Social Media Marketing for Small Business – A Lucrative Option

Social Media Marketing is fast growing with its exponential global users; small business can now leverage this form of marketing to get their products noticed in the international arena.

To achieve Success in today’s business, we need to focus on the three basic components namely, Growth, Profits and Implementation. These components define the prosperity of any organization. Here are a few ideas on how Social Media Marketing could be a lucrative option in Popularizing the organizations’ products and services.

Relationship Marketing in today’s business

In today’s competitive business-Relationship Management is the key component. It is here that social media marketing and online marketing as a whole come in place. It shifts your mindset from using online marketing just to generate leads to creating deeper relationships with customers and prospects and improve your “findability”.

A PAT Model best describes the strategies employed in Social Media Marketing through Strong Positioning, Attracting Attention from right market and Getting Traction with your users selling more number of times sets a vital record. We need to create business choreography to keep and attract clients. Small business marketing efforts will work only if these things are in place.

1. Funneling Down On Target:

In small business, its important to connect with people in the same geographic area, especially if you are dealing with products of inelastic demand (essential products).Targeting your social media with specific area or keywords, ensures that you are interacting only with viable leads.

There are hundreds of thousands of status updates getting published every minute, so cutting through the clutter has to be a top priority. Start small. Starting out to familiarize yourself with tools like search.twitter.com, and you can eventually move on to using a more business-specific tool like CoTweet or Hootsuite.

2. Proactive is the key

Going after the prospective leads and interacting with them is the key to turn into successful closure of business deals. Waiting and tweeting in unrelated arena may not give you the desired results.

You need to find out people of your interest by Joining Facebook groups, Linked-In groups, check out PeerIndex.net lists on your genre, and look at a person’s Twitter Grader score. These are so many tools online to target your exact customer, so make use of them wisely.

3. Recognition of Bad Automation

When you’re having a conversation with potential clients, you need to be real. Spam is sure to turn people off instantly. Starting a conversation with qualified leads and growing the conversation organically from 5 to 10 qualified leads adds to the bottom line

Streamlining the process online is possible through simple automation process for example scheduling updates, pulling in from your RSS feed, these are all great time savers. Ready made templates prove useful in replying to queries when you see people tweeting or posting on Facebook but never automate replies as the result could be embarrassing. While a Casual visitor may be replied with a quotation of products may prove irrelevant to the situation.

4. Don’t Miss the Giant Gorilla

As a Small Business Owner, you need take on several roles. When your of Social media for a little while, leave your followers with some helpful posts to read, while you’re busy doing your important work. Social media is a great way to field in lot of customer queries, requests, support and even research.

Setting up searches for keywords related to your brand and creating time to handle request daily, will ensure that the Giant Gorilla (Prospective Lead) never escapes your notice. By promptly answering requests many problems could be solved in its initial stage.

5. Give others Credit

There are various opportunities in Social media like Retweeting is a great way to show your followers you have your finger on the pulse of your industry, but a big mistake is just posting a load of unattributed feeds as your own. Crediting the original author shows your credibility. First it shows your users, that you are monitoring your field and curating some great content for fans and followers. Secondly it may be a great opportunity to drive home your ideas through the words of the author. You can start a lot of strategic partnerships with just simple Retweeting.

Social media sites are exploding with users. Though the ultimate goal is to maximize the value of the content, savvy businesses today are focusing and concentrate on creating interactions that will help turn the social media users into traffic which converts into business. For a business without a lot of time or a very large marketing budget, social media is a great place for a targeted interaction to become a viable lead.

Small Businesses Turn Leads Into Sales by Responding Quickly

The key for a small business to turn leads into sales is speed. When people look for information, products, or solutions on the internet, they want instant gratification. If they have to wait for you to send back an email or wait for a phone call from you, you’ve probably already lost them. If they have to wait for you to send them something in the postal mail, you never had a shot anyway.

The first time that I realized just how critical this was, I had been in business for a few years, and my company was a preferred vendor for a training website. Every day, people would visit this website, and because it was so comprehensive, it was very difficult to navigate. As a result, a lot of people would just fill out the form on the website requesting whatever type of training that they were looking for. As soon as someone filled out the form, it automatically got posted on the secure side, so if you were one of these preferred businesses, you could login at any time and see what had been posted.

To help us all out, though, the owner of the website would send out a summary at the end of the day, so every evening about 8:00 PM or so, we’d all get an email with a list of all of the leads that came in that day.

I responded to hundreds of these leads without any turning any of those leads into sales. Then, one evening, there was a lead from someone wanting a public speaking class in Dallas. I thought, “Oh, I got this one.” And I responded to it. The next morning, I called the person and introduced myself, and she was the most cold and distant prospect I think I have ever talked to. She just said, “We’ve already chosen someone else,” and hung up. I was totally confused.

So I thought about what I should do to try and close some of these leads, and I figured that I really needed to know what everyone else was doing. I went onto the site and created a posting of my own. It was about 10:30 AM, and I put into the posting that I would only accept email proposals.

By 11:00 AM, I had already received three proposals. The first was just a generic email with a HUGE attachment that took quite a while to download. It was about 20 MB of brochures in eight separate attachments that I never really went through. The second was just a simple email saying, “If you still need help, call me.” (Okay it was a little more involved than that, but not much.) The third, though, was a beautiful, professional looking proposal. After glancing at it, I had pretty much decided that if I had really been buying a public speaking class, I would have hired that company.

By 3:00 PM, I had about 25 proposals.

By 6:30 PM, I had received almost 50 proposals.

By 8:00 PM, the time that I was typically receiving the summary email from the website, I had received over 72 proposals.

The next morning when I woke up, I had received 143 proposals. After the first 20 or so, I didn’t look at any of them – not even out of curiosity.

When new proposals kept coming in the morning (less than 24 hours since I posted the listing,) they just ticked me off. I was thinking, “What a loser! You’re number 150 on the list.” But remember, that less than 24 hours prior, I was consistently number 73 or 74 on these lists every single time. (I was the late guy that was ticking everyone off.)

I met with my team that day to share what I found out. We made a commitment to be the first to respond to every request. We only had six people working for the company, but we decided to assign one person every day just to wait for the phone to ring, one person just to wait for individual email leads to come in, and another just to wait for corporate contract requests to come in.

Our goal was to call any email inquiry back in less than five minutes. The most common comment that we started getting when we made those phone calls was, “Wow! I just hit send. You guys are really fast.”

That year we went from a small half-million dollar company to almost one and a half million dollars in sales. The next year we doubled sales again. The only thing that really changed was the speed at which we were following up with potential clients.

Typical Web Surfer

Typical web surfers will usually do something like this. They have a question and quickly do a Google search. They will scan the first page that pops up looking for a listing summary that most closely relates to what they are looking for. If they find one, they will click the link to see if an answer can be found.

Not finding the answer right away, they might fill out a web form requesting additional information.

Then they will go back to Google and look at the next listing. This one has an FAQ page, and they read a few of them and feel comfortable enough to fill out another form to get a second opinion.

Then they will go back to Google and look one more time. This time, the website has a blog with dozens of helpful articles and a few videos that look really nice. They now pick up the phone and end up getting a voicemail.

They might look at a few more listings, but most will not likely to fill out any more forms. No one wants to be bombarded with spam from a lot of websites, so they will probably be cautious about filling out more forms. They will probably only call additional listings from here on out and only if the website is very compelling.

So here is the big question…

Who is most likely to get the business?

If the owner of the third website had answered the phone instead of having the call go over to voicemail, then that person would have had a tremendous advantage over the other two companies. In fact, if the person replies to the voicemail right away, that owner still has an advantage.

In reality, the person who makes contact with the prospect first and builds rapport with the prospect is always in the driver’s seat.

However, if you respond to the email the next day, the person will answer the phone saying, “Huh? Who are you again?” The web surfer typically forgets entirely that he/she requested the information in the first place within 24 hours or less.

If the person gets a brochure in the mail a week after sending the email, well… you get the picture.

Speed is your friend in online sales. If you can’t personally follow up on the requests, then hire someone. If you can’t hire someone, then at least invest in a good email follow up system.

Don’t make your good prospects wait for you.

Move quickly. Move nimbly. And make a ton of people happy and a ton of money in the process!

How To Easily Acquire New Customers For Small Businesses

Making money has now become easier in the information age. The internet has opened up a whole new world of accessing and sharing data
between individuals or entities.

Without proper understanding, the internet can be very confusing and intimidating. That is why many small businesses do not own a website.

It is said that 60% of small businesses in the US with less than 100 employees have their own website or probably don’t want to own one.

The reasons may be;
· They don’t know what to do with it
· They can’t keep it updated
· It can be too confusing to keep up with the latest strategies
· They are too busy focussing on the business to bother

About their website and would rather pay someone else to do that for them.

Meanwhile, the internet is one big lead generator.

A lead is simply a prospective customer for your product or services.

There are resources on the internet of people who need and want your products or services. People who surf the net are constantly searching for solutions to solve their problems. If you can position yourself to answer their questions, you can become rich. The problem is the internet can be too chaotic to find anything unless you know What you are doing.

If you can get the website visitors into buyers, you can cash in big time. There are several companies which harness these internet surfers, find out what They really are looking for, get their details and give or sell the information to Those who have the solution to the problems of those surfing the internet. Most of these companies compile this data and sell them as lists of leads to firms Who need new business or who want to expand their customer base. Other companies rent their lead database to service providers.

If you would like, as a small business, to acquire customers without the expensive Way of advertising, you can consider buying or renting these leads from such companies. You need to acquire not just any leads but guaranteed quality leads. For example, if you are a plumber, you may want to get a list of leads of people who Have just bought or are about to sell their houses.

The new home owners may not have a contract with anyone just yet and you may just Be the solution to their problem of changing the bathtub to a better one, for instance. New home owners are targeted leads as opposed to home owners who may have Already created a good relationship with their plumber when they first moved in. It doesn’t matter what you are offering, you can get leads to expand your customer base.

Effective PR For a Small Business on a Budget – Get Local and Get Online!

If yours is like most small businesses, you can’t afford the luxury of a PR department, much less a dedicated PR agency or even one employee responsible for external communications and PR. However, this business function is critical as the world of communications continues to expand with new applications, demands and opportunities like social media networks. The thought of a concerted PR strategy and execution can be overwhelming for a small business owner, but it doesn’t have to be. There are two primary elements of PR for a small business to engage upon – leveraging online and local offline outlets. The old world of face-to-face will continue to be critical in building your PR strategy and overall business, but let’s face it – the environment has changed, and you simply can’t ignore the power of the Web, particularly social networks. Proactively getting your business out in the community while leveraging the Web will ensure the success of your PR strategy. And, these tactics are not expensive; in fact, many present opportunities for free PR for your small business.

These PR strategy tips are designed for those small businesses that simply don’t have budget allocated toward hiring and retaining a communications expert. If you are a smaller company, hopefully you can take a few tips below to integrate PR into your small business to help build a brand and generate leads. Utilizing informative, valuable PR about your small business gives you the opportunity to influence people and lead them to your destination – your website, your store, your offering. Take advantage of what’s out there! Get online and get local – it’s that simple.

Growing Your PR Strategy

Grow Online

If you don’t have a website, you need to get one immediately. Today, you can get a starter site for free or within your communications packages from your voice and data provider. If it’s in the package, then it’s a no-brainer. If you have a website, then make sure it’s dynamic (video, blogs, and communities) to ensure your target audience comes back and builds a relationship with you and your brand. It’s a requirement in today’s online world; the days of stagnant sites are over. Then, once you have your interactive site, make sure you optimize your website and everything you say about your business online to ensure your potential customers are finding you online when they search. This is a key part of your online PR strategy. Don’t you search Google or Bing to find what you need a pinch? It’s called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and it can be an affordable way to create additional PR for your small business — and it’s often found in your communications and IT packages. At the very least, getting a URL allows you to be FOUND online and that’s key. Google now provides maps when visitors are looking for a specific service in a specific area. By simply having an Internet address – you can be found online looking professional with a map to your location and link to your business, which is pretty cool.

The Wild World of Social Media

You have probably heard about “social media” and you may already be taking part. For many, however, the world of Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, blogs, vlogs and status updates may be a bit unsettling. Suffice it to say – these are powerful tools to help you carry out your PR strategy, especially when used properly to connect, communicate and yes, to sell.

As a small business, you can’t afford NOT to take part. It’s easy and affordable, so don’t waste anymore time. Of course, you do need to understand how best to engage before you jump in. Here are a few quick ways to start creating more PR for your small business:

1 – Create a Twitter profile and gain followers by “Tweeting” about your business, surrounding businesses and community topics that map back to your business. Build buzz about what you provide – can you Tweet special coupons? Can you give advice? Can you share relevant information to your community? Do you have an event you want to invite local prospects to? Twitter, an emerging PR strategy with an increasing audience, is a great way to quickly (140 characters or less) get a message out and position yourself as a leader. Remember, it’s not all about you; you must talk about the world around you to make an impact. Start off Tweeting about your business, but quickly begin integrating Tweets about your customers, your community, and your industry – and the most important part is to provide some kind of value or benefit in your tweets. Be respectable as well. And if you see someone comment about your business online (good or bad) – respond online for all to see. It’s a great way to show you are committed to your customers. The cost to you? It’s essentially free PR for your small business.

2 – Create free profiles on Linked In and Facebook. All you need for Linked In is a profile of you, and from there, you can create a group where you can share stories, news, and other PR about your small business. People can ping you for questions which positions you as an expert and, you can join interest groups that will help you track what other potential buyers in your community do, say and think. For Facebook, simply select “business” on the homepage to create a business “fan” page. Local residents, family and friends can then become “fans” of your company, which is an easy way to highlight the most recent PR about your small business. All you have to do is commit to posting news, updates, coupons, photos and other interactive content to get people engaged. Remember – provide a benefit – a reason for your “fans” to come back for more.

In addition to these PR strategy tips, there are local meet-up groups in every community that often originate from the Web, and then meet offline to have a real interactive discussion. Check out Meetup.com in your area to find one.

Confused about this new world of social media? Read Groundswell by two Forrester Research analysts, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. This book will set you straight and get you excited about the opportunities out there in terms of online PR for your small business.

Grow Local

Much like how consumers like to buy from locally grown farms, small businesses tend to buy from their peers – other small businesses. An effective PR strategy is all about supporting your local communities, and these days, that’s more important than ever. Keeping this in mind, focus on your community by generating PR for your small business at local events. Depending on your business, there are often specialty groups for different types of businesses such as professional service specialty groups. Often these groups gather monthly or quarterly to share best practices and to network. There are certainly general small business groups in your community such as your local Chamber that meet regularly as well. Beyond networking events, you can get ink for your business. Most Chambers have monthly newsletters or emails. Do you have something to say? Could you contribute twice a year with a special promotion to drive people to your business? Take advantage of these opportunities to fuel word-of-mouth marketing through PR for your small business. Hand out business cards, build relationships and follow-up. These opportunities are right outside your door.

Think grassroots.

Shake hands with other small businesses owners, refer each other and grow your business. To improve PR for your small business, think about what events are taking place this weekend where you could set up space, hand out collateral, serve up some hotdogs, and generate solid leads. Is there an art show or “Taste Of” type of event? Don’t take it all on yourself; partner with other local businesses right in your area to split costs and cross-sell to each other’s customers. A hand-shake goes a long way towards an effective PR strategy. Add a coupon and see the results. Most communities have annual events that bring hundreds/thousands of people – target those. In terms of PR for a small business, the best thing you can do is to connect directly to your audience by showing your personality and your value – get out there!

Leverage Local Media.

Another important element of your PR strategy involves local brand development, which means building relationships with local media. Yes, there is still benefit in reaching out to traditional media when it comes to PR for your small business. Take a moment to find out who your local reporters are and introduce yourself. Share with your new media contacts areas of expertise that you would be able to discuss if requested. If you create a relationship with your local media and have something compelling or contrarian to say, chances are they will call you when they need your input. Consider a quick email to your local reporters with an introduction, a quick reference of your expertise and what you could comment on. Being timely and relevant is critical to your PR strategy. Offer a cup of coffee. Those relationships can go a long way when you really want to make noise in the community. It’s important to know that if you want coverage and/or additional PR for your small business – you won’t get it with a cold pitch. You must: 1) – establish a relationship; 2) – have news to share that’s relevant, unique or at least different; and 3) – have a product/or service that is remarkable. These rules ring true for influential bloggers as well. For more on being remarkable, read Seth Godin’s Purple Cow – a great, quick read that will get you thinking about how to stand out from the rest to grow your business.

Blending Old and New: Building PR for a Small Business

Hopefully these PR strategy tips will help you build a brand for your small business and generate new and recurring business via PR. Communicating to customers and enabling them to communicate back to you is essential in today’s social world of media. However, what remains important today as it did 100 years ago is the face-to-face interaction. Nothing will replace it, so make sure you show your face and personality in the community. Coupling the old with the new will ensure a successful PR strategy for your small business.