Social Media

Why are Instagram “Instapods” Important For Startups?

An Instapod is a themed group message of between 10-15 content creators on Instagram.

Your Instapod

As a content creator myself, I’ve been researching fellow creators and brands over the past 2 years on YouTube and Instagram. By far, Instagram “instapods” are the fastest growing underground trend on Instagram I’ve seen in the past 12-months.

Publishing

Content creators need to be publishing new content regularly to provide value to their audience and maintain steady grow similar to startups. For small content creators, the constant hunt for ideas and collaborations with other creators is a weekly struggle.

Over the past two years, I’ve been in twelve Instapods leading to rapid growth on all my channels.

That being said, currently, my software development focused Instagram @CodingBlog is active in two large Instapods focusing on technology and programming. These are the rules from the moderator (all names have been blurred to protect their identity)

My experience with Instapods so far has been extremely effective, especially with larger groups. Every time you publish a post you can share your content to the group to boost engagement and reposts.

Supercharge Your Engagement

In the event that you are just starting and you need to build a following these groups will supercharge your engagement and reposts from other creators. Many of the largest influencers on Instagram regularly use Instapods for aggregating like-minded creators. With a group of similar creators, the probability of reposting your content skyrockets.

Having worked with hundreds of startups over the last two years, there is tremendous hidden value behind starting an Instapod for your company, with your own creators.

Every time you post new content, being able to share instantly with a group of targeted influencers can speed up the process of shoutouts by an order of magnitude. 

Also leveraging companies like FameBit and Blanket Media to reach thousands of content creators on Instagram, you can effectively remove the first pain point of identifying key industry influencers.

If you’ve already hired influencers to promote your business, continue the relationship by leveraging an instapod and measure the increase in engagement you see within the first two months.

From my experiments, I’ve measured an increase of 5x and sometimes 7x engagement within the first 90 days.

Have fun creating your pods.

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Jeremy WebbWhy are Instagram “Instapods” Important For Startups?
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How Customer Reviews Can Make Or Break Your Business

No matter how great your data-driven, predictive marketing algorithms are, they can always be trumped by one old-school type of brand information: customer reviews. If they’re great, they’re the best asset your brand has to gain the trust of new customers and retain old ones; if they’re terrible, they’re the hardest setback to overcome.

The Data

The data is in: over 80% of shoppers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 90% read less than 10 reviews before they form their opinion about your brand. That’s a pretty tough crowd to please, and it’s pretty obvious why bad reviews are so detrimental. As long as the poor review is in your top 10, they’re driving away potential clients before you even get a chance to talk to them!

The only thing worse than bad reviews? No reviews. Where bad reviews tell leads what to be wary of, no reviews indicates that none of their peers have bothered with your brand at all.

Customer Reviews

Here’s how to make sure your customer reviews are in tip top shape, so you can see the leads start rolling in:

Provide Proactive Live Chat Support

There’s a reason you’ve seen those chat popups on other sites – in addition to helping drive up sales by avoiding abandoned carts, they’re also a great way to get customer reviews and feedback!

After each interaction, have your representative ask – in a human way, not as a robotic popup – if they could have a little feedback about the customer’s experience, including what was good and what could be better. You’ll be much more likely to get an honest, in-the-moment response!


Reach Out Directly

If you want something, ask nicely – this life principle applies to customer reviews as much as it does any other part of life. But make no mistake, an email blast is not going to really cut it in 2017 – you’re going to have to be personal and genuine to get the results you want.

Personalize

Personalize your outreach, and you’ll see a massive increase in responses. If you’re going with an email blast, make sure at least to have their name on it. Mention their last purchase (or something that’s in their shopping cart), and a few specific questions about their experience.

Acknowledge if they’ve had a bad experience recently. Accept responsibility and take care of their problem. Also, there are few mistakes that are worse than a brand sending out a satisfaction survey to a customer who has recently complained – especially if they haven’t heard back yet!

Engage on Social Media

You already know that social media is the best place to start conversations with users and learn what their interests are – but it’s also the best place to ask for reviews, and to have them be highly visible!

The best ways to ask for reviews are: 

  • Post statuses with leading prompts that ask customers for feedback

  • Comment on pictures of your products and ask the customer what they thought publicly

  • Run mini-sweepstakes through social that offer coupons for answered questions

  • Post a dedicated feedback form that is pinned in a visible location on your profile

Engaging users on social media is as close as many brands get to engaging in “real life,” from the customer’s point of view. If your profile acts human – jokes, asks questions, comments on relevant events and listens – then your customers will treat it as human.

Respond to Blog Comments

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many brands fail to check their comments inbox for their blog and products on a regular basis. One of the best ways to control your brand is to respond directly to reviews and comments on content that your brand owns or is included in – and it will make your customers feel listened to.

Create blogs and articles that specifically request customer feedback on a regular basis, publish news about upcoming product releases and site changes, and remember – if they talk, make sure to listen!

When you’re looking for customer feedback, the most important step you can take is making it clear that a group of real, live people is paying attention.

Nobody wants to take the time to fill out a survey and then never hear anything back. Instead of paying for an agency to complete a focus group for you, just give your customers some real human attention!

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Jeremy WebbHow Customer Reviews Can Make Or Break Your Business
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Trump has an iPhone with one app: Twitter

Enlarge (credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Early in March, President Donald Trump surrendered his personal Android phone—the phone from which scores of controversial Twitter posts had been launched. Based on Twitter metadata, Trump retired the Android device after expressing outrage over the DNC’s failure to let the FBI search its servers and taunting Arnold Schwarzenegger on March 5. The next day, he replaced it with an iPhone.

According to a report from Axios’ Mike Allen, Twitter is the only application running on Trump’s new iPhone. And on his current overseas trip, staff have tried to limit his screen time in order to reduce the volume of his 140-character missives, Allen wrote:

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Jeremy WebbTrump has an iPhone with one app: Twitter
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4 Social Marketing Strategies with the Highest ROI for Start-Ups

I’ve had the pleasure of working with multiple start-ups as both a co-founder and an outside consultant. If you had asked me while I was in the storm of my first start-up, the word, “pleasure” would probably not have been the first word that came to mind.

But, on balance, I learned something new every day (usually because of some hard knocks). I highly recommend jumping into the startup world if you can properly backstop your financials with an emergency fund.

For startups on a budget, social media is a valuable space to advertise on because it offers such a powerful platform for engaging with customers. It allows you to use your most powerful value proposition – the personal touch based on your unique experience and personality.

1. Take Advantage of Facebook’s Ability to Target Advertising.

There are a few things you should never skimp on, but advertising is one area that can get expensive if you let it get out of control. I love social media ads because they save you money over other marketing strategies – advanced audience targeting allows you to put compelling content in front of the right person with minimal expense.

Facebook advertising is an art form in and of itself. I recommend checking out this guide which outlines the different steps to kick-start your Facebook advertising.

Here are a couple takeaways in case you don’t have time to read it right now:

  • You can use Facebook Pixel to customize the experience for your audience based on their past interactions with your site. This is an AMAZING tool for rescuing abandoned checkout carts.
  • There are more than eight types of ads Facebook allows you to utilize. Different ones make sense for different use cases. For example, domain ads are great for gaining click-throughs to your site. Carousel ads are better for quickly showcasing products and scoring an impulse buy.
  • Getting “frequency” right is almost as important as the content of your ad. Pay close attention to avoid overwhelming your audience – something that will turn off potential buyers.

2. Respond Quickly to Direct Messages and PM’s.

I know that I’ve primarily talked about Facebook up to this point. That’s because Facebook seems to be pioneering the way social media is utilized and it’s gaining momentum – the other platforms are largely playing catch-up.

The following strategy is applicable to every social media platform. When someone sends your social media page a direct message, private message or leaves a review, you should drop everything and respond.

Why? There are many statistics supporting this advice, like the fact that 78% of salespeople using Social Media Outsell Their Peers. But I’ll pivot to some personal experience here.

I have built some of the strongest (and most profitable) client relationships I have by taking the time to chat with the customer via Facebook messenger, Skype, Twitter Direct Messages and Google Hangout. I believe this is because potential clients get to instantly interact with someone who is ready and willing to solve their problems.

And a text message is so simple. There’s no commitment beyond the last message sent. There’s zero sense of dread that a salesperson will try to guilt the client into the sale over the phone or in-person. This form of communication also fits within a busy schedule. 

3. Twitter Has Become the Most Popular Social Platform for Business.

I mentioned before that Facebook has become the trailblazer for social media advertising. There’s one exception that proves the rule. When it comes to viral content, it’s difficult to beat Twitter. The 140-character limit forces marketers to be brief, present and hyper-engaging.

This is a takeaway that could be valuable for companies using every type of social media platform.

The most powerful features on Twitter that helped me engage with my audience were:

  • The ability to retweet powerful information from other thought-leaders. This reduced the pressure on me to create a ton of original content.
  • Having public conversations with other individuals and brands. If the conversation results in powerful takeaways retweets almost always follow.

4. Create an Engaging Ad That Asks a Question.

Engagement is a buzzword that’s thrown around with regularity during my conference calls with teams attempting to maximize marketing dollars. This is understandable. If someone reads an ad and leaves without engaging, that’s not a very good ROI. Granted, you have created an impression, but impressions are almost never tied to dollars hitting the balance sheet.

To maximize engagement, I have learned to dive deep into the information I know about my potential customers. Then, I find a way to ask them a question that both sparks a thought and positions our product or service as an easy solution.

If you want an excellent chance of scoring a conversion, combine a thought-provoking question with a video. You’ll find that video advertising significantly maximizes engagement and viewer comprehension.

If you combine this strategy with the ability to target the audience for your ad, you will find social media becoming a powerful tool for your marketing efforts. You’ll be able to present new information to the right person, at the right time, with a variety of presentations.

Have you had some successes or failures with social media advertising? I look forward to discussing the benefits and pain points in the comment section below.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Jeremy Webb4 Social Marketing Strategies with the Highest ROI for Start-Ups
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4 Social Media Secrets all Startups Need to Know

For most startups, social media marketing is an absolute. Most companies have already gotten onboard with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. However, few have been truly successful at manipulating social media in a way that accomplishes their business goals.

There are more than 2 billion social media users in the world today. That number is expected to double soon. With so many brands getting into the social media world and constantly competing for the user’s valuable attention, simply having a presence doesn’t cut it.

Image source: #entrepreneurfail

As a startup, you must fight a fierce uphill battle with the more established brands to gain exposure.

Putting together an effective strategy that brings your startup into the growth stage is no easy task. If your goal is to become a force to be reckoned with on social media, keep these few secrets in mind to help leverage your brand’s messaging and leave a lasting impression on users.

Success is Unpredictable

First off, this is a concept that all startups need to be well aware of, straight out of the gate.

It’s commonly said that “nothing is guaranteed.” This statement could not be truer when dealing with a social media campaign, regardless of how great it looks on paper.

Every business is unique and has a different target audience and a different competitive landscape. It is virtually impossible to create a campaign that appeals to everyone. Also, social media is an entity that is rapidly evolving and changing every single day. An approach that worked once might be obsolete in a matter of hours.

For those reasons, predictability is perhaps the biggest unknown in the world of social media.

Design Consistency = Branding

Social media is saturated with brand messaging and sales tactics throughout the pages. With that being said, it is crucial that your page is designed with the proper elements that reflect your brand. After all, this is what will be showcased to the world.

This is all the more important in e-commerce, where you need to give your customers a consistent brand experience. For example, see how startup online eyeglasses retailer Firmoo has a consistent UX across Facebook (top) and Twitter (bottom):

Both do a phenomenal job in conveying everything from their brand’s color scheme, all the way to their diverse market.

If your profile is created with impactful elements that show off your business’ unique value proposition, users will be drawn to your page.

Additionally, design can impact SEO as your profile strength plays a vital role in the overall search visibility. A well-crafted page is SEO-friendly in the sense that the search engines are able to crawl and index it with ease to determine a ranking.

Just be sure that your page is comprised with every aspect of your company’s branding and demonstrates the benefits you bring to the table.

Social Media is NOT Free

As much as Facebook assures you, social media marketing is certainly not free. On one hand, it will not cost you anything to claim your business profiles or update them on a regular basis. However, a successful campaign requires lots and lots of hours and as we all know, time is money.

On the other hand, if you do not have the time or expertise to keep up on a social media account, it could cost you a pretty penny to bring in an expert to make sure your accounts are properly managed.

Chances are, as a startup, you will be managing social media on your own. It will take hours to build up your profile, examine analytics, and find ways to alter and optimize. Further, staying on top of updates that social networks routinely make to their platforms, and changing your strategy accordingly is very time-consuming.

When you look at the clock, the cost will become clear.

Mistakes are Inevitable

With an absurd amount of posts being released every single day, there’s bound to be some regrets. This is simply a reality all startups must know before diving in. You cannot please everyone. You will make mistakes. Some will be worse than others. No matter how smart and social media-savvy you are. No brand is immune to slip-ups.

Take Total Beauty for example. They are perhaps one of the most reputable, expert brands in the nearly $200 billion fashion industry.

But, there was one instance where they released a tweet confusing Oprah Winfrey with Whoopi Goldberg.

Oops.

On the flip side of the coin, every mistake you make will be an opportunity to get up, dust yourself off, and learn from it.

There will be some mistakes that aren’t completely obvious. Therefore, be sure you keep up on your social media analytics to find what is working and what isn’t.

Over to You

Like most marketing tactics, social media is a brand project in which the results won’t likely be apparent for some time.

Chances are, you won’t gain thousands of followers overnight.

Think of social media as a relationship. It can take a while to establish trust and demonstrate value. As a startup with your marketing hat on, your main objective is to locate the people who would be a good fit for your product or service, and then make a lasting impact on them.

There is no reason to rush it. The last thing you want to do on social media is come across as desperate.

Keep in mind, you are dealing with human beings. Building relationships requires a great deal of commitment, time, and consistency. Keep at it and the results will come.

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Jeremy Webb4 Social Media Secrets all Startups Need to Know
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Influencers: The Most Overlooked Part of your Team

Building a team is the most critical action that takes place in a startup. It’s your job to successfully gain traction and accelerate user growth. Adding an influencer could be the jet fuel to rocket-launch your product.

This article will highlight the reasons that an influencer should be a part of the founding team and how that translates into your go-to-market strategy. Also, by understanding the marketing landscape, one can deploy the most effective campaigns by spending little to no money.

State Of The Industry

Brands are beginning to realize that traditional marketing efforts are not leading to the desired level of direct user engagement and instead have re-allocated their funding toward Digital Media. According to Adweek, Digital Media will surpass total TV spending by 2018.   

Strategy Analytics recently published their latest advertising spend figures in the U.S., which is estimated at nearly $187 billion and digital accounts for just under 30 percent ($52.8 billion). That is nearly $30 billion less than TV ad spending. 

However, growing at a rate of 13 percent this year, and up 2.5 percent versus 2014, digital remains the fastest growing of any category. TV is projected to be the biggest share in 2015, which represents 42 percent of total spend ($79 billion).

This number continues to decline annually (down -0.6% versus 2014). Print is substantially less in third place at 15 percent ($28 billion) of ad spend.

The Shift Is Underway

The shift to Digital Media means more opportunity for Social Media Influencers who are able to create real-time engagement at a fraction of the cost. In turn, brands are able to more effectively spend advertising when compared to traditional media channels.

Social media ad spending is expected to reach $8.3 billion in 2015, up from $2.1 billion in 2014. With social media usage on the rise, consumers are increasingly voicing brand comments/complaints through this channel and they are having a hard time keeping up.

Complaints made publicly are challenging for brands. Only about 20 percent of consumer comments generate brand responses, and the average response time is over 11 hours.

The biggest issue with most brands that want to deal with influencers is that they confuse “audience” with “influence.”

In plain English, having a lot of followers doesn’t mean you have the power to drive them to action. You have to develop the ability to turn audiences into highly engaged customers.

This new “go-to-market” style is still quite new for the startup world, where you leverage the existing community of influencers instead of burning through a huge marketing budget in hopes of achieving similar results.

I’ve spoken to several CEO’s, who willingly admit that 30 percent of their funds are spent on user acquisition and they are always looking for better ways to increase retention.

Keys To Success

The three attributes that are most important for marketers to factor are relevance, reach, and resonance.

Relevance:

The content the influencers are sharing relevant to your business.

Reach:

Determines the number of people you could potentially reach through the influencer’s follower base that would bring value to your business.

Resonance:

Defined by engaging with a valuable audience through relevant content.

One thing is certain, if it doesn’t make sense in the digital world, it’ll never make sense in the real world.

Identify and Recruit

Twitter is the recommended platform for recruiting. Pay attention to the tweet constructs (phrasing, hashtags, link and photos/videos). Imagine these same tweets coming from your company’s handle.

Identifying An Influencer Can Be Incredibly Difficult, But Here Are The Key Questions To Answer:

  • Does the influencer’s voice align with your brand?

  • Are they already engaging with your customers or potential future customers?

  • Can this person build a community of influencers to join your campaigns?

  • Is this influencer monetarily driven or willing to accept equity?

  • What is the likelihood of a long-term commitment?

Before approaching an influencer, keep several points in mind to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. Most influencers are already receiving tons of offers from major brands with budgets and since early stage companies are typically under financial pressure; transparency is paramount.

Never ask an influencer to work for free. It’s disrespectful and this rule applies to all creative types (i.e. photographers, videographers, designers, etc.). Instead, lead with the reasons that your vision and company’s voice aligns well with the influencer’s content.

Sell The vision!

Collaboration is Paramount

As with anything in life, relationships are the cornerstone of future success. Always remember to pay it forward and take the time to genuinely engage with people.

Please share your thought about incorporating influencers, building communities and other go-to-market strategies.

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Jeremy WebbInfluencers: The Most Overlooked Part of your Team
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Live Stream Billboards – The Underground Billion Dollar Industry

YouTube released its beta of live streaming to content creators who have over 15,000 subscribers on their channel in June of 2016. As a YouTuber with 30,000 subscribers and 250,000 monthly views, I was eager to test live streaming with my audience. Over the past 3-months, I’ve worked closely with a community of fellow YouTubers from Finland, the UK, and India who introduced me to the elusive “Live Stream Billboards.” This underground marketing channel is believed by many creators to be the beginnings of a billion dollar industry.

Twitch along with other similar platforms have pioneered live streaming and marketers have been desperately trying to figure out successful ways to leverage them. I’ve seen a few tactics developing on Twitch with gaming, but from my research on YouTube’s streaming community, I can already see it is drastically more advanced.  

To properly describe how these extremely effective live streaming billboards are executed by YouTubers, I deconstructed the process into steps from start to finish.

Step 1: How To Live Stream on YouTube

To start a stream YouTube requires 15,000 subscribers, 3rd party “enabling software” (Best free software is OBS) that acts as a server, and a streaming “key” that YouTube provides.

Once the stream is live, your subscribers are notified to begin watching and commenting in real time. Live streams can last as long as you can produce content.

Step 2: The Description

Over the past few months I’ve tested dozens of descriptions and I’ve had links in live streams that lasted 7-days driving 2,000+ people to another YouTube channel. The live stream’s description is the most important part of the campaign.

The most recent stream campaign I launched was 4 simultaneous streams on a channel with 30,000 subscribers, which drove an average of 300 new subscribers per day to a YouTube channel. This campaign cost $100 and was alongside 5 other channel links for 7-days.

This “stream billboard” was live 24/7 and had bit.ly tracking links for each customer. By the end of the week, all channels roughly received 1500 new subscribers.

Step 3: The Presentation

The video stream presented to subscribers should consist of multiple parts. Showcasing the livecount.net feeds of the corresponding channels in the description I found to be the most successful.  This lets subscribers see how quickly the channels are growing, creating a “jones effect” to drive more clicks in the description.

Part 3: The Call To Action

So far in my experience with, the best strategy I’ve seen is providing giveaways to incentivize viewers to click the description links. With an average of 5 other links in the description surrounding yours sometimes the creator hosting the stream will offer overall giveaways to help with engagement.

Here are some examples I’ve seen used in descriptions:

“Join to win a free iPad”

“New subscribers are entered to win a free phone case!”

“Subscribe to enter and win a free YouTube channel”

“Follow this link for a 14-day trial!”

The primary goal of my research has been to see if these “live stream billboards” could work for startups. The overwhelming answer is YES.

On average they are performing 2x better than any acquisition channel I’ve tested within the past year.

Think of these streams as a 24/7 advertisement that subscribers opt-in to.

Part 4: YouTube Steaming KEYS

The stream key that YouTube provides for syncing with your 3rd party enabling software is similar to the keys to a car. Whoever holds the key can control the channel’s stream.

When working with this community of YouTubers I saw that they were exchanging keys to stream on each other’s channels.  This type of collaboration key sharing is unheard of even in the YouTube community and was fascinating to watch.

For example, if I gave PewDiePie (largest YouTuber in the world) the key to stream on my channel, he would be able to stream to my subscribers, directly on my channel. On the inverse, if I had PewDiePie’s key I’d be able to stream to his 50,000,000 subscribers. This is high risk and YouTube doesn’t recommend it.

Stream keys are meant to be kept personal and not to be shared with other channels but while watching this community streaming on each other’s channels, everyone increased their value, exponentially.

For beginners preparing to use YouTube as a marketing channel, I recommend keeping your keys personal and testing with stream billboards for other YouTube channels. Once you get used to streaming for channels you can expand into promoting your service or product.

Have fun streaming.

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Jeremy WebbLive Stream Billboards – The Underground Billion Dollar Industry
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Generate Leads From Your Startup’s Instagram

I am placing my bet that Instagram will take the spotlight as the top social platform for businesses in 2017. With 70 percent of U.S. companies transitioning their marketing efforts to this platform over the next year, most of the focus will be around how to generate leads.

Having grown multiple Instagram accounts reaching over 1,000,000 people every month, dozens of businesses reach out to me regularly asking how to drive traffic from their account.

The answer is surprisingly simple — if you’re familiar with the Instagram algorithm.

100 Plus Potential Customers To Your Landing Page Each Week

In short, to drive 100+ potential customers to your landing page each week from your account each of your posts will need to use the location feature and reach the “Top Posts” section of Instagram search.

First:

When a user searches on Instagram for a topic, they’re first shown “Top Posts” from the most liked and commented posts. This is where your growth team should focus, daily.

To reach this section, there are multiple variables but the primary path is by using multiple hashtags. Each of these acts a keyword someone will be searching on Instagram.

Example:

For example, on our company Hacksaw Academy’s Instagram page we use the same hashtags for every post that our team knows will reach the “Top Post” section with between 300-1000 likes. This generates roughly 80 new targeted followers every day and about 2,500 per month.

Hacksaw Academy Instagram stats from http://socialblade.com/instagram/user/hacksawacademy

Second: Driving Leads 

The second important piece to driving leads from your company’s Instagram account is using a location feature “hack.”

When creating a post you have the option to add a “location” which is displayed under your username to your followers. Many people have become creative with different location names, but in order to make this work in your favor.

There are 3 key location names to drive leads.

Link in Profile – Location is made up in San Francisco, CA

Link in Bio – Location is somewhere in Phoenix, AZ

Follow Us – Random locations all over the world.



Tagging

Tagging each of these on of your company’s posts — with these specific locations (above).

This tagging will drastically help increase clicks through your profile page.

Using these first two strategies will increase your lead generation from Instagram, but it will take time to gradually grow your following. There is a much faster method called shoutout for shoutouts (#sfs)

Shoutout for shoutout (#sfs) is a free tactic used by social media influencers on all networks to grow their followers rapidly. After researching #sfs for over a year I found that there are four unspoken “rules” to getting shoutouts for free.

Unspoken Rules:

  1. Only request #sfs with people in your space or industry.

  2. To get free shoutouts, only message people with accounts as popular as your account (within 10k-20k followers of each other)

  3. Ask for permanent posts. 80% of the time people will use these shoutouts like billboards and delete them after 1-2 hours.

  4. Always direct message (DM) the person. Response time is 2x faster than emails on average

Rapid Increase

If you can execute on enough shoutouts your team will see a rapid increase in the amount of targeted followers on your startup’s Instagram account. After continuously posting on your account you will notice followers tagging friends in the comments. When followers tag their friends in the comments section of your

Tip:

The two primary reasons teenagers in middle and high school are so amazing at growing their social media is consistent content creation and their ability to shout each other out.

So, think like a teenager.

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Jeremy WebbGenerate Leads From Your Startup’s Instagram
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5 Marketing Strategies to Amplify Your Business

What’s the difference between the confident entrepreneurs who lead growing businesses and owners who can’t get out of survival mode? 

It all comes down to this:  All successful businesses have a clear marketing strategy that makes everything they do more effective.

Sometimes people say something like, “I’ve placed some ads, but they just don’t seem to be doing anything,” which simply means that they are not getting the desired results. But marketing and advertising are different things. Just placing a few ads will not draw the kind of sales that a business needs to be successful.

Marketing is a process, not an event. It involves planning marketing goals and implementing marketing strategies to achieve them.

The strategy is simply the decisions you need to make so that your tactics work better. Your marketing strategy is the foundation for creating awareness, generating interest, closing new sales, and continuing customer engagement. Your marketing strategy guides your company culture, your products and services mix, and pricing. Marketing isn’t a complex process, but you have to be clear about your objective. Here are six simple marketing strategies you can use to increase your customers and sales.

1. Tap the right button

The first step in any marketing strategy is to identify your target market and target customer. Who do you serve and who can be your customer? This needs to be answered before you execute any strategy efficiently. If you are spending time and money on marketing, it’s important to define the right market and audience. The narrower you define your market so you can focus on those that you can best serve and those that can best service you, the more effective your entire business will be.

What few words will your customer say to describe your business? Dominos is about yummy pizzas, Starbucks is about high-quality coffee.

You have to clearly define the category of product or the service that you provide to the customer. People should always have a clear idea about your business so that they can share it with other people. Be laser-like in your focus of defining the category and market, so that it can amplify your marketing and sales efforts.

Always describe a unique feature of your product and the benefit of using it. Your unique benefit should highlight the one or two main things your product or service actually delivers (benefits) that your target customer really wants, not a long list of all the things your product does (features).

A company that offers e-marketing and sales automation need not describe much about its software, it should focus on customers’ interests and tell them how their software will help the customer to grow their sales and save time. The more simple and short you can describe your benefits, the better your marketing will work.

Also, offer some free classes/workshops related to your products or services — in your home, in a rented venue, or through a local education institution, such as a community college. Target specific audiences or events, if appropriate.

For instance, someone with a leading business might offer special workshops on Beaded Christmas Projects or Beading for Girls. A yoga instructor might offer a free session in the nearest school or college.

2. Build a website to present your work online

If you have a business and don’t have a website, you are losing out on opportunities for your business. A website itself can be used to implement many different marketing strategies to help your business grow. As a business owner, you need to know where your consumers are.

But what if consumers know your business and what you can offer, but they can’t reach you?

That is one of the risks you take by not having a website for your business. Your website and social media are accessible 24/7/365 to your customer. The more professional and creative your website, the more marketing advantages you can gain.

By building your website, you can tell your customers why they should trust you and about the testimonials, facts, and achievements that backup those opportunities. Your website should be user-friendly and it should answer the queries of the customer. Also, adding live chat support can be a good solution to providing them with answers and briefing them about the whole ideology of your business. Real time chatting with a customer support expert not only builds customer’s confidence during their shopping experience but also helps to improve your conversion rates.

It can be convenient for customers to get their queries answered through this medium; it also saves them time, which they can utilize by doing more research on your service.

For a visitor, as long as you manage to create an ideal first impression your target audience is pleased with, you will start to build a successful website, following, and community.

It is important to regularly update the content and improve the design of your website. Your website will be the tool that will reflect your business position, your goodwill in the market. So in just a few seconds, the user should know the whole DNA of your business.

3. Design a strong advertising strategy using both online and offline platforms

Advertising your product is a very important tactic in any kind of marketing strategy. While incepting a strategy, you should understand many things, like what type of advertisement plan is best for your brand and can attract your target customer. If you want your advertisement plan to work and your sales numbers to grown because of it, then you have to put faith in the traditional mediums of advertisement. No advertisement will work well without the usage of newspaper or magazine ads, radio ads, billboards or banners, etc. Using these mediums is one of the most effective ways to portray trust and commitment to your customer.

Create your own blog and use it to build an audience of people who would be interested in your products or services.  Then write regularly about topics related to your business and what your business is doing. Use Search Engine Optimization related words frequently in your content. You’ll start connecting with other bloggers, business people, and potential customers.

Social media is at its peak. Make a Facebook page about your business and keep posting and updating people with the new trends in your business. Twitter is very simple and easy to use. Keep tweeting, not only about your products but with like-minded people who may be interested in your business.

Using online tools like Gainbuzz can help you plan the whole advertising campaign and allow you to cater to a much wider audience.

4. Join local networking and business groups to promote your work

Many such home-based business groups and local institutions are inexpensive to join and you can get huge marketing benefits from them. You should join such groups and introduce your business so that more people can know you. Once they get to know you and what you do, the other business people in your group will mention your business to others and may even give you referrals.

You can also be aware of inflation and economic trends in business, and build a good network by joining such groups. Local business organizations are great opportunities to create and participate in some cooperative marketing strategies, such as holding special Market Days or other events.

5. Participate in some charitable or industrial events and also ask for referrals

You can get huge amounts of press and reach from events like this — which can give you some new customers. Many charities have events established on a particular day or during festivals. You can be very much a visible part of that event by sponsoring them. This can also be a noble deed through which people will know you and, if it’s a large-scale event, you will also get the huge benefit of sales automation in the near future.

If you are a service-based business, asking for referrals is one of the easiest and least time-consuming marketing strategies. Don’t fear or feel awkward asking for a referral. Remember that most people like to help other people, if there is no negative cost to them. Always make asking for a referral a part of your project routine. In most projects, there is the last meeting with the client, which is a perfect time to receive feedback and a referral from the client. Don’t let your own shyness or fear get in the way of building your business.

Referrals will get you more clients. And the more referrals you ask for, the more referrals you’ll get – just because the customer knows that you want some. It’s a small effort for a great reward.

Final word

A mix of marketing strategies, such as advertising in conjunction with the marketing strategies above, will get you the marketing results you want. None of these marketing strategies are going to draw hordes of customers overnight, but assuming you have a good product or service, if you do them and work at them consistently, you will see an increase in customers and sales.

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Jeremy Webb5 Marketing Strategies to Amplify Your Business
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How Millennials Are Shaping the Business World

As the millennial generation continues to grow and make an impact, the business world is starting to see increased changes brought on by this generation. The result is a major shift in the landscape of today’s workplace, and while some are still getting used to the idea of this new millennial-friendly work environment, many major corporations are making some big changes to accommodate the lifestyle and the needs of this revolutionary generation.

Millennials have already surpassed Generation X and the Baby Boomers to become the biggest presence in the workforce today. So what impact have they exactly had? Here are a few key ways millennials are shaping today’s business world.

They’ve Made Social Media Bigger Than it Ever Was Before

Millennials were the first generation to rely on social media — you will almost never see a millennial without their phone in their hand, or sitting on the table in front of them. As a result, social media is now bigger than ever before not only for social purposes, but in for business as well.

Social media marketing has in and of itself become one of the most influential ways to promote virtually any business, product or service. Social media is not dying anytime soon, as the generation to come relies on social media even impossibly even more so than millennials.

They Demand Flexibility and Work Life Balance

Millennials are starting to demand more of a work-life balance and the result is a major change in the former 9-5 model that most corporations abided by for decades. Many millennials are demanding to have it all both at work and at home, more companies are getting used to the idea of flexible hours, work-from-home jobs and telecommuting.

The result is allowing many young workers to balance their growing families with their growing careers. There are also many millennials who are moving towards more freelance work, as creating their own schedule is extremely appealing.

They Are Consuming Products Differently

Millennials aren’t just shaping the way that businesses operate, they are shaping the landscape of consumers as well. As millennials become some of the major spenders in our market today, companies are starting to look for ways to change and ultimately meet the needs of these tech-savvy consumers. This means focusing not only on online commerce, but on making sure that reviews are plentiful as well.

In fact, over half of millennials say they would trust an online review over the opinion of a friend or family member. Now that’s saying something. This generation is strongly dependent on the reviews and opinions of others, which is why more and more companies are focusing on curating positive reviews and comments to meet the needs of today’s consumers.

They Are Demanding a Sense of Purpose in the Workplace

Perhaps one of the most interesting changes that has been brought on by the millennial generation is that they are looking for a sense of purpose with their jobs. This has become very important for companies who are looking to recruit future talent, and keep them happy.

Millennials want a job where they have a sound, meaningful purpose and they want to work for a company that is actually advancing the wellbeing of our society in new and innovative ways. This is challenging companies to stand by their mission, and ensure that their employees are connected to the purpose and passion that the organization must promote in order to keep millennials happy.

If you are looking to stay ahead of the curve in today’s fast-paced marketing world, then it is time to pay attention to the way that millennials are shaping the market. Changing to fit the needs and lifestyle of this generation has been the key for many businesses who are looking to stay relevant in this ever-changing market.

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Jeremy WebbHow Millennials Are Shaping the Business World
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