Video Marketing – Increasingly a Must for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses

As an increasing number of businesses even in medium-sized and small communities have finally caught on to the principles of search engine optimization, social media marketing, and more, making local search an increasingly competitive game.  Whereas even new a company could build decent results in a six-month window or so, it is getting harder to reliably build results at all, and it is taking longer and longer to do so. Video marketing is one way business owners can sidestep these trends, and still get a tremendous bang for their buck in terms of investing in their content for organic site promotion.  Video marketing just isn’t saturated the same way regular text-based SEO is, not yet anyways.  While video optimization is a growing industry, for the foreseeable future it will be one of the most reliable marketing tools that small businesses can use to economically build results in terms of inbound marketing in a very short time. What makes video marketing so great?  Here are a few factoids about it: Engagement stats are simply superior comparing video to text, there is no way around that inescapable fact. Conversion rates are also far superior in video content than text delivers. It’s easier …

Your Business Needs a Review Strategy

It is no secret; local SEO is getting harder and harder to successfully perform.  It looks like all the low-hanging fruit has basically been plucked at this point, and now small businesses are beginning to run into the same stumbling blocks that affect larger businesses regarding their SERP results. One method that many companies still have not yet implemented that will likely pay off big dividends in upcoming years is a review strategy.  Google has explicitly commented that they want to see reviews and engagement on social sites that grows in an organic, holistic manner.  So why have nearly 80% of businesses still not implemented a review strategy? Basically, a formal review strategy is a process for soliciting feedback from your customers.  Much like sales funnels or any other part of a marketing campaign, it is modular in nature, and can be simple or very complex. An example of a very simple review strategy is simply appending a link to Yelp, Facebook, or wherever you are trying to promote yourself to every invoice or receipt you put out.  This will encourage customers to hopefully visit these sites, give you a good rating, and share any helpful feedback they have for …

Business Should Learn some Lessons from the Video Game Industry

There have been a number of encouraging developments recently in the video game industry that can provide an example to businesses in other niches regarding developing new markets, products, and revenue streams.  Let’s take a look at some of these trends, and the lessons the general business community can learn from them: Huge Discounts Can Create New Customers – Steam is a popular online sales and distribution platform for PC games and software.  They recently ran a holiday sale in which some titles were discounted at rates of up to 90%.  Several developers reported that despite a 90% discount, the exposure they received due to the Steam sale resulted in sales figures greater than the rest of their year combined. Valve Creates New Market Out of Nowhere – Valve, the company behind Steam, recently debuted their living room ‘Steam Machine’ series, intended to compete with gaming and media consoles like the Xbox One and the PS4.  Bringing PC games to the living seems like a no-brainer, and little actual new technology or infrastructure was required to make this happen, just the idea itself. Taps Untapped Demographics – Video games tap those elusive dollars from males in their teens through their …

Some Challenges for Small Business in 2014

So far we have taken a look at some of the positive trends that small business can take advantages of in the coming year, but today we are going to take a look at some of the challenges and difficulties they are likely to face in the new year as well: Raising New Revenues – Companies that cannot take advantage of trends in online marketing will likely face increasing pressure to find new sources of revenue that may be difficult to locate and develop.  The growth of online shopping relative to traditional shopping is simply a game changer for almost every business and industry on the face of the Earth. Labor Difficulties – You may have heard about companies having difficulties finding qualified people to fill some of their most important jobs, particularly in extremely skilled positions like high-tech manufacturing.  While this is hardly new to 2014, the trend seems to be intensifying, and despite strong jobs numbers if your business finds yourself facing a critical shortage in terms of human capital it can be devastating to your organization. Health Care Expenses – Even if you delayed compliance with the new health care laws by renewing your policy at the …

New Year, New Markets

Hello everyone, and welcome to 2014.  We wish each and every one of our readers a prosperous and successful new year, with many interesting opportunities to take advantage of.  Today, in the spirit of the New Year, we are going to briefly touch on a subject we don’t often speak about: new markets.  ‘New markets’ as in going global, or expanding to literal new geographic marketplaces. The reason we don’t often speak about this is that it can be difficult for smaller businesses to engage in these tactics, which makes it essentially niche advice, but I believe there is a reason for addressing it now: mid-sized businesses.  You see, mid-sized business is positioned now better than ever before to take advantage of models like franchising, and really begin making the transition from local/regional organization to national/global. If you’re not sure how this can happen, watch the behavior of the Coca-Cola Corporation over the next five years or so in India.  While they are not exactly a mid-sized business, they are so alien to that market compared that the natural cultural disadvantages they face could possibly be insurmountable, regardless of budget.  Sales of Coke are actually lower than sales of ‘Thumbs …

What Will 2014 Reveal in the Marketing World?

As final retail figures have finally come in from all of the extended sales, one thing is certain; while Black Friday and other single-day centric paradigms may be coming to a close in the era of online shopping and shipping, online marketing is clearly the way of the future. We’ve discussed it in several articles over the course of this past year, and pointed out how even truly massive companies like Amazon and EBay are continuing to post astronomical growth figures based almost entirely off of online operations. While we haven’t often gotten very technical, we have also discussed some of the massive sea changes to the SEO landscape precipitated by Google and other search engines making changes to the way information is available. Together, this adds up to a boom time for online marketing in general; in many industries and niches it is still possible to lead the pack from an online perspective, as many older and established companies simply aren’t using their websites as anything other than glorified business cards currently.  Look for these opportunities to begin to slowly dry up and disappear now though, as even the most obstinate of companies is bound to recognize the trends …

Getting Started With Online Marketing

If you own a small business, getting started with online marketing can seem overwhelming.  Learning how to do things on your own is a daunting technical challenge, and sometimes companies will not work with you unless you are willing to commit to a long-term contract or pay them relatively high costs.  This leads to many business owners making the huge mistake of ignoring their online marketing entirely.  While every business and niche is somewhat different, this solid three point plan can be applied to nearly any situation and is an excellent place to start in most cases: Build a Website – Building a website is almost always the right place to start.  These days you don’t have to worry about having a lot of fancy animations or expensive programming work done; people are consistently choosing simple, well-designed sites over those with gimmicks and gadgets.  Get something simple and tasteful created at a reasonable cost to give you a basic platform to start your online marketing efforts from. Find Your Customers – The next step is finding your customers online.  Depending on who you are and what you are selling, you can select from a variety of techniques.  Social media works …

Cyber Monday Results

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone again, and with it the largest retail shopping weekend of the year.  Black Friday, and the newer but increasingly important Cyber Monday are interesting days, because they really help to identify large trends in marketing and sales that need to be adapted to in order to ensure continued success.  So how did the numbers pan out, and were there any interesting pieces of information to be gleaned from the data?  Let’s take a look: Mobile is Booming – We’ve been talking for months here at the blog about how traffic from mobile devices is going to be increasingly important, and this year’s sales numbers definitely back up that statement.  About 32% of all online retail traffic arrived over a mobile device, representing a growth of almost 50% from just last year. Tablets Beat Smartphones – For actual sales, it looks like people do a lot more browsing on smartphones, but a lot more purchasing on tablets. Social Media Driving Revenue – Both Facebook and Pinterest drove significant amounts of revenue, with the average order placed through both platforms being close to $100. Major Players Doing Well – Major companies such as Amazon and EBay …

Stay Away from Software and Service that Doesn’t Really Add Value

One trap entrepreneurs have been known to fall into is investing in software or equipment that they end up not needing.  Stories abound of new software platforms and packages purchased by enthusiastic management that end up negatively impacting the organizations they were intended to help.  One thing that should guide every purchasing decision an entrepreneur makes is whether or not the purchase will really add value to their services, and enable them to sell more of their own products or services. An example of a software product that just isn’t very good is ReportGarden.  It claims to help you produce ‘professional’ looking AdWords reports for clients in just a few minutes.  You would think this could be of value to small marketing agencies or people who need data visualization for their PPC campaigns, but you would be wrong. Take a closer look at these ‘reports’, and ask yourself if they are of any actual value.  Delving into the site features a bit deeper, you would have to be hard pressed to find any sort of real benefit to having this software.  When you take a look at the price points the service has chosen, things get even more ridiculous, when …

Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Take from the Obamacare Website

If you have been paying attention to the news, the glitches and problems associated with the new Obamacare website are making big news all across the nation.  While we will have to wait and see whether or not they are able to fix the site and the problems people are having with the new online health care marketplace, the whole episode served to emphasize a few points of particular interest to entrepreneurs: Importance of Building a Positive Brand Association – Most people are not particularly upset with president Obama over the site glitches, and trust that he will work them out in a reasonable time frame.  This serves to demonstrate the power that a positive branding has within the minds of consumers; they trusted Obama, so they were willing to trust his product even in the face of glitches and problems. New Online Marketplaces Work – People are more and more willing to buy just about anything online, and this has led to the development of a variety of online marketplaces as organizations pop up in an attempt to fulfill the needs of customers.    If people are willing to buy their health insurance online, you can most likely find ways …