Category Archives: Marketing

Social Media Marketing Tip For A Small Business

Some of you may remember that this summer I held some live presentations on social media marketing locally. I’ve been to a lot of presentations, and I’ve conducted a lot of presentations, and I want to talk about this for a quick minute.

One thing I have against some presentations is that when they’re over you’re sitting there wondering if you actually learned something you can use. This seems to happen often, unfortunately. I remember going to a sales presentation in the spring where I knew the guy who was giving the presentation. I had heard him present for 30 minutes one time and I loved hearing him talk. So I had high hopes, since this presentation was going to be for about 4 hours or so, including breaks.

What a major disappointment. The headlines said we were going to learn sales techniques we could use in our business; as a matter of fact, 5 of them. Instead, it was a presentation on sales motivation and 5 reasons why we needed to get over our reticence to sell. Now, if that had been the topic, or what the description of the program was, then I wouldn’t have minded so much. But that’s not what I was expecting, nor was anyone else. So, it fell flat, even though I still enjoyed hearing the guy talk at times.

Forward to me. When I gave my social media presentation this summer, I gave tips on how small businesses could actually use some of the social media things I was talking about. Sure, I spent some time on building up what social media was, and talking about success stories. I had to do that because I knew some people had no real clue what social media was all about and were hoping to learn something about it. So, I had the presentation scripted, and you can see my description of the outline of my presentation if you’re up for it.

Anyway, forward to the main topic of this post. This is a legitimate tip that a small business can use as it applies to social media. Here’s the caveat; it’s mainly for brick and mortar businesses. For instance, if you owned a pizza or coffee shop, this is a great tip. However, there might be some online businesses who can think of a way to use this tip to their advantage also.

Whether you’re a new or existing business, you can start generating some business by starting with two things; creating an account on Twitter and creating an account on Four Square. For those who don’t know, Four Square is a location-based site where people get to tell their friends where they are via an online service. It’s where Facebook and Twitter got the idea from. The people who created Four Square actually studied locally at Syracuse University, so it’s very popular here, and it’s actually a test market for lots of things.

Back to the tip. You register your business on Four Square because it gives you the opportunity to set up specials through the site so that if people come to your location and go online to indicate to others they’re at your location, they can earn prizes or specials that you’re going to offer them. You can have small prizes for first time visitors, such as 50% off a drink, and bigger prizes for people who become “mayors” of your location, which means you’re a frequent flyer. The thing is, people would only earn these things if they went onto Four Square and mentioned you, and they’d see the offers through the site.

Now, you have a Twitter account for many reasons. One, as a business you can mention that you’re registered on Four Square and offer special deals for visitors. If you get followers, you might have your messages retweeted multiple times, which is a great way to gain both customers and publicity. And young people especially are drawn to businesses that show they’re somewhat tech savvy.

This works very well, by the way. It was actually proven by a local small vegan restaurant/coffee shop. They did exactly these steps, and within 3 weeks or so they started seeing a higher influx of customers than most new businesses would. I mean, a vegan restaurant yet; not my cup or tea. Yet they do a thriving business, and their name is always being tweeted and retweeted locally. One thing they do that’s slightly different now is they give a discount to everyone who mentions them on Four Square while at the restaurant and proves it. They have enough business to cover that discount whenever they get it.

And there you go; a legitimate tip on how to get new customers to your business and keep them coming. Can you figure out a way to use this tip for your business if it’s not a brick and mortar? Maybe; if you do, please feel free to share with us. And don’t say I never tried to teach you anything! 😉


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Marketing Help Needed; Yup!

As y’all know, I work for myself. I do okay, but certainly not great. Marketing has always been my downfall, and it’s disconcerting after so many years.


by McKay Savage

Of course, I understand the concepts of social media marketing well. I’ve followed my own advice when it comes to that, and it’s helped to a degree. My biggest problem is that my main business doesn’t do online stuff all that well. You may remember that along with a lot of other things I’m a health care finance consultant. Many more hospitals have a web presence now, but that’s about as far as it goes.

I rank number one for my search terms, but hospitals don’t go online to research vendors (that’s what they call us; I prefer the term ‘corporate partner’) for services. Instead, they go to events and ask people they’re not afraid to share information with who they might recommend or who they’ve heard of. Now, by ‘afraid’, I mean to say that hospitals really don’t like other hospitals that are located close to them to ever know they might have some type of problem. It’s kind of stupid because almost every hospital has the same types of issues but that’s the way the world goes.

Anyway, that makes marketing to hospitals difficult. Overall they’re not close to each other. They don’t like making recommendations that might help a competitor. If you’re an independent you just can’t rely on word of mouth when it comes to hospitals; physicians maybe.

What’s a guy to do? I’ve done the traditional route. I’ve sent letters. I’ve sent flyers. I’ve sent postcards. I’ve even picked up the phone and called, although not that often; I hate doing the cold call thing. That plus, unless you personally know the CFO, you’re not going to talk to them. I’ve had 3 different sales professionals who have tried and each one of them told me the same story, and I already knew it because that used to be my life. Well, except I didn’t have a secretary screening calls for me; if it was from out of town & I didn’t recognize the number, it went to voice mail.

Anyway, I’m always on the lookout for more marketing tips. A good source for me as been my friend Shirley George Frazier’s blog Solo Business Marketing, and right now she’s giving away a pdf called 42 Top Tips For Solo Marketers. That’s the link to her site, not to the download. Her site is replete with tons of information, and I have followed her for a couple of years. I do pick up some things here and there, and I really need to start applying more of what she has to offer. It’s a great resource, and I’m happy to mention her here.

Of course, all of this ties in to other topics I’ve brought up this year and in previous years. The best marketing strategy is to find ways to increase your influence. I’ve been trying to do it a lot through social media, interviews, and networking.

Networking, by the way, is how I’ve gotten most of my health care contracts as well. Through email, I do have a list of people I can network with when I really need to get something. The issue for me is that at my age now I’d love having more projects that are closer to home. Some people might think going across the country is always glamorous; trust me, it’s not. Even flying first class, making 2 or 3 stops to get to your final destination, and those long layovers, is irritating and uncomfortable. Now, if I were on a speaking tour, making $3,000 or more a day, I’d suck it up and be happy about it; who wouldn’t?

Anyway, check out Shirley’s blog, and if you have any ideas on how you market your business to the offline world that’s effective, please share.


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Social Media Marketing Won’t Work If…

I’ve talked a lot lately about social media marketing and influence. Overall, comments have been positive, but fairly minimal. Not that I’m searching for big numbers of responses to the topics (okay, I am) so much as thinking that, as we move into a new age, this should be a pretty big topic for a lot of people to be both thinking about and talking about.

What occurred to me yesterday is that the topic is out there, but not really all that big to the group that I’m marketing to the most. That group are people between the ages of 35 to 65, people with established businesses who I thought might be ready to learn more about how to market to people. What I’m realizing is that there is a definite generational difference between the people I’m marketing to and the people who literally already get it. I’m marketing to a group that’s missing it, that can’t see why they’d even want to get started, let alone want to learn it.

I actually understand this. I’m the same way in other areas. On Wednesday a group called Lady Antebellum was in town, and I had, and still have, absolutely no idea who they are. Justin Bieber was also in town; him I’ve heard of, but I couldn’t tell you a single song. Without having kids, I haven’t tried to keep up with the pop music scene, and thus I hear songs that for the most part I don’t like and names that mean nothing to me. Out of the names listed for the next reincarnation of Dancing With the Stars I had to look up 6 of them to see who they were; these are stars?

I get it; we concentrate on what interests us at all times, and even if something might be in our best interest for our business, if we can’t fully embrace it then we feel we don’t need it. So I decided to list 5 things that indicates why social media marketing won’t work for you.

1. You don’t have time. I keep hearing this one over and over, and frankly, it’s both a valid concern and nonsense at the same time. It’s hard for people to squeeze more things into their schedule if it’s booked tight and you’re working all the time. The reality is that no one is booked all the time and no one is working all the time. We all waste time during our workday; if we didn’t, we’d go crazy. My belief is that even if all you decide to do is 15 minutes a week, just to establish a presence somewhere, you do yourself a world of good. If you could find an hour a week you could write a blog post, maybe post a link on a Facebook business page, do an update on your LinkedIn page, respond to one group post on Linkedin, and send out a link or message on Twitter regarding a business, a retweet, whatever. When you have more time, do more; just do something.

2. You don’t have the money. How much money does it cost to do social media marketing? Depending on what you do, nothing or just a little bit; way less than any other type of marketing you might do. Twitter; free. Facebook; free. LinkedIn; free. Email; could be free, and with an autoresponder less than $200 a year. YouTube; free. Blog; free, or if you pay someone to write it then that could get pricey depending on how much you want written.

3. You don’t understand it. Most of the time when people say this, it means they haven’t even looked at it. If you sign up for LinkedIn, it pretty much tells you what you need to do step by step. There might be some intricacies for real business benefits, but in general, you’re done. Same with Facebook; probably the day you sign up you’re going to have invitations already there from people who’ve been wondering where you’ve been. YouTube isn’t as easy, and though Twitter seems pretty easy, I could see where someone could get confused early on. But I run into almost no one (had to add the “almost”) who’s signed up for a Twitter account and says “I just don’t know what to do” without meaning “I don’t have time”.

4. You don’t even try. Michael Jordan says he’s never made a shot he didn’t take. Whereas many people have thrown up a website, they haven’t taken the time to determine whether it represents them well or not. “Close” doesn’t get it done when you’re hoping to get business from someone that’s thinking about paying you thousands of dollars and your website looks cheap. “Close” doesn’t get it done when you’ve written one blog post in a year. “Close” doesn’t get it done if you create a Facebook business page and done absolutely nothing with it. As with anything else, you have to at least take some kind of consistent action, even if it’s once every two weeks, otherwise it’s best not to even start.

5. You’re not social. And there’s that word again, “social”. Social says you interact with someone instead of “at” them. Social says you respond to comments or email here and there. Social doesn’t say you have to tell everything about yourself, or deal with people who upset you or irritate you in some fashion. It does mean you have to be ready to participate in whatever you start, and it can’t only be about you. And trust me, on Twitter, if all you’re doing is putting out links and retweeting people all the time, it’s viewed as you being all about you.

I can’t remember if I’ve written stuff like this before, but I’ve certainly brought it up in workshops, and I plan on always bringing it up whenever I have the opportunity to talk about it. No one has to do it all; but if you want it to have the chance to work, you still have to do it.

My Friend The Chocolate Cake








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Writing A Press Release

Okay, by now everyone should know that I’m putting on a social media workshop on Thursday with Renée Scherer. Well, at least you’d think that. What I found out just after the last one is that no matter how many times I put the link out on Twitter, people seemed to miss it. I mean, what the hey? This included people I talked to often on Twitter; that was discouraging, and of course if people don’t know about it, they’re not coming.

Grafik Magazine: Hand Drawn Type Spread
Carolyn Sewell via Compfight

This led me to considering the idea of writing a press release for this one and seeing if the newspaper would put it in. Of course, one can have a press release go to many other outlets as well, but there’s only one main newspaper in town, and I know the rules for writing a press release, which is pretty much only one main rule; make it sound like a news story and not an advertisement.

Having said that, there are some basic rules for writing up a press release; here they are:

1. You need to make sure there’s contact information in it

2. You need to indicate what the press release is for, hopefully giving them a title they might be able to use. I did that within the article, and I told what the event was up front.

3. You should have someone quoted in it. That’s not quite a necessity, but it helps to have a quote or two.

4. It needs to be in 3rd person. No “I’s” or anything like that unless it’s contained in the quote.

5. It needs to look “newsy”. In other words, it should read like it’s a story in the newspaper, even if it’s a short one.

I created the press release and I passed it by one of my Twitter friends who also happens to work at the newspaper. She said it was perfect, and that she’d give it to the powers that be. This isn’t my first press release, by the way. I’ve had two others put into the newspaper, one in 2004 when I was giving my Keys To Leadership seminars, and another when I was promoting a customer service workshop in 2005. So, it had been awhile, but my hope was that I hadn’t lost the skill of putting one together.

I hope it shows up in the newspaper, but there are never any guarantees. Actually, I’m writing this days ahead of time, so if you see this line then it probably won’t make it in time. In either case, another friend of mine in media said I should put it on my website to make sure it’s at least seen by someone. I decided to share it here:

Press Release:

Social Media Marketing Workshop
Hope Lake Lodge, August 19th, 2010

Following up on a successful first presentation on July 22nd, Mitch Mitchell of SEO Xcellence and Renée Scherer of Presentations Plus are putting on a second workshop on the topic of social media marketing. Titled “Make A Splash With Social Media Marketing”, they put on a 5 hour workshop that talks about social media strategies that have been used by many companies across the United States to enhance their business profiles and interact with customers.

“Smaller companies found out first how successful they could interact with current clients and grow their client base by using social media marketing, and now bigger companies have hopped on the bandwagon and establishing themselves as players in the game as well,” said Mitch Mitchell, who’s been working with clients on social media marketing strategies for 3 years now. “Anyone who hasn’t figured out that they need to embrace at least some aspects of social media marketing are going to fall behind, and it’s not going to be easy to catch up.”

Since both Mitchell and Scherer are from the Syracuse area, why start at Hope Lake Lodge? “I’m a skier and I love Greek Peak,” stated Scherer. “Once I realized how much more they had and that they’d love finding ways to help promote the new Cascades Water Park it seemed like it would be a nice marriage.”

They are working on setting up a workshop some time in September in the Syracuse area, then hoping for at least one more presentation at Cascades Water Park before deciding where to take it next. “I’d love to take it on the road, as it’s become a very hot topic”, said Mitchell.

So, what do you think?
 

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What Message Are You Trying To Project?

A strange thing happened to my wife and I last Saturday.

Some Saturday mornings, we decide to go to what’s known as the Regional Market of Central New York. People from all over central New York sell all sorts of things there like fruits and vegetables, candies and cakes, candles and perfumes, fish, clothes, foods, etc. My wife goes almost every Saturday. I’m kind of a part time guy; I invariably have a good time (when it’s warm weather), but you have to go early if you want to be close to everything, otherwise you could have a long walk coming.

This Saturday was going along like any other. I was saying hello to babies, being my naturally friendly self, while my wife was looking at produce that she and a friend were going to share later. This particular week there happened to be a Christian group booth in the middle of one of the display areas, and as we got there I got distracted by some honey roasted cashews on a table to my right. I’m not sure what my wife was doing, as she was slightly behind me, but I heard the man ask her if she would take a flyer he wanted to give her. She politely said no, and his response was “are you ready to die?”

Because I knew she wasn’t in danger I didn’t turn around, but kind of out loud I said “I’m thinking that’s not the best sales pitch I’ve ever heard.” The women in front of me heard it and laughed, and one of them turned around and gave me a high five. I accepted it, but I was thinking “what the heck was that all about?”

In the next display area we came to, a man was smiling and holding out his flyers. This time I said no thanks and walked on, but my wife decided to take his flyer. On the front was what you see in the image: Muslims for Peace. Later on, while sitting in the car while my wife went into a new hair salon to ask some questions, I pulled the flyer out and read through it, and found it somewhat illuminating.

No, I’m not about to go out and become a Muslim. However, I have to say that the two messages my wife and I got literally within minutes of each other were drastically striking and contrary. If my only experience ever with both Christianity and Islam had been these two men, you know which way my support would have gone. The way information was presented was way different, and even though I understand the message the Christian man wanted to convey to my wife, in a public forum with lots of other people around and one chance to make a good impression, he uttered a statement that could have been taken as a threat, but was definitely taken as one of strange intolerance for someone else’s position, all from deciding she didn’t want a flyer.

Lately here I’ve been talking about influence and social media marketing, but in the past on my other blog I’ve talked about consequences and perception. Giving people a reason to dislike you more because you said something wrong rather than stating an opinion someone else may or may not like is almost never worth it if you really care about getting business, making friends, etc. I’ve talked a lot about how social media can be your friend, but sometimes it can also hurt your online and offline business if your timing is bad and your words not quite correct. Of course, as I’ve always said, if you’re ready to deal with the consequences you can say anything you want.

Of course, I have no religion or faith, so I’m not going to be changing to anything any time soon. Still, if I were at Hogwarts I’d probably have given 50 points to some house and taken 50 points away from another. I wonder who ended up scoring better on the day once my wife and I left last Saturday.

Love Couture Love Peace Sequin Tunic






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