Category Archives: Business Planning

Back to Web Site Basics

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Take a hard look at your existing site. Is it outdated? Is your photo and bio current? Does it showcase your most recent accomplishments and accolades? Do you have badges for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to help your web visitors meet you on social media?

A great way to get twice the impact out of your writing time is to have your blog and your Twitter page feed content to your homepage. That way, every time you post a new blog or Tweet, your home page gets updated content. Your home page always looks fresh, and search engines like sites that are frequently updated. It’s a winning solution!

You can also embed YouTube videos or posts from Instagram, Tumblr or Flickr photos into your web site. This is another great way to get more productivity out of your social media time by making each element work for you in multiple places. The YouTube videos you create with your cell phone won’t look studio quality, but that’s OK. If your content is good and the short videos are lively and packed with personality, viewers will have the feeling that they’ve met you, which is a great way to take the online relationship one step forward.

Audio is another way to personalize your site and let visitors get to know you. AudioAcrobat.com is one of my favorite tools because it’s easy to use and versatile. You can record a personal web audio so that you greet every visitor to the site, and then easily add the audio to your home page. Consider having a different personal audio greeting for every page. (Remember—you can add a link to the audio on your Facebook page and in your Twitter bio as well!)

If you’ve always wanted to be on the radio, consider doing a podcast. A podcast is a lot like a radio show, except that it is recorded, not live, and is broadcast via the Internet. Podcasts can be anywhere from five minutes to two hours in length (I’d suggest fifteen minutes or less). You can record a daily tip or insight, or invite guests like a radio interview. Podcasts can also be fed to your web site (and to your other social media sites as well), creating yet another interesting element, and an additional way for prospects to get to know you. It doesn’t require a lot of equipment or technical knowledge to podcast, but it can be a great cross promotional tool as well as a way to connect with a broader audience and share your expertise.

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Social Media And Your Web Site

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

What does the world see when it comes to your web site? After all, most social media sites allow you to list one or more home pages or blogs. It’s not uncommon for someone who meets you on Facebook or Twitter to hop over to your web site to learn more. You probably do the same thing when you’re thinking of asking a contact you met on social media to provide a product or service.

Many web sites sprawl like an untended garden. Few people have a clear idea of what they want from their web presence before they put up a site (at least, their first site). Some site owners just add pages for new material, but pay little attention to update or remove old information. Other sites are essentially abandoned, having been posted and then ignored.

Your web site is your virtual storefront and business card. Rightly or wrongly, people will judge you by the quality and content of your site. This is especially true if the information they see on social media about you doesn’t seem to match the web site when they visit. When a social media friend makes the effort to check out your web site, you’re one step closer to closing a sale. Don’t let them slip away at the front door.

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Don’t overlook online PR

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Don’t leave it up to the event organizers to publicize your upcoming appearances. When you book an engagement, write a press release and upload it to the many free online press release distribution sites. Every release increases the number of places your name shows up in search engine results, and those links can help drive traffic to your site. Then Tweet the links to your releases, post them to the Social Bookmarking sites, and add them to your other web sites and social media pages.

You may also want to create a blog just for your news releases, and a separate blog for your upcoming appearances and have both feed into your web site and other social media pages. It makes it easy and inexpensive for you to add to your releases and events without requiring a designer’s help, it keeps your schedule and news prominent and fresh on your sites, and it makes your effort and links to triple duty.

When you’re working the local media in the city where you’ll be speaking, don’t overlook locally-based Internet radio shows, event posting sites tied to the newspaper or ZIP code that allow you to upload the event announcement, and the load-your-own-news option now available on my online newspapers and TV/radio sites. You could cut your own inexpensive Video News Release (VNR) with a friend playing the anchor and a digital video recorder and make it look like a TV interview, then upload it. (Note: The intent is to create an informative item in a news-like format, not to mislead the viewer to believe that they are watching a clip from an actual news show. Always attribute your company as the producer in the clip credits.)

Use your social media to find new ideas for events and bookings. Set Google Alerts not only for your own name, book titles and company name, but use it to see what your competitors are doing. Add the names of the top five speakers in your topic/industry and see where they’re speaking. That may give you new ideas for the local or regional chapters of the same organizations, or for a presentation that is similar but not repetitive to pitch to that group next year. If you subscribe to sites like eSpeaker.com or other online speakers bureaus, be sure to use the forums and member profiles to make your own connection to other speakers. Introduce yourself and forge alliances where you both share research, contacts and tips about events. You can also use Facebook and LinkedIn to do the same with the speakers you meet at the conferences and events you attend. Remember? Social media offers a great chance to wow event planners before they ever pick up the phone.

Now through December 31, 2015 the Kindle edition of 30 Days to Social Media Success is specially priced at just $5.99!

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Promote your upcoming events

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Event planners also love speakers who help them put the word out about their events. When you contact groups to speak, be sure to mention if you’ve accumulated a large number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers, and if your opt-in newsletter list is in the thousands, that’s also a terrific plus. Talk up the event and encourage your followers to attend for the chance to meet you in real life.

If you will be traveling, contact Meetup groups in the area and invite them to join you at your next event if the program is open to the public. If you can’t invite them to the main event, see if they would like to do a coffee get-together or fireside chat with you during time in your travel schedule that would otherwise be wasted. You can also connect with the local chapters of national organizations of which you are a member or which pertain to your topic (groups such as eWomenNetwork, National Speakers Association, NAWBO, etc.) and issue the same invitations.

Don’t forget to connect via the online groups on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for all of the same groups to invite them to attend and share tips related to your speech content. Talk about your upcoming programs on your own Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, not from a hard sell, but in terms of the valuable content you’re looking forward to sharing. You may find that some of your existing contacts will be in the area to attend, or have friends they can send your way.

Promote by Tweeting live from the event. Don’t just Tweet about your part—let everyone know how much fun you’re having, how valuable the speakers are, and what a great event it is. Tweet about the people you meet and the workshops you’re attending. Take photos from your cell phone and upload them right away.

Promote after the event (great for being asked back again) by blogging, Tweeting and uploading after you get home. (Make sure you’ve copied the organizer who invited you so he/she can see how much free publicity you’ve provided.) Write an article for your newsletter and then share it on your blog and in sound bites on your Twitter feed. Carry your digital video camera to the event and create a videoblog scrapbook, then post it on YouTube. Tweet the link, add it to your other social media sites and be sure to use Social Bookmarking to share it. When you send follow-up emails to the other attendees and speakers you met at the conference, include the links to your video and other promotion so they can also bask in the afterglow. Link to the organizers, speakers and attendees you’ve met on Facebook, Twitter and other sites, and choose the very best connections to add on LinkedIn.

Send a note to the speakers you met at the event extending that contact and offer to have them as a guest on your blog or podcast. Now you have another reason to talk. This can be a great way to share referrals to other possible speaking engagements or opportunities for collaboration for both of you. Of course, if you’re hosting a guest on your site, that’s yet another reason for social media promotion!

If you’ve got names for key contacts in the city to which you’re traveling, whether those are reporters, radio hosts or business contacts, look for them on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and LinkedIn and make a connection. Let them know you’ll be in the area and would like to talk or meet for coffee. You can also marshal your LinkedIn contacts near your event city and ask them for referrals to local media or connections to the kinds of people you’d like to meet. Make your travel dollars stretch further by piggybacking extra mini-events or meetings onto your events.

Now through December 31, 2015 the Kindle edition of 30 Days to Social Media Success is specially priced at just $5.99!

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Social Media and the Speaker

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Speakers today face tough competition. Economic uncertainty has led many companies and organizations to scale back on events and to renegotiate speaker fees and reimbursement. Despite those hardships, speaking to groups is still an important income stream for many experts, and a way to gain recognition for coaches, consultants and authors.

Much of the advice for authors in the previous chapter can also be applied for speakers. Many speakers also have books or info products they’ve written, so they can benefit from promoting both their books and their availability as a speaker. Social media can lend a hand.

Provide a free sample

Event organizers are understandably reluctant to book a speaker they’ve never seen. You can use web video to help overcome that reluctance by providing planners with a free sample of your speaking technique. Planners may check out your web site before contacting you for a full demo DVD, so a couple of short clips that show your strengths as a presenter may be enough to encourage them to move further with the process of booking you for their event.

Don’t stop with posting clips to your main web site. Utilize video on your Facebook and LinkedIn sites, and Tweet about new YouTube videos when you post them. You can also include your new videos on your blog, with the opportunity to add extra commentary or insights.

Event planners like to see evidence that you’re in demand as a speaker. Blog and Tweet about your upcoming events, and update your Facebook and LinkedIn status when you’re heading out for events and when you post photos, video or a recap after the event. When you speak, invite listeners to become your social media friends, fans and followers, and encourage them to post comments on what has been most helpful about your presentation.

Work with event promoters before and after the events where you speak. Offer to provide guest blogs or articles related to your topic, and be sure to send them your YouTube video. Always ask for recommendations, and post these on your sites.

Audio samples are also great previews of what you offer as a speaker. When you do a teleclass or a radio interview, include a link to the audio on your web site. Choose a snappy segment of a teleseminar to keep it short, but be sure to showcase both your knowledge and your delivery style.

Now through December 31, 2015 the Kindle edition of 30 Days to Social Media Success is specially priced at just $5.99!

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Social Media and Sales Promotion

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

All sales take place within a community of some kind. That may be a small town, a big city, a region, a country or the global marketplace, but the community is an essential part of the sales process.

Sales occur because the buyer perceives an urgent need. Sales promotion can’t create that need, but it can stoke the sense of urgency, and it can overcome objections by making it easy to buy under very favorable terms.

    Social media offers powerful new ways to provide unique promotions to your friends, fans and followers. You can create special sales or packages just for your social media audience, and get feedback from customers and prospects on what kinds of sales or promotional offers they’d most like to receive. You can also use social media to create incentives for your online friends, fans and followers to become your virtual sales force and help you spread the word.

The power of promotion

Everyone loves to be “in the know.” People are attracted by the opportunity to be a VIP and to be inside the inner circle, receiving special benefits not available to everyone. Social media creates a new way to offer coupons, discounts and advance information on sales and specials to the people who have become your online friends, fans and followers. By combining the best features of opt-in email marketing and direct response mailings (without the cost of postage), social media promotion can augment your existing promotional strategy and win a loyal following.

One form of social media sales promotion is the rise of web sites (with internal social media components like blogging and Tweeting) that help customers shop for bargains by maximizing their use of coupons. Sites like TheGroceryGame.com teach shoppers how to get the best value for their grocery dollar while sharing coupons and strategies to reduce costs. These sites create loyal followings and also provide rich territory for marketers to find out sales and product preferences.

If you offer daily or weekly specials, use social media to let your friends and followers know. Tweet about your flavor of the day or about special pricing on limited-quantity items. Blog about upcoming sales with an insider’s eye toward getting maximum shopping value. Provide real user benefit by helping shoppers learn how to get better value and stretch their dollars by sharing savvy shopping strategies.

Build on the tried-and-true idea of a VIP membership with social media. Create a Facebook or Twitter page around your VIP specials. Sure, everyone can read the page, but only your VIPs get the specials, creating “results envy” and encouraging non-members to join the club. Or, create your own membership site for your VIPs with a .Ning site. If you have a VIP area on your web site, add a blog, photos and web video. You can even encourage your members to send photos or video of themselves as testimonials.

If you sell from your web site, Tweet, blog and post to your social media site as soon as new items are uploaded to your online store. Offer special deals for buyers who shop within the first few hours after a new product is put online. Create early-bird specials that you publicize only on social media to increase the interest in being your social media friend.

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How Much Marketing Is Enough?

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

I’ve seen all kinds of estimates on how much a marketing budget should be. Usually, the estimate is just enough to cover the products or services the person doing the estimate wants to sell.

An industry standard that’s been around for a long time is 5% of revenue. The idea behind making your marketing budget a percentage of your revenue is that marketing costs are funds you are reinvesting into the company, and should be tied to how well the company is doing. In the real world, I’ve seen companies spend far less and far more than 5% and get results that met their definition of success. What matters most is that you spend the budget you do have wisely.

A zero budget won’t keep you in business long, and it certainly won’t help you grow. If you truly have no cash, you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and put sweat equity to work. If this describes your situation, how many hours can you put into doing marketing? Write it down, and put a dollar estimate of your hourly rate next to it. That’s what you’re really spending.

If you’re already spending money and you’re comfortable with that level of investment, make sure that you’ve prioritized your budget in line with your prioritized goals. Put the biggest chunk of money where you’ll get the best return or achieve the biggest goal. (This becomes a great way to say “no” without guilt to one of those “fabulous” marketing opportunities a salesman presents to you.)

If you’re willing to invest more to achieve your goals faster, or because you know that growth requires more resources, then determine a dollar amount you can spend and divide it among your prioritized goals. Budgeting money doesn’t obligate you to spend it, but it does give you a tool to prioritize new opportunities and it may free you to investigate options you might not have considered before you knew what was available to spend.

Remember that your marketing efforts must be accounted for in your budget either in dollars or in time spent. As you budget your time to complete other projects, be sure to allow for your marketing investment.

Setting a budget also creates one way to measure effectiveness. Over time, you’ll want to ask yourself whether a particular marketing method is earning its keep. Knowing what you’ve budgeted for it compared to the value of how it contributes to achieving your goal comes in handy when you need to decide what to keep and what to change.

The “Irresistible Difference”

Before we leave the nitty-gritty if your business plan, there’s one item left we need to talk about, your “Irresistible Difference.”

What I call your Transformational Value is how you address your prospect’s Problem/Pain/Fear and overcome his Ego/Money objection. Your Irresistible Difference is what draws a prospect to you and your company as opposed to your competitors.

Your Irresistible Difference should tap directly into who your best prospect/customer is. It should fit that customer like their favorite pair of jeans, not only covering what’s necessary, but making them feel wonderful as well.

Think about your best customer’s qualities. What can you provide in your service, package or delivery that will meet their need as well as their unspoken desire? For some customers, convenience is king. For others, it’s value, or reliability, or exceptional knowledge. Not only will you gain some good insights into powerful marketing copy by looking for the Irresistible Difference, but you’ll also get some great ideas for where to find your best prospects and how to reach them.

For example, customers who prize value may join online communities dedicated to saving money. Those could be great places for you to participate through chat, forum posts and blogs because your audience is already there. A brand-conscious customer may place more than the usual value in being a member of professional and alumni associations and participating at a higher-than-average level. You might find those groups particularly useful to your marketing strategy because they tap into qualities the prospect prizes.

Your Irresistible Difference demonstrates how well you understand the quality the prospect values through where you market (including your choice of social media sites and the type of content you share), how you structure your product/service, how you deliver your product, and how you position your company in the marketplace.

As you become aware of the Irresistible Difference you offer to your different target audiences, make a note of it so you won’t forget to put its power to work for you.

 

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Mining Gems From The Business Plan

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Successful marketing takes either cash or a “cash equivalent.” A “cash equivalent” is what you use instead of cash. That could be time that you barter, but more often than not, it’s old-fashioned elbow grease. Marketing requires time, and it also requires some money. If you have more time, you can save money. If you have less time, you can get the same work done by hiring help. One way or another, good marketing is going to cost you.

I’ve heard business owners say that they had such a great location or product that they could “do business by accident.” And I’ve driven past their location when it went up for sale after they went out of business. Success happens because of hard work, strategy and yes, a little “optimized luck.” It doesn’t happen by accident.

What do I mean by “optimized luck?” “Optimized luck” is what happens when you’ve done your homework, worked as hard as you can, and a great opportunity opens up in front of you. If you hadn’t prepared yourself, you wouldn’t be ready to make the most of the opportunity, or you might not even notice it. But you also didn’t just get lucky. You prepared and trained so that you’d recognize luck when it showed up and so you would be ready to maximize your big break. It’s definitely not “doing business by accident.”

Make a list of your prioritized goals/target audiences/current marketing actions. If you’ve made a table, add another column for “cost.” Write down what you think your current marketing actions are costing you to reach that target audience and achieve that goal is costing you. The cost could be in time, or it could be in real money. It could be the cost of hiring someone to update your web site or design your brochure, or it could include printing, postage, advertising or other fees. You could include membership dues for the groups you’ve joined to mingle with your target audience. Make the best estimates you can and then look at the results.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • How much are you currently spending for each goal?
  • Are you spending the most to achieve your top goal?
  • Is what you’re spending worth the potential new revenue that goal could provide?
  • Could you spend more if it would achieve your goal faster?

You may see some opportunities to make a few course corrections. If you are spending more to achieve your third priority than you are for your top priority, you’ve got a problem. If you’re spending more to achieve a goal with smaller revenue potential than for a goal with larger revenue potential, it’s time to reconsider. If you’re not spending anything, hoping to “do business by accident,” then you’re on thin ice.

Social media is “free” in terms of not costing money to sign up for sites like Facebook and Twitter, but it’s certainly not “free” in terms of the time it takes to put a social media marketing strategy into action. You won’t “do business by accident” just because you slap together a Facebook page or set up a Twitter account. If you don’t have time, you’ll need the cash to hire someone who can put the time into it for you. And if you have the time to put your social media marketing strategy into action, you’ll still need some cash to bring all the pieces of your marketing plan together so that your marketing works harder than ever to achieve your goals.

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Social Media Touch Strategy

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Where does social media come in? Social media offers a conversational, low-pressure way to remain in the forefront of a prospect’s awareness with “touches” on a subject where there’s interest but no trigger for an immediate purchase. It can also keep your company in touch with current customers so that when add-ons or upgrades become necessary, you’re first in line for the business.

The key here is not to view social media as a way to provide a barrage of “buy now” messages. Instead, think of how you can engage the prospect in a conversation about whatever product or service you sell, with the immediate focus on offering helpful information related to the Problem/Pain/Fear.

Some great examples of this are tips, how-to videos, short audios, links to interesting resources like articles, white papers, blog posts or longer videos, interviews and Question/Answer sessions. Social media sites like Facebook make it easy for you to share multi-media content and have a two-way conversation about the topic in a format that reveals your company’s personality and lets you share your Real Story in a no-pressure environment. Twitter is a great way to provide tips, ask questions, share links to related resources, comment on headlines related to your product or service and even do surveys.

While you usually can’t close a sale before the customer has experienced a trigger point, once you’ve established a relationship, you have the chance to educate the prospect about that trigger point. Perhaps the best time to buy a new piece of equipment isn’t when the old equipment falls apart. Perhaps there are trade-in advantages or depreciation advantages to buying on a shorter purchase cycle. Maybe you can point out benefits that deal so much better with the Problem/Pain/Fear than the old product that the prospect decides to buy sooner rather than later. You’ve altered the trigger point through education, and because your company provided the information in an ongoing relationship, you’re likely to be first in line to get the sale.

When someone subscribes to your blog, Facebook page update, Twitter feed, they’re agreeing to get updates (information) from you on a regular basis. If you share information that speaks to his or her needs, every update does double duty; it reminds the prospect about you (a touch) while it provides useful information (deepening your relationship). Social media makes it easier and less expensive (and less intrusive) than ever before to stay in contact as touches prepare for a trigger.

Using a “touch” strategy keeps you visible by providing useful information your targeted audience wants and needs without sales pressure. What content can you offer to provide 30 valuable touches?

 

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Touches to Transactions

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Modern marketing wisdom holds that in today’s advertising-saturated world, it takes at least seven to 30 “touches” or reminders before a consumer takes action. Although that may seem like a lot when you first hear it, if you think about how you act when you’re the consumer, it begins to make sense.

Your social media sites can account for several of those 30 touches. But to be effective, you need to think about how touches become transactions.

Touches and trigger points

We manage to ignore tens of thousands of advertising messages every day, mostly because they promote products we aren’t currently interested in buying. The key phrase there is “currently.” When you realize you need a product or service, all of a sudden, you tune into the messages related to the product/service that you had been screening out.

The situation that changes everything is a trigger point. It’s an event that moves you from someone who hasn’t thought about making a purchase or who has been casually window shopping to someone who needs to buy right now. The seller usually can’t change the trigger point (although they try to influence it with sales and specials), but you can make sure you’re making enough touches so that when a triggering event moves a prospect from looker to buyer, he or she thinks about your company.

Let’s use a car purchase as an example. If your car is reasonably new and in good working order, you may not be thinking at all about buying a new car. You probably tune out car ads, emails from dealerships, or radio commercials about great specials. Or maybe you’ve been thinking about buying a new car—sometime. You might be casually reading car ads, going out to dealer web sites, paying some attention to commercials, even slowing down when you pass the dealer’s lot for a good look. But for now, it’s all still window shopping.

Then a triggering event occurs. Your existing car is in an accident, and it will cost more to fix it than it’s worth. All of a sudden, you’re in the market for a new car, and you need it right now.

Until that triggering event happened, there wasn’t much the car dealers could do to hurry up your purchase. You bought the car based on your schedule of when you needed one, not on the dealer’s schedule of when he wanted to sell one. Business owners often forget that it’s the customers’ need that drives the purchase cycle more than it is driven by sales and specials. But there’s a very important thing to remember: When a customer moves from shopper to buyer, the company that has made the most marketing touches is first in line to get his business.

Go back to the car example. When that prospect was window shopping, the dealership with the best web site, or the showroom that was polite about a test drive without a commitment is likely to be the first place that prospect goes when he or she moves from shopper to buyer. Those “touches” pay off in top of mind awareness.

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