Is Facebook Still Worth The Effort?

facebook-moneyI don’t know about you, but there has been an awful lot of fuss lately about changes once again on Facebook. It seems the “algorithm” keeps changing and as a business owner, you have likely seen a dramatic drop in the visibility of your posts. Although I understand this seems very frustrating, I am not really all that surprised. Facebook – at its core – is a business just like yours. They are around to make money, just like you. That is why it just makes me laugh when people get so frustrated when things change on Facebook. It has been primarily free for a long time, and still is by the way, but if you want more, you have to pay to play. It is no different with your business. There is only so much you will do for free, then the customer has to pay if they want more. So if you are whining – STOP. Start asking yourself what will you do about it?

The big question that must be answered first: is YOUR target market hanging out on Facebook? Will it be worth a small investment to have a presence on there. More than likely, the answer is yes since it is still the most used platform. Of course there are other major players like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, blah blah blah. But is your target market – the ones with the money to spend on your services – frequenting Facebook? If the answer is yes, than we can have this conversation. So, how much are you willing to pay to play? There really are only three categories to choose from.

I want to stick with using it for free.
Fine. That is your prerogative and decision. So be smart about it. The algorithim has changed. So you have to change with it. Some suggestions I have to get the most out of using Facebook for free are:

  • Check your insights.
    If you are still on the non-updated version of the business Facebook pages, this will be in the upper right hand corner. If not, it is to the left. Click on the word “insights” in the admin panel of your page. Once there, click on “People”. You will see what the age and sex of the majority of your fans are. Interesting, but then click on “People Engaged” right below that. This may be different than the age group of your fans. Find out who is coming to your page, male or female. How old are they? Once you have done that, click on “Posts.” This will tell you the time of day that those people are on Facebook. This is invaluable. If you have been posting first thing in the morning, but this data shows they are on at night, you are doing it all wrong. The insights are there to help you. So use them.
  • Schedule your posts from Facebook. Not a third party.
    I agree, this is a pain in the butt. But the truth is, Facebook wants you to be on their site at all times, not Hootsuite or Sendible or something similar. So try scheduling your posts directly from Facebook. Do it for a couple of weeks. Then check your insights again. Did it make a difference? If so, react accordingly.
  • Post more often.
    Sad but true. If your posts are not viewed as often, than you are just going to have to post more often. But make sure you are posting meaningful content. Remember 80% of what you are posting should be educational and helpful. Don’t constantly post “buy from me” types of status updates. No one likes to be sold to. But everyone like to be educated and inspired. Find great quotes, fun pictures or make your own and link them back to your blog! I cannot stress enough how much you should be blogging anyway for Google to pick up your website, but you can also link them to your Facebook page.

I have a little money to spend.
Awesome. And when I say little, I mean it can be as little as $30 a month. The way to do this is to “boost your post”. There will be a blue button at the bottom right of your post. When you click this button it will give you a bunch of questions to answer. Who is the audience you are targeting? What is your budget? How long do you want this ad to run? Simply answer the questions and off you go. Special note: The only posts you should be putting money behind and boosting are the ones that link back to your website. Ideally to a blog post that has something educational and actionable for them to do. You would be surprised the reach you will get just from spending $30 on a post. Try it and see what reaction you get.

I am willing to invest some advertising dollars.
If you have money to spend, then you should take the time to learn how to set up a proper Facebook Ad Campaign. This can be done just doing a regular ad, www.facebook.com/ads, but if you are investing some big dollars, I recommend using the Facebook Power Editor feature that gives you a lot more options to target the people you are going after. This is more complicated and takes some learning, but you will see great results. If you have no clue what I am talking about, or if you have never used the Power Editor before, I highly suggest getting educated. A great course to learn how to do this is through Socialmouths. They have a great class, Likeable to Profitable that will explain everything step by step with videos. It can get complicated, which is why this is a great course.

The key to this is simply one thing. Test and measure. Track where your clients are coming from, where they spend their time, where they go first to look for the services you offer. What works for you will not necessarily work for someone else. Marketing is a constant state of test and measure, trying to see what works, and then sticking with that until it no longer works and then moving on to something else. If you have any questions, of course you can always just ask me!

So what works for you? What have you been trying lately that is helping you get more business? Post them in the comments!

Who Is Your Accountability Partner?

“Where Your Time And Efforts Go, So Too Goes Your Company”

Held-AccountableHow many of you seem to get caught up in daily life and get pulled in a million directions? Before you know it, the day is over and you have not accomplished half of what was on your to-do list? This is is a pretty normal situation for small business owners. All it seems to take is one phone call or one email to derail the entire day’s agenda. The to-do list just keeps growing because you put things on the back burner that really need to get done.

But the fact of the matter is you have to get all of those things done. You have  to focus on all the tasks at hand – especially the revenue generating tasks. The ones that have the potential to push the business onward and upward. Often these are the tasks that get pushed back the most. They are usually time consuming, and possibly expensive, and sometimes even scary.

I bet you thought that when you went into business for yourself you would never have to answer to anyone. That is simply not true. There is a reason larger companies have a board of directors or some sort of management – the business needs structure and accountability. There has to be a person, or group of people, to be there to nudge you in the right direction when you are not accomplishing the projects that should be your main focus.

But how does one go about creating an accountability plan or finding an accountability partner? I touched on this very topic in my book, Soulmate Proprietors: How To Run A Business With Your Spouse And STAY Married. In the last chapter, I speak specifically about forming your own Board of Directors. This is true of any business, not just ones run by couples. However it also does not necessarily need to be a large group. It could be one or two people. However you decide to set it up, you will want to focus on some key elements:

  • Choose someone or a few people who are not afraid to tell you the truth – no matter how painful.
  • Book at the very least a monthly accountability session with them. 
  • Find someone who has strengths where you have weaknesses so they can guide you where you need the most help.
  • Take a look at the systems that run your business. Are they helpful or disruptive and expensive. 
  • Determine what is not your skill set and either learn what you need to become better – or delegate and MOVE ON!
  • Work with them to establish SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)
  • Establish a DEFINITIVE timeline AND deadline for those goals. 
  • Create fair consequences for not achieving those goals. Punishment is not necessary – but there are ALWAYS consequences.

Accountability is a must have for every small business owner. So get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The longer you run from someone holding you accountable, the longer it will take for you to achieve your goals and put your business in the position you want it to be in.  I, personally, have someone who holds me accountable because I practice what I preach. I also provide accountability services for my clients.

What works for you as a small business owner? What are some ways you have inserted accountability in your business?

 

How Are You Using Your Gifts?

SpiritualGiftsGraphicSo last week was the final episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It was funny, entertaining, and even sad at the end when he was saying a very heartfelt and tearful good-bye. I have to admit I was very touched by his closing remarks. The episode itself , as I said, was very entertaining due to the amount of celebrities that turned out to sing a farewell song to him. Compile that with the long list of people who filmed their well wishes from afar, and the many guests that wanted to appear with him one more time before he went off the air, I would say he was well loved and well respected.

But what is he going to do now?

Now I am not spending time obsessing about the goings on of Jay Leno, but if I were him, I would be capitalizing on my gifts, talents and rolodex. He has the ability to reach so many people, and do so much good in the world. What an amazing feeling to have that much power, to know that YOU can make that much of an impact on the world. I was sitting on the couch fussing to my husband; “I really hope he uses his time now to do something good for the world. He has so many connections, business savvy, and a tremendous work ethic, it would be a crime to let it go to waste.”

And then it hit me….we all should be like Jay Leno.

As a woman, no offense guys, I have a tendency to overcommit myself and not say no when asked to do volunteer work. A lot of women have this problem/issue. From a young age, I was brought up to pitch in, help out, give your time. I will admit there have been many instances when I got carried away with that and it took its toll on my family. I have learned through the years when to say yes and when to say no. I have learned to take a step back and really analyze where my strengths lie and what organization would benefit the most from them.

Along the way, I have had many role models. I have stood in awe of the time people give to support new businesses each and every time new doors are opened. I have watched a very dear friend organize and run countless auctions to give to various non-profits in the hopes for doing some good not just locally, but all over the world. (Shout out to Dave Toby!) I have been humbled by watching another organization give tirelessly to help the sick all because of a personal experience they went through with a family member. (Shout out to 3 Little Birds 4 Life. Check them out.) And the list goes on and on.

I, myself, am inspired every year to give my own time. I sit on several boards, participate in non-profit auctions, be an ear to people going through tough times, offering help when I have the ability to do so – or find someone who can. I even contemplated starting my own non-profit after my mother died – true story. That is quite the undertaking, so I decided to support existing ones and give my gifts and talents to them.

So I ask you, how are you utilizing your gifts? It would be a crime to sit back, watch and not get involved when you can do SOMETHING. If you have the ability and the means to donate, great. If you have the ability and the means to run auctions and raise money, fantastic. Or maybe you could give your time making phone calls, organizing mailings, or even simply creating awareness through your social media channels. There are so many ways to give. Find a cause you care about – and jump in to help.

Use your gifts to help others and make a difference. We are all capable in some way. I promise you, it will be worth it. And you never know what will develop from it.

Incentives Vs. Coupons In Your Business – Where Do You Draw The Line?

Discount-CouponAs the new year begins, many business owners start to look at their marketing plans, go over budgets, look at year end numbers, and try to come up with a game plan that will keep people coming in the door.  A common question that comes up when I have marketing conversations with my clients is the topic of incentives. Should you use a “coupon” to get new people in the door? Do you need to give an “introductory offer” to entice them?

This is a very dangerous game to play. The use of coupons and offers can hurt your profits and affect the perceived value of your services. The perceived value of what you do will drop if people soon discover they can get your services cheaper. Discounts are meant to reinforce the idea that the most important thing to consider is price. If you are not in business to be the cheapest offer out there, than a coupon is not for you. Incentives are different. Incentives, when done right, specifically speak to:

Their needs and desires.

Let’s take a look at their needs, specifically their urgent needs. Those are things that they must have right now, usually problems that need to be solved and often things they are wanting to move away from. Their desires are the things they are moving toward. If you address their needs and desires, and then show them the number one result they get from doing business with you, you will will have achieved your goal. Let’s face it, when someone comes looking for the services you provide, they are looking to solve a problem or achieve a goal. Every product or service you offer must have one big promise. You must focus on how to fulfill that promise, thus winning the sale or job.

Now let’s break this down into a simple example. Houlihan’s, a very popular restaurant chain in the United States with 84 locations, has a very simple way of getting people in the door for lunch. It is called “The Nooner.” Simply put, lunch in 20 minutes or it is free. You can read all about it on their website under their menu information. This is a really simple way of giving an incentive, and speaking to the needs and desires of your target market. Houlihan’s caters to the “corporate” crowd in most locations. Typically, these people have only an hour for lunch which includes drive time. They need good food and fast. Houlihan’s has developed a tasty menu that can be prepared quickly, thus enticing people to visit them for lunch. And if they fall down on the job, it is free. There is no coupon. There is no loss of money unless they do not do their job. I will report I have never seen this happen. They get me in and out and on my way. When I worked for corporate America, this was key. I longed for a great place to escape to for lunch, but I had “the man” watching to make sure I got back on time. So I got a great meal for a great price in a flash. They focused on what their target market needed, and met the need. And the results I got were tasty! Better yet, I wanted to go back for more. Even better!

So your job is to be like Houlihan’s. Figure out what your client’s needs and desires are. What is the number one biggest result they get from working with you? Address those concerns and provide a way that they can do business with you that will alleviate those needs and desires, and solve their number one issue and you will not need a coupon. Their incentive is to achieve what you promise they will achieve if they work with you. No coupon required. Trust me, price your services fairly, deliver on the number one biggest result, and they will not care if there was a coupon. And the value of what you provide will speak volumes.

**Author’s note: Houlihan’s has some of the greatest marketing out there. Entertaining, funny, and makes you want to come back. They are doing it right. Check it out on their website.***

Are You Living Your Passion?

DSC_4261When did it become such a crime to do what you love every day?

I have my clients fill out a goal sheet every year and list what they want to accomplish in their business for the following year. Most of the time they just try to figure out ways to increase the status quo – find a way to increase more of what they are currently doing, even if it is not what they want to do. And I say… why? Why are you doing that? Why are you not doing what truly makes you happy?

One of my clients had the guts to literally say what they wanted. And it was eye opening – for both of us. She told me exactly the kind of work she was wanting to do. And it was amazing. When she described it to me she lit up like a Christmas tree. I was so happy for her! She literally said out loud what she wanted to do.

But now comes the scary part…How do you make it happen? How do you find the clients and the work that truly fulfill you. So here are my answers….

Name the organizations/clients that you WANT to work with. Think about how you can help them and then formulate programs, packages, incentives, whatever it is that will BENEFIT them! Think of their needs and desires: what are they wanting to move toward and move away from. List the deep rooted benefits they get when working with you. Then – seal the deal with the number one biggest result they get from working with YOU!

Start with the low hanging fruit. Get in touch with the people you already know and have a relationship with and ask them to make a personal introduction. Email introductions work great as well. Most people are more inclined to trust a recommendation from a friend, so make sure you ask your friends to represent YOU!

Develop a Direct Outreach Strategy. A Direct Outreach Strategy is one where you list the people that you want to get to know and put them on a list of people you want to interact with at least once a month. Get to know them, research them, offer them SINCERE words of praise when they do something great. Become part of their inner circle. Remember: people do business with people they know, like and trust!

I recently read a post from Seth Godin that talks about “Getting Lost On The Shelf”. In this post Seth states:

A friend got some feedback on a new project proposal recently. “It will have trouble standing out on a shelf that’s already crowded.”

The thing is, every shelf in every store and especially online is crowded. The long tail made the virtual shelves infinitely long, which means that every record, every widget, every job application, every book, every website, every non-profit… all of it… is on a crowded shelf.

And the problem with a crowded shelf is that your odds of getting found and getting picked are slim indeed, slimmer than ever before.

Which is why ‘the shelf’ can’t be your goal. If you need to get picked from the shelf/slush pile/transom catchbasin then you’ve already lost.

The only opportunity (which of course, is the best opportunity ever for most of us) is to skip depending on being found on the shelf and go directly to people who care. To skip the shelf and get talked about. To skip the shelf and be the one and only dominator in a category of one, a category that couldn’t really exist if you weren’t in it.

That’s hard to visualize, because it doesn’t match what you’ve been taught and what our culture has (until recently) celebrated, but it’s what’s on offer now.

Shelf space is available to all of us, but by itself, it’s insufficient for much of anything.

That is the last point I want to make: Find your target market and speak to THEM. Find the people that care. Again, if you speak to their needs and desires, address the deep rooted benefits and the result they get from working with you, you will accomplish your goal. Find the people that energize, inspire you, and allow you to do your best work – and you will achieve great success. And speak to them in a medium they will understand: email, social media, video, networking, you name it. It will work if you go to where they get their information.

It takes a lot of courage to draw a line in the sand and say WHO you want to work with.

But I promise – it is worth it.

What Are Business Owners Thankful For?

be-thankful-for-your-business-660x369Yes, it is November and it is the time for the proverbial “What Are You Thankful For” posts and articles. It is also where you see everyone on Facebook listing out their daily diatribe of what they are thankful for. This time of year typically makes most people stop and think about giving thanks, Facebook just makes it easy. Now is also the time of year where I am working with all my clients to help them get their marketing and blogging schedules together so they can face the new year ready to go. As I meet with each and every one of them and try to help them stay on top of everything that has to get done – especially before the end of the year – the conversation always comes up on how to be more organized, what can save me money, how do I work smarter not harder, the list goes on.

So it got me thinking. I should put together a list of “must haves”. My “what am I thankful for and could not live without” list.  My husband and I obviously rely heavily on technology for our work. I mean, duh, you have no choice when you are married to a technology expert. But every year something changes and as I look back on all that has happened, it is hard to imagine not having the things on my list while I work. So this “What Am I Thankful For” list is in regards to my running my business.

1. My iPhone – Wow. What an invention. I even posted the question of what are you thankful for on my Facebook page and the responses were overwhelming towards the iPhone. I asked one of my friends and business owner her thoughts and she agreed – iPhone. And who could blame her? Almost every item on this list mentions an “App for that” and it is true. The iPhone allows me to run my business from virtually anywhere. Email, contacts, my calendar, the Internet – all at your fingertips and it instantly connects you with whatever you need to do to run your small business. I look back and laugh at all the extra steps we had to take to accomplish things we do now with a few taps on our iPhone. Simply amazing. If you are not on the iPhone bandwagon – get there. You will not regret it.

2. Trello – this is an online “work in progress” board that everyone in your company can log onto to see the status of projects. You can also create checklists, attach photos, drawings, and deadlines that will email you reminders. You can organize each project, called a “board”, and assign project managers to it. You can archive past projects as well if you need to refer to something you did in the past. Best part – totally free. And of course, there is an app for that. So you can add something to your to-do list when you are on the go.

3. Quickbooks Online – in full disclosure, I am a recent convert. I was über careful about my Quickbooks and ridiculously anal with it. So I kicked my feet and screamed all the way through this process. And sadly – that was unnecessary. It really has been a huge help. Not only can my husband see and fill out his own receipts and invoices, but I do not have to worry about sending my accountant my QuickBooks file periodically. You simply invite them to have “Accountant” access so they can jump on and see everything you see. And of course, everything is online so back ups are taken care of. And once again, there are apps for that, so you can fill out sales receipts on the go when you are in the moment. Genius.

4. Neat Receipts – as I mentioned above, I am anal when it comes to keeping track of my business. I used to keep every single receipt of every purchase, so naturally it was a paperwork nightmare – and difficult to store. I have boxes of files with our receipts – even when I just bought a cup of coffee when I was with a client. But as of January this year, I went paperless. So now, my handy little scanner is scanning all of those crazy receipts and I have categories listed in the software that match the categories in Quickbooks so I can pull up a receipt instantly and print it off, email it, you name it. It’s so handy – especially if someone else needs the receipt for something.

5. Square – this is one of my favorites. Who would have thought years ago that small businesses could have the ability to swipe credit cards from anywhere and not be charged out the wazoo for it? Super convenient, I can run a card from my desktop and of course, from my iPhone – yes, there is an app for that. My Square account lets me play with the big boys. And they just announced last week that they would eliminate waiting periods and transaction limits. They are here to play.

6. WordPress – a simply genius web platform that puts the control back in the lay person’s hands. Starting out as mostly a blogging interface, WordPress has really come a long way with its capabilities and functions. Now you can build fully functioning websites that can also be a web store and more. Or if you are into simplicity, it can still just be a blog. The beauty is that you can log on and update your info in seconds. No more calling the webmaster and being charged every time you want a simple change. I used to have clients that kept a running list of all the items they wanted changed on their website. They would wait until they had a certain number before they called so they would not be overcharged by their webmaster. Ridiculous. This is your business and your website. You should have the control. WordPress makes this happen.

7. My Red Velvet Rope Policy – back in 2007 I met a wonderful person named Michael Port and took his coaching program, Book Yourself Solid. It changed my life – and my company philosophy. Lesson #1 in that system is called the “Red Velvet Rope Policy”. It simply states to only work with the people that energize and inspire you and motivate you to do your best work. Analyze the qualities – not necessarily the circumstances – of the people you want to work with and surround yourself with those people. Be bold, brave, and fully self-expressed when you are marketing so you attract them and you will love what you do every day. This method is not hard, but it is courageous in the beginning when you are trying to get your business off the ground. But once you do it, trust me, you will never go back. I truly love all of my clients and can not imagine not working with such amazing people on a daily business.

8. Constant Contact – I have been using this system for six years now. It was truly ahead of its time then and continues to grow and adapt to new and emerging technology. For those of you that don’t know, it is an email database system that stores all of your email addresses and lets you send email newsletters, postcards, invitations, standard emails, etc. to your network. They have newsletter templates you can use, you can create your own if you wish, or you can have their designers do it for you. They house all the emails, so they handle all the drama that goes with sending out large volumes of e-mail. If one is kicked back due to a bad address, they let you know in the email stats and you can take care of it from there. I also like that it is a monthly fee that is a flat rate, and you are not charged per email you send out. So you can stay connected to your network every day if you wanted. And of course, there is an app where you can add people’s email addresses on the go – so you can keep you database up to date wherever you are. There are also WordPress plugins so you can have people sign up for your newsletter right from your website.

9. Being My Own Boss - I’m pretty sure this goes without saying. Now mind you, I still have deadlines and projects and things that have to be done on time and to someone else’s satisfaction, but that is easy to do when you adhere to the Red Velvet Rope Policy (#7). The beauty of this point is that I didn’t totally realize how important it was to me until some of life’s larger situations came up that I had to deal with. Things like children being born or needing me for a million different things. Or when my mother was so sick and I was the only one who could do anything about it – because I could. I consider myself super fortunate that I was able to handle her passing the way I wanted and needed to. This wasn’t something I could have done if I was not my own boss.

10. Other Business Owners – this is one that took me a long time to appreciate. In the beginning of being a novice business owner, I thought that everything had to be figured out on your own or for a very steep price. Not true. Other small business owners WANT to help you and are happy to do so if you ask for help. There is an unspoken camaraderie that motivates us all to help one another. We share best practices, mistakes, wins, losses, and lists like this one that can help one another run their business better. Think of these people as your own personal Board of Directors and include them when you need help. I recommend joining your local Chamber of Commerce and start developing these relationships  so you can have someone to lean on when you need it.

That pretty much sums up a brief list of what I am thankful for. Honorable mentions also include Contactually, my MacBook Pro, Time Capsule, Pandora, a second monitor, Social Media, and wine.  I could go on, but I want to hear from you. What, as a business owner, are you thankful for?

 

Google AdWords Vs. Facebook. Which Is Better For My Business?

google-vs-facebookAs a small business owner, I am very particular and very careful where I spend my marketing dollars, as I am sure most small business owners are. I think it is safe to say that over the last 16 years of owning a technology business with my husband, we have tried just about everything or at least looked into it. Times sure have changed though! When we first started there was the usual newspaper ads, specialty magazines, direct mail, Welcome Wagon, you name it. But of course over the course of the years, technology has taken over and a lot of business owners are moving to the world of online ads.

The world of online ads is vast and can get very confusing. Google Adwords, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, LinkedIn ads, even ads on websites of online publications give us plenty of options to spend our money and get frustrated. So the question I get from all of my clients is:

Where do I spend my money when it comes to online advertising?

Typically, we are talking about Google vs. Facebook, so let’s just focus on that for now.

The answer, of course, is not that simple. Ideally you would to implement BOTH a Facebook and Google campaign for your business. There are many similarities between the two:

  • Both have massive sized audiences.
  • Both have a PPC (Pay Per Click) method.
  • Both can be turned off at a moments notice if need be.
  • Both give you an opportunity to expand your reach with multiple pages, i.e. a business Facebook page or a Google + Business page.

But the key differences will lie in the answer to the following question. What is your purpose? Are you trying to promote your knowledge, your service, your product?

People are on Facebook longer, so Facebook would be the preferred method for building your brand or establishing yourself as the category authority. It also allows you to zero in on specific interests of people. So if you were a technology expert like my husband, you would focus on people who were in groups about technology or have technology listed in their interests.

Google, however, has the advantage when it comes to web searches. That is where everyone goes when they are looking for something specific, right? Google Adwords would then be the perfect place for a business looking to drive people to a specific product or service. Google also offers what is called Google remarketing. which involves showing ads to users based on their past web searches, meaning it will show up on multiple sites you are searching where ads can be visible. This is huge compared to Facebook which only shows their ads on their own site.

So bottom line, it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish, what your budget is, and how quickly you want to move things along. As I mentioned before, it is best to utilized both strategies at the same time if you can. For help setting up a Google Adwords campaign, visit their help center. For Facebook ad help, you can also visit their help center.

Or – you can call the Queen Bee. :)

Which Social Media Platform Is Best For You?

fbs-socialmedia-692x398While some people think of social media as a necessary evil, I personally think it is one of the best marketing tools there are. Not only just for marketing, but great for just plain keeping in touch with your clients. When talking about social media, the question I get asked the most is “Which social media platform is best for me,” quickly followed by “Do I need to do all of them”? Social media is no different than any other type of marketing platform. It boils down to understanding some basic fundamentals and then applying that knowledge to your business. To help you on your social media journey, I have picked some concepts I feel are incredibly important and very necessary to find out which social media platforms are best for your situation.

1. Target Market

The first thing you need to do is define who your target market is. Who are they and where are they hanging out to get their information? How old are they? Are they even on social media? Digital or not, you need to know the answer to this question before you spend a moment of your time or any of your marketing dollars. Is your company more business to business focused (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C)? There is a great infographic on Social Barrel that analyzes the audiences that are on the ten most popular social media platforms. Check it out here.

2. What Are You Trying To Accomplish? 

Equally important to understanding your target market is setting specific goals for what you want to achieve with your social media efforts. Are you looking to improve your SEO (search engine optimization), increase traffic to your website, increase brand exposure, promote a specific event, and/or increase customer engagement? For example, YouTube and your own frequently updated blog are the best platforms to focus on if your goal is improving SEO. Facebook and Pinterest are great for driving traffic to your site and increasing customer engagement.

3. Stay Current On Social Media Trends

Although Facebook is typically considered the go-to social media for brands, Twitter has actually surpassed Facebook in some areas of business. And a few years ago big businesses were not on Pinterest at all, yet it is quickly becoming one of the major players in the social media scene having surpassed LinkedIn in traffic. For the most part, you will be safe if you have a presence on the top platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.

4. Track Your Efforts

I wrote a blog post on this last month, and I continue to feel strongly about it. You can read it by clicking here, but suffice to say, if you don’t track where your customers are coming from, you may as well flush all of your time and money down the drain. I cannot stress this point enough.

5. What Is The Biggest Mistake To Avoid?

Not having a well-thought out social media plan. You must have a plan in motion with specific goals and stick to it. Consistency  and  accountability is a big key. Then evaluate and refine your strategy at least on a monthly basis. Then you can identify which platforms are working for you, if they are converting into customers and sales, and which ones to ditch and focus on more. Even if you only focus on ONE strategy – be consistent!

6. Start With Your Talents

You can always begin with a platform that comes naturally to you. If you are great at video, begin with an outstanding YouTube channel. Make compelling videos with a call to action and then post them. Great at taking pictures? Try Pinterest and then tag them back to your website where people can engage with you and buy your services. Start with something that comes easily to you so you don’t get frustrated and give up. Then you can start linking that successful account to other social media accounts and go viral!

Social media does not need to be hard, confusing and cumbersome. Start with these basic fundamentals and take it one step at a time. Have fun with it too. Show off your personality – people like to do business with people they know, like and trust so make sure your personality comes through! If you make social media fun you won’t put it off!

If You Don’t Track, You Don’t Have Jack

budget-allocationAdmittedly, this title is a bit harsh. I blame my husband for this. But even in its semi-extreme “crassness” – it is 100% accurate.

I am referring to your marketing. I know a lot of people tend to groan when I even bring up this word. It is a rather large, all encompassing task. Marketing can mean a million different things and it can be done a million different ways. There are also a million different books, blogs, newsletters, and magazines all about it. But no matter how you slice it, it really all comes back to one thing:

Are you tracking where people are coming from?

If the answer is no, then you are wasting your time and money on all your efforts. You may as well take some scissors to your money.

I wanted to write about this topic specifically this time because I have seen a consistent pattern with my new and prospective clients as of late. None of them are tracking where their new people are coming from. This is imperative to your marketing plan. If you don’t track, you have no idea which method is working. You have no clue where to keep spending your marketing dollars. So I have come up with a short “best practices” list for tracking your efforts.

1. Front Line Personnel

They represent your company. They are your first line of offense when new people walk in and/or call. I have spent countless hours training my own staff as well. Your front line must understand it is IMPERATIVE to their job that they ask, “How did you find us?” Unfortunately, this is often overlooked or simply not done. We all know there are forms to fill out when we go somewhere new. There is always a line on that form asking “How did you find us?” Quite often it is not filled in. Then it becomes your front line person’s responsibility to ASK. Their job is to make sure all the information on the form is filled out. ESPECIALLY THIS LINE. Make sure your staff knows it is a priority. If new people stop coming, so does their paycheck.

2. Keep Detailed Records

You have to keep the information about who they are and where they came from in ONE PLACE. This can be done a multitude of different ways, but the important thing is to keep up with it and stay current. In the beginnings of my business, I used a simple spreadsheet on Excel. I made tabs at the bottom, one for each month of the year, and typed the person’s name in the first column and then where they came from in the next column. At the bottom, I would list the totals. Over time, I began to see a pattern of where they were coming from. This information was invaluable! I knew exactly what types of marketing were working for me and where to keep spending my time and money. Obviously, this is pretty basic. You can use various CRM softwares like zoho.com or highrisehq.com that also have other features that will help. But once again – you have to keep up with it. It will pay off, trust me.

3. Code All Your Materials

My husband and I love QR codes. They are easy to make and easy to link to wherever you need them to go. Just make sure you make one for each type of marketing material you are creating. For example, put a separate code on your brochures, on every ad you send to a newspaper, every direct mail piece or flyer, coupons and so on. If you are using email, Constant Contact is what I recommend and they will track how many people are opening your eblast and where they are clicking if links are included. If you are setting up  a web based promotion, set up a specific landing page on your website and then use Google Analytics to track who is visiting that page. Need help with that – I know a guy.

4. Measure Your Mentions

There are free tools on the web that will make you aware of when you or your service are being mentioned. Track your company’s name, your product, your promotion, your service, whatever it is and set up a Google Alert or at TweetBeep. Then any time someone is searching for what you are selling on Google or Twitter, you will know about it.

5. Cost of Conversion

How much did it cost to run that campaign? How many people came from it? How much money are they spending with you? If they are not spending enough to cover the cost of the marketing campaign and turn a profit – then you need to re-examine that method. You have to track not only the amount you spent, but the time, and other ancillary costs like website fees and labor involved.

Bottom line is – you cannot manage what you cannot measure. If you are not doing something to try to keep track of where your new clients are coming from, then all of your efforts are a waste of time and money. Find a system that works for you, and be diligent on keeping up with it.

 

Why Am I So Busy?

994839_10151538171177916_1316245282_nSo there I am, diligently working away for my clients on Facebook, and I come across a blog post from Hands Free Mama. I implore you to stop reading my post and read hers so you will understand what I am about to tell you.

While I was reading her post, I just started crying. I could have written every word. I, too, have been living the distracted life for the last 10 years, I am ashamed to admit. I, too, have a “Noticer” child that is extremely observant, hears things you don’t think she does, and is pokey and likes to take her time and not be rushed. She is never in a hurry, and is always smiling. She delights in her “jammy days” while I give her a hard time about not being dressed. I am the proverbial Type A personality and have tunnel vision focused solely on my To-Do List for the day. I say “Hurry Up” or “Let’s Go Ladies!” all the time, and don’t even think twice about it. I am a bully to my sweet children who only want to enjoy what they are doing.

This post hit me so hard.

Why am I doing this? Why am I so busy? Why are so many other women like me? What can we do to stop this?

I commented on Rachel Stafford’s blog and clicked the option to be notified by email when other’s commented after me. Sadly, my email was bombarded with the constant replies of “I could have wrote this”, “this is exactly what I do”, “your post touched me and inspired me”. Yes ladies, we are not alone. And I vowed to start my own ban on saying “hurry up”.

But how do entrepreneurs do this? As a married, self-employed mother of two, how do you get it all done? How do you manage family demands AND still manage to grow your business? I have given this a lot of thought and it really boils down to one thing.

Baby steps.

I am not perfect, nor do I have all the answers, but perhaps my baby steps will help you formulate your own baby steps.

Step #1: Patience

Not only patience with my “pokey” daughters when I feel we are in a rush, but patience with myself. It is going to take a lot of effort to un-do the Type A tendencies that have ruled my life for the last 38 years. Rome was not built in a day, and I can be particularly hard on myself, so I must give myself reminders to be patient, but also give myself forgiveness when I am not patient.

Step #2: Decide what is truly necessary

My husband pointed this out to me. Why is it that so many entrepreneurs want more..more…more? Is it because we really need the money? Is it because we are told we are not “successful” until we hit X amount of dollars in the bank? Is it greed? I am not really sure how this started, but I am guilty of this as well. Keep working, keep plugging away, keep my face buried into whatever project I am working on with no real finish line. So Step 2 is determine what is necessary and once that is achieved – enjoy it. Enjoy the fruits of my labor.  Stop saying “I don’t have time” and simply make the time to enjoy what I have created.

Step 3: Worry Less

I think as entrepreneurs, we put too much energy into worrying. Worrying if our next big project is good enough, worrying about what our peers think of us, worrying about where the next client will be coming from, the list goes on and on. Why are we giving Worry so much power? I will admit I am a champion worrier. I really should have a gold medal. So much so, it has affected my health in the past. And for what? Worrying does not add minutes to your life or dollars to your bank account. Instead, I am choosing faith. I have made it this far and nothing has blown up, so surely, I am doing something right. I am choosing to have faith in my ability to think on my feet, my ability to problem solve some real doozies, my kids, my husband, my friends and fellow entrepreneurs, and really, just flat out having faith in myself.

So I challenge you to do the same. Stop being so “busy” and always “in a hurry”. It does not make you a better person or business owner. It just makes you miss out.

What baby steps will you institute today to banish “hurry up”  and stop the glorification of being “busy”?

 

 

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