Top 6 Tips for Small Business Looking To Embrace Social Media Marketing

For small businesses, social media marketing is essential. It can be the difference between having a successful enterprise or a struggling trade. This is due to the large potential that social media marketing presents.

Unlike multinational organisations, small sized businesses do not have huge marketing budgets to conduct sufficient market research. As a result, social media offers the opportunity for small businesses to directly communicate with customers and discuss all aspects of the business. Businesses can gain vital information relating to their services, and in return, market products and see where improvements can be made.

However, using social media marketing is not as simple as logging into Facebook or Twitter and posting comments. Utilising these websites from a business prospective requires a careful balance of time and strategy. Here are six tips for small businesses looking to embrace social media marketing.

Plan an effective strategy– Before you create a website that bundles all social media websites that you’re planning to sign up to, outline key targets and the ways needed to employ them. Decide which social media websites to use, who within the company will carry it out and what method will be used to assess the progress of the campaign.

Locate your customers– Conduct market research to establish which social media websites your customers predominantly use. For potential customers, search keywords and topics relating to your business to find out relevant blogs and forums to join and communicate.

Time management – As social media marketing can be very time consuming, it is important to find enough time during the business day to communicate with customers and build effective relationships. Customers who see regular activity or have their queries and questions answered are more likely to follow the business and recommend their services. Remember though; don’t just market your business, listen to what your customers have to say.

Be the specialist– Pass on useful information and give solutions that will help customers. This will not only show you’re an expert in your industry, but it will also help build a rapport between you and your customers.

Integrate personality – The best way to maintain relationships is to write honestly and openly. Customers are more willing to communicate with people they like as opposed to business representatives. Another way of incorporating personality is to display a ‘human’ picture and not just the business logo. You should use the same personality when you create a website for your business, so people will recognise the brand.

Offer incentives– Make online customers feel as though they are valuable by offering exclusive discounts and promotions. This will help sustain interest and ensure customers feel integrated in the business.

By implementing these tips, small businesses can effectively promote and expand their online brand, and in the long run, gain more customer awareness. Well planned social media marketing will leave customers talking and consequently; they will be more likely to buy into the brand. Ultimately the key to success is hard work. Posting comments now and again, will only lead to customers disregarding the business, whereas, active weekly posts will result in an online presence that customers can trust and depend on.

How To Create A Small Business Marketing Strategy That Will Triple Your Profits This Year

What does a small business marketing strategy mean to you? Some people automatically think in terms of their company’s long-term goals. When they start their small business, they create a long-term business plan, including a marketing strategy, that will help them develop their company over time. Others think of a small business marketing strategy as a single campaign. They create a marketing campaign for one product or service they offer, and create a series of marketing tools that will help them sell that product or service.

While both may technically be correct, there is a distinct difference between the two. One creates a stream of income for a short period of time (typically a few weeks to a few months), while the other ensures you have a stream of income coming in on a regular basis.

In order to ensure an effective small business marketing strategy, you must have three things in place.

1. Multiple marketing tools in place. Every day a person is marketed to 60-100 times. You see banners on the sides of busses, advertisements in newspapers and magazines, and coupons in your mailbox. It’s easy to see why marketing tends to become almost non-existent in our minds.

But the thing that a good marketer realizes is that he has to use different marketing tools to reach different target audiences. Everyone has a different attention span. Everyone is searching for different products and services at different times. A good small business marketing strategy has multiple tools in place to capture a prospects attention when he or she is ready for our product or service.

The key is to knowing who your ideal clients are. The more you know about them, the more you’ll be able to reach them in a manner that’s best for them. Good marketing tools are:

* direct mail postcards

* direct mail letters

* advertisements in magazines

* advertisements in newspapers

* neighborhood postcard packs

* door hangers

* flyers

* brochures

* promotional products

* tradeshows

* billboards

* bus stops

* school buses

* regional transportation systems

* sponsorship of school athletics

* and much more

An ideal small business marketing strategy will encompass many of these types of tools, and have campaigns set up using select tools at different times throughout the year.

2. Use those marketing tools over long periods of time. Once you have your marketing tools in place, continue to use them again and again. Probably the biggest mistake a small business owner makes is to grow tired of his own marketing campaign, and abandoning it before it’s realized its full potential.

The average campaign takes a person 8 – 12 times of viewing the same material to recognize the information and take action. If you quit running a campaign before you reach the 8 – 12 times average, you won’t achieve your desired results.

An ideal small business marketing strategy will provide goals to seek out longevity in marketing campaigns. While nuances of a campaign can change (i.e. changing ad advertisement to showcase seasonal products) the structure of the campaign should always remain the same.

3. Use those marketing tools in many different places. Your prospects come from a variety of different sources, and have a variety of different interests. Mailing your brochure out to prospects is a great way of marketing; but you may also do well by placing your brochure in offices of complimentary businesses. Advertisements may work well in your local newspaper; but they may do just as well in an industry trade publication. Direct mail postcards may inspire a lot of people to pick up the phone and call you; but it may motivate more people to visit your website.

Creating a handful of tools to use in your campaigns provides you with the resources. Getting those tools into the hands of your prospects is what requires a plan.

An ideal small business marketing strategy will be a long-term plan that involves creating marketing tools, putting them into the appropriate places, and leaving them in place long enough to let them work.

Copyright 2006 Vision Business Concepts Inc

10 Tips Small Businesses Can Use to Avoid Viruses, Spam and Spyware

Viruses, spam, spyware and other malware cost small businesses billions of dollars each year in lost productivity, stolen identities and IT support costs.

What small businesses need to understand is that these gremlins are easy to avoid when common sense and some simple precautions are applied. And ‘avoid’ is the key word; your strategy should be to stay as far away from these things in the first place so that you don’t have to experience the lost time and cost associated with cleaning up the mess they leave.

So how can a small business avoid viruses, spam, and spyware?

The following is a list of 10 best practices for small businesses:
1. Use antivirus software that is automatically updated on all machines
2. Use a hosted spam filtering service that filters the spam before it ever makes it to your local network
3. Make sure employees know that you have a policy that work computers are only to be used for work purposes.
4. Don’t give your business email address to a non-business source
5. Don’t forward jokes, chain mail, etc. to other employees
6. Never open an attachment from an unknown source
7. Never open an attachment with an unknown file extension
8. Don’t download free toolbars, shopping assistants, weather bug, etc. on your work computer
9. Never give your information or download information from an unknown site
10. Never update banking or other sensitive personal information using a link sent to you via email – always navigate directly to the site and log in there.

As you can see, most of these tips don’t require you to buy anything or use any special technology. Viruses, spam and spyware prey on human nature – curiosity, laziness, etc. – to get past technology-based defences, so you must educate yourself and your employees to know what to avoid.

One last tip: if you do feel like you have a virus or something else attacking your computer, unplug it from your network immediately. The last thing you want to do is give it to everyone else in your office – that’s when things get really expensive.

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