Social Media

How to Build a Social Media Strategy for Your Startup

Do you own a startup? Do you want to make it successful?

“Running A Business Is Easy.” — Nobody ever said this.

You have created a great product or service, but that’s not the hard part. The hard part is to convince people why should they care about your business and tell them what it can do for them. According to this report, “Generating relevant traffic and leads are the top marketing challenges for a business.”

Social Media

Social media can be your secret weapon to increase brand awareness and lead generation for your startup. The best part? It’s cost-effective mean of marketing. It’s not a channel that you SHOULD use, it has become a channel that you MUST use. It’s the most popular and effective medium to connect with your target audience and get your brand in front of them.

“Almost all the businesses and startups have social media profiles, then why do most of them fail?” I hear you ask.

You’re right, startups have social media pages, but the most common mistake they make is: NOT having a social media strategy. Only a correct plan and strategy can help you to improve brand awareness, customer acquisition, and lead generation.

71 percent of customers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. Don’t worry! In this article, you’ll find five proven ways to build a social media strategy for your startup.

1. Build (or improve) Social Media Profiles

As I mentioned, social media has immense power to attract people, generate new leads and increase revenue. But it only works when you do it right, otherwise you’ll struggle to get desired results. What to do then?

Before creating a social media strategy establish your mission, objectives and goals that you need to achieve. Now check which social media platforms meet your objectives. You don’t have to be on every social network because each platform has its own audience and USP. Build yourself a strong social media page with each platform your enter. Make your social media page with complete business information and proper image sizes. Here’s a guide for social media image sizes.

It’s Time To Improve And Update Them.

Do you have existing social media accounts? It’s time to improve and update them. Take a look at your social media statistics and demographics to understand your audience’s behavior and how it’s working. Choose the platform that meets your needs.

Julia C. Campbell as a voice for social media updates and improvements put it best here:

“Pick one network and do it well first. Choose one that you like to use personally and are comfortable using. Master it.”

Facebook’s Audience Insights tool allows you to check comprehensive demographics information.

Image via my personal Facebook account

2. Create a Content Strategy

You must create a content strategy and distribution plan before starting posts on your company’s social media accounts. Without a definite direction, you’ll be distracted. A clear definition of your desired state is going to allow you to use gap analysis to create a laser-focused action plan that is going to take you to your destination.

Here are some questions to get started:

  • Who’s your target audience for a particular content?

  • What types of content do you need to publish on social media?

  • What’s the frequency of your content?

  • What’s your plan to promote it?

First, answer these questions. Build a strategy and share the content your audience will enjoy. “I don’t know what to post on social media,” I hear you say.

A Few Ideas

If you have a startup for a marketing tool, start sharing content about marketing in form of blog content, videos, infographics, podcasts, presentations, etc. You can also share “Motivational Monday” images. Share inside photos of your office culture, this will give your followers insight into your company.

I recommend you to share relevant content from other sources regularly.

Always be consistent with your content. Follow the most popular 80-20 rule. 80 percent of your content should be informative and the other 20 percent can be promotional.

Piktochart regularly shares graphics on their Twitter page.

3. Engage with your audience

Social media is for conversations. Engaging your audience on this channel can help you to build a community of fans for your brand. It can also help create fruitful relationships with your customers.

First, you need to post interesting content that encourages people to take an action. It could be a Twitter poll, a funny graphic, a video, or a product photo that encourages your audience to tag their friends.

How do you feel when people engage with your posts and comments? It feels awesome, right?

It gives you an opportunity to make a conversation and understand your audience. Here are some ways that you can consider:

  • Respond to these interactions appropriate and answer their queries.

  • Take the conversation further by asking a question.

  • There’s a negative comment. Don’t rush, respond positively and try to resolve the issue.

  • Run contests, ask people to take a specific action, and offer incentives.

When you respond to customers, they’ll more likely to purchase from you and will share a positive experience with more people.

Check out this Facebook Post of Modcloth. They did a great job here:

4. Go Live!

It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re, startups always look for a cost-effective social media marketing strategy. We live in the fast food world where people need everything instant. Facebook live is a great medium to produce instant content. You MUST include live video in your content plan.

Live Video

It’s a fresh and unique way to provide appealing content to your audience. Popular brands already suing Facebook Live across the globe. Livestream discovered 80 percent consumers would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog and 82 percent prefer live video from a brand to social posts.

Use Live videos to ask questions, company culture, event, or product launch. It drives real-time engagement. Encourage your audience to comment and respond to their questions. Don’t forget to calling out their names. It makes people feel special to hear their names in your live video.

Here’s an example: Embed Code

<iframe src=”https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ftarget%2Fvideos%2F10154487189168120%2F&show_text=0&width=560″ width=”560″ height=”315″ style=”border:none;overflow:hidden” scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ allowTransparency=”true” allowFullScreen=”true”></iframe>

5. Use Email to Support your Social Media

Do you think email and social media as a competing channels? You’re making a BIG mistake. Smart businessmen take these two channels as a team player to fulfil their purpose. Be a smart marketer and use the power of email to support your social media marketing.

Jay Baer put it best at MarketingSherpa Email Summit:

“Email and social media have an important part to play in the conversation between company and consumer. They are strategically, operationally and tactically aligned — or if they aren’t, they should be.”

Don’t forget to place social media follow button in your email campaigns and make it shareable. This act will help you to generate more reach and fans. Where you need to place the buttons in email: Above the fold OR below the fold?

I recommend you to Run an A/B test – Place the buttons above the fold in email A and below the fold in email B. And see the results.

In one study, marketers were asked: “Which marketing channels does your organization integrate with your email program?”

You can also send a dedicated email campaign to your subscribers and ask them to follow you. See how crocs does a great job:

I hope these five social media strategies will help you to grow your startup. Do you want to share something? Please drop your views here.

No comments
Jeremy WebbHow to Build a Social Media Strategy for Your Startup
read more

Digital Marketing Your Startup: Dealing With Small Marketing Budgets

Startups need some form of digital marketing in order to be as successful as possible. The problem that many people encounter is that of making the budget for a marketing campaign. All marketing departments are going to tell you the budget they need which will always be higher than what they actually need.

The fact is that many startups do not have a massive budget to work with but the marketers can have a huge impact. Those without a huge budget have some of the most creative and engaging campaigns due to having solve problems instead of throwing money at them. The following are tips to dealing with marketing online even with a small budget.

Free Social Media Marketing Should Be Done

Social media being a free platform to promote content, sales, and interact with customer is the first step of marketing online. The fact that these are free and you can start building a presence immediately is important. Do not simply fill up your feed with different products now being offered.

Interact with those in your business space and search hashtags on Twitter to see if you can answer any questions about your area of expertise. This can be a form of customer service as people reach out via social quite a bit, showing that you will respond/care about comments helps build customer loyalty.

Outsourcing Can Be An Answer

A startup is going to have limits on hiring and other limitations as far as staffing/budget. Outsourcing digital marketing to a company that already has contacts in your industry can be the most budget friendly option. Those companies that have started influencer marketing platforms can allow you to see the reach that your marketing budget can have.

Small and medium influencers are making huge leaps for many companies as they tend to be a well-trusted endorser in comparison to celebrities. Look up reviews of the company you will outsource to as some companies rely on the client not knowing much about digital marketing so they can overcharge and under deliver.

Create Content To Engage

Digital marketing is driven by engaging and informative content so creating another generic clickbait list simply is not going to cut it. Consumers are exposed to so much content daily that they have become picky with what they will spend their time reading or viewing.

Finding a person to create content can be done through a freelancer platform like that of Upwork or People Per Hour. This will give you the ability to test a writer out instead of bringing on a writer in-house who will cost more with lower quality work.

Try different forms of content to see which converts in the most leads or traffic. Podcasts and video are extremely popular as some people simply do not have time to read longer articles.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is continuing to boom especially with the moderately popular influencers. Being able to connect these influencers can be extremely difficult. Finding the influencers that help clients convert on sales or traffic is the main objective.

In a post by Seedingup about influencer marketing notes that age plays a huge role in the impact influencer marketing has with the data “The age-group 14 – to 29-years old can be reached particularly well with influencer marketing campaigns on social media channels, because more than a third of this target group has already purchased a product promoted by influencers.

Within this young target group, 18 – to 23-year-olds are most receptive to product plugs by influencers, resulting in purchases by 39 percent of this age group. 30 – to 49-year-olds are less inclined to buy based on an influencer marketing campaign, with only seven percent of this group making a purchase. Finding the right influencer can lead your brand to huge profits in a mutually beneficial business relationship with said influencer.”

Content marketing drives digital marketing so having a great content writer for blog posts and social media is incredibly important. A person with writing and marketing background can be a Swiss Army Knife of production for a small company which can take it to the next level.

No comments
Jeremy WebbDigital Marketing Your Startup: Dealing With Small Marketing Budgets
read more

5 Ways Companies Can Adapt To New Facebook Changes In 2018

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, updated his news feed with some changes that they were going to implement in 2018. There was abrupt commotion during this time with both negative and positive reactions that left many online publishers perplexed and confused.

Gain a cutting edge.

If you’re part of a company who advertises on Facebook regularly, this will help you stay ahead of the curve in 2018. If you’re new to advertising on Facebook, this will give you the springboard needed to have the cutting edge.

Leverage quality over quantity.

One of the problems we’re facing as a digital community is the influx of too much content. Zuckerberg stated this in one of his recent Facebook posts. Too much content is not a good thing because it can often confuse and drown people without them taking specific action.

Information overload takes over which can lead to spinning in circles. Everyone wants to live the digital dream and the good life, yet they aren’t pushing out high-quality content. They are aiming for bulk which isn’t the best direction to take.

High quality content is still going to be the top-shelf idea.

Stay ahead of the crowd by putting high-quality content on all your channels, and not Facebook alone. The more interactive and engaging your content is, the better. This makes people stick around longer which increases the chances of your audience completing your objective. Create high quality and planned content that speaks directly to your customer’s desires and passions. Use high-quality cameras, lighting, and personalities to broaden your reach. Then reproduce them on all your social media channels.

Create support groups

One of the other points that Zuckerberg made was that they were going to start decreasing the amount of content shown by brands, businesses, and media. Facebook is going to start showing more of content from your friends, family, and groups. Every niche and industry you can think of has a Facebook group already made.

Create a Facebook group that is niche specific to your industry and allow people to join and comment. Hire moderators to keep the group spam free and post content inside daily. This is now your own online real estate you get to utilize.

Don’t stop advertising

While all these new Facebook updates are changing, that doesn’t mean that what you’re currently doing has to stop. Continue advertising on Facebook and learn to observe the reports and analytics that Facebook’s advertising platform will give you. Then adapt to the responses that you will receive. Facebook, as well as many other channels, will continue to change to meet the needs of their users.

We should follow suit. You should also be creating audiences according to who have seen your content. Focus on creating video ads that match your customer’s pain points and desires, and retarget those who have seen more than 50 percent of your videos with a retargeting ad that gets them to make a purchase or complete a step in the buying cycle.​

Use other advertising outlets

You can’t rely on only one traffic source. Having this mindset can be detrimental to any business. The reason you want to avoid relying on one traffic source is because that traffic source might disappear one day. With that said, Facebook is a great place to advertise seeing there are more than 2 billion active users every month.

But it’s not the only place. There are many places that will allow you to advertise and you’re customers are already in those places. Youtube is a great place to advertise because it is runner-up to Facebook with over 1 billion active users monthly.

Video will account for 80 percent of consumer internet traffic by 2020. Use research platforms like SimilarWeb to find out more about your customer’s online habits and find out where they spend most of their time. Enter in your competition’s website URL to find out where they are getting their traffic and business from and start using the same outlets.

Focus on customer experience

Zuckerberg also mentioned that people on Facebook react and engage more to live videos than regular videos. Customer experience is key to the growth of any company or organization. You can’t grow a company that isn’t serving the needs and desires of its community. Start by creating more live content on your Facebook profile, pages, and groups.

Get more rankings and reviews on your Facebook pages to rank them organically. Invite your customers to use the check-in feature on Facebook and leave comments. Last but the most important, get video testimonials of all your customers and place them on all social media platforms and your website.

Have them introduce themselves, mention your company, and give a specific example of their experience after working with you. Have them explain the benefits of what they received and feelings they had before, during and after your services or using your products. ​

Facebook publishers have expected this change to happen. The organic reach has decreased to as little as 2 percent for some businesses. It’s becoming a game of pay-to-play. Staying ahead of the game and up-to-date with the changes will benefit you and your company greatly.

No comments
Jeremy Webb5 Ways Companies Can Adapt To New Facebook Changes In 2018
read more

How Being Socially and Environmentally Friendly As a Business Can Be Leveraged

The number of companies that have started to value their impact over profits is growing. This is a huge change from past generations when profits were all that mattered even if it came at the expense of the environment.

Technology has made it possible for things to be shared all over the world in a matter of minutes. This has caused many companies to take a step back to look at how their tactics of making money impact their public perception.

In many cases corporations have done better while being more socially or environmentally friendly as people make their money do the talking. The following are advantages a business can have by being socially or environmentally friendly.

Incredible PR Move

People are much more informed about how businesses operate now than they were in the past. Companies that were using underpaid labor overseas have seen drops in sales once revealed. With smartphone technology the treatment of employees as well as the environment has improved.

Announcing the different social or environmental initiatives the company is taking part is can help improve customer loyalty. Companies that produce something of high quality but also are conscious of the waste they produce should be promoted.

A section in a monthly newsletter about the green initiative might not seem like much but those that care deeply about the environment will take notice.

Listing Your Business as a B Corp

A benefit corporation identity or B Corp simply means that the business goal is to benefit the public in some way. The regular business model is to increase profits year after year. A great B Corp example Giving Assistant listed quotes in their announcement that are values of other B Corporations and are below.

“Businesses should compete not only to be the best in the world, but to be the best for the world.”

“All business ought to be conducted as if people and places matter.”

“World business leaders must realize that everyone is dependent on each other for the well-being of our global community and natural resources.”

“A company’s products can and should benefit society in their production, practices, and profit.”

As anyone can see these are not the traditional value statements of businesses. A B Corp also allows a company a form of trust from the public as their final goal is not to profit as much off of the public as possible.

Another great benefit of becoming a benefit corporation is that of attracting top talent. Many of those in the job market are willing to take a lower salary in order to make a real difference. Being able to help the public instead of the bank account of investors in the corporation help reduce stress that usually is present at regular corporations.

Social Media Justice Warriors Will Leave You Alone

The rise of social media allowed people to voice their opinions about things that they might not have any idea about. One of these persistent people with a gripe with a company might point out all of the things that they might not like.

This could be production tactics or even something like how much you pay employees. Taking the green route or one that stresses helping people socially will keep their keyboard warriors away. Make sure that you have an employee that embodies your corporate values working the social media accounts.

People can say hurtful things but the last thing that you want is an employee losing their temper which will reflect poorly on the company.

Doing business the correct way might not always be the best for profits but in the long run will be beneficial to the company. Take a few hours to look at processes to see where you can reduce waste. Often times this is a quick fix that will have little to no impact on production. ​

No comments
Jeremy WebbHow Being Socially and Environmentally Friendly As a Business Can Be Leveraged
read more

5 Free Ways Startups Can Promote Content And Boost Reach

If content is King, then promotion brings Glory. But not all content creators of early-stage startups are able to embrace glory. What is the reason? Organic reach is depleting day by day on social media. And most startups at their early stages don’t have a budget to spend on paid promotion.

What is the solution? 

In today’s post, I will discuss five free ways how startups can promote their content to reach more people. After reading this post, you will be able to maximize the success of your content marketing by reaching a large number of people.

Without further ado, let us dive in:

1. Answering On Quora

This ever-popular question and answer site claims to have 190 million unique monthly visitors. The beauty of this platform is that people question and answer on almost every topic under the sun. To promote your content on Quora, the first thing you need to do is to find questions relevant to your topic. This you can easily do by searching through Quora search box. 

Once you find topics relevant to your content, dig deeper the topics to locate the questions of which answers your content offer. After you get the questions, write short answers and provide links to your content. If people like your short answers, they will come to your content for more information. 

2. Including Influencers

Including influencers in your content is a good way to get more eyes at your content. How does it work? The process is simple and has the following steps:

●     Ask influencers in your industry for a relevant quote for your content.

●     Include the quote in content and let the influencers know about it.

●     When the influencers share the content, you will reach more people. 

What benefits will you get when influencers share your content?

Needless to say, influencers have loyal followers who interact with the content influencers share. You will certainly reach more people if your content is shared by influencers.

3. Sharing on Communities

Sharing content on communities like Growth Hackers and inbound.org can attract more eyeballs to your content. However, just sharing links on these communities will not help get more readers. You need to be active in these communities: share, like, and comment on other’s content to build rapport there. Only then, people will engage with your content.

Here is a list of few free communities where you can share your content:

●     Growthhacker.com

●     Inbound.org

●     Scoop.it

●     Flipboard.com

●     Reditt.com

●     Facebook groups

●     LinkedIn groups

Your success on these communities depends on how well you engage with others’ content. So be active if you want more people to read your content.

4. Syndicating Content

Content syndication is publishing your content on other websites to reach a broader audience. It is one of the most effective ways to get more readers. However, you should not forget to mention the website where the content was first published.

Medium and LinkedIn are popular platforms where you can syndicate your content. Also, you can target any leading website in your industry to request for content syndication. But you should propose value that content will bring to the readers of that website. 

5. Sharing Creatively on Social Media 

Though organic social media reach is dying, you can still reach a large audience if you use social media creatively.

Here are some ways to maximize your reach on social media:

●     Share your content multiple times with different snippets

●     Tag people you have quoted in your content

●     Use relevant hashtag

●     Tag people who share the same content as yours and ask their opinion

●     Use images, memes, and animated GIFs to increase shares and likes

The secret to harnessing the power of social media, in today’s time of dying organic social media reach, is to get your content shared by as many people as you can. The more people share your content, the better reach you will have.

Final Thought

As a content marketer who has successfully created content marketing strategies for many brands, I believe that you should spend 50 percent of your energy on content creation and the rest 50 percent, on content promotion.

Answering on Quora, including influencers in content, sharing content on communities, syndicating content and sharing content on social media creatively are some proven ways to take your content in front of a mass.

What about you? Do you want to share any other free way to promote content? Leave it in the comment section. I would love to know about it.

No comments
Jeremy Webb5 Free Ways Startups Can Promote Content And Boost Reach
read more

How Interactive Ads Can Boost Your Success

It’s no secret that people often find ads to be annoying—if they even notice them.

But what if the reason why people either hate or ignore ads has more to do with how advertisers design and use them rather than the fact that they are ads?

Interactive ads.

Advances in technology, such as the ability to create interactive ads, can enable companies to be far more successful in engaging their user bases than they have been in the past.

Customers.

If you can figure out where your audience members are, what they want, and how to provide that to them in an interesting way, your ads can be incredibly effective. Here’s how to use interactive ads to make your business more successful.

How Interactive Ads Foster Engagement

Businesses are seeing marked improvements from rethinking what ads are. Instead of interruptions, ads can actually be “‘a way to spend more valuable time with consumers.’”

Animate ads.

The ability to animate ads and make them interactive allows you to make ones that enhance the user experience and are more enjoyable than ads have traditionally been. For example, Timberland partnered with another company and ran a successful display ad that invited users to color it by tapping on different sections of the image. DSW created an ad that viewers could flip through simply by tilting their phones.

Interactive ads allow brands to be more personal and meet their consumers’ needs more easily. As brands pursue interactive advertising, they are seeing the time people spend on ads increase significantly, in some cases by 47 percent.

How to Create Interactive Ads.

.

If you are so inclined, you can always take a shot at creating interactive ads by writing the code yourself. This article from Webdesigner Depot gives instructions for how to do so.

Because of the importance of ads being visually appealing as well as fun, it’s a good idea to have a designer help you create the ad. If you have some understanding of coding, following the above steps makes creating an interactive ad fast and easy.

Even more simple.

But for those of us who prefer something simpler and don’t want to mess around with coding, there are alternatives. For example, you can use a tool like the one provided by Bannersnack to create animated banner ads that work with HTML5.

You don’t have to write any of the code yourself.

You don’t have to write any of the code yourself. You simply create your design, animate the ad, and then either download it for use in your campaigns or embed it on your website. It’s up to you to know your audience and how to find them, of course, but a resource such as this one can help you create an eye-catching and engaging ad.

Don’t Neglect the Why.

Yes, it’s important to know how to create interactive ads, but they won’t be effective at all if you don’t make them with a clear idea of the purpose behind them.

In this post on some of the most effective advertising and marketing campaigns that brands have run, HubSpot notes that the companies were successful because they focused on:

  • Solving a problem
  • Telling the bigger stories behind their products and making the stories interesting
  • Creating their own product categories where they could dominate
  • Being honest
  • Making their products seem cool
  • Encouraging consumers already using the products to use them more often
  • Being creative and entertaining
  • Being relatable
  • Showing just how effective their products were
  • Making their products seem critical to have
  • Engaging with their followers while keeping their branding consistent
  • Trying something new, even if what they were already doing was working

Getting Your Interactive Ads Out There.

Interactive advertising is all about getting your customers…well to buy your product, obviously. But it’s about getting them to buy your product by persuading them to interact with your brand. And social media has democratized society to the extreme, giving people direct access to each other and thereby giving brands direct access to their customers.

Social media.

Social media is a great resource for targeting purposes. You can discover who your audience members are and what they like so that you can show your ads to people who want to see them.

Plus, social media is all about people sharing information they find interesting and entertaining. If you create an ad that is interesting in and of itself, the people who do see it will want to share it with even more people.

While this sounds simple, figuring out how to get your ads in front of your audience is a fairly involved process. You’ll need to study your market and do keyword research on your audience, as well as on your competitors. There is a lot more to say on this topic, but doing so is beyond the scope of this article. To learn more, you can check out this in-depth guide on SEO & PPC keyword targeting.

Bringing Advertising Up to Speed

Don’t let your thinking be limited by how businesses have used ads in the past. It’s not necessarily an easy process, but if you recognize what people are looking for online and deliver it to them in an innovative way, your ads can be something they want to see instead of avoid.

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

No comments
Jeremy WebbHow Interactive Ads Can Boost Your Success
read more

How Network Size Indirectly Affects Business Relations

Your social media footprint and the number of real-life follow-ups you make with that crowd – along with the business contacts you make in the day-to-day – can really help your business. Some reports say that between 70%-80% of positions are filled via networking. But have you wondered how the size of your network can indirectly affect your business relationships?

The Business Relationship.                              

A business relationship can be defined as “a process where two firms or other types of organizations ‘form strong and extensive social, economic, service and technical ties over time, with the intent of lowering total costs and/or increasing value, thereby achieving mutual benefit’. One study, in particular, suggests that “on average, firms have ten important business relationships.”

One way of measuring the types of relationships is this model:

Source: Impgroup.Org

It suggests there are four types of relationships your business can form:

Customers – Surely one of the most important “ships” your business needs.

Suppliers – Having a great “ship” made of suppliers ensures you the edge.

Complementors – The third “ship” should be filled with people and businesses that far from being in competition with you actually complement what you do – and vice versa.

Competitors – The fourth “ship” is made from those you compete with; because by working together, there’s a greater chance for both of you to succeed.

Another resource – The Muse – suggests five types of people you should be networking with. They include:

Trailblazers – people with similar but more established businesses.

Role Models – people with businesses you admire in other industries.

Thought Leaders – smart folk who think differently.

Informants – those people who know a lot and share that information.

Cheerleaders – good people with good intentions.

Ultimately, the larger the network of relationships you have means the greater your potential and the bigger your value. Networks have become the main approach to “describing spreading processes such as epidemics or information transfer because they express the heterogeneity of interactions characteristic of many human activities.”

The Harvard Business Review had this to say about forming networks:

“We’ve found that networking—creating a fabric of personal contacts who will provide support, feedback, insight, resources, and information—is simultaneously one of the most self-evident and one of the most dreaded developmental challenges that aspiring leaders must address.”

To that end, the HBR has proposed there are three separate forms of networking. They are:

Operational – helps manage current internal responsibilities.

Personal – helps boost personal development.

Strategic – opens eyes to new business directions and stakeholders needed to enlist.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Mutual Connections.

One benefit of networking is that mutual connections enable possible business partners and/or clients to do reputable research and make positive (or negative) findings on the person they are considering working with. Because the truth is indeed out there – it just sometimes takes more than just Googling to find it!

How do you utilize a network properly to gain new business relationships? Or just to maintain existing ones?

First off, remember that your network is your sales safety net. As such, every new relationship should be tended too; nothing happens overnight, and it’s increasingly hard to remain in the forefront of people’s memories.

Become better at communication.

You should become adept at communication; make it your best friend and follow up without becoming a nuisance. It’s often about timing, and you can meet someone that might be a great help – but a year from now. So add them to your newsletter, follow up on birthdays, etc – anything to keep on their radar because when something comes up, you’ll be in mind.

Be a resource.

Email marketing can help with that. Beyond just using email to reach out to say hi, use it to share information. Be a resource. It also gives you a chance to be viral too, as your contacts pass the info along to people they know.

The bigger your network size, the more opportunities you create. LinkedIn is a great website for business networking and as such has created its own world. What are its rules and how could they help?

First, LinkedIn always suggests you know the person you’re trying to connect to because LinkedIn places constraints on the size of the network. Also, reaching out to complete strangers means they have the ability to dismiss your invite with an “I don’t know” – and if you get five of these, your account will be temporarily suspended.

But LinkedIn doesn’t just provide you the opportunity to network; it shows others who are already in your network along with its size and its shape. And here’s where it gets interesting – because some suggest shape is more important than size. According to Ed Han at The Balance, “it’s important to network with specific people: your networking activity should be targeted. This is what I refer to as your network’s shape, and it’s why I say it trumps network size.”

Networks should bring you at least two things:

Instrumental Support – this is comprised of the ideas, advice, and aid people can bring to your table.

Psychosocial Support – this helps you survive/thrive as a person.

The Harvard Business Review suggests that instead of dismissing the huge network of people you don’t really know, embrace it for what it is; a huge source of ideas, connections, and assistance. That way you can find the Instrumental Support you’re looking for. Use it as your personal hive mind.

Get your Psychosocial Support.

However, it goes on to suggest that in terms of Psychosocial Support, you’ll have to look to places less digital and more flesh and blood. Places like outside your immediate department; with people who have similar family situations; and with those you’ve known for a long time who can provide greater perspective.

Positive and Possible and Nurturing.

To get the most out of your network size and, ultimately, affect your business relations in the most positive ways possible, means finding that sweet spot between Instrumental and Psychosocial. To do that, you’ll have to put in the work and devote some blood and sweat equity into building the connections you have and nurturing them.

One last tip: help others first instead of waiting for them to help you.

One last tip: help others first instead of waiting for them to help you. That way your networking won’t be seen as a selfish means to grow your own business but what it should be; an organic approach to building relationships through network size.

No comments
Jeremy WebbHow Network Size Indirectly Affects Business Relations
read more

6 Ways to Improve Your Entrepreneur Network

It’s been said that business is all about who you know and that saying has proved to be true. It’s true that nepotism and favoritism are frowned upon — but as a business owner, it is easier to trust someone that you actually know, even if they are less qualified. 

The right connections.

It can get discouraging trying to get some experience in the first place. Having the right connections can get you the opportunity to interview for your dream job. Having someone you know or is a relative in a higher place could help you get the capital you need to start your startup.

The right connections could help you form a partnership that will change the course of your entire company for the better, or the right connections could help you find a buyer for your company, leaving you with enough cash to start the next one.

Start building.

You don’t just get connections as soon as you jump into the business world, though. You have to strengthen, build, and improve your network. A strong network is especially important if you are or plan to be an entrepreneur. Although you may already have some connections thanks to family and friends, a business network should be composed of a lot more than that. It should be composed of all different kinds of people with diverse backgrounds and experience.

Improve and strengthen your network.

When improving and strengthening your entrepreneur network, it’s important to remember that it’s not just about knowing people, it’s about connecting with them. You might have hundreds of Facebook friends, but are you actually friends with them all?

If presented with the opportunity, would you want to invest with the kid you sat next to in psychology class but never hung out with outside of school? Maybe depending on the circumstances — but if you were choosing between a few different options, you’d probably be more likely to invest with someone you knew and trusted, right?

…meaning your entrepreneurial network.

If your entrepreneurial network isn’t where you’d like it to be, don’t stress. You should always be building and improving your network as you continue to grow and networking will probably never end. If you want to focus on strengthening and improving your network sooner than later, though, here are six tips to help you do just that.

1. Join online communities.

With the Internet, networking is easier and faster than ever. There are communities online dedicated to the purpose of helping people connect and network. You can go beyond that too, though, and join online forums that cover topics in your niche or area of expertise. You don’t have to limit it all to business, either. You can join groups about things you have a personal interest in as well. As mentioned, your network should be diverse so you don’t have to focus only on the professional side of things.Be prepared.

2. Be prepared.

Before heading to events or striking up a conversation, make sure that you’re prepared. Have business cards tucked in your wallet and know what you want to say about your business if the opportunity arises. If you try and wing it you may find yourself fumbling or taking up too much of the conversation.

Networking isn’t just about you, it’s about connecting and learning about the other person too. You can pitch what you have to offer, but if you aren’t listening, you could miss some great advice from someone that learned some entrepreneurial lessons first-hand.

3. Attend social events.

There’s nothing like a night out to clear your head and give you a break from the office but there’s also nothing like a night out to help you make connections and improve your entrepreneurial network. Attending social events is a great way to connect with others and grow your network while having a bit of fun. Some events are put on specifically for the purpose of helping people network while other events are just some fun parties that turn into networking opportunities.

Tools like the SELECT card can give you access to private events like cocktail hours, rooftop soirees, gallery openings, menu tastings, and so much more. Using being a SELECT member is a great way to find out what’s going on in your area so you can attend and make some connections.

4. Get involved in your own community.

Getting involved in your community will give you the opportunity to volunteer and attend events where you can make connections with other local businesses and leaders. It is also a great way to get your name out there so that people recognize you and what you’ve been doing when you have the opportunity meet them. Not only will it help you make connections, but helping your community is a great thing to do.

5. Start talking to everybody.

This can be uncomfortable, especially if you’re a more introverted person. Talking to everyone, though, is a great way to expand and improve your entrepreneurial network. You may find that the guy you’re behind in a long checkout line knows more about content marketing than the consultant you were talking with before. Who knows? Maybe the cashier will help you come up with the most dazzling name for your business.

Although your objective when talking to people may be to build your network, don’t make the point or focus of the conversation about you, your business, or networking. The best connections are ones that are sincere and founded on a connection of friendship. Avoid approaching people with the purpose of pitching to them – you shouldn’t even necessarily plan about talking business. Approach them with the purpose of making a connection and let the networking happen from there.

6. Follow-up and engage with your connections.

The goal of networking is not to collect as many business cards and phone numbers as possible, the goal should be to connect and develop relationships. Following up on conversations or reaching out to connections just to check in can go a long way toward cultivating those relationships and making them last longer which will likely be a great benefit down the road.

What are some of the most effective networking tips you’ve ever been given?

No comments
Jeremy Webb6 Ways to Improve Your Entrepreneur Network
read more

12 Ways to Improve Product Branding

Branding is essential for any startup trying to get off the ground. Once you have you your branding –a company must protect its brand’s image by keeping it alive. 

Marketing strategy helps keep your brand going — but your entire company is responsible to get your brands name out there and to retain your name and brand as a reliable trusted source. One difficult customer retention or service encounter can do years worth of damage to your brand and company. Consider having (or building) a brand expert within the marketing person or marketing department.

Branding for better customer engagement. 

Here are 12 ways to improve your product branding for better customer engagement, whether your company is new or well-established.

  1. Entertain.

Content as well as product quality and exposure are going to get your brand ahead. But “content” is a dry word for what can be some very fun stuff. Old Spice’s famous “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” spot went massively viral (its current YouTube view count is over 50 million) because it was fun to watch. Old Spice entertained its customers and reaped the profits: according to Adweek, the ad generated an 11% increase in sales.

  1. Educate.

Knowledge is power, and your consumers know it. If you can offer useful information to your ideal customers, you’re much more likely to draw them to your website and nurture a positive emotional response. Whole Foods, for example, shows it knows its customers by providing almost 4,000 recipes on its website.

  1. Inspire.

People, and especially millennials, love to identify as “makers.” A millennial knitter may love a yarn company because their creativity-based brand personality syncs up with the knitter’s self-perception. And any creative person is going to appreciate something that provides inspiration. This is why providing inspiration for crafty and creative customers (Pinterest is a huge platform for this) and responding to their creations on social media can be such a powerful tool.

  1. Play up your niche.

In a world where Amazon is responsible for about half of all e-commerce sales, startups can feel like the deck is stacked against them. But your unique product isn’t designed for everyone on the planet: it addresses a specific market need, felt by specific people. Make sure your branding caters to these people first and foremost–if you’ve reached them, you’ve already reached a huge portion of your customer base.

  1. Customer service.

New customers are great, but they’re expensive: Brandwatch recently reported on research discovering that customer acquisition is six to seven times more expensive than customer retention. This is why making attentive customer service part of your brand personality is so important. Caring, responsive customer service helps your customers feel truly valued, and that’s what will turn them into brand-loyal repeat customers.

  1. ReMarketing.

Remarketing shows online ads to people who visited your website without completing a purchase. These ads are so effective because they target people who largely are already interested in your product, even if they’re on the fence about buying it. Remarketing can be the little branding push that helps them press “buy”. Marketing firm Adhesion reports that remarketing is one of their most cost-effective strategies.

  1. Sponsorship.

Maybe you can’t afford to plaster your logo on a NASCAR winner, but even small brands can find savvy sponsorships. Sponsorships attach your brand identity with something your ideal customers already value. If you’re looking for more local customers, you could sponsor a worthy local cause. Try sponsoring a podcast whose listeners are your ideal customers: Hawke Media reports that 71% of podcast listeners visited a sponsor’s website.

  1. Smart Social Media.

Whole books have been written about the ins and outs of social media marketing, but you don’t have to get a marketing degree to learn some basics. For example, HootSuite reports that Twitter is especially popular among college-educated millennials. If that describes your customer base, allocate your social media resources accordingly.

  1. Referrals.

Referrals build branding because they capitalize on one of the most important marketing connections that exist: personal relationships. According to Invesp, consumers are 90% more likely to buy a product that’s been recommended by a friend. When people feel good enough about your product to tell others, it sends a powerful message to future consumers about your brand. You can incentivize this process by offering rewards to customers who bring in more customers.

  1. Use influencers.

Popular kids mattered in high school, and they matter in the world of branding, too. But things have gotten a little smarter: your ideal influencer can be cool, but they might be an even better fit if they’re experts on the products you’re trying to sell. A good influencer partner can be very cost-effective: Tomoson reports that businesses make about $6.50 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing.

  1. Be ethical.

Okay, so you should probably do this one whether you’re branding a business or not. But promoting ethical and eco-conscious values can really raise your brand’s profile. A 2015 Nielsen survey found that almost 75% of millennials will pay more for products they know are sourced sustainably. To attract this sizable consumer base, make eco-conscious and ethical production decisions. And make sure consumers know you did it.

  1. Step up your packaging.

Imagine that you visited a store with no sign outside and a fly-specked, flickering ceiling light inside. You know the store has a product you want, but the aesthetics of your visit are hardly adding to your shopping experience.

That’s what ignoring the packaging component of e-commerce branding is like. For many customers, receiving a package is the first time they experience your company physically rather than just online. It’s a big branding moment, and you want your package to look its best.

That’s why you should take a look at Packlane. Users can go to Packlane.com, choose a box style and size, and then design a work of art. You can upload logos and artistic motifs, select background colors and add text, and arrange components however you want. Unlike most custom box printing services, Packlane doesn’t charge more for using more than a few colors, and they can cover your box’s entire surface area both inside and out.

The results can be truly beautiful–check out their blog or Instagram to see the wide variety of styles customers have come up with. Packlane’s transparent pricing system can be scaled down much further than most other custom services as well–if you need an order of only 25 containers, Packlane can help. This makes Packlane an essential tool for any startup that wants to put its best face forward when shipping to customers.

What are some other strategies for improving your product branding?

No comments
Jeremy Webb12 Ways to Improve Product Branding
read more

5 Marketing Tips for Startups Eyeing Gen Z

No, Generation Z did not just pop out of nowhere.

We found a Harvard Business Review article that talked about this demographic back in 2015. Joan Schneider, the article author, called it the iGeneration or iGens. Generally, it comprises the youth born from 1994 to 2005. These individuals are graduating high school and college. Barely entering the workforce, they’re already expected to make up 20 percent of the consumer pie by 2020.

Huge potential. 

Given this huge potential, it is not too early for businesses to start marketing to iGens. Take the time to understand their behaviors and interests. Unlike their older peers, the millennials, they are truly digital natives. They grew up alongside the evolution of Mesozoic mobile phones into more sophisticated smartphones. A world without Google, they never got to personally know. So don’t be surprised by the way they consume content. Read our 5 marketing tips to get you up to speed:

Offer specific solutions.

The term hyper-personalized gets thrown around a lot. It best describes and summarizes the kind of solutions that appeal to iGens. Let’s break the term down a bit. It is rooted in the idea of customizing content based on your target audience’s activities and likes. Now, with hyper-personalization, customization is done on a per-user basis. Think about how Netflix suggests movies or series it thinks you will be interested to see next.

 Challenges.

This tactic is not without its challenges. If you are offering a product or a service, will you sacrifice commonality over the specific tastes of individual consumers? Maybe you shouldn’t. Instead, if you sell drinks, provide them with options that boost the energy of those who are on the go or cater to the diet of those who are obsessed with fitness.

Present exceptional value.

The iGens are value-conscious consumers. This attitude can be traced from their expanded worldview, which determines their priorities. And these days, their priorities go beyond the basics and the bottom line. As renters, they are said to look for environmentally-responsible buildings and amenities.

As consumers, they are known to connect with brands that fit the lifestyle and culture they devour. This kind of behavior signals to businesses the need to inject doses of excellence and conscience into all of their processes, including product development, creation, and marketing.

Behavior toward renting property. 

The infographic from Forrent below focuses on Gen Z’s behavior toward renting property, but it has some good points about the general qualities that appeal to this generation’s members.

 

Infographic courtesy of ForRent

Reach out to them on social media.

Let’s return to the fact that iGens are digital natives. They share aspects of their life on social media. This means they are highly-accessible to businesses. And what may seem too informal for older generations can be quite normal for these young adults.

One good example is their ability to reach out to each other in a casual manner. What about when they need to buy something? A 2014 MMNPL survey said that 50% would go to YouTube to learn about new products. Meanwhile, only 25 percent would check emails from brands.

Create engaging content.

It is not a secret that engagement ranks high in determining if your online campaigns are doing well or not. But have you heard about the other ROI or return on interaction? If your idea of producing online content is akin to producing a television show, then something is already fundamentally wrong about it.

Digital media is not a one-way channel. At the same time, iGens will not give you the time of day if you are not speaking to them. To engage them on Snapchat, for instance, you need to listen to them first. And then try to make conversation. They’d love that.

You’ve got to include the “freebie” game. 

Meanwhile, they like getting freebies. But again, they will also pay for something they believe is of value. In this regard, you may offer free or paid courses. You can take advantage of platforms that allow you to design knowledge-sharing campaigns.

For instance, Kajabi not only offers the tools you need to build a course in one place; it also gives you access to potential buyers and users of your product. And that marketplace can include the iGens. In doing so, you can focus on distilling your own knowledge into bite-sized information for your target audience.

Bring iGens into the fold.

Lastly, do not be afraid to hire members of the Gen Z. Get onboard one or two persons without prior corporate experience but with years of dipping into the industry. You can ask them about their expectations of the industry, met or unmet.

This strategy can help you in better understanding this demographic. It can also be a source of ideas for innovation. Further, you can put the iGens in areas where their voice will matter a lot such as product design or marketing.

No comments
Jeremy Webb5 Marketing Tips for Startups Eyeing Gen Z
read more