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Five Selling Mistakes that Cost You Marketing Dollars

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

sales-mistakesMost businesses these days seem to take a sales or marketing approach to business development instead of a sales AND marketing approach. These common mistakes in sales can cost you marketing dollars and a lot of revenue from potential sales. If you are looking for a better return on your marketing budget, you might try looking at your sales department.

You don’t tightly target your prospects.

When business is slow, the temptation to tell your story to whomever will listen is great.  Instead, be choosy about the people to whom you “tell your story.”  Use your existing customer base to identify the characteristics of your best customers.  With that information, have the sales and marketing departments sit down together and develop a profile of your “ideal” customer.  Then, search out prospects that most closely fit the profile.  You may meet with fewer people, but you’ll close more sales.

You’re not sufficiently selective about the prospects with whom you meet.

Expressing an “interest” in your product or service is not a strong enough reason to schedule an appointment with a potential prospect. If prospects’ “interests” aren’t backed by recognized needs or desires for your product or service – now or in the immediate future – then there’s no compelling reasons to meet with them.  Find out why prospects are interested and what trigger event sparked their interest before you schedule sales appointments.  Use the marketing department to score the leads and nurture them until they are “sales ready”.

You neither establish credibility nor demonstrate expertise.

In sales, your job is to help the prospect view their situation from different perspectives and discover elements or aspects of their challenges they didn’t previously recognize.  And most importantly, you can’t just tell them! Prospects can get information from your marketing, but you must be able to ask questions in such a manner as to help prospects make those “discoveries” through a conversation.  Here’s an example:

When you asked your production manager to measure the injection pressure differential between the beginning and end of the production cycle and to what extent it contributed to the casting inconsistencies, what did he report?

Educating your prospects through intelligent questions demonstrates your understanding of their problems and allows the prospect to discover your expertise. It is perhaps the single most important skill to master in modern selling.

You don’t ask “tough” questions.

To be valuable as a salesperson, you must be able to identify elements at the center of controversies, uncover root causes of problems, discover carefully guarded information, and obtain rarely volunteered commitments.  You won’t be able to accomplish any of those tasks without asking tough questions. Again, marketing materials can explain features and benefits, but only great salespeople can ask and answer tough questions.

You rush to make presentations.

Many salespeople are too eager to make presentations.  They view them as opportunities to establish the value of their products or services by demonstrating their unique aspects. However, the real purpose of presentations is to confirm your ability to deliver the solutions prospects are predisposed to buy.

Until you know what and why you are presenting, you should refrain from making presentations.  Don’t cool off your lead from the marketing department by presenting information they don’t care about, instead heat it up by discussing the prospect’s situation and understanding why they are considering your help.

Make the most of your marketing and sales opportunities!

If both departments work together, the harmony can take your organization to the next level. Marketing can become sales enablement specialists who create and nurture leads, and then escort them over to sales at the perfect time. The sales team can relax and become closing conversation masters that bring the expertise of a trusted advisor to remove road blocks for prospects. Both departments can work together to create an environment that allows the customer to buy and enjoy doing so!

These five mistakes are just some of the ways selling mistakes hurt your marketing. If you can think of others, please share them in the comments below.

 

Mike-Montague-2013-smThis is a guest blog by Mike Montague, Associate and Certified Trainer at Sandler Training Kansas City. Sandler Training empowers their clients to achieve higher levels of success through innovative training courses in sales, management, and customer service for companies and individuals around the Kansas City area. They offer public and private courses for individuals and organizations who value lifelong learning and continuous improvement.

Why This SEO Veteran Is Joining the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network

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

Certified-ConsultantI recently enrolled in John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultant program.  A couple of my fellow SEO and web design friends asked me why, which almost made my head explode.  The new Duct Tape Marketing Consulting Network is not just for traditional marketing consultants anymore.

There are so many reasons for professional service providers such as web designers and especially SEO and Internet marketing professionals to join:

1.  Staying Ahead Of The SEO Curve

In terms of search engine optimization, volume-based link building is dead and unnatural link building is dying.  For years, Google preached about content being king, while all the while rewarding volume-based link building.  Thankfully, with advanced web spam fighting algorithm updates such as Penguin and Panda, back-room link building is gone and now content really is king.  In order to create and execute an effective content-driven SEO strategy and to succeed in the new age of search engine optimization, we SEOs need a better, more comprehensive understanding of small business marketing.  It’s just that simple.

2. Trust

John Jantsch and Duct Tape Marketing are two of the most trusted names (if not THE most trusted names) in small business marketing.  Yet my niches, specifically search engine optimization and online marketing, suffer from reputational issues.   Years of hard-sell cold-calling and deceptive marketing practices by thousands of domestic and offshore service providers promising SEO gold have tarnished our industry.  So many small businesses have been burned by Internet marketing companies that SEO is perceived as snake-oil.  While I think my own firm’s history, track-record, online visibility and client references help to overcome industry reputation issues, becoming a Duct Tape Marketing Certified SEO and web development professional will inspire confidence and trust.

3. A Killer Sales Pitch

When we walk into a prospective client sales presentation, we are already able to show compelling reasons to choose us through our track record, approach and case studies.  But a Duct Tape Marketing certification will really help elevate our sales pitch.   Would you rather have a hollow design-driven website, or an SEO-driven website developed from the ground up by formally trained and certified Internet marketing professionals?  Yeah, I thought so.

4.  Personal Development

The program isn’t just about leveraging brand power.  There is a formal training program.  John’s Duct Tape Marketing books have already made me better at what I do, but I know the program and network will take my game to another level.  I am also looking forward to learning the system and applying it to my own business.

5. Building Authority & My Own SEO

John has a huge, targeted following in all of the major social media channels.  Additionally, he has several website properties with very strong traffic and search engine authority.  Even without all the other benefits, this is almost enough of a reason by itself to join the network.  I now have access to one of the most powerful content distribution networks in my niche – which gives me the opportunity on occasion to present worthy, high-quality content and get that content posted, promoted and amplified throughout this channel.

6. Differentiation

Check out the Duct Tape Marketing™ badges on my websites: http://kcwebdesigner.com  and http://kcseopro.com.  See what I mean? Our SEO and web design clients immediately see the value of having a web development and SEO services provider that is also certified by the most trusted name in small business marketing.  From a marketing and sales perspective, our Duct Tape Marketing certification will enable us to really ‘stack the deck’ in terms of value-proposition.

7. Network Power

Becoming part of the Duct Tape team not only gets me more personal access to a small business marketing guru, but John is also literally a handshake away from most of the leading influencers in my niche…perhaps giving me the opportunity to see one of these leaders in person at a Duct Tape Marketing event, and dare I say maybe even meet one of them someday.

8. Practical Tools, Online Resources, Events & Discounts

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at some of the new tools and systems available to certified consultants.  I also learned that network members will also get meaningful discounts to business services and subscriptions that are relevant to my business.

9. Duct Tape Referral Network

Yes, this is the gift that keeps on giving.  On top of all the other benefits listed above (and probably more I don’t even know about yet), I get to be a member of an exclusive referral network of trusted Duct Tape Marketing consultants.  I kind of view this as one of the many cherries on top, but this could potentially lead to a lot of new business for my company.

10. Great Investment

I am very happy that there is a financial investment associated with joining the Duct Tape Marketing Consulting Network and becoming certified.  Given the massive amount of value, the licensing and certification fees are an absolute no-brainer for serious SEO and web development professionals.  I am very happy that the privilege of joining the network requires you to put a skin in the game and complete a formal training process.  If it were cheap and easy, everybody would do it and it would have a lot less value.

Editor’s Note: Want to learn more about joining the Network – Join John Jantsch for a live Discovery Webinar – enroll here

psPhil Singleton is the owner of Kansas City Web Design®, a web development firm specializing in SEO-friendly WordPress websites and custom website applications, and Kansas City SEO®, a full-service Internet marketing services company that provides organic search engine optimization and other online marketing services.  Contact Phil on his Google+ page or LinkedIn page.

 

A Visual Guide to Local SEO for Small Business Websites

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

How to Build a Perfectly Optimized Local Website by Following the Google Guidelines!

Building a winning local website is no simple task. We need content about our business, a blog, location pages, photos and galleries, contact pages and more! All this can quickly overwhelm budgets and plans.

HannibalSSo in order to help, we’ve built an infographic which attempts to help small business owners, consultants, web designers and local marketers get a better plan.

Anyone a fan of the A-Team? Remember Hannibal Smith, big cigar in his mouth, saying “I love it when a plan comes together”? I loved that.

And the goal here is to help your plan “come together”.

In the process of creating this post, we first attempted to write it in s standard blog text format… we tried hard, but it was B-O-R-I-N-G. Really, boring. Then we got the idea to make it into an infograhic.

We think it worked, it’s a big one, but hopefully you’ll agree it’s the best approach. We hope you’ll save it and use it to guide the development of your website and get the clarity you need as you go.

We’ve combined our experience with extensive research across the local space online. At the bottom of the infographic we site the sources we used in developing the blueprint.

At the bottom of this post we provide a PDF link and embed links at a couple sizes as well.

Here you go:

Local-SEO-Template-Blueprint-Infographic3

This graphic and the systems we use ourselves in-house to build sites following these guidelines are always evolving. If you have questions or further ideas from the trenches we’d love to hear from you.

Share this Image On Your Site

Wrapping up:
The key take aways here are to please read the Google SEO Guidelines, you will be a step ahead if you do. Use the Google guidelines together with this infographic and you will be far ahead of 99% of the folks out there.

Get the PDF version:
Visual-Guide-To-On-Page-Local-SEO.pdf

Justin is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Systemadik Marketing where he and his team work with local businesses to build better online marketing systems.  Justin has been working online since 1994, he is currently working on launching the Systemadik LMS (Local Marketing System) which is a custom WordPress SEO and content solution for local businesses.  He is a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant and employs the DTM system to provide strategic support and leading marketing tools to his clients. Justin is a father and husband and enjoys exploring the cenotes and coral reefs of the Yucatan Peninsula with his family.

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.

How to Get More Customers for Free This Week Through Google

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

You’re getting frustrated.

You see neighboring businesses, competitors, and everyone else get customers through their door, and you’re getting nothing.

So you ask around, trying to figure out what’s going on.

You keep hearing your friends tell you “My customers keep telling me they ‘saw me on Google’ or they ‘found me through their smartphone’”.

You have a website! That one guy you paid way too much money to put up your website said you would be found on Google! What gives?

So you type your name into Google, and sure enough, there’s your website, right where it was. And you remember that supposedly, you were going to be on the first page of Google for [whatever your industry is, let’s say plumbing]. So you type in plumbing, and you’re nowhere to be found. But you do see this:

PlumbingMaine1Large

‘Wait, how come I’m not on that map?’ You ask. ‘This must be why the other plumbers are crushing me!’

Welcome to Google My Business, a free service provided by Google.

I know it can be frustrating to see your competitors looking really good on Google, and you’re nowhere to be found, I understand that. I also understand the idea of getting your business up on Google can be intimidating, the idea of going through a huge elaborate process, jumping through hoops, and not understanding any of it is scary.

But guess what, it’s surprisingly easy.

Using the built-in Google My Business tutorial, you will usually be able to get setup and going in an hour or less. Anyone that has a basic understanding of how to use the Internet can do this, so by the sole reason that you are reading this blog post, I believe in you.

Let’s get started so we can  get you some more customers, shall we?

First off, there are some important things you need ready and at your fingertips:

  • A Google or Gmail account
  • A nice picture of the front of your building
  • Your address
  • Your logo

Once you have these things ready, go to http://www.google.com/business/, and click on the “Get on Google” button. Follow all the directions exactly, make sure to fill out as much as possible. Once you’ve got your account setup and verified, it could take a couple days to get your business in the results.

Getting the HUGE boost in traffic we talked about

Alright, so now that your account is setup and verified, here’s the tricky part, making your business stand out on the search page.

I typed “Plumbing in Portland, Maine” and I got these results.

PlumbingMaine2Large

Which result do you think gets the most clicks?

As you might have guessed by the lack of reviews on the front page, getting a Google Review can be kind of tough. I’ve seen a lot of companies with Google profiles that have been up for a long time, and still don’t have any reviews.

So, how do we go about getting these elusive reviews?

Here are three really easy steps to getting a Google review:

  1. Type your company name and city into Google. [For example: “Joe’s Plumbing, Baltimore”
  2. Find the “Write a review” link, right click it and copy the link.
  3. Send that link to 30 of your best and favorite customers, and ask them to write a review.

In the email, make sure you thank them for being an amazing customer, and make sure to thank them again after they wrote the review. If you are a customer of theirs as well, you can offer to do the same thing for them.

Once those reviews start rolling in, you’ll likely notice a bump in traffic to your site, your Google+ page, and your business.

Getting even MORE customers

Wait, you want even more customers?

Well, if you have the money, there’s a way to boost the amount of people coming to your website dramatically. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, Google Adwords Express let’s you show up in Google Maps results, and you’ll show up in the yellow bar in Google search. It’s pretty easy to setup, and it’ll run automatically.

If you want to go more in-depth, you could run a campaign in Google AdWords, there are tons of great tutorials out there to help you out.

Now, the next step is to get your business set up in Bing Places, to take advantage of all of the Siri and Windows Phone users out there.

How many of you have used Google My Business? How has it helped your company?

150portraitErik Larson is the founder of RunTheMarket, a small business marketing blog. He is also the SEO specialist for Lendio, a free online tool to find business loans, and writes on small business topics on the Lendio Blog. He can also be found on Google+ and Twitter.

 

How Mobile Marketing is Changing the Face of Events

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s post comes from Adam Hope.

‘Mobile marketing’ Image Credit: Osman Kalkavan

‘Mobile marketing’ Image Credit: Osman Kalkavan

In today’s increasingly mobile world, more and more marketers are focusing their activity primarily at mobile users. According to research from mobiThinking, there are over 2 billion people using a 3G or 4G mobile phone network. That means nearly 30% of the world’s population has access to high-speed mobile internet – and this percentage increases dramatically among business users and those living in developed nations. Data from eMarketer predicts that by 2017, 50% of the world’s mobile phone users will be using a smartphone with access to the internet and mobile apps.

Keeping up with the mobile trend

Mobile marketing is nothing new, businesses have been creating mobile friendly websites and using social media to reach their on-the-go audience for years. However, as with all technology, the industry is constantly evolving as new hardware and software are developed. These developments are aimed at enhancing the mobile experience for the user and are giving mobile marketers an increasing number of channels through which to reach their customers.

Mobile marketing at events

One key area of growth in the mobile marketing world, is the use of targeted activities to connect with customers at events. Whether it’s creating a pre-event buzz, managing the duration of the event or keeping in touch afterwards, mobile technology offers countless possibilities for customer engagement. Event marketing is rarely a fixed location affair, with businesses travelling to meet their target customers’ locational convenience and, as such, mobile marketing and event marketing make a well suited pair.

Creating a social buzz

The event marketer’s job starts long before the actual date of the event and mobile marketing is a great channel through which to build pre-event hype. Social media and mobile friendly email campaigns are a fantastic way to reach your pre-existing audience, giving them an early introduction to an upcoming event.

In order to have a wider mobile reach and grow your audience prior to the event, research influential local retweeters and sharers alongside complementary businesses in the location of your upcoming event. Get them to share your event information by building a relationship with these people and asking them to share information which may be of interest to their followers.

During the event

There has been an emerging trend in the creation of custom event apps. Businesses are either creating an app specifically for an event or expanding their pre-existing mobile app to include the event. This offers the ultimate convenience to the customer – putting all of the essential event information in their fingertips. Apps also provide great brand exposure as your business’ branding is installed on the customer’s phone, keeping your message fresh in their mind, as they use their mobile device.

Make it as easy as possible for your audience to access further information on your business, product or service at your event. Direct customers to your social media accounts by including information on how to find you online in your printed display materials. The use of QR codes has had a varying success rate, allowing mobile users to scan a code with their smartphones camera which takes them directly to your site. The more mobile channels through which your target audience can access further information, the better.

The use of geotagging at events is extremely valuable to businesses as it shares your attendees’ location with their friends, having a visible knock-on effect on social media. Ensure your event’s social pages are set up in a way which allows attendees to ‘check-in’ to your location.

The post-event social sweep up

The success of an event is generally measured by examining post-event data, whether it’s the number of leads generated or the level of attendee engagement. Social media is a great way to follow up your event and give attendees a specific #hashtag that they can use when sharing images or comments socially, during or after your event. This makes it easy for businesses to track any mentions and gather a general overview of the event’s success.

Industry trends predict clear growth in the use of smartphones as people’s primary access to the internet. It is clear that successful event marketers will need to shift their focus to ensure that their events are fully integrated with mobile communications in order to ensure future success.

Adam HopeAdam Hope is a blogger for The Events Structure – the UK’s largest single source provider of road show exhibition trailers and mobile event marketing vehicles. We provide versatile event venues for exhibitions, one off events and marketing roadshows. These range from inflatable pop-up structures to fully customizable exhibition trailers. We work with a variety of large and small businesses to promote their products at events around the UK. Our self-drive promotional vehicles offer the ideal economical solution for small businesses looking to make a big impact.

 

How to Incorporate Brand Advocates into Your Marketing Strategy

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

When asked about how and why they make purchases, most people say that reviews and recommendations play a major role. That holds true even in the B2B marketplace—according to one study, 60 percent of B2B tech buyers look at peer reviews before making buying decisions.

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, when it comes to your own purchasing decisions, are you more likely to trust an ad or a person who’s actually used the product?

The question is, how can you boost positive reviews of your business and how should that play into your overall marketing strategy?

Brand Advocates: Generating Buzz

Brand advocates are more than just loyal customers—they’re ambassadors. They’re people who believe in your business and who are willing to answer questions, write blog posts, and help you create favorable word-of-mouth buzz. They can help you by reviewing your products and helping convince leads who may be on the fence about your services to take the plunge.

Who are your advocates? Where can you find them?

Begin by identifying customers who have had a good experience with your brand.

  • Get in touch with people who are interacting with you on social media or on review sites like Yelp.
  • Find customers who’ve given you positive reviews on comment cards or surveys.
  • Ask your salespeople—which customers to they turn to for references? Which customers are most satisfied with their experience?

Try to identify potential advocates on a regular basis—every three to six months or so—to keep your pool fresh.

This should go without saying, but in case it’s not obvious: in order to keep your loyal customer base large and happy, you need to provide consistently great service. It’s not enough to be just “adequate”— most companies do that—you need to “wow” your customers with attention to detail and personalized service. Try to accommodate special requests when you can, and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Setting Up a Brand Advocacy Program

Identifying advocates is only half the battle. You need to decide what to do with them once you’ve found them. Here are some ideas about how you can leverage their power to help maintain a positive image for your brand:

  • Ask them to follow you on social media and comment on and share what you post.
  • Ask them to write positive reviews and testimonials on your site, review sites like Citysearch, or their blog and social media profiles.
  • Ask them if you can film them talking about their experience with your brand.
  • Ask them to contribute to communities or forums.
  • Ask them for referrals.
  • Ask them to write blog posts or create images for you.
  • Ask them if you can use their experience as a case study.
  • Ask them to speak directly (over the phone or via email or chat) to potential customers.
  • Ask them to come up with FAQ questions and answers or identify improvements for your website.

These are just some of the ways that brand advocates can be put to good use. You should get creative and decide on which strategies will work for your business.

You should probably start small. Ask potential advocates to do something easy at first, like follow you on Instagram or give you a five star rating on Google+, before moving on to bigger projects like testimonials and blog posts. You may also want to consider setting up some sort of rewards or kickback program where advocates get a percentage off, a nominal payment, or free products (à la Amazon Vine) for completing tasks.

You should also invest some time in mentoring and quality control. You should let your advocates be authentic voices for your brand, but you may also want to set some guidelines if, for instance, you plan on connecting brand advocates with potential customers directly.

How about you? How are you leveraging the power of brand advocates in your business?

Holly Cordnerhollycordner is a marketing manager living in Salt Lake City. She writes for Needle, which helps businesses of all sizes identify brand advocates and connect them with customers. Her first love is technology with tofu coming in a close second.

 

Marketing Automation for Small Business

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

photo credit: iStock Photo

photo credit: iStock Photo

If you are a small business marketer, you know that the number of channels across which to deliver your key messages has increased considerably. While it is great that we have so many opportunities to attract and engage our ideal client, managing multiple channels effectively can seem like a full time job.

This explains why the biggest group of marketing automation buyers are small and midsize businesses. So let’s take a look at this trend and marketing automation’s effectiveness for small business.

What is Marketing Automation?

As businesses realize they need get on board with web marketing strategies, they typically “bolt on” solutions. They open up a Twitter or Facebook account, dabble in LinkedIn groups or do an email shot using a free cloud-based email marketing solution.

Managing communication programs across multiple applications is a logistical nightmare; it lacks overview and the ability to measure its effectiveness.

Marketing automation enables businesses to execute campaigns, automate processes, and measure their impact.

How can you benefit from workflow-based lead management?

The most frequently requested feature of marketing automation solutions is lead management. Leads are the lifeblood of business, so it is easy to see why marketers consider lead generation their biggest challenge and most important goal. Marketing automation assists in a number of ways.

First, to attract on the web you need valuable and optimized content. The best marketing automation platforms let you create:

  • optimize site pages
  • calls to action and landing pages
  • (smart) forms

Other capabilities that play a role in lead management let you:

  • view which content your leads engage in and present leads with further content they will find relevant
  • score leads
  • do progressive profiling
  • set up event triggered email workflows

Besides these lead management capabilities, it should offer closed-loop analysis, search engine optimization tools, email marketing, and other tools to manage online multi-channel campaigns.

There’s no substitute for marketing planning

Whilst marketing automation can increase the effectiveness of lead generation and result in increased revenue, it is not a substitute for a customer-centric marketing strategy. Effective marketing plans start with a thorough understanding of your buyer personas and the buyer’s journey as they research and evaluate your products or services.

A look at the business case

Traditionally used by large e-commerce organizations, marketing automation has become more widely adopted and therefore more available, affordable, and practical for small business. Marketing automation combined with inbound strategies offers measureable benefits for small business:

  • lower cost per lead
  • improved customer lifetime value
  • increased revenue
  • improved sales effectiveness
  • better ROI on your marketing investment

What is important to recognize is that it is not a quick fix solution. If you start with a low-traffic base and want grow traffic organically, do not expect to see significant increases in traffic for 9 months (maybe somewhat shorter if you have ample resources to pump out good quality content).

On the other hand, if your site is already getting good traffic but you are not converting sufficient leads, you may see results much sooner by utilizing best practice conversion methods.

What to look for in a marketing automation platform

If you plan to research marketing automation solutions, look for things like:

  • What is included in the minimum license fee? Many providers will charge you based on the size of your contact database. Check how many contacts are included in the base rate. You really want a solution that is scalable but you might want to know whether charges are capped once you reach a certain number of contacts.
  • What is the minimum license period? Many require an initial12 months. Ask if the entire license fee is payable up front or whether they accept monthly installments.
  • Read real case studies of businesses like yours who have adopted marketing automation and see if you can get in touch directly with current users to hear their experiences first hand.
  • Is user training included? It is not unusual for training to be charged additionally. Check what training is included.

As mentioned before, there is no substitute for good marketing planning and strategy, but once you have your goals and roadmap set out, marketing automation can do some of the heavy lifting and provide you with the analytics to achieve sustainable lead campaign success.

Wendy Coombeswendy profile photo_150px copy is an inbound marketing consultant with a background in Technology and B2B marketing as well as e-Commerce.   Her inbound marketing agency, Brite Kite, is based in Sydney Australia. Wendy is passionate about helping traditional professional service providers such as lawyers and accountants, transition to online lead generation and realizing a better ROI on their marketing investment. Connect with Wendy on twitter via @wendycoombes.