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.

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“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.

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.

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.

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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!

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!

Small Business Week – Encouraging the Entrepreneurial Spirit

This week take time to inspire Entrepreneurship in others!
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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!

Shayna’s Corner on #NationalPetDay – Adopt a Mascot for your Small Business

Category : Shayna's Corner

April 11th is #NationalPetDay, a day to support rescues and shelters across America. Our mascot Shayna would like to remind you that even if you can’t adopt a rescue dog there are many ways to support a local shelter or rescue. Donations of goods, money or your time do a lot to help your local SPCA or rescue.

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Shayna was very happy the day she was rescued and we appreciate the work of the shelter that kept her safe before we found her. Hopefully some day you can find the right pet that will add a lot of joy to your life, or make a great mascot for your business. Hope to see them highlighted next year on your April 11th Social Media posts.

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.

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?

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

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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.

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!
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