Tag: Advice

Are Small Businesses Spending Too Much Time on Social?

Day to day business activities have transformed dramatically since I launched my first company nearly 20 years ago. Back then, there was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn. My social contact with customers and potential customers was limited to email and phone conversations.

With the birth of social media, I was eager to adopt a new way of doing business. Like so many other small business owners, I was enamored by the possibility of reaching new customers at an unprecedented scale, getting free exposure and showing a more fun side of our business. I was determined to be the “social” company in my industry.

As time went on, some of the shiny facade of social media began to chip. I wondered if all the time I was spending on social activities like Instagram and Twitter was actually paying off. Using social media effectively takes an enormous effort, between creating original content, defining a social strategy and roadmap, managing communities, running targeted ads and more

Last year, Vertical Response conducted a survey of small businesses and social media and found that 43 percent of small businesses spend about six hours per week on social media (almost the equivalent of a full workday). Most telling to me, one-third of CEOs and small business owners wanted to spend less time on social media.

If you’re wondering if you or your business is spending too much time on social, here are a few things that I have learned.

Know your market before investing in social media.

With all the buzz surrounding social media, it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon without first creating a social strategy that makes sense for your business. Some businesses live on social media — for example, urban food trucks that use Twitter to let their customers know where they are. But that’s not every business.

The key to social media marketing is reaching your target audience wherever they live, work or play. If the people you’re trying to reach aren’t using Instagram, even the best content on Instagram won’t do a thing for your business. Think about the demographics of your target customers and research where they spend their time. You can even ask some of your existing customers which social platforms they’re likely to use, and where they’d like to connect with you.

Prioritizing your social media presence is the single most important thing you can do to minimize (and optimize) the time spent on social media.

Don’t ignore other channels because of social media.

You should never put so much time and energy into social media activities that you can’t do anything else. For some small businesses, a strong email campaign will be even more effective than social media, since email is a form of direct marketing.

Over the years, I came to discover that the more time time I spent on social media, the less social I was actually being. When I backed away from Twitter and Facebook, I had more time to answer phones and talk to customers one on one. Meeting people through live networking events and conferences is what keeps me inspired and driven. The bottom line is you don’t really know your customers if you’re just interacting through blog comments and retweets.

Learn to function without your smartphone.

As a mom of teens and tweens, I understand the importance of logging off from social media and putting away the phone. Some of the same messages I tell my daughter apply just as well to me as a CEO. We live in a distracted world, but your relationships will be impacted if you’re always distracted when talking to employees and customers. As hard as it may be, resist the urge to check your phone when talking to somebody; the conversation you’re having right now with an employee is just as important as the Facebook message you just received.

Listen to experts with a grain of salt.

Given social media’s popularity, it’s no surprise that an entire industry has sprouted up to help businesses manage their social media presence. Many small business owners are sold on the importance of social media by consultants who want to set up and manage their accounts.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a publicist and marketing manager who truly understands social. But, there are others out there who try to convince small business owners that creating a Facebook page will instantly double their sales leads. That’s setting the wrong expectations.

Before investing significant time in social media, you need to understand that “likes” don’t equal clicks or sales. The power of social media is that it helps foster loyalty, trust, and goodwill between you and your customers. Some of your social efforts will bring in direct sales, but more than likely, it will be a gradual process toward increasing your community and brand presence. Social media marketing requires a lot of patience, but don’t ignore all your other customer touch points along the way.

4 Tools That Make Your Small Business Look Big

Being a small company has its benefits: You’re agile, able to change directions at a moment’s notice. You’ve got autonomy, as your business is independent of a giant conglomerate. No, you’re not attracting the same number of consumers as a household name business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look every bit as professional to the consumers you do reach. You can make your small business look big.

Build/Update your Website:

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) estimated last year that 50 percent of all small businesses still didn’t have a website. Without a presence on the web, your small business can easily go unnoticed by potential customers. Now the good news: It’s easier than ever to create a website, especially one that your customers can access from their mobile devices. More than 75 percent of mobile phone users access the internet through them, and the number will rise to nearly 86 percent by 2018. Google now favors sites which work well on mobile in its search results: You definitely want to be one of the top results when people go looking.

There are many free or low-cost tools now to build a website. Choose a design labeled “mobile-friendly” or responsive, which means it will automatically adjust to any platform, from desktop or laptop computers to tablets and phones. If you have an existing website, you should be able to update it to the newest technology simply by choosing a mobile or responsive design. Remember, there are ready made designs for every industry now, from healthcare to restaurants.

Establish a marketing budget.

Procter & Gamble spent $2.64 billion on marketing in 2014, the most of any company in the world. A small business certainly can’t match that, but any small business that hopes to grow must budget some amount to get its products in front of consumers. While people may say a product “practically sells itself”, nothing does, which is why many companies spend so heavily on marketing.

How much do you need to spend to look big? A recent survey by CMO magazine found big businesses spend, on average, 11 percent of their total budget on marketing and advertising. If you don’t have a budget, take a look at your revenues. CMO found that marketing spending was about 6.6 percent of revenue, down from 11 percent in August 2012. (Generally a business which sells to other businesses can put less into marketing than a business that sells to consumers). If you want to launch a big campaign but don’t have the resources in hand, you may be able to secure outside funding to do so. One chiropractor I know planned a large mailing about some new services. He knew 10 new customers would be more than enough to justify the cost of the marketing and secured short-term funding to pay for it. With careful planning, he met his goal and repaid his funding.

Grow your social media presence.

P&G shocked the ad world in 2014 when it sharply cut its traditional advertising budget and put more money into digital ads and social media platforms. Social media is an absolute necessity now.

But which social media platform will make you look bigger? If you’re in a professional business and you need to connect with professional colleagues, I’d recommend LinkedIn. If you run a restaurant and you want to show people how great your food looks, try Instagram, which is also a great tool for connecting with teenage consumers. See which sites the big brands in your industry use, and use that as a guideline.

While social media started as free, it is becoming increasingly less so. Big brands pay big money for placement in front of the right consumers, and Facebook has been trying to nudge more of its small business users into becoming advertisers. If it’s going to be hard to run your social media presence and your business, you may need to invest in someone to do your posting for you. Ask to see their past work, and if they are going to be freelance, make sure they’re not also working for a competitor.

Beyond simply creating content on Facebook or Twitter, it’s vital to track your conversations there. Luckily, there are social media tracking tools like Perch, which lets you watch not only your activity on social media, but what your customers are saying about your business and what your competition is doing.

Spend money to make money.

Big brands invest in their business every day. The right website, consistent marketing and the use of modern marketing tools like social media are all key–and they are easier than ever for small businesses to have as well.

10 Ways to Get a Celebrity to Use Your Product

Today, every fashion, beauty, or lifestyle brand wants to get a celebrity endorsement to help catapult its business to success. But navigating the celebrity world can be difficult and intimidating if you don’t have the right contacts or enough resources.

Follow these 10 tips to help increase your chances of a celebrity or influencer using your product.

  1. If you don’t have six or seven figures to spend on hiring a celeb to endorse your brand, be willing to give up a percentage of equity in the company.
  2. Pick an upcoming social media star or blogger. Be willing to gift the influencer products. Some influencers will only want a few hundred dollars in products, while others will want a couple of thousand. Make sure the gift fits into your budget.
  3. Subscribe to a celebrity manager database such as Whorepresents.com to find the appropriate celebrity manager or publicist contact.
  4. Make sure your package is wrapped beautifully and include several items to increase the chances of their manager or publicist passing it onto their client.
  5. Personalize the package. Whatever products you’re sending should match the aesthetic of the celebrity you’re gifting.
  6. Send your package to the celebrity’s stylist or make-up artist.
  7. If a celebrity is visiting your boutique, ask them to mention your store on Twitter.com or take a photo and post it to Instagram.com.
  8. Include a short-typed note. Be sure to include a company package and two business cards so the celebrity or representative can get in touch with you.
  9. Show you care. Reach out to celebrities who support a similar cause that matches your brand’s mission and messaging.
  10. Mind your etiquette. While it’s appropriate for you to follow up with the manager or publicist a week after you’ve shipped the package, don’t bombard them with calls and emails. That’s a sure way to get your gift thrown in the garbage.

While there’s no guarantee that your product will end up in the hands of a celebrity or influencer when you send it, it’s worth the risk. Just one Tweet, photo, or post on Instagram.com can increase brand awareness, credibility, exposure and overall sales.

If Entrepreneurs Answer This Wrong….RUN For The Hills!

 

Achieve Any Goal By Following These 5 Simple Steps

Highly productive entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily special, but they are usually very driven and have unlocked the secrets to achieving their goals. When you know how to attack any objective with the right approach, you too can become unstoppable.

I’ve learned over my successful entrepreneurial experiences that good goal setting is easy to hypothesize about, but challenging to execute. As I figured out over the years how to go from making lists of goals to actually getting them accomplished, I learned a few steps that made the process of goal setting transformative.

Here are five simple steps for every entrepreneur to achieve any goal.

1. Make it smaller.

The vision of the goal has to start out big, and even a little vague, but then you have to turn that into several of what I call “something smaller” goals. This transforms a big lofty ambition into tent-pole moments along the path that you can achieve in smaller steps.

For example, wanting to improve your diet and increase physical activity are among the most common goals out there. I wouldn’t recommend suddenly going cold turkey on all your usual foods and going to the gym every day, but rather setting milestones along the road. Break the goals down into smaller lifestyle benchmarks, such as eliminating certain foods over the course of a month, then adding in more movement over the course of the following weeks.

By making small goal benchmarks to work toward, the goal becomes achievable overall because you made it actionable in smaller steps.

2. Make it reasonable.

I always say a good goal is one that stretches you to the edge of your comfort zone, but not one that crosses over into fantasy. Everyone would love to make a million dollars this year, but if that’s not a number you can truly wrap your brain around, start with a number that stretches you but is believable.

If you are making $2,500 consistently a month, then could bumping the year-end goal to $10,000 a month actually be something you could believe? It doesn’t get you to a million this year, but it bumps your goal to something that’s believable for you and thus, feels more achievable. Once you get to year’s end and $10,000 a month feels comfortable and realistic, you can bump it again.

These smaller, realistic goals feed into the first step of breaking big ideas into smaller actions, too.

3. Make it known.

A great way to achieve any goal is to get the right support for your journey. You want to tell people who will be supportive and involved in your success. That has the benefit of bolstering you during times of challenge, but also when you verbalize your goals you tend to follow through better. You hold yourself more accountable to goals you’ve shared with others and that can help you reach them.

4. Make it trackable.

Breaking goals into smaller benchmarks helps to create action plans to smaller events that will eventually have a cumulative effect toward the big picture. This is a great tactic in terms of actions, but also a good tactic to help you put some metrics and measurement into the task.

If the goal is weight loss, then how much will you lose by each benchmark goal deadline you set? If it’s increasing your earnings, how can you track what you spend, what money is coming in and how you will generate more income through reducing your customer acquisition costs? Furthermore, how can you track your progress along the way to see how your overall goal is progressing against your small milestones?

5. Make it fun.

As you meet your benchmarks, set up ways to celebrate or enjoy your victories. Make tracking the progress fun and meaningful. The more fun you can have along the way with your goals, the more successful you’ll be at achieving them.

The purpose of any goal isn’t just to achieve it, but often it’s to integrate it into your daily lifestyle, so learn to enjoy not just the destination but also the process of getting there.

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