How to Avoid Competing on Price Alone

Competition

photo credit: Small Town Snails via photopin (license)

Without understanding and defining your true core message, people are going to compare you to your competition on price alone.  This is a tricky situation to be in.  Sure people want the best deal possible, but they also want to be taken care of.  They want to buy from companies they can get behind.  They want to understand the purpose.

Here are two important elements to focus on while developing your core message:

  • A true core difference – do the research and make sure none of your competitors are preaching the same thing
  • An idea that resonates with your clients – take the time to understand what your clients love about you and develop your core message from there

Doesn’t sound too difficult right?  Below are 4 easy steps to break down the important elements and how to avoid competing on price alone.

Learn what your competitors are preaching

Time to kick off the research!  Visit your top 5 competitor’s sites and read through their “About Us” pages.  Copy and paste the overview from the about page and put them all in one document.  Do the same for your site.  Go through and read the descriptions and highlight some of the common themes you see throughout each.   I am guessing “great customer service” and “years of experience” might be mentioned in a few of them.  Take it one step further and delete any mention of the companies names in your document.  Pass it around to members of your team and see if anyone can correctly identify your description and each of your competitors.  This alone might be an eye opening experience.

Give your competition props

It’s now time to spy on your competition.  Set up a listening station to keep tabs on what you competitors are doing.  Everything from monitoring social media to signing up for their newsletter to tracking keywords.  Understanding what your competition is doing, what works for them, will provide you with a bit of direction.  I am not saying copy your competitors marketing efforts, simply suggesting you might be able to learn from what they are succeeding at.  They wouldn’t be focusing on gaining 1000s of Twitter followers if it wasn’t paying off on some level.

Listen to the people that matter the most

Your clients are the most important people to your business.  Take the time to listen to them, show them you care, and learn from them.  Sit down with 10-15 of your best clients (most profitable and refer you the most) and interview them.  Ask them about their experience with your company and how you can make it even better for them.  Take their feedback and continue to improve but also use it to develop your core message using words that actually resonate with the people you serve.

Here are a few of my favorite questions:

  1. Why did you choose us in the first place?
  2. Why do you stay with us?
  3. What do we do that others don’t?
  4. What could we/our products/services do for you that we don’t?

Communicate your difference

You have taken the time to do the research.  It’s now time to create your core message –  this message should be a short statement that becomes your marketing message workhorse.  Commit to it, stick to it, and resist the desire to change.  It may develop over time, however, the core statement should be something you are proud to preach over the years.

I would love to hear from you.  What is the core message you are ready to commit to – one that will help your clients understand your purpose?

Sara HeadshotSara Jantsch is the Director of Community at Duct Tape Marketing.  It is Sara’s job to see to all the little things that make our community members feel appreciated, informed, special and looked after.  She is also a Marketing Consultant and has a strong passion for working with small business owners.  Connect with Sara on twitter.

 

Elevating Customer Experience a Must When Marketing Luxury Brands

It’s no secret that luxury brand buyers’ needs are quite different from those of traditional buyers. With more resources and generally less time available than the average consumer, competition for their money and attention is fierce. So how do you amp up your brand and make it stand out to the luxury customer?

Cutting through all the noise in marketing and advertising nowadays means ditching the old school practice of simply promoting the characteristics and features of your product. Today’s luxury buyer is not sold on solely the benefits of what you are selling but on the overall brand experience; an experience that must be conveyed at every possible touchpoint whether digitally, on a customer service call or in person. Capture the attention of luxury buyers by focusing on these three aspects of your brand experience.

Know Your Audience

This may sound like a no-brainer, but it is a practice ignored by brands all too often. Not all luxury buyers are driven by the same motives or respond the same way to marketing tactics, and failure to tailor your efforts to your specific audience’s needs could be costly.

kuhlman cellars

Example: Kuhlman Cellars

Those who book tastings at this Texas winery are not the average wine guzzlers, but rather aficionados with an appreciation for learning the ins and outs of wine making and tasting. They knew that their visitors would be more impressed with the high level of knowledge their staff possessed about their products and the industry than showy, grandiose surroundings. Rather than compensating with over-the-top interiors as many high-end wineries do, they chose to keep their tasting rooms simple and keep the focus on creating a personalized learning experience tailored to their visitors’ interests.

Tell a Story

Today’s luxury buyers also favor substance over style, meaning they are more likely to connect with a brand that has the marketing savvy to tell a story and align with their personal values rather with a brand that relies on its product’s flashiness. Your customers are educated, so treat them that way by ramping up your content and avoiding gimmicks and commodity marketing language.

5th and west

Example: Fifth & West

Future downtown Austin luxury high rise Fifth & West is one of the area’s most exciting residential ownership opportunities, and their marketing tactics needed to express this landmark development to potential residents on every level. While stunning renderings of the building certainly spoke for themselves, any accompanying copy needed to speak to the carefulness and thoughtfulness put into every aspect of the project. Vivid yet concise language and even quotes from interior architect Michael Hsu in marketing pieces effectively conveyed the heightened luxury living residents would experience. In fact, more than 60 percent of residences had been sold within three months of groundbreaking.

Convenience is Key

Now that you have hooked your customer with your brand experience and story, give them the ability to interact with your brand in a way that is most convenient for their demanding lifestyle. Providing ample options to suit their unique needs during every stage of the buying cycle allows them to shop and make decisions in a manner of their choosing. Accomplish this by pushing the creative envelope and utilizing technology in a way that both accommodates your buyers’ unique needs and provides that Wow Factor.

lexus of austin

Example: Lexus

Lexus of Austin’s launch party for two new vehicle models needed to set the standard for how grand and technology-centered the event would be. The invitation’s attention-grabbing, animated graphics captured invitees’ interest and created an interactive experience while allowing readers to gather information about the event and RSVP with ease. Convenience? Interactivity? Wow Factor? Check, check, check.

Fine-tuning your marketing efforts to focus on the needs and preferences of luxury buyers is a surefire way to create deeper connections with your audience and build loyalty. Doing so is the difference between your brand being uninspiring and being unforgettable.

Maria OrozovaMaria Orozova is the President and Creative Director of The MOD Studio, a boutique marketing and design agency based in Austin and the creative powerhouse behind many local and national brands. www.theMODstudio.com

Experiential Design: the Importance of Cohesive Event Branding

Today’s Guest Post is by Tori Atkinson – Enjoy!

Event branding offers companies, organisations and collectives a chance to massively amplify awareness – using experiential design best practices to offer an impactful and unforgettable experience. Through the power of distinctive, dynamic design, businesses can harness the immense potential of event branding – but it’s only through an intelligent and cohesive approach that you’ll experience the full effect.

Here’s how it’s done.

The Campaign Trail

The success of any event depends on how you execute the countdown. This phase is often neglected by businesses and organisations during the run-up to the big day – but taking the time and initiative to plan the preliminary elements, with a focus on cohesive design, is the key to ensuring the best possible results on the day of the event.

A strategic approach to event branding involves the creation of elements designed solely to build awareness and maximise the hype prior to the event itself. Considering how professional event design could enhance your invitations, tickets and even social media pages during the proverbial drumroll will generate as much interest as possible – boosting attendance and creating some welcome buzz around the event during the weeks or months beforehand.

Try it: bring some design cohesion to your event campaign materials by using one consistent tagline across the invite emails, print media and physical or online tickets to create a sense of recognition. Using one core aesthetic theme throughout, like one unifying symbol or colour scheme, adapt and embellish this as you see fit across the various design elements so that all materials are complementary without being visually identical.

From the Drawing Board to the Big Day

Event branding is an involved, ongoing process that starts with the drawing board and develops and evolves continually until the day of the big event. A sense of cohesion is crucial to experiential design – as no event will have the aesthetic or conceptual impact it should have without some harmony among its various parts. From the initial design stages to the production of event elements, the overarching concept should ring loud and clear across the campaign.

Ensuring that the unifying idea behind your event isn’t forgotten along the way will prevent the core message from being lost or diluted. So whether it’s pre-event advertising, the all-embracing branding or the experiential design itself, keeping a firm grip on the concept of the event will guarantee that it’s cohesive, connected and delivers on every promise.

Our work with 100%Design involved creating a holistic campaign design and carrying this concept throughout all elements made to support, promote and populate the event. Settling on an idea of ‘inspiring connections’ that tied everything together, we were able to guarantee total cohesion across the event branding.

Try it: keep a rigid focus on the overall purpose and concept of your event and create every element with this in mind. Promotional materials give you a chance to hint at your concept in a more abstract way, whereas the event itself is where you can bring these abstractions into the tangible, three-dimensional world.

‘Inspiring Connections’ was a theme that simultaneously offered inspiration for the pre-event promo design and informed the way the actual event was populated and presented. All elements of the event served as a translation or physical representation of this key concept.

Photo by Shaw+Skerm

Photo by Shaw+Skerm

Attendee Journeys

Creating a sense of togetherness throughout your event branding is especially important where the attendee journey is concerned. Whatever the ultimate aim of your event is – whether it’s to increase brand exposure, raise awareness on a given topic or drive sales and subscriptions – the journey an attendee takes from entrance to exit needs to be subtly and strategically designed.

With all elements of the event working in synergy, the journey from A to B should be seamless – that way, your audience will have the most immersive and engaging experience possible. Maintaining a sense of perspective throughout the event branding process guarantees results. It’s by keeping one eye on the big picture, exploring how different elements interact and how they work to communicate your core message, that you’ll deliver a meaningful and memorable event.

Try it: when designing the event itself, keep all primary components connected by enforcing one overriding aesthetic theme – whether that relates to colour, form or the message your displays communicate. Guaranteeing that all elements contribute to the central theme in a way that’s clear to all attendees will ensure you leave a powerful and lasting impact.

Tori AtkinsonTori Atkinson is a creative design blogger for Shaw+Skerm – providing professional event branding services to SMEs and organisations throughout London.

5 Ways to Get The Most Out of Your Social Media Marketing This Year

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from our newest team member – Alex Boyer– Enjoy!

photo credit: shutterstock

You have always been told your business needs a presence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, but you have yet to see tangible results. Don’t give up! Here are five simple steps to kick-start your social media this year.

Set a Goal

You should set a basic goal for your social media activities for the year. This can be something simple like “increase participation in specials or sales,” “interact with existing customers and strengthen brand loyalty,” or something more complex like “Create a personality for your brand.” Every social media post for the year should in some way help you achieve that goal.

For example, take two popular restaurants in the Kansas City area: Grunauer (@grunauerKC) and Blanc Burgers and Bottles (@BlancBurgers). Blanc uses social media to remind their customers of daily and nightly specials, and release photos of new burger creations. Gurnauer forgoes the daily specials and instead uses their Twitter account to create personality for the restaurant, cheering for local sports teams and commenting on news stories. Both restaurants have significant social media following and every post from both fulfill their respective goals.

Draft a plan

Now that you have a goal to achieve, it is time to draft a plan for your social media year. You should start by creating an editorial calendar. Use your calendar to list your yearly sales events, local events (such as high-profile concerts or local festivals) and holidays. Keep an eye out for obscure holidays like “Talk like a pirate day” or “National Cheeseburger day,” as these are very popular on social media. You can even pre-draft social media posts for each of these events for use later.  If you ever reach a point in the year where you don’t know what to post, use this calendar for ideas.

You can even use the editorial calendar to plan “messages of the week,” content themes that you can use for a week or month at a time. For example, you can have your blog posts for a month focus on sales strategy. That way, you have a uniform starting point for each of your posts.

Social Specials

Give your customers a reason to interact with your social media by giving them “Social Specials”. These can include giveaways or discounts in store. Ask your fans to “Like this post for 10% off this week” or “Retweet for a chance to win.” In the case of discounts, you can even ask customers who come into your storefront if they have social media, and then tell them they can get a discount if they like your page. This will not only expand your social media following, but also engage users that are already customers. Plus, posting promotions on social media is cheaper than printing coupons in the newspaper.

Create a Dialogue

Social media platforms shouldn’t be used simply to distribute your messages, they should be a 2-way street between you and your customers. Use Twitter, Facebook, and your blog as a customer service tool as well. Allow your customers to come to you with their complaints, and address them promptly. Also, thank supporters for their kind words and share their positive reviews.  This gives your customers reason to interact with your social media pages, and creates a sense of community around your company.

Never Stop Creating Content

Finally, the most important step to getting the most out of your social media is to create content. You need to continue to create engaging, exciting content to draw new fans and keep your current fans’ attention.  You cannot forget about social media and must post regularly. The steps above should help you keep a steady flow of content for your supporters, but it is ultimately up to you and your team to keep executing. Your social media following cannot grow without content.

Social media marketing should be an important part of your marketing plan. Follow these five simple steps, and your social media presence is sure to grow over the next year.


Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. It is his job to create and scour the internet for the best content for small businesses. In addition, he will continue to grow the Duct Tape Marketing community through interaction with clients and consultants in the Duct Tape Consultant Network on our website and through Social Media. Alex has a background in political marketing, where in-depth opposition and messaging research is critical to a successful campaign. He is focused on taking those tactics and using them to help your small business grow and reach more potential customers.

How to Use Your Expert Knowledge to Build Authority Online

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Daniel Glickman – Enjoy! 

photo credit: 123rf

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent. – John Donne

The internet is a living continent that depends on community contribution to thrive. Without input from participating members, the internet would cease to be relevant. However, the biggest strength of the internet is also its biggest weakness: with almost three billion users, the internet is an enormous global stage, and as participants, we are all competing for a bit of spotlight. However, in our fight to get a moment of glory, too many generate content that is useless and irrelevant. So how do you create important content? Use your expert knowledge to benefit the online community.

First, realize that the online community doesn’t care about you.

Like any other consumers, online audiences are seeking to consume relevant, valuable knowledge. Luckily, you have the power to give them exactly what they want. But first, you need to stop contributing only to benefit yourself. Creating content simply for your own marketing benefits will never get you the same results as contributing genuinely for the benefit of the community.

Ask not what the online community can do for you, but what you can do for the online community.

If you are consistently putting the audience’s needs above your own, you will benefit. The key to being a valuable participant is knowing what you have to offer, why it sets you apart, and how to get it out properly. The most important input you can give to the existing online community is expert knowledge that only you have by contributing content that is unique to your specialty to genuinely help others.

Give fresh perspectives.

A core necessity of any content is that it is valuable and high-quality. However, even the best content can easily be overlooked. A constant challenge is creating fresh and interesting content that offers value to visitors. It’s easy for a great post or infographic to become buried under other online content, so how do you catch the attention of an ever-distracted online audience? Know how the element of surprise can attract attention. A moving graphic, interesting color scheme, or dash of humor in a forum post are all real ways to keep audiences on their toes and interested in what you have to say.

Choose appropriate methods for delivering knowledge.

There are as many topics to contribute about as there are ways to get your insights out there. Informative online presentations, guest blogging, webinars, and active participation in online forums are just a few of the many ways to help the community at large and, if done correctly, can drive long-lasting community engagement. Identify why each method would benefit you, and ask yourself if it’s relevant to your niche. The owner of a medical technology company is probably better suited to contribute knowledge to forums than webinars, but either method works if the owner understands his strengths. A great writer but bad public speaker is probably not suited for a live presentation and should choose an online slideshow with great taglines instead. Know how to play up your strengths and invest in the appropriate methods to benefit the most.

Strive to start conversation.

Putting out content that doesn’t generate audience feedback is like delivering a presentation with zero engagement. Before any post or comment, ask yourself if you are just adding your two-cents or actually participating and driving a conversation. One of the best ways to see this in action is by rephrasing your comments as questions. See how much more participation you get from asking your audience their opinion?

There you have it – to be an authority on your niche, deliver genuine content for the purpose of contributing, not benefitting. The most engaging content – that great TED talk, memorable article, or viral website – was created because of a passion of to share, not benefit. If you can do this successfully, you will not only establish yourself as an authority in your field, but will also draw an engaged audience to you naturally.

08c4341Daniel Glickman is the CMO of emaze. He loves analyzing marketing data and building strategic and tactical plans.

 

Does Your Business Have a TV Show?

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Kevin Jordan – Enjoy!

If you watch any television at all, chances are you’ve stumbled across one of the many reality TV shows that turn the day-to-day drama of a small business into prime time entertainment. There’s TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress (starring Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan) and Cake Boss (featuring Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, NJ), the History Channel’s Pawn Stars (Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, Las Vegas) and American Pickers (Antique Archeology in Le Claire, Iowa), and my personal favorite–the Discovery Channel’s Flying Wild Alaska (about the airline Era Alaska, based in Unalakleet, AK). These shows have turned the owners and employees of obscure small businesses into international celebrities, and generated tens of thousands of dollars of revenue for the businesses (if not more). What small business owner hasn’t watched one of these shows and thought to him or herself, “I wish I had a TV show about my business distributed by a media giant to millions of viewers around the world”?

Well, I’ve got great news for you. You can have a TV show about your business, and Apple will deliver it literally into the hands of 1.5 billion people around the world. It’s called a video podcast, and for the business owner who has the time and resources to devote to creating one, it’s a very effective way of delivering educational content to your target audience and establishing yourself as an authority in your niche.

iTunes Video BlogsWhat’s a Podcast?

Before I go any further, perhaps I should clarify what exactly a podcast is, because the name “podcast” actually is no longer a good way of describing it. You see, a podcast is basically a means of distributing content to an audience. That content can take the form of a radio show (audio podcast), a TV show (video podcast), or a newspaper (yes, you can actually distribute PDF documents using a podcast). The reason it’s called a “podcast” is that in the beginning many people were listening to audio podcasts on their iPods. However, there are now many different ways that people can consume podcasts, so that’s a little bit of a misnomer.

Just as is the case with more traditional forms of syndicated content distribution, people can either consume one “episode” of your podcast (like picking up a newspaper from the rack at the news stand), or they can subscribe to your podcast and have each episode automatically delivered to their favorite device when it is released (smartphone, laptop, iPad, iPod, etc).

Why would you want a video podcast?

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “I already have an email newsletter that people can subscribe to. Why should I have a podcast also?” Unlike an email newsletter, this method of delivering content to your target audience is completely spam-proof, and does not require someone to divulge any personal information (like name and email address) in order to receive it. Therefore, all barriers to entry are essentially removed. It’s a great way to let people “try out” your business at no risk–a key component of the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass concept.

As to why you should consider a video podcast instead of an audio podcast, there’s a couple compelling reasons:

  • With a video podcast, there are fewer restrictions on the type of content you can produce–think live demos, screen capture videos, virtual tours of your facility, etc.
  • Your personality comes through more powerfully in a video (assuming you appear on-camera) than in an audio broadcast
  • In some cases (depending on your content), you can separate the audio from the video in your editing process and use the audio files to create an audio podcast without any additional editing, thus reaching a wider audience.
  • Right now, there are a lot fewer video podcasts than audio podcasts, meaning less competition. Also, Apple is actively promoting video podcasts in iTunes and has expressed interest in getting more of that type of content on their platform.

What will your show be about?

So, now that you’re convinced that this whole video podcast thing is at least worth investigating, the only thing left to decide is what your show will be about. Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Use your show to teach customers (or potential customers) how to use your products. For example, the Basic Brewing video podcast teaches people how to brew beer, and its host, James Spencer, has an online homebrew supply store.
  2. Use your show to establish authority and credibility in your niche. If you’re a speaker, author, or coach, a video podcast is a great way to position yourself as an expert. See the NutritionFacts.org video podcast for an example.
  3. Your show could simply be a method of broadcasting company events, messages and updates to your employees, strategic partners, vendors, and customers. For example, the White House publishes a video podcast that is simply a recording of all the president’s speeches.

If those examples don’t give you any ideas or inspiration, just go to iTunes and search for video podcasts about topics you are genuinely interested in (you can even find video podcasts about video podcasting). Subscribe to a few and start watching them on a regular basis. Chances are, before long you will start to view the hosts of the shows you subscribe to as experts you can turn to for trusted advice. You may even end up buying products or services from some of them! There’s no reason why you can’t be one of those “trusted experts”. Start a TV show for your business so you can share your knowledge and experience with the world, gain the trust of your target audience, and position your brand at the top of your niche.

Kevin JordanKevin Jordan is an authorized Duct Tape Marketing Consultant living in central Virginia. He’s also the host of the Small Business Marketing Minute, a daily video podcast for small business owners looking for simple, affordable, and practical marketing tips. He teaches several online courses on small business marketing, including video marketing.

Marketing Techniques Every Small Business Should Use

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Kristin Hovde – Enjoy!

Small-Business-Marketing

photo credit: iStock

Having the best, most innovative product on the market is not enough to drive traffic to your office or store. It takes a carefully-planned strategy to effectively promote your products or services.

Marketing is a critical component for any business, but can be done effectively without having to shell out thousands of dollars. Small business owners may feel intimidated competing with their larger, more established competitors, but these ideas will help increase brand awareness, drive more traffic to your website, and gain new customers.

1. Have a Measurable Goal

Before beginning any marketing campaign, having a realistic goal to aim for is a critical piece to the marketing puzzle. There are several steps to creating a goal to successfully launch your campaign, but for an easy way to remember it, think S.M.A.R.T:

  • Specific: Know Who, what, where, when, which, and why.
  • Measurable: Determine how you are going to measure your progress.
  • Attainable: Create a goal that can be achieved.
  • Realistic: Aiming high can give you the motivation you need to reach your goals, but it can also make it much more difficult to reach. Shoot for a goal that can realistically be accomplished.
  • Timely: Know what time frame you would like to accomplish the goal by.

2. Know Your Target Market

If you target everyone, you will be wasting valuable time, energy, and money on promoting your business to an audience that may not be in the market for what your company has to offer. Do your research to determine what age, gender, location, and any other criteria needed to discover what demographic you need to sell your products to.

3. Get Involved in Networking Events

Networking events such as trade shows are excellent ways to get the word out about your business. It will allow you to get out of your office and meet other professionals in your industry. Instead of going to these events with the sole intention of selling your products, try to connect with these people on a personal level. The friends you make could refer customers your way down the road.

4. Grow Your Social Media Presence

Social media is everywhere we turn; from checking Facebook newsfeeds to tweeting about our day entirely from a smart phone. Billions of people are using social media, so having your business be a part of that world will help to reach out to a larger audience. Set up company accounts on Twitter and Facebook, a company page on LinkedIn, and a YouTube channel for downloading videos on useful tips that could help your customers.

5. Join Volunteering Groups or Start Your Own

Is there an event coming up that supports a cause? Help support it by having your employees and yourself volunteer or by donating money or items to the cause. If there is a cause that is close to your heart, consider starting your own volunteer group. Not only will volunteering or donating put your company’s name out there in the public eye, but you will also be helping a group of people in need.

6. Show Your Expertise in a Blog

Show readers how knowledgeable you are in your field by writing about it. Write blog posts that include helpful tips on a subject that your readers will find useful. This will show everyone that you are an expert in your industry.

7. Be Consistent in Your Marketing Campaigns

Whatever marketing message you are communicating to potential customers, make sure it is consistent throughout all of your marketing materials. Having the same text, motto, and pictures throughout your different marketing mediums will be much more memorable to potential customers.

8. Keep Your Website Updated

Online shopping has increased in popularity from 10 years ago, so keeping your products updated regularly is important. Not only should new products be added or outdated products be deleted, add fresh content to the products you already have listed on your website. Also, add new images and graphics to build traffic and keep visitors from getting bored. Regularly updating your website will also help your search engine rankings.

9. Write a Press Release

Are you launching a new product? Does your company have big news? Writing a press release about it will get the attention of the media, which will end up getting the word out to your target audience very quickly. As much as this tool can help boost the awareness of your business, don’t write a press release just to write one. Make sure you have something that is news-worthy to write about in order to get readers interested.

10. Measure Your Results

As I mentioned in tip #1, having a goal that is measurable will help you discover the success of your marketing campaign. In order to find out which campaigns have been the most successful, have employees ask customers how they heard about your business, offer coupons with promotional codes, or look into purchasing tracking software that will be able to tell you where your website visitors are coming from. Once you have gathered this information, you’ll be able to find out which tools and campaigns have been the most successful.

With these tips, you will be well on your way to effectively marketing your small business.

161352_100001963608959_2491958_nKristin Hovde is the Marketing Manager for Smash Hit Displays, an online trade show display company. She has written numerous articles related to trade shows, marketing, budgeting, and social media.

 

Social Media Marketing for Lead Generation

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Michael Bird– Enjoy!

photo credit: whoohoo120 on Flickr

photo credit: whoohoo120 on Flickr

Let’s say you’ve devised the perfect marketing strategy for your small business, a photograph business. It involves placing ads in papers and passing out business cards. The business comes in, and for a while things are good. After a few more months, however, it seems that the leads have dried up. You’ve had nothing but success at the events you’ve done thus far, but fewer people are responding. So what do you do? Make a new plan, Stan, and it should probably involve social media. Look, I’m not saying your marketing strategy doesn’t have potential, but if you’re not using social media to generate leads, you’re missing out on an opportunity to reach a huge market. Not convinced? Lend me your ear…

Tides Have Changed

facebook

photo credit: Flickr

Now more than ever, there has been a dramatic shift on social media from being purely a community to being a viable market. Here your customers sit, just waiting for you to reach them and tell them why they need you at their next bar mitzvah. Small businesses are using social media to create a brand for themselves, making them almost instantly recognisable. Through posts, tweets, pictures and videos, they’re encouraging conversations about their products and services. Social media also makes your company appear more personable. Your customers will feel like they can approach you, ask you questions and potentially pass your name on to their friends.

Content Leads to Leads

In recent years, social media has come away from the community builder aspect and become more of a lead generation and content publishing platform for small businesses. This encourages them to become content publishers, writing blogs and posting photographs in order to further connect with the customer. professional-photographer-blogIt works like this: The photographer might show off his or her expertise in a blog explaining the rule of thirds or the best time to use outdoor lighting. He or she then posts the article to the company website and begins posting the link on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, along with an accompanying photo on Instagram. The followers then read the post, comment and even share it with their friends. The photographer has reached out to more people, who probably have a relative or friend who needs a photographer for an event. The content helps potential clients view the photographer as an expert, and they’ll be more likely to trust the service provider. The links on the various social media sites help point back to the business website, bettering the link profile. Sure, community is a great aspect of social media, but just having people “like” your page just isn’t enough. You have to keep them engaged with new and original content, questions in posts and photographs that will provoke a positive response.

Get Out the Measuring Tape

photo credit: Google Analytics

photo credit: Google Analytics

It is now so much easier to measure social media’s return on investment (ROI). After you establish the goals you want to reach, such as clicked links, filled-out contact sheets or booking dates for events, you need to define a strategy to reach them and find a way to track your progress. Check out these programs:

  • Simply Measured
  • Google Analytics
  • Socialbakers
  • Rival IQ
  • Zumm

These tools (and others) will help you see your social media efforts in action. You’ll be able to see what is working, what isn’t and what you can do to change that. Some companies rely heavily on paid advertisements, such as Google Adwords or Facebook Ads, and it’s true, they can be very useful. Their value, however, should come from the number of clicks back to your website, and if they aren’t doing that, they’re not really worth it. The possibilities are endless with social media and landing page marketing. Who knows? A social media shift might just lift your small business out of a marking slump.

Michael Bird

Michael Bird is Co-Founder and Director of Strategy at Social Garden, a Social Media Marketing, Content Development, and SEO Agency based in Melbourne, Australia. You can connect with Mike on Google+, Twitter, or click through to check out Social Garden’s Blog.