Sales and Marketing

Social Media 101 for Small Business — An Introduction to Web 2.0

I'm a Social Media SpecialistSometimes just getting started with something new can be intimidating. Social media sounds a little scary. And many small businesses are still trying to discover how they can implement social media into their marketing plans. It’s really not that difficult. And it doesn’t have to be that time consuming. But it does take a little understanding and planning.

Web 2.0
You’ve probably heard of Web 2.0, but have wondered what it means. It simply signifies the second generation of usage of the Internet to convey information to clients. If you think of Web 1.0 as simple websites — basically brochures online — then Web 2.0 is the next step of actual interaction online with your customers. Today we’ll cover some of the basics of the most commonly used systems for interacting with your customers online: blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

Blogs
Blogs have been around so long that people tend to forget about them as part of Web 2.0, but they’re an important element of your online marketing plans. For years we’ve instructed companies to find ways to make their website informative and useful. Ways to keep the content fresh and up-to-date. And ways to keep visitors returning to your website. A blog is an excellent vehicle to do just that. Though we’ll discuss next time more in-depth ways to develop content for a blog, think about what type of information would  be useful to your clients and prospective customers. Think about how you can position yourself as an expert with valuable knowledge.

There are a number of ways to create a blog. There are online services such as WordPress and Blogspot that make it quite easy to start a blog. But the best method is to add a blog directly to your website. There are a number of benefits to adding the blog to your site. In particular, it allows you greater control of the look and feel of the blog, and the search engines will like your site more if the blog is part of your site. I suggest the blog to go somewhere like: www.YourSite.com/blog/. You can check with your hosting company to see if adding the blog to your current website is possible. With many of the national hosting companies, adding a blog to your site is as simple as a few clicks.

I’d give you a link to our blog, but you’re already on it!

Facebook
I have to admit that I’d been a bit slow to embrace Facebook. But now that I have, I’ve certainly found it to be enjoyable. It’s allowed me to re-connect with plenty of old friends. And it has opened up doors to plenty of potential customers.

You want to make sure you setup what Facebook calls a “fan” page, and not a personal page, often referred to as a profile. With a fan page, anybody can view the content on the page. And anybody with a personal Facebook profile can “like” your page. Once a person “likes” your page, which for them as as easy as a mouse click, when you post something on your fan page, it places the comment on your fans’ news feed.

You can view our Facebook page here.

Facebook made a recent change to how customers interact with your fan page. In the past, they used to refer to this as “become a fan”, but now it’s just a “like” button on your fan page.

Twitter
As far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of Twitter for a small business. Though I would still implement this as part of your Web 2.0 marketing plan. Twitter is a way to quickly and easily convey small bits of information to your followers. People with Twitter accounts decide to “follow” people and businesses. And when the people and businesses they follow tweet, post a comment on their Twitter account, the tweet shows up in the follower’s Twitter feed.

The drawback is that unless most of your customers are college students, they’re probably not using Twitter. But many businesses are beginning to use Twitter, and it’s better to be on the front of this curve than behind it.

You can view our Twitter account here.

Next Time
Integrating Web 2.0 into your company’s marketing plans is smart business. Learning how to develop content is the next step in utilizing social media for a small business. Next time we’ll talk about how to develop content, and how to efficiently and effectively utilize that content across your different applications. So until then, happy marketing!

Cartoon from Gapingvoid.

Using Brands to Build Brand Awareness

Utilizing promotional products is a great way to build brand awareness for your organization. There are thousands of products available at virtually every price point imaginable. So where do you start? How about leaning on somebody else’s brand to help build your own brand awareness. When a name brand product is used as part of your promotional campaign, the good will of the name brand will help support your own brand. And a name brand product typically provides for a higher perceived value than other promotional gifts. Here are a few of my favorite brands available through promotional marketing.

3M Post-it Notes3M
This is a company with a great history of innovation beginning in 1902.  3M invented a number of interesting products from waterproof sandpaper in the early ’20s to Post-it Notes in 1980. You know that a product has achieved a great level of success when the name of the product is ingrained into our consciousness like Post-it Notes. We offer some less expensive alternatives such as BIC Sticky Notes, but in our opinion, 3M’s Post-it Notes are still the best adhesive notes on the market today. They come in all shapes and sizes, and can be imprinted with your company information.

Nalgene and Camelbak Water BottlesNalgene and Camelbak
Two of the most recognizable brand names in drinkware, Nalgene and Camelbak produce the best water bottles available.  They’re nearly indestructible and are now made from BPA-free materials. Durable water bottles are also eco-friendly. Did you know that 8 in every 10 plastic water bottles end up in a landfill? And that we use more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually to make these water bottles? Just imagine if we all started using refillable water bottles instead. And then imagine if everyone had a refillable water bottle with your logo on it.

Buck Knives and Swiss Army KnivesBuck Knives and Swiss Army Knives
There are a number of name brands available, but when it comes to knives, give me a Buck or a Swiss Army every time. Buck makes a great assortment of hunting knives and folding pocket knives that can be engraved with your logo. And haven’t we all had a Swiss Army Knife at some point in our lives? Their multi-function knives make awesome gifts. I’ve got a couple of them. They are still among the most popular knives in the industry.

Fossil WatchesFossil Watches
Another name brand I have a personal fondness for is Fossil. I wear a Fossil watch, as does my wife. At my last business, we used to give Fossil Watches to our employees on their fifth anniversary with the company. They offer a nice variety of high-quality watches. Most brands of watches including Timex and Callaway are available and can be decorated with your organization’s logo.

Coleman CoolersColeman
Yes, that Coleman. The makers of Coleman coolers! Coleman was founded more than 100 years ago in Wichita, Kansas. Originally a manufacturer of lanterns, Coleman expanded into leisure and camping products when they introduced a galvanized steel cooler in 1954. By the ’60s, Coleman had become the biggest name in the camping business. A great and trusted brand. And a great promotional gift that can be imprinted with your brand.

Nike Promotional ProductsNike
In our book, Nike is a winner all the way. The brand carries more oomph than virtually any other brand on the market today. The Nike swoosh is possibly the most recognizable logo ever created. And there are a number of Nike products available to the promotional products industry including apparel, golf balls, golf bags, sunglasses, golf shoes and golf clubs.

M&MsM&Ms
Edibles are often overlooked as promotional gifts, but there’s typically no faster way to a client’s heart than through their stomach. And it doesn’t stop with the M&Ms. We’ve got Skittles, Jelly Belly, LifeSavers and much more. Yum. Great packaging and decoration ideas. All you’ve got to do is ask.

All of this is just the beginning. We’ve got Alicia Klein, Baden, BIC, Case Logic, Cutter & Buck, FootJoy, Jockey, Munsingwear, Pinnacle, Prang, RCC Koozie, Sharpie, Slinky, Tervis Tumbler, Thermos, Titleist, uni-ball, Wilson, Zippo and much more. Utilizing a name brand will help you build your own brand awareness.

Promotional Products Increase Trade Show Traffic

According to PPAI (Promotional Products Association International):

• 72% of trade show attendees who received a promotional product remembered the name of the company that gave them the product.

• 76% of attendees had a favorable attitude toward the company that gave them the product.

• Including a promotional product with a pre-show mailing increases the likelihood of an attendee stopping by the booth.

• As a rule, promotional products of greater value generate more sales leads than products of lower value.

Take Time to Listen

Just Shut Up and ListenWhat is the number one complaint customers make about salespeople? According to a survey conducted by the Purchasing Manager’s Association of America, it’s that salespeople talk too much and listen too little.

Poor salespeople dominate the talking. Top sales people dominate the listening.

Here are some tips for active listening:

1. Avoid distractions. Listening is best done in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere.

2. Interact through body language. Stay alert and interested in the conversation.

3. Don’t interrupt. Sounds easy. It’s not.

4. Don’t be afraid of silence. If you ask a question, wait for the answer. Don’t feel as if you have to fill every void in the conversation.

5. Make sure that you understand what the customer is saying. Paraphrase and repeat what the customer has said to make sure that you’re both on the same page.

6. Ask pertinent questions, and don’t be afraid to clarify.

7. Avoid arguing and stay focused.

8. Summarize points that have been made at key moments.

Your customers want to feel like they are the most important thing in your world. They deserve your undivided attention, even if it’s only for a few minutes.