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Marketing Technology Landscape January 21, 2014

Posted by StrategicGrowth in local marketing strategies, location-based technology, marketing strategies, Marketing-changing technology, Mobile Marketing, Social Media, Virtual Technology.
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Today's Marketing Technology Landscape

Today’s Marketing Technology Landscape

What is your New Year’s Resolution for Your Business in 2012? December 11, 2011

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Mobile Marketing, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Video Marketing, Virtual Technology.
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4 comments

This is an updated re-print our our resolution article from 2010. We had a lot of requests to update the article and re-distribute it. We hope you find it of value.

____________________________________________________________

I had someone ask me today about their business, “If I could do one thing better, what would it be?”.  As a business consultant, I am frequently asked some version of this question, but today it got me thinking that the close of one year and the start of another is probably a great time to pass along one of the answers to that question that I give to everyone who asks it of me.  Are you ready?  Here it comes!

Resolve for 2012 to fully embrace technology and to completely integrate it thoughout every aspect of your business; from your marketing, to how you work with and interact with clients and staff, to how you manage your administrative tasks and operate your business, etc.

What I mean by this is:  integrate and take advantage of all the benefits that today’s technologies have to offer, including:  webinars and other types of virtual events (including virtual environment events), social media, mobile technology (and I don’t just mean mobile marketing), cloud computing software options, video, email and any other type of technology that will help you increase efficiency, productivity, and profitability. 

Those that don’t choose to embrace technology will be left behind very quickly because 2012, I believe, will be a ‘game-changing’ year for how business is being conducted.  Mobile technology in particular is having significant impact on the way we live and the way we conduct business today. If you continue to do business as you always have, you – and your business - will very quickly become irrelevant.

Think about your business in a new way, for example:

  • could mobile technology enable your customers to order and pay for your products or services via their cell phone?
  • can you use social media to interact with your customers and potential customers on a more in-depth level so you can be certain you’re providing the products and services they need?
  • will location-based technologies enable you to more effectively target potential customers?
  • do you have an email marketing program to keep clients, vendors and staff aware of what’s going on in your business?  If not, why not?
  • can you make your field staff more productive by dispatching them with tools provided by GPS mobile technology?
  • can you get more immediate response to special offers by sending them directly to your existing customers via their cell phones?
  • can cloud-computing technology allow you to access information from wherever you are as long as you have some sort of mobile computing device (think smartphone or tablet anyone?)?
  • can RFID mobile technologies help you manage your warehouse more efficiently?
  • can you be more available to your staff for those decisions only you can make if you’ve embraced the use of a SmartPhone or tablet device?
  • can you cut down on travel costs, and yet increase the number of people that you can effectively interact with to present your products or services by engaging in virtual sales and training programs?
  • can bluetooth or QR code mobile technologies help your firm in the manufacturing or supply chain processes?
  • can mobile marketing technologies make your marketing more effective?
  • can you get more people to engage with your website or product videos by enabling them to reach it via QR code technology?
  • would video technology help you more effectively communicate the benefits of your product or service?
  • can mobile technology help you increase the viability of the leads you receive at the next trade show you participate in?
  • can participating in virtual trade shows help you decrease travel costs for your staff, and the ‘down time’ that results from that travel, while increasing the number of viable leads you receive?
  • could social media, mobile and virtual technology increase your ability to recruit new employees with higher rates of effectiveness?
  • could the use of mobile technology increase lead generation at trade show events your firm participates in?

So far, I’ve not found one business that I’ve spoken with or worked with that would not be positively impacted by increased integration of technology in their business.  Given that, I now challenge you to consider how technology can help to improve your business – and as a result, your life.  If you would like some assistance in evaluating your business and the options available to you, please contact us, Strategic Growth Concepts is here to help!

Here’s to increased efficiency, productivity and profitability in 2012!

___________________________________________________________

The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant for Strategic Growth Concepts, a marketing / management consulting firm focused on start-up, small and mid-sized businesses, as well as the Executive Director of the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM), a trade association for Michigan’s mobile /w ireless industry.  Linda is a recognized small business expert with 20+ years of experience in a wide variety of industries. 

Linda is available for consultation, and can be contacted at Linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com.  The company website can be viewed at http://StrategicGrowthConcepts.com .  MTAM’s website can be viewed at http://GoMobileMichigan.org .

And Yet Another Business Who Doesn’t ‘Get’ That Customers WILL be Rating You on Social Media August 18, 2011

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Twitter.
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And yet another example of a business who would rather be ‘right’ than smart! I wonder when business owners will begin to understand that we are now doing business in a world in which consumers WILL rate and review your service, your products, your facilities, your staff, etc. It’s not a question of ‘if they do’ its a question of ‘when they do’ and ‘how many will do it’!

The example below that I came across about a Houston restaurant who chose to ask a customer to leave because they didn’t like what she Tweeted is yet another example of a business that doesn’t get it. Instead, the business owner should have had a discussion with the bartender who made the remark the customer found offensive; though he’s entitled to his opinion, the CUSTOMER is entitled to not have to hear it.  Customer service and professionalism…need I say more?

I lived in Houston many years ago, I don’t recall the restaurants and establishments I frequented as being so anti-customer. Perhaps things have changed; I hope not. One of the best things about living in ‘the South’ was the friendliness of the people.

Read and let me know your thoughts.

______________________________________________________________

Restaurant kicks out customer for ‘twerp’ tweet

By: , CNET News

When large egos meets instant criticism, sparks tend to fly in real time.

So it proved in a Houston restaurant the other night when the management took exception to a customer’s socially networked opinion.

The Houston Press was the first to digest what happened. It seems that Allison Hiromi was having drinks at a place called Down House–perhaps not the cheeriest name for a restaurant.

She overheard a conversation in which a bartender said something none too flattering about another Houston bar-owner.

The culinary world in Houston–with which I have some small familiarity–is at least as touchy as it is touchy-feely. Hiromi reportedly was not enamored of the words she’d heard. So, as many a a diner does these days, she tweeted that the derogatory speaker–a Down House barman–was a twerp.

(Credit: Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

She also added the slightly off-color hashtag #jackoff. Whether she meant to refer to the great Croatian composer Jakov Gotovac is unclear.

What is clear is that the restaurant was graced with a phone call from its general manager, the rakishly named Forrest DeSpain. He wanted a chinwag with Hiromi.

You will be tempted to tip your chin into your consomme when I tell you that there now exist slightly different versions of this chinwag. Or at least different versions of its tone. The substance was clear. Hiromi was asked to leave.

Naturally, she tweeted: “Left @DownHouseHTX in tears after GM called up & asked the bartender to hand me the phone. He proceeded to curse a me & ask me to leave. Wow.”

In what some might see as a heinous reprisal, the restaurant reportedly unfollowed Hiromi on Twitter and even blocked her. You might imagine that there is a personal element here. Hiromi, indeed, has received a Houston Web award for her tweets (Best Late Night Twitterer), so she can’t be described as an ordinary customer.

The restaurant business, though, is surely one where criticism is entirely first nature. For many customers, a restaurant only has one chance to get it right. Many restaurants are incapable of doing that on a regular basis. In just the last few weeks, I have been served a cadaver-cold $28 steak, a $10 salad that had been swimming in an indeterminate solution for at least 24 hours, and a $13 glass of cabernet that was more hairnet.

And yet, if you own an establishment and one of your customers is rudely downing your Down House, surely your first instinct would be to toss them. Indeed, as Down House’s owner, Chris Cusack, told Houston’s Channel 2: “Any business is allowed to set the tone of their establishment. If you go to someone’s house and start calling them names, I wouldn’t really expect to stay too much longer after that.”

To imagine, though, that there aren’t diners who will tweet from the table and offer their instant feelings is to imagine that there is no food so great as that in the Google cafeteria.

Indeed, wouldn’t it be wonderful if more diners used Twitter in order to express their instant opinions? It would be so much more polite than having to use code to a server. (“Did you enjoy that?” “OH, YES!!”)

How much fun it would be if the general manager would rush over to table after table offering: “You thought our veal escalope tasted like poached raccoon paw?” Or: “You really believe the beouf en croute tasted like sauteed slipper?”

DeSpain has surely set a trend. Here was a general manager so dedicated that, late at night, he monitored his restaurant’s Twitter feed. Perhaps the next time you’re in Houston–let’s hope it’s on business–you might go to Down House and tweet about the food. I wonder how many courses you’ll last.

See the original story HERE.

What is your New Year’s resolution for your business in 2011? December 29, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing, location-based technology, marketing strategies, Marketing-changing technology, mobile, Mobile Marketing, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Virtual Technology.
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4 comments

I had someone ask me today about their business, “If I could do one thing better, what would it be?”.  As a business consultant, I am frequently asked some version of this question, but today it got me thinking that the start of a new year is probably a great time to pass along one of the answers to that question that I give to everyone who asks it of me.  Are you ready?  Here it comes!

Resolve for 2011 to fully embrace technology and to completely integrate it thoughout every aspect of your business; from your marketing, to how you work with and interact with clients and staff, to how you manage your administrative tasks and actually operate your business, etc.

What I mean by this is:  integrate and take advantage of all the benefits that today’s technologies have to offer, including:  webinars and other types of virtual events (including virtual environment events), social media, mobile technology (and I don’t just mean mobile marketing), cloud computing software options, video, email and any other type of technology that will help you increase efficiency, productivity, and profitability. 

Those that don’t choose to embrace technology will be left behind very quickly because 2011, I believe, will be a ‘game-changing’ year for how business is being conducted.  If you continue to do business as you always have, you will very quickly become irrelevant.

Think about your business in a new way, for example:

  • could mobile technology enable your customers to order and pay for your products or services via their cell phone?
  • can you use social media to interact with your customers and potential customers on a more in-depth level so you can be certain you’re providing the products and services they need?
  • will location-based technologies enable you to more effectively target potential customers?
  • do you have an email marketing program to keep clients, vendors and staff aware of what’s going on in your business?  If not, why not?
  • can you make your field staff more productive by dispatching them with tools provided by GPS mobile technology?
  • can you get more immediate response to special offers by sending them directly to your existing customers via their cell phones?
  • can cloud-computing technology allow you to access information from wherever you are as long as you have some sort of mobile computing device or a computer available?
  • can you be more available to your staff for those decisions only you can make if you’ve embraced the use of a SmartPhone or tablet device?
  • can you cut down on travel costs, and yet increase the number of people that you can effectively interact with to present your products or services by engaging in virtual sales and training programs?
  • can bluetooth or QR code mobile technologies help your firm in the manufacturing or supply chain processes?
  • can mobile marketing technologies make your marketing more effective?
  • would video technology help you more effectively communicate the benefits of your product or service?
  • can mobile technology help you increase the viability of the leads you receive at the next trade show you participate in?
  • can participating in virtual trade shows help you decrease travel costs for your staff, and the ‘down time’ that results from that travel, while increasing the number of viable leads you receive?
  • could social media, mobile and virtual technology increase your ability to recruit new employees with higher rates of effectiveness?

So far, I’ve not found one business that I’ve spoken with or worked with that would not be positively impacted by increased integration of technology in their business.  Given that, I now challenge you to consider how technology can help to improve your business – and as a result, your life.  If you would like some assistance in evaluating your business and the options available to you, please contact us, Strategic Growth Concepts is here to help!

Here’s to increased efficiency, productivity and profitability in 2011!

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Very interesting article on a related topic on TechCrunch; click here to read, ‘Seven Technologies That Will Rock 2011′

___________________________________________________________

The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant for Strategic Growth Concepts, a marketing / management consulting firm focused on start-up, small and mid-sized businesses.  Areas of specialization include:  mobile technology optimization and marketing for increased productivity and profitability, social media marketing, and virtual events production.  Linda is a recognized small business expert with 20+ years of experience in a wide variety of industries.  She is also the Founder of the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan, a mobile industry trade association, and the Co-founder of Mobile Monday Michigan, a mobile industry networking and education organization.

Linda is available for consultation, and can be contacted at Linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com.  The company website can be viewed at www.StrategicGrowthConcepts.com

High-impact Marketing Strategies for Non-profits and Small Businesses September 18, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in local marketing strategies, Marketing Plan, marketing strategies, mobile, mobile coupons, Mobile Marketing, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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5 comments

I recently had the privilege of being interviewed by Brian Prows, Director of New Media Marketing for MobileBeyond, on the topics of Mobile Marketing and Social Media for small business and non-profits.

When Brian contacted me about doing a podcast interview with him, we discussed a myriad of topics that we both deemed to be of great importance to our respective audiences.  In talking it through, we finally decided that if we focused the interview on small business and non-profit organizations, and strategies designed to help them grow, that we would be addressing a very large audience who would be able to find value in our discussion.

During the interview we discussed a wide range of marketing-related topics that will be beneficial to both non-profits and general small businesses; from marketing strategies, to marketing plan development, to social media marketing, location-based marketing, consumer review sites and mobile marketing.  A primary focus of the interview related to the need for small business owners to identify specific marketing strategies that are high-impact and cost-effective, and then to develop them into a comprehensive marketing plan which can be measured against to effectively track results.

I believe both small business owners and marketers, and non-profit organization management staff, will find valuable information within the podcast and I highly recommend that you have a listen.  The article and podcast can be found on MobileBeyond.  It can also be found on iTunes.

My thanks to Brian for the interview, and for helping to spread the message of Mobile and Social Media for small businesses.

Mobile Integrated Into Marketing Strategy = Success & Increased Revenue, Part II May 16, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in marketing strategies, mobile, mobile coupons, Mobile Marketing, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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6 comments

Part II – Low-Cost / No-Cost Methods of Mobile Marketing

In Part I of our multi-part Mobile Marketing series we learned that Mobile Marketing is most effective when incorporated into an overall marketing strategy, and used as a supplement to the mediums you are already using. 

In Part II of our series we’re going to discuss a variety of low-cost or no-cost methods of Mobile Marketing that a small business can utilize to promote their firm.  So let’s look at some ways a small business without a substantial budget can incorporate Mobile Marketing into their existing marketing strategy:

  1. Local Business Listings – These are the free yellow page listings by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and many other directories; and these directories are the resource that consumers will use to find your business – particularly when they are ‘on the road’ and searching on their mobile device. There are over 60 local business listing websites on the Internet in five different categories. They include the search engines, social communities, 411 websites (aka yellow page type websites), GPS websites and the age old business directory.  Most of them are free but need to be ‘claimed’ by your company in order to insure they contain accurate information that drives customers to your business.  Failure to ‘claim’ your listing may mean that inaccurate information about your firm is posted to them from other sources, or that someone else may hijack your listing for unscrupulous purposes.  To effectively ‘claim’ your listings can be extremely time-consuming and tedious, therefore, an alternative option is our Local Business Listings Management Service which can handle this task for you.
  2. Google Mobile Coupons – Google is just one of the search engine directories where your business should be listed to insure it will be found via Internet or Mobile search, however, Google offers a distinctive advantage.  For over a year now Google has been offering all businesses with a Google Local Business Listing the ability to include Mobile Coupons as part of their listing.  The Mobile Coupon tool is FREE to use, and you can include multiple coupons with your listing.  Then when your firm comes up in the search listings, potential customers will also see your Coupon.  It could be just the advantage you need to make them pick your company over your competitor’s!
  3. Social Media – many of the most prominent social media sites now allow members to access them via their mobile phones, in fact, Facebook which boasts 400 million users, recently publicized statistics which indicate that more than 100 million of those users are using mobile phones to manage their account.  This means if your firm already has a presence on social media, that you are likely already benefitting from Mobile Marketing without taking any additional actions.  However, if you’re not yet participating in social media, then it’s time to get on board!  If you would like to learn how social media can work for your firm and help to increase your Mobile Marketing presence, or if you would like assistance in developing and managing a social media program, please go to the social media section of our website.
  4. SMS Messaging (text messaging) – According to the Director of Research at Nielsen Mobile, “People look at every text message they get”, and they do so within 15 minutes; in fact, studies show that 97% of cell service subscribers read any text messages they get within 15 minutes.  Can you think of any other advertising medium where you are almost guaranteed that every person targeted will see your message?  In today’s “on-the-go” world, studies show that 84% of mobile phone users keep their device within 10 feet of them at all times.  Considering that over 85% of potential consumers have a cell phone, that’s a huge potential customer base that’s easily accessible (as long as they have opted-in to receive messages from you)!  Recent surveys also indicate that consumers are very accepting of mobile offers sent to their phones as long as they are from companies in which they have interest.  The really good news is that the technology has advanced far enough that there are now SMS Mobile Marketing platforms where you can easily create your own text messaging campaigns within minutes – and starting as low as $25 per month!  Learn more about your text messaging options on our website.  Some ways you might use SMS messaging might include:  coupons, contests, regular ‘tips’ about your product or service, and incorporating your KEY WORD and SHORT CODE in your print, billboard, radio or TV advertising to encourage people to opt-in to your mobile list so you can then contact them via SMS on a regular basis with offers designed to encourage them to do business with you again.
  5. Mobile Website – In the last 5 years it has become an imperative rather than an option to have an Internet website.  Now, it is also becoming an imperative to have a mobile version of your website.  These sites are optimized specifically for easy viewing on the wide variety of mobile phones available today and are NOT just scaled down versions of your Internet website.  However, technology advances have also made this option much easier to implement, and services exist where you can build your own mobile website or have it done for you typically for several hundred dollars or less.  Learn more about mobile website options on our website.
  6. QR Codes – Another very viable and cost-effective Mobile Marketing option are QR codes.  These are 2-dimensional graphics (similar to the barcodes on products you buy at the grocery store) that contain information that can lead your customers to a website, display a coupon, provide driving directions or a map, provide contact information, or many other valuable uses. In order to ‘read’ a QR code a consumer downloads a QR code reader into their phone (though the software comes standard in Europe and Asia, that is not yet the case in the U.S. but likely will be soon), then they take a picture of the code with phone’s camera and the software automatically sends them to whatever content you had embedded within your code.  You as an advertiser can place these codes in your print ads, on websites, on billboards, on t-shirts, in emails, or on any other printable or digital medium where a camera would be able to take a picture of it.  Learn more about using QR Codes on our website.

This is just a brief overview a few of the many ways in which Mobile Marketing can be utilized to promote your business cost-effectively.  If you would like to learn more about the ways Mobile Marketing can help your business specifically, please contact us via our website or email us at info@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com .

In Part III of this series, we’ll review case studies that show a variety of ways Mobile Marketing is being utilized by other small businesses so you can begin to consider how to apply this high ROI  technology to your business.  Future segments of the series will continue to explore Mobile Marketing, and attempt to answer any questions submitted to us about the medium.  If you would like to have your questions about Mobile Marketing incorporated into our series, please submit them to us directly at info@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com and include “Mobile Marketing Questions” in the subject line of the email.

Social Media for Crisis Management: Watch BP to learn what NOT to do May 3, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Web 2.0.
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11 comments

Anyone who has watched the news lately is likely familiar with the horrors of the situation currently taking place as a result of an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, which has resulted in 11 deaths and a continuing and ever-expanding oil spill.  This rig was owned by international oil company, BP Global, and several investors.

As I have continued to see news coverage of this horrific incident, I was struck by the fact that I’m hearing from the news media, various industry experts, politicians, and just about anyone else who has an opinion – the only one I haven’t heard from is the CEO of BP.  So I started doing some searching to see if I’d missed it.  First I searched the Internet to see if I could find any statements from BP’s CEO, then I searched their website to see what news releases had been issued.  My findings were interesting.

The incident happened on April 20th.  Three days later the company finally issued a news release with a statement from the CEO, stating that employees were the first priority and they were cooperating fully with the Coast Guard etc. to insure everything possible was being done for them and their families.  It wasn’t until today – May 3rd – that the CEO finally made a public statement himself on MSNBC (at least that I could find); and in that statement proceeded to indicate that BP is not to blame, to tell you who else should be blamed, and also noting that they would, of course, be responsible for clean-up.  From what I could find, I didn’t see any evidence that BP had made any effort to communicate other than basic posting of news releases to their website and some minimal distribution of them to the major news outlets.  As a result, very few of the search results came from BP, but rather from anyone and everyone else who has something to say on the subject.

Here are some of the articles I found:

For BP, Oil Spill is a Public Relations Catastrophe

Feds Raise Pressure on BP Over Oil Spill

Oil Spill’s Blow to BP Image May Eclipse It’s Cost

BP, TransOcean Lawsuits Surge As Oil Continues to Spill

BP Had Other Problems in Years Leading to Gulf Spill

BP Chief: Failed Equipment Caused Explosion, Spill

When I look at this situation from a PR perspective and consider how Social Media could have helped them – instead of the immense damage it has done to them since everyone else is talking, but they aren’t; I saw this as an educational opportunity for small businesses.

If you Google ‘BP Oil’, you can find hundreds of references to the incident – on blogs, on Twitter, on YouTube, but none of it by BP themselves.  This is not to say that active participation in Social Media could have made the problem go away, but it could have given them a chance to better inform, to answer questions, to gain sympathy from the worldwide community by showing that they cared deeply for the lives lost and the on-going damage to the environment, and the resulting economic challenges that will be faced by the regions affected.  Instead they have chosen to distribute limited information, and when they do speak, it’s all about trying to shift the blame elsewhere.  So much for the years they’ve spent crafting an image as an environmentally-conscious firm; that’s up in smoke now (or covered in oil may be a better phrase)!

The mistakes in their strategy are so numerous I can’t even begin to count them; therefore I’ll suffice it to say that the company has provided us with ample opportunities to learn from their mistakes.

So what are the lessons learned from observing BP? Let’s reflect (I will only comment on mistakes and lessons as they relate to Social Media, not BP’s specific message):

  1. Don’t wait until a crisis happens to think about the ways that Social Media can assist your company; establish a presence on all appropriate Social Media sites and incorporate them into your everyday communications strategy, that way, they’ll already be there when you need them.
  2. Place links to your Social Media sites on your website to insure that people interested in your company know that you have a presence on Social Media and they know where to find you.
  3. Right now –  develop a Social Media strategy for your firm that incorporates everyday communication and crisis management, and put it in place so that it already exists should you need it for managing a crisis situation; should you need assistance in this area, Strategic Growth Concepts will be happy to assist you.
  4. Having an established Social Media strategy in place prior to a crisis will enable you to build a constituency of customers and followers to which you can explain your position and provide information if and when a crisis occurs; this constituency will help you disseminate your message virally through the Internet.
  5. When a crisis does occur, immediately step up your communications!  Develop a message plan and start distributing those messages through every Social Media platform that is appropriate.
  6. Communicate as often as possible through every means possible; issue news releases and insure they are distributed to related blogs and Internet search engines – not just the standard press; utilize YouTube to show videos of the situation if its appropriate, or of your CEO making a public statement; use webcasting tools such as BlogTalkRadio to engage in two-way live conversation with those interested in talking with company representatives about the matter – and then distribute it as a podcast via Facebook and Twitter (assuming of course that your company already has a presence there!).
  7. Don’t talk ‘at’ people on Social Media, talk ‘with’ people; engage in conversations, answer questions, ask for input.
  8. Put a ‘face’ on the company; take advantage of tools such as YouTube to distribute a message and speak plainly about the company’s thoughts on the situation.  Allow people to see how it affects the executives at the company emotionally.
  9. Monitor all Social Media – even those in which you are not participating – so you can address any issues being discussed there about your firm and its crisis situation and pre-empt some of those discussions that are just getting started.

Obviously it’s unlikely that your firm will ever experience a crisis of the magnitude of the one currently being experienced by BP Oil.  However, situations are relative – while it may be an incident of a much lesser magnitude, its impact upon your company and its customers may still be significant.  The best thing you can do is insure that your company is prepared to handle it in the best way possible.

In closing, we urge you to be pro-active in considering how Social Media can assist your company in communicating, and insuring that you have a plan in place in case a crisis situation should ever affect your company.  Should you need assistance in developing a Social Media strategy, we at Strategic Growth Concepts would be happy to assist you by evaluating your needs, and then developing and implementing a plan with you.  You may easily contact us at info@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com or via our website.

____________________________________________________________

The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting and training firm specializing in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. She is a recognized small business expert with 20+ years experience in providing Marketing, Operations, HR, and Strategic planning services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. Linda can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com and the company website can be viewed at www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

Ten things you should know about Mobile Marketing February 24, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in mobile, Mobile Marketing, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
5 comments

by The Mobile Marketer

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) mobile council has produced a list of the top 10 things it believes markets absolutely have to know about mobile advertising at the moment.

It follows research from the IAB and PriceWaterhouseCoopers that mobile advertising is set to become part of the mainstream marketing mix over the next two years.

  1. It’s an always on medium: Consumers love their mobile phones so much that researchers found when they took peoples phones away for a day they claimed to feel a phantom ‘tingle’ in their pocket that normally proceeds the excitement of a text/call. Stephen Upstone, managing director of European business development, AdInfuse.
  2. Social media is driving growth: IAB research in 2009 found that updating social network sites via mobile handsets is increasing with 25% of all social networkers logging on to check or update their pages. 16 to 24 year olds are the biggest mobile social network fans with 44% saying they have updated via mobile, compared to 17% of over 55s. Amy Kean, senior PR and marketing manager, IAB.
  3. It provides immediate interaction: Mobile phones allow the consumers to interact immediately with advertising. Upon seeing an advert the consumer can text, call or download content instantly. It can help maximise the effectiveness of other media, a short code is a great example of this. Rachel Wright, business development director, Phonevalley.
  4. It’s got a lot to offer: Mobile Marketing is much more than banner adverts within internet content; a wide range of formats can be delivered as campaign components from text links in SMS messages through to full screen static or video display adverts within applications or mobile internet sites. Jeremy Copp, CEO, Rapid Mobile Media.
  5. Application crazy: iPhone users have downloaded over 1 billion applications worldwide to their handset since launch. Applications are not restricted to iPhone however; advertisers can create useful applications for consumers for the majority of handsets. David Fieldhouse, mobile manager, MediaCom.
  6. It’s popular: The number of mobile media users in the UK has reached the tipping point with over 30% of all UK adults accessing mobile media every month and a large proportion of those going online everyday according to ComScore. Stephen Upstone, managing director of European business development. AdInfuse
  7. Smartening up: Over the last 18 months the number of UK Smartphone users (iPhone, Nokia N96, T-Mobile G1 etc) has grown from 3.6m subscribers to 6.3m, a 73% increase, and these users are over three times more likely to browse for News and Information on their phones than non Smartphone users (Comscore/MMetrics). Tim Hussain, head of mobile advertising, Sky.
  8. It’s out of your hands: If you’re not sure if your brand should be on mobile, consumers have already made the choice for you. 0ver 4 million consumers are already using their mobiles to search for information on products and services and search volumes are growing 4 times faster than online. Jon Mew, head of mobile, IAB.
  9. It can reach you: Target through to point of purchase – no other medium allows such precise targeting, from location based services like local search through to in-store Bluetooth marketing you can reach consumers wherever they are and provide relevant and engaging advertising. Paul Lyonette, head of mobile advertising, Microsoft.
  10. Consumers like Mobile! The Orange Exposure study shows 70% of mobile media users find innovative ad formats appealing. In an ad funded games trial 89% said they liked or were neutral to advertisements appearing on the Orange World portal and 88% said they were happy to be exposed to advertising in exchange for free or discounted content. Alex Kozloff, media research manager, Orange.

NOTE FROM STRATEGIC GROWTH:  Worldwide sales of smartphones increased 24% to 172.4 million units in 2009 according to Gartner, Inc.  In the fourth quarter  of 2009 alone, smartphone sales surged 41% from the year-earlier period to 53.8 million devices.  The proportion of adult U.S. subscribers owning smartphones jumped to 17% last year from 11% in 2008 and 7% in 2007, according to new data from Forrester Research.  The number of total mobile phone subscriptions worldwide has reached 4.6 billion and is expected to increase to five billion in 2010, according to the U.N. telecommunications agency.

Should you be interested in learning more about mobile marketing and how it can help grow your business, please review the mobile section of our website, additional mobile marketing articles within this blog, or contact us directly via the website or email at info@strategicgrowthconcepts.com for a FREE initial consultation.

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The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting and training firm specializing in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. She is a recognized small business expert with 20+ years experience in providing Marketing, Operations, HR, and Strategic planning services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. Linda can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com and the company website can be viewed at www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

Even Santa and NORAD Understand the Value of Social Media Marketing December 4, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in FaceBook, marketing strategies, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter.
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Just when you might think you’ve heard it all, now small businesses can take a lesson from Santa!  A recent article describes a comprehensive social media strategy recently put in place by NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) to track Santa’s progress this holiday season. 

While obviously meant to be a fun activity, closer reading of the story actually displays a well thought out and comprehensive Social Media Marketing Strategy that small business owners would do well to emulate in their own marketing efforts!

Click HERE to learn how Santa and NORAD are on the cutting edge of Social Media Marketing, and how you can put a similar strategy to work for your company.

Who’s Using Twitter? Do You (and Your Business) REALLY Know? October 19, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Web 2.0.
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You’ve probably heard of the Morgan Stanley report that declares “teenagers do not use Twitter,” based on a sample size of one 15 year-old intern named Matthew Robson. Morgan Stanley rightfully disclosed that they do not claim that his study is representational or merits statistical accuracy, so we thought we could provide both with our NetRatings panel of 250,000 U.S. Internet users.

Twitter’s footprint has expanded impressively in the first half of 2009, reaching 10.7 percent of all active Internet users in June. Perhaps even more impressively, this growth has come despite a lack of widespread adoption by children, teens, and young adults. In June 2009, only 16 percent of Twitter.com website users were under the age of 25. Bear in mind persons under 25 make up nearly one quarter of the active US Internet universe, which means that Twitter.com effectively under-indexes on the youth market by 36 percent.

While the metrics in the chart above only represent the website and branded “front door” of Twitter, it would be a big stretch to assume that the gap in the youth demographic is being made up via other clients and platforms. For example, more than 90 percent of popular Twitter client Tweetdeck’s audience is over 25.  Furthermore, Twitter.com’s reach is 6.6 percent for kids, teens and young adults, whereas it is 12.1 percent for those over 25; implying that adults are trying Twitter at nearly double the rate.  To see more detailed information regarding Twitter demographics, click HERE, HERE and HERE.

But does it really matter if the kids don’t get it? The fact remains that Twitter has grown to be a major online presence and is being driven forward by significant buzz. To illustrate this point: the volume of Twitter mentions on blogs, message boards and forums has reached the same level as Facebook, a property four times its size. We’ve also seen that Twitter’s growth is very highly influenced by buzz around current events as they are happening such as the Iran election or the death of Michael Jackson. All it takes is one celebrity or major news story to rekindle the Twitter buzz machine, but do these one-off shifts create one-time curiosity seekers or lead to more permanent users?  That’s the unanswered question.

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Portions of this article were posted originally in Nielsen News.

5 Advanced Social Media Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses October 13, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in FaceBook, LinkedIN, MySpace, Naymz, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Video Marketing, Web 2.0.
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by Samir Balwani

Social media marketing and the businesses that utilize it have become more sophisticated. More small businesses are beginning to understand how to best leverage online tools to build a community and recognize that engagement and interaction are the foundations of social marketing, but most don’t know what’s next.  What follows are five advanced strategies for small businesses that may already have small online communities and understand how to create an online presence, but don’t know what to do next.

What Is An Advanced Strategy?

The definition of an advanced social strategy is a technique that goes beyond the normal social media presence. It introduces or reinforces a marketing message while pushing a user to another profile or business site. Before moving forward with an advanced strategy, it’s important that your business understands social marketing, has experience engaging consumers, and that you possess a basic understanding of online marketing.

Strategy 1: Multimedia Usage

The term “A picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer. Consumers are now using the web to look for product pictures and videos; they want more information and want to see what they’re considering buying. The good news is that it’s easy for a company to create and publish videos and pictures.

In addition to taking photos of products, you can also take pictures at office events as a way to highlight company culture. This not only helps convince others to work with you or to buy from you (consumers see that you are down to earth and one of them, instead of a stuffy company), it also helps your HR department recruit new employees. Who doesn’t want to work for a company that celebrates birthdays and has a good time?   

Videos are useful for explaining complex how-tos or concepts. Showing step-by-step directions can have a greater impact than even the most well written article. Businesses don’t have to invest huge sums of money to create good videos, either. I highly recommend the relatively cheap Flip camcorder, which takes great videos and is easy for even a non-technical marketer to use.  Multimedia can break down the faceless business-to-consumer sales flow and make your company appear friendlier. Use videos and images to show that your business is fun, you care about your employees, and most importantly, that you care about your customers.

Example: WorldMusicSupply.com

WorldMusicSupply.com, an online retailer of musical instruments and accessories, has used YouTube to build a strong online community. Their channel has built over 7,000 subscribers and has over 260,000 views.

Strategy 2: Integrate Offline and Online Advertising

Many small businesses do some sort of offline advertising, whether it be radio, print, or cable. Social marketing allows a business to extend their offline sales pitch.  Including your Facebook Page, Twitter ID or blog URL in offline ads act as social proof, inviting potential consumers to see your community and increase trust in your business. Not only can integrating online and offline advertising help the conversion process, but it can also help build your community. Introducing potential consumers to your social profiles means they may join your community now and buy later.

Strategy 3: Message Adaptation

As businesses start to become more sophisticated with social media they are starting to leverage more online platforms.  However, most deliver the same message over multiple platforms instead of tailoring communications for each individual site.

Social platforms each have an ecosystem of their own. What might be acceptable on Tumblr might be considered spam on Facebook.  A specific style of writing might spread on Twitter but fail on FriendFeed.  Understanding that each site is different and then customizing your message ensures they do well on each respective site.

Not only does customizing messages across sites help the message spread but it keeps users from receiving multiple identical communications. Be sure to maximize your potential by sending a user that follows the business on Twitter and Facebook two different messages, instead of the same thing.

Strategy 4: Local Social Networks, Beyond Yelp

For a small business, local search can be a big win. Being visible to consumers looking for a business in their area is extremely important. Make sure your site is included in local business directories in order to help ensure that consumers find you when they need you. Sometimes finding that many sites can be difficult, however. First, make sure you check your competitors.

Where are they listed? Check their inbound links to check for business directories you can add yourself to. Also, make sure your business has been added to Google Maps, using the Local Business Center.  Take the time to include all the information you can and update any old news. For many consumers, this will be their first interaction with the business.

Example: Bella Napoli in New York

Bella Napoli is a small pizzeria in New York that has done a great job of making sure they appear in as many local searches as possible.

Strategy 5: Contests and Discounts

Building a community is only the first part of social marketing. Using that community to drive sales, propagate marketing, or crowdsource operations is the true power of social media. One way to excite the community is to collectively do something to create a contest or offer an exclusive discount (i.e., the contest can create competition between users). Not only does a contest build buzz organically but if contestants need to, for example, publish an article that gets the most comments in order to win, the contest itself becomes viral.

A good social media contest should include some sort of sharing or virality as a requirement for winning.  Discounts are also a great way to connect with your community. By giving exclusive coupons to your social community, you’re rewarding and reminding them that you are not only a brand to engage with, but also to buy from.

Example: NetFirms.com

NetFirms.com decided to make it easier to register a domain by allowing people to do it via Twitter. Those who participated or spread the word by tweeting, were also entered into a prize drawing.

Conclusion

Creating a basic social media presence is easy enough, getting your community to actually do something is more difficult. Taking advantage of these strategies can help you build your community, make your marketing more effective, and incentivize buying.

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Samir Balwani is an emerging technology strategist at Morpheus Media, a firm specializing in Social Marketing, SEM, and SEO. 

You can follow him on Twitter @leftthebox and get his newsletter.

Do You Need Your Own Web TV Show? October 2, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Video Marketing, Web 2.0, Web TV.
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In our quest to continually bring information to our readers on the latest technologies available to aid you in marketing your business, today we present  another idea that’s beginning to gain traction for small businesses.  Thanks to technology, anyone today can be a “TV star” by hosting your own online television show to promote your business – and, you may even be able to make money doing it!

Below is an article from Business Week which reviews this latest marketing ‘tool’ and talks to small business owners currently utilizing it to promote their firms.

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Independent Web shows can attract advertisers, sponsors, and thousands of viewers, but marketing and profiting from them is a challenge

By Karen E. Klein for Business Week Smart Answers, 9/29/09

Yana Berlin dabbed on a product sample for a new perfume and liked it O.K. But when her three grown daughters got a whiff, they had one reaction: “You smell like Grandma!”

“I don’t think the manufacturer is going to like it, because it’s being marketed to women over 40 and no one at 44 wants to smell like Grandma,” Berlin notes wryly.

In the past, the perfume company might not have gotten direct feedback from people like Berlin, a San Diego entrepreneur who founded the Fabulously40 social networking Web site. But that’s changed now that Berlin and her daughters, Daisy, Sasha, and Stephanie, have started a Web TV show called, The Love or Hate Debate. It features product reviews and demonstrations from two generations of women.

$20 Billion in Ads at Risk

Like growing numbers of entrepreneurs, Berlin and her family produce the show themselves, edit it, and post it online using free or low-cost video-uploading and streaming software. These Internet-based videos—most packaged in short episodes no more than four minutes long—have the potential to transform marketing and turn small business owners into celebrities in their own right, experts say.

“It’s a fascinating shift and one of the more important ones we’ve seen in B2B communications,” says Daniel Taylor, lead technology and media analyst at The Big Picture, a research firm covering digital media, technology, and communications.

If Internet video continues to catch on as a marketing alternative for small businesses, Taylor says, $20 to $30 billion in advertising that currently goes to the business and trade press could evaporate. Small firms that typically advertise in their industry trade publications, business publications, the Yellow Pages, and on cable television could shift their marketing dollars into producing their own video content. “About 10% of the overall advertising spending in the U.S. could be at risk because of this” new phenomenon, Taylor says. “It’s largely small to midsize businesses that are involved in this, and the caliber of people and the quality of what they’re doing is really amazing.”

Starting in a Garage

Take Andrew Lock, a marketing consultant and former U.K. television producer whose weekly show, Help! My Business Sucks! provides entrepreneurial advice and interviews and attracts corporate sponsors.

The 74-and-counting episodes of Lock’s show attract 100,000 viewers each, have helped boost his consulting business to five-figure monthly revenue and brought him speaking invitations around the world, he says. “I go to conferences where entrepreneurs line up and ask for my autograph,” Lock says. “And I’m just this little British guy living in Utah who started a show out of my garage!”

That show proved so popular, he says, that he built a studio facility near his home in Salt Lake City where he houses professional sets, six employees, and a host of additional presenters who tape their own shows there.

Production Quality Improving

While it’s still very early in the world of Web TV, Lock says, there are myriad shows springing up that cover niche topics like wine, gadgetry, and scrapbooking and are building loyal audiences. “These are real people, not Hollywood, air-brushed celebrities, and it seems viewers respond positively to that real-ness that is very different from traditional TV,” he says.

All of this, of course, is only possible due to technology updates that have taken place in the last three years, says Steven C. Hawley, principal analyst and consultant at tvstrategies, a telecommunications consulting firm in based in Seattle.

In the earliest years of Internet video, picture quality was low, frames were tiny, and the action dribbled out herky-jerky. But now, new technology platforms, such as Blip TV and Vimeo, have sprung up and are maturing so quickly it’s difficult to track them. “The number and type of are proliferating and changing constantly. Internet technology competes head-to-head with cable and satellite, and the availability of multiple platforms makes it possible for just about anybody to distribute content over broadband,” Hawley says. “In fact, I’ve thought of doing it myself as a consultant and an analyst.”

All You Need is $100

It is also nowhere near as expensive as it once was to produce and distribute PC-quality video content. “You can build an audience through social media and through your customer database and drive traffic to your own site. All it takes is $100 for a video camera and a mike. You set it up on a tripod, talk to it, and upload it,” Hawley says.

He sees most small business people using Internet shows to do self-publishing and self-promotion. But entrepreneurs are also infiltrating—if not dominating—the entertainment side of the Web TV experience.

Leyna Juliet Weber, a writer and actor, moved to Los Angeles from New York City a few years ago hoping to break into the big time. But she found that opportunities were few and far between. “The TV climate is really bad, so instead of just waiting around, I worked on some student films at USC and met a fantastic gal named Annie Lukowski,” Weber says.

Launched at Funny or Die

The two stayed in touch, and after Lukowski attended Weber’s live comedy show, they decided to collaborate. They formed a company called Working Bug Media and produced two shorts that they posted at FunnyorDie and YouTube (GOOG).

“We funded them ourselves on a dime budget,” Weber says. After the shorts were well-received, they decided to write and produce a 10-episode show called Road to the Altar. “It’s a wedding story shot as a mockumentary and told from the groom’s point of view,” Weber says. “We pitched it around town and to Web production companies, but everyone is afraid to put money into anything.”

Eventually, the pair negotiated a deal with a company called MWD Media. When Weber was able to get Jaleel White, who played Urkel on the 1990s TV show Family Matters, to star opposite her in the series, they attracted corporate sponsors including Panda Express and Pier 1 Imports. At least 40,000 people have viewed the series on YouTube alone, Weber says.

Old-Fashioned Show Sponsors

Still, although independent Web shows can attract advertisers, sponsors, and thousands of viewers, marketing and profiting from them is a challenge, says Joshua Cohen, the co-founder of Tilzy.tv, a Web site that chronicles and reviews episodic Web series.

The options for Internet video advertising include pre-roll, post-roll, and mid-roll ads as well as overlay ads that pop up at the bottom of the screen. Then there are old-fashioned show sponsors that hark back to the early days of television, when one company or specific product would fund a show and often get a plug by the host. “There are thousands of these shows being produced by major studios, TV networks, film students, and amateurs. It’s everything from NBC down to the most independent, bare-bones productions,” Cohen says.

Episodes typically run from three to five minutes, because most Internet shows are viewed at work. “Lunchtime is the new prime time for online viewing. Technology is being developed so you can watch the Internet on your big screen TV, but it hasn’t broken through yet, so most of the viewing is still happening on the PC at work,” Cohen says.

Trying to Monetize the Shows

While some firms predict that Internet advertising will reach $1 billion by 2011, Cohen says, online shows are not yet pulling dollars away from traditional television advertising. “People are still trying to figure things out online, where they’ve been making money off of TV for 50 years and they’ve gotten very good at it,” he says.

Lock says that while he has used his Web TV show to attract sponsors, increase his consulting profile, and boost his revenues, many Internet entrepreneurs are not as good at monetizing their efforts as he has been. “The show enables people to discover me and what I provide in a relaxed and informal setting. I don’t have to sell. If people respond to the messages in the show, they’ll come to me. I don’t have to do any cold-calling or any of that silly nonsense,” he says.

While many entrepreneurs love what they do, and enjoy producing their own shows, he believes that many of them could make more money at it if they did strategic marketing and advertising campaigns. “There are extremely popular shows that aren’t making any money at all, because they don’t know how to monetize it,” he says.

“A Slow Process”

Lock predicts, however, that advertisers will be increasingly willing to buy into Web TV series in the near future. “It’s a slow process, but it’s definitely happening. Advertisers are looking for other avenues with people tuning out of television, fast-forwarding through commercials or watching their shows on Hulu,” he says.

Karen E. Klein is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers entrepreneurship and small-business issues.

Social Media Measurement Tools to Determine Value / ROI August 11, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Web 2.0.
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Social Media graphicWhile many of the Social Media tools are free to use, there is a cost involved in the time for development of the Social Media profiles and on-going management of Social Media activities.  Measuring that cost with respect to results against goals that have been identified will determine whether or not your Social Media strategy has provided an ROI at the level expected, and how it stacks up against more traditional methods of Marketing.  To help you achieve an accurate analysis of Social Media results that can be measured against those goals, please review the article below for a variety of tools to assist you.
Should you be interested in developing a Social Media strategy for your firm which has the ability to achieve a significant ROI against company goals, we at Strategic Growth Concepts would be happy to assist you.  Please contact us via our Website or via email at info@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com to schedule your FREE initial consultation.
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by Jye Smith

3 Steps to Picking the Right Social Media Measurement Tools

  1. Understand business outcome
  2. Identify the social media activity
  3. Analyse the relationship between social media activity and business outcome

Then pick a tool.

I cannot stress enough how important it is though, to understand that relationship between social media activity and business outcome. That’s where the expertise is, that’s where the ROI is.

Which tools do I use to measure social media?

This would have to be the most asked question of the lot – but honestly, it’s like asking how long is a piece of string. Last night I presented at Social Media Club Sydney (slides and notes now available) and still there was a call to look at which tools. Which one are essential to me? Google Analytics and Bit.ly for starters.  Katie Chatfield has done a presentation to look at some of the tools available – and you’ll instantly see how overwhelming it can be. But that’s ok – because you need to know what you are valuing first, and look at the tools  last.

MeasurementCamp also published another list of social media tools you can use:

  1. Addictomatic A cool search engine that aggregates rss feeds into a nice visual dashboard
  2. Blogpulse Blog search engine with conversation tracker tool
  3. Boardreader Search forums and message boards
  4. Boardtracker Forum search engine offering instant alerts
  5. Buzzmonitor Embeddable widget showing recent instances of your search term
  6. Compete.com Comparable site metrics for any website
  7. Del.ici.ous Social bookmarking engine. Search by tags and subscribe to feed results
  8. Facebook lexicon Searches facebook walls for words and phrases
  9. Google alerts Email updates of key search terms
  10. Google insights Compare search volume over time
  11. Google trends Compare search term trends
  12. Howsociable Gives a social media score for your brand, with email updates of your score.
  13. Ice rocket Blog search engine with results rss feed
  14. Newsflashr News search engine, presenting results in nice dashboard
  15. Sphere Related content widget
  16. Summize Search for keywords in ‘tweets’.
  17. Technorati Blog and social media search engine
  18. Twing Discussion board and forum search engine
  19. Twingly Spam free blog search engine
  20. Twitturly Track what urls people are talking about on twitter
  21. Xinu Shows how well your site is performing across different metrics. Also gives a site diagnosis.
  22. Quarkbase Fricking cool mashup tool
  23. Twitter Grader Enter your twitter username to get your grade and ranking
  24. Twist Graph Keyword trends in Twitter. Very cool.
  25. yExplore Not strictly social media, but easy access to see inbound links to a page.
  26. Trendpedia Excellent blog search engine that graphs results over time.
  27. Website Grader Not completely sure how accurate, but cool tool anyway!
  28. Yahoo Pipes Err, yeah, can’t believe I missed this off in the first place.
  29. Socialmention Real time UGC search engine, with social rank
  30. Bit.ly and Cli.gs – analytics for your tiny urls.

Mom-and-Pop Businesses Succeed with Social Media July 26, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter.
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8 comments

By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER, New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — Three weeks after Curtis Kimball opened his crème brûlée cart in San Francisco, he noticed a stranger among the friends in line for his desserts. How had the man discovered the cart? He had read about it on Twitter.
Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

Curtis Kimball, owner of a crème brûlée cart in San Francisco, uses Twitter to drive his customers to his changing location.

For Mr. Kimball, who conceded that he “hadn’t really understood the purpose of Twitter,” the beauty of digital word-of-mouth marketing was immediately clear. He signed up for an account and has more than 5,400 followers who wait for him to post the current location of his itinerant cart and list the flavors of the day, like lavender and orange creamsicle.

“I would love to say that I just had a really good idea and strategy, but Twitter has been pretty essential to my success,” he said. He has quit his day job as a carpenter to keep up with the demand.

Much has been made of how big companies like Dell, Starbucks and Comcast use Twitter to promote their products and answer customers’ questions. But today, small businesses outnumber the big ones on the free microblogging service, and in many ways, Twitter is an even more useful tool for them.

For many mom-and-pop shops with no ad budget, Twitter has become their sole means of marketing. It is far easier to set up and update a Twitter account than to maintain a Web page. And because small-business owners tend to work at the cash register, not in a cubicle in the marketing department, Twitter’s intimacy suits them well.

“We think of these social media tools as being in the realm of the sophisticated, multiplatform marketers like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, but a lot of these supersmall businesses are gravitating toward them because they are accessible, free and very simple,” said Greg Sterling, an analyst who studies the Internet’s influence on shopping and local businesses.

Small businesses typically get more than half of their customers through word of mouth, he said, and Twitter is the digital manifestation of that. Twitter users broadcast messages of up to 140 characters in length, and the culture of the service encourages people to spread news to friends in their own network.

Umi, a sushi restaurant in San Francisco, sometimes gets five new customers a night who learned about it on Twitter, said Shamus Booth, a co-owner.

He twitters about the fresh fish of the night — “The O-Toro (bluefin tuna belly) tonight is some of the most rich and buttery tuna I’ve had,” he recently wrote — and offers free seaweed salads to people who mention Twitter.

Twitter is not just for businesses that want to lure customers with mouth-watering descriptions of food. For Cynthia Sutton-Stolle, the co-owner of Silver Barn Antiques in tiny Columbus, Tex., Twitter has been a way to find both suppliers and customers nationwide.

Since she joined Twitter in February, she has connected with people making lamps and candles that she subsequently ordered for her shop and has sold a few thousand dollars of merchandise to people outside Columbus, including to a woman in New Jersey shopping for graduation gifts.

“We don’t even have our Web site done, and we weren’t even trying to start an e-commerce business,” Ms. Sutton-Stolle said. “Twitter has been a real valuable tool because it’s made us national instead of a little-bitty store in a little-bitty town.”

Scott Seaman of Blowing Rock, N.C., also uses Twitter to expand his customer base beyond his town of about 1,500 residents. Mr. Seaman is a partner at Christopher’s Wine and Cheese shop and owns a bed and breakfast in town. He sets up searches on TweetDeck, a Web application that helps people manage their Twitter messages, to start conversations with people talking about his town or the mountain nearby. One person he met on Twitter booked a room at his inn, and a woman in Dallas ordered sake from his shop.

The extra traffic has come despite his rarely pitching his own businesses on Twitter. “To me, that’s a turn-off,” he said. Instead of marketing to customers, small-business owners should use the same persona they have offline, he advised. “Be the small shopkeeper down the street that everyone knows by name.”

Chris Mann, the owner of Woodhouse Day Spa in Cincinnati, twitters about discounts for massages and manicures every Tuesday. Twitter beats e-mail promotions because he can send tweets from his phone in a meeting and “every single business sends out an e-mail,” he said.

Even if a shop’s customers are not on Twitter, the service can be useful for entrepreneurs, said Becky McCray, who runs a liquor store and cattle ranch in Oklahoma and publishes a blog called Small Biz Survival.

In towns like hers, with only 5,000 people, small-business owners can feel isolated, she said. But on Twitter, she has learned business tax tips from an accountant, marketing tips from a consultant in Tennessee and start-up tips from the founder of several tech companies.

Anamitra Banerji, who manages commercial products at Twitter, said that when he joined the company from Yahoo in March, “I thought this was a place where large businesses were. What I’m finding more and more, to my surprise every single day, is business of all kinds.”

Twitter, which does not yet make money, is now concentrating on teaching businesses how they can join and use it, Mr. Banerji said, and the company plans to publish case studies. He is also developing products that Twitter can sell to businesses of all sizes this year, including features to verify businesses’ accounts and analyze traffic to their Twitter profiles.

According to Mr. Banerji, small-business owners like Twitter because they can talk directly to customers in a way that they were able to do only in person before. “We’re finding the emotional distance between businesses and their customers is shortening quite a bit,” he said.

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If after completing this article you’re still not certain how Twitter can be utilized to market your company, we would be happy to assist you in developing a customized program to promote your business.  Please feel free to contact us via our website or via email at linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com to schedule a FREE initial consultation.

Top 5 Social Media Tips for Small Business July 16, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing, FaceBook, LinkedIN, MySpace, Naymz, Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter, Video Marketing, Web 2.0.
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Some content in this posting is from an article by Mya Frazier for Bankrate.com

A few years ago, using the Internet to market a small business simply meant to create a presence online with a simple, informational Web site.  Then came the demands of search engine optimization to ensure Google and Yahoo searches yielded top-ranked results for your company. Was your business’s Web site chock full of the key search terms that would bring it to the attention of customers?

Social Media graphicToday, social media is transforming the small-business marketing landscape. Social media are Web- or mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information. It’s not just for seeing who your high school sweetheart married. Businesses can tap into powerful networking sites and other social media to drive customers to their shops or companies.

If done right, small-business owners might even be able to slash their traditional marketing spending to zero. Writing blogs (short for “Web logs”) or on-going online commentary using social-networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, can provide inexpensive but powerful online marketing.

Because it’s free, people think it’s easy to create a social media presence. But this attitude can lead to missteps. So before you dive headlong into social media, take some time to observe the customs and social norms of these new forms of communications, says David Spark, founder of Spark Media Solutions, a San Francisco-based firm that helps companies tell their story through social media.  “Also think about your strategy for effectively utilizing social media before you jump in,” says Linda Daichendt, CEO/Managing Consultant of Strategic Growth Concepts. “It’s easier to avoid costly mistakes before you begin than to correct them after they’ve done damage to your company’s reputation.”

“Think of social media as a cocktail party,” says, David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and “World Wide Rave,” books about how to create buzz online. “You don’t go into the cocktail party and go into the middle room and scream at the top of your lungs and say, ‘Buy my products.’ … What works is you have some meaningful conversation first. And that’s just how social media works.”

If you decide to take the social-networking plunge, here are five ways to harness social media to help your business.

1. Use free sites. Use free online services, such as the mobile short-message site Twitter, and popular networking sites Facebook and MySpace, to post significant news, specials or events. For example, you run a small Italian restaurant with a loyal following. You could create a Twitter account and upload the lunch or dinner specials via “tweets,” or short messages of up to 140 characters, daily to customers’ smart phones or to other Web sites.

“All you have to do is give a (Twitter) handle and start a conversation. You could put the Twitter handle on the menu or in the restaurant,” says Chris Abraham, Abraham Harrison LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based digital public relations agency. Granted, social networking sites are still for early adopters.  “You aren’t going to get Aunt Matilda to tweet about the experience she had at dinner,” Abraham says.

Abraham considers Twitter one of the easiest ways for a newbie to social media to get started.  “It’s more challenging to do Facebook,” Abraham says. “You have to create a personal profile, create a page and so on. With Twitter, if you’re Joe Smith with Motorcycle Emporium, you don’t have to create a page. And you can create Twitter updates via a phone or mobile device easily.”

“Don’t try to reinvent the wheel,” he says. “There are lots of people sold on really expensive solutions, but two of the best investments for reaching out to people and engaging with them are free on Twitter and Facebook.”

2. Shift marketing costs to social media. After learning how social networking operates, use social media to free up traditional marketing dollars for your small business by putting it online. You can quickly learn which of your Facebook or MySpace “friends” or online “group” members received and responded to your message.

Stanya Doty has cut her print marketing budget to zero. As owner of Simple Indulgences, a wine and high-end gift shop in Delaware, Ohio, she began using Facebook in December 2008 to communicate with her brother but quickly realized the online marketing possibilities.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, there are so many people here,’ ” she says. Indeed, Facebook boasts 200 million users worldwide.  In April 2009, she began promoting monthly wine tastings via a Facebook page for the shop that quickly attracted 100 members. Combined with an e-newsletter created using the do-it-yourself, e-mail marketing Web site Constant Contact, she keeps enough buzz going about her shop that her advertising budget for local print ads no longer seemed necessary. She usually sends out about 700 e-mails, with the response rate sometimes reaching nearly 50 percent. It sure beats a postal mailing.  “If I sent out a postcard with postage and paid for all that, I’d still have no idea who read it and who threw it away,” she says.

Indeed, unlike a print ad, Doty gets instant, measurable results. “On Facebook, you can see who has responded to invites,” she says. “It’s easy, it’s cheap and I’m actually appealing to people that at first know me from the store and then hopefully … pass the word along throughout their networks.”

3. Do your own social-media optimization project. Learn about the competition in your industry and geographic region that are tapping social networking. Spark recommends starting by researching the competition in the major search engines — Google and Yahoo.

“Type in keywords and phrases that people would use to find you, like ‘plumber’ and ‘San Francisco.’ If you don’t appear in the top percentage of pages, take a look at the Website of those plumbers that do show up,” says Spark. “Look at their pages, and usually they will have a lot of content on their sites.”

To increase a business’s presence on the Internet, Spark advocates companies create blogs, newsletters and other articles on their sites to bolster the number of keywords — terms that search engines recognize — to boost their ranking in all-important Web searches.

“That’s the way people discover you,” he says. “Take that plumber in San Francisco. The right search terms might just be ‘clogged toilet and San Francisco.’”  “That tells me I should write … in my blog about how to fix a clogged toilet and mention that I am a plumber in San Francisco,” he says.

4. Take social-network marketing to the next level. Create and post richer content about what your customers would expect from someone in your business. Don’t view social media sites as a place to simply hype your wares. It’s a place for conversation.

“Social media is about earning attention,” says David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and “World Wide Rave,” books about how to create buzz online.  “What’s most important is to forget about what your company does. Instead, think about the people who are buying your products. Simply hyping products and services online and in social media sites completely backfires. People are not looking for products but for something fun. They are looking to make connections,” Scott says.

So it’s all about having something interesting to say or show. It could be a blog, or a video on the video-sharing Website YouTube.

For example, if you’re a caterer, instead of talking about your service, create engaging culinary content. Imagine positioning yourself as a gourmet magazine on the Web, complete with links to a video you uploaded to YouTube.

“A caterer could create a blog with information about how to create a fantastic party, and each blog post or YouTube video could be another installment,” Scott says. “On the Web, you are what you publish and being on the Web is about publishing information.”

So back to that plumber faced with the prospect of dropping an expensive Yellow Pages listing but worried about customers not finding him if they have a burst pipe or a misfiring shower head. Scott recommends the plumber post a list of “the 100 home fixes for common plumbing problems.”

“All of a sudden you are going to get indexed very highly in the search engines, and people are going to share that content with their friends,” he says. “When someone puts an update on Facebook asking if anyone knows a good plumber in Boston, a friend might point to your content.”

5. Use blogging to drive search results and help new customers find you. Lately, blogging has gained greater attention, with the advent of “micro-blogging” on Twitter. But consider the time commitment and strategy before launching an account.

Even with the spread of micro-blogging, Abraham remains a big fan of traditional blogs, which are lengthier and show up on Web sites. In general, no matter what form the blog takes, it should be consistent over time.

“If you can’t keep up one (blog) post a day or 12 tweets a day, do one tweet every Thursday. Consistency in blogging or tweeting will create a relationship of trust with your followers or readers. Do it once a week, but for the next two years,” Abraham says.

And don’t spend extra money on blogging software, technical help, or a ghost writer for your blog.  To get started, sign up with WordPress.com or Blogger – both are free blogging platforms which are easy to use for beginners.

Additional opportunities within the social media environment include:  online radio shows on platforms such as BlogTalkRadio, social networking sites such as LinkedIN, Plaxo, and FriendFeed, and a wide variety of additional tools as well depending on your type of business.

Following these social media basics for small business will get your company started on the right road to gaining new customers and increased revenue via social media.

If after completing this article you’re still not certain what your company’s social media strategy should be, we would be happy to aid you in it’s development – and implementation if you would like.  Please feel free to contact us via our website or via email at linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com to schedule a FREE initial consultation.

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