Social Media….Do I Need It? #3 Content and Engagement Key Factors

In the first two posts I talked about what the real costs were in terms of time and dollars as well as whether it fits within your business. This third article is about what is the meat and bones of your social media marketing.

1. First is content. Social Media is about creating a community. First  you do that with your existing customers. You ask them to like, and they do because they already like you. These are your loyal followers. Next you want those loyal followers to share you with their friends. This is where content matters the most, your loyal followers have to feel that what you are giving them is worthy enough to “share” with their friends. And their friends need to feel it is worthy enough to “like” you. Your content has to keep them coming back for more.  Your expectations of what your Email, Facebook Page or Twitter postings are come into big play here. If you proceed with the feeling that it is  about the number of followers or more sales, then you need step back and re-adjust, because this will be apparent in the content that you post. It will sound empty and all you are trying to do is sell, and that is NOT what social marketing does. The profit you see is a definite benefit at some point,  but don’t expect to see it in any glaring way. Your content should be about education, your community involvement, your staff, your great customers, fun, how a product or service improved someone’s life, how people feel about you, what’s new with your business, your customers, your community.

2. Engagement is the second piece of the puzzle for social marketing.  Look at successful social marketers such as Coke, Zappos, Nutella. Notice the engagement. People talking, interacting, building community. This is what it is about. People wanting to talk about what you have posted, sharing how it helps them or what they like about it. Your content has to keep them engaged. In looking at those brands I mentioned, you notice that they have thousands of followers. They are national. There is a statistic that shows it takes 3,000 followers to create engagement. For a national brand that makes sense. That won’t typically happen for a small local business. Maybe it is 1,000 followers that will engage, maybe it is only 500. The key is to have enough loyal and quality followers  reading wonderful content that causes them to engage with your posts and to share with their friends.

3. The third and most important step to content and engagement of your social marketing is what you do with it. How are people reacting, what are they saying, what are they showing interest in. Listening, tracking those responses and interactions are crucial to knowing how to market and provide the goods and services that you offer. Using that information as a strategic tool on how you continue to communicate with your followers is how you begin to see the ROI on your efforts.

For the right business, at the right time, with the right strategic plan, social marketing can be another wonderful tool in your tool bag of your overall advertising and marketing plan. Like all tools, it takes thought, effort and planning. This is often where outsourcing may play a role. But again, remember, we are talking about YOUR business. You have to ask yourself if that outsource can capture your business, your needs, your goals, your industry. Are they going to spend the time researching and finding your niche, or will it be a cookie cutter approach? What are the costs? Does that work within your budget?

 

Lana Rice is owner of Target Source Media Group, LLC. A small boutique advertising and marketing company who has a passion for small businesses.  The goal of Target Source is to partner with small business owners to reach the goals they want to achieve at a value that works within their budgets. Lana offers a FREE one hour consultation regarding your needs and can be reached at lana@targetsourcemedia.com or 972-479-9345

 

Social Media..Do I need It? # 2 Does it work for my Business?

Does This Work For My Business?

This is 2nd in a series of blogs that address some of the underlying questions that small business owners have when it comes to social media. Because SM has become the main topic of discussion for marketers as a must for businesses; owners are often overwhelmed because the usual conversation is that you are missing out if your business is not on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social internet marketing tool. In our first blog we talked about the costs involved. In this article we will discuss if it works specifically for your business.

1. There are some industries where Facebook and Twitter may make no sense for the small business owner. There, I have said it. I see many of my associates screaming at me through the computer about now.  There are more variables involved than just jumping on to social media. The industry just may not lend itself to that type of marketing.  There are businesses that social media consumers are just not going to spend their time following.  So before you embark on social media, ask yourself if it makes sense for you and your business. Conduct a search. If you find businesses in your industry, do they look like they are successful? What are they doing differently? Are they offering a lot of engagement? If they are can you devote the time and effort to replicate? Does it align with the goals you have for your business growth?

 

2. Let’s talk about your customers. Have you surveyed them? Is social media something that they do? If the bulk does not, it may not make sense to spend the time and dollars on that activity at this time. Are they more inclined to read newsletters? With a good database it may make more sense to communicate with them through a gentler form of social media, e-mail newsletters. It is an excellent way to stay in contact with your existing database and encourage them to share with their friends. Remember, not everyone is on Facebook and Twitter. There is only a percentage of the population actively involved and an e-mail newsletter may make more sense for your particular business. And then again, it may not…like I said, it has to make sense.

 

3. Finally, does it work for you? While many find it hard to believe, there are plenty of business owners out there who just don’t understand the technology, the concepts, or even know how to attach a photo to an e-mail. If a business owner doesn’t understand the technology or processes of social media does it make sense to do it? Probably not. Why? Because if you don’t have an understanding of it, how can to develop a strategy with it? Even if you have someone do it for you that person has to have a deep understanding of the customers, goals and needs of your business. As a business owner, I am not sure I would be comfortable putting those things in the hands of someone without me feeling totally comfortable with that resource and how it works.

At the end of the day, it has to make sense. It is far better not to do it then to do it badly if there is not a clear strategy, no understanding, or you find it isn’t even necessary. Now many of my associates would say it is the wave of the future that in a number of years there will be no other medium but on line and mobile. It will probably be much more prevalent than it even is today, but will other mediums go away? Seriously, no. I am a realist, there will always be people who won’t embrace the technology, or will be fearful of the privacy, or will protest for some reason. And guess what, those people will still get their clothes cleaned, their cars fixed, and their hair cut. You get the idea, the will still spend money. That doesn’t mean you should ignore ways to continue to advertise and market your business. You must do that! But ask yourself these questions: Does it make sense for me, my business, my industry, and my customers? If it doesn’t, then take a deep breath and take the social media stress off your shoulders. Then get busy with a strategy that does work and consider gaining knowledge of the new technology out there. So that when and if it does make sense, you are ready.

 

 

Lana Rice is owner of Target Source Media Group, LLC. A small boutique advertising and marketing company who has a passion for small businesses.  The goal of Target Source is to partner with small business owners to reach the goals they want to achieve at a value that works within their budgets. Lana offers a FREE one hour consultation regarding your needs and can be reached at lana@targetsourcemedia.com or 972-479-9345

Social Media..Do I need it? #1 Looking at the Real Cost

There is a cost to being a Social Business

You would think these days that social media is the only avenue for creating business.  Social media gurus are talking about it everywhere. It has become a cottage industry offering anything from boot camps that guarantee success, sure fire ways to build 10,000 followers in just days, to services offering a “one size fits all” package. ( Often very overpriced). So what does all this mean to a small business owner? Well, let’s step back and put a little common sense into the equation. This is a blog series I will be offering this week to offer  you a step by step look in making a decision that is right for your business.Today, let’s look at the real costs involved with social media

Good social media professionals will tell you that while in many cases it is a less expensive marketing strategy there are costs involved. Still there are others that tell you it costs nothing and that just jumping into it will make you a success. Now, step back and remember two things, nothing is ever completely free, and if it sounds to good to be true, RUN!. For Facebook, Twitter, e-mail marketing or any other social media to be effective it takes several components, time, a well thought out strategy and often an investment of dollars.

Let’s talk about time. Social Media takes a great deal of time. At first it may seem pretty manageable, but then you start to realize that posting every day,  keeping content new and fresh, managing the different mediums, all of the sudden becomes more time involved than you thought. As a small business owner trying to manage that yourself means adding one more job to your plate. There are good tools out there to help in streamlining your social media efforts, but it still takes time. And last time I looked, time is money.  You have several choices. You can hand the management of your social media over to an employee. You may need to pay them a little extra. But consider this, do you want this employee working on social media or doing the job for which they were hired. Are they schooled enough in what is needed to reach your goals and expectations of your social marketing campaign? How are their writing skills? How do they communicate? How creative are they? A second choice is to outsource your social media. There are companies and individuals offering this service everywhere, it has become a huge cottage industry. And just as crowded is the wide range of pricing that they offer, some of which is highway robbery in my opinion. If you choose to outsource, your should make your decision based on them coming to the table with a game plan in hand, specific to your industry and YOUR business, that includes the goals and expectations that you would like to receive. So as you can see, just the time it takes to get started in the direction of social media comes at some costs, whether doing it yourself, having and employee handle it, or outsourcing.

Second is putting your plan and strategy into place. Whether you are trying to continue to hold on to a loyal customer base, build new customers, create your brand, showcase new products and services, you will need to have a strategy with your social marketing to achieve your goals. Remember, with social media you are building relationships, it is not about sell, sell, sell. It is a well known  fact that social consumers are looking for knowledge and interaction with the brand, not a constant barrage of “buy this.” That means that for each social media resource you have to have a strategy that keeps the consumer engaged. Just putting a Facebook page up does not bring “likes”, there has to be a reason to like and more importantly a reason to come back. E-Mail marketing to an existing database has to be filled with education and involvement to keep them from opting out. A good E-mail marketing software,  Contests, Sweepstakes, Video development will mean incurring some costs to keep your customers and potential customers engaged. Again, there are some wonderful tools out there to help you develop these tasks at a relatively small costs. However, you may sometimes have to employ a graphic designer or someone familiar with programming code, depending on the types of campaigns that you decide to do.

Third is advertising– As much as everyone wants to get a way from it, you may have to spend to advertise your brand on social media sites. If you are a small business, you have to work harder to get consumers to your Facebook page. Sure,  you have lots of friends that will “like” you, but remember you are trying to build your brand. That may involve advertising on Facebook to broaden your reach. Or perhaps an advertising ad on Twitter. The point is, that unless your existing friends are extremely active, you will probably need to take extra advertising steps to make consumers aware of  your particular campaign. Remember, this type of advertising and marketing is just another tool and it is important that it not become your only source of advertising and marketing. Be

 

sure to include your social media strategy in all of your other advertising and marketing. Of course, you don’t have to advertise but keep your expectations in check should your strategy not be moving as quickly as you would like.

Social Marketing can be effective and add to the overall strategy for the goals you want to achieve for your business. When deciding whether it is the right resource for you, it is important to consider the “real” costs. Do YOU have the time? Are you willing to plan and then work the strategy as you should all of your advertising and marketing efforts? Do you have the budget for any additional costs? Answering these questions are a good start in determining your steps into the social media world.

 

Lana Rice is owner of Target Source Media Group, LLC. A small boutique advertising and marketing company who has a passion for small businesses.  The goal of Target Source is to partner with small business owners to reach the goals they want to achieve at a value that works within their budgets. Lana offers a FREE one hour consultation regarding your needs and can be reached at lana@targetsourcemedia.com or 972-479-9345

 

 

The Spookiness of Advertising

Don't let Advertising Scare You

Advertising Make You Quiver?

How many times a day do you as a small business owner get a phone call or someone walking in your door wanting you to buy advertising? Each rep tells you that their product will outperform the other, and the best price is if you act today.  It can be overwhelming. As the owner, you know you need to advertise but too often the decision comes down to what is the cheapest, what sales rep made the best impression , or my all-time scariest, a knee jerk reaction in hopes of generating badly needed business.
Advertising your business doesn’tt have to be a haunting experience. With planning and focus it can be filled with treats and not tricks. Consider these points when determining your advertising:
1. What type of budget do you have to spend where you can be repetitive with your advertising for a minimum of 3-6 months?
2. Who are your customers and what advertising source best reaches those customers?
3. Will your advertising offer an incentive, introduce a new product or service or be just awareness about your business?
4.Are you offering an incentive? how aggressive are you  willing to be?
5. What are your expectations of your advertising choice?
6. Will you be supporting your advertising with other marketing efforts?
7. Will you take the time to carefully track results and make adjustments as needed?
Answering these few questions will put you on track to an advertising strategy as opposed to an advertising roller coaster. Don’t let advertising jitters keep you from putting your business on a path of growth with the right advertising.
Lana Rice is owner of Target Source Media Group, LLC. A small boutique advertising and marketing company that has a passion for small business and the needs of small business owners. The philosophy of Target Source is partnering with small biz owners with a common sense approach that brings results. Lana offers a free one hour consultation on your needs as a small business owner. If you would like to brainstorm, please call 972-479-9345 or e-mail her at lana@targetsourcemedia.com

Call Tracking- One of the best resources

Are you hanging up on sales?

The greatest invention ever for businesses where a call is required as the first step is call tracking. It not only allows you to monitor your employees on what they are saying to the customer, but it helps in listening to what the customer is wanting. As an added benefit, a call tracking number that ties directly to your  advertising and marketing gives you the opportunity to track what is working, what is not working, whether it is offers, incentives or the advertising avenue itself. Whether you are a dental office, an apartment complex, air-conditioning service, insurance or any business that provides service through an initial phone contact, call tracking is definitely the way to go.
There are numerous companies out there that offer call tracking. Be careful on how they calculate minutes used and whether they include recording, zip code mapping and other features. Several do all inclusive pricing which I feel is the best value and offers better tracking tools, while others will charge per service.
I insist on call tracking for my clients where it applies. My client’s have learned through listening to the recorded calls, that their front desks were not setting appointments for potential customers due to lack of skill, key zip codes to target, offers that bring the best ROI and what advertising mediums were not the best choice for that client’s goals. It is accurate, efficient and takes a lot of guesswork out of a tracking which is crucial in advertising and marketing.
If you have not used call tracking, check into right away. It is one of the best tools around for any type of service business and will save you money in the long run.

 

Lana Rice is owner of Target Source Media Group, LLC. A small boutique advertising and marketing company that has a passion for small business and the needs of small business owners. The philosophy of Target Source is partnering with small biz owners with a common sense approach that brings results. If you would like to know more about call tracking or any other services offered please call 972-479-9345

Don’t Gamble with Your Business

Gambling with Your business

Are You Throwing Away Money?

I get it, I really do. You are a small business owner, you know you need to advertise and market your business. Ok focus. You call some local advertisers, check. You started a Facebook page, check. You are even going to send out a monthly newsletter to your customers, check. Wow, you are getting the ball rolling, good for you! Now fast forward a few months. The advertising didn’t work the way you expected it should, “Waste of money”, you say. That Facebook thing takes a lot of time, and  where are all the likes? “Waste of time”, you say. You sent out an email newsletter, oh you were going to do that once a month and it has been two.” I don’t know what to put in there and really don’t have time.” you say. So now you are back where started. You tried and nothing worked. Frustrated?
Like I said I get it. Money is tight so why pay to outsource this stuff when you can do it yourself or maybe have Carol who answers the phone do it. Why don’t you go ahead and  just roll the dice and gamble the business that you put your blood, sweat and retirement into. Do you really think employee Carol has the same goals and passion for your business that you do?

The reality check is this, sometimes the best money you can spend is the money you hate the worst to spend. In all my years of working with small business owners I have never understood the reluctance and resistance of so many who refuse to get the help they need after putting so much in terms of time and money in their business. It seems like a gamble to me.  By hiring a consultant they can choose the correct advertising avenue for you and your budget. They know how to structure advertising that allows you to test and track to get your best return on investment.They can get you started on the right foot for social marketing and show you how it can work for you. The same is true for e-mail marketing and content, which is crucial to keep your existing base engaged. They can offer options and opportunities that work within your budget. They can save you time to do all of those other crucial tasks required of a business owner. They have the expertise to help you make good strategic decisions in helping you grow your business. Often it is a relationship that gets you headed in the right direction over a few months and then become an available resource, as needed.

Now you may think I am talking about a big advertising agency. I am not. As A small business owner, that is out of your budgetary reach, and most will have only an idealistic view of your business with only their own ROI in mind.   I am referring to advertising and marketing consultants that have a true pulse on what small businesses face on a daily basis, what is happening in your local area, and your industry.  These are often a one or two agency, but can offer all of the resources a big agency can offer at a fraction of the cost. They typically have a passion for small business choose to keep their business models small so that they can bring big agency services to small businesses at a cost and value that they can afford. Question them about their expertise, their philosophy. What makes them different?  What do they know about your business? If they don’t come prepared about specific questions on your business, or if they are only interested in selling one particular service, walk away. If they ask questions about your goals, your needs, your wants, your business, and speak honestly about the options that teach of those things offer you, than they are a true small business consultant looking out for your best interest.

The important point here is to be willing to admit when you need help, and then let them help you through the expertise they can bring you. In this economical environment, instead of rolling the dice in search of a magic bullet for your business,  search for a small biz consultant who will work with you to develop a focused strategy for long term growth and success.

 

Lana Rice is president of Target Source Media Group. A small advertising and marketing consultant group with over 15 years of working with small businesses. Target Source Media is a result of the passion that Lana has always felt for small business. She believes small business owners deserve the same opportunities to advance their businesses as large companies through a partnership that helps business owners reach the goals they desire at a value that makes sense for their budgets.

Advance or Retreat

Advance your businessNo doubt the economical environment has many small business owners closely watching their dollars. Each expense is carefully scrutinized. In many cases advertising and marketing budgets have been cut back or have been stopped all together. Statistics show that businesses who retreat in their advertising and marketing budgets during slow economies not only face greater struggles,but come through the slow economy facing more challenges. Businesses that increase advertising and marketing efforts emerge stronger. Take a look at your competitors, what are they doing? If they are in the group cutting back, then seize the opportunity to acquire the customers they are leaving behind. If they are increasing or staying where they have been, it is time for you to get a strategy and advance. This does not mean throwing money at any advertising or out marketing materials. It means a well thought out strategy that will offer the best targeting and ROI. Look at your competition, study your existing customers,determine your goals for reaching new customers, examine your customer service and evaluate your pricing and value.
It is hard for small business owners to bite the bullet when you are fighting for every penny, retreating cannot be the option. Advance and conquer!

Lana Rice is president of Target Source Media Group LLC. An advertising and marketing agency for local small business. We believe in partnering with you by offering you products and services that work for small business value.

Changing Hats Can Offer A Fresh Perspective

Changing Hats offers a fresh perspective

Are you looking through your customers eyes?

As a business owner you wear many hats but how often do you wear your customer’s hat? Looking at your business through your customer’s eyes can give you fresh perspective and insight. The view can often create a new strategy or alert you to an issue you never realized existed, or even change your view on what you thought your customer’s were wanting based on your perspective and not theirs. So how do you begin? I always tell clients to start by thinking in terms of their own expectations when they enter a place of business, or call a business. What do you like to see? How do you like to be treated? What do you like to hear? What “wow’s” you or disappoints you as a customer?  Often as owners, it is easier not to acknowledge what we see and hear, but those tweaks in your business can make a big difference in how your business grows. Here are 4 ways to put on your customer hat and grow your business in ways you never expected:

1. There is nothing better than going to your customers themselves. Talk to them, ask their opinion on everything! Likes, dislikes, customer service, products and services, value. There are several services that are available for on line surveys for those who have customer lists. If you don’t have that, a survey in your store or that you can hand out still works. Offer an incentive, a drawing, a discount or coupon. Customers will help you out, but sometimes they need an incentive to do so. Asking their feedback also sends a message that you value their business.
2. If you have employees where the first point of contact with your customer is the phone, get call tracking now! This allows you to record the call. Remember, that employee is representing your company, everything they say is a reflection on your company. That person can make the difference on whether a sale is made or not. If face to face is the first point of contact, LISTEN!  Don’t focus on anything else but listening and watching the interaction.
3. I like to use mystery shoppers for my client’s businesses.There are companies that provide these services, but I usually ask friends or acquaintances to provide the service for me. I offer several different gift cards they can choose from and give them a set list of things to note. Using this in conjunction with surveys and in house inspection is a great way to get perspective on what potential new customers are thinking about your business.
4. When asking customer’s opinions be sure to hit on all points that are crucial to your business, customer service, advertising, marketing, products, services, and general thoughts. The knowledge you will gain will be invaluable.

Once you have gathered your information, you will have new insight on what your customers are looking for, how to keep them coming back and how to gain new customers. Don’t be hesitant to the changes you hear, tackle them and set your companies strategies to align with the feedback you received. Question often and widely. Like everything in life, people think vastly different. You will want to take all feedback and weigh it against each other. Soon you will find that of all the hats you wear, putting that customer hat on regularly will make you feel pretty dapper!

Lana Rice is owner of Target Source Media Group, LLC. An advertising and marketing agency with a passion for small business. Our goal is to provide value services to small business owners by partnering with them to develop common sense strategies to meet their needs and goals. If you would like to know more about  learning your customers needs and wants, contact us. We offer services that will give you the information you need.