- Introduction to the (Internet) Marketing E-Course. 3
- One – What Is Your Unique Selling Proposition?. 4
- Two -How to Make More Profits without Spending More Money on Advertising. 5
- Three – Building Your Customer Database. 6
- Four – Constructing Joint Ventures and Building Marketing Alliances. 7
- Five – Using Media Advertising Carefully. 8
- Six – Community Relations and PR. 9
- Seven – Direct Marketing. 10
- Nine – Building Your Presence through Publication. 11
- Eight – Basic Internet Promotion. 12
- Ten – Establishing Your Expert Position through Education. 13
- Eleven -Building a Bullet Proof Network. 14
- Twelve – Internet Promotions-An Introduction. 15
- Thirteen -Being Findable In the Search Engines. 16
- Fourteen – How to Choose a Consultant. 17
- Fifteen – Can You Profit From Blogging?. 18
- Sixteen – Search Engine Keywords. 19
- Seventeen – Local Search Engine Directories. 20
- Eighteen – Google Places-Online Local Business Directory. 21
- Nineteen – Google Places-Online Customer Reviews. 21
- Twenty – Managing Your Business Reputation. 23
- Twenty One – Managing Your Personal Reputation. 24
- Twenty Two – Introduction to Social Media. 25
- Twenty Three – Introduction to Facebook. 26
- Twenty Four – Introduction to Twitter. 27
- Twenty Five – Introduction to LinkedIn. 28
- Twenty Six – Introduction to Google+. 29
- Twenty Seven – Introduction to Pinterest. 30
- Twenty Eight – Managing Your Social Media. 31
- Twenty Nine – Your Online Marketing Tracking Systems. 33
- Thirty – Introduction to Mobile Marketing. 34
- Thirty One – Mobile Marketing Statistics. 35
- Thirty two – Introduction to Video Marketing. 36
Introduction to the (Internet) Marketing E-Course
We make this information available to companies so that they can make decisions about how to apply their resources to promote their business. As you know there is a lot of information about what kind of marketing you should be doing. Most of it is written or discussed in terms that marketers use with each other and unfortunately that is probably not very helpful to you.
Also, it is hard to know who to trust. It is easy for a company to say that they can help you to get more business, but can they actually do it? Do they know what they are talking about? Well in the next thirty one lessons, we will share and explain one aspect of a marketing program with you. You will notice a few things about the course:
1) We discuss fundamentals that work both online or offline. Some of you have brick and mortar locations and will benefit from our discussion of the Unique Selling Proposition and Community Relations.
2) We introduce the basics of social media. You will have enough to get started; however the more advanced strategies will be coming up in future lessons.
3) If you would like to speak with us before the course ends, we welcome you to contact us. Our business is helping companies succeed. If you see an aspect of the marketing system that you would like to implement in a particular lesson, contact us. We are always ready to help you move forward.
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4) You may be overwhelmed with how you are going to start using this knowledge or how you will get your existing staff to do some of the work. Before you give up on the implementation…think about calling us. If you recognize the need for what the lessons present you’ll also know how crucial it is for you to begin adding the steps into your current marketing plan.
We believe that these lessons will take some of the mystery out of marketing for you. You will understand the big picture once this series of thirty-one marketing lessons end. All that you will need to do is to implement your knowledge.
In our first lesson, we will discuss a very important concept called unique selling proposition (USP). It is the single principle that can change the direction of a business and make it competitive even when other players are bigger and more established.
One – What Is Your Unique Selling Proposition?
As you are marketing your business, one of the most important things that you can do is to give your customers and prospects a reason for wanting to do business with you. Marketers call this your unique selling proposition or USP. The USP is the position that your company holds in the mind of your prospects. This position will determine whether or not they decide to do business with you.
The USP is not a tagline. It is not just a different way of advertising. In order to work for you, it has to convey the way you truly to do business. If you use the USP to attract a customer to your business and they don’t get the experience that you talked about that will be the only time that you see them. You can expect that they will never return to you.
In order for you to get the true benefit of having a USP, you need to be able to answer two basic questions:
- Why do customers buy from your business?
- Why should prospects start buying from your business?
When you are able to answer these two questions successfully you will be outlining how your company has chosen to compete in the market. As you know, every business that is successful in the long run has what is called a sustainable competitive advantage. In other words, when companies have to compete in markets where there are other products like theirs, they must understand what makes their product unique and what makes that uniqueness difficult for competitors to copy.
There will be markets in which it will be difficult to find a point to differentiate your products and services from those that other companies have. When that is the case, you will need to consider what kind of additional value that you can add to the product or service that others either cannot or chose not to offer.
In our next lesson, we will discuss how to maximize the power of your USP before you begin advertising and promoting your USP.
Two -How to Make More Profits without Spending More Money on Advertising
Once you have solidified your USP, you will probably want to start advertising and promotion. As a small business, you obviously have to be aware of how much money you are spending on advertising. In addition to that, there is no guarantee that the capital that you spend will end in higher profits. The traditional thinking with respect to spending on advertising tends to go according to this logic.
- Our company spends 100 and gets 30 prospects
- Of those 30 prospects 10 become customers
- Those 10 customers give us $5 in profit
- Therefore, if we want to double our profit to $10, we need to spend twice as much (200) on advertising and promotion.
While this formula could possibly bring success there are other things that we need to do before we spend an additional sum. Is there a way that we can get more than 30 prospects? Is there a way that we can convert more than 10 of the 30 prospects? Is there a way that we can get more than $5 from the 10 new customers?
The fact is that if we can increase any of those percentages, we will have been able to increase our profits without spending any additional money on advertising. Additionally, when we do decide to do more spending, we will have learned how to get more profit for the money that we spend.
Whether your business sells from its internet site or from its front door, the biggest challenge for you isn’t how to get more traffic until you are maximizing the traffic that you are currently getting. Here are some ways to think about whether or not you are maximizing your traffic:
First, are you carefully tracking your leads and prospects when they come to your business? Do you know how they found you?
Second, once they are on your website or in your store, do you know how many decide to buy?
Third, those that do decide to buy, are you and your staff taking advantage of opportunities to sell them something of more value or something that will make their original purchase more valuable?
In the next lesson, we will discuss another way that you can generate more sales without additional advertising expense: building a customer database.
Three – Building Your Customer Database
In the last lesson we discussed the fact that there were ways that you could increase your profits without spending additional capital on advertising:
- Convert more of your prospects to customers
- Get your customers to buy more products or services
- Get your customer to move up in price for their purchase to get more value
One method that we didn’t discuss was to get your customer to come more often to your website, store or location. If you can get every customer to buy one or two times more per year than they would have done otherwise, you will have significantly increased your profits without having spent more money on advertising.
One of the best ways to do that is to have a customer database of some kind. There are a number of ways to build one and you should use every available avenue to reach your potential customer. Some of your clients will like to get notifications by email some will like them in their social media streams, still others would like to receive SMS contact. Regardless of how you do it, you need a way to communicate helpful information to those who have purchased or may be interested in purchasing from your business.
The formula for maintaining a successful customer database is capture, communicate and reward.
Capture: First, you need to have a way of encouraging would-be customers to give you their contact information for the purpose of keeping in contact with them. Everyplace your customer comes in contact with your business, they should have the chance of becoming part of your database.
Communicate: Second, you must be in contact with the people on your database on a regular basis. You can call it a newsletter or e-course. You can do it by email, regular mail or by mobile device. In order to get people to come back to your store or your website, you will need to make sure they are aware of your sales pricing and what your business is up to.
Reward: For being your customer or getting your newsletter there should be some ‘insider’ perk or reward. Give them opportunities to get special information and pricing unavailable anyplace else but your notices. This will encourage them to stay in your database.
In our next lesson, we will discuss how you can start building up that database with new customers by doing joint ventures and strategic alliances.
Four – Constructing Joint Ventures and Building Marketing Alliances
In the last lesson we discussed the advantage you gain in building a customer contact database or list. We talked about the fact that to build and maintain a successful database that a company needed to capture, communicate and reward. A company with a good contact database will be able to make sales even when they are low on money to spend on advertising.
One of the best ways to start building that contact database if you don’t have one with lots of customers and prospects is to gain leverage from those who already have a list. In other words, you will be building strategic alliances with other companies. In other circles this kind of arrangement can be called a joint venture or an affiliate marketing relationship.
In this marketing alliance, you will build relationships with companies that do not compete with you but have similar customer bases. For instance, a dentist may build a relationship with an orthodontist or oral surgeon. A gas station’s owner may build a relationship with the owner of a car wash. Perhaps a music store’s owner could build a relationship with a music instructor. These would be very compatible potential joint venture partnerships.
In a marketing alliance, the partners would use their contact database in order to mail for each other. For instance, the music store owner could mail or email their customers on behalf of the music instructor. The music instructor could do the same. If both parties were savvy they would use the mailing to build their contact database, not only to sell products or give discounts.
The most important part of the mailing is the endorsement by the writer. In other words, in the letter or email, the music instructor would personally endorse the music store. The same would be true when the music store owner sent out their message. If both parties use email, this could work extremely well because both parties would expand their database with customers and prospects that they did not have before. Of course, this kind of relationship can be duplicated wherever the company finds compatible non-competing businesses.
In our next lesson, we will move from listbuilding to discuss media advertising. You will not want to miss that discussion.
Five – Using Media Advertising Carefully
In our last lesson we discussed the building of joint ventures and strategic marketing alliances. We opened the possibility of using them to build our database so that we will be able to market to the prospects we collect for a long time to come. One of the things that small businesses need to have is a way to reach lots of people very quickly. Once you have grown your business to a certain level, it will be necessary to use media advertising. However, media advertising does require that some very important thinking be done before it is fully used.
One of the things that companies must do is to put in a very reliable, simple to understand tracking system. This is because when you step up to media advertising, you will be spending a considerable amount more money than you spend on the web or with PR. With a good tracking system, you will know where each of your new customers is coming from; you will also know how they came to decide on your company. When you do this consistently, you will be able to know the return on your advertising investment.
Once your tracking systems are in place, you will need to take a careful look at who your actual customer is. Certain forms of media will work better than others given a specific demographic. There are a number of choices that you will have available to you, that you will need to have a good handle on which situations require the medium you are thinking about using. There is no reason to use radio, if your prospects will respond better to direct mail. In a later lesson, we will review each kind of media advertising and then outline the scenarios in which each one works most effectively.
In our next lesson, we will discuss how you can leap frog past using paid media, and use PR instead as it is more cost effective for small companies.
Six – Community Relations and PR
In our last lesson we discussed the necessity of tracking systems before getting into the very expensive forms of media advertising. Typically companies utilize radio, television or news advertising in order to brand themselves and to create a favorable impression with the public. One of the reasons that media advertising is so expensive is because it takes a lot of repetition in order to make an impact in people’s mind. Therefore a television campaign can’t just run once, it needs to run several times. The same thing is true for radio, billboards and newspapers.
However, smaller companies typically don’t have a budget to spend money for branding .However, companies can have just as powerful an ally in community relations and PR. When small companies are consistent about using media relations, they can easily position themselves to be experts in their niche or field. This will create a very positive brand with those who make decisions in the media.
First, if you are not active in your community in charitable, non-profit, volunteer work or sponsoring events, you can benefit others and yourself by supporting those things that you are passionate about. This will help you to build your presence in the community and give people the opportunity to associate the name of your company with those things that they care about.
Second, you must be active in supplying news to reporters in the area so that they come to rely on you in the construction of everyday news. This means that you would be using news releases to provide to reporters looking for stories that are of interest to them. Of course, you will want to establish relationships with them first.
In our next lesson, we will move from public relations to direct marketing and talk about how you can use this leverage to win customers directly from your listbuilding efforts.
Seven – Direct Marketing
In our last lesson we discussed the need for businesses to brand themselves not by purchasing expensive advertising packages from media sources such as radio, television and news, but instead to utilize public relations and community marketing. Doing this helps companies to create a presence for themselves in their local area as an expert.
It also creates high visibility for them. It helps them to accomplish the same effect as a branding campaign, accept that they are leveraging media instead of buying it. Additionally, community relations allows them to work where decision makers are in a more direct way than if they were to simply advertise.
Direct marketing draws the same kind of comparisons. When you are direct marketing, your messaging is to one person instead of many. Simply put, direct marketing is one on one messaging between the buyer and the seller. Instead of waiting for the buyer to come to the seller, the direct marketer takes their message to the buyer to present an offer to them.
Direct marketing can be effective when it is done correctly and within a system that is being tracked carefully so that the owner knows where their results are coming from. There are several forms of direct marketing used by business that are available to you. The primary methods for direct marketing are: 1) direct mail and 2) telemarketing.
When you are building a direct marketing campaign a considerable amount of the actual success of the campaign will depend on your copywriting. Whether you are writing a script for the telemarketers or you are writing out your direct mail piece. You will need how to sell your product in writing. It is important to note that if you are going to spend money on a campaign like this, it is prudent to hire a professional consultant and/or copywriter. You want the highest possible return on this investment as possible.
In our next lesson we will move from direct marketing to basic internet promotion. This will give you the overview for the rest of the course. We can help you by copywriting your direct mail or your telemarketing scripts. Call us today so that you can get the most of this kind of marketing campaign.
Nine – Building Your Presence through Publication
In our last lesson, we discussed basic internet promotion. We concluded by outlining the basic places where your customers and prospects might be online, stating that you want to make sure that you have a visible presence on those platforms. In most cases, having multiple corporate sites online makes sense: website, social media, and forums. However one aspect of business that is going unnoticed is publication in books, e-books and trade publications.
Businesses need to make themselves available in print, not just because it will increase awareness of their personal brand. But also when they become available to solve problems that people are having they place themselves and their company in the position as being an expert. And should the readers actually get the help they needed they will also further solidify their brand.
There are three ways to approach publication:
- Find the problem that your product or service solves and write about it.
- Write about your company and how it solved its own problems
- Write a book to others in your niche or industry
Most business books are written as #2 indicates which can work for certain companies in certain industries. However, companies can truly benefit from #1, which is solving customer problems. The reason that this is so effective is that readers are typically not interested in the story of a small business unless it is very well known. On the other hand, they are interested in solving their own problems. Therefore business owners who are willing to spell out to readers how to get relief in some areas stand a good chance of being able to pick up new customers.
In our next lesson we will discuss how companies can develop an educational portion of their business for more positive PR and additional profits.
Eight – Basic Internet Promotion
In our last lesson we discussed the seventh of our foundation marketing principles, direct marketing. As you can see, all of the marketing methods can be effective right along with what you are able to do on the internet. The most important part of what you do online is to be everywhere that your prospect is. This may sound elementary but it is true and it is also doable.
For instance, some of your customers may like to ‘hang around’ on social networks. You want to make sure that you, at least have a presence there (we will discuss specific strategies later). Some of your customers like to spend time on their mobile device. Therefore, you will want to make sure that you have a presence in having a mobile website and mobile app. Still others do most of their web activity by surfing the internet on their personal computer. Therefore you will want to make sure that your website presence is inviting.
The fact of the matter is that you will need a strategy for all of the basic areas of online promotion; but even before you develop one, you need to establish a presence in the following areas:
- Mobile: Mobile Websites, Mobile Apps
- Search Engines: Blogs and Websites
- Search Directories: Google Places, Yahoo Maps, etc.
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest
- Publication: Kindle, Traditional Publication
- Public Relations: Online News and Press Releases
- Online Communities: Niche Forums and Bulletin Board
This is the most basic of internet promotion where you will definitely need to make sure that you have a profile and presence. Eventually, each one will require its own strategy. However, when your marketing is working systematically along with the 7 foundational methods, you will find that you will be able to get people to see your website and come to your location.
Ten – Establishing Your Expert Position through Education
In our last lesson, we discussed making sure to take advantage of the opportunity to be published. Now that Amazon Kindle has opened up the possibility for business owners to easily write and publish their own books, this is not a daunting task.
That means that if business owners are willing to take the time to create some content in a book, then they can expand their customer base to those who download books from kindle. They are very likely to reach a significant number of new prospects in that way as people are interested in finding solutions to things that confuse them.
It is for that reason that businesses can and should think about how to incorporate a “how-to” part to their business. In other words, they should take the portion of their business that solves problems for their customers and people like them and further educate them. There are several ways a company can do this:
- Do a free talk in your community about the problem your product solves (not the product though!)
- Do a web seminar (webinar) for people online solving the problems that your products and services speak to.
- Create a multi-media online course on how to do something that is commonly a problem.
In all three cases, businesses have the option of selling the information or giving it away. When giving away the information, a business can provide the education in exchange for the prospect’s contact information. In this way, the business owner will be able to market to the people who decided to get the information.
Additionally, this marketing will be targeted. Since the business owner knows what the subject of the talk was, they will be able to direct the right kind of offers to the prospects. Of course, since the prospects are available in the business’s database the business will have the option(s) of selling products and services and selling more how to information to them.
In our next lesson we will discuss an additional source of income for those who want to create a long lasting professional network.
Eleven -Building a Bullet Proof Network
In our last lesson, we discussed how to create an educational wing of your business. The fact that you could teach your customers, your peers or even your competition makes for an ever expanding business model. Additionally, what it also does is gives you a product to sell to everyone. Not everyone will want your products when they first see them. Additionally, not everyone will be able to afford them. When you have education for sale, you will be able to provide everyone with something to purchase from you.
One of the best places to use your publications is to expand your professional network. Having a book or information product is great. Being able to use that product in the context of meeting more people who can refer you to others is even better. That is why one of the things that we suggest you do is to build your professional network. However, that does not mean that you need to go to all of the “networking” events. It means that you need to place yourself in the position of getting what prospects want and need for their business and their personal life.
In his book Networking with Millionaires, Dr. Thomas Stanley states that an extraordinary sales professional needs to be ready to be able to give before they receive in order for their network to function for them. In terms of giving, the sales professional should be able to help people to:
- Get better suppliers for their business
- Get better prospects for their business
- Get better suppliers for their personal needs
How do you do this? As you prospect and generate conversations, you listen for what their need is: 1) What do they need (personal), 2) what to they buy (supplier) and 3) what do they sell (prospects). You do what you can to provide these for them from members of your own personal and professional network. When you are doing this repeatedly, the “Law of Reciprocity” works on your behalf and people are willing to work to bring you more business. If you work to bring members of your network more business, you will bullet proof your network.
In our next lesson we will begin to talk about basic internet promotion in depth.
Twelve – Internet Promotions-An Introduction
In a previous lesson we outlined the basic internet promotions that you should have in place. Hopefully by this time you have established these properties. If you haven’t, make sure to review Lesson Eight and contact us so that we can get you moving in the right direction there. Here are the basic properties that you should have established:
Search Engines: A Website and or Blog that can be found by your customers
Search Directories: An Account in Google Places, Yahoo Maps, Bing Maps
Multi-Media: YouTube, Podcasting and Pinterest (Images)
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn
Mobile: A Mobile Website and/or a Mobile Apps
Publication: Kindle and Traditional Publication
Public Relations: Online News and Press Releases
Online Communities: Online Forums and Bulletin Boards
The key is to be able to systematically establish these properties without them taking your time away from the business to maintain them. Additionally, you want to make sure that they are integrated and working together in the most productive way possible. Working through these eight basic methods will begin a snowball effect for your promotions. Each one will work together to feed the other seven.
You may have heard that some companies were on the Google Search engine at some point and easily found by their customers and then lost their ranking almost overnight. This loss of ranking for some businesses was devastating. They lost a considerable part of their business in a very short period of time. By working through this list and making sure each one of the different types of internet promotion is working for you, you will be immune to any one of the eight sources changing or drying up your traffic.
That is also why we talked about all of the other promotions before this. Your internet promotion will take all of your other actions and super-charge them.
Thirteen -Being Findable In the Search Engines
When your customers are looking for information in the search engines they typically use Google. Google accounts for about 65% of all searches done on a daily basis. When they do their search, most people don’t look past the first ten search results , as about 71% of all clicks happen on the first page alone. That means that if you are going to have a website, and you want it to be seen by your potential customers, you are going to need to do something to be one of the 71% of websites that are found for your keywords.
For example, if you are plumber in Chicago, you want people to see your website when searchers go to Google and type in: “plumber in Chicago”. But then, you have to also think about all of the other things that people might type in if they have a plumbing problem. You would want people to see your website when they typed in those things also. The process of making your website findable for all of those keywords is called optimization. You may have heard the entire term before from marketers or magazines as “search engine optimization”. Some shorten the name by calling it SEO.
The most important part of SEO is knowing what keywords your potential customers are using to find businesses like yours in the search engines. Once you know that, there are processes that you can follow in order to get your website to be seen. It is important to note that SEO is a very time consuming process and having someone to do this part of your marketing for you is sensible.
You have probably received visits and calls from potential consultants who were willing to “get you to the top of Google” for what seemed to be a modest fee.
Fourteen – How to Choose a Consultant
In our last lesson, we discussed the need for SEO services for your business. When your customer goes to look for services like yours, they use the Google Search engine. Unfortunately, there are only ten companies or web pages that can appear on the first page and 71% of all searches end there. That means that if your website isn’t one of the 71% it is effectively invisible.
That means that you will need to do what you can to make sure that your website is found for those who type in keywords related to your business. We closed our discussion by mentioning that it is important to choose the right person or company to help you with this process. Working with a company that cold calls your business may or may not be the right thing to do.
SEO is a time consuming process, but a consultant who is really working with you and looking out for your business can help you to be visible to your customers. When you are approached by someone who says that they can do SEO for you, you will want to make sure that you know what keywords they intend to work on before you pay any of your money. This would be a simple question to ask them: what keyword do you want to attempt to make me visible for?
Your follow up question is equally as important. You should ask about how many searches those keywords get on a regular basis. If your consultant intends to make you first for a keyword that isn’t searched, this will not do you any good and will be a waste of your money. No consultant can guarantee you business by getting you to the top of Google. However, they can get to places where your customers are searching if they are willing to do the work.
Fifteen – Can You Profit From Blogging?
In our last lesson, we discussed how to find a good consultant to help you to implement SEO for your business. One thing to think about is that some companies use multiple websites in order to capture all of the traffic that is available to them for SEO.
The corporate website tends to be used for official news and press releases. The tone tends to be formal (if a company has a formal tone at all). It is the showcase of what your company is and what it does. If you have hours of operations, if you have sale pricing or if you have news that you need to convey to your customers, this is the place where you will let them know what is happening.
However, that probably won’t cover all of the keywords that your customers are interested in. In fact there will be 1) some keywords that are important for you to have a presence on and 2) some for you to have products and services ready to buy. The keywords that indicate that customers are ready to buy tend to use covered by a business’ website. Those keywords that customers or prospects search with when they are only at the ‘showing interest’ stage are typically best covered by a blog.
A blog will allow your owners, executives and staff of your company to offer unofficial opinions about the business, about the industry or about anything else that they might think is relevant. On the one hand, a blog is a good site to give prospects a chance to connect with people in your business. On the other hand it is a good way to capture prospects into a marketing funnel that may not be ready to buy. Companies that use blogs tend to make them visual with lots of pictures that people would like to share through social media. A blog is a great way to give your customer, contacts and clients updated opinions on what you think is going on in your marketplace.
In our next lesson we will discuss keywords and how they affect your blog or website being found.
Sixteen – Search Engine Keywords
In our last lesson, we discussed how you can use blogging to your advantage to cover keywords that people use when they are not quite ready to make a purchase. For those keywords that indicate that people are ready to buy your products and services, we would want to use your corporate website to cover them. Basically, we need to be able to tell the difference between those keywords that prospects use when they are ready to buy and those keywords that prospects use when they are just “kicking the tires” or investigating your products and services.
When people are ready to buy there are certain ways that they might indicate that, by what they actually type into the search engine bar. The marketing community calls these buying keywords. When you are paying for SEO services, you want to make sure that you optimize your site for as many buying keywords as you can. This will help you to get a return on your investment much faster. A good example of using a buying keyword would be typing in the exact model name of a product: “Casio EX Z550 14.1 MP”. Or a user might add on a word to the phrase that signals that they are buying. For instance, it is likely that someone searching with the phrase “deals for Casio EX Z550 14.1 MP” or “affordable Casio EX Z550 14.1 MP” is close to making a purchase.
Other related keywords that don’t indicate a desire to buy are called research keywords. These words indicate that the customer is in the research phase. You would want to optimize (be found in the search engines) for these keywords differently than you would buying keywords. You may be more interested in enticing these site visitors to sign up for your newsletter or mailing list so that you can market to them later.
In our next lesson we will move on from SEO for your website and blog to discuss local search engine directories like Google Places.
Seventeen – Local Search Engine Directories
In this set of lessons, we want to talk about search engine directories and review sites. These are actually, large sometimes internationally run sites built with local small businesses in mind. Local businesses are typically allowed to sign up at no cost and list their business. The advantage to the business is that many of these sites are trusted by consumers because of the review system in place. In other words, many of the directory sites allow consumers to rate their experience with the businesses.
When you are competing in your local area it is a good idea to sign up for as many of these directory sites as possible. Consumers have different directory sites that they choose to use and being listed in all of them gives you the opportunity to be found. If you recall, in other lessons, we have said that the key with online marketing is that you want to be everyplace that your prospect is.
Another reason for signing up for the directory sites is that they are given favorable treatment for some keywords in the search engines. That means that many times, when a consumer is searching for a particular product or service, they could see one of the directory sites in the top ten search results. Additionally, these directory sites help you gain ranking power for the Google Places local directory which we will talk about in a future lesson. In the same vein, when you connect your listings to your website or blog, your ranking power is helped then also.
You may have used some of these sites as a consumer. You will recognize some of their names: 1) Yelp.com; 2) Citysearch.com; 3) Insiderpages.com; 4) YellowPages.com and 5) Angieslist.com. In all there are well over 100 local directory sites that a company could be listed in.
Eighteen – Google Places-Online Local Business Directory
We started this set of lessons by discussing the nature of online business directory sites. You know by now that for certain keywords, the business directory listings will help your company to be more visible. This is mainly because some for certain keywords the business directory sites are listed in the top ten search results. You also may recall we discussed the fact that connecting your profiles on these sites will help you make your website more visible also. We mentioned yet one final advantage to having a profile on the business directory sites: they help you in making your Google Places listing more visible.
You may have been thinking, “What is Google Places?” when you read that. Google Places (Places) is Google’s version of the online business directory. Some say it is the online yellow pages for business (even though the Yellow Pages company has its own directory site). ‘Places’ is most important when it comes to being visible in the search engines, because Google favors the directory when it is determined that people are searching for local businesses. In other words, when consumers search for a plumber in Chicago they will see a Places listing of local plumbers before they see anything else. That means that even the top ten search results are pushed down the page while Google Places listings display on top.
It is beneficial then to make sure that your Google Places profile is filled out completely and carefully in order to maximize your presence on your company’s most lucrative keywords. You’ll also want to make sure you have integrated your social networking account from Google into the completion of your Places profile. While this may be an involved process it is a very important one. It can mean the difference between consumers routinely finding you or your competitors.
In our next lesson we will dig a little deeper into Google Places since it truly is an important component of marketing online.
Nineteen – Google Places-Online Customer Reviews
Google Places is the most widely used of all of the local business directory sites. Much of that has to do with Google getting over 65% of all of the search traffic. When consumers are looking for information, many use it without even thinking about their choice of search engine.
Because Google Places’ directory listings often show up first before the top ten web pages, it is an important opportunity for every local small business to participate. In our last lesson we discussed the importance of making sure that you fill your Google Places profile out completely and carefully, so that you get the maximum advantage from your most productive keywords.
One aspect of Google Places that every business owner needs to be aware of is that consumers are encouraged to share their reviews of the businesses that are listed. That means that if a customer has an exceptionally good experience at your business, they will have the opportunity write a review. That review will show up in your actual Google Places listing.
However, the opposite is also true. When customers have a bad experience, they will be empowered to leave a review about your site on the Google Places page. This scenario is now amplified because Google has now tied their social network to their business directory. Therefore, the customer who reviews your business will be potentially sharing that review with their personal or professional network.
The nature of reviews online is such that most of the people who respond tend to do so when they have a bad experience. Those who have the experience that they were expecting or that they feel they paid for are unlikely to respond. Therefore, you will need to make sure to either have a staff person monitor your Google Places listing, or you will need to make it part of something you do personally if you don’t have a staff. One bad review on your Google Places listing could be enough to discourage a prospect from trying out your product or service.
When you do get a negative review there is no need to panic. Google Places gives you the opportunity to answer the person who left the review. Additionally, Google is taking steps to make sure that the review that is left is authentic by connecting the permission to write a review to their social network.
In our next lesson, we will discuss what you can do when you have negative information that appears in the other business directory listings as well as in the top ten search results. Call us today if you have already noticed negative listings near your keywords or in your Google Places reviews. We will share the best practices of other companies like yours when they too have received negative reviews.
Twenty – Managing Your Business Reputation
In our last lesson we discussed what might happen if you were to receive a negative customer review on your Google Places listing. One of the good things about Google Places is that those who leave reviews will need to be tied to a real social networking account. While that won’t necessarily stop bad reviews, it will discourage individuals from talking about things that were untruthful. Additionally, Google Places gives you the opportunity to respond to those who had a bad experience.
However, in some of the lesser used business directories you do not necessarily have the same kind of opportunity across the board. That means that those who use sites like Yelp.com, CitySearch.com or Angie’s List might go unanswered having left negative feedback. Answering them is not always going to be an option once their review is posted.
Additionally, it doesn’t always read well to a prospective customer if you are seemingly making excuses for what was perceived to be bad service. So you will need to be careful as to how you approach the situation.
The best way to manage your reputation online for your company is to make sure that you have as much positive information as you can posted and positioned online. That means having everything from blog posts to customer reviews, to emails, to personal conversations, to videos. Whenever you have positive feedback from your customers, make sure (with your customer’s permission of course) that this information is posted where people who are looking for your products and services will see it. The best way to weed out negative information online about your company is to make sure that there is honest and positive information that displaces it.
Additionally, make sure to monitor all of your keywords for reviews that are posted about your company. When you have the opportunity to do so, you should answer them. Moreover, you will want to make sure that those customers that have good experiences go through the trouble of rating you. Make sure to remind them with signage, emails and even their receipt when it is relevant. However, you will want to stop short of offering an incentive for customers who complete the review.
In our next lesson we will discuss what to consider when your company owners and executives have a considerable amount of negative information appearing about them online. If you see negative information in the business directory sites, the top ten listings or anyplace else online about your company call us so that we can help you to resolve it.
Twenty One – Managing Your Personal Reputation
In our last lesson we discussed what would happen if you were to find that one of the directory sites, or one of the webpages appearing in the top ten search results had negative information about your company. We mentioned that if you had the opportunity to answer the feedback online that you should do so carefully. However, as you already know, there is not much that you can do once a negative review is already posted. The most important thing for you to do is to get as much positive and true information posted as possible as well as to share it on social media platforms. The best defense against negative information is to flood the search engines with positive information.
The strategy is not much different for executives closely associated with your company. Consumers and business people will often conduct a Google search about a company’s executive as well as their company. In the mind of customers, you the owner or manager ARE the company. Therefore, if negative information about a company seen online can keep a prospect away; the same is true of negative information about the owners and visible executives.
Executives should take care to post positive information on their site and platforms with their personal/professional name.
- Blogs-Executives and owners should attempt to make sure their name is secured and if possible populated with an active blog.
- Social Media-Executives and owners should make sure their personal account reflect what they would want their best customer to see.
- Videos-Executives and owners should make sure that videos posted with their name and/or the company’s name should be complementary.
Because the situation gets more complex as the internet grows more varied in the different kind of platforms it has, it is prudent to call on someone else to manage your personal internet profile. The profession is now called ‘Reputation Management’ and the service can be found amongst independent online marketers.
However, you will want work with someone that you know well and that knows you well to undertake this kind of service. Call us today so that we can evaluate your online reputation and show you what you will need to do next to weed out information that will reflect negatively on your company.
We will now move away from reputation management and SEO and on to Social media in our next lesson.
Twenty Two – Introduction to Social Media
We have said it several times during these twenty two lessons so far, that you should attempt to be in every place online that your prospect is. And now that the internet is changing toward being a medium to connect with people, consumers and businesses are spending more time on social media websites and platforms.
Social media simply describes those sites where people connect on a personal level. Social media sites are not like blogs or regular websites. They are platforms that encourage users to share with a community of people that they are connected to online. There are over 100 social media sites in regular use. Some of the largest and most recognized platforms among the 100 are:
- Google+ and
Even though these sites are used primarily for members to share their personal lives with each other, you will want to have a presence on the five major sites listed above. When your customer is given a reason to share some part of your business that affected their life with their personal network, you have a chance to: 1) influence a prospect in a positive way and 2) entice someone to become part of your contact database.
This is important because business owners do not have a lot of success using social media to simply send out links to their location and alert people to sale pricing. While strategies like that can work, they miss the full potential of using social media. Social Media when done well inspires other people to share your company with their connections.
But all of this takes place with interaction. As you engage with customers and prospects about your company, you are earning the right to promote your products to them. In the next few lessons we will talk about each one of the major social networks as well as strategies to employ to get the most from the medium. Call today so that we can help you to move your social media strategy forward.
Twenty Three – Introduction to Facebook
Your business needs to have a presence on Facebook, no matter how small, no matter how active. At the time this course is being written, Facebook receives about seven billion visits per month and has about 900 million members/users. That means that regardless of what you are selling, it is likely that one, if not all of your prospects does something on Facebook.
Business’ point of interaction is Facebook’s Fan Page system. Companies are allowed by Facebook to set up an account on the network where they can post content about their business and brand. You don’t have to maintain a personal account to set up a fan page. All that you’ll need t do is to go to the website Facebook.com and create a page for your business.
Once you have gone through the initial stages of creating a page you will then need to utilize your contact database to request that they connect to your page. In order for them to see the content that you post on your page, they will need to click the “like” button which will connect them with your business. Unfortunately, the spirit of Facebook’s policy is that a page owner should not provide incentives to users for “likes”. However, you can see to it that those already connected to your fan page are rewarded by the content that you provide to them.
Once you have a number of “fans” connected to your page, you will be ready to begin posting content. The objective will be for you to share something that those connected to your page will find interesting enough to share with their network. You may ask, “when can I start telling my fans or connections about my products and services?”
Although we will discuss a number of options in a more advanced lesson, the general rule is that you should post t at least 3 to 4 items that people would find an interest in for every one promotional post that you make. Therefore, if you have already created at least three sharable posts on your fan page, it is appropriate to alert those who have become fans to your sale pricing or promotional offer.
In our next lesson we will review the basics of another social network, Twitter. Call us today so that we can set up your fan page and so that you can get access to fans in you local area.
Twenty Four – Introduction to Twitter
Twitter will allow you to connect with customers and prospects in much the same way as you will be doing on Facebook. What’s different about Twitter is that you can only use 140 characters at a time. For some this is a quite limiting aspect of the platform. However, the site has carved out a unique place among the networks where using those few characters actually encourages MORE interaction.
The key to utilize twitter effectively is to make use of it as a conversation with those who decide to connect with you. Twitter is basically real time interaction and a way for connections or ‘followers’ to talk to a decision maker about those things that concern them. You may want to use it as a way to discuss your company’s perspective on a recent event. If you have individuals who are active on Twitter, you can get real time feedback on your thoughts.
For a business, Twitter can be invaluable for giving customers and prospects the perspective that they know who they are doing business with and that they can “talk” to them. It dispels the notion that businesses are impersonal and do not listen to their customers. It is important to note that you can (and many businesses do) use Twitter to pass on information about who you are and what you do. But if that is all that you do, you will miss the main benefits of having an account on Twitter. In a later lesson, we will discuss advanced strategies for using Twitter to help you to profit from it. However, in our next lesson, we will introduce you to the professional social network, LinkedIn.com.
Call us today so that we can help you to set up your Twitter account and integrate it into your other promotions and begin profiting today.
Twenty Five – Introduction to LinkedIn
The LinkedIn network was designed for professional connections and relationships. Of all of the social networks it is the least purely social platform. Most if not all of the activity revolves around your company or your activity with a company. Although it is focused and its population is the smallest, the activity is productive for executives who have a need to meet others in business.
Most of the interaction on LinkedIn occurs on the individual level, even though companies are permitted to set their own presence there. It is important to note that while there may be consumer activity on LinkedIn, it is extremely limited and rare. Most of connecting between parties occurs on the professional level.
To benefit from LinkedIn, it is prudent for the executives and key staff of the company to establish their own individual accounts. In that way, the company can extend the maximum level of influence among industry peers as well potential clients. Once an account has been established, executives can consider messaging those in their contact database to provide connection details.
Apart from working with those with whom you are already connected, a considerable number of the meetings take place through introductions, endorsements and referrals. LinkedIn’s programming allows for those who know you as a connection on the network to introduce you as a colleague or to recommend you as a contractor or partner. Alternatively, current connections are permitted to introduce you to individuals in their network through the LinkedIn email system.
The key strategy for LinkedIn users is to make connections with those who have influence in the places where your clients and customers are. Additionally, LinkedIn is an aid in building a professional network. It is important to note that ‘cold-calling’ members is frowned upon on LinkedIn. It is best to make sure then to establish contact through introduction whenever possible.
In future lessons, we will discuss advanced strategies for utilizing LinkedIn; however, in our next course module we will discuss Google+.
Twenty Six – Introduction to Google+
The Google Plus (Google+) network is Google’s attempt at building its own social platform. Its growth has not been as fast as some of the other networks; however it is integrated into a number of important promotional activities that you will be undertaking.
Most of the socializing that is done, is much like Facebook in that you will be sharing your content with those with whom you connect. The ethics of Google+ are much the same as Facebook. In other words, while you can easily connect with others on an individual level, you will want to set up a business page to take full advantage of all of the network’s features.
The first thing that you will want to do is to invite those who are part of your contact database to connect with you on Google Plus. If you have followed previous lessons, you may have already connected to those in your database that use Facebook. However, you have probably noticed that there were a number of individuals who chose not to take you up on your offer to connect with your fan page. In some cases, customers and prospects do not use the Facebook platform and don’t want to join it in order to become part of your page.
As a result, your invitation to them to connect with you on Google Plus will give you another opportunity to reach a new network of people who may like to share information about your product or service. The potential for new people to share your content on a social level is the factor that gives social media platforms like Google+ such power.
The other factor that is important is the integration that Google has initiated with its ‘Places’ program and Google Plus. It has significant value for ranking your website and your business directory listing. This alone, is a major reason for you to participate on the network. This will be the subject of one of our future lessons where we discuss some advanced strategies. Nevertheless, in our last lesson on social media, we will discuss the social network Pinterest and how you can benefit from it.
Call us today so that we can help you to take full advantage of being part of the Google+ network and how it can help the ranking of your website and business directory listing.
Twenty Seven – Introduction to Pinterest
The Pinterest social network is for businesses that can use visuals to interact with their customers, connections and prospects. It differs from Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn in that the primary mode of communication is through the posting (called pinning in Pinterest) of images and videos. At this point most of the connections that people make on Pinterest come from Facebook in particular.
To take advantage of the viral nature of Pinterest, you will need to think about the visual nature of your business. Are your products and services visual in nature? Or perhaps you may want show pictures of your staff in action. In some cases, companies that are successful using Pinterest showcase those things that the staff finds interesting.
As is the case with other social networks, Pinterest depends on interaction. Therefore, you and your staff will need to have a plan on who will participate on behalf of the company and communicate with those with whom you choose to connect. Of course, you will want to make sure that the person who is doing this on behalf of your company understands the medium and is motivated to participate.
Companies that have been most successful on Pinterest have been those who have encouraged interaction with customers and prospects. In effect, it is the sharing of their content that drives traffic back to their website more than companies sharing their own branded content.
Therefore, if you can find a way to get your customers involved in sharing their images (think contests) with you and allowing you to post them on Pinterest, you can experience a viral effect to this particular social network. In our next lesson, we will conclude this section on social networking by suggesting some tools on setting up your networks and how to manage your interactions without being overwhelmed.
Call us today so that we can help you to get set up on the Pinterest network and get it working with your other promotions.
Twenty Eight – Managing Your Social Media
As you have been going through the past few lessons on social media, hearing the words:
You may have been thinking about where you would find the time to do this across all five of the major networks. And then, when you think about every other component of the marketing plan that we have discussed over the last 28 days, it can be overwhelming. A number of business owners give up before they set a plan to use the social networks to their advantage because of the amount of work that they (rightly) foresee it taking to be done for maximum effect.
Without getting to any of the advanced strategies to come later, you can worry less about this than it appears. There are ways of managing your accounts without spending more time than you have to do so. Additionally, there are ways to construct a plan based on the resources that you do have while you build up to the point of using all of the social networks at their full potential.
The first thing to consider is where most of your customers and prospects are. If most of them use Twitter or Facebook, you will benefit from starting with that network and formulating a plan for interaction. There are really only two goals to set when formulating your plan:
- Increase the number of leads
- Increase the amount of sales
This is the point where many business owners benefit from being assisted by outside consultants. It is easy to set up the networks. It is more difficult to formulate a plan to build a profile that brings more leads and sales to the company. However, if you choose not to formulate a plan at this stage, there are automation tools to help you manage multiple social networks. Perhaps the best known tool and easiest to use is called HootSuite. HootSuite will allow you to take one piece of your content and post it to all of the major networks at once.
This is probably not the kind of interaction that will maximize your time on social media, but it will help you to manage your presence until you have a plan that will lead to profit. In our next lesson, we will introduce tracking systems for your online marketing. Call us today so that we can show you how to manage multiple networks while also being able to access the full potential of social media.
Twenty Nine – Your Online Marketing Tracking Systems
One of the most important aspects of your online marketing will be your tracking systems. This system will tell you how many people are coming to your website and where they are coming from. It will tell you how many people during a given time period are landing on your product page. Your tracking system is critical because without it, you will not be able to tell which promotional efforts are working and which ones aren’t.
The tracking system that 52% of all websites currently use is maintained by Google and is called “Google Analytics”. Companies primarily use it because it’s free of charge and because of its close association to the Google search engine. It is arguably the most detailed system that you will be able to get at no cost.
However, Google Analytics makes a considerable amount of information available as it is really designed for webmasters and web marketers. Some of the information in their reports is written in jargon used by internet marketers, and as a result you will need to familiarize yourself with the important terms. If there is a precaution to using the information that you get in Google Analytics, it is that you want to avoid being paralyzed with all of the data.
You will want to pay attention to how much traffic you are getting and where that traffic is coming from. You’ll need to make a clear connection between new or experimental promotional efforts and the results that you are getting from them. You’ll want to pay very close attention to the results of your efforts with social media, looking to find out which of the networks provides you with buyers or leads.
When it comes to implementing a tracking system it would be a very good use of your time to work with a web marketer or consultant. A consulting company (like ours) can help you to get your tracking system installed and labeled so that you will know where your sales are coming from and how to make changes to your efforts. We typically go one step farther to help you figure out what you can add to make your promotions effective.
In our next lesson, we will discuss mobile marketing and how it fits in to your overall promotions.
We like to work with our clients to investigate what is working in their current promotional program and then suggest solutions as to what they could do more of or less of. Call us today so that we can begin working with you.
Thirty – Introduction to Mobile Marketing
You are probably aware that people are spending more time on their mobile devices and accessing the internet using them. That means that you also need to make sure that you have a plan for your business to meet the needs of mobile device users. And the way the trends are looking, you will soon need to anticipate that a majority of your visitors will be using their mobile devices.
There are a number of things that you will need to consider. One of the first will be whether or not, you will need to get a mobile website or a mobile application to promote your business. If you have done any surfing online using a mobile device, you realize that there is a difference. But much depends on what kind of business you have and where you generate sales. More importantly, what are the expectations of your site visitors?
Another thing that you’ll want to consider is whether or not you could benefit from using SMS marketing. You will want to consider this form of database marketing because it is clear that consumers are going to be using SMS to communicate with each other. And if you are going to have a presence everyplace where your prospect is, you’ll need to consider whether text messaging makes sense for your business.
You’ll want to re-think about your social media strategy and incorporate the use of mobile devices. Are there ways that you can encourage interaction on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Should you think about other social networks that are almost entirely mobile such as Instagram and Foursaquare?
Yet one more consideration is how to administer discounts, barcodes and QR codes. You have probably seen the scanner codes that allow visitors to be sent to a page of your choosing. Does this strategy fit the kind of business that you have or can you leave this for another time?
Then there is the impact on all of the other strategies we have discussed prior to this lesson in the context of mobile device use. What is the impact on building your database, or public relations or direct one-on-one marketing? Should you be integrating all of these methods along with mobile devices into your current marketing mix?
We can help you put mobile marketing into perspective. Call us today so that we can sit down with you and outline a real marketing strategy that takes all promotional avenues and puts them in perspective. In our next lesson, we will share some statistics with you about mobile marketing that may be surprising to you.
Thirty One – Mobile Marketing Statistics
This lesson will be a little different. We will be sharing some statistics with you about what is happening as customers get more used to adopting mobile devices into their lifestyle. This has definite implications for your business. Mobile marketing is not a fad or a buzzword. It is a fact of business life right now and one that you will probably want to take seriously in the near future.
Everything with to do with mobile marketing is about setting expectations and providing convenience. If your customers expect to use their mobile devices at your website or location and cannot AND they can use them everyplace else that they buy things you can expect to lose that customer to a business that will accommodate them.
Here are nine (9) mobile statistics that will underscore our point:
- 70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour. (Source: Mobile Marketer)
- Mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons. (Source: Borrell Associates)
- In 2012, 94% of smartphones users will be mobile internet users.
- 74% of consumers will wait 5 seconds for a web page to load on their mobile device before abandoning the site. (Source: Gomez)
- 46% of consumers are unlikely to return to a mobile site if it didn’t work properly during their last visit. (Source: Gomez)
- One half of all local searches are performed on mobile devices. (Source: Microsoft Tag)
- 24% of US tablet owners use their tablets to shop 2-3 times per month; 20% use them to shop more than once per week; and 12% use them to shop every day! (Source: eMarketer)
- 91% of mobile internet access is for social activities, versus just 79% on desktops. (Source: Microsoft Tag)
- QR code scans increased 300% in 2011 compared to 2010. (Source: ScanLife)
These statistics help to highlight the need to consider what your mobile strategy is and how you will integrate it into what you are doing. Call us today and allow us to help you put together a marketing system that works online, offline and with mobile.
**We thank Hubspot.com for compiling the statistics in their research.
Thirty two – Introduction to Video Marketing
In previous lessons we have discussed the basic foundations of marketing your business online and offline. We’ve discussed everything from networking to reaching out to people on their mobile device. By now you probably realize that there are a number of ways to be successful promoting your business as long as you have a basic goal and objective along with some “know-how”.
The most expensive advertising by far is doing a television commercial. This is due to two primary factors: 1) a television commercial, properly targeted has a considerable amount of reach, and 2) the power of video to create a personal connection with people is significant. When advertisers have a well structured commercial, they are able to get their message to stick in the minds of their prospects due to the kind of impression that a video leaves.
Business owners who do not have the capital to invest in a television campaign can still use the power of video to connect with potential prospects and customers. It is estimated the raw number of online video viewers will reach just under 170 million people in 2012, according to internet marketing analyst Hubspot.com. Also according to Hubspot, 53.5% of the population and 71% of internet users will watch some form of online video.
This is significant because the statistics refer to the potential reach of online video. Businesses that commit to having their content seen in video can level the playing field to some degree, even if they don’t necessarily have an established presence in the marketplace. Many small companies have perfected a strategy of using YouTube.com, the no-cost video platform of Google.Com as their video marketing platform.
The fact that this video sharing site is owned by Google.com means that YouTube videos often rank in the search results for certain keywords. Those businesses that can create compelling video and upload it to YouTube.com have a very good chance of being found in the search engines when people are actually searching.
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