Advertising Isn’t Dead

Advertising isn’t dead, it’s just changed venues.  Small businesses control 83 percent of all local advertising — but that’s only because there are so many of them (15 million businesses in the U.S. ), not because they’re big spenders. The average small business spent just $11,740 on advertising in 2010, about $2,300 of it online. Small businesses are spending less on yellow pages, radio and print and more on-line particularly with their own web sites.

Proactive Customer Response

A Dallas firm may soon replace traditional corporate call center operators with social media agents who handle Facebook, Twitter and more.  By using high-tech web-scanning tools to monitor bloggers, YouTubers and Facebookers, Working Solutions home-based customer engagement agents have the opportunity via text, chat or Tweet, to handle angry callers or bloggers who want to vent. In business since 1996, Working Solutions’ makes your grandmother’s call center a thing of the past!  This Dallas-based corporation provides more than 70,000 home-based customer service agents, trained to be proactive problem-solvers, to corporate clients who want to improve customer contact and reduce their costs. With agents monitoring up to 180 million unique websites and blogs looking for pertinent corporate names or terms, this service is a win-win for clients who also get a guarantee they will achieve an 8-14% increase in ROI while meeting or improving current service levels – or Working Solutions will make up the difference! On an upcoming Small Business Hour Show.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational Leaders overtly change organizations with an implied promise to followers that they also will be transformed in some way. When practiced effectively it enhances the motivation, morale and performance of followers through a variety of mechanisms. In order to create followers a leader has to be very careful in winning genuine trust. Their personal integrity is a critical part of the package that they are selling. The following are some of the ways to practice of transformational leadership:

  • Become the chief learner and inspirer
  • Listen to understanding rather than respond
  • Set the example
  • Learn the art of self-reflection
  • Share the leadership role

Process Follows People

Today business leaders have no choice but to be focused on proactive, income sustaining activities. This is of course critical in a market where demand is short and discretionary spending is compressed. As important as execution I most leaders become hyper fixated on the “process” and the “work.” The result of this may mean that our “people” take a backseat to the processes. People are the element which most distinguishes one product or service from another. While Products are becoming more homogeneous, people and relationships are becoming more integral in producing business results. My advise is to take caution in your relationships both with internal stakeholders (employees, team members, leaders) as well as clients and external partners. Let’s face it there can be no effective process without dedicated, focused people!

Beyond Search Engine Optimization

Internet Marketing is essential for businesses of all sizes in today’s economy.  At this point, most business owners have engaged in at least a normal Search Engine Optimization plan based around finding external sites to link back to their own site, and having employees or an outsourced provider writing unique content to place online. A few years ago, this would have been sufficient to ensure a high ranking for nearly any search term.  With recent advances in search technology, however, it is no longer good enough to rely on traditional Search Engine Optimization techniques.  Below are some non-traditional ways of generating search traffic that can have an even bigger impact on your bottom line than link trades and content building.

  • Use Landing Pages
  • Ensure that local sites from Google and Yahoo are being used: 
  • Review sites
  • Community Pages
  • Create video content and You Tube Channel
  • Explore referral sites
  • Expand your use of social media sites
  • Explore the possibility of using a group buying site
  • Measure your results – Use the data and refine your efforts

We hope these tips help you refine your Internet Marketing efforts, and please contact us with any questions about how you can apply these techniques to your business.

We will expand on each of these topics over the coming weeks, so please be sure to check back for a further discussion of these topics.

When SEO Isn’t Enough

Internet Marketing is essential for all types of businesses and professions today. At this point, many businesses are already engaged in at least a typical Search Engine Optimization plan based around finding external sites to link back to their own site, and having employees or an outsourced provider writing unique content to place online. A few years ago, this would have been sufficient to ensure a high ranking for nearly any search term. With recent advances in search technology, however, it is no longer good enough to rely on traditional Search Engine Optimization techniques. Below are some non-traditional ways of generating search traffic that can have an even bigger impact on your bottom line than link trades and content building.

Use Landing Pages:
Construct simple lead generating pages on your website that allow for detailed reporting on the results of your online efforts. These pages should be designed strictly to capture leads- it can look much different than your normal website, and you may even wish to have it on a separate domain name. Effective lead generating pages often look look less “polished” than full-fledged websites, and should focus on real images of your products, the benefits someone receives from using your services, testimonials from actual customers, and a call to action.

Ensure that local sites from Google and Yahoo are being used:
Google Places and Yahoo Local results are another area for you to generate web traffic. Go to google.com/places and yahoo.com/local to claim your business listings. You can add your hours of business, location, and web address. When you have ensured the accuracy of your listing, contact some clients and ask them to post honest reviews and comments on your profiles. You may wish to offer an incentive for them to do so.

Review sites:
Sites such as Yelp allow the Internet community to rate and comment on the work done by specific companies. Search for your company on Yelp.com, and see what existing reviews you have. Communicate with some existing clients to ask them to add their honest feedback. Again, you may wish to offer an incentive to get a significant number of responses.

Create video content:
Changes in search results pages now show videos by default, and if you don’t have any video content, you’re missing an opportunity to rank highly for some potentially valuable search terms. Videos that tend to work well are: before/after, testimonials, product maintenance, buying tips, and installation instructions. Creating one or two videos of each type will give you a good chance of having your site receive visits for your desired keywords.

Explore referral sites:
Sites such as Angie’s List and Service Magic act as lead referral services, and they can be useful for some industries. Research referral sites for your business type and contact the sales departments to obtain a proposal for inclusion in their directories. Once you receive this information, evaluate their services and determine if they offer enough value to be included in your marketing campaign.

Expand your use of social media sites:
Crate profiles and log in to Twitter and Facebook daily and comment on interesting posts that other people put up. Being an active member of the community will raise your value on-line. If all you do is post your own content without interacting with others, they have no reason to engage with you when you do post content. Mark Cuban is a billionaire that runs a few highly successful companies, and he finds time to post to twitter and respond to blog comments every day, and he’s probably busier than just about anyone in the world of business. That’s one reason he’s so well liked- he interacts with anyone when he feels he can add something to a conversation. Interaction is what will help you turn connections on these sites into actual business.

Explore the possibility of using a group buying site:
The popularity of sites such as Groupon, Living Social, and Social Buy is at an all-time high. Contact a few of these sites and find out what type of deal you can offer that makes sense for both you and their network. If you can put together a reasonable offer and still be profitable on the deal, it is a way to reach a huge untapped audience. One note of caution- these sites are so popular these days that it’s possible you could become overwhelmed by responses, so make sure that you can handle the rapid influx of business if you use one of these sites.

Measure your results:
Create some metrics and reports that allow you to track and draw conclusions from your efforts. Use the data and refine your efforts, determining which initiatives should be continued, which should be dropped, and what your next steps should be.

We hope these tips help you to refine your Internet Marketing efforts, and please contact us with any questions about how you can apply these techniques to your business.

This article was provided by SBA Network Technology Specialist Matt Walker. You can reach him at mwalker@sbanetwork.org.