Don’t Be a Stranger in Promoting Your Brand

Leads To Sales ConversionWhat makes your brand stand out from the competition?

For some business owners, their products and/or services, customer service, pricing structure and more make the difference between a sale and not getting one.

No matter where you stand in securing more business, promoting your brand is crucial, especially in today’s competitive marketplace. Simply put, giving your brand the TLC it needs and deserves is more important than ever.

With that in mind, what are some ways you can make your brand stand out in 2016 and far beyond that?

Marketing Your Brand As Important As Ever

For starters, your brand needs constant and relevant attention, not the occasional marketing effort that unfortunately becomes all too commonplace for many business owners.

Whether it is due to budgetary constraints, limited time and effort available to properly market their brands or a lack of marketing expertise, too many brands do not get the full attention needed to be successful. As a result, the brands suffer from a lack of exposure, something that can be damaging to many businesses.

In order to properly spread the word regarding your brand, make sure you remember that:

  • Signs do matter – While you may think everyone in town and those who are passing by know about your business, the proper signage proves a great marketing vehicle for your brand. Whether you use mega led sign or another signage option, such information is crucial to directing consumers to your products and services, especially potential customers. With the right mega light emitting diodes (LED), your business can distance itself from competitors. Make sure your sign has custom content, is big and bright enough to grab consumer eyes, and is properly positioned for maximum attention;
  • Marketing must be continuous – Doing marketing tricks here and there will do little to promote and sustain your brand. Yes, your marketing budget might be tight at times, but don’t hesitate to move some funds around, giving marketing the added resources necessary to be successful. While your traditional marketing means have hopefully made a difference, have you done much in recent years with mobile marketing? If not, consider 2016 the year that you change your approach and become more mobile. As various reports show, mobile marketing is only expected to grow in the years to come, something you should definitely consider being a part of. If you don’t have the time and/resources to mount a serious mobile marketing approach this year and beyond, consider outsourcing those needs;
  • Happy customers are priceless – Never forget just how important happy customers are to your bottom line. When a customer leaves your store, completes an online purchase with you etc. you want to make sure there is a very good chance they will be coming back to you for more business. In doing so, they are more likely to tell those they know about you, their level of satisfaction with the product or service purchased, and their overall customer service experience. When you hit home runs in all of these areas, these customers will essentially be doing your marketing and advertising needs for free.

While there are other keys to successfully promoting your brand, having proper and effective signage, continual marketing, and happy customers are three great ways to increase the odds your business and your revenue stream continue to grow.

Photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers marketing topics on the web.

10 Social Media Reporting Apps You Can’t Live Another Day Without

Do you have a dedicated social media reporting app? If the answer is no, I have only one question for you: how are you getting through the day?!

Social media campaigns are no longer just a matter of posting links and offering news of specials. You need to really stand out, and that takes time, energy, and a ton of data. Not only for businesses, but just for blogs and personal brands as well. Without the proper information at your disposal, you don’t have a chance.

These are the ten social media reporting apps you can’t afford to go another day without using.

  1. SumAll: This isn’t just a social media dashboard, it is also an ecommerce monitoring tool. So if you want something more well rounded than analytics, it can be a great option for your business. it is all based around leads and conversions, unlike many other platforms that are purely about social growth. The two pronged approach makes it an effective tool for using social media in the way it is best utilized: as a way to build a customer base, not just your clout online.
  2. Agorapulse: Just need a simple (but good) social media manager? Agorapulse is compatible with three platforms: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Which are going to be the three primary social networks for most businesses anyway, given their ever growing list of features aimed at companies. You can get detailed reports, manage all messages from a single dashboard, and launch both contests and promotions customized to fit your needs. After the free trial pricing starts at $24 a month, with plans up to $199. But they also have three free tools: Facebook barometer, contest manager, and a Facebook Marketing University course.
  3. Sprout Social: One of the bigger names in social media analytics, Sprout Social is a complete management software that can be compared to other giants like Hootsuite. Used by many major brands, such as Dove and UPS, it covers all your social bases from planning, to scheduling, to posting, to analyzing. They have a smart inbox, live monitoring, tracking,  social CRM, analytics, team collaboration, and other features you would expect from such a large scale dashboard. Pricing can be a bit steep, starting at $59 a month. But if you are running a branding campaign, it is worth it.
  4. Cyfe: This is probably the most impressive tool to come out in a long time. Cyfe is a full business monitoring platform that aims to handle literally every possible avenue of your online engagement and tasks from a single service. That includes social media, analytics, marketing, sales, customer support, and infrastructure. But what is more incredible is the price. The basic features are free, but you will want Premium. For $19 per month (or $14 if you pay annually), you get unlimited everything, and access to all of the monitoring software for what was listed above.
  5. Social Report: Just want social tracking? Social Report is a great metrics tool that shows all of your social accounts in cross-platform reports that show you progress on all of your projects. They also have team collaboration and backup tools, so you and your social team can track progress over time and make decisions accordingly. All of their plans also have wider web analytics, which can be helpful in giving you a fuller picture.
  6. Hootsuite is a mixed bag. On one hand, there is no denying it has become a powerhouse in analytics and social management. But it is also one of the more expensive, and the credit system it uses is annoying. For example, you get some very basic reports as part of Pro, but others have to be purchased with credits that can only be bought in bulk, and so cost hundreds to replenish. Not really an option for small operations. The good thing about it is the many features it provides. Their tools are very in depth, so much so that they have dozens of webinars exploring what can be done on their platform.
  7. Simply Measured is usually mentioned on lists less for their premium features, and more for their free tools. They have a long list of them, and are also one of the few platforms that offers monitoring capabilities for Google Plus and Vine. In fact, you can incorporate quite a lot of services in with their free tools, and end up with a great system without spending a penny. Which is good, because their premium tools start at $500 per month. They are a full social analytics and solutions company and tend to work with larger businesses as a result. If you can afford them, they are worth it. If not, their free tools are excellent.
  8. Raven is the marketer’s ultimate tool. While it has plenty of analytics features, scheduling and more, it is much more focused on creating extensive and beautiful reports that show clients and bosses how things are progressing. It is a social analytics tool made to make you, the marketer, look good. So while it is practice, it is also a bit of a job-justifier.
  9. Tailwind: Pinterest has been pretty stingy on sharing their API. They don’t want a lot of competition for their analytics and marketing tools, which are frankly not good enough to stand on their own, yet. Tailwind is the last standing Pinterest monitoring and marketing tool, and luckily it is a good one. It can also be integrated with Hootsuite using the third party app selection, so you can monitor it from there.
  10. Keyhole:  Most people who use Keyhole know it for its real time hashtag tracking. But it also has historical data, influencer identification, and a few other features that make it a great platform for Twitter campaigns. They have short term campaigns available, which make it a unique monitoring tool, and attractive for special events like conventions that don’t need year round campaign management.

Bonus: More reporting and monitoring tools to use:

  • Monitority: A cool free tool monitoring your site uptime. For uptime stats, check out this Industry stats page.
  • WhoICompete keeps an eye on your competitors and how they move around Google SERPs
  • Commun.it is a great monitoring tool keeping an eye on your most important Twitter interactions.

Have a tool that belongs on this list? Let us know in the comments!

Image source

Get Personal in Training Your Sales People to be the Best

Close-up of people with hands together. Concept of union in busiDoes your sales training have a personal touch?

The aim of sales training is to equip your sales team to do their best for your business. Well-trained sales people will pursue the best leads and communicating effectively with customers, ultimately improving your sales and conversions.

By adding a personal touch to your sales training, you increase the chances of success for your sales team.

So just what does a personal touch mean in terms of sales training, and how can you implement it in your business?

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

When it comes to sales training, it’s all too easy to take a one size fits all approach.

You set up a training day or give your sales team an e-course to complete on their mobile devices, delivering everything you think they need to know. However, this may not be the most effective approach for your business.

Here’s why:

  • Different people have different learning styles;
  • Different people learn at different speeds;
  • Some team members will already be familiar with some of the material;
  • Team members will have different gaps in their knowledge;
  • Some people will learn better at different times of day;
  • Some people will respond better to specific content delivery methods than others.

Understanding the different needs of your sales team members is vital in creating sales training that has a truly personal touch.

What Does Personal Training Look Like?

Personal training is focused on what is best for each individual learner.

Personal training can include:

  • Offering different learning options (such as videos or interactive quizzes);
  • Breaking training down into bite size pieces so learners can choose where to go next;
  • Recommending new training modules based on each learner’s history;
  • Giving learners a chance to focus on problem areas;
  • Delivering different content based on each learner’s progress.

Benefits of Giving Training a Personal Touch

Adding a personal touch to your sales training means you’ll be offering the best training for each individual member of your sales team.

By focusing your efforts on adapting your training to be appropriate for each individual learner, you increase each team member’s chance of getting maximum benefit from the training.

As the article, “Modern Pharma Sales Training Deserves a Personal Touch” points out, customizing training to each learner’s needs improves the quality of the training.

Each person will receive the best content for them, in a way that they can personally work well with. Their engagement with the content will be more meaningful.

Making Training More Efficient

Adding a more personal touch to your training also means your training will be more efficient. When you deliver the same training to everyone, some people will receive training in topics they’re already well versed in.

As well as wasting time, this is likely to bore learners.

By personalizing your training, you let each learner skip over areas they are already familiar with.

More personal training also lets you see where each member of your team is struggling, giving you the chance to offer them support. Learners can put their focus on the areas they most need to improve.

Finally, by personalizing your sales training, you can pay attention to each learner’s preferred method of learning, for example by reading, answering quizzes or watching a video.

Targeting a preferred learning method is much more efficient than having everyone wade through material that doesn’t gel with their personal learning style.

When you add a personal touch to your sales training, you are essentially delivering the very best training for each member of your team.

The result is the best trained sales people, who are an asset to your business.

Photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com

About the Author: Tristan Anwyn writes on a variety of topics including social media, how to build customer relationships, content marketing and how to offer the best training to your sales people.

Unleash your inner social PR superhero – Q&A with Shonali Burke

I’m so pleased this week to interview one of my personal superheroes, Shonali Burke.

She’s a “social PR” strategist who was named to PRWeek’s first “top 40 Under 40” list, the first list of 25 Women That Rock Social Media; and who founded and continues to curate the popular #measurePR hashtag and Twitter chat. She’s the owner of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc.

Shonali is going to be offering a free mini-training to share some of her secret sauce, so I thought it would be great to have her answer some teaser questions here at Successful Blog. We could all use some help with PR, right?

 

How do you define “social PR”?

The classic definition of PR is the discipline that “builds and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between and organization and its publics” – that’s the *real* P in PR, not the imposter, “publicity.” Now, for decades publicity was the best way to get attention, and that awareness was the springboard for inquiries, additional marketing, sales, etc.

But if you’re actually going to build relationships with your “publics” – your audiences – you’re going to have to find ways to consistently engage with them. Social technologies allow you to do that in a way we never could before; it’s remarkable. I mean, just last week my website went down, and I was able to get BlueHost’s attention more quickly on Twitter than through their live chat!

So “social PR” harnesses the power of social technologies and platforms to help organizations build these relationships with their publics. This translates into a lot of online community-building, which is hard work (as you know), but the results can be incredible. Because if you can motivate your communities to start telling your story for you, isn’t that far more believable than you harping on it yourself?

What are some key mistakes that people make when trying to do social PR on their own?

First, I think a lot of companies (large and small) don’t realize they can’t just create social media accounts and blast information out at people. A press release will do that just fine. So there’s a lack of understanding of what it takes to have a regular conversation online. I find that a bit strange because they’re just fine talking to you offline!

Second, not actually listening to what people are saying, either about them, or their competitors, or their space. If you don’t do that, I don’t see how you can set a benchmark and ultimately gauge the success or failure of your campaigns and work.

Third, they’ll silo the various areas of communication as if they’re stocking their granaries for the winter. Social PR is by its very nature fluid and integrated (as business communications should be). While you must absolutely have some structure, you also need flexibility, because the mediums you’re working in are changing all the time.

 At what point does a small business owner need to call in a pro for PR?

The minute she can afford it. Truly, though I know you probably think I’m biased. But honestly – I’m wearing my own small business owner hat as I say this.

Unless you run a PR shop of some sort, your business is not PR. Your business is selling widgets, or distributing refrigerators, or knitting shark blankets, or selling online community software. Even if you have a knack for communications, and many many business owners do, ultimately any time you’re *not* spending on activities that grow your business is money you’re throwing down the drain.

Unless you’re exceptionally handy, you wouldn’t try to learn how to install a new roof on your home just so you could replace it in 30 years. So why would you not hire a PR pro to do what they do well, so that you can focus on what you do well?

How do you best leverage community to help spread the word about your product or service?

I heard a three-word mantra a long time ago that I often use: Educate, Cultivate, Motivate. This is how organizations *should* approach it; but most of the time they instead jump straight to Sell. That just doesn’t work.

You have to spend time becoming a part of a community, listening, engaging, curating, sharing. Do for everyone else before you ask them to do for you. Then, when you have enough community “change” in your bank, you can make your ask – but not before.

What’s your favorite social listening tool that won’t break the bank?

Talkwalker Alerts. I would have said Google Alerts, but they’re pretty unreliable these days, which is disappointing. 

What sparked you to create this course?

The best part of my job is when I’m able to help clients, students, people who attend my workshops, see what a joy social PR is. When that light goes off in their eye, that’s what makes my heart sing.

I got tired of seeing so many, many smart folk flounder when it comes to smart social PR strategy & implementation; not because they’re not smart, but because they don’t have the right coach to guide them.

I’m ultimately a teacher at heart. So I figured taking this online was the best way to share my joy with as many people as possible, and give back to an industry that has given so very much to me.

Thank you so much for chatting with me, Shonali!

Click here to sign up for Shonali’s free mini training course, The Social PR Launchpad: Unleash Your Inner Social PR Superhero.

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for Social Strata — makers of the Hoop.la community platform. Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee

 

Get Personal in Training Your Sales People to be the Best

Business People Waiting For Job Interview. Four Candidates CompeFor those business owners just starting out or only in business for a short period of time, does your sales training have a personal touch? If it doesn’t, it could set the stage for some long days down the road.

The aim of sales training is to equip your sales team to do their best for your business. Well-trained sales people will pursue the best leads and communicating effectively with customers, ultimately improving your sales and conversions.

By adding a personal touch to your sales training, you increase the chances of success for your sales team.

So just what does a personal touch mean in terms of sales training, and how can you implement it in your business?

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

When it comes to sales training, it’s all too easy to take a one-size-fits-all approach.

You set up a training day or give your sales team an e-course to complete on their mobile devices, delivering everything you think they need to know. However, this may not be the most effective approach for your business.

Here’s why:

  • Different people have different learning styles;
  • Different people learn at different speeds;
  • Some team members will already be familiar with some of the material;
  • Team members will have different gaps in their knowledge;
  • Some people will learn better at different times of day;
  • Some people will respond better to specific content delivery methods than others.

Understanding the different needs of your sales team members is vital in creating sales training that has a truly personal touch.

What Does Personal Training Look Like?

Personal training is focused on what is best for each individual learner.

Personal training can include:

  • Offering different learning options (such as videos or interactive quizzes);
  • Breaking training down into bite size pieces so learners can choose where to go next;
  • Recommending new training modules based on each learner’s history;
  • Giving learners a chance to focus on problem areas;
  • Delivering different content based on each learner’s progress.

The Benefits of Giving Training a Personal Touch

Adding a personal touch to your sales training means you’ll be offering the best training for each individual member of your sales team.

By focusing your efforts on adapting your training to be appropriate for each individual learner, you increase each team member’s chance of getting maximum benefit from the training.

As the article “Modern Pharma Sales Training Deserves a Personal Touch” points out, customizing training to each learner’s needs improves the quality of the training.

Each person will receive the best content for them, in a way that they can personally work well with. Their engagement with the content will be more meaningful.

Making Training More Efficient

Adding a more personal touch to your training also means your training will be more efficient.

When you deliver the same training to everyone, some people will receive training in topics they’re already well versed in. As well as wasting time, this is likely to bore learners.

By personalizing your training, you let each employee skip over areas they are already familiar with.

More personal training also lets you see where each member of your team is struggling, giving you the chance to offer them support. Learners can put their focus on the areas they most need to improve.

Finally, by personalizing your sales training, you can pay attention to each learner’s preferred method of learning, for example by reading, answering quizzes or watching a video.

Targeting a preferred learning method is much more efficient than having everyone wade through material that doesn’t gel with their personal learning style.

When you add a personal touch to your sales training, you are essentially delivering the very best training for each member of your team.

The result is the best-trained sales people, who are an asset to your business.

Photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com

About the Author: Tristan Anwyn writes on a variety of topics including social media, how to build customer relationships, content marketing and how to offer the best training to your sales people.

The Right Way to Ask for Referrals

When I left the car dealership, my sales guy had put a little stack of his business cards in the glove compartment.

“You’re going to get attention in this car, and when you do, I’d love it if you’d share my card.”

My shiny Z3 convertible has now been replaced by a minivan, but the lesson stuck with me. (And I did end up handing out a few of those cards.)

That salesman had fulfilled my car dreams, and in my moment of euphoria, made it easy for me to share the love.

Are you doing that with your customers?

Some people are afraid to make the “ask,” thinking that it might harm their relationship or might feel weird.

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE sharing useful tips with my friends and colleagues. If there’s a technology I’m excited about, or a new movie, or a fantastic local restaurant, I enjoy spreading the word.

But there is a right way and a wrong way to ask for that referral. Let’s start with the “don’t go there” list.

The Wrong Way to Ask for Referrals

Asking before the customer has had a chance to use the product or service. It’s a waste of time to ask me to Tweet out your app before I’ve even finished downloading it. I value my relationships too much to blindly recommend something. (Yet this is done all the time.)

Monetizing the referrals right off the bat. If I feel a strong relationship with a brand, and they immediately try to make me an affiliate or network marketer for them, I almost feel insulted. Sometimes, tangible rewards can actually demotivate people who already like you.

Making me blast out emails to my contact list in an online form. If I want to email my friends, I’ll compose my own message, thank you very much. I don’t need to be strong-armed into giving up my friends’ email addresses.

The Right Way to Ask for Referrals

Catching me when I’m at maximum happiness, or I’ve just complimented you. This is the ideal time to ask me for a referral, for a written review, or a customer interview. Go for it!

Giving me a brief, memorable phrase to connect with you and your service. I need to fill my mental Rolodex with names attached to simple categories. If my friend is in need of a PR agency, I know I can send them to XYZ Agency. If someone is looking for a freelance business writer, I know so-and-so is the right person. What’s your category?

Considering the context and your relationship with the person you’re asking. The looser the relationship, the simpler the “ask” should be. There’s definitely a sliding scale between asking someone to forward your newsletter to a friend and asking them to give you their friend’s email address or phone number.

Being judicious with your requests. Treat your stored-up goodwill like “Whuffie” gold, and use it sparingly, when it will have the most benefit. Don’t hassle your customers constantly to write reviews and share your content.

 

Referrals can be a wonderful way to expand your business. Are you asking for them?

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for Social Strata — makers of the Hoop.la community platform. Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee

 

Image via Flickr CC: Scott Cresswell

Businesses That Market Efficiently Typically Come Out Winners

Conversion Funnel - Leads To SalesWhat are you doing to market your brand?

In the event you have trouble answering that question, your business could already be in trouble. Those who fail to properly market their brands end up oftentimes on the outside looking in when it comes to being successful business owners.

Think about it; today’s consumers have a wide-range of products and services to choose from, both in-person and by shopping online. If you’re failing at getting your brand noticed, you stand a very good chance of getting passed over by the consumer, with him or her going to your competition.

So, how can you best spread the word about your brand?

Market Regularly and Effectively

In order to properly market your brand in 2015 and beyond, keep the following in mind:

  • Have a purpose – Whether you are marketing home furnishings, real estate, entertainment systems for the home, insurance or any number of products or services; make sure you market with a purpose. Having a purpose means making sure you know your demographics and the message you want to send them. It could be anything from get satellite tv service at this site to buy the cheapest auto insurance and still get the best coverage. If you’re marketing home entertainment, you could market to a wide array of people. On the other hand, you’re less likely to market auto insurance to elderly drivers who likely have a policy they’ve been with for years;
  • Don’t Be a Pest – One quick way to turn off both current and potential customers is by being a pest. While you’re undoubtedly looking for sales, don’t come across as too sales hungry. Most consumers don’t want to feel like you’re reaching into their pockets all the time for more money. One way to offset this is by offering stellar customer service and truly “listening” to what the customer wants. When you offer good products and services and actually hear what the customer wants, you won’t always come across as that guy or gal who is always bothering them;
  • Get More Mobile – Especially with the holiday’s right around the corner, your brand’s mobility truly does matter. With mobile marketing continuing to grow in popularity, offering your current and potential customers deals and special holiday shopping specials can be a boon for your business. That said keep the mobile marketing non-intrusive, meaning make sure the consumer signs-off on you contacting them;
  • Be Able to Adapt – Finally, effective marketing also includes being able to adapt to changes in the market. Customer needs and wants will change, so you have to too. When you have a product or services that adapts with the changing times, you are much more likely to have a brand that customers will desire, so go with the flow.

If your brand has been in neutral recently, get to marketing it more efficiently and see your revenue stream more than likely increase.

Photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com

About the Author: John Peters covers the world of marketing on the web.

Let SMS Marketing Serve You More Clients

Pizza Diavola SalamyIf you run your own restaurant (or even something outside the dining industry), then it’s time to start serving up some SMS marketing campaigns.

That’s right; restaurants all across the country are using SMS marketing to better reach their patrons.

Here are a number of restaurants going the SMS route and a few ways your restaurant can do the same:

Restaurants Using SMS

SMS marketing is a great way to reach customers when it counts most: in the moment.

No industry benefits more from this on-the-go marketing platform than the restaurant industry. That’s why a growing number of restaurants/fast food eateries nationwide are already using SMS marketing to their advantage.

Among them:

  • Taco Bell – In order to increase customer outreach, Taco Bell began an SMS campaign that offered free food items with each opt-in. The mobile marketing campaign resulted in more than 13,000 opt-ins within a five-week period.
  • Carl’s Junior – In an attempt to compete with the larger burger chains, Carl’s Junior began an SMS opt-in deal that offered a $6 combo meal for just three bucks. The campaign not only had a 19% redemption rate, it also increased sales and generated a huge following for the fast food chain.
  • Papa Murphy’s – This new take-and-bake pizza chain is in the process of franchising across the country. To increase its visibility, Papa Murphy’s began an SMS campaign that offered five-dollar pizzas to first-time customers. The campaign resulted in a 17% redemption rate and more than 100,000 new mobile subscribers.

Now that you have an idea of how the major restaurant chains are using SMS, here are a few ways your restaurant can take advantage of mobile marketing:

Promoting New Menu Items

Whether your restaurant is new or established, it’s always a good idea to get the word out about new menu items. This is exactly where SMS marketing comes into play.

The article “We’re Open: How to Use SMS Marketing to Give Your New Restaurant a Boost” mentions the importance of engaging customers.

With SMS marketing you can feature new menu items in your campaigns as well as announce exciting menu changes.

Promoting your menu items will put your restaurant on your customers’ radars, which is especially effective when it comes to recipients who are already out and about.

Spreading the Word About Specials

Food specials are the restaurant industry’s bread and butter.

When you take an SMS approach to your restaurant marketing, you can promote your food specials like never before.

Whether it’s a buy-one-get-one deal, a drink special, or a blue plate special, using SMS marketing is a great way to keep your patrons updated on all of your delicious deals.

Gathering Feedback

The key to feeding your patrons the food they love is by gathering feedback on their dining experiences. SMS marketing allows you to send text surveys to your patrons while their meal is still fresh on the mind.

You can send a brief questionnaire, a multiple-choice survey, or you can simply ask patrons to describe their dining experience.

No matter which route you take, SMS surveys make it possible to gather feedback that will help your restaurant thrive.

If you’re ready to get more diners through the door, then satisfy their appetites with SMS marketing.

Photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com

About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including the restaurant industry and mobile marketing.

The Proper Business of Text Messaging

young business people group have meeting and working in modern bYou’ve got all of the right social media tools to help your small business out, a Facebook page, Instagram feed, Pinterest boards and a Twitter handle. Now what?

What else is your marketing calling out for? Are you working on text messaging to your client base?

If not, this is something you should consider as it’s a huge market to reach clients and increase their loyalty and longevity.

Mobility is Key

Because so many people have mobile devices these days, and keep these devices with them at virtually all times, mobile marketing has become a great platform to reach customers.

You won’t want to miss out on this market, and with a text messaging service, it’s all the easier. It’s just a matter of choosing the right one to fit your needs.

As the article, “How to choose the right text messaging service for your business” looks at, keep these ideas in mind:

  • Do some research – Find out the different services that providers offer, and decide what options you are looking for. Do you want it all, or will you be happy with a basic text messaging service? Check out how fees are calculated while you are doing this, because your budget is something to consider when choosing options.
  • Look at client support – You don’t want to get stuck with text messages going out willy-nilly, or encounter other issues with no help or support. Read some reviews and find out how the different services manage a problem and how much support they offer. You’re paying for a service; you should be able to count on support.
  • Compatibility – Make sure the text messaging service is compatible with the mobile service providers in your area. You want to be able to reach the major providers and if you have some smaller ones in your client base, those, too.
  • Look for someone willing to work with you and your needs – You want to be able to trust your text messaging service, just like you want your customers to trust you. Not only do you want support if there’s a problem, but you should also be able to look to your service for advice on what’s best for you. At the very least, you don’t want them pushing something you don’t need.
  • Talk to colleagues and other small business owners – Whether in person or via social media, reach out to similar business and see who they are using and if they are happy. You know how important work of mouth is, tap into it.

Any new endeavor is exciting and a little nervy.

Check into some different text messaging services; see what they offer and how each fits your needs.

Soon your customers will look forward to that weekly text from you, and your business may increase before your very eyes.

Photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com

About the Author: Heather Legg is an independent writer covering topics related to small business, social media and working from home.

5 ways to become a referral magnet

“I’d get more done, if only I could clone myself!”

Productivity is an elusive beast.

And if you’re a solo entrepreneur or small business owner, you’re always limited by the number of hours in the day.

Or are you?

Set yourself up as a referral magnet, and leverage those 24 hours.

 

What do I mean by “referral magnet?” I mean someone who has meaningful business relationships with people who are willing and able to refer potential customers to him/her.

Let’s break that down:

  • Meaningful business relationships = established, mutually beneficial support network of business colleagues (not friends and family, not drive-by Twitter contacts, not cold called sales leads)
  • Willing to refer = someone who has been asked if they will refer business, and has said they will do so
  • Able to refer = someone who has the knowledge of your skills and expertise in order to refer appropriate leads

It helps immensely if you are also a “referral machine,” willing to refer and connect others as well.

5 ways to become a referral magnet

  1. Put yourself out there. You can’t start building meaningful business relationships unless you’re attending conferences, joining online chats, and routinely talking to your customers (and I don’t mean by email). Just like it was in the schoolyard when you were the new kid, you have to be willing to jump into the double dutch.
  2. Establish a habit of asking for referrals. It’s not obnoxious to ask your fellow professionals, happy customers, or business partners to connect you with people who need what you offer. It’s good business practice, and yet so many are afraid of being “salesy.” It’s only “salesy” if you make it so. You’re not asking for “prospects,” you’re asking to be connected with people who are in need, so that you can help them. Simple as that.
  3. Arm your referral partners with information. They can only refer people if they know what you are offering, so come up with a crystal clear, punchy way to describe how you can help. Leave out the industry jargon, and the mission statement, and embed an easy phrase that they can associate with you. When they hear someone say “I really need to get my taxes sorted out,” they can simply say “Jane Doe does an excellent job. Want her number?”
  4. Reciprocate. It doesn’t always have to be quid pro quo, but look for opportunities to connect the right people, with no thought of “payback.” If you do this often enough, it will work magic all on its own.
  5. Say thank you. I don’t want to publicly “out” this person, but someone I referred potential business to once sent me a beautiful bottle of champagne with a note.  What a lovely way to say thanks. If someone gives you a referral, always follow up with a note, a call, or some gesture of thanks.

Have you activated a business referral network yet?

 

Featured image via Flickr CC: Jeremy Keith

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for Social Strata — makers of the Hoop.la community platform. Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee