can help you determine how to segment. For example, say you sent an email to your entire list. It offered information on shoes. Specifically, you had a quick paragraph about red shoes and a quick paragraph about blue shoes. Each had a link to a more in depth article or perhaps a cart item on your web site. After you send the email, your Constant Contact report will show you who clicked on which link – red shoes or blue shoes. Those recorded actions could then be saved as separate lists, so now you could reach out to the red shoe lovers or the blue shoe lovers when you have a special promotion on that item.  Their behavior (clicking on the directed link) can be used as a segmentation strategy. You could also promote separate sign up links based on interests. This allows your audience to start segmenting for you. Constant Contact allows for multiple sign up forms, which can be used as posts to social media, forms on your web site, text to join, special promotions and so on.  Giving people options can result in valuable segmented lists. Segmentation is a powerful strategy. It helps you to better understand your audience and deliver relevant information to them.  It’s up to you to divide and conquer!
    First impressions matter It only takes a few seconds for people to form preliminary opinions of a person, product or company. Taking the time to design effective and attractive emails will help create a positive, lasting impression. With easy to use tools,  you can create email campaigns in a matter of minutes. And, if you incorporate these simple design strategies you can improve your results by creating easy to read, attractive emails.  Start with your branding When customers and prospects open your email it should feel familiar, creating a visually smooth transition to your website or social media profiles. You can create this familiar feeling by using your logo, brand colors and standard brand images in your header, footer and throughout the email.   Design email campaigns to be read on mobile devices   Today, a significant portion of readers view campaigns from mobile devices. Make sure you’re using a mobile friendly design.   Use a single column format.  Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Use headlines and dividers. Use buttons instead of links.  Select easy-to-read fonts   The font you choose can support or distract from your message. Here a few things to keep in mind as you select font for   your email.   Select fo nts which look like your brand If possible. Serif fonts are easier to read on screens.  Use serifs for titles only. Use all caps for b uttons.    Select the right colors When applying color to your design, you should consider color choices that work well together, compliment your brand and project the kind of feeling you are trying to convey. Some things to keep in mind:    Start with your brand colors.  Avoid extremely bright color combinations or large areas of intense color. Use bright colors sparingly to attract attention to key points, Limit the primary color pallet to 3, too many make the design “busy” and hard to look at. If you are going to put text on a colored background, the font will need to be slightly larger and in a strong contrasting color.     Use images to create attractive emails   People respond to images. One study found 82% of people pay more attention to emails that have images so we know they add value if done well. Here are a few simple things to remember when using images:  Don’t rely on images to convey critical information. Use image descriptions. Keep images relevant. Less is more. Limit the total number of images and calls to action. Want to put these tips into action? C heck out our workbook on this topic. 
As we come to the end of the year and reflect back on 2016, one of the highlights was the Summer Olympics in Rio.    I was mesmerized watching the Olympics.   Having made 2 trips to Rio to facilitate training for a global company with large operations in South America, I was delighted to see the spotlight on Brazil’s beautiful beaches and warm, friendly people.  I love watching the Parade of Nations during the Opening Ceremonies and was wowed by so many spectacular performances, including Usain Bolt and the U.S. women’s basketball team.    I noticed that every Olympic athlete, including all-time greats Michael Phelps and Simone Biles, has a coach.  And no one thinks that their having a coach means they are weak or any less than high achievers.    But somehow, that “elite performers have coaches” mindset hasn’t translated completely to business, where many people still view coaching as remedial instead of a means to achieve the next level of performance excellence.  In fact, some of my executive presentation skills coaching clients want to meet with me away from their offices, so no one knows they are working with a coach.     Here are 7 reasons why you should follow the example of Olympic athletes and work with a coach to optimize your presentation skills and executive presence.  Remember, while your presentation may not be telecast to millions of viewers across the world or come down to one one-hundredth of a second, it does make a difference to your brand, success, career and impact.     A coach can accelerate your performance. Using a wealth of experience gained from their own background and working with other clients, he or she can show you how to move from good to great and take your presentation from okay to outstanding. A coach takes the guesswork out of success. You’ll learn exactly what to do to deliver a successful presentation and connect with your audience, instead of taking random steps and hoping your presentation works.  A coach saves you wasted time working on the wrong things. For example, if you spend hours memorizing your presentation and then panic when you can’t remember it in front of a live audience, a coach can suggest an alternate way to prepare and practice that is more effective than rote memorization.  A coach provides unbiased, specific feedback. Unlike your colleagues who may just say, “good job” after a presentation, a coach knows what to look for and will tell you specifically what you did well and what you have to improve.  A coach provides custom guidance. He or she focuses on your individual needs and specific situation rather than a cookie cutter or a “one size fits all” approach that wastes time on irrelevant elements.  A coach provides practical and hands-on tools and techniques. This means that you know exactly what and how to practice, rather just being given theory that you have to figure out on your own how to implement. A coach provides external motivation when your energy and enthusiasm are flagging. In fact, I have a client who says, “I work better on creating content for my strategic presentation when you are in the room with me to help me focus and stay on track.”   So when you want to take your presentation or executive presence to the next level, don’t go it alone.  Be like Simone Biles and every other high-performing athlete and get a coach.     (And I’d welcome the opportunity to be your coach -  contact me  to find out how we can work together to help you achieve Olympic-worthy presentations.)   Gilda Bonanno is a speaker, trainer and coach who helps people improve their presentation and communication skills so they can be more successful. Sign up to receive more public speaking and networking strategies from Gilda's e-newsletter: http://www.gildabonanno.com/Pages/newsletter.aspx    
Here’s why.   The task of locating and recruiting new customers is an essential activity for every business.   So, it stands to reason that you spend a great deal of your time attempting to attract the attention of viable prospects and make an initial sale.   Sometimes, however, there’s a tendency to concentrate so heavily on seeking new customers that we often overlook the ones we already have.   That’s why it’s so vitally important to make sure you divide your direct marketing dollars appropriately between the two activities.   Go for the long  tail .   Go for the “long tail in direct marketing” with as much energy as you go for the initial sale. That is, go for developing strategies to build repeat business over the long haul with the same energy.   For example, by providing a greater variety of inventory (extending the long tail), businesses hope to reach more customers and generate more total sales. If you sell printers you have an inventory of paper, toner, color cartridges, service contracts, and so on.   You may not think your company does not have a tail, but take a closer look. Could you build in and offer a service or maintenance contract? Could you devise annual reviews or client updates? Could you create innovations in your products or services that encourage customers to repurchase more frequently? Longer life of cartridges? Toner?   Summary.   Many businesses have tails they don’t even know they have. By looking closer at your existing customers, are there different ways they may consume use your product?   If you have weak or non-existent customer profiles in your company data, now is always a good time to start building them. Just make sure, you keep “going for the tail” as the end goal that brings in another revenue stream from existing customers.   No, you will not find a whale in a stream. But you may find a whale of a tale from a local fisherman!   Thanks for reading. Please tell me what you think.   Don’t procrastinate, eValuate.   At times, some of the smallest changes in your #smallbiz marketing, have the greatest impact.   Need more information on direct and customer-centric marketing? Sign up today for our monthly email, All Marketing Is Direct.   Our data policy: Any data shared with us, stays with us. Period.   Mike Deuerling           Marketing Communications Group, Inc.     © 2016 by the Marketing Communications Group, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or reproduced in any way, including but not limited to digital copying and printing without the prior agreement and written permission of the publisher. Photographs are purchased from such companies as I-Stock, Windows Clip Art, HubSpot, PhotoPin, DepositPhotos, Solid Stock, Unsplash or John Deuerling.
Plain text emails... they're so bland! If you wanted to read plain text, you'd go to the library, right? After all, you're using Constant Contact  - a powerhouse tool for creating beautiful, vibrant, image-driven emails. Seriously, who cares about plain text email?    Unfortunately, that's just not the case. Plain text emails started the email party, and they'll be here until the last person leaves. But why should you care about the plain text version? Before we can explain the importance, we need to understand the difference.   At its simplest form, a plain text emails is void of any visual formatting. That means you can't add or change: Bold, italics, or underlines font size font style colors images hyperlinked text (also known as anchor text) CSS Forward to a Friend Join My List Plain text emails are fool proof! Because they are so simple, no information can be lost when they are viewed on different email clients (i.e. Outlook, Gmail, Thunderbird, Comcast, AOL, etc.)   HTML emails are a whole different ball game. HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, the same coding used to make websites. HTML emails use a formatting called rich-text formatting, which makes it possible for you to change all of those visual elements I listed above. In essence, with the help of Constant Contact, you are basically creating a mini, one-page website that goes straight into someone's email inbox.    Now that you know the difference, why should you care about plain text email? Here are 5 reasons to mull over: Some people prefer plain text. It's cleaner, easier to read, and an efficient use of time. Sometimes plain text gets the job done. Think of a sales letter or a quick thank you note. Plain text delivers the message in a professional manner. SPAM filters love plain text versions. Basically, if a plain text version doesn't accompany an HTML version, then it looks like a lazy spammer to Gmail, Comcast, Yahoo, etc. Some devices and browsers can't handle HTML emails. Whether people set their security settings to only allow plain text emails or they're reading your emails on an old Motorola flip phone, you want to make sure they can read your message.  The Apple Watch! Yes, that's right, the Apple Watch is a reason for you to consider plain text emails. My colleague, Jake Burns, wrote a  great article about the importance of plain text emails with regards to the Apple Watch . I won't steal any of this thunder here, but the Apple Watch poses a serious challenge for image-driven emails. As more consumers adopt the Apple Watch, you'll want to make sure you're effectively communicating with their wrist.  There you have it. We should most definitely care about plain text emails. Want to learn more about Email Marketing best practices? Maybe you need a new Constant Contact template design? Then, you'll want to click here:  MasterVsMaster.com   Photos courtesy of  http://www.business2community.com/
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We’re big fans of analytics mostly due to this famous quote:   "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."   A really smart guy said that. He also said:   "You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else."   Who was this wise guy? Albert Einstein, of course.   So how can we be smart, learn the game, and then play better than everyone else? Analytics and measurement. And my new favorite tools for your company website are Heat Maps. They provide very similar information that Google Analytics does, but in a much more visual way. Google Analytics will tell you who is coming to your site, what pages they click on and how long they stay. Great information to learn what your customers are looking at, and just as importantly, ignoring!   Heat maps take this learning to an even deeper level. The maps show you what folks are doing while actually on your site! They create visual representations of where your visitors are clicking on and where their eyes are tracking (by tracking the path of their mouse). The heat map software we use even records every visitor’s actual time on the site. So for example, it will show me a video of their visit while on their browser (say Internet Explorer), how my site rendered on their operating system (Windows 7 or 8 or Mac or whatever) and exactly what they did and saw. That is great information because we can then see if our sites are rendering properly on multiple systems and browsers that we may not have tested on because there are just so many out there!   So here is an example of a “clicks” heat map of one of our clients, El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood ( http://www.elportaltheatre.com ).     You can see that most folks coming to the site are clicking on the posters across the top of the site that represent their upcoming shows. They are also scanning the navigation menu that includes a drop-down menu that lists all the upcoming shows at their theatre beyond just those that have posters. We can also see that folks usually interact with the top portion of the site and don’t do too much scrolling. This is called “staying above the fold” - an old advertising adage that harkens back to the time of newspapers and how only pictures above the fold would be seen in the old street vending machines that had windows to feature the newspapers. Staying above the fold is typical of most website visitors and verifies how important that top portion of your website is. However, when folks do scroll down on the website, we can see they are clicking on the actual upcoming dates of the most current shows. That verifies that information is important to keep and their visitors want that info.     The eye tracking report verifies the same information as the click report but also shows that folks are interested in El Portal’s social media buttons and the sign up for their newsletter button. Not surprisingly, most folks are not necessarily reading all that welcome text. We may decide to pare that down some. Lastly, here is the report of the actual recorded visits.     All we have to do is hit the play button to view actual visits to their site. It’s always easier to just show you what it looks like, so we went ahead and recorded one you can play:   (function() {if (window.ooyalaScriptLoaded != 'loaded') { var head = document.head || document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0];var script = document.createElement('script'); script.type = 'text/javascript'; script.onload = function () { window.ooyalaScriptLoaded = 'loaded';loadOoyalaPlayer();};head.appendChild(script); script.src = 'https://player.ooyala.com/v3/ODI0MmQ3NjNhYWVjODliZTgzY2ZkMDdi'} else {loadOoyalaPlayer();}function loadOoyalaPlayer() { OO.ready(function(){var params=LITHIUM.jQuery.extend({"width":"400px","height":"300px"},{onCreate:function(player){LITHIUM.OOYALA=LITHIUM.OOYALA||{};LITHIUM.OOYALA.players=LITHIUM.OOYALA.players||{};LITHIUM.OOYALA.players['lia-vid-E0bHlidjqdSUEagkEMnIcixRryBZIGEsw400h300r335']={containerId:'lia-vid-E0bHlidjqdSUEagkEMnIcixRryBZIGEsw400h300r335',videoId:'E0bHlidjqdSUEagkEMnIcixRryBZIGEs',messageBus:player.mb};player.subscribe('playerEmbedded','liResize',function(){LITHIUM.Video(player.elementId,'playerEmbedded');});}});OO.Player.create('lia-vid-E0bHlidjqdSUEagkEMnIcixRryBZIGEsw400h300r335','E0bHlidjqdSUEagkEMnIcixRryBZIGEs',params);LITHIUM.jQuery('.lia-vid-container .innerWrapper').css('z-index','0');});}})();   I hope these reports and video demonstrate how you can start measuring and tracking your website visitors’ behaviors and how you can then improve your game by providing them with better information and improved user experiences on your site. You don’t have to guess anymore about what your customers want or what they are doing on your site – just use this software to spy on them and find out! Contact us at nick@socialpunchmarketing.com if you are interested in the software. It is available through us for $39 monthly. Use it as long as you like (just for one month to test your site, and then again later for additional tracking after you’ve made changes to improve your site).
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2008 may not even seem that long ago to some of you. But so much has changed in marketing since then that quite frankly a website even developed in 2010 can seem – well – “old school.”   According to Pew Internet & American Life Project back around 2008, only about ½ the North American population even used online devices and a mere 8% were deep users of the web. Today North American internet users have climbed to 79% ( US Census Bureau ) with a whopping  90% of these users claiming they use the web to help them make purchasing decisions ( Fleishman Hillard 2012 Digital Influence Index ).    So it’s no wonder that a website that acts like a static brochure of your company is now a dinosaur in the digital world. Here are some criteria to help see if you’re website is hip and happening or pathetic and passé?    Do you have user friendly navigation and quality content?   There is so much that can be said here and they say a picture can say a thousand words. This wonderful infographic is a must when deciding on effective web design.     Are you coming up on Google (at the very least locally) for key search terms?   To have a site that no one can find is devastating. While it’s great to have a nice looking site, if it’s not being found it’s useless from a marketing perspective. You need to focus on your Title Tags and Headers Tags and ensure they have the right keyword search terms (keyword research here is a MUST). You need these keywords in your content, you need new and fresh content with your keywords in them, you need links to your site from other credible sites, you need to make sure your pictures use the keywords in their alt tags, you need to be registered on Google Places, you need a sitemap, and this is just the beginning! If you want to see how you are doing, try many of the free website grading tools available online, then start making the necessary changes.   Do you have Google Analytics installed and do you monitor your traffic at least once a week?   To have a website and not know how it’s performing is like investing a ton of money into an ad campaign and not caring if it provides you with results.   The good news is that Google Analytics are still free and luckily most web developers can easily add the proper code to the pages on your site and even set up a report to arrive in your inbox once a week. I like to look at the following at least weekly and then deep dive twice a month in to other areas:   How many unique visitors am I getting?  How long are they staying on the site?  What is my bounce rate?  Where is the traffic coming from, including referring sites, what are the most common search terms, and what pages are the most popular?   Do you have multiple forms of media (video, photos, audio)?   To assume that everybody is going to read the content on your site is a bit naïve in today’s market. I recall a leader in web trends saying that before long websites will become mostly video in format instead of text. Why not start preparing, by climbing on the YouTube express and even creating a few Infographics of your own. Not only do multiple mediums appeal to different tastes, but they can then be strategically used on other online sites like YouTube, Pinterest, Slideshare and more. This again gives you more online exposure as well as valuable links back to your site.   Do you treat your website as just the hub to your entire online presence?   John Jantsch the fearless leader of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network of which I’m a part  introduced me to this great concept of the hub and spoke model of your online presence. It’s important you claim your online real estate and then post various forms of content to these other sites, encouraging them to visit your website. According to Universal McCann’s Wave 6 study , company websites are losing ground to social media sites in terms of credibility and popularity. These other sites, are places people will be seeking valuable information and engaging with your brand (see below) coming then to your website to show them how you can help them solve a problem or achieve a desired result. Implementing the hub and spoke model  increases you online presence tenfold if not substantially more!   Are you allowing prospects/customers to ENGAGE with you?    Websites used to be a one way street. You shared information with readers and that was it. Not in today’s world. Now people want the ability to communicate back. Your website should encourage conversations by including a place for people to comment, share ideas and become part of a community. You should promote downloads of quality information via eBooks, Subscriptions to your newsletter, Surveys or Forms that help visitors find answers to their problems. Finally you website should definitely include some calls to action.   Can you easily change the content on your site and are you?   Needless to say, if Google relies on content to help with their search engine results, you better be adding to and updating it on a weekly  or (at a bare minimum) monthly basis. This means you need to be able to change your own content and not rely on an outside source.   Did you know that according to HubSpot, sites that blog at least 20 times per month generate 5 times more traffic than those that blog only a few times per month?    Content is king in today’s online marketing world – it’s time to claim your throne if you aren’t already.   Is your site mobile and tablet friendly?    Just like landlines are giving way to mobile phones, so are PC’s losing ground to tablets and smart phones.  In fact Fleishman-Hillard found in their  global 2012 Digital Influence Index that 2 of the 3 consumers they surveyed, use a mobile/smartphone to gain information on a brand, product or destination at least 3 – 4 days a week.   That makes it a no brainer that your site better pull up quickly and be easy to navigate on these devices.   To be clear, this doesn’t just mean your site comes up on a mobile device. It means that instead of a tiny, tiny, miniscule version of your site, there are nice big buttons that allow me to get what I need easily and even call you in one easy click of a button.    If you want to see an example of what your site should look like – go to Dudamobile.com and type in your URL.   That’s why today’s websites are now built with what is called a responsive theme that automatically adjusts the site to different sized devices.   If you want to get a quick idea how your site is fairing on some of the above elements, check out HubSpot’s free Marketing Grader .  It’s a great quick snapshot of your current website’s performance.   So how do you feel you did?   Hip and Happening Better than I thought Retro and proud of it, or Definitely time for a new site
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Email marketing is so much more than just sending emails to your audience!  Email marketing is about building relationships.  It’s about engaging with your customers. It’s about helping your customers fulfill their needs.  It is about communicating with your audience in a meaningful manner.    There are many ways to communicate your message AND to communicate your message to the right people!  Let’s take a look at a few of these.   Email Newsletters Regularly communicate to your customers and generate new leads .  Email newsletters are perhaps the most common use of email marketing, and for great reason.  Email newsletters allow you to stay top-of-mind with your customers, prospects and other interested parties.  You have the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, to share tips, and to offer special incentives or offers that are only available to your audience members who had given you permission to email them. That’s right- permission based email!  You ask. They say yes. Now you provide information or offers to make it worth their while to open your email campaigns.  With the high-volume of email marketing that we all receive, you need to MAKE IT WORTH THEIR WHILE!   List Segmentation To maximize the impact of sharing the right message with the right audience, you need to segment your list into multiple lists.  A targeted message is guaranteed to perform better than a generic offer.  There are many analogies to this, such as “Try to please everyone and please no one.”  Segmenting your list takes effort, but it is an effort that pays off.  Segmenting your list helps to avoid email fatigue within your various segments, as you only email relevant information to EACH segment.   AutoResponders You can build your relationships with automated emails . By sending a series of targeted communications to your contacts right to their inbox at the right intervals, you begin to create relationships.  You have the opportunity to build trust and show you care by sharing whitepapers, timely information, special discounts, or a series of tips relevant to your audience (event attendees, new customers, donors, etc.).  You can even share special birthday and/or anniversary wishes along with a special offer.  And the best part?  Once the emails are setup, you get to sit back and watch the results!   Surveys Customer reviews and referrals grow business! Survey e-mails are easily measurable, drive brand loyalty and boost customer retention rates ... just like that! By developing strategic, analytical survey e-mail campaigns, you can follow up with your customers and gain valuable information to help you grow your business.   Coupons Bring in new customers and encourage repeat business with Trackable Coupons!   You can share digital, branded coupons with your email list and also share it on your social media so that your subscribers and fans can claim their coupon.  You can even offer an incentive for your fans to share the offer and watch your audience grow through the power of social media.  You’ll be able to track exactly what’s happening! How many coupons were claimed? How many new customers did you gain? How many times was the coupon shared?   Email Marketing is not Just Email Newsletters As you can see, email marketing is not just email newsletters.  Email marketing includes a variety of ways of communicating with your audience and targeting your message.  Well executed email marketing helps increase revenue, grow your customer base and drive brand awareness. A strategic, integrated monthly e-mail plan ensures that you deliver your message to your customers - right where they are.   Email marketing can be a complete marketing campaign. I discussed a few options above, but email marketing can encompass even more! Consider surveys, coupon offers, flyers, auto-responder messaging, donation campaigns, event registration, newsletters, and personalized customer appreciation content as ways to connect with existing and prospective clients.   And above all, if you’re used to thinking of email marketing in terms of eblasting your audience, perhaps it’s time to redefine your relationship with email marketing.  We can help!  Email marketing is about building relationships, not ‘blasting’ your fans.  To learn more or to reach out to us for strategical direction, contact us at www.thesmallbizshop.com/emailworks . 
You are on social media. You are posting updates. You may have even built a respectable following but you are getting no engagement or growth in your profiles. And, more importantly, you are not seeing increased sales from your efforts. What’s the problem? I see the following mistakes most often when I review a business’ social media presence through my social media audit . Surprisingly, the worst offenses happen when a business is actually paying an outside firm to handle its social media. Review this list and look at your organization’s social media. I hope it helps you tweak your existing efforts for better results.   No consistency . There is no consistency in your profiles. Can an outsider tell that your Facebook page, your Twitter profile, and your website are the same business? Do you use the same handles for all profiles? For instance, I am @laurabcreative everywhere: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope, Snapchat, Blab, and Vine. This doesn’t mean that you need to be on every platform, but you need to have consistent handles across all platforms as well as consistent imagery and completed profiles. To help you review this for yourself, I’ve created a Social Media Profile Checklist . This is where my social media audit starts and I always find a few places for improvement when reviewing a business. It is well worth your time to follow the checklist and review each platform.   No direction . The next biggest mistake I see is posting with no direction or what I call “posting just to post.” This is where you may have a social media plan and may even be paying an outside agency to post for you and that is what they are doing – just posting. In fact, I don’t see a compelling reason why you should post every day. I’d rather you post a few times a week with really engaging posts than just putting something up there. Social media is about engagement and connection with your audience. Posting just to post or taking a “set it and forget it” approach is counterintuitive to the entire opportunity that is social media marketing. Many businesses continue to post the same type of content over weeks and months and wonder why they have nothing to show for their efforts. Here’s an example: do you post motivation quotes that are completely unrelated to your business? Do you actually have comments, likes, and shares on those posts? Even if you do, are they moving your clients or prospects any closer to buying your product or service? How about related articles? No likes and shares? Then why are you still posting them? Please have a goal for your social media and make sure all your content stays on message. That doesn’t mean that all your content should be your own but it should certainly be on message. As a caveat to this posting with no direction, we see the same posts across all platforms. Again, you are ignoring the different cultures and norms of each platform and just blasting your message. Please read Friends Don’t Let Friends Autopost .   No variety . Along the same lines, even with businesses who are posting and getting engagement, is a lack of variety in your posts. This means you are always posting a link or a photo but it’s the same photo -- even if it’s a happy customer in your store, it’s basically the same photo. I look for variety in types of content – photos, videos, links, text updates along with variety within those posts. Have you ever gone to an Instagram account and all the posts are different motivational quotes with the exact same design? Guess which posts will just get glanced over in the news feed? The boring ones. Shake it up a little bit. Vary your posts and watch which ones your audience reacts to. No plan . Posting sporadically. I see this a lot in marketing in general. You ignore your audience until you have a big event or promotion coming up and then you post about it – everywhere and too much. You want a consistent drumbeat of valuable content to your audience. You need to earn the right to promote to them. If you need a deeper dive on this point along with fantastic examples, I recommend Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk . No one is listening . This comes from posting where your audience is not. You can be posting great content all day long but if your audience is not there, you are speaking to an empty room. Not sure where your audience is online or if they even are? You need to ask them where they are and where they would like to receive updates about your offering. Not sure who your ideal customer is? Define your ideal client here . No response . Not responding to your audience is a huge no-no. This is why you want to limit the number of platforms you are on so you can manage the engagement and interactions. Be sure to assign someone to monitor the comments and messages on all platforms and empower them to respond quickly. Some platforms, like Facebook, now show how quickly a page responds to messages. I applaud your efforts to integrate social media into your marketing plans. It’s important to realize that there is no magic bullet and that social media is a conversation with your audience. I hope you will review these 6 mistakes and they will help you improve your social media marketing resulting in better engagement and, of course, increased sales.   Start with my Social Media Profile Checklist .   And for goodness sake, have fun. Social media is supposed to be social so inject some fun into your posts. If you want some ideas to increase engagement and growth, please schedule your customized social media audit today.
time for a web update
I know you invested in a website five years ago. It was perfect, so why do you need a website redesign?   I will give you the benefit of the doubt and let you think it was perfect five years ago. Unfortunately, that was five years ago and so much has changed. Think about how often you upgrade your computer or phone or car. In many cases, you are running your business on a vehicle that is older than the car you drive to get there every day.   It is time for a website redesign. As a matter of fact even if your website is only two years old, it may be time to start thinking about an update. Here are few really good reasons to call a web design company.   Your website doesn’t meet visitor expectations.   Your customers are not web novices. They surf from site to site all day long. They have come to expect things which your site might not deliver.  What information do visitors look for when they come to your website? Check your stats, then make sure this information is front and center. Does your search function work? If someone is looking for something which is only relevant to a few people, how will they find it? (Hint: They won’t drill down through three levels of navigation). Your website should include current product and service information . If you don’t carry a product or offer a service anymore, take it off your site. If you have three new, very profitable products they should be prominently featured. Does your navigation make sense to someone who is not familiar with your products,service or industry? Don’t guess. Do a test with people who don’t know your business and see how happy or frustrated they are after spending time on your site. Your website must be responsive. This isn’t optional anymore. It is an important part of the user experience as more and more people use their phones and tablets throughout the day. In addition, search engines are giving preferential treatment to websites which are mobile responsive. Your business has changed. Even fairly stable companies grow and change in the course of five years. In all likelihood you have adjusted your marketing strategy; your website should be a part of that strategy. Your competitors haven’t been standing still. Now is a good time to take a look at what they are doing and go one step better. SEO is a like a horse race. You make a change and move ahead. Then your competitor does something and they move ahead. If you are locked into a static design which can’t be adapted easily you will always be playing catch up. Your website isn’t creating leads.   Even if you don’t sell products directly from your website, it should be an integral part of your sales process. It should help you introduce your company and build a pool of interested prospects. Your website’s look and tone should create a positive impression for your target audience The information should be presented in an easy to read format. Yes, you can be professional without jargon or corporate buzz words. Your landing pages should motivate people to interact with your brand with calls to action which actually convert casual visitors into leads. Want to see what's posible? Check out our web design portfolio. 
This morning, a client wrote to ask my why he was no longer receiving his LinkedIn ‘messages’ via email. I have the new LinkedIn app on my phone, with the new messaging features which push notifications to my phone so I had not really realized that I too, was no longer receiving emails from LinkedIn about my messages, only receiving the notifications via the app.   My guess is that when you install the new app, they may set the email default to OFF since if you leave it on, you will receive TWO notifications for each message – one via the app and a second via email. But if you do prefer to see your messages via email, here are the instructions to turn on email notifications for LinkedIn messages .   Here are instructions to turn on email notifications for LinkedIn messages. Click To Tweet   Log into your account and click on the photo of yourself in the upper right hand corner which reveals a drop down menu – click ‘manage’ next to ‘Privacy and Settings’.     Click the ‘Communications’ tab and the ‘Set frequency of emails’ option   Note that you may be prompted to re-enter your password at this point. This is a security precaution that LinkedIn takes and should not be a cause for alarm.   You then have a series of options – click on the title or the pencil icon next to ‘Messages from Other Members’     The next menu will offer you a number of options to customize your email frequency. Here, you can control, at a very granular level, which information you do and do not wish to receive via email. Scroll down to ‘messages from connections’ and click on that drop down and pick ‘individual email’ to receive Email Notifications for LinkedIn Messages.   Click the blue ‘Save Changes’ button at the bottom of the page and you are set!     This menu will also be the place to change your email notifications about invitations, etc. If you use your email to remind you about interactions on LinkedIn, you may want to go thru each option and re-set them accordingly!    
without a strong marketing strategy, you’ll never grow a profitable customer base.   Come each and every fall, I hear or read about, that this is the year " we'll build a marketing strategy, second to none. " Starting tomorrow, these same people may say,  they'll get around to it.   “The hole in the ground that companies fall into when marketing themselves by thinking tactically rather than strategically.”   I’m active in Social Media. I see small business companies looking for more ways to get their message delivered. Hence, the quote above. The easiest way to get from point A, a company’s marketing strategy (if you have one written), to point B, your tactical selection(s), can be as simple as using your favorite credit card.   The problem with that method, that it’s more miss than hit. Without a written marketing strategy, it’s easy to stumble into that hole in the ground, and never see your money again.   Have you designed a creative marketing strategy for your company?   Attracting attention to any small business is extremely important. Your first attraction to get the attention of your target buyers may be your company logo, corporate colors and tagline. When you design your company “look,” you defined the type of business you are marketing.   Is it friendly or austere?  Do you offer bargains or firm pricing?  Are your company colors and logo a reflection of your business personality? You probably spent a lot of time, meetings and a few bucks to get the right look. You cannot wait any longer to introduce your company to the world.   Stop.   Before that introduction to the world, start thinking strategically. What did you learn in your design sessions? More than likely, you’ll have a base of ideas you discussed in the design process of your company brand that may accelerate your strategic thinking.   Creative marketing strategies outline a broad plan of action that best use the organization’s resources to achieve a marketing goal. For example, a goal can be "to increase an email response rate of 5% for every marketing promotion.   Substantiate proposed customer profiles. How often will the customers make a purchase?   Marketing strategies are the specific actions taken by the organization to communicate with the select primary target groups.   Direct marketing is a strategy.   The very nature of a direct marketing strategy is to get your marketing message to a prospect and customer, read, and acted upon. Jot down what you've learned.   If you are a new company, you may add a market penetration strategy, for your present product, having a goal of obtaining X number of customers, per a given time. Your selected tactics may be more effective (relevant) and an increase in the frequency of sending the message to a specific customer segment.   If your company is past the growing strain, you should consider a market expansion goal with your direct marketing strategy. Obtaining more customers from new target groups and market places. Use your customer profile skills to learn more about your customer’s needs and wants, and provide solutions for customer problems. Having a reputation of a solution provider in the eyes of your customers is a worthwhile marketing goal.   In theory, a marketing strategy must be carefully designed to meet a marketing goal based on the demands from your prospect and customer base.   Summary.   Look closer at your current strategies. Are marketing resources allocated optimally to the major elements of the marketing mix? Is your company using the best basis for marketing segmentation? Have you developed accurate profiles of each target segment?   Thanks for reading. Please tell me what you think.   Don’t procrastinate, eValuate. At times, some of the smallest changes in your small biz marketing, have the greatest impact.   Need more information on direct and customer-centric marketing? Sign up today for our monthly email, All Marketing Is Direct .   Our data policy: Any data shared with us, stays with us.   Mike Deuerling 800-251-3608               Marketing Communications Group, Inc.     © 2016 by the Marketing Communications Group, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or reproduced in any way, including but not limited to digital copying and printing without the prior agreement and written permission of the publisher. Photographs are purchased from such companies as I-Stock, Windows Clip Art, HubSpot, PhotoPin, DepositPhotos, Solid Stock, Unsplash or John Deuerling.
Where do you have the most control? Where do you/will you have the most influence? Where does/will the bulk of your business come from? Where should you concentrate your effort, your focus, your marketing budget?   These questions should be asked before you reach out with your marketing messages.   Defining your territory and knowing your customer is a must.     For most small businesses the answer is local.   Maybe you have a neighborhood business or a citywide business, some may even have an influence and presence throughout their state or within a multi-state area. It’s important to understand your territory and range of influence. It will help you to better understand your market, which in turn, will help you plan your marketing strategy and focus your efforts.   4 Things to help you market locally: Create a customer profile that includes demographic, psychographic and geographic information of your ideal customer. This profile will help you focus in on your target market. Make sure you are consistently email marketing to your current customers . Staying top of mind with current customers can lead to repeat business and referrals. Determine a physical radius of influence for your business . Do the bulk of your customers live/work within 1 mile of your business? 10 miles? 100 miles? Etc. Knowing this will help you place more effective advertising. Facebook advertising and other online media allow you geographically target this way. Get out there and mix and mingle . Attend workshops, chamber meetings, conferences and other events in your area. The local people you meet can become a valuable source of information, referrals, ideas and business.   Local marketing produces results. Save
In your neighborhood
  Why Local Search Matters When you are looking for a new product or service where do you go? Sometimes you will ask a friend, neighbor or co-worker, but often you will hop online to find the answers. You are not alone, millions of people conduct a local search online for the things they need and want every single day.   Even if you are just down the street, people may look online and discover a competitor miles away because they have done a better job of managing their visibility on local search. So as a business how easy is it to find you online?   Start with your website Obviously, you need to have a well written, mobile responsive website. We know that 90% of mobile searches result in action so if your website isn’t mobile responsive you are missing many opportunities. In addition to a mobile responsive design, your website needs to be filled with relevant and current information that has the appropriate page titles and meta data so search engines can figure out how your website answers the searcher’s question.   Finally, if you are trying to win “local search” it is important to let customers know you are local. In addition to your address and a mention on your home page that you are an Indianapolis-based company look for ways to include more geographic information in your content. like mentioning how companies in your city use your services. Also update the meta data and page titles to include the geographic reference.   Monitor your online presence Your website is a starting point, but it can’t be your only online footprint. While many consumers use search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing they also turn to local search tools like Citysearch, review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor and other mobile apps to discover companies which can solve their problem. This is great news because there are now even more ways for new customers to find you. But, it also creates a bit of problem. There are now more places for you to manage. Many of these listings are automatically generated and can often contain incorrect or out of date information. This incorrect or out-of-date information is not what you want as the first impression someone has on your business.   The good news: There are more ways for prospective customers to find you. The bad news: If you want to be found in those locations it takes time to manage or even find all your online listings. Many online directories automatically generate their listings by scraping information from your website or another directory. That is great if the information is correct and current, but it can be quite a challenge to track down and correct information or update records if you make a change to your address or phone number.   So how do you find all your listings? Start with a search for your business using Google and Bing. You may find a few different results on the smaller search engine. Check the listings for accuracy. Submit change requests to update information Conduct a second search for your competitors. Do they appear in places where you are not listed? Go ahead and submit your company information. Also, search for your business on popular sites like Yelp and yellowpages.com. Monitoring and updating your listings can be tedious and time-consuming. There are tools which will help automate the process. One of the easiest to use is SinglePlatform which looks at information posted on different hyperlocal sites, including Yelp, MapQuest, Foursquare and Citysearch.   Prove you are the best Beyond just contact information you can enhance your local search listings by soliciting reviews and testimonials. We know that 85% of  consumers are more likely to open their wallets when online recommendations support offline advice. Regardless of the industry you are in, take time to request your customers post reviews, comments and testimonials on directories and social media sites. The more information available about your company from independent sources, the more comfortable prospective customers are likely to be picking up the phone to call you.