Closing the Gap Between Business and Customer: Propinquity Marketing at Work

Back in the day, business was conducted based largely on physical proximity. Salesmen visited prospects and clients regularly, and agreements were made with handshakes. Now, your small business may provide services to clients you’ve never met in person, and your prospects might be anywhere in the world. How do you close that gap, and build the relationships that drive sales? In two words, propinquity marketing. The theory of propinquity was first suggested by a group of MIT psychologists in the 1950s. At its foundation, this is a very simple idea: we form relationships with the people we come into contact with the most. Today, we put the psychology of propinquity to work via social media ‒ building the honest, trustworthy relationships that grow sales and long-term customer loyalty. Here’s how: Locate If you’ve been doing your homework, you already know the forums your audience frequents. Are they participating in LinkedIn groups, or discussions on Quora? Are there trade shows or seminars that focus on your product or service? Find the channels your base uses the most. Use #hashtags to search for popular Twitter topics, and keep your eyes open for shared links. These will give you an accurate picture of …

Creating Unique Web Content: Not as Tough as Brain Surgery

If you’ve done any reading about the latest developments in SEO and online marketing, you already know that original content is the Holy Grail of the season. Everybody wants unique content, but there’s not much information out there telling you how to create it. To be honest, it’s not easy to come up with original ideas on a regular basis. But you absolutely can breathe a spark of life and personality into everything you send out on the web and the social channels by sticking with these guidelines. Brainstorm by asking questions What’s something you would really like to know more about? Ask a provocative question on your Facebook page, tweet it to your followers, or just ask yourself. Don’t waste your time with something you already know the answer to ‒ it’s more fun to learn something new, and that enjoyment translates into whatever you end up writing. Speak your mind It’s always handy to write about topics that are current and trending. Keep it original by adding your own thoughts on a current issue. If you disagree with popular opinion, say so! There’s nothing like a little controversy to stir up some activity and get noticed. Use your …

Build Social Proof With Social Media

What is social proof? Simply put, it’s the ability of our peers to influence the decisions we make. Social proof is what makes Amazon’s star ratings so effective. It’s what creates the buzz that drives viral memes and videos. As a marketing force, social proof has always been powerful ‒ but now, with the amount of information available to consumers, it’s an essential component of business outreach. Effective social proof triggers our natural need to belong. It validates our decisions and enhances brand loyalty and brand trust. Use these strategies to build focused social proof that drives sales and promotes a positive brand image. The basics Make full use of share buttons and social widgets. Not only do these increase audience engagement and brand visibility, they also validate your product or service and increase consumer buy-in. Embed complimentary tweets and positive Facebook posts into your page. Great testimonials and reviews are powerful ways to reinforce your brand ‒ that’s why they’ve always been part of the marketing arsenal. The extras People are hard-wired to respond to the human face. Adding pictures and videos to social proof draws attention and enhances the impact of the message. The smiling face of a …

Integrated Marketing: The Social – Traditional Mix

It’s easy to get caught up in a social media marketing frenzy and think of traditional marketing as a relic of the past. But this is most definitely not the case! Traditional marketing and social media marketing are like bricks and mortar: each one is stronger when they’re combined. Structured and free-form messaging Traditional media can broadcast your brand with consistency and control. You determine the placement and frequency of your message, and you know the message is exactly the one you want to spread. Social media marketing can be far less structured. Messages about your brand might spread like wildfire; but they may or may not be the ones you intend. Building relationships and asking for the sale Social media marketing is all about engaging the consumer, building brand loyalty, and listening to what your customer wants. There’s a lot of value to be had in these. But the one thing you really can’t do with social media marketing is sell. Traditional marketing gives you the opportunity to leverage the great relationships you build in the social channels. It’s your chance to ask for the sale when and where your customers are prepared to buy. Being authentic and being …

How to Create Great Content: 8 Tips That Really Work

As marketers, we’re inundated with cliches about content ‒ it should be engaging; it should convert; it should drive sales; it should raise search engine rankings; it should be optimized. Agreed. Great content should have all those characteristics. Yet that kind of vague advice gets us absolutely nowhere. So let’s drop the jargon and take a look at 8 real ways to make your online content useful, interesting, and fun. 1.  Stay on top of the chatter Search for #hashtags on Twitter, check the forums on LinkedIn, even play around with search engines to see what specifics are suggested when you start typing in a general term. (This last one is a surprisingly good tactic for generating blog topics.) 2.  Write for humans, not robots Are you still stuffing keywords into your content like it’s a foie gras goose? Cut it out! This tactic hasn’t worked in forever ‒ and it’s a turnoff for readers in search of real information. 3.  Keep it short and sweet Your readers are looking for quick answers to their questions. Give them what they want, and get out of the way. While you’re at it, use graphics, photos, and video to illustrate instead of …

App Mania: 3 New Productivity Apps

With thousands of new apps hitting the market every month, it’s hard to keep your mobile device current. As far as shopping mania goes, though, app purchases are pretty harmless ‒ and the best ones pay off by saving you time and hassle. Here are a few new apps worth adding to your collection: any.DO Featuring a clean interface and easy syncing between devices, any.DO is a well put together task manager. Drag-and-drop control makes it simple to add tasks to days or folders ‒ it works equally well for organized folks who are planning a week ahead, or for last-minute reminders for those of us who like to cut things close. It’s also possible to share calendars and tasks with friends and co-workers who allow sharing, making it nearly impossible for responsibilities to get lost in the shuffle.  As a bonus, any.DO works with browsers too. free for Android and iOS Ninja SMS Time Magazine just named Ninja SMS one of its top 50 Android apps for 2013, and with good reason. This is a real timesaver for the hard-core multitasker. Ninja SMS gives you interactive on-screen message notifications on top of whatever app you’re currently using. Sound like …

Engage Your Fans With These 5 Attention-Getting Facebook Posts

Day after day, you update your Facebook page ‒ and no one responds. It can be really disheartening. Well, weep no more, my friends! Use these tried and true ideas for your Facebook business page and you’ll be sure to get the participation you’re looking for. 1.  Questions This is probably the quickest way to inspire comments from your fans. Start an opinion poll that involves your product or service in an indirect way, or ask some related open-ended questions. “If you were a dessert, what kind of dessert would you be?” for example, makes a great question for a bakery or restaurant. 2.  Quizzes There’s no doubt about it, people love quizzes, puzzles, and challenges. Set up a monthly trivia quiz and watch the responses pour in! If you’re an auto dealership, offer a fun quiz about the early auto industry. If you’re a therapist, set up a quick “personality type” quiz.  3.  Links There are two keys to posting links effectively. First, find a really useful, interesting, funny, or otherwise compelling link to share. Then you’ve got to present your link in a creative way ‒ it’s not enough to simply say, “Here’s some information we thought you …

Tell a Compelling Brand Story

To stand out from the crowd, your small business must do more than advertise. You must find a way to connect with consumers, to give them a reason to purchase your product or service ‒ to earn and keep their loyalty. The best way to do this is with a compelling brand story. If you’re not telling your story, you’re missing out. Here are few pointers to help you get started: The quest The story that really resonates with people is the story of the quest. It’s the story you know from “Star Wars.” Very basically, it goes like this: a person (that’s your hero) has a serious problem to solve. He or she runs into obstacles, gets help from others along the way, finds some kind of weapon or tool that supplies a crucial need, succeeds in the goal, and heads back home. It sounds boring when it’s broken down like this, but it’s the basis of some of the greatest stories in history ‒ and you can use it as the foundation for your brand story too. The hero              Your brand story needs a hero ‒ and it’s not your company, your product, or your services. The hero …

Leverage the B2B Power of LinkedIn in 3 Steps

For social networking and B2B lead generation, there’s no more powerful choice than LinkedIn. Businesses that use LinkedIn effectively enjoy greater brand visibility and increased web traffic with lower bounce rates. Sound good? Let’s dig in: 1.  Target your market LinkedIn gives you the chance to target your paid advertising to exactly the right market with filters. Use these filters ‒ industry and business names, job titles, membership in LinkedIn groups, and basic demographics ‒ to hone in on your ideal audience. As always, striking images will get your ad noticed. A great strategy for LinkedIn is to make use of job titles in your advertising. If you’re aiming to reach IT specialists, for example, display that exact term prominently in your ad. 2.  Create a strong presence LinkedIn features a full range of options that can make your company page a real powerhouse. Make sure your company page includes all the essentials: products, services, history, and even career opportunities ‒ and update it regularly. Use keywords as you create your page; this will help with optimization. A company blog is a nice touch, and a great forum for engaging employees as well as customers and prospects. 3.  Discuss meaningful …