Category: Business Bloom

Category: Business Bloom

Get Your Small Business Noticed in Social Media – Content Ignition

The author of The Content Code, Mark W. Schaefer (@markwschaefer), gave a presentation entitled Content Ignition: 10 Ways to Get More Economic Value from Your Social Media Content, and I want to share some observations and tips we can all benefit from as small business entrepreneurs.

SocialMediaTextPeople400Basically in order to know where we are going in social media marketing we need to first know where we have been. When the internet first developed there was a period where the most important thing in marketing for small business was to make sure you had established a presence on the web. Then once everyone had their business listed on the internet the focus became search. Google exploded and Search Engine Optimization was the marketing technique necessary to excel in most industries, beating your competitor to the top of the best keywords and phrases.

Today the key is utility, being helpful and adding value. While websites and keywords are still relevant they are less important due to social media, mobile, and content. As we advance online, marketing a small business becomes even more challenging.

Mark W. Schaefer mentioned a study that said that in the next five years the amount of information on the web is going to increase by 500%. So if you thought it was difficult to get your information noticed now, just think how it will be in 5 years. He talks about an idea called ‘Content Shock’, which references this overwhelming volume of content combined with limited attention spans.

How does content shock affect small business?
Let’s take one very important example. Facebook had until recently been a great way to get your message out for a very low cost. You just used a little creativity and some time to post some valuable content on Facebook and you could get some traction on the Facebook feed. Facebook realized that this deluge of information was not serving their customer so they changed the way it worked the feed. Now Facebook will only show a post you add to about 6% of your followers and paid ads on Facebook are needed to truly get your message out.

While Facebook did this partly to generate more revenue from its ad platform, you can’t overlook the content shock factor and how it is or will affect other social media outlets in a similar way. Remember their goal is to best serve individuals who are their clients and not small businesses.

IgnitionGraph500

“The economic value of our content is exactly zero if people don’t see it and share it.”

Adjust your marketing for ‘Content Ignition’
You need to develop a new competency around understanding the transmission of online content. How do you get your prospects to see it and more importantly share it with their network?

Mark also mentions research done in 2013 by the New York Times. “It showed that 85% of the people who are reading our content say it helps them understand us. Through the act of sharing the content, they are becoming advocates for our businesses and our content. This is really important, because 70% of the people in the same resource study said that their purchasing decision is influenced by what they see being transmitted in these social media updates.”

He also notes that Millennials in the next few years are going to represent half of the consumers, half of our employees; a generation that doesn’t trust anybody except themselves. They’ll trust content shared by a stranger before they’ll trust you and your advertising.

Getting content to move though shares and people’s personal networks creates advocacy and has a large effect in influencing their purchasing decisions. Brand power, company power, your power, isn’t coming from just writing and posting content. It’s coming from content that moves. It’s content that’s transmitted by friends.

@MarkWSchaefer also reviewed some important strategy from his book The Content Code: Six essential strategies to ignite your content, your marketing, and your business, especially on how small business can succeed with social media marketing. My goal is to review his book in more detail and share some of those ideas and how they relate to small business as part of future blog articles and social media posts.

Please let me know your thoughts on what I have shared so far and how you plan on applying these ideas to your small business marketing.

Category: Business Bloom

How Small Business Entrepreneurs Can Develop New Revenue on a Small Budget

The Lean Startup (@leanstartup) by Eric Ries (@ericries) is a great book for any small business owner whether you are just getting started or have been long established. Small businesses are constantly reinventing themselves, improving their products and services to better serve their customers so they can keep growing their business. This book covers some important principles and techniques for staying ahead of the competition while being efficient with time and money as technology continues to change quickly.

LeanStartupERW500The key is to use a “Build-Measure-Learn” feedback loop to chart actual progress and viability of a product or solution.

“Before building the prototype, the company might perform a smoke test with its marketing materials. This is an old direct marketing technique in which customers are given the opportunity to preorder a product that has not yet been built. A smoke test measures only one thing: whether customers are interested in trying a product. By itself, this is insufficient to validate an entire growth model. Nonetheless, it can be very useful to get feedback on this assumption before committing more money and other resources to the product.”

A concept called Minimum Viable Product or MVP, which can apply to physical products as well as services is a key to determine, on a small batch basis, whether your new product or service will succeed.

“…new technologies are allowing entrepreneurs to build small batches of products that are of the same quality as products made with injection molding, but at a much lower cost and much, much faster.” … “The ability to learn faster from customers is the essential competitive advantage that startups must possess.”

By using smaller batches and testing early and often the budget you spend is much lower than trying to reach economies of scale before you know what is going to sell. Also by testing in the real world you are generating new revenue as you test the concepts. You are not hiring a focus group, you are selling different versions of your product or service to bring in money while you figure out what is the most efficient and most popular version or features.

The author addresses a concept called validated learning. While you can learn a lot from your mistakes in business, mistakes typically won’t pay the bills. Validated learning is not after-the-fact rationalization or a good story to hide failure from employees or investors.

“…for every successful entrepreneur who was in the right place at the right time, there are many more who were there, too, in that right place at the right time but still managed to fail.” … “What differentiates the success stories from the failures is that the successful entrepreneurs had the foresight, the ability, and the tools to discover which parts of their plans were working brilliantly and which were misguided, and adapt their strategies accordingly.”

If a business “builds something that nobody wants, it doesn’t matter much if they do it on time and on budget.” The goal of the small business owner should be “to figure out the right thing to build-the thing customers want and will pay for-as quickly as possible.”

The key aspect to keep in mind is to run real world tests of products and services both early in their development as well as throughout the improvement process, this ensures that your business is providing solutions to real life market demands. You don’t want to spend years perfecting a product or service only to find out there wasn’t actually any demand or a new product has already solved the problem and saturated the marketplace.

There are some good real world examples from business including Eric Reis’ personal lessons in business as well as other well-known businesses embracing these techniques. If you want to read the specific strategies, techniques and real-world examples then I recommend you read The Lean Startup; How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries.

I hope this information was of value to you, I would be glad to share more thoughts on this book and how it applies to small business. Please let me know if there are specific areas of this book, marketing or small business you want to learn more about in my future articles.

Category: Business Bloom

Start Now or you will never finish…Entrepreneur IQ

Taking action in business is one of the critical keys to success, while planning can be helpful there is a limit to its usefulness, especially if while you are planning someone else is building a dominant market share in your industry or local area.

TimeToStart750

This is our Entrepreneur IQ (Inspirational Quote) for Thinking Thursday…is there a project or new idea for your small business that you have been putting off?

The time is now to get started!

Personally, I have a tendency to over prepare and plan so that everything will be ‘perfect’ right from the start. I have recently been working on changing my focus to ‘excellence’ in the long-term. Perfection is not an attainable goal, and the important thing in life as in business is to get started, learn from your challenges and continue to improve on the road to excellence.

What is the project or goal that you have been putting off?

Get started right now and then send me a follow-up, thanks in advance for sharing!

Category: Business Bloom

Why should I want Pokémon Go around my small business?

Like most small business owners I don’t have time to play around with a lot of phone apps or play games on my smartphone, a game console or even on my computer. That makes it easy to be out of the loop when a new hot new trend comes out. I wanted to share some info with small business owners that may have been in that boat with me, and want just a little info on this trend to either apply it to their business, or at minimum be able to discuss it with clients and prospects, if appropriate. Further I want to emphasize the importance of mobile websites and marketing for all small businesses.

Curious to know what the latest craze “Pokemon Go” is all about and if you can get your small business increased sales and exposure through this extremely popular phone app/interactive game?

We found a couple good sources to share with ideas for small business marketing, especially if you have a retail location. The TV show on MSNBC “Your Business” did a recent feature with 5 ideas on how to get new customers using Pokemon Go:

Video: 5 ways Pokemon Go can help you get customers
MSNBC Your Business 7/22/16

“Pokemon Go is the most talked about game of the summer, and it’s time for you to cash in on this digital phenomenon by driving sales to your small business. Here are five ways to attract customers with Pokemon Go from Inc.com.”

If you want a more in depth description of what this trend is all about and some additional ideas on how to get involved through ads or special promotions check out this informative article on SmallBizTrends.com:

What Is Pokemon Go and Why Your Small Business Can’t Afford to Miss This Trend?
by Joshua Sophy on SmallBizTrends.com

“If you haven’t seen scads of people near you seemingly chasing figments of their imagination down sidewalks, through public parks”, etc … “you’ve likely heard of Pokemon Go. Chances are, you’re currently at the stage where if someone drops a Pokemon reference near you, you laugh to appear hip and with it but you, in reality, still have no idea what anyone is talking about or what the fuss is all about.” … “No worries, though. Presumably about half or more of the adult world — and probably even fewer small business owners — know what Pokemon Go is, so here’s a primer on how it works and a bit about how it can potentially benefit your small business now and in the future.” …

“There are two central hubs within the game, PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms. While it’s hard to actually become one of these spots as a business, there are ways of benefiting from your proximity to them. A PokeStop is a central hub where Pokemon Trainers can get items to be used in the game. Pokemon Gyms are where Pokemon Trainers gather to battle their collected Pokemon. Again, these PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms are generally located in public spots and civic or community hubs, not often at individual businesses. Think: statues, libraries, train stations, fountains, lakes, gazebos, etc.” … “Your business’s proximity to a PokeStop could be a boon to you, too. There are already scads of reports of businesses near PokeStops seeing an increase in foot traffic and sales.” …

Pokemon Lure: “This is probably the most direct way of potentially directing foot traffic to your business via the Pokemon Go app.”…”
By casting a Pokemon Lure” … “you’ve suddenly become a font for Pokemon for the next 30 minutes. If the game is as popular in your community as it seems to be just about everywhere, expect people to come near your lure looking to catch some Pokemon.”

Read Full Article

While most small businesses will not take the time to develop a marketing strategy based on a trend like Pokemon Go, it is good to think about different ideas to market your business and be aware of what your clients might be interested in and cultural trends.

While Pokemon may come and Go it seems interactive smartphone apps and advertising is more and more pervasive and will not be going away anytime soon. Make sure you get your website to a mobile friendly format as soon as you can and start working in more emphasis on mobile in your overall marketing plan for the future.

Make Your Business Bloom with a website and marketing that will show your future clients all the benefits your products and services offer to them!

Category: Business Bloom

Small Business Week – Encouraging the Entrepreneurial Spirit

This week take time to inspire Entrepreneurship in others!
SmallBusinessWeek400
May 1st to May 7th is Small Business Week. I am proud to own a small business but more importantly to provide services that help other Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs become more successful.

If you are a small business owner as well, I applaud you wholeheartedly. No one really knows all that is involved with running a business until they get in the thick of it. As much as I like to read books and watch shows on business when I can, the only way to truly learn is to dive in and take the risks needed to own a business.

Together let’s spread the spirit of Entrepreneurship!

As I have mentioned in previous articles, I enjoy shows that focus on business, especially for Small Business.

Here is a video from the MSNBC show ‘Your Business’ with a clip from the head of the Small Business Administration with some general info on some resources available from the SBA and discussing events for Small Business Week 2016…

Celebrating National Small Business Week
All this week, communities around the country are celebrating the contributions of America’s small businesses. The theme of National Small Business Week is “dream big, start small.” Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, highlights some of this week’s events.

If you own a small business already, keep at it and keep encouraging others to pursue the American Dream.

If you have thought about starting your own business, come up with a plan on how you are going to get there. Start working on a business plan, find local resources like SCORE or SBDC which can give you free advice on best strategies for getting started. Yes a lot of businesses do fail, the key is planning and persistence. There are risks but there are so many rewards as well.

We will continue to provide helpful resources on this site, please let us know what areas you might need more information on to start or make your business bloom!

Category: Business Bloom

Getting Found with Google…Simple as 1, 2, 3?

MarketingMonday750While Google typically plays it close to the vest on how they determine who gets highly ranked and who doesn’t there have been recent disclosures from Google that give good clues for you to optimize your website for a higher Google PageRank.

Keys to Success on Google: Content, Links, RankBrain

Content (Keyword Rich):
Our philosophy at eRose Web has consistently been to focus on quality content first with a mix of relevant keywords to each client’s industry and customer focus. It seemed logical that with Google’s stated goal of providing the best resources to its clients that this strategy would be the best for small business clients that have limited budgets where spending thousands per month on SEO was not an option. This continues to be one of the best ways in which to keep Google’s attention. Google wants to provide the best resources and content so if you have a website that provides quality tips and articles on areas related to your business you should at least be on their radar.

SEOplan350Links (Incoming):
The links we are discussing here are not the number of links you have within your website but instead the number of relevant links from other websites. By relevant links we are talking about links from websites that are related to your industry and not just paying a website with a list of unrelated web links to include your website link, even though they have completely different customers and in a completely different industry.

It is a good idea to make sure any industry organization, affiliates, chamber of commerce, etc your company is a part of has a link on their website back to your website. Ideally using a text link with both your company name and the main keywords you want your site to be found with online. Also ask any vendors you work with on a regular basis if they would be willing to add a link to your website, and/or mention your company periodically (with a link) in their social media marketing.

RankBrain (Google AI):
RankBrain is Google’s name for a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that’s used to help process its search results, this means basically that the computer teaches itself rather than following detailed programming code.

While RankBrain has been identified as the 3rd most important factor by Google currently, this is only one part of a much more complex search algorithm.

“RankBrain is one of the “hundreds” of signals that go into an algorithm that determines what results appear on a Google search page and where they are ranked, Corrado said. In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query, he said.”
Source: Bloomberg

Article from SearchEngineLand on RankBrain

Admittedly we simplify things quite a bit in this article, but this is a good starting point for the small business entrepreneur looking to improve the search ability of their website on Google. Google’s algorithm is constantly changing but if you make your goal the same as Google, to provide great content and resources, and sprinkle in a little extra strategy from time to time your website should be in good shape to compete for attention online.

Category: Business Bloom

Entrepreneur I.Q. Learning from Life Experience

BransonLifeEducation650

No matter what industry or profession you have chosen there is always something more to learn, especially from interactions with others.

What have you done to take advantage of the learning opportunities surrounding you to improve yourself or your business?

Category: Business Bloom

A Lesson in Marketing Consistency

ShameShock400There I go again! Not taking my own advice.

I often tell my small business clients that consistency in marketing is critical to long term success, and it is very true…but often it is easier said than done, as most of my fellow small business owners / Entrepreneurs know all to well.

For the last few months I have been so busy working on my clients’ websites and marketing that I have neglected my own social media marketing efforts. For those of you who were starting to follow my articles and tips I had been providing on a regular basis for the majority of last year I apologize for the gap. Hopefully it has not been too long where you no longer check in on my blog and social media.

Yes, shame on me! Hopefully you can also learn from my mistakes and establish a consistent game plan using some of the following marketing tips.

Small Business Marketing Lessons

timetolearn
Plan ahead – take the time when things are a little slower to plan out some future marketing. It is much easier to keep consistent if you don’t have to come up with marketing ideas during your busy periods. You can keep serving your customers with the same high quality but still stay in front of new prospects at the same time.

Consistent Messaging/Branding – Keep your marketing focused on your target audience and your core benefits. If you keep changing your message so that the theme or benefits become confusing on what benefits (products and services) you really provide you are likely to lose out on potential business. Make sure that even if you change around some of the look and feel of your marketing efforts, there is some consistency in branding, logo, colors, message, etc. Every time you start from scratch on a logo or message you have to work that much harder to generate leads.

Build a Network – Marketing during the current decade often thrives because of a strong network of customers and prospects. While social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc are more and more influential, the best is a dedicated network of followers either from your own blog or maybe a local Chamber of Commerce. Stay involved and develop a community either online or in person.

Please share your thoughts or lessons learned in your own business and how you have overcome them to help our Entrepreneurial business network.

Category: Business Bloom

Trending Topic – Small Business Saturday

TrendingTopicTuesday750Thanksgiving is almost here, but this year the Christmas music started right after Halloween. The temperatures are cooling and there is holiday shopping in the air! While most small businesses will probably not have their biggest sales day of the year on Small Business Saturday, I am glad it is gaining popularity.

Let’s face it people want bargains and small business overall can’t (and shouldn’t) compete with the big box stores and online behemoths on price…so Small Business Saturday is never going to phase out Black Friday or Cyber Monday. That is not the point of small business anyhow.

SmallBusinessCommunity325Where Small Business Saturday comes into play is a reminder to shoppers that there are other options, options where you can get better quality and above and beyond customer service that seems to be pretty rare in a super-sale world. Small Business is the place where shoppers can find those unique items that are customized or personal.

A limited number of shoppers may #ShopSmall simply to support their community, but the vast majority need to see the demonstrated extra value of why they would pay more in most cases. That is the real world and small business owners know it and the successful ones thrive on it. Entrepreneurs are not looking for charitable donations, we provide value to the consumer.

While I support Small Business Saturday and hope it continues to grow over the years, I would like to suggest that you keep local businesses in mind throughout the year. Explore small businesses in your area. When you are near a local retail store just stop in to see what they offer, maybe try a specialty of that local bakery or restaurant, ask a shop owner for advice or recommendations for a special gift. You might be surprised at some of the great quality products and long term relationships you will build.

OK, I am stepping off my soapbox now…I would love to hear from Entrepreneurs who have come up with great ideas to grow their business this holiday season so we can all grow together. What are you doing different this year? What questions do you have for other small business owners?

Please share this (simply copy and paste into your social media):
Trending Topic, #ShopSmall on #SmallBizSat and all year to #MakeBusinessBloom…http://bit.ly/trendingtues

Tweet your thoughts and additional topics to: @eRoseWeb

Stop and Smell the Roses…Remember to Enjoy being an Entrepreneur!
rose

Category: Business Bloom

Marketing Monday, Applying ‘Buy-ology’ for Small Business Entrepreneurs

MarketingMonday750Want to improve the results of your marketing? We want to share some of the findings from the scientific approach to testing marketing, a field called neuromarketing.

Specifically some small business applications to the book Buy-ology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, by Martin Lindstrom. While not his most recent work on the topic, I came across other marketers who recommended this book as a new classic in marketing, and found some great information to share with fellow small business owners and entrepreneurs. We touched on this a little bit before with our blog Mind Tricks to Maximize Marketing Results…

BuyologyCover375One of the main questions this book poses in a nutshell is what determines which of the overwhelming number of ads and promotions makes it into our consciousness and therefore has a high likelihood of resulting in actual sales of a product or service?

Traditional market research like surveys and focus groups do not always reflect demand and emotional reactions to a product accurately. Why? Because our brain processes so much information that often a portion of the decision-making process is in the subconscious, so if you ask the person why they bought from your competitor instead of from you, they may not even know much less be able to share that information.

“…if marketers could uncover what is going on in our brains that makes us choose one brand over another…that would be the key to truly building brands of the future. Which is why I embarked on …a three-year-long, multimillion dollar journey into the worlds of consumers, brands, and science.”
“…I soon came to see that neuromarketing, an intriguing marriage of marketing and science, was the window into the human mind that we’ve long been waiting for, that neuromarketing is the key to unlocking what I call Buyology-the subconscious thoughts feelings, and desires that drive the purchasing decisions we make each and every day of our lives.”

Many of the examples in the book involve large companies or industries along with the detailed science of how the results were found. I recommend this book if you have an interest in learning more about branding and how these results were found. I am sharing just a few of the highlights I believe can benefit small business owners and marketers specifically.

Who moved my product – product placement relevancy

An interesting finding regarding product placement in a TV show or movie is that if the product is not integral to the storyline then as much as if not more than a straight up advertisement. One of the best example of effective product placement is Reese’s Pieces in the classic movie E.T. because it was part of the story it drove sales way up. If you have an opportunity to get your product or service into a show or movie, it is best to make sure it is integral or complimentary to the storyline and not an unneccesary tangent. (Of course if the producers are including it for free, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!)

Buying is contagious!

Lindstrom also discusses what are called mirror neurons, as you likely know when someone near you yawns it often will cause you to yawn. What you might not realize is that even if you read about certain actions like yawning or grasping a pen your brain reacts the same as if you were performing that action yourself.

A couple examples of how to apply this to your small business are to make sure you and your staff present a positive happy demeanor, while it may be common sense to you to smile when working with customers it actually does have scientific evidence behind it to create better results. Another interesting example is for businesses offering a product is to show one of your clients excitedly opening the package to get to the product or set it up. Believe it or not there are entire video sharing websites dedicated to watching others open products, feeling the excitement vicariously through others. (And hopefully creating the desire for them to recreate that themselves after buying your product.)

Creating or tapping into rituals and superstitions

I found it hysterical when Michael (played by Steve Carell) from the US TV show “The Office” says he is not Superstitious, he is just a little ‘stitious’ …but after reading this book I see now that it reflects more than just a funny line. It reflects the truth for many people, outwardly they say they are not superstitious or prone to following rituals but that is often driven by our subconscious minds so many if us don’t realize the extent of our cultural rituals and superstitions and how they affect the buying decision-making process.

A great example of a brand with a ritual are Oreo cookies. Most people will eat Oreo cookies in one of 2 ways … by prying them apart, licking the white frosting center and then eating the wafers…or by dunking a whole cookie into milk and then eating intact. Think about your product or service are there creative ways you can come up with for customers to create a ritual after purchase? Maybe a pairing to something that is already popular? Something that enhances the enjoyment or efficiency of your product or service?

Consumer, come to their senses

Much of the advertising today is focused around one sense – sight. Visuals are everywhere from logos to billboards and banner ads, the neuromarketing research has determined that it is much more effective to engage more than one sense at the same time. Retail stores can try to add a familiar (and positive scent) ideally may spark a childhood memory like using a vanilla scent or a subtle floral scent.

Jingles or music along with a logo can be very effective, a good example of that is Nationwide with their recent ad campaign focused on people hearing or humming their jingle in every aspect of their life.

Sex sells…wait I forgot what product it was selling

There were interesting findings in the area of using sex appeal to sell products and services. It has long been established that sex sells, or does it? While approximately 1/5th or more of ads use sex to sell their products and services, the scientific findings from buyology indicate that most times the sex appeal is a distraction from the product causing less recall of the items being promoted. The ones with the most success typically reach that success due to the controversy associated with the ad campaign. Prompting a wider discussion of the company and product beyond the ad.

The good news for small business is that this also applies to beauty, you don’t need to hire that aspiring model for your advertising, people want to be able to relate to the product. Most products are not geared towards the supermodel target audience, but instead to real people with everyday looks and interesting personalities. As with everything there are exceptions especially if the mirror neurons we mentioned before are involved to convey the feelings involved when using sex or beauty, but again the goal is to connect with your target audience in some way.

Choice Overload – Simplify to Sell More!

“…studies have shown that the more choices we have the less money we spend.”

It sounds counterintuitive but the brain is inundated with so many things that when you make it easier for your potential customer to analyze just a few things the better the chance you have in getting them as a client. While it is good to offer flexibility and a variety of options, target specific products or services to specific audiences and keep it simple to get them in the door so to speak. Then for recurring sales feel free to inform them of a few more of the options you offer, then a few more. Give them some bit sized pieces to help them and grow your relationship.

Lindstrom contends that about 90% of the buying process is subconscious and while this may be true, you don’t need to have a huge budget to analyze the neuromarketing effect of all your decisions. Like any marketing test different things on a smaller scale and see what brings results to your bottom line. Expand the products or marketing that work and keep testing new products and marketing. You may not be able to read their minds, but if you are improving your sales, then you must have engaged their minds in a positive way. Keep up the good work!

Please share this (simply copy and paste into your social media):
Marketing Monday applying Buyology to Small Business Marketing to #MakeBusinessBloom…http://bit.ly/mktgmonbiz

Tweet your thoughts and marketing ideas to: @eRoseWeb

Stop and Smell the Roses…Remember to Enjoy being an Entrepreneur!

rose

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