Hey there: The Bloom plugin doesn't work with folks who have already signed up for your newsletter (or whatever you are using the form for) - that might be the why it seems like nothing is happeing when you submit it.... That is a limitation that is not so great.
However, I've recently been using HubSpot's free "marketing"/CRM system which is free to start with. They provide you with free pop up forms and it integrates very well with Constant Contact. It will also then track the folks who fill out your forms on your website and show you which pages they have been on. It's a pretty great system and the free verions works great. Check it out here: https://www.hubspot.com/products/crm
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If you haven't been fired at least once - are you really trying?
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a huge Denver Broncos fan. When you are born and raised in Denver, it's basically in the water. You have no choice but to root for the home team. And I'm no fair-weather fan... I've seen them do it all and rooted for them every time including 3 incredibly exciting Super Bowl wins - and 5 incredibly depressing losses (and when the Broncos lose the Super Bowl - they lose big). My wife still does not understand how I can get so emotionally involved with a game I have no control over (clearly she does not realize the team can hear me yelling at them through the TV).
But this time around as the Broncos won the Super Bowl - I have a new found perspective that I did not have before. It probably has a bit to do with running my own company for the past 3 years - turning 50 this year (I guess I am a Super Bowl Baby) - and finally coming to terms with a little thing called failure.
In American culture today, we only celebrate the winners - and yes, I've done my fair share of trash talking this year as the Broncos earned bragging rights as Super Bowl 50 Champions. But the real story I love about the Broncos winning this year is this: Their Head Coach, Gary Kubiak, and their Defensive Coordinator, Wade Phillips, were fired from the Houston Texans just 2 years ago - and Coach Phillips was completely out of football last year. That's right - they went from scapegoat to hero in just 2 years.
One of the quotes I keep hearing attributed to Coach Kubiak is: "life in the NFL is fair - you just have to continue to work hard and your hard work will be rewarded." There is something to this. How many times have you heard someone say, "life isn't fair" or how many times have you said that yourself? I know I have on many occasions when things just weren't going my way.
But as you get older you experience the truth path of life. We want to believe, and are taught to believe, that life will look like this:
But in reality, life looks a bit like this:
So even though we hate to fail, and often times will not even take action because we are afraid to fail, we have to fight with all our might to go ahead and take action anyway. Because action is where we really live. Action is where things get messy. Action is when we sack the quarterback, or throw the Touch Down pass, or win (or lose) - but if you don't take action, you'll get run over by those who are. There is no guarantee that your actions will be successful - but I can guarantee you if you don't take action your life will never amount to much.
Once we accept that failure is a part of success (a key part, actually), then we can implement the part of the success formula we can control. We can't control if we will win, or if someone will like us, or if we will get the next big account - but we can control how hard we work - how consistent we are over time - and how we learn and optimize our own lives. If you take those actions - life (and the NFL) will indeed be fair. Because over time - life rewards those who keep working and keep taking action.
"The only real failure in life is giving up." A.G. Street
So for me this year, instead of just hanging up a championship pennant for the Broncos winning the Super Bowl (who am I kidding, of course I'm gong to get all the championship memorabilia) but I am also going to get a picture of Coach Kubiak and Coach Phillips blown up to hang on my wall with the words - FIRED in 2013 - SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS 2016 - to remind me to just keep pounding (that one's for you, my Carolina friends, because there is always next year!).
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What? That can’t be right, can it? Well, consider this: In 2014, consumers spent $5 the old fashioned way (in physical stores or brick and mortar locations) for every $1 they spent online. That’s according to the US Department of Commerce. So for all this talk about how you have to market online – the numbers just don’t support it – or do they?
Now consider this: how do you find a business or item you need? My guess is you use a little application called Google. So while you may not be spending online, you are definitely searching online… and depending on the type of service or product – that online search will turn into offline spending (think finding a plumber online, but paying for their services offline). So maybe there is some truth to that adage that you have to market online. More specifically, you certainly have to have a presence online so that you can be found when buyers are searching for what they need.
So if your budget is big or small – start off with what is most important – your website. Make sure it looks great and you use it to help folks find you. Then get yourself listed with as many search engines as possible so that folks can find you. Use a service to do this for you (yes, Constant Contact has a product called Single Platform that will do just that). Using a service like this is the easiest way to help your business get found – and one that doesn’t take much effort or cost much (99 bucks a month). Hey, if you’ve got the time, budget and staff to dive into content marketing and social media and creating ebooks and white papers and all the other things you can do with online marketing – go for it – but most small businesses don’t have much time, money or staff – so do things that will make a difference that don’t need a whole lot of upkeep.
And since we’re talking about non-digital or non-online marketing – here are some other tried and true methods that don’t cost a whole lot, but will make a big difference in your marketing efforts. Even with all you can do with digital marketing, the bottom line is still this: the #1 source of new business for you will come from referrals and recommendations. That means you have to spend time nurturing relationships and the last time I checked, my best friends and customers are the ones I spend time with. This takes dedicated effort and old fashioned networking and engagement – but aren’t we all a bit tired of digital marketing? I’ll give you much more credit if you send me a card in the mail these days then if you just send me a connection request on LinkedIN!
Send a hand written note via MAIL
Surprise your customer LONG after the sale. For my shoe store clients, I have them send a free pair of socks to their customers 4 months after the sale!
Make a referral to your best clients – turnabout is fair play!
Send brownies (or some other small gift) – I guarantee your client will call you and thank you (when was the last time they thanked you for an email?)
Stop by their office with coffee or their favorite treat.
Invite them to an event (or take them to a social event like live theatre!)
Buy from your clients (only from them if you can)!
Send them a book to read
What old fashioned networking or marketing efforts do you use?
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Kick Off Your 2016 with Free Webinars
We usually post tips and tricks on various marketing strategies, but we have a special holiday gift for you! 11 webinars over three days.
Simple, Straightforward Strategies & Case Study Examples You Can Use to Grow Your Business TODAY!
Kickoff 2016 With 11 Online Marketing Webinars
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, December 28, 29 and 30
Use the last few days of downtime in 2015 to gear up your online skills and knowledge to insure a successful 2016 kickoff!
Sessions will include:
Monday, December 28th
Build Your Business with Constant Contact - 9am to 10am PST
Make Your Website Work for You - Web.com - 11am PST to Noon PST
Paid Search and Google Adwords - WordStream - 1pm to 2pm PST
Tuesday, December 29
Facebook Advertising - HutDogs - 9am to 10am PST
How to Generate New Business with GoToWebinar - 11am to Noon PST
Video Marketing on YouTube - Building Aspirations - 1pm to 2pm PST
Wednesday, December 30
Graphic Design with MoonPixlar - 9am to 10am PST
Old School Tactics with Send Out Cards - 11am to Noon PST
Online Surveys with Constant Contact - 1pm to 2pm PST
Bonus Session - DIY WordPress Websites - 3pm to 4pm PST
Join us and learn more here: www.2016OnlineMarketing.com
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What Can the Walking Dead Teach Small Business Owners? (original image from http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/10/glenn-still-alive-the-walking-dead-season-6-episode-3-thank-you)
I love The Walking Dead. I find it one of the most compelling TV shows on the air. My wife and I binged watched the entire first season during a holiday weekend and we have been diehard fans ever since. We look forward to losing ourselves in a fresh new episode every week. Over this past season, I started thinking about a few things The Walking Dead could teach us small business owners as the gang continually faces obstacles and challenges in the Zombie Apocalypse. Here’s a few tips:
You Cannot Survive the Zombie Apocalypse Alone
Just like Rick, Daryl, Carol, Carl and Maggie, small business owners cannot survive alone. Even if you are one of the many “solopeneurs” out there today (according to Business News Daily there are over 17.9 million of you), you have to figure out a way to build partnerships. Use LinkedIn to find strategic partners that will help you grow your business – or network the old fashioned way if you want. The key here is to find folks with different skill sets than you but compliment your service offerings. Just like in The Walking Dead, sometimes you need a Rick Grimes to lead the pack – but sometimes you also need a Carol Peletier to go undercover and do intelligence gathering. Find your right team to get your business growing.
You Cannot Rest On Your Laurels
Every time our Walking Dead gang gets comfortable in a situation, get ready for all hell to break loose. Remember the Prison, Terminus or even this season’s Alexandria? Small business owners have to constantly be ready to react and change everything – at the drop of a hat. Your advantage as a small business owner over the big guys is the very fact that you can react quickly, like a speedboat, while the big guys are trying to get their big bulky battleships to turnaround. Compete where you have the advantage and strike quickly when opportunity presents itself.
Sometimes It Will Feel Like the Whole World Is Against You
It is… and the Zombie Heard is always coming. The key to getting away is to NOT do what everyone else is doing. Innovate and find ways around obstacles. Who’d have thought that a prison designed to keep people in, would be an ideal hiding place to keep zombies out? That’s the kind of thinking that can make a small business become a huge business quickly. Don’t do what everyone else is doing – find ways to completely change the game.
Sometimes Your Favorite Characters Die
Probably what makes The Walking Dead so compelling is the fact that your favorite characters are never safe. One after another, after another suffer their inglorious end at the hands (well, chompers actually) of one or more hungry zombies. Your small business is exactly the same. Your favorite product or service may just as quickly suffer the same fate of a zombie caused death. Look at your own skill sets or services and realize that 7 out of 10 of them may be obsolete in 5 years – or less! Realize that there is no destination you reach that will be the end all and be all of technology, education, wisdom or knowledge. In today’s world, you have to keep reading, thinking and tinkering or the next guy, gal, or zombie will beat you to the punch!
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Content, Container, Channel. Those three words define everything you need for a complete marketing program.
Let’s face it, it is crowded and crazy out there… and there is no sign of it easing up. Did you know over 12 days worth of video is uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds? Over 204 million emails are sent every 60 seconds? Did you just check your cell phone to see if one of those emails was yours? If you are like most Americans you own a smart phone and will look at it over 150 times today. Are you reading this article on your cell right now?
With all this activity – it is no wonder we all feel crazed and overwhelmed. You probably feel like you have to be online, all the time, because you don’t want to miss that tweet or post or email or comment or “whatever” that just might lead to your next big client. Or, perhaps, you are constantly interacting back and forth with current clients who often need to be reassured that the fifth round of edits to their email is more than enough!
As a dear friend of mine who literally just received his PH.D. in Psychology with an emphasis in “media addiction” says –“ Stop The Madness! Put your smart phone down… firmly place your hands on the table and push.” Step away from the feeling that you must be available all the time – and start thinking about how you can truly spend your time wisely – strategically – so that your message can actually be heard/seen/read/liked/retweeted and cut through all that clutter. (BTW – I find it interesting that the phrase “spend your time wisely” really does relate directly to “time is money”.)
Stop Being Scattered and Start Thinking Strategically
Use these three words to help you get organized with your marketing – Content, Containers, Channels.
What Content do you want to share? What Container will hold the content? What Channel (or, better yet, channels) will you distribute that container on?
Content is King
I am sure you have heard that phrase over and over – and it still remains true. Content is king because it is the hardest thing to create. You actually have to sit down and write it, or film it, or record it, or say it. And you have to do it again and again. As close to real-time as possible. Use these ideas to create content:
Create content that you know that your audience doesn’t. That can include Tip Sheets, How To Videos, eBooks, etc.
Create content that can share your access to that information that your audience can’t. That can include interviews with experts you have access to, guest postings from experts on your blog or website, collating information from multiple sources into one easy to find location (with all sources cited appropriately!).
Along those lines of gathering information, you can curate content from multiple sources that you want to share with your audience, just remember again, you must cite the source. Citing sources actually will help your content to be shared because when you mention and link an article that has been written by someone else, you are creating an opportunity for them to comment back to you and also share your comments.
The easiest way to think about containers is this: Content is poured into them (just like leftover soup is poured into Tupperware). When you first think about containers, you might mistakenly identify the channel they are delivered on as the container. For example when you think of a webinar, you might think of that as the container but it is really the channel. The presentation delivered on the webinar (the PowerPoint, or the outline, or the video or even the demonstration) is the container.
Channels are the easiest to understand because we all use them all the time. What will help you strategically though is to understand that content and their containers can be shared on multiple channels without having to do any more work at all. For example, let’s say you have a great video testimonial from a client. You can share that container on multiple channels such as YouTube, Facebook, your LinkedIn profile, your website, etc.
Use Your Excitement to Share as Your Barometer
When you stop thinking about all the channels out there, I hope that will immediately start to ease the stress of having to be online all the time. Sure there are a ton of channels out there, but they are not as important as the content. Content is all you have to focus on, because if you have great content, it will easily be shared. People want to engage with and share great content. When was the last time you shared terrible content? I’m guessing never. So concentrate on creating great content. Use your excitement regarding the content as your barometer to share it. If you can’t wait to share, then hit send right away. If you are just ticking things off your check list and aren’t excited about your content – once again step away from the computer and do not hit send – or share – or post – or publish – or tweet – or whatever!
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What if I told you there was a social media network out there that actually paid YOU 90% of their advertising dollars?
In the current state of social media, especially if you use Facebook, you might be surprised to read a headline like the one above. Let's face it, if you want to reach folks on Facebook (even if they are your own fans) you're gonna have to pay for it... but TSU is a new social media network that is turning the social media model on its head... The network believes such revolutionary ideals as:
If you create content, you actually are the one that owns it!
If you generate content that gains real readership and views, you should be rewarded for it!
If advertisers leverage your fans and viewers, you should get a piece of it!
Curious? - So was I when I heard about it. So I went ahead and joined. You can check out my profile here: http://www.tsu.co/NickCavarra (Oh, and you can use the join button as my invitation to come on board).
I have found the integration with Facebook and Twitter to be great. Pictures shared from TSU on Facebook show up well and tweets post immediately. So now, I just share from TSU on Facebook and Twitter and know my audience will see it no matter which channel they are on - and I can get the benefit of engagment on TSU. I have a Galaxy phone, so the Google app works great and my wife has an iPhone and that app works as well. They don't have other networks integrated in yet, but I am sure they will soon. Worth it to just get on board now as the expand into more networks. They're already up to 4.5 million users!
I doubt I will ever make a ton of money on TSU, but I'd rather make something rather than pay for a social media sharing tool. And TSU has excellent programs for nonprofits and businesses as well. Pretty much a win / win for everyone.
Here's a few videos and national press articles as well to see what they say about TSU:
FastCompany - What If You Got Paid For Everything You Post On Social Networks? That's the concept driving Tsu, where artists are testing the waters on a social network that shares ad revenue with users. Click Here.
CEO @Sebastian on CNBC (video). Click Here.
tsū's recent press release: Click Here.
CEO Sebastian on Fox News (video). Click Here.
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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: 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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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Many folks have asked me how they can use a plugin on WordPress that will interact with Constant Contact. They want to have a form on their website that when folks sign up using that form the info they enter will go directly into Constant Contact. Well if you’ve read any of my WordPress posts or visited my www.doityourselfwpwebsites.com website, you’ll see the BLOOM plug in by Elegant Themes that is an excellent option. I am a big fan of all of Elegant Themes’ designs, especailly since I've been using their most sophisticated version called DIVI. However, the BLOOM plugin will work with any of Elegant Themes’ designs and better than that, their plugins will work with pretty much any theme from any WordPress designer. The functionality I like the best is the “pop up” email newsletter request. With the BLOOM plugin you can set the pop up to come up at any interval you like (i.e. 10 seconds after someone visits your site, or when they mouse over to exit you site, etc.) As you can see from the screen shot I’ve included, I’ve used the pop up box to ask folks to enter their email address in order to receive a copy of our 8 Easy to Create Content Types white paper. This is a great example of how to encourage folks who come to your website to continue the conversation with you by giving you their email address. Remember, most customers will research your company before calling you – and most won't be ready to buy today. You will need to keep them engaged with you for however long it will take them to finally be ready to take action and that can be weeks, months or years. If you don’t capture folks' email addresses from your website, there is no way they will remember your website 3 months from now when they are finally ready to buy! Elegant Themes has detailed instructions on how you can set BLOOM up to work directly with Constant Contact so that when folks sign up using the pop up, their email address will be added directly to any list you choose in Constant Contact. Then all you need to do is set up an autoresponder in Constant Contact that will contain a link directly to the PDF (or offer page) for whatever you are giving away for those that join your list. Check out the video from Constant Contact that will walk you through how to set up autoresponders.
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Being social doesn’t require a smart phone – it requires another human. So I was at an online marketing conference for small business owners over the weekend. All of the major digital marketing companies were there and all of them had great products to help you reach your target audience, or identify your target audience, or how to segment your target audience, or how to grow your target audience… They could reach them on social media, or with video, or with apps, or on their phones, or in the inbox, or on their tablets, or on their laptops… They can target your audience, or retarget your audience, or contextually target your audience, or behaviorally target your audience, or target your audience by gender, household income, location or if they like chocolate cake… …and after all these great companies spoke about all their great products, and explained how much value they can offer, and how much they will help your grow your business… all I could see on the faces of these poor, unfortunate business owners was the look of panic and complete overwhelm! STOP. Take a deep breath… and tell them all “thanks, but no thanks.” “What?” you must be asking. Aren’t you a marketing consultant? Isn’t that how you make a living? Yes, it is. And I know how valuable all these tools in the toolbox can be – but I also know how expensive they can be. Say you spend a small amount on Facebook ads to target your audience. That’s $10 bucks a day during the week so that’s $200 a month. Then you throw in $400 more for a modest Google AdWord campaign. Add in $80 bucks a month for a business listing service, $200 bucks a month for website maintenance and updates, you buy some postcards, business cards and flyers and maybe throw a few bucks at a graphic designer and suddenly you’re up to $1,500 a month! And if you’re a small business, I bet that’s gonna hurt. And you know what? $1,500 bucks isn’t really going to do much in the end. Not when you are competing against huge companies spending 10 to 100 times more per month. What is a small business to do? STOP. Take a deep breath… and do what you do best. Mind your own business. When I say, mind your business, no matter what your business is – your business is customer service! And when you mind your business, you take care of your customers, and when you take care of your customers, they will take care of you. Your best source of new business will always be the referrals of other happy customers. And your best customers are the ones you ALREADY HAVE. Repeat customers will spend up to 10x more than a first time customer without you having to pay anything more to acquire them (you already did that the first time). So the first step to take before even thinking about digital marketing is to do a great job with your current customers. Then start collecting their phone numbers and email addresses. And then start rewarding them. Start with those customers first and make them smile. Tag them on Facebook and say "Thank You for being such a great customer… What else can we do for you?" Get to know them… really know them. And act like it is 1969 all over again (okay, I know all of you won’t know what it was like back then) but let me give you a good example. 1969 In 1969, if you owned a successful restaurant, it was because 1) you were an excellent cook and/or 2) you loved to be a host. In 1969, the owner of a restaurant would walk around their restaurant and greet you by your first name – and if she didn’t know your name, she would ask you and it would be committed to memory immediately – along with the name of your spouse and kids, and the fact that you liked your steak medium rare, and your martini dry with a twist, and the crème brulee was your absolute favorite dessert on the menu. Somewhere between 1969 and 2015 (probably right around when the first tweet went out) we forgot that being social doesn’t require a smart phone – it requires another human. And I don’t think I’m speaking just for myself here, but I miss the days of that kind of 1969 attention. And I reward the businesses that pay me that kind of attention with my money. I have no use for Applebee’s, Dave & Busters, Chilli’s or any other mass produced, no attention paying, boring and drab chain. I want to go where everybody knows my name again, out loud and not on a 2 inch or 4 inch or 6 inch screen. I’m actually keeping track of those businesses that care and I’m returning to them. And the minute they send me an automated email that says “dear ____” because they really don’t know my name, then I hit unsubscribe, never to be seen by them again. But don’t get me wrong… if you are that 1969 type of business that really knows their customer, then definitely give me a call. There’s all kinds of fun advertising and marketing we can do together to reward more and more of your favorite customers. We’ll find plenty of ways to reward them – and they’ll take care of us just like we took care of them.
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8 Easy to Create Content Types Most of my clients as well as the folks that come up to me after our seminars understand how important it is to create content for their blog. They “get it” that when you create one blog post per week you will have a better opportunity to be found online via search engines. Not only that, creating and sharing good content gives you the fuel to keep your engagement marketing engine running. Remember, all of your social media and email activities have to drive people back to YOUR website! Think of those channels as the vehicle to engage and entice folks back to the party – and the party is happening back at your website. On your website those prospects and returning clients can contact you, buy your products, or fill out a form with their contact info so you can keep the conversation going. The best thing about most of these content types is they can be repurposed and used over and over again on multiple channels. For example, if you create a great video, you can embed it on your blog, post it on YouTube or Vimeo, share it on Facebook, embed it on your LinkedIn profile page, share it on Twitter – the possibilities are endless! So with the benefit of creating content so you will be found – here are eight easy to create types of content that you can start off with on your blog or website and then also share on social media! 1 - PHOTO MEMES A picture tells 1,000 words, so why are you making me read a whole paragraph? Creating photos with sayings are incredibly easy to create using a free tool called PicMonkey. You can take pictures yourself with your smart phone and then upload them to your computer and use them however you like. Just be sure to save smaller versions of them as most phones create high resolution large memory files that take a long time to load on a website. PicMonkey even provides an option to save your pictures as smaller memory files. You can also subscribe to an inexpensive stockphoto website for high quality pictures that are often royalty free (be sure to check). Don’t just go to Google images and start grabbing pictures from there as they may be copyright protected. You can also utilize Creative Commons license images (learn more here: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page). 2 - Videos I create videos all the time. I have an entire website called www.doityourselfwpwebsites.com that features 20 videos that walk you through the step-by-step process of how to build a website on WordPress. At the end of the 20 videos – you’ve created your own website. Since we just talked about PicMonkey, one of my videos provides tips for editing and using images including PicMonkey, www.ColorCop.net and a photo clipping tool called Jing. I also used a very inexpensive video software to create the introduction animation and exit animation. It’s called Video FX and you can create all kinds of fun videos with it. Lastly, the screen capture video software I used to show my screen as you follow along is called Screencast-O-Matic. They have a free version and a paid version (only $15 bucks a year and so worth it!). So get on it and create some videos! ACTION! 3 - Webinars Webinars are a great asset to create due to all the marketing you can do around them. If someone signs up for your webinar, they are usually more than willing to give you their email address. Heck, they kind of have to because they need to be sent the link to the webinar prior to viewing it. That gives you the opportunity to reach out to those folks that signed up before the webinar as well as send them the recorded version after. This is a perfect example of repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. You need a few things to pull off a webinar. You need compelling content (usually in a PowerPoint presentation) and you need webinar software. I highly recommend GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar. They are not the cheapest, but they are the best in my book. Reliable and almost everyone has been on a webinar where the presenter was using the GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar software. Constant Contact’s Event Spot software is also a great tool to promote your webinars and keep your audience informed of all the info they need, and then keep the conversation going with additional emails long after the webinar is over. Watch the replay of my Introduction to WordPress webinar here for an example! (just click on the picture below) 4 - Slide Share If you have gone to all the trouble of creating a great powerpoint presentation for your webinar, repurpose it again on SlideShare! Did you know SlideShare allows users to easily upload and share presentations, infographics, documents, videos, PDFs, and webinars? In Q4 of 2013, the site averaged 60 million unique visitors a month and 215 million page views. SlideShare is among the top 120 most-visited websites in the world. (See more on their about page: http://www.slideshare.net/about) Here’s a fun SlideShare presentation by PGI and all I had to do to share it on my blog was grab the embed code. Easy, peezy! 5 - Tip Sheets Tip sheets can easily be created in a word document and then saved as a PDF to share. You can be as creative as you like – or simply list your tips and provide links to resources to implement the tips. I can actually repurpose this whole blog post as a Tip Sheet (yep, I've done it so click here for the PDF) as an example. I can then offer the PDF for free on my website – or provide it as an incentive/reward for someone who signs up for my newsletter. My choice. Don’t have a PDF maker? Here’s a link to a site that will convert your Word document to a PDF file for FREE. http://www.freepdfconvert.com/ Download the PDF. 6 - Surveys Have you ever sent a survey to your current clients or contacts? Did you know you could do that with Watch the Video of Constant Contact’s Online Survey Tool? The survey info will give you many gifts that keep on giving. Polls and results can be posts on all your social media channels. Its easy enough to create pie charts and bar graphs in Excel and save them as pictures to share. Best of all, your customers will truly tell you what they want when you survey them. So often as business owners, we think we know what our customers want – but make it easy on yourself and just ask ‘em! No sense guessing when they’ll tell you straight up! Check out the video below from Constant Contact with 3 Tips to Writing Effective Online Sureveys. 7 - Infographics There are plenty of resources out there to help you build infographics. Here’s a great article and free resource for templates: http://www.freeinfographictemplates.com/how-to-make-an-infographic/. All you need is an interesting story to tell and then figure out how to tell it in pictures, graphics and images. Another short and sweet article with a clear cut example can be found on DigitalChalk: http://www.digitalchalk.com/blog/5-tips-for-creating-infographics 8 - Client Testimonials This is a great way to showcase your clients on your website and promote on social media. No need to spend a ton of money on a professional level video shoot – you can do it on your smart phone. You may even be able to showcase a video your client already has about their business and then splice in a few interview segments of your client talking about how your business helped their business! Below is a great example of this strategy by Constant Contact. They highlight Kim Hughes from Wings & Hooves Therapeutic Riding who uses Constant Contact’s tools to stay in touch with her supporters and raise funds for her nonprofit organization. Check out the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb_hH07WBsk
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In all my seminars, I constantly have folks asking me for the magic bullet… the one thing they can do that will turn on the faucet of unlimited sales and tons of money in their pocket. They are simply overwhelmed by all the options and salespeople out there promising that their solution is the answer. That their bells are better than the next guy’s and their whistles are more seductive than any other whistle out there. Well, they’re wrong. And instinctively you know it too – and that is why you chose not to purchase their $29 dollar solution, or $1,500 dollar solution, or whatever it cost solution. Because no matter what they were selling – what they were really selling were tools. And you’ve got plenty of those already that you aren’t even using so why are you looking for more? The real question most folks are asking me is veiled in a shroud of, “I don’t want to appear lazy, but…” The real question is, “Can you give me a shortcut?” Hey, it’s natural. What we are all hoping for is that money will pour into our pockets without having to do much for it – give me the automated marketing solution that will keep in touch with all of my clients for me. Give me the social media tool that posts magical, funny posts to all my social media profiles that folks will love and immediately buy my products and services. Give me a great TV commercial that will reach every potential client that needs my product and convince them to buy, buy, buy… We all know that doesn’t exist, but wouldn’t it be nice if it did? And because we are all looking for it – or dreaming about winning the lottery – there are plenty of folks who are trying to sell it to you. And if that truly is what you are looking for – I don’t want your money. Not because I don’t want a ton of money like everyone else, but because I know if I promise you that my solution will bring you tons of money, and then it doesn’t, you’re going to come calling and demand your money back. And the way we all get new business is through referrals, so I’m guessing you won’t recommend me to your friends. And then we all lose. So here is the Magic Bullet – Do The Work… but you already knew that, didn’t you? The problem with doing the work is that it is usually difficult, it takes time, it pulls us away from the “fun” stuff we want to do, and so on and so on… If you want to follow up with your customers with automated emails – you actually have to create those emails before the system can send them out. And those emails have to be clever and funny and appropriate – and that takes work too. If you want a tool to help you post on social media then you have to first create all those social media profiles and that takes time. And remember that old saying that time is money? If you want to have a great TV spot, then you better have a great PRODUCT for folks to buy. How many great TV commercials do we all talk about at the water cooler but never buy the product? Old Spice, anyone? But if you are really ready to do the work required to reach out and educate new customers in an authentic, engaging way; do the work to deliver top notch service to the clients you currently have so they will shout your company’s name from the mountain tops; and do the work to put together a plan to use one or two of the myriad of tools you either already have or can get for a reasonable price – then we can help you put that plan in place in a systematic fashion that will keep you on track to stay in touch, stay engaged and stay in the game of winning new businesses. But it really is up to you – we can’t do it for you. Well, we can, but it will never be as good as you can do it because it is YOUR business and YOUR customers. So dust off the “to do” list and get cracking. Do the work and the magic will start happening all on its own.
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Today being the last Monday of the last full week before the Christmas holiday and the ensuing New Year’s week, I can only guess that you will be trying to cram three weeks of work into this week alone. Me too. But if you aren’t lucky enough to have booked 2 weeks in St. Thomas, here is a list of things that you can accomplish between eggnog servings and holiday naps.
1) Clean up your database:
We all say we are going to do it, but that stack of business cards somehow never gets entered into your database. Dedicate two hours to enter those cards into Outlook or whatever you are using for your database management and then THROW OUT that stack. You’ll feel so much better once that is done!
While you’re at it, create a special category of clients and contacts that you will reach out to monthly just to “stay in touch.” Make a dedicated effort to really build relationships with this small and select list of close contacts. Stay in touch with them and offer them any help you can give them – you will be astonished that once you give so much to this dedicated group, they will return the favor by recommending you and your business to their own connections.
2) Review Your Numbers:
Take these final two weeks to look at your numbers. How did you do this year? Better or worse than last year? What quarter was your best, and why? What can you do to replicate those successes and amplify them next year? Can you be proactive with that information?
3) Set New Goals:
Now that you’ve reviewed your 2014, set goals for what 2015 will look like. And don’t forget to set personal goals as well. I’m guessing that you didn’t start your own business because you wanted to work all the time, right? You probably started your own business to give you some flexibility in your scheduling to allow you to have time for the other things in your life that you love – so don’t forget to schedule time to do those things as well!
4) Relax – and Turn OFF that Mobile Device:
Especially during these last couple of weeks when the phone isn’t ringing off the hook – take the time to unwind and unplug! Better yet, make that your New Year’s resolution. Repeat after me, “I will not work past 6:30pm, and I will not check my email past 7pm!” We all work crazy hours and it is time to stop the insanity!
If you are one of those “A-type” personalities, you can get all of these items checked off your list and still have plenty of time to kick back and enjoy your Holidays!
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Both those plugins look good. There are a few others as well. Just do a search when on WordPress for Constant Contact plugins and you will get a listing for those that have built custom solutions. You can always use the native button from Constant Contact as well for sign ups. Granted, it will take you to the Constant Contact interface off of your website, but if you use the open a new window link, it will still allow folks to sign up for your email list and not leave your website... Hope this helps!
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So you’re a small business and you see commercial after commercial after commercial from the big guys and wonder how you can compete. You see Flo from Progressive, the GIECO Gecko, The GIECO Cavemen, Lily from AT&T, heck, even Mr. Whipple from the 1970’s. They all jam the airwaves of TV and radio to shamelessly promote their products. But you know what your small business has that they don’t? A REAL personality. And I’m guessing, a REAL passion for the products and services you offer your clients… and I’m also guessing that as a small business, you actually know your customers personally – and if they call – you actually pick up the phone! That is how you compete. Let me tell you a little story about why I love doing business with small businesses. My wife and I moved into a great new apartment and we needed to get internet service. We left one of the big carriers to try a different carrier because we didn’t like the customer service (or lack of customer service actually) we had been getting. So we call up the new carrier and of course they tell us they can take care of us. “We’ll send that modem right away, Mr. Cavarra!” Well they did indeed send that modem – and then sent another as well. Trouble is, you only need one modem. So I give them a ring and said, “I’m sending one of these modems back to you. We’re good, right?” “Of course, Mr. Cavarra, no problem. Thanks for sending it back.” If only the story ended there. But no. At the end of the billing cycle, just as I feared, two bills come in the mail. “I thought you said there was not going to be a problem.” “We’re sorry, Mr. Cavarra, we’ll be sure to get this straightened out.” Month two. Two Bills. Another call to a new representative. “The last person I spoke to said they would take care of this. Can you?” “We’re sorry, Mr. Cavarra. Absolutely, we’ll be sure to get this straightened out.” Month three. A different rep, same problem. Month four. Yet another rep, same problem. Finally, month five. 45 minutes on hold waiting for a “supervisor”. “Certainly, Mr. Cavarra, we can close this account for you, but because it is before the year contract, we will have to charge you the early cancellation fee.” WHAT?!?!?!?! So here is the dirty little secret big business doesn’t want to tell their customers. They are set up to find new customers faster than they lose old customers. That fiscal model works for them because they spend tons of money finding those new customers through all those TV commercials and big advertising budgets. But they don’t put much money into KEEPING those customers – because it just doesn’t help their business model. So let me ask you this: How many customers can you afford to lose? 5? 4? 3? 2? None? So that’s how you compete against the big guys and beat them every time! Remember, whatever business you are in, as a small business, your business is customer service. Period. Provide great customer service and deliver a WOW experience and you will get loyal customers that will shout their approval from the rooftops. And you can’t buy that kind of advertising. If you could, all the big guys would buy it – and then fail once again to deliver it. So go answer that phone and say, “Sure, Mr. Customer. We’d love to help you.” And then deliver!
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We love WordPress and so should you! The reason why is pretty much the same as why we love Constant Contact - it is easy to use and an incredible tool to keep in touch with your customers - and find new ones! The speed of business has changed since the days of AMC's Mad Men (the show about advertising agency folks back in the 60's). Back then, folks could go out for 3 martini lunches because the speed of business was so slow. They would get back from their lunch, pass off their hand written notes to their secretary that had to manually type out their proposals on 3 carbon copy sheets and use white out when they made a mistake. When the proposal was finally ready to send out - they would package it up and give it to a guy that worked for a place called the Post Office. And it would take weeks for the proposal to get to the potential client. How long before you get concerned today when you haven't heard back from a potential client that you just emailed? 1 hour... 10 minutes... 10 seconds? Enter WordPress. In today's world of I need it yesterday, we don't have time to wait for some web guy to upload our pictures and videos - we all know how to do that now thanks to Facebook. And in order to be found in Google searches or on Facebook - our websites and social media profiles need to be timely and relevant! When using WordPress for your website you are in complete control of your content and can even post from your mobile device. It doesn't get any more timely than that! If you don't know about WordPress - check out the video below. And if you need someone to walk you through the process - check out our new WordPress website that walks you through how to use it - www.doityourselfwpwebsites.com
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If a picture is worth 1,000 words, why are you making me read a whole article?!? We decided to take that advice to heart and create a "how to" video for using three FREE photo editing tools. Click on these links to go directly to their sites and download the software! Enjoy the Photo fun! ColorCop (click here) Jing (click here) PicMonkey (click here)
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Did I grab your attention? How dare I say 1.28 Billion Facebook users don’t matter – or 540 Million Google+ers – or 1 Billion Twitter users – or 200 Million Instagrammers – or 300 Million LinkedIners. Well, they don’t. What matters is what you say and how you say it. For all the novelty of social media (and I know plenty of folks who are “over” social media so it’s not so novel anymore) it has now become just another avenue to reach your potential customers. And, in reality, it is a very crowded avenue with most folks screaming at the top of their lungs about their great products or services. Do you like getting shouted at? Didn’t think so. Let me say this again: What does matter is what you have to say and how you say it. Plain and simple. Yes, use social media channels to get your message out – but think about what you are saying first before just hitting send on the next kitty video that has nothing to do with you or your business. Hey, I love to play around on social media too, but not for business… because at the end of the day, I have to ensure everything I do (or my company does) on social media, is focused on this: educating and converting my audience to paying customers. If you own a business, you need to do this too. If you run a nonprofit, you need to educate and inspire your audience to either volunteer or donate. Otherwise you are wasting your time – and you know the old adage – time is money! Here are two questions to ask yourself BEFORE you hit send. #1 – “Am I excited to share what I am about to post?” If the answer is “yes,” hit post and share immediately. If the answer is “maybe,” or “I know I’m supposed to post on social media…” – STEP AWAY from the computer!! Don’t be one more drip in an ocean of meaningless dribble just for the sake of getting wet. #2 – “If I were my customer, would I be interested in engaging on social media with my company (or opening my emails)?” We all open our emails and participate on social media in the same way and with the same desire: “What’s In It For Me?” If you are able to provide a great “There is definitely something in this for you” reason for folks to open your email or engage with you on social media, you are ahead of 90% of all of your competitors out there. The secret here is to think like your customers – not like a business owner. As a business owner you are probably thinking, “of course my customers want my amazing product and service” but that doesn’t matter on social media. With over 65% of all social media activity happening on mobile devices – it is nearly a guarantee that the customers that do interact with you have done so in tiny bits and pieces. You can’t get into a long discussion about all the value your amazing product will bring these customers – because they are next in line at Starbucks and just heard “next” – or they are sitting at a red light and did the dreaded quick glance at their favorite ADD device – or they are busy doing something else while multitasking through their email. Don’t expect to make sales on social media – that is what your website if for. Instead, use social media to invite people from their hectic day and social media engagement to later join you on your website when they actually have time to do their research. Now, repeat after me – the most important element of internet marketing is my website! Say that again – the most important element of internet marketing is my website. The reason once again lies in “What matters is what you say and how you say it.” Why? Because we all hate talking, speaking or engaging with SALES PEOPLE. Just the mention of “Sales Person” brings up awful images in our minds – slick, slippery, sleazy, Sales Person… ick… And because we all hate to talk with sales people, we will do everything in our power to avoid it including this: "Today 80% of B2B purchase cycles are completed before the buyer considers contacting the vendor and, even then, they are loath to do so.” -- FORBES Have you ever bought something online simply because you never had to talk to a sales person? So have your customers. Where do these potential customers do their 80% of research? On your website! So what is the most important element of internet marketing again? Okay, so now you are excited to share your content, and that content is guaranteed to have “something in it for me.” You have successfully invited your potential customers to engage with you on your website – what next? Ensure you have a plan to keep the conversation going. Don’t allow folks to “drive by” your website without asking them for their email address and to follow you on social media. Once you have that information, design communications and messaging that answers the burning questions all your customers are asking. Build a list of frequently asked questions from your customers and post the answers on your website and include those answers in dedicated emails and social media. Those answers are the “What’s In It For Me” solutions that your customers want! Finally, and most importantly – don’t give up! Because we all hate salespeople so much, we are often too timid in our own follow up to potential clients because we don’t want to be “pushy” or basically, “slick, slippery and sleazy.” But persistence is not sleazy, especially when you provide a solution to a customer’s pain point. Remember these few important points – we are so used to our pain points that it often takes repeated “touches” to potential clients to educate them how you can relieve them of those pain points. Secondly, only 5% of sales close on the first or second call while 81% close after the 5th! 72% of companies quit reaching out to potential customers after the second call and only 10% quit after the 5th… That’s why the big guys are the big guys. They can afford (or have the discipline) to implement automated systems that ensure repeated exposure and education messaging goes out to ALL of their potential customers on a consistent basis. Do you? So do your work up front – design and implement “What’s In It For Me” content and messaging then ensure it goes out multiple times over multiple channels. Use automated tools to help you distribute that content and then, and only then, will Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and all the other social media channels matter.
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Since we are blogging on the community forum for Constant Contact, I wanted to highlight a new tool that integrates exceptionally well with Constant Contact. That tool is MarketMeSuite. MarketMeSuite in a nutshell lets you manage your Social Media. “Organize, Prioritize & Stay Engaged” – that’s their official trademark. Perhaps you have heard of or even used a similar tool in HootSuite, but the difference here is that MarketMeSuite interfaces with your Constant Contact account and allows for you to use the pictures in your library, and easily promote your email and events with one click accessibility. Schedule Across Multiple Social Media Profiles So first things first. The best benefit by far of MarketMeSuite is it allows you to post across Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter with one click of a button. So instead of having to post 3 times (or more than that if you have a personal Facebook page, your business Facebook page, your personal Twitter, your business Twitter and your LinkedIn profile) all you have to do is load up your post, select which channels you want to post on and presto. Just like magic it posts everywhere. They even have a URL shortener (think bit.ly or ow.ly) so you don’t waste valuable space with a super long URL link. And, you can schedule your posts to go out whenever you want them to – so load up a week’s worth or more if you feel like it. Find and Follow Twitter Users – and Search for Leads Tweeting About Your Business and Services There are many tools out there that help you find and follow (and even unfollow) folks on Twitter. MareketMeSuite does that too. But more than that, it has a search function that allows you to search Twitter for folks tweeting about your business or your services. For example, one of my clients is a solar installation client so we search for the keywords of their business name (Sun Integration) and also the services they provide (solar panel installation, energy efficiency, energy audits, etc.). Better yet, MarketMeSuite allows us to limit the search area to folks within a 100 mile radius of their business location so that we truly find and then interact with folks they want to do business with. And by the way, MarketMeSuite will search Facebook and LinkedIn the same way if you want it to. Curate Articles to Share and Establish Your Business as an Expert It is hard enough to find or write articles that your customers want to read. But with the Google integration tool in MarketMeSuite all you have to do is enter a keyword into their Google search and it will find news articles you can then easily share across your social media channels. No more having to cut and paste from IE or Firefox – or use those social share icons that don’t always share articles on the pages you want to choose. You simply click on the article, select which channels to post on and hit the button. Done. Full Integration with Your Constant Contact Account You can easily access your Constant Contact library to share any images you already have uploaded across your social media channels. And if you’re like my company and deliver lots of seminars and events – then you will love the ability to share your event pages (and shorten those URLs) with a simple click. Oh, and if you forgot to use the “simple share” function in Constant Contact, no problem, use MarketMeSuite to share your email and newsletters with all your social media followers. Blog and News Article RSS Feeds Automatically Posted The last function to describe here is the ability to set up automatic posts to your social media from RSS feeds that you follow. For example, I have set up any posts from my blog to automatically post to my social media whenever I post them. The link to the posts goes out via MarketMeSuite without me having to do anything. I’ve also entered the RSS feeds of Constant Contact’s blog as well as the Bizo Marketing blog to automatically post whenever THEY post a new blog article (which is pretty much daily). What is the advantage to that? It looks like my company is always up-to-date with all the latest news and information and my followers now expect to see that news posted on OUR social media feeds! Win-Win for everyone – my company, the publishing entities and our clients! Check out MarketMeSuite for FREE for 60 days. They will even give you a coach to help you get set up. Check out their site here: http://bit.ly/SocialPunchMarketMe
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What is automated marketing? It can take many forms but for this post let’s just define it as predetermined and predesigned messages that are sent out to your potential customers via email that will be delivered on a predetermined set schedule. That definition in itself took some work to put together – and that is the key to successful automated marketing – it takes work. I have found time and time again in the marketing seminars we put on for our customers and potential customers is they often fall in love with the theory of automated marketing. They buy in to all the bells and whistles of what an advanced CRM and email system can do. But they think that if they buy those systems, then their work is done. Very similar to all my screenwriting friends who went out and bought Final Draft because it can format a screenplay for you – but guess what – the software won’t write the screenplay for you – it only formats it! Remember, software is just software – it only does what you tell it to do. You are the one who is in charge and must do the work of telling it what to do. If you aren’t willing to do the work that automated marketing requires – then don’t even think about doing it. But if you are willing to do the work, then once your plan is put into place, you won’t have to think about it. However, I do suggest you monitor it, and monitor it closely. As small business owners most of our day is dedicated to putting out fires. Some days are better than others so when things are going well, we get out our marketing messages on time. But what about those days (and weeks) when we get slammed? We just don’t have time to think about getting those new business emails out because we can hardly handle the business we currently have. That is when most of us lose the leads we worked so hard to get simply because we did not set up a plan to automatically send out messages when we are too busy to send them out ourselves. Ask yourself this question: How many times have you just cut and pasted information from previous emails for your new prospects? We all do it. So what if you just came up with five standard emails that answer questions your potential tend to ask or want to know? You can do that today. And if you build those emails in something like Constant Contact, you can set them up in an “autoresponder” series that will go out automatically on any schedule you choose. (For a detailed video on exactly how to use the autoresponder feature in Constant Contact, go here.) Let me lay out an example for you. I love wines, and I have many wineries as clients. The way most wineries make most of their money is selling to their “wine club” members. You sign up for their membership and then they will send you 4 bottles of wine every 3 months or so. However, not all the folks who enter the winery will join the wine club right away. The typical business cycle for a winery is this: Folks come in for a wine tasting. Everyone pays 10 bucks or so and samples 3 to 5 wines. Some folks will buy a bottle of wine if they really like one of the samples but rarely will they buy a case the first time out. But if the winery can stay “top of mind” of those customers, those customers may indeed buy more wine, and hopefully join the wine club down the road. So the owner of the winery sends out emails with offers and information about their great wines over the next few weeks and months – or does he? Sure, he does for the first week or so, but then business gets in the way – he realizes he has to send out to his past clients; or he suddenly is running out of a particular type of wine; or he has to take a week to figure out issues with his shipping and billing service. Basically he is putting out fires as all business owners do. But what if he had set up that automated series before all the fires started burning? Just think if he came up with this series of five emails: Thank you for coming out to our winery – we’d love to have you come back. Here is a coupon for a 2 for 1 tasting the next time you come in with a friend (this will help spread the word while also thanking a customer for coming in). We specialize in three types of wine – great, awesome and yummy! No, seriously, we love our deep reds, crisp roses and our delicious selection of whites. But don’t worry, you don’t have to try them all at once, join our wine club and have 4 bottles delivered to your home every 3 months so you can try them all! Do you know what goes best with our deep reds? Steaks and Chops – read more of what food pairings go with our wines. We love everything about wine – including how to serve it. We offer all types of merchandise to help you enjoy our wines – from stemware to decanters; corkscrews to picnic baskets. Come in and get 20% off any item the next time you come in. We’d love to offer you a free wine tasting for filling out our simple survey to see how we can serve you best – will you answer 5 quick questions for the reward of 5 great tastings? (HINT: with Constant Contact’s Toolkit, you can send out surveys too!) Hopefully you get the point of how easy it is to set up a series. We could have easily kept writing but stopped at five. But just like all businesses, not all the wineries customers are ready to buy right away – and what about the next weekend, when a whole batch of new potential customers come into the store? That’s the beauty of setting up an automated series – no matter when a new customer comes in, you add them to the automated list and then they will receive these 5 emails at whatever time interval you set. A good schedule for wineries is to send every Thursday – the day before the weekend when folks might be planning their weekend get-a-ways to wine country. So with the above example, on the firth week of sending out these emails, some of their list will be receiving the last one and some of the list will just be starting – but no matter which email is going out – it will be more accurate and relevant to where those customers are in the buying cycle. By setting up automated emails, you then have the advantage of knowing that all your customers – no matter what stage of your sales cycle they are in – are getting the right messages at the right time. No more losing leads because you were too busy to send out emails – they went out automatically – without having to think about it!
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