Facebook Updates: Good News for Small Businesses

Is Facebook the number one social media platform for your small business? If so, you’ll be happy to know that two recent updates by this social behemoth are going to make your life just a little bit easier. Looser rules for promotions If you’ve ever run a contest on Facebook, you know that the regulations regarding promotions were pretty strict. In the past, Facebook’s rules prohibited the use of “likes” either to enter a contest or to vote in one. With the new updates in place, these restrictions have been lifted. Users can vote by “liking,” and you’re also allowed to ask for comments or “likes” as a way to join in a promotion. Until now, Facebook contests and promotions could only be run through a third-party app. With the new updates, that’s no longer the case. If you’re up to the task, you can now run your own promotions right on your business page timeline. And if you’d rather let somebody else do the grunt work, you can still use a third party. As always, there are a couple of caveats – it’s now verboten to involve a personal timeline in your business promotions, so don’t ask users to …

Big Branding Backfires: Two Leads You Won’t Want to Follow

Marketing and social media experts spend a lot of time writing about soft metrics like brand image and brand loyalty. We think it’s important to build a brand that’s both recognizable and trustworthy ‒ but maybe if your corporation is big enough, you don’t need to be trusted. Check out what’s going on with these two giants: Coca-Cola’s suspect marketing moves Like McDonald’s and others, the Coca-Cola corporation is under fire from consumers for contributing to obesity. To combat criticism and promote the idea that soda can be a safe addition to a healthy diet, Coke launched a new ad campaign this summer. In Mexico and the E.U. the ads focused on helping consumers burn extra calories. They list the number of calories in a bottle of Coke, and feature some easy ways to use up those calories. But wait ‒ the bottle in the ad is almost half the size of the best-selling sized soda bottle in Mexico. And oops ‒ the European ads forgot to mention that you’d have to do all the exercises to burn up all the calories. Coca-Cola recently pulled the ad campaign from their markets in Mexico and in the U.K. Now that’s what …

5 Quick Tips for Powering Your B2B Marketing With SlideShare

Are you looking for a simple and effective way to reach your market? Having trouble finding a way to make Facebook work for your B2B? It’s time you got to know SlideShare. SlideShare currently pulls in more than 60 million visits and over 100 million page views each month. And unlike Facebook, it attracts viewers who are looking for real information about business, current market trends, research and statistics. Designed to feed users’ hunger for succinct, visual information, SlideShare is a great addition to your content marketing repertoire.  Here are a few tips to help you get started: 1.  The average number of words on a single slide is about 20 ‒ so be pithy, and use graphics to convey information as well as to illustrate important points. 2.  While you should be cautious about being too wordy on any given slide, it’s OK to have a presentation of 40 or more slides. If you have a lot of good information to share, do it. And if you can’t put together at least 18 slides, you might not have a presentation. 3.  Optimize your tags, keywords and descriptions for the best search engine results. Your visibility will soar if you …

Getting Creative With QR Codes

I think QR codes offer a great opportunity for creative marketing. In the interest of transparency, you should know that I’m involved in a venture founded around QR codes. You should also know that I don’t like QR codes because I’m part of this business venture; rather, I got into it because I believe in the marketing power of QR codes. That being said, take a look at these impressive and innovative ways that businesses around the world have put them to work ‒ and consider the possibilities for your own small business. Not-so-traditional advertising Yobi, a new sushi restaurant in London, started a QR ad campaign before they even opened. They plastered the facade of their construction site with QR codes that sent interested passers-by into a little fishing game on their mobile phones. Those who caught fish won a discount at the restaurant once it opened. Gillette presented a new line of razors with a QR campaign featuring access to special videos, product reviews, and even direct-from-mobile purchases. Oh ‒ did I mention that the videos show beautiful women discussing their opinions on men’s body hair? Nice touch. “Activated” QR campaigns How about a beer-activated QR code? Guinness …

How to Manage Your Social Media Presence Effectively

Establishing and maintaining a positive social media presence for your small business can be a real grind. It takes time and know-how to “do social” right ‒ time that you probably wish you had more of, and know-how that you might lack. How, then, do you leverage your resources effectively? Set specific goals Many small businesses make the mistake of creating a social presence just because everybody seems to have one. This is one area where something is not better than nothing ‒ without some specific goals, you’re wasting your time. Create a list of realistic marketing goals for your social media presence. For example, social media can create brand awareness. It can help drive traffic to your business website, or build sales. It might be used to build up an email list, improve your search engine rankings, increase subscriptions, or to research customer preferences and new markets. Find the best fit Once you’ve established some meaningful goals, consider focusing on the social platforms that suit your company best. You’ll need to devote about 30 hours each month for each channel your company uses ‒ so target two or three platforms and no more. Facebook will probably be your first …

Sure-Fire Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Startup

You’ve put in the hours and done your homework. You’ve got a solid business plan and a great team. Now you’re ready to go live, and just one question remains: How do you get targeted traffic to your website? The Basics Use Google Analytics from your first day and every day forward. Measure everything you can ‒ total traffic, patterns of usage, and bounce rates, to name a few ‒ and use this information to guide your decisions and fine-tune your site’s appeal. Make sure you have two or three strong pieces of content on your site ‒ some folks call this “pillar” content ‒ that will continue to draw an interested readership. Good writing and in-depth information should have the legs to inspire sharing and bring more visitors to your site. The Fun Stuff Your earliest adopters will always be the most curious, and the most hungry for knowledge. Satisfy their hunger with a few free tutorials, e-books, or white papers. The better and more useful your offerings are, the bigger your payoff will be. A great giveaway will drive sharing, attract new users, and inspire return visits. Leverage the power of interviews for your site. There are several …

Mobile First: Basic Strategies for Small Business Success

If you haven’t yet taken the steps to adopt mobile technology for your small business, maybe this will get your attention: Facebook’s shares just reached their highest price since they went public in 2012. The reason: they put mobile at the top of their priorities. OK, you’re probably not running a multi-billion dollar company. So what? You can still put mobile at the top of your priorities, and you can still reap the benefits. Let’s start with three basic strategies that any small business can utilize. 1.  Claim your spot The very most important you can do to start leveraging the power of mobile for your business is to claim your business listing on Google. Make sure you’re listed correctly in all the online directories, and don’t forget about the local ones. You want to ensure that your business shows up on maps when consumers search from their mobile devices. 2.  Optimize for mobile The website you’re so proud of is not going to look the same on the small screen of a smartphone or tablet. It’s time to go back to the drawing board and start planning a new site that’s designed responsively. Make sure that when mobile users …

Brand Building Essentials: Visual Elements Matter

Building a strong brand is a little bit like pitching a tent. Metaphorically speaking, your brand is the overarching tent that’s supported by a myriad of poles, stakes, and ropes. Without them, your tent is just a loose piece of fabric flapping in the breeze. In the same way, the visual elements that support and anchor your brand are essential. Typography Unless you’re a graphic designer, typography is an element you may have overlooked when creating and maintaining your brand image. But typography is an important component of your brand’s personality. Think about your target audience. Are they young and renegade? Businesslike and buttoned-up? Conservative, or cutting edge? Well-chosen fonts and typefaces will make your target audience more interested or more comfortable. Used consistently across online and offline channels, good typography becomes a recognizable part of your brand image. Take the New Yorker Magazine’s iconic look, for example. It’s been pretty much the same since the magazine was first published in 1925 ‒ and the typography is an essential part of that look. Logo Design Always remember this about your logo: it’s not supposed to explain anything about your brand. Your logo simply identifies your brand. Of course, you want …

5 More Great Reasons to Market Your Product With Coupons

A few weeks ago, I read about a marketing survey describing, among other things, the motivators that cause people to like your brand on Facebook. 42% of the 2000 respondents said they do so to get some kind of discount or coupon. What does this mean for your small business? For starters, it means that your audience is looking for genuine, immediate value in their relationship with your brand. It only makes sense to give them what they want. But happy customers aren’t the only benefit your business will receive when you make coupons part of your marketing mix. Check it out: 1.  Build your email list An online coupon is the perfect opportunity to ask for ‒ and get ‒ your customer’s email address. Not only does this extend the reach of your email marketing, it allows you to target your marketing more effectively, by customizing future offers based on past purchases. 2.  Track your traffic With the addition of a simple redemption code online, or a bar code offline, you have an accurate record of what brought each customer to your door. With this information, you’ll know exactly which marketing channels are most effective for your business. 3.  …