Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category
October 24, 2013 by Kay Paumier
In my previous post, I discussed the importance of developing a good website, and of having good LinkedIn and Google+ profiles. Here are more ways that service businesses can market themselves online.
Blogging is useful for communicating your opinions and ideas to potential clients. Of course last year’s idea doesn’t always play well today, so you need to post new content and relevant ideas.
One good approach is to comment on other articles or issues. For example, a lawyer can comment on court decisions.
Another way to reduce the workload is to invite guest bloggers, or to find other blogging content and ask for permission to post it on your website. (Obviously, you don’t want to do this all the time, or you won’t be able to showcase your own expertise. That is, after all, the main point of the blog.)
In any event, post regularly. Although blogging purists would shudder at this suggestion, I think it is better to post every month than to post several times a week and then stop.
Include a way for people to comment. Also, comment on other articles and blogs. You can’t be promotional, but you can definitely showcase your expertise.
Finally, invite people to read your blog in the signature line of your email address.
More and more companies rely on video to get their messages across. Video is perfect for product demonstrations, how-to segments, and general overviews. Animation can illustrate obscure and technical concepts.
Short (two- to three-minute) pieces are the most popular. The key is to think visually; have something to say and something to show. (A talking head does not cut it.)
Put your video on YouTube and similar sites, and link to it from your website. Promote it through LinkedIn and other online sites.
Facebook is good for increasing visibility, giving useful tips, sharing information, starting conversations, and establishing yourself as a leader in the field.
Many companies find having a Facebook company page to be an important addition to their marketing efforts. In some cases, it can replace the company’s website. But, like everything else in the digital world, it needs to be kept fresh and new, with regular postings and updates.
To tweet or not to tweet, that definitely is the question. The jury is still out as to the value of the 140-character messages for business development. However, many professionals report that tweeting helps build community, is a good way to get and share information, and can help drive readership of your blog.
One easy approach is to schedule your tweets using a service like HootSuite. And you can automate a great deal of the process through services like TwitterFeed.
In my next post, I’ll discuss ways to get the attention of mainstream media.
October 17, 2013 by Kay Paumier
All service professionals, from lawyers and dentists to accountants and therapists, have a similar challenge if they are to grow their businesses. They need to expand their pool of new business beyond direct referrals.
In doing so they need to overcome several obstacles:
- They don’t want to appear to be “selling.”
- They typically don’t “make news.”
- They often work with people on a personal and confidential level, making case studies and success stories difficult, if not impossible.
Those are the challenges. The good news is that you really can market a service business assuming you understand your audience, target your activities to their interests, and connect with them “where they are.”
That said, here are some time-tested ways to market a service business. I’ll first discuss online activities, and then talk about getting the attention of the mainstream media.
Develop an effective website.
Having an up-to-date website is essential, although many service businesses don’t have good ones or don’t keep them current. An out-of-date website tells potential clients you are disengaged and not interested in promoting your services.
Your site does not need to be fancy, but it should have informative content and interesting graphics. Simply describe your services, tell visitors what makes you different, and describe your ideal customer. If possible, include testimonials and case studies. Regularly update the material.
Write with both your audience and the search engines in mind. That means putting keywords high up on the page, and in headlines and subheads, as search engines give more weight to words in those positions.
Display your URL (www.mybusiness.com) on your business cards and marketing materials.
I can testify to the power of an up-to-date website. Over the years, my website has been the source of a lot of business. I have done projects for people I have never met, but who contacted me strictly because of what they saw at www.communicationsplus.net.
Develop a good LinkedIn profile.
Increasingly LinkedIn is the “go-to” sites for people wanting to learn more about professionals. In a recent Women In Consulting (WIC) survey, many consultants reported generating business directly from LinkedIn.
So put together a good profile, not just a résumé but a statement of what you do, why you’re different, and why you’re on LinkedIn. Encourage others to link to you. Write testimonials and endorse others. (They’ll probably return the favor.)
Also participate in appropriate LinkedIn groups, being generous with your expertise and knowledge. (“Paying it forward” is a great way to market and be of service.)
For more information about LinkedIn, see the article “I’ve got a Great Profile. Now What? 10 Social Media Tips for LinkedIn.”
Oh, and don’t ignore Google+, which also deserves your attention. The service is becoming increasingly more popular, so develop a profile there as well.
I’ll discuss more online tools in my next post.
August 23, 2013 by Kay Paumier
Twitter can be exciting, daunting, or both.
However, the search engines now track tweets, so it’s a great opportunity to increase your online exposure. Some tips:·
- Follow key people in your industry and retweet selected tweets.
- Use an application like Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) to manage your tweets. You can organize it so you can easily view the tweets from the people you really want to follow.
- Set a goal of retweeting or responding to a few tweets a day.
- Take advantage of hastags (the pound sign in front of a keyword) that will categorize the message and allow other users to click or search for tweets. The more people use a hashtag, the better chance it has at becoming a “trending topic” and the better the chances others will run across the information.
July 25, 2013 by
In my previous post, I discussed four factors to consider when evaluating your Website:
Here are eight more factors to consider.
Content and navigation need to work hand in hand. Too often a link is not clearly identified or is just plain incorrect.
Does your navigation work? Can people quickly get the information they need? How many layers do you have? (Generally people won’t go below two or three screens.)
Do your links describe the content of the pages they lead to? Are the “Back,” “Home” and “Top” links clearly labeled on every page? Are the major links available in two places per page (e.g., top and side)? Are the links in a logical order?
Is a site map available? Few people look at them, but they can be helpful, and the search engines love them.
Do all your links work? How often do you check them?
Do you have a built-in search engine to help users find information on your site?
Is your site readable? It seems silly to even mention, but many sites are hard to read. Copy is often too small or readability has been sacrificed for some visual effect (e.g., white copy on a colored background). So what size font do you have? What color?
Do you use sub-heads, bullets and other graphical elements to break up the copy and make it easier for people to scan? Most people scan Web pages. Only when they find what they’re looking for do they stop and read. Make it easy for them to find that information.
And avoid all caps except when required (e.g., acronym). All caps look angry online.
Is your layout pleasing, yet unobtrusive? Does it enhance your messages or distract from them?
Is the layout consistent? Do you use the same fonts and colors throughout? Do all the pages look like they came from the same company? Do you give the user the option to turn the graphics off?
How quickly does the site load? While fancy graphics and Flash demos may be pretty, most people are more concerned with getting information than watching dancing bears.
Are there any typos? Any grammatical errors? Has a writer outside the company reviewed the entire site? (I definitely recommend it, if only for proofreading purposes. I’ve found cases where the company’s name was misspelled on its site. This definitely doesn’t enhance the corporate image.)
Is the contact information complete, listing an address, phone, fax and e-mail?
Is the site up-to-date? When was it updated? How often is it reviewed?
Is your site printable? We all know the paperless office is a joke. People actually print off Websites. Make it easy for them to get a hard copy, even if you have to include a “printer-friendly” button.
Also, do you have a response mechanism in place if someone sends an e-mail or fills out an online form? It is just polite to confirm that the message has been received, if only by an auto responder.
What do your Web stats tell you? Check them regularly for key metrics, including:
- How many visitors are you getting?
- Is your traffic increasing? Decreasing? Staying the game?
- Where do your visitors typically enter the site?
- Which page(s) do they view?
- Where did they leave?
- How long do they stay?
Once you have that information, analyze your site to make sure the most important information is available on the most popular pages.
How are you driving traffic? Have you registered with the major search engines? Do you include the URL in all your marketing and PR materials? Have you considered a Pay-per-Click options?
You need to drive people to the site. In spite of popular folklore, Websites are definitely not a “build it and they will come” proposition.
July 18, 2013 by
Today, almost every company and organization has a Website. Some are more effective than others, but no one can deny the marketing power of an effective online presence.
How is your Website doing? Is it achieving your goals? Or does it need some revisions or even a major overhaul?
Here are some considerations to help you evaluate your Website and make the most of this powerful marketing tool.
Is your URL easy to remember and to type? If possible, make the URL your company name (e.g., www.thehungersite.com).
Is your message clear? Do you state who you are? What you do? Who your audience is?
Do you talk in terms of benefits, of how you can help that audience?
I don’t mean your vision statement, which is probably too abstract to interest a Web visitor. I mean a simple, straightforward statement of what you do, delivered in terms of how you help your audience.
For example, Women in Consulting (www.WomeninConsulting.org) says that it “offers consultants and small business owners a vibrant, diverse, and powerful community to help them build strong businesses.”
Your message should be clearly stated on the home page, with a variation on the theme on every major section. You don’t know what page your visitors might enter. Make sure you give them a reason to stay.
A note: some larger companies now use the home page basically as links, not as a marketing tool. Most smaller companies need to give their visitors a reason to care, a reason to continue reading. Make that your message.
Is the site complete? Do you have the following sections?
- A home page
- Product or service descriptions
- About us
- News section
- Contact us
- Case studies, testimonials, FAQs and the like (if appropriate)
Is the writing appropriate for the Web? Many organizations simply take copy developed for print and transfer it online. That doesn’t work. Online writing needs to be tighter. Crisper. A Website is not just a “brochure with a mouse.”
Among its other attributes, good Web copy is:
For example, Robert Middleton, a marketing consultant for independent service professionals, clearly states his basic message and target audience on his site (www.actionplanmarketing.com): “Self-employed Professionals. Information and support for attracting more of your ideal clients.”
Is your message that clear?
I’ll give some additional tips in my next post.
June 20, 2013 by Sandra Clark
This was written by my colleague Sandra Clark. It originally appeared in the Women in Consulting (WIC) blog (www.womeninconsulting.org.) It is used here with permission.
Okay, you’ve been listening and learning some social networking tips. Maybe you’ve attended my webinar or one of my classes. You’ve done your homework. You have a great profile on LinkedIn, including:
- Professional headline with your key words/talents
- Customized URL
- Labeled company website
- Compelling summary that uniquely positions you and includes keywords for your specialties
- Current job listed with your key words/talents listed
- Past jobs listed with your key words/talents
- Additional sections (associations, volunteer work, books, etc.) that show what else you bring to the table)
- A good number of recommendations
- Well on your way to 500 connections, each of them tagged or with notes so you know who they all are!
Can you sit back now and watch the leads and job offers come pouring in? Sorry, not quite, but now you’re ready to begin taking advantage of the power of LinkedIn. With sustained effort, LinkedIn can become a good source of leads and referrals, and you should consider it an important part of your marketing or job search efforts. Set aside 20-30 minutes every day for LinkedIn and follow these social networking tips to get the most from this platform. Set a timer so you don’t get carried away and come to fear it as a time bandit.
1) Reach out and touch someone. The updates section on your home page is a good source of ideas. If someone has changed jobs, send them a message to congratulate them and ask how it’s going. If someone has listed an interesting link to a professional article, comment on it.
2) Write something in your own status update, such as a link to an interesting article in your field, a mention of an association event that’s coming up that would be worth attending, etc. There are lots to ways to approach this and it’s different for each person. Do not regularly use this space for self-promotion. It’s okay if you’re doing something truly noteworthy such as speaking at an event, publishing a book or adding a new service, but you will lose credibility if you do this too often.
3) Write an unsolicited recommendation for one of your connections. Of course that person will be flattered and think even more highly of you, but there’s more. Assuming they “accept” your recommendation so that it shows on their page, you will now show up in the updates to their connections and be permanently on their page and show up to everyone looking at their profile. If you write a recommendation for a vendor, all his/her clients will see your recommendation – and they might be potential clients for you. If you recommend former co-worker now at a new company, once again you’re now in front of their connections. Do this with sincerity and it’s a win for everyone involved.
4) Request a recommendation. Tell the person what you’d like them to mention.
5) Look at your groups and see if there are questions you can answer.
6) Add a company to the ones you are following.
7) Pay it forward. The queen of social networking tips and author of “I’m at a Networking Event – Now What?”, Sandy Jones-Kaminski, has many wonderful suggestions about paying it forward via networking and all of her advice also applies to online networking. Side note: I met Sandy through LinkedIn. She reached out to me when she saw I was teaching LinkedIn and offered to send me her book. She practices what she teaches! Here are some ways to pay it forward:
- Offer to introduce a connection to someone who might be helpful to them.
- Call a connection (limit the time) and offer to go to a networking event with them.
- Buy a copy of Sandy’s book and give it to a connection you’d like to take to a networking event (or read it first and then pass it along.)
- Forward a useful link – a free webinar or low-cost event that’s coming up.
8) Identify a prospect you might like to talk to who is connected to someone you know. Pick up the phone and ask your contact if they would be willing to introduce you to one of their connections.
9) Look at the companies you’re following. Identify one where there might be a business opportunity or someone you to whom you might want to connect, and pursue it.
10) Following these social networking tips, chances are you’ll probably see someone you know and haven’t yet connected with. Send a personalized connection request. Never use the default form email LinkedIn offers you.
A complete LinkedIn profile is like a good website or a good resume - useful but not worth much unless you do something to drive traffic to your site or to call you for an interview. Try one or two of these social networking tips and start harnessing the real power of LinkedIn. Connect with me on LinkedIn, and let me know how it goes!
About Sandra Clark
Sandra Clark is the Principal of Silicon Valley Training Connect – a training company offering on-site, customized training in leadership, project management and technology to Silicon Valley companies. Sandra also specializes in coaching individuals to build an authentic and inviting LinkedIn profile to help grow their small businesses.
April 4, 2013 by Leilani Yau
A colleague of mine, Leilani Yau, wrote this for the Women in Consulting (WIC) blog (blog.womeninconsulting.org). It is used here with her permission.
Is video marketing part of your online marketing mix, or are you still sitting on the sidelines wondering where to begin?
February 21, 2013 by
January 17, 2013 by
This article was written by a colleague, Sheila Fruge, and originally published on the Women in Consulting blog (www.womeninconsulting.org/blog). I am reprinting it with permission.
What if there was a way to know what others were thinking? To see it graphed out on chart? In a way, Google Trends already does this by allowing users to eavesdrop on search patterns, no privacy violated or psychic ability required.
Search queries are really expressions of thought, which is recorded when entered into search engines. En masse, patterns emerge and can be analyzed to provide insights for businesses wanting to learn more about their markets and monitor trends. It’s the closest us non-psychics can get to knowing other people’s thoughts. This article will cover Google Trends as part of a series I’m writing to spotlight Google’s more useful offerings for businesses.
What is Google Trends
Google is the #1 global Internet property, reaching 84% of Internet users.* This makes the company privy to massive amounts of search term data which they normalize and scale to protect privacy. Trends works by analyzing a percentage of web searches that have met Google’s undisclosed traffic thresholds. Fortunately they share this data with the public through Google Trends which was released in September and is a merged version of Google Trends and Google Insights. As a search engine marketer, this is one of my favorite tools and can be useful when developing a paid search strategy for clients.
How to Use Google Trends
Google Trends allows users to input up to five search queries to compare. This will return a line graph comparing the popularity of these keywords over time along with a related terms list. Search queries can be limited to only display web, news, image and product search data which can be further segmented by region, timeframe and category.
Witches, Vampires or Werewolves
Here’s an example on how one might use this tool. Let’s say you run a business that sells Halloween costumes and want to find out which costumes get the most search interest: witches, vampires or werewolves. The chart reveals that “witch costume” has been the leader in search demand for years.
Further down the page, there is a heat map graph and related terms list that reveal more insights. Clearly, there are some states like Utah and Tennessee that have higher search interest for “witch costumes.” Further, when reviewing the related terms there is specific demand around “candy corn witch” and “glinda witch costume.”
How to Use This Data
In only a few minutes of checking, it’s easy to see patterns that could be leveraged to help market witch costumes to the most interested consumers. From this data an action plan can be created to increase sales. These actions may include:
- Ordering more candy corn and glinda witch costumes from the manufacturer
- Setting up a paid search campaign targeting the highest search states like Utah and Tennessee
- Adding candy corn- and glinda witch-related keywords to the website and promoting it through social media
Please note, Trends is a fun tool but is only a starting place for research. From here, I’d use the Google AdWords Keyword and Traffic Estimate tools to scope out the traffic opportunity and understand what the advertiser competition looks like for the paid search campaign. Those tools will provide more specific information where starting budgets and sales forecasting can be estimated.
If you haven’t used this tool, I recommend that you try it. It’s fun to get insights into trending topics and to learn about what other people are searching for. I hope you enjoyed this article and would like to get your thoughts or experiences on this tool. Thanks for reading.
* Data represents Google Search and Content Network, including Google properties; Source: comScore Key Measures Report, March 2009; Attributor, Dec. 2009
** images from Google Trends and SodaHead.com
Sheila Fruge is the owner of Fruge Consulting Inc. and specializes in helping organizations attract qualified leads online to increase exposure and grow sales. She is a Google AdWords Certified Partner and has spoken to UC Berkley and UC San Francisco classes about search engine marketing best practices. Learn more about Sheila at www.frugeconsulting.com
January 10, 2013 by
In my last post, I covered five ways to improve the effectiveness of your product launch:
- Involve the reporters, readers or viewers.
- Provide product samples.
- Arrange product reviews.
- Enlarge the announcement.
- Position the announcement as part of a trend.
Here are five more time-tested techniques to help your new product stand out in the crowd.
6. Prepare good visuals.
Editors of both online and offline publications need good visuals. Put some thought into an innovative photo or a good, eye-catching diagram. Some companies are using infographics to introduce their products, bypassing the traditional news release altogether.
Over the years, I’ve used everything from regular screen shots and “people pictures” to turn-of-the century ads and original cartoons. Almost always, those visuals have paid off handsomely in significant coverage.
7. Report on the product’s benefits
Make the product’s usefulness, purpose and benefit central to the story. When Roku and Netflix introduced the Netflix Player by Roku™, they emphasized that the device “enables Netflix subscribers to instantly stream a growing library of movies and TV episodes from Netflix directly to the TV.” They also pointed out that “the player is simple to install, easy to use and gives Netflix members instant access to more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes.”
The two companies did not describe the intricacies of the technology, or the details of their partnership. Instead they focused on what the viewer would get from the device.
8. Use the Web.
Capitalize on online tools. Before the announcement “seed” the announcement by participating in online industry or consumer groups related to the product. Respond to questions and offer advice freely. This will help position you as an expert, which will help your credibility come announcement time.
On announcement day, distribute the release over a wire service. Post information on LinkedIn and, if appropriate, Facebook, Pinterest and the like. Tweet your announcement. Provide all product information – visuals, demos, video – online. And, at bare minimum, post your announcement on your website. It may seem too obvious to mention, but it is overlooked only too often.
9. Capitalize on the media’s plans.
Monitor editorial calendars (listings of feature articles that the media has planned). It’s possible the editors are planning to cover a topic that might “fit” your product.
For example, I pitched a case study to an editor who had scheduled a story on construction management. The article, which covered 75 percent of a tabloid-size page, appeared before we had even formally launched my client’s construction management software, greatly enhancing the announcement that followed.
10. Present a historical perspective.
A “look backwards” can be a fun way to generate interest. We used that technique to introduce a treatment for menstrual cramps. I researched turn-of-the-century treatments and discovered Lydia Pickham’s Pink Pills (which were mainly alcohol). We included copies of Lydia’s ads in our press materials. (The copyright had expired.) Those ads were featured in dozens of articles and TV programs, increasing the general appeal of the announcement.
In short, think about how you can enhance your product announcement. Sometimes a little extra thought and care can dramatically increase your publicity.