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:

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 community platform. Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee


Why You Hate Networking and How to Fix It

By Lindsey Tolino

Do you hate networking?

At the beginning of the year, I started networking more intentionally than ever before. There were aspects of it that I hated, but surprisingly, there were also parts I loved.

I hated feeling like I was just a prospect in someone’s eyes. But on the other hand, I loved getting to know others through open conversations. I hated the transactional aspects, but I loved the relational ones.

Transactional vs. Relational

Transactional networking is self-seeking. Those who network transactionally seek to know only the minimum necessary about a person in order to further their own business. They are primarily concerned with how to serve their own business.

Relational networking is cooperative and even selfless at times. Those who network relationally seek to get to know others in order to serve them better. They are primarily concerned with building mutual, cooperative relationships.

I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum when I’ve networked. At one intimate networking event, when I asked a gentleman what he did, he proceeded to talk for ten minutes. He spoke ad nauseam about his viewpoints and his work. It was difficult for others to speak because he filled the time. After the event, the gentleman reached out, asked for a meeting and implicitly offered his services. Though I turned him down, a few weeks later, I discovered I was on his email subscription, though I had never opted-in. He failed to get to know me, to know what would serve me best and to build a relationship with me. Ultimately, he was out to serve his business first and foremost.

On the other hand, I met my favorite client through relational networking. I actually met his friend first at a networking event and we bonded over our mutual love of cities and cigars. He then put me in contact with my now-client, who is a small, private cigar manufacturer. I’ve had cooperative, mutual relationships with both guys since.

Networking should feel more like making friends than sitting through a timeshare pitch. It should be invigorating and encouraging. If we hate networking, it’s because we’re doing it transactionally instead of relationally.

How To Fix It

To fix it, we need to start with ourselves. We need to trust that it’s better to give than receive. We need to let go of our self-seeking desires in order to esteem others. As we become more relational, we’ll attract more relational people. The more relational we are, the more we’ll further relational networking.

Oh, and in my experience, it’s really hard to convert a transactional networker when you’re at an event, so it may not be worth your time to try. Instead, you can graciously get their info and assure them you’ll reach out. You can then express how you felt and send them this post after the event.

Let’s not look out for our own interests when we network, let’s look to serve others instead. We’ll all enjoy networking immensely more if we do. And I have a feeling we’ll all be better off for it, too.

Image Info: Original photo by Sylwia Bartyzel.

About the Author: Lindsey Tolino comes alongside artisans, craftsman and people monetizing their passions to help them create healthy businesses. She shares her heart at Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTolino or connect with her on Google+.

Give your customers the same TLC as your prospects

Have you ever tried this trick?

Next time you need phone help from a big, faceless corporation, when you hit the dreaded voicemail tree, dial sales instead of customer support.

See how fast they pick up? Yep. If you are a prospect, you are treated like a king, while current customers are shunted into the Beetlejuice waiting room.

Make sure you aren’t perpetrating this injustice within your own business.

It can manifest in a thousand little ways:

  • When you check your email, do you respond to the sales inquiry before the customer question?
  • If you work in retail, do you pick up the phone while you’re waiting on a customer in person?
  • At a conference, are you staring over your customer’s shoulder, looking for a new sale?

If you are consistent with the way you approach your business relationships, prospects and customers will know exactly what to expect, at every point in the process.

Look them in the eye, find out what they need, and serve it to them with respect.

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

Don’t Turn a Simple Disagreement into a Social Nightmare

How much time as a business owner do you spend on social media?

That is a question that oftentimes will elicit a variety of answers. Some spend a sizable amount of time using social networking to promote their brands; others use it sparingly or even not at all.

No matter which camp you end up in, it is important to properly use social media when the time comes. Yes, if you have not been using social media to give your business some publicity, consider this task long overdue.

Come Down on the Side of Caution

When it comes to properly using social media for work, there are several important factors which come into play, most notably being professional.

Sure, one or more visitors to your social page or pages may get under your skin from time to time, but you must always remain in control. If you slip up and start engaging them in a volatile verbal disagreement, you run the risk of damaging not only your brand, but also your own reputation as a business owner.

With that in mind, here are some tips to avoid the down side of consumer interactions:

  1. Take the high road – When one or more people are verbally attacking you and/or your brand on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or other such sites, down go negative on them. Try in a simple and direct response to remedy the problem. If that does not work, look to take the issue private. The more people who see you battling online with one or more individuals, the more people who are likely to gain a negative view of you and/or your brand;
  2. Solve the problem – In some cases, the issue might be something as simple as bad customer service etc. A matter like that is something which generally can be overcome by offering an incentive for the individual to want to continue doing business with you. If it is a sales matter and they want to work with another customer service rep, take that under consideration. Maybe they simply did not like the product or service they received and figured going social about it was a way to vent. Offer them a replacement product or service at no extra charge. Simple actions like these can oftentimes be the answer to the problem;
  3. Be timely – Finally, it is always important that you respond to any and all consumer inquiries in a timely manner. With millions and millions of people using social media on a daily basis, it can seem a little overwhelming at times to stay abreast of all that is occurring. Still, delayed responses spell nothing generally but trouble. If you don’t have the time personally to respond to the inquiries, make sure you dedicate someone on your team or even outsource your social media needs.

When you offer consumers a social media campaign large on responsiveness and short on confrontation and delay you and your brand stand to benefit from it.

As a business owner or marketer, how do you make sure your social media campaigns are working to bring out the best in you and your brand?

About the Author: Miguel Salcido has been a professional search marketing consultant for over 11 years. He is the founder and CEO of Organic Media Group, a content driven SEO agency. He also likes to blog and share insights into advanced SEO.

Is Your Authentic Hustle Evident on Social Media?

By Lindsey Tolino

We have to see it to believe it, don’t we? Maybe we want even more proof than just seeing it, but we at least need to see it.

This is so evident on social media. If people don’t see it, they don’t believe it’s happening. We may be doing a ton of work, but if we’re not sharing what is happening, people may not think we’re doing anything.

The people that you think are successful are the ones whose work you see. Subconsciously, we may know that there are plenty of other people out there doing great work, but because we don’t see it, how can we be sure?

Sure, you share your perfectly-manicured blog post or your colleague’s article, but do you share sneak peeks of what you’re working on?

Basically, you have to answer this question – can people easily tell you’re hustling through your social media alone?

If it’s not obvious that you are, you’re missing out. People won’t believe it’s happening unless they see it. They won’t have any inkling unless you’re sharing it.

In January I interviewed former Pittsburgh Steeler and current artist Baron Batch. His experience really hit me:

“It was kind of like this light bulb went off – at the time I was doing a ton of art projects and different collaborations but I just wasn’t getting credit for the amount and quality of work that it deserved. And it hit me – no one knows. No one knows. I’m not showing anything. That opened my eyes – you have to promote yourself while you work. To show your progression.”

And this isn’t about self-promotion. This is about sharing value. It’s about allowing people to see you and your business in an honest and authentic way.

If we filter our social media presence to simply the perfected pieces, people will only see the outcome, not the process. When you showcase only the outcome, people may value it, but they will not easily identify with you. The reality is that we all struggle, working hard on challenges every day. If you don’t show the struggle, if you show only the perfect, it’s harder to identify with you.

The tweets and posts that I have greatly valued are the authentic ones.

The irony of me writing this is that I’m totally hypocritical in this area. I fix myself on the work to be done and neglect to share the process with others. I struggle with it because I want to be fully present in my work instead of thinking about how I’ll share it on social media. But I’m missing out on serving others by being authentic. I need to integrate sharing into my process, instead of treating it as an afterthought.

Can we do this together? Can we be more authentic? Can we share the process?

What tips do you have for integrating sharing into your process instead of treating it as an afterthought?

Author’s Bio: Lindsey Tolino comes alongside artisans, craftsman and people monetizing their passions to help them create healthy, structured businesses. She writes business musings and tips at Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTolino or connect with her on Google+.

Visualization Plus Journaling Equals Sales Magic

By Deb Bixler

We all know about the power of visualization. Combine that with journaling for direct sales success!

I am often asked about how to write a journal.

When we can combine journaling and visualization with a sense of fun, we can create some very powerful possibilities; and you don’t even need a coach to do this!

It’s a coaching technique you can do by yourself.

To illustrate this, I want you to do a little role-playing, a little visualization in your mind’s eye, and then we’ll sort through the ideas behind the activity.

I’ve chosen a situation from a typical direct sales party plan, but you can easily use the same technique, using a networking business opportunity meeting.

How To Write A Journal: Visualize

Just imagine yourself sitting in an invisible corner of a living room watching a party taking place. Visualize what should be happening to achieve success at the party.

As you sit there listening and watching, your mind starts to wander a little bit.

You say to yourself, ‘wouldn’t this be fun if I could just direct this party like it was a play?’

Visualize Direct Sales SuccessYour mind suddenly starts racing as if a light bulb came on, and you start to think back to everything you can remember about dramatic play productions.

Your mind now shifts into overdrive as you think about the different elements of your production. You think about five dramatic elements too fast almost to even write them down, but then you remember that you were going to write down all of your inspired thoughts. You pause just long enough to scrawl down five words that you’ll revisit later.

You’re getting ready to write in your journal the next morning. You remember your scribbled message and pull it out to look at your five terms. If only you could produce this play!

Write a Journal Of Your Thoughts

Write the pictures in your mind in your journal.

  • Scene: Every play has scenery or a situation within which everything occurs. A dark and stormy night produces a much different production than a sunlit meadow. You think about all of the background that makes up a party and then realize if you had the party set in a different scene, the party itself would often be different. A bingo held at a traditional party is much different than one held with multiple hostesses. You also realize that a lunchtime party is much different from an evening one because the scenery is so different. It’s the same basic party, but because the scene changes, the party changes.
  • Act: Every production has different acts. You giggle as you think about the one act play you almost got involved with in high school. Then you start to think about a party as a drama in three acts, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. You keep going as you realize the party guests expect different things to happen at different stages in the party: introductions, product explanations, your recruiting bid, a question-answer time, and finally the order processing. Getting into this whole thing, you start to think about doing different activities during the different acts because they might fit together better with the audience’s expectations.
  • Actors: Drama just wouldn’t be a drama without people playing their parts. When you hold your demonstrations you’re the main character, but you pause to think about the possibilities. Could I make the hostess and the guests the main characters? Maybe if I was more of a director and let them be the actors, they’d enjoy the experience more. Why do I need to prepare all the samples? Let’s let the guests be the characters who make samples.
  • Props. You’ve never seen a play without all that other stuff being present for the actors to use. You smile as you think of a western gunfight happening without any guns. Then you have a serious moment as you think about how your choices of products influence the rest of the party. Maybe you should tell more about what the host offers to help with your dating bids. Those really are very important!
  • Theme: Think about the different types of theatrical productions that you’ve seen over the years. The melodrama (not at my party, you vow); the comedy (they keep coming back because we have fun) the drama (that hostess and her sister really had a terrible fight); stand-up routines (you grimace as you think about how practice might have helped that one).

Thinking about themes, some synonyms come to your mind like the purpose of the party:

  • Was it to sell?
  • Was it to recruit?
  • Was it to just get together and have fun?

Thinking about your theme also leads you to wonder about key motivations.

Why should the hostess have the party? You always hear directors talking about motivation.

How Do You Visualize Your Attitude?

Finally consider attitude:

Did we all really want to be here? What’s our attitude about this play?

You’ve finished writing in your journal and it’s time to start your day.

You think about those five key terms: scene, act, actors, props and theme and realize you’ve found a new way to think about your demonstrations.

How To Write A Journal? Just Visualize Your Business!

How can you see your activities through the camera’s eye? When you start journaling your visualizations you will begin to see results from the efforts!

We’d love to hear about how you can shift the framework for your visualizations. Please share in the comment section below some of your visions of success.

Author’s Bio: is a direct sales educator who teaches proven systems that work in all direct sales companies. Treat your business like a profession and you will get professional results. Learn more home business systems at:

Do you need to livestream?

The short answer is no.

Unless your business is broadcasting, you probably don’t need to lose sleep tonight worrying about your “Periscope strategy.”

Periscope is the live streaming app that was acquired by Twitter a few weeks ago. Around the same time, another live streaming app called Meerkat was making waves at SXSW. Both apps use Twitter as the delivery mechanism, and both focus on live video (although Periscope allows you to save your streams selectively).

Another app? Another tool for me to learn? I can hear your groaning from here.

But fear not, I have a roadmap for you.

Why You Might Need to Add Periscope or MeerKat to Your Marketing Mix

  • If you are camera-ready and articulate on the fly, and have useful information to communicate.
  • If your audience is predominantly on Twitter.
  • If your content marketing is already very video-centric.
  • If your business involves live events, where a live stream could give valuable insider status to your audience.
  • If you’ve mapped out live-streaming content that fits into your marketing plan for the next few months at least. Don’t go in without a plan.

If you don’t answer “heck yeah” to any of the above criteria, then by all means enjoy watching other folks’ live streams, but save your valuable marketing time for things that will add value to your bottom line.

Have you checked out either of these apps? What’s your opinion?

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


Does Your Business Profile Get Enough Love?

Digital marketing revolves around building an online presence, at the core of which is your online business profile.

When you first brought your business profile online, you probably set up a few social media accounts, posted a few pictures on your Facebook page and maybe even Tweeted an announcement that you were open for business.

But without continual maintenance, your business profile will collect cobwebs faster than a tavern during the prohibition.

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Your followers are always looking for the latest and greatest offerings from your social media accounts.

It’s not enough that you announce your grand opening or a 20% off sale three months ago. You have to keep the offers flowing.

Whether you’re offering up fashion tips from your online clothing store blog, or posting pictures of your company employee outing on Pinterest, the posts have to keep coming.

Assume your followers have short-term memory loss. They don’t remember today what you did for them yesterday, so you have to keep reminding them why they follow you.

You Never Know Where Gold Will Turn up

If you think that simply having a website and a stagnant online business profile is sufficient, think again.

Business networking is still the key to drumming up leads, referrals and long-term business relationships. Just like in the old days when you handed your business card to everyone from the plumber to the guy sitting next to you on the subway, you should network everywhere.

You never know where the gold will turn up.

Don’t assume that certain social media sites are only for one specific demographic. Pinterest started out with women posting pretty pictures of hairstyles and tea sets.

As the following article looks at, now savvy business people post their business profile on Pinterest, like the Bob Pratt profile, because they recognize that people from all walks of life visit a variety of social media sites. Market your business profile everywhere you can.

Give People What They Want

To really make your business profile stand out, make it about the people, not about you. In other words, your posts and tweets should have value to the people, helping you increase and improve your brand profile along the way.

Of course, it’s fine to toot your own horn just a little. For example, if you’ve made a sizable donation to a charity, you can certainly announce it.

But most of your posts should be about giving the people what they want. In order to do that, you have to find out what they want. This is where business marketing surveys really come in handy.

A short survey with a few simple questions should be able to tell you if your followers are interested in receiving things like information, coupons, infographics, or investor tips from you. Whatever it is, make sure you comply.

Try to put your own agenda in the background, and your followers’ wants in the foreground of your online business profile campaign.

Make sure your business profile is getting enough love.

Post often and everywhere with information that your followers want.

Photo credit: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

About the Author: Kate Supino writes extensively about best business practices.

Do You Have the Right Brand Promotion Mix?

marketing-words-blackboard-shows-selling-promotion-and-sales-100211117Are you looking to grow your company, gain exposure to the media and market your business to a specific clientele?

If so, you’re going to need to carefully plan exactly how you should go about marketing your business. There is no “one size fits all” method, but rather a mix of strategies that work together to give your business the type of growth it needs.

Popular ways businesses go about marketing include networking with other businesses and individuals in the area, asking for referrals, using free forms of advertising (such as Craigslist), developing an online social media presence, placing ads in the newspaper or print media, creating a mass email or text message list, offering deals and specials, donating to a local charity and more.

There are hundreds of ways to market your business, but the trick is finding a mix that works best for your specific industry.

Get More Social

Social media is quickly rising to the top when it comes to marketing. Not only is it an effective way to advertise for nearly all businesses, regardless of industry, but it’s also a free way to advertise.

To market via social media, you first start out by setting up your business accounts on various social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn and more.

Then, start networking with other business and individuals, post information on your company including any specials or promotions you have going on, interact with customers and start developing a following.

Finding the Right Combinations

While growing your online presence is one of the best ways to market your business, it shouldn’t be the only way. A business that markets well knows that it’s a combination of marketing strategies that are the most effective.

The article “Integrating social media, text and email” suggests that the best social media marketing strategy incorporates text messages and email marketing into their plan. Instead of having three separate plans, it’s best to have them work together to form one larger marketing campaign.

So how do you get all three to work together?

A few ideas include asking customers via email to “like” your Facebook page, getting customers to “opt in” to your text message service by offering a discount on your product or placing a “subscribe to my email” option on all of your social media accounts.

By offering discounts or free products to the customers and making it easy for them to share and follow you, you’ll have a much better chance at growing a following and gaining customers.

Once you’ve combined your social media marketing strategy with your text and email campaign, you can begin to seek out other ways to advertise.

Its trial-and-error, as some methods will work wonderfully and others will crash and burn. Your strategies will also change over time as new and improved ways of marketing come on to the market.

Be flexible and be willing to try a variety of methods in order to figure out what works best for your business.

Photo credit: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

About the Author: Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Charlotte, NC. She writes on a variety of topics including social media, small businesses and personal finance.