Archive | November, 2017

Holiday Marketing Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank

27 Nov

For small businesses, finding new and thrifty ways to stand out during the holiday season can be a little daunting. Competing with the deep discounts and expensive ad campaigns of big-box retailers and large companies may make you feel like you’ve been left with coal in your stocking.

But for businesses willing to think outside the box and do a little legwork, there are tons of creative ways to increase sales, enhance your brand and improve your image in the community without breaking the bank. Here are 10 low-cost marketing tactics you can use to spread holiday cheer while ramping up your sales.

Deck the halls and invite customers, vendors or other business partners to a festive open house at your business. Use this gathering to showcase seasonal merchandise, promote your services, offer discounts or simply say thanks for another year of patronage. Even inexpensive touches, such as offering a mug of hot cocoa and cookies while playing holiday music in the background, can foster goodwill toward your business.

Your most faithful customers are also your best brand ambassadors. To show them your appreciation, you can provide special offers, free shipping, sneak previews of new or seasonal products, or secret sales. By offering certain deals exclusively to your VIP customers, you make them feel special and uniquely connected to your business. This, in turn, may lead to referrals and additional business.

Update your website, email and social media profiles with a festive holiday theme. Then, drive traffic to your site by offering deals and advertising events exclusively to your social media fans. You can also host holiday-themed contests on Twitter and Facebook, or come up with a unique hashtag to engage your customers. Holding themed events such as a “12 days of Christmas” sale allows you to feature a product or service for a limited time, and also creates buzz around your brand.

You can also build a rapport with customers by encouraging user-generated content in a variety of ways, such as requesting customers’ favorite seasonal recipes, asking them to share tips for staying sane during the holidays, or inviting them to post photos of themselves using your product.

In the spirit of the season, consider joining forces with like-minded businesses in your area whose products and services complement your own. You can promote each other’s establishments by offering bundled deals or cross-selling each other’s products. Ideally, you should partner with businesses that attract a similar customer base but are not direct competitors. For example, an art gallery and framer may offer customers a special discount to each other’s businesses, or a wine shop and BYOB restaurant can provide customers with discount cards to each other’s establishments. These strategic partnerships, which can be adapted for online businesses as well, help you market your business with limited effort.

The holiday season is the perfect time to strengthen your community bonds by supporting a nonprofit whose mission and values align with your own – even on a limited budget. Contact a community organization you respect and find out what your business can do to help. You may decide to donate a percentage of your holiday sales to the charity, organize a drive, mobilize your employees to participate in a day of service at its facility, or provide it with equipment, space or pro bono services.

Publicizing that your business offers gift cards may not seem exhilarating, but don’t overlook their value. Most businesses can cheaply and simply provide gift cards, gift certificates and e-certificates to the legions of shopping procrastinators looking for convenient gift options. If you are worried that gift certificates may not seem exciting enough to draw in customers, remember that they’ve remained the most popular items on wish lists for 11 years in a row, according to a recent survey.

While gift card recipients don’t always get around to redeeming their certificates, others end up spending more than the value of the card. Either way, your business ends up on top with very little initial overhead.

There seems to be a holiday gift guide for just about every category or potential occasion – everything from “best gifts for under $20” to “10 items that will simplify your life in the New Year.” If you have products or services that make great gifts, get them in front of editors, bloggers or anyone else with the power to feature your items in one of the many holiday gift guides available to shoppers. If you lack industry contacts, you can always create your own gift lists and feature them on your website and social media outlets.

One simple way to stand out during the holidays is to make sure your brand is always front and center in any setting. For example, wear a tie, scarf or other apparel that has your business logo on it when you attend holiday parties. Similarly, you can add your logo to any holiday baskets or other goodies you may give away to customers or send to vendors.

If you send out holiday cards, make sure they highlight some aspect of your business or feature your staff.  You can even organize a card-writing party with your colleagues so you can include handwritten messages to each of the recipients.

Craft shows and product exhibitions abound this time of year. Rent a booth at one of these shows and get to work creating brand awareness. You can sell your goods or services, give away samples, play games, or offer workshops and demonstrations on topics related to your area of expertise.

Started in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday, which is held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, aims to promote small businesses and encourage people to shop locally. In 2016, 112 million people shopped in their communities and generated an estimated $15.4 billion in business, according to a survey commissioned by American Express. Proactive small businesses can tap into the outreach potential of this movement.

You can reach out to event organizers to solicit advice on how best to recruit customers and make sure your business is included in any promotional materials for the day. Additionally, you can take a leading role in their effort by joining forces with other businesses, trade groups, business associations and your municipality to help plan and promote this event in the broader community.

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10 Social Media and Other Tips Aimed at Growing Your Small Business

20 Nov

Social media has undoubtedly changed the way a lot of small businesses communicate with customers. And those social media channels are constantly changing with new features. So if you’re looking for new ways to utilize social media and other business tools and methods, check out these tips from members of the online small business community.

Twitter recently announced a new expansion of the platform’s famous character limit — raising it from 140 to 280. But having more characters doesn’t necessarily mean more value. In this post on the TopRank Marketing blog, Caitlin Burgess dives into the potential of the expanded character count and how you can use it to add value.

Find Smart Ways to Utilize Instagram Marketing

Instagram is only an effective marketing platform if you know how to use it. It can help to look at some of the brands that do a great job with the platform. In a recent DIY Marketers post Megan Totka offers some ways smart businesses are making use of Instagram for marketing.

Use Link Retargeting to Grow Your Business

Link retargeting is a method that lets you target customers who have previously been to your website or looked at specific products. And it can be a very powerful marketing tool for small businesses, according to Mike Allton of the Social Media Hat. Members of the BizSugar community also share thoughts on the post here.

Embrace Social Media for Retail This Holiday Season

The holiday season is the busiest time of year for retail businesses. And social media can make a big difference in how you promote such a business during the holidays. Chris Zilles elaborates in this Social Media HQ post.

Improve Outreach and Blog Engagement with These Useful Tools

Content marketing can give you a great way to reach out to potential customers and engage with them. But there are tools out there that can make your blogging and content marketing methods even more effective. Zac Johnson shares some of those tools in this Basic Blog Tips post.

Learn the Importance of a Trademark

A strong brand is the backbone of any great promotion or marketing effort. And once you create that brand, you need to protect it. Trademarks can help with that, as Nellie Akalp of CorpNet details in a recent blog post.

Use These YouTube Video Optimization Tips

Video has become a huge part of a lot of small business marketing strategies. And YouTube is one of the major platforms you can use to leverage that format. Readsome video optimization strategies for YouTube in a recent Social Media Examiner post by Richa Pathak.

Consider Monetizing on YouTube

In fact, YouTube isn’t just a great outlet for marketing. It can also be a source of actual revenue for a business. Learn how YouTubers monetize their content in a Web Hosting Secrets Revealed post by Azreen Azmi. You can also see discussionabout the post over on BizSugar.

Know the Three Pillars of Online Reputation Management

Your reputation can make or break your business. And there are plenty of online tools you can use to manage your reputation. Read about the three pillars of online reputation management in this post by Ivan Widjaya of SMB CEO.

Watch Out for These Hidden Website Costs

Building a website for your business doesn’t have to be expensive. But there are some costs involved. And those costs can really add up if you don’t consider every aspect of website creation. Here are some website costs to consider from Sreeram Sreenivasan of Smallbiztechnology.com

Build Your Brand With Facebook Business Marketing

13 Nov

Facebook is a wonderful way to grow your brand, create brand awareness and attract and engage with customers, but if your primary reason for creating a Facebook business page is because other companies have one, you need to stop and think more strategically. Marketing on Facebook is a completely different entity compared to a general Facebook profile. Learn how to make the most out of Facebook for your business with these helpful tips.

Keep Your Facebook Business Page Updated

You may think people don’t pay attention to your Facebook business page’s description or category, but that’s not the case. Providing essential business information on your page and using brand keywords will not only make it look professional but will help customers know they found the right business page. Make sure business hours, location and logos are in sync with other marketing material — any discrepancies will create confusion.

Make Your Page Worth Their Like Or Follow

This may sound odd, but a page like is no longer the golden nugget it used to be. Once Facebook incorporated its new news feed algorithm in 2013, Facebook likes lost value. Page likes may inflate your vanity stats, but it doesn’t mean your content will reach more people. Make your content valuable to Facebook fans by offering exclusive deals, giveaways and contests. Make your fans feel like they’re going to miss out on something great if they don’t like or follow your page.

Incorporating Facebook Live into your marketing strategy is a great way to boost the appeal of your page. This is a great opportunity to provide exclusive content, engagement with fans and consumers, behind-the-scenes footage, product launches and more.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook has incorporated many functions to help brands get sales, including a “Shop Now” button. The challenge is, your sale conversions may be low depending on your brand. Not everybody that clicks on your ad will make a purchase. That would be nice, but you have to be realistic in your expectations

Optimize your sales funnel by testing different ads and layouts, but don’t overlook the fact that prospecting customers want to buy immediately. Don’t have them go through hoops to get the product they want. The easier the process, the more likely a sale will be completed.

A better ROI can be achieved by promoting products that you already know sells. Did you promote a product that performed well in email marketing or a website promotion? Transfer that product to Facebook and target your core audience and those with similar interests or behaviors. Not only will this help increase sales, it can also bring in new customers.

Does Your Brand Have A Personality?

People want to connect to a brand but more so on a personal level. Your goal should be to create a community where people can learn, engage and share your brand. If you’re too corporate and salesy, there will be a disconnect. If your brand allows you to be whimsical, give it a try. Consumers are marketed to on a daily basis and can only consume so much of the advertising thrown their way. Give their eyes a break from sales pitches. Incorporate fun consumable branded content like memes, GIFs and short videos.

Quality Over Quantity

Your Facebook business page’s reach has declined over the last week. You may be tempted to boost it by increasing the number of posts on your page. This may temporarily increase your reach, but are you posting quality content or are you posting content for the sake of numbers?

Based on our findings, the most common reason for fans to unlike a brand’s page is because they post uninteresting content; the second most common reason is that they share too much content. Many businesses feel they have to post obsessively on their Facebook business page to be seen by consumers. The average user spends nearly an hour on Facebook. Combine that with the unknown amount of content from their friends and other pages they follow decreases the visibility of your posts exponentially.

Make sure your content is interesting, informative and shareable. If your posts lack quality, your fans will not like, comment or share which will organically increase your reach. When people engage with quality content, this tells Facebook your content is valuable and will more likely be seen by more people.

Experiment with posts and determine your brand’s sweet spot. Once you figure out what your audience responds well to, work around that content to achieve quality numbers.

Facebook is one of the most popular social networks around the world. There is no one-size-fits-all method for businesses, but grasping the core of Facebook for business is a great foundation for developing an effective and powerful Facebook presence.

Instagram – Is It Right For My Business?

6 Nov

It should be no surprise to any business owner that social media is the latest and greatest tool for connecting with existing and potential customers. Although there are a multitude of platforms, one of the most effective and popular ones is Instagram. Read on to determine whether this social media platform is right for your business.

What is Instagram?

Instagram allows users to share photos and videos along with captions and a link with their followers. This platform has a total of 800 million users around the world, 500 million of which use it every single day.

If you do not utilize Instagram to market your business, you’re in the minority, as 91% of all of the world’s biggest brands utilize this platform for business purposes. These include Nike, Adidas, Michael Kors and Gucci.

Is Instagram Right For Your Business?

While Instagram may be the fastest growing social media platform, it is not the right solution for every single business. Marketing on a platform requires a time and financial commitment, and business owners should pick the platform or platforms that are most suited to their business needs rather than spread themselves thin advertising on a multitude of platforms. Answer these questions to see if Instagram is right for your business needs.

Can You Share Captivating Images or Videos?

Although Instagram is a great marketing tool, it may not be the right solution for all businesses. Instagram users crave creative, original and quality images and videos to capture their attention. It is best suited for businesses that offer food and products that can be captured via images.

Businesses that offer services, such as accounting or cleaning, may not be able to come up with enough images or videos for this visual platform, and, therefore, should focus their marketing efforts on other platforms which are not as image-based.

Is Your Customer Target Base on Instagram?

Depending on your offerings and the demographics of your clientele, Instagram may not be the right solution for you. It is important to truly know your customer base; based on that information, you can determine if marketing on Instagram would be advantageous for you.

Sixty-eight percent of Instagram users are female, with 59% of them being between the ages of 18 and 29 years old and 33% are 30-49 years old. Less than a third of American women and less than a fourth of American men are active Instagram users; 80% of users are located outside the United States.

These demographics allow business owners to determine whether Instagram is the right place to target their customers. This visual platform is a definite must for companies that target younger females, such as hair salons, restaurants, makeup brands and clothing stores. However, businesses that target older males, such as accounting firms or body shops, should consider other platforms for more efficient marketing strategies.

Are Your Competitors on Instagram?

A third question to ask yourself is whether your competitors have an Instagram presence. Search this platform for your competitors by name, as well as hashtags that are relevant to your brand to see what is currently being shared on Instagram.

If you notice a lot of competition, it may be worthwhile to build up your own Instagram presence so that your competitors do not grab the entire market share in your industry.

Instagram requires a careful strategy, consistent posting and well-shot, unique images and videos to distinguish your company from the clutter.