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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.

SEO Blended Copy: Dos and Don’ts for Boosting Your Website’s Organic Discoverability

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

Duct-tapeThese days, it’s all about organic: organic produce, organic pressed-juice, holistic baby diapers made from all-organic materials – the list goes on. So, it should come as no shock the role that organic SEO plays in your website’s discoverability, even over paid alternatives like pay-per-click. In fact, 70-80% of Internet users ignore paid ads, focusing instead on organic search results.

Intimidating to some, boosting your website’s organic discoverability is easier than you might think. Just remember, if content is king then keywords are the crowned jewels.  The following are a few crucial ‘dos and don’ts’ all businesses need to consider when looking to optimize their organic SEO.

Don’t: Assume the phrase “keyword” translates to “one word.”

Do: Assign natural phrases as your keywords

By strategically assigning keywords to the pages of your website, you are essentially anticipating all of the different search variations that could and should lead users to your website. Don’t make the mistake of taking the term “keywords” literally though. Incorporate a series of natural phrases into your keyword strategy. Ask yourself – How would you search for your site?

Don’t: Randomly sprinkle keywords throughout your website copy.

Do: Utilize targeted keywords.

Unless you’re looking to get on Google’s bad-list, don’t just assign keywords without incorporating them into the various elements of your website. This doesn’t mean sporadically using a keyword here and there. In fact, there are several crucial areas that Google looks at specifically for keyword integration: Page title, page headline, body copy, meta description and links, both internal and external.

Don’t: Overload keywords in your website copy.

Do: Create engaging content and naturally integrate keywords.

There’s an art to determining the appropriate keyword density % of your keyword-blended copy. While there is really no magic number for keyword density, there is one guiding light: Good content will always beat SEO. With that said, it stands to reason that if you drown your copy in keywords at the sake of flow and cohesiveness, your ranking will probably take a tumble. Instead, focus on writing engaging content while seizing opportunities to naturally introduce keywords into your copy.

Keywords alone does not a successful SEO strategy make, however. While it is a large driver of your organic search results, there are other key areas that can further help boost your websites discoverability.

Be Mobile

Mobile-browsing usage is set to bypass desktop browsing within the year so your organization’s website design is more important than ever. Because your SEO relies heavily on your website’s engagement, it’s important to choose a responsive or mobile friendly design that will cater to your mobile audience’s experience.

Get Down with Google

It’s no shock that Google looks favorably upon those who actively use their ancillary services. An easy way to start doing this is to actively use and maintain a Google+ page. Also, if your business has a blog, you’ll want to set up Google Authorship so that your writers’ work can start to help boost your site’s credibility and ultimately, search ranking.

Stay Social

Never underestimate the power of social in you SEO strategy. Your organization’s social pages are a huge source of potential traffic for your website. Create and share engaging, original content as part of your social strategy, and always remember to link back to your website.

mariaorozovamod (2)Maria Orozova is the President and Creative Director of The MOD Studio, a boutique marketing & design agency based in Austin and the powerhouse behind many local and national brands. Together, Maria and the MOD Marketing and Development team build a strategic and dynamic mix of consumer and B2B clients. For more information on building a successful SEO strategy, visit: www.themodstudio.com

 

Using Forums to Market New Products and Services to Existing Customers

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

proboardsBusinesses of all stripes are always looking for new customers to buy their products or services. However, sometimes businesses ignore the best place to look for new sales:  through customers who have already purchased products and services in the past.  Tapping into your existing customers to boost your sales is smart because you’ve already done the hardest part of the sales cycle with them:  you made that first sale.

The easiest path to new sales is often found through those who have already made a decision to buy from you.  The key is getting a sense of how the products are perceived by customers, how the services are used, and what add-on or upsell products and services are a good fit to market new offerings to an existing customer base.

Internet Forums

One of the best tools for learning more about customers who already use your products and services is social media, with Internet forums being one of the more dependable tools for gathering information.

According to a 2012 study by Awareness, a marketing firm based in Burlington, Mass., one-third of marketers are looking to social media and Internet forums as the platform of choice to reach customers.  Nativo, a content marketing firm in Long Beach, Calif., says 20 percent of Americans use forums to discuss and recommend products.  Nearly two-thirds of women in online forums make product recommendations on these boards.

Marketing to customers via an Internet forum delivers this proven path and helps ensure success by enabling a series of regular and intimate communications between the company and the customer. Spending time on Internet forums where your customers can be found often reveals relevant marketing information about products in demand, services used, strengths of competitive offerings, and weaknesses in products or services offered by a competitor.  This sort of intelligence is ideal for putting together a sales pitch on new or related products and services, or to make a compelling offer to customers of your chief competition in order to acquire new customers who were unhappy with their offering.

Internet forums also help to build customer loyalty. The seeds you plant today, through the intimate two-way communication forums provide, help make products better and allow the company to fix potential problems, while ensuring product launches are more successful — just by leveraging the loyalty built through the regular interactive engagement with your customers.

Spend some time finding out which forums your customers read regularly and do some “lurking” where you read each post and response without actively participating.  Take careful notes.  Identify current customers on the forum.  From their posts and comments, what other products or services would improve their experience with your company based on the first purchase they made?  Do they offer advice to others buying similar products or do they warn prospects about the purchase they made from you?

Stay in Touch

If you detect something is wrong, you can proactively contact them and fix the problem.  If it’s a competitive offering, how does your product or service address the shortcomings of the competitive solution?  Can you put together a program to encourage these customers to try your company?

Internet forums provide a great way to stay in touch with your customer base.  But there are some “rules of the road” for participating in a forum and using it for marketing purposes.  Follow them or you could risk being banned by the forum staff:

  • Develop a good profile so forum participants know who you are.  Make yourself approachable.  Make sure there is contact information so it makes you accessible to your customers and prospects.
  • Introduce yourself to the forum members in the appropriate section.
  • Be smart about commenting; never insult a poster.
  • If you are alerted to a problem, play a role in getting it resolved; encourage other posters to ask you questions.
  • Make valuable contributions to the forum; provide good information.  Don’t spread rumors or make bold claims.  Be helpful and humble.  Be objective.
  • Don’t hard sell new products and services when you make a new post, and always expose any biases you have.  It’s great to help people who have questions, it’s bad to spam.

Patrick Clinger Headshot - 300dpi-jpg 05-16-13Patrick Clinger is founder and CEO of ProBoards, the world’s largest host of free forums on the Internet (www.proboards.com).  The company has been hosting forums for more than 14 years with over 3.7 million forums created on its platforms.  The company’s forums record billions of page views every year with tens of millions of registered users.  ProBoards’ Forums.net white label forum service allows small business to quickly and easily create their own branded Internet forum that is fully managed by ProBoards.

 

Why Your Business Needs a Google+ Page Too

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

If you are on Google+ (which you are) and if you run a business (which you do), you also need to create a G+ Page for your business that is wholly separate and distinct from your personal G+ profile.

Essentially, Google designed Google Pages to address the specific needs of business owners seeking to maximize Google’s features for their professional purposes.

Here are some of the basics you need to know for mastering your G+ business listing and some tips on where to devote your energies to reap the greatest rewards in harnessing the power of G+ for your business marketing strategy as well as enhancing your business’ reach across the online realm:

First Impressions Matter

With so much competition in any given field, unless you can create a visually stimulating profile page for your business, there’s a high likelihood that searchers will simply move on to the next business in the carousel that has prioritized its appearance.

At a minimum, your business page cover photo needs to represent your brand and indicate what line of business you are in. You may love kittens, but your business’ cover photo is not the venue to display this affinity (unless you are in the business of kittens, that is). If you are not, leave them on your personal G+ Profile Page or on an adorable YouTube video where they belong.

Ideally, the photo will be clear and will adapt well regardless which device the user employs. More and more searchers are doing so via mobile devices, so making sure your G+ Business Page is compatible is a must.

In addition, make certain that your properly linked website conveys the same message!

Google Maps Matters

The best way to establish your place “on the map” is by establishing your place on the map, literally.

When your business profile clearly lists your business address, your physical location will automatically show up when people search for your area of expertise using Google Maps. And that’s why it’s also important that you select the most-appropriate business category – Google wants to connect you with your potential customers, so help them help you.

Make sure your listing shows your address exactly as it appears on your website. Additionally, don’t just stop at your business name, location and physical phone number. Provide as much information as possible. Include hours of operation, a description of what you do in general, and a few specifics such as: most popular products and most requested information.

And perhaps most important, consistency across all of your business channels is key. If Google lists your address differently, change the one on your website to match theirs. Those who are willing to play the game according to Google’s rules are the ones whose businesses will benefit in the end.

Connect Through Conversations

One of the newest aspects of social media that Google is working to integrate across their own products is hashtags. Whenever you post something on your business page (and you should as often as possible), include relevant hashtags because Google now recognizes those in searches when it shows up on their own G+ outlets. If you are using the “right” hashtag at the “right time,” Google just might reward you with an increased rank in search.

As we all know, there’s no secret formula for getting to the top of the Google search charts. But if you follow these optimization guidelines when setting up your Google+ Business Page and listing, you are that much closer to connecting to your customers when they seek you out via Search, Maps, G+ or mobile devices.

And the best part is that by putting the work in upfront and staying on top of regular updates, from that point on, the rest will be taken care of by Google marketing automation.

DianaGomezDiana Gomez is the Marketing Coordinator at Lyoness America, where she is instrumental in the implementation of marketing and social media strategies for USA and Canada. Lyoness is an international shopping community and loyalty rewards program, where businesses and consumers benefit with free membership and money back with every purchase. Check out Lyoness on Facebook.

 

7 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Use Video To Grow Their New Business

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

Congratulations! Your business plans are in place, perhaps you have sought out and won investors, and gotten a foothold in the market with your product. Now it is time to grow. No doubt you are raising the mantle of social media dominance and gathering all the “followers” and “likes” that are to be had, but have you got the moves to keep their attention?

Properly designed and produced videos are an amazing way to build strength behind any marketing campaign. Let’s look at 7 ways entrepreneurs can use video to grow their new business.

1. Viral Video Marketing

This is old news to anyone with an Internet connection, but also extremely hard to do for the average Joe with a low definition webcam. You need something shocking, wowing, the “AH!” factor if you will. Like any good song, your product not only needs a hook, but a melody to provide the ear-worm and make your work a household name. Seeking out a firm with good copy writing and production staff can help bounce your ideas into a whole new audience.

In our example, we take a look at the 2011 start-up Dollar Shave Club and their viral video “Our Blades Are F***ing Great”. The CEO, Michael Dubin, wrote the script and had his good friend co-direct it. They produced the video by themselves without the help of a professional video company. It cost roughly $4,500 to make and it was shot in a day at their actual factory warehouse.. The viral video was responsible for 14 million views and 12,000 new orders that arrived within the first 48 hours of it being uploaded, and since then, Dollar Shave Club has gone on to produce other viral videos to continue the buzz surrounding their fast growing business.

2. Creating Brand Recognition

What names come to mind when you think about online search engines? What about cake mixes? More importantly, what name will come to mind when people think about your product? Your company, your product, is your baby. You have invested hundreds of hours and devoted many sleepless nights into planning, research, and development. Quality, targeted videos of your product, and your mission, will put you head and shoulders above the crowd.

Lyft, a privately held, San Franciso-based transportation network company that was founded in 2012, recently released a video that explains how their peer-to-peer ridesharing mobile phone app works. They do a great job by incorporating their signature furry pink mustaches on their drivers’ car into the branding of the video, to create instant brand recognition when you’re out on the road. Do you think their branding messaging is working?

3. Use Your Videos to Introduce Yourself

video production companiesPut a name and face on your brand! People like relating with people. Studies have shown that it is hard to shake hands with the Internet though. (A little humor). Let the world meet the people behind your product. Who makes your widgets and why do they love making them? Why did you start making your widget and why do you want to share it with the everyone? Everybody loves a good story, give them one!

4. Use Videos to Share Testimonials

You can use this opportunity to showcase your product as well as share “visual reviews” with the world. Written reviews are fantastic and have their place, but your product alongside the smiling face of a well satisfied customer carry some extra weight. People trust people, it can take some time to build the trust in the brand, and this will help to bridge that gap. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a brief 3-minute video worth?

5. Vlogging

I know, buzzword alert! This is a time tested way to help personalize your business though. Since the inception of social media marketing and YouTube, business execs, small-business owners, and private marketeers have been offering their personal perspective through vlogs. This is your chance to tell the world who you are and why you do what you do. Getting them invested in you will help to get them invested in your success and your business.

6. Offer Behind the Scenes access to Your Product

This is called “Building the Hype Train”. Congratulations, you are launching a shiny new Earth shattering product… Who cares? You do of course, and who better to share that excitement! Get the word out, show the world your new widget! (Use discretion if still in development, they don’t need to see software source code, or how much butter goes into your new dish).

Think of this like ordering a dish at a new restaurant. Your friends have been telling you for weeks just how good this place is, you have cleared an evening that you are anticipating will be filled with bliss. You have been salivating over how that steak will taste as you throw yourself into the first bite, and now, you hear it still sizzling from the grill as it nears your table…

Give your audience that same anticipation! Build them to the first bite of your succulent new widget. Make them tell their friends how after their first bite, they couldn’t wait to share with the world!

7. Offer Instruction and Promotion for your Product

Is your product tech? Don’t assume everyone knows how to mount and port files, offer some guidance, make it accessible. High quality, well edited product demonstration and instruction goes a long way with many people, even those who know what they are doing but like shortcuts. The only things people have bought that they didn’t want to be easy were Rubik’s Cubes and 10,000 piece puzzles. Unless you are selling those, help them along!

Dash, a startup company founded in 2012. recently released a video that showcases its connected car platform that turns any car into a “smart” car. The video does a great job showcasing how to use their product, especially since it is technology based and makes it much easier to understand than having to read long form text.

 

Dash – Mobile – Driving – Demo from Jamyn Edis on Vimeo.

 

Use these 7 ways that you the entrepreneur, can use video to grow your new business! Find yourself a good firm to work with that has good copywriters and a solid film crew. Sure, you could do it on your own, but let’s face it, you are busy enough running your company. Enlist the help you need to make it a success, otherwise it is just a hobby.

 

joe-forteArticle written by Joe Forte, co-owner and producer at D-Mak Productions. D-Mak Productions is one of the top video production companies based in Phoenix, AZ that specializes in corporate video production.

 

Six “Killer” Tips to Bring Your Outbound Marketing Back to Life

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

Duct Tape MarketingIs outbound marketing finally dead? Conventional wisdom says yes. After all, how many of us look forward to getting spam emails from businesses we don’t know or open an envelope with an invitation to a “free” event we know is rigged to sell us something we don’t want? Or even worse, what about the ever-annoying door-to-door salesperson telling us how our tree is dead, or our windows truly need replacement? Certainly at some point we have all wished that the “outbound” would die, and justifiably so.

But, before you kill “outbound marketing” in your budget, marketing plan and small business execution, think about the function it plays in each strategy. I contend that outbound marketing is just like the electricity and water that power the daily routines of your business. You’d never notice their importance, until the power goes out or the water stops flowing when you need to take a shower.

Here are six “killer” tips to bring your outbound marketing back to life.

  1. Demonstrate your subject matter expertise. In a world of generalists that say they can do anything and everything, dare to be the one that specializes in a niche solution. By doing so, you can easily reduce the amount of competitors and actually help your prospect realize the value of working with you.
  1. Customize your approach and don’t use pre-made templates. Remember that your prospects are seeking to differentiate you from your competition. With the bevy of marketing systems that allow you to use the same pre-designed “rush priority” envelope, or a web site and email template that another 200 small businesses are using, you stand to accomplish the opposite of standing out. The rule of thumb you should follow is that if it is a template, and you can afford it, it isn’t that special anymore. If it were worth anything, it would have been more valuable than the $39.99 price tag.
  1. Select the most compelling marketing medium that matches your audience demographics. Your prospect demographics are changing and perhaps at the “speed of light” like never before. Digital advertising through Pay-Per-Click, for example, went from being entirely based on using desktop computers to now having the majority of buyers first visiting a web site or landing page via their mobile device or tablet. Is your outbound marketing piece adjusted to their usage reality? Throw the old assumptions away about how people use technology, and ask. You might be surprised to find out that even WWII and Vietnam veterans are purchasing their AARP products and services online.
  1. Brand your outbound marketing uniquely and creatively. With more competitive venues to create and leave a colorful impression on prospects from the usage of video in content marketing to flooding your prospect’s mind with compelling, funny, or memorable imagery—reexamine your outbound marketing campaign. Does it do that? Or is it boring, dull and uninspiring? A good rule of thumb in branding is that if you can paste your logo on top of someone else’s marketing piece, you don’t have a unique brand to claim. Why waste the opportunity? From Apple’s distinct design of its ads (always clean, lots of white space and few words) to Papa John’s Pizza (Papa is always in it), these brands manage to leave a strong impression with every outbound marketing touch point.
  1. Choose quality over quantity. In outbound marketing, we are filled with formulas that are driven by percentage of response, ROI and the number of visitors to a site. What really matters is the quality of your responses. If you are seeking a response that expedites the selling cycle, you should truly focus on setting the bar on an integrated direct marketing approach that starts by ensuring each “touch point” with your prospect provides value versus pure crude exposure.
  1. Synchronize your in-house operations and your direct marketing activities. For many small businesses, a major direct marketing campaign could represent a significant budgetary investment. Yet, often when I call back to respond to an offer that was emailed or mailed to me, I find that the sales or customer service department doesn’t know what the offer was. Or worse, they say the program doesn’t exist, or ask that I should show them proof. Imagine the colossal waste of your budget associated with losing the opportunity to make a sale.

About The Author:

Gal BorensteinMr. Gal Borenstein (@galborenstein) is the CEO and Chief Strategy Officer of the Borenstein Group, a Northern Virginia-based integrated digital marketing communications agency supporting emerging innovators and industry leaders in Information Technology, Management Consulting, Logistics & Supply Chain Management and Professional Services.

The Best Marketing Doesn’t Feel Like Marketing

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

photo credit: Survey Anyplace

photo credit: Survey Anyplace

The relationships we have with the brands in our lives hinge on the quality of the interactions. The more relevant these brands are to us, the more apt we are to read, listen, or watch the outbound marketing content they manage to get in front of us. The best brands manage to find out just what it is that interests us before they get in touch: what problems they can solve, how they best fit into our lives.

Easier said than done, though. Getting specific information from our customers and prospects involves engaging them as close to their interaction with our brands as possible. Mobile surveys and quizzes allow brands to interact with consumers as they actually experience a brand. It’s an unprecedented opportunity afforded because of the near ubiquity of smartphones and tablets.

When to use mobile surveys or quizzes to gather once-unavailable consumer insights

Gathering consumer insights at every stage of interaction with your brand represents a goldmine of opinions and information. It forms the foundation of meaningful future messaging that won’t feel like marketing messaging. With mobile surveys and quizzes, the information you collect is available in real time: no more waiting days or weeks to collect and analyze data collected in the field or hoping your email surveys get answered. Here are just a few examples of how to use a short mobile survey or fun mobile quiz in situations that were once thought to be inaccessible.

  • New product introductions – get instant feedback about a new product formulation from customers in-store by having them sample and then swipe their feedback on a tablet you present them or on their own mobile device.
  • During in-store promotions – incentivize consumers to engage with you with a contest or other payoff. On your signage or packaging, simply include a URL or QR code they can use to access your survey or quiz. The quality of the input you’ll get as they interact with your brand will be much more valuable than a follow-up effort (if you even have a way to contact them) days or weeks later.
  • At trade shows – turn the face-to-face interactions into real-time information gathering. Using their mobile device or one you provide for their feedback, learn of their specific interests, their purchase intent, or why your offering does not intrigue them.
  • During events – the people who attend your events have invested their time (and sometimes money). They’re a great source of information if you make it easy for them to give it to you. Intercept them throughout the event, with kiosk-mounted tablets with short, fun, potentially rewarding quizzes or surveys on them. Project your survey URL on screens and compel them to give your their feedback.

Unique in-the-moment feedback helps you create more relevant outbound marketing content

Having collected real-time information from customers and prospects during the situations above will give you relevant insights you can use to create your outbound marketing messaging. Knowing why most people said they’d buy your new product just hours or days earlier should guide your copy development to lead to marketing that resonates with potential buyers. The more relevant and timely the content of outbound marketing is, the better the response to it will be. Mobile surveys and quizzes help you collect uniquely insightful and specific consumer insights when they interact with your brand.

Creating a mobile survey or quiz is fast and requires no design or technical skill

Marketers, event planners and organizations of every size are leveraging the power of mobile surveys and quizzes—and building them by themselves—with point-and-click ease online. They’re branding these new mobile tools automatically by simply uploading their logos. They write the questions and answer choices and can even add photos, video and audio files to make the questions more interactive. When they’ve finished the short creation process, the online platform generates a unique URL and QR code that their audience will use to access the survey or quiz—without needing to download an app. Results are uploaded the instant respondents finish the mobile survey or quiz, giving marketers information they can use instantly to adjust event elements or marketing messaging.

The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing

The closer your relationship with your customers and prospects, the more intimate you’ll be with what is important to them. Getting in-the-moment feedback from them as they consider your product or service, as in the midst of your event, is essential to making your marketing efforts sounding genuine and well informed. The more natural the conversation you have with consumers, the more believable it will be. Believability builds trust; trust induces trial and builds loyalty. Loyal customers will, in turn, pay your marketing forward, recommending a brand they believe in to others. Consider it the return on the investment you make into asking pertinent questions and proving that you’ve heard the answers.

 

Mark-PensonMark Penson is CMO of Survey Anyplace (www.surveyanyplace.com). Survey Anyplace Mobile Surveys provide an app-free mobile survey and gamification tool that generates real-time customer insights at the moment of experience.

What Is Main Street Anyway?

Main StreetMain Street is white hot these days, or at least the concept of main street is I guess.

So, my question to you my readers is this: In the context of the small business world, what is Main Street anyway?

  • Is Main Street the antithesis of Wall Street?
  • Are Sarah Palin and Joe Biden Mainstreeters?
  • Does Wal-Mart build on Main Street?

“This is America—a town of a few thousand, in a region of wheat and corn and dairies and little groves.” So Sinclair Lewis prefaces his novel Main Street. Lewis is brutal in his depictions of the self-satisfied inhabitants of small-town America, a place which proves to be merely an assemblage of pretty surfaces, strung together and ultimately empty.

From a business standpoint Main Street is a mostly nostalgic thought. Too many Main Streets today are either boarded up or revitalized with ice cream parlors, t-shirt shops and antique stores.

So when politicians evoke the world of Main Street as a way to demonstrate how “in touch” with America they are, who are they really speaking to? Are they speaking to the drug store owner located on a cobblestone street next to the barber? Probably not. While there are certainly exceptions, the only truly vibrant Main Streets I encounter these days exist in neighborhoods like the Bronx, Berkeley or even my own urban neighborhood of Brookside. Main Streets that survive mostly out of density that keeps basic necessity stores in business and the hassle for Target to locate. (Okay Berkeley might still keep Target out by sitting in the trees they need to cut down for the parking lot.)

But, a kind of Main Street exists unseen in kitchens, garages, and online. Small communities of Main Streets exist around ideas and shared interests in places like Twitter, Facebook and mySpace. Entrepreneurs in every size borough, town, city and metropolis thrive and grow as an economic force that few policy makers, politicians and even the media fully comprehend.

So, in my view, Main Street is not a place so much, and sadly, it is almost never a small town street anymore, it is, I think, a state or mind. And that state of mind exists in the hearts, sweat, passion, frustration, ingenuity and creativity of small business owners in every corner of America.

So, small business folks, what is Main Street to you?