Updates social media top six

A few years ago-three to be exact- the top four social media tools for business were

  1. Forums
  2. YouTube
  3. Blogs
  4. Facebook

Today that has changed according to many social media studies.

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. LinkedIN
  4. Blogs
  5. YouTube

The purposes for social media often are to increase awareness and exposure of the company and generate those leads. Social Media Examiner provides excellent up-to-date research and tips on improving content, traffic and more.

Earn the Right to Be Heard

A recent client for my students reminded me about the marketing adage “the right to be heard”. It’s a reference to the need to demonstrate that you know the client, so that when you pitch them an idea about how to move their business in a direction, they’re more likely to trust you. Same holds true when you’re offering clients solutions as a business owner.

And why targeting your audience is so important. How can you speak to them and motivate them to action if you don’t really know them? How you talk to your family, your co-workers, your friends, your local barista–all different approaches. Why would business be any different? It’s not.

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Sometimes they don’t really “know” you, that’s the role of public relations. Developing a connection with people you want to do business with, provide solutions for, etc. The reason television ads work so well is because you’re in people’s homes. Showing up in their social media often also in the homes, and cars, and boring meetings. Think about how to earn the right to be heard-know the people you want to talk to.

It’s so much easier for them to accept the pitch when you do.

Wish I had time to write a book.

Yesterday was April Fool’s Day and the joke seemed to be that I ran out of time. I realized I haven’t posted in a few WEEKS, not days.

There’s a book in my head. The one that helps entrepreneurs NOT make the same mistakes I did. So much to share. Like not ordering 2000 pieces of letterhead-with the wrong address. My vanity went out the window and I started wearing cheater readers after that spendy scratch paper. I’d tell people not to ordering rack cards that worked on the printer-before I bought a new printer that won’t allow the cards to pull through. And realized the marketing plan I had for them didn’t materialize because my business went in a different direction. Paying for expensive insurance-before I had any clients. Contracting with a CMS system, that paralyzes me because I don’t make time to learn something new. Wanting to make videos before I checked the market to see if anyone would buy downloads. Ton of stuff about starting and maintaining a business.

I’m really good at what I do. Public relations is more than just press releases. Businesses must strategically plan how and when, where and what frequency to connect to their various publics. I break that down. Can do it for twenty-something college students learning to become pros to ghost writers who brand for others to machinists making widgets. But even I need a coach. And an administrative assistant. And a bookkeeper. Because as good as I am, I can’t do everything.

Look at what you are trying to accomplish with your business. Figure out what you absolutely must do–usually that’s the sales and the making of the product/service. The rest, find what you can delegate to interns, journeymen, trade with clients, or actually hire someone to do it.

Tell the Media You’re an Expert

Media relations is crucial to attaining publicity. Reporters don’t know everyone or everything, but they kind of need to. My relationships with reporters have led to some odd or unexpected articles. I’m an expert in women’s rights, women’s health care services, and public relations strategies. I know a little something about Nevada politics. I can whip up an election strategy, a grassroots campaign and churn out voters. I can talk about sex, religion or politics-often in the same speech. I happen to be Wiccan. These random skills or facts have lead to articles–I had a reporter ask me to call a colleague because he needed to know if Wiccans sacrifice black cats for a Halloween story. (We don’t-we actually don’t sacrifice anything. Tenet is “harm none”.) And no, I don’t wear a conical hat.

Media, from print to broadcast to bloggers, keep track of “experts”. You never know when a reporter needs a gardener, an accountant, a biologist, a machinist. Business reporters need to know resources in the varied industries within their community–they don’t know your business exists unless you reach out to them.

One step is to send them just a fact sheet about your services and expertise. Include employee skills if  they have unique skills or expertise. A women’s health center may provide a list of experts including fundraising, Medicaid negotiations, public policy impacts to women’s health, how to negotiate a relationship, how and when to talk to your teen about sex. Oh yeah, and provide medical experts on women’s health. Look for those skills. Then make a list and share with a reporter. Understand which reporter needs this kind of information–target your media audience whether it’s the health reporter, business editor, photojournalist. Provide contact information. Add links to websites or blogs if you have them. Just balance providing information–you don’t need to dump everything you know, or they’ll just dump the information into the trash.

Then follow up. Set up a few minutes to call and talk about news story ideas. It’s how you can get published.

 

What you can learn from a case study

Last fall I offered three clients a case study opportunity–they’d get a six month coaching session in exchange for my ability to discuss. All three were grateful for the opportunity and acknowledged they could use help in their marketing plans. We scheduled the times from fall through the first quarter of the new year. What I’m finding is time and value can be culprits to planning or intentions.

One client hopes to actually use the offer to train a staff person. But health issues and client influx ( a good problem to have) prevent this client from taking advantage of the offer. A second client hoped to delegate the role to a family member in the business. But scheduling, prioritizing a free service,not fully being able to delegate because of obligations and skills has prevented this client from participating. The third client is finding that prioritizing the biggest key-so the coaching has gone in fits and starts.

For the business client with both retail and service we started with breaking down the everest of planning into rolling hills to overcome week by week. Our work is helping the client determine which elements to start, flesh out till  proficient, and what to add. Prioritizing the marketing approaches likely to bring effective marketing with the time resources.

Start with your website. Make it current, interesting, able to capture contact and using key words and content worth sharing.

Second work the lists you have. Updates need to go to clients-either via email, direct mail, social media, texting–whatever your channels. But talk to your clients. Give them a call to action-make them your sales force, while keeping your business top of mind.

Expand to find new audiences–could be social media, publicity, traditional media, events–all depends on the audience and time/resources of the business.

Coaching helps do a couple of things: create deadlines and accountability; and it helps justify when its time to delegate or outsource. Coaching helps you determine the plan and figure out how to realistically accomplish marketing when you are a small business owner.

News affects your business-are you prepared or will you sink?

Celebrity Solstice photo from Gran Caneria, in no way related to the Costa line or tragedy

Likely you’ve seen the news and know about cruise ship Costa Concordia. You know, the Italian cruise where the captain used his ship to play chicken with the coastline, abandoned ship (oops, fell into the life boat) and tragically more than 30 people are missing  or dead.This tragedy has impacted a variety of businesses.

In my Pilates class, several friends are taking advantage of the “huge discounts” all cruise ships are offering to counter cancelled trips. The cruise line industry is feeling the repercussion of one incompetent captain, creating a public relations crisis they didn’t make and have no control over.

The Washington Post blog by Melissa Bell talks about the poor timing of an American Express direct mail piece suggesting the recipient “immerse” in the Mediterranean cruise experience aboard the…you guessed it Costa Concordia. The Amex advert was offering a $50 onboard credit for the end of February/early March cruise. Talk about timing. Now Amex is dealing with a public relations crisis, again that they didn’t create.

If the travel industry is on its game they’ll be sharing blogs and social media posts, direct mail and email conversations with their patrons about the safety records of their ships and captains, and generally addressing the concerns in addition to the incentives.

American Express if its on its game will also address the situation. I couldn’t find any media statements or comments on their website or Twitter account about cruises, their safety or their recommendations. May be you can.

Twelve Actions to Build your Biz in the New Year

  1. First write a business plan–or update it if you have one on a shelf. You can buy my friend Erica Olsen’s book. Can’t bother with a book, try her online program to help you keep track. Whatever it takes, make a plan and review it regularly.
  2. Target your audience. Really dig deep in their demographics-age, gender, marital status, everything you can figure out. Then figure out what their lifestyle is. Then figure out what motivates them to buy what you offer. If you have clients it’s easy to engage them. If you are starting up a business you need to research the possibilities and check competition.
  3. Next flesh out the marketing plan. Know just how much networking, customer relations, social media, publicity, events, media relations, etc you need to reach the clients on your plan.
  4. Invest in list management.You need a place to put your leads and a way to communicate. Ideally you move beyond the capability of the 50-100 limited emails you can send with your personal email. You need at least 5 times as many people to talk to so you can get the “yes” sales you need. That’s a lot to track. We use iContact. Also recommend Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. There are others–find what is most user friendly to you.
  5. Work your customers. Best sales force is word-of-mouth. Best way to get positive WOM is to talk to your customers. Stay connected. Offer them value. Engage them into your company-you know, like a relationship. Not a hook up.
  6. Focus your business growth on what you do best-not on the 10% that you suck at. We spend so much time trying to fix that last percent of what’s broken–and will never get fixed–rather than build the best thing into the superlative thing.Focus on what you love or are best at.You’ll grow even more.
  7. Make things easy for your clients. Whether its sending them reminders about their appointments or offering to drop materials off at their work site–whatever it is you can do to make their lives easier do.
  8. Make time for sales and marketing. You spend 40 hours a week making the product or doing the service. It’s best if you sell it.
  9. Delegate what you can’t get done. Building on the fact that you should be the primary sales force, what can you delegate to others? Bookkeeping? Marketing and public relations? Being in the store? Remember focus on your favorite element for your own pleasure and then delegate–enlist family or hire staff or outsource some services.
  10. Play it forward. You’ll really reap more if you give to prospects and share with others than if you are stingy with your time.
  11. Make sure your marketing outreach materials are current. When is the last time you updated your website? Your handouts? If you pulled everything together and put samples on a board can you tell it’s the same company or does it look like you picked up an assortment–if visually it doesn’t look the same, you need to do some branding.
  12. Stuck? Hire a coach. Coaches can help you puzzle through what blocks you; train you on beginning steps; help you break down a giant project into manageable pieces. They also can provide the accountability you might need to meet deadlines. Not to mention the encouragement. Solo-preneurs definitely need that sounding board. And we can help you with that.