Niches Come out at the Royal Wedding

Check out today’s Cinchcast. I was watching some of the pre-Royal Wedding coverage and noticed that niche marketers really did well. The proof is in the pudding – choosing a niche can get you on TV. Take a listen:

Social media marketing mistakes

Wow! I’ve had some great discussions about whether social media is the right step for small businesses. Some have involved the ROI of social media and others questions about manpower and dedication. I believe there are some important social media marketing mistakes you should avoid. So let’s explore whether social media, as a time and activity expense, makes sense for small business.

Part of my discussion involved chats with both Norma Maxwell of InsideWebMarketing.com and Kelsey Foster of ReadyClickContent.com. Our Facebook discussion started with Norma pointing out the success an acquaintance had spending $10/day in Facebook ads to create an audience of 15,000 “fans”. And both spoke highly of the community building that goes on with Facebook – expounding especially upon its importance in business.

I argued then and I argue now that despite those benefits, social media may not be the right step for small businesses. With the exception of one thing. . .

Small Business Responsibilities

To start, time is the most precious commodity a small business owner has – and is its greatest foe. And the responsibilities required to operate successfully are enormous. Consider the marketing, operations, taxes, licenses, customer interaction, research, follow-up, signage, trash, SEO, websites, phone books, computers, HR, etc. . . there is really an infinite number of things to do and an infinite number of expenses.

And small businesses normally have one source of income – customers buying their products and services.  From a week to week basis, a small business has to measure their expenses against their income – and no matter who you are if the income doesn’t exceed the expenses you go out of business. And even when the income exceeds expenses – if that doesn’t happen in a timely manner, a small business may not have the cash to pay its expenses and must shut down.

No matter how you slice the pie, there are only two ways to increase your revenue: 1. More customers OR
2. More money from each customer

What should I spend time doing?

That’s it.  Building a community on Facebook can certainly increase both – but the question is how long will that take for the “community effect” to turn into dollars? And could your time have been better used another way to achieve the same ends?

Time is finite.

So a small business owner must ask him/herself right now, should I be editing and producing a new radio ad with a call-to-action that will fill my pizza restaurant tonite, or answer questions and update Facebook that may begin to fill my pizza restaurant soon? You can’t say both – because in reality you can’t effectively be doing everything.

If you decide your time is best used doing social media, then some time later decide it’s better used elsewhere – how profitable will a dead, untouched Facebook page be for you? With dates on everything, a failure to interact is one of many social media marketing mistakes.

The only way Social Media makes sense

So here’s my caveat to that (that one thing I mentioned) – and the only reason I’d agree that you can do both. Repurposing. Every owner should be repurposing their activities. Here are some examples of repurposing that could set the stage for a great social media campaign:

    1. Instead of answering customer questions via e-mail, write a blog post and send the customer the link to it. Then post a corresponding link to it on your social media sites. You were going to answer the e-mail anyway, might as well turn it into a marketing activity. 

    2. Anytime you’re in a position to give your opinion, analysis or consult on something in your industry, film it or record it with an .mp3 recorder. You’ve then got a podcast segment, YouTube video, transcript, blog post, FAQ, slide show, etc. . . . You don’t have to use it right then and there – but you can never go back to get it later.

    3. Film your crew making the dessert special for the week, building a fence, fixing a roof, doing an estimate, or even cleaning the place. Don’t spend time setting the stage with that stuff – show your customers who you are.  Make every moment something you could market. Besides you were going to do it anyway, might as well make it a marketing moment.

    4. Ask the news media to come to anything you can. While you’re doing your thing – they’re driving business. (And then you can save the article from the news media website,  and post it to your own. You can also print it and mail it to your customers. The ideas are infinite with PR).

I don’t think social media is always the best step for small business – unless it’s truly thought out and you know the costs associated with spending time on Facebook versus calling and thanking your customers – or any of the other 1,146 things you could be doing to increase revenue.  A failure to plan is truly failure to avoid the many potential social media marketing mistakes that happen to many.

Turning Social Media into a Business Resource

Wow! I came across this social media idea after seeing the YouTube Channel of Taigan.com.  And once I saw it the flood gates opened – this is the kind of stuff that separates the rookies from the pros.

I’ve told you time and time again, don’t ask people to “Follow you on Twitter” or “Follow you on Facebook”. Honestly, that’s just dumb and really gives no one a reason to do so.

If you can make a Favorites List on Twitter of only awesome e-mail marketing tips that you and others tweet, couldn’t you say “Follow me on Twitter and get access to the best email marketing tips on the planet”. I think so.

How about creating a contest asking your clients to load up videos to YouTube exclaiming what they love about your business? That’d be awesome for a pizza place. You could make a Testimonials Playlist and it will show up on your channel.

Honestly, the options are limitless!

Start-ups and Social Media?

Is social media appropriate for start-ups or small businesses? For that matter, is it appropriate for everyone?

I would argue that not every business can make successful use of today’s social media tools.  Some businesses just aren’t ready, others don’t have the manpower required and others have clients who prefer to remain “anonymous”.

Social media isn’t a hands-off approach to business. As the world of social interaction has become an instant feedback generator, making your social media duties a once weekly event is about as infrequent as you want to go. Even if your client community is quite active and keeps the discussion fresh and new, 7 days without a presence would be considered long.

Since Twitter and Facebook, specifically, assign dates to everything, it doesn’t take much to look stagnant. With blogs you may be able to take dates off your posts and updates, but customers who leave comments don’t need dates to know they’re still waiting for answers.

Can a new start-up use social media effectively? Probably. But it will likely take some guts to do so (and a bit of ingenuity at that).  Start-ups don’t typically have customers, cheerleaders or fans yet. That  being the case, the social media interaction will likely lack the social proof often needed to help conversions.

Often times social media is part of the sales funnel, but typically is used for the “social proof” part of the funnel. That’s where you get your customers to rave and talk about their love of the product. That kind of “testimony” is great in pre-selling prospects before they formally enter the funnel.

I don’t disagree with small businesses starting social media but I think you need clear goals for it in the beginning, and a plan for what you want that that social traffic to both do and achieve. A good understanding of the reason people buy your product (their reasons, not yours) is a good start to knowing what you want them to achieve. The hard part is coming up with the plan and steps to help them achieve that.

Doing social media just to do it may be a waste of time. However, with success events, milestones and prospect achievements built in, you can track and hone the effectiveness and thus become more efficient over time.

If not you may end up with pages that aren’t interactive and don’t have much traffic – which could be a liability later for the prospects who are looking for anecdotal evidence that your products are good.

What are your thoughts on the top reasons small businesses should or should not use social media? I’ll go into further detail in the comments below why some companies can’t do social media even if they wanted to.

 

[stextbox id=”info”]

Comments:

There are some companies that don’t stand a chance in the social sphere. Consider the gonorrhea prescription company. . . how about an incontinence company. . . and sometimes even a maid company. Good tutors will find it difficult to even get their customers to refer them. (Why would they if that means their tutor would be busier and harder to schedule?)

Some people just don’t want others to know what they’re doing, what they like, what they buy. Even maid service companies, a relatively ordinary and necessary service, have requests that the maids park in the garage and not send invoices.

If you don’t understand that part of your clientele, you may not only offend your customers by asking them to comment on your “wall” but may even scare some away in the fear that their “secret” arrangement is now with a “Social Media” company.

leave a comment

[/stextbox]

 

Social Marketing Mistakes Exposed

Strangely, I encountered two businesses this week whose social marketing mistakes exposed their lack of business acumen. They were both using social marketing as part of their plan BUT neither really understood how to marry it to their business. No matter how you slice it, if you’ve chosen to add “social marketing” to your mix – you’re still marketing!! The normal rules still apply. Bad Examples of Social Marketing

The people at Dinosaur World in Cave Creek, Kentucky provided my first example of bad social marketing decisions. I had purchased tickets to Dinosaur World for myself and my kids on Groupon.com.  You may not consider Groupon to be social marketing, but know that it’s growth comes almost entirely from people in the social sphere.

I had no trouble with Groupon or the people at Dinosaur World on this trip. In fact, they were great. What was odd was the conversation I had with Dinosaur World about the value of Groupon. The extent of their Groupon followup was a sheet where they marked off the names of people who used the coupons (to prevent fraud). . . and . . . actually that was it.

That was it. They didn’t know if Groupon was providing to them the database of e-mail addresses. They weren’t tracking how much Groupon users were spending in the gift shop. They didn’t provide a coupon or flyer asking us to come back. . . nothing. It was almost as if the idea of Groupon was a novelty.

Poor social marketing examples

My second dealing was truly social marketing gone awry. At my local Daily’s Convenience Store, I stopped in to get a soda and noticed the Foursquare symbol in the window. Hmmm. . . So I checked in on Foursquare and asked the attendant if there was a Foursquare special.

By the way just because these marketing mistakes exposed a weakness in their overall strategy, doesn’t mean I didn’t receive great customer service – nor does it mean they lost me as a customer.

Anyway, he was quite excited to get out their book and see what the special was. I believe it was a free $.99 soda. Yay! That’s what I went in to buy.  He then asked what the password was. I looked at my Foursquare checkin, noticed I had also just became the Mayor, and showed it to him. “Foursquare isn’t giving me a password”, I said.

He said “well, I’ll need the password for the special”. Now the notebook is open so I can see the password plain as day, but I didn’t want to just fake that I got it from Foursquare. Then he said something like “. . .you get the password when you check in on Foursquare in Facebook and then it’s on the Facebook page”.

Hmm. . . yep. Someone at Daily’s didn’t quite understand how to explain it to the clerks. After all the time spent putting the program together, the value was lost on me because the clerk didn’t get it. We argued for 10 more seconds about it, but ultimately I bought the $.99 soda I was excited to get free.

The lesson is simple. Social Marketing is Marketing.  Just because it’s new and trendy doesn’t mean you get to skip the education. It doesn’t mean you can do Groupon and not see how to benefit on the other side.  We’re talking about businesses here – not romper room and not your 7th period study hall project.

If social marketing isn’t making you money – maybe there’s something wrong with your business strategy – not my Facebook habits.  Think about what kinds of problems social marketing mistakes will have exposed.

How to send an RSS Feed to your Twitter Account

Oooh. . . this is pretty exciting actually, especially for small business owners who would like to have a Twitter account, but really don’t have the time to keep it up-to-the-minute fresh. Here’s a free, great method to supply your Twitter account with great information about your niche.

Wait. . . does that even make sense? Isn’t Twitter a social media  property that really requires personal networking?  Despite every social media expert in the country saying the opposite, you definitely don’t need to be present all the time and you don’t need to be creating relationships.

To say that is mandatory is to ignore the usefulness of NPR, PBS, Wikipedia and the Weather Channel. All of those mediums are watched and subscribed to by people just looking for information. So be that source for those looking for information. This is one way to do that – send an RSS feed directly to your Twitter account.

In a short 5 minute watch you can see me lay the whole thing out in this short video clip:

Watch the RSS Feed to Twitter video

But the steps in prose are this:

  • Figure out what it is you want to send to Twitter. Are you wanting your audience to get information, information and offers, advertisements, or entertainment.
  • Find the information you’re looking for by searching Google and then clicking the “more” button for Blogs. Basically you want Google to find you information on your topic specifically having and RSS feed.
  • In the URL bar, at the far right is an orange RSS symbol (see graphic in this post), click it and pick the one that says “Subscribe to RSS feed”.
  • Copy that RSS feed URL bar address, and then open a new tab and go to TwitterFeed.com
  • Create an account, including adding in your Twitter account log-in information. When it asks you to add RSS feed, paste the URL spot and give it a nickname.
  • As long as you have a Twitter account, you’re done. If not, you’ll have to get a Twitter account first.Now go watch the movie before you ask questions. I think made it much clearer there.

Go watch this movie!