Marketing Monday

Marketing Monday: I Don’t Know Where To Start

The internet is a big world, with an increasing amount of users and over 255 million websites. (Check out this mind-blowing infographic if you want to quantify how overwhelmed you should feel.) What I hear from people when they first meet me and find out I’m into internet marketing, they say “I don’t even know where to start.” Or maybe something like this:

Sorry I haven’t gotten the material for you for my email newsletter, I just don’t know what to write.

My friend/high school kid/boyfriend set up my Facebook page… so what do I do now?

I have a Wordpress blog but haven’t touched it in months.

Really it’s the same idea of “I don’t know where to start”… just much more specific. You know you need help but what exactly you need help with is unclear. Some ideas for you:

Look at what other people are doing.
Now I’m a big fan of running your own race but sometimes, your ‘competitors’ are doing things that are 1) cool and 2) work. Why would they spend the time/money on them? Because it either reaches their target audience or it directly makes them money, that’s why.

If you are stuck on what to write for your real estate blog, Google ‘real estate blog’ and find some cool ones. Read them, and you’ll no doubt get your own inspiration.



Baffled by how some restaurants use Twitter? Follow some. See which tweets get the most reaction and you’ll come up with your own idea based on it.

These people you are inspired by can be in your geographic area (other businesses in Bar Harbor Maine) and/or in a similar industry (professional kite flyers). Generating ideas are like doing exercise, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Suddenly, you’ll start having your own ideas just walking down the street, you really will.

Just try it.
How many people do you know who are waiting until their website looks perfect or their Facebook page has a custom design before posting? I know quite a few.

The perfection excuse (waiting until perfect conditions exist to act) keeps us all from doing what we can do in business and in life. Unless you call someone a jerkface on social media or take down your whole website, it’s all fixable. Just remember, 1) back up and 2) have a geek to call in case you need a bailout. Otherwise, experiment away with this stuff. We’re all experimenting here because the landscape changes all the time. This is not a test. You will not be fined for not completing your LinkedIn profile or laughed out of town for uploading only 20 photos without captions to Flickr.

So I hope this pep talk/kick in the pants helps you a bit on where to start, mainly that there are no right answers and doing something is much better than doing nothing!

Once you get comfortable, step back and become purposeful.
So you’ve got some traction on Facebook, how can you use this for your business? Schedule out your sharing, thinking about what you say, why you’re saying it, and what in the ideal world people would do related to your business.

Let’s say you share a product photo every Friday. Why not add a caption about the product and a link to where to buy it on your website? Why not give away a sample to the person who leaves the funniest comment?

So think about yourself as having gotten pretty good on the treadmill, and now it’s time to add interval training to help yourself get down to your goal mile time. (Can you tell I am on a bit of an exercise kick lately?)

If you are busy or uninterested, build your team.
This ain’t my first rodeo people. If you come to me blocked, I can give you places to start. Then, based on what you know about your business, we can figure out which ones could actually work.

I also can give you some perspective of ‘normal’. From helping dozens of businesses, I have seen their web traffic, social media growth, email open rates, etc. I also know how to snoop around a bit and tell you, for example, that your 25% email open rate is actually pretty good (in most industries anyway). Sometimes people think they are totally behind when really they are actually fairly typical… and just need to know how to do more.

The thing with social media is people sort of get it. Just like I sort of get payroll, taxes, and basic business law I suppose. But I have a payroll service, accountant, and lawyer so I don’t have to invest my time learning really specific skills that won’t make me more money. Hiring someone like me could be a good investment not only in your business but in personal sanity. And whether it’s this company or someone like us, it can be a good investment for you if you just don’t have the time or the interest.

Some things I do for inspiration:

So I hope you now feel inspired to start, whatever it is you’re thinking of starting! If you do, share in the comments so we can all be inspired by you.

Marketing Monday: El Conejo Corredor

I think I have most appreciated about writing this blog is that it’s connected me with so many cool people… and it allows me to keep in touch with far flung friends who (*gasp*) actually seem to read and enjoy it. One of those people is Matt Baya, a formerly local web developer I have become good friends with who moved to Massachusetts to take a new job.

‘You have to write about this taco truck’ he said. Based in Williamstown Massachusetts, he is surrounded by that college town vibe, much like I am here in Bar Harbor.

El Conejo Corredor was started by a couple Williams College graduates. They have a basic website up for general info/inquiries. These folks are proving that you don’t need to be in San Fran or Seattle to set up a food truck.

El Conejo's Twitter feed automatically posts to Facebook. And with slightly over 100 people following them on Twitter and 500ish following on Facebook, 600ish people can be reached with a single tweet.

El Conejo's Twitter feed automatically posts to Facebook. And with slightly over 100 people following them on Twitter and 500ish following on Facebook, 600ish people can be reached with a single tweet.



Since the El Conejo Corredor folks prefer Twitter, they have Twitter automatically post to their Facebook page:

Love Twitter but have people who prefer to follow you on Facebook? Connect your Twitter to your Facebook automatically!

Love Twitter but have people who prefer to follow you on Facebook? Connect your Twitter to your Facebook automatically!

What applications can you use to do this? Here are five from Mashable (with the first one listed being easiest): http://mashable.com/2009/05/25/twitter-to-facebook/

 

El Conjo's simple website. Note: Even if you use a 'free' website builder that comes with your web hosting, there will be a mark on your website (in this case, GoDaddy). One of the reasons to design your own site once business is good.

El Conjo's simple website. Note: Even if you use a 'free' website builder that comes with your web hosting, there will be a mark on your website (in this case, GoDaddy). One of the reasons to design your own site once business is good.

Now I know even some very established businesses who don’t have websites at all but being the ECC has no fixed location to take advantage of, they can get that fixed location, consistent, ‘we’re a business’ feeling from having a website that they keep up to date.

At the very least, having your own domain is one way of securing who you are businesswise. Here’s an article Matt and I wrote about having your own domain name awhile back with more fun reasons you should have a domain: http://downeastlearning.com/why-you-need-your-own-domain-name/ And if you are going to buy a domain, might as well stick something on it!

Just remember that that ‘free’ web page will always have some catch to it, like advertising for the person who’s letting you have it for ‘free’. (I say ‘free’ because you are paying for the domain name and web hosting already.) Note the GoDaddy logo lower right. Fine for now but not indefinitely.

So want to see this truck in action? Here’s a photo Matt sent me. Looks good, I’m jealous!

The food truck in action. And look left, note the signage about Facebook, Twitter, and website information.

The food truck in action. And look left, note the signage about Facebook, Twitter, and website information.

So if you find yourself in Williamstown Massachusetts or simply want to  know how a food truck in New England is using the web to sell more, check out El Conejo Corredor!

Marketing Monday: Zenni Optical

I got my last pair of glasses when I was 14. Up until recently, I only needed them when 1) exhausted or 2) driving at night. Kind of bland but functional, I’ve worn them on and off for years. Of course, now they are pretty scratched not to mention a bit unstylish.

Uploading a photo and my pupil distance, I was able to virtually try on many frames. These were the winning ones, as seen virtually.

Uploading a photo and my pupil distance, I was able to virtually try on many frames before ordering. These were the winning ones, as seen virtually.

“Come on, they can’t be that bad” a professional stylist I met said a few months ago and she insisted I take them out of my purse and put them on. “Oh, you do need new glasses!” she said. That sentiment along with some recent headaches made me finally take the plunge.

I've been so busy I haven't even taken a new photo with my glasses. Tada!

I've been so busy I haven't even taken a new photo with my glasses. Tada! As usual, these things are better in person.



I have heard about buying glasses online but I knew my prescription from 16ish years ago would probably be way off so I scheduled an exam at my local optometrist.

Turns out my eyes haven’t gotten that bad but I do need a pair of glasses for distance and an separate pair for computer work, since bifocals would cut into that middle distance where I look at my screen. Buying glasses the traditional would would be at least $300/pair and needing two, I knew I had to at least try the internet.

I’ve heard great things about Zenni Optical so with my prescription and pupil distance in hand, I uploaded a photo of myself and began trying on glasses. I was surprised to like both higher end pairs ($30 each though the frames did go up to $46/pair) and $6 frames. I decided to create an album on Facebook and let my friends decide my fate between the six pairs I liked.

Two weeks later, I got my glasses in the mail in their own little cases and ever since, my eyes feel like they are on a little beach vacation drinking little pina coladas. I had no idea my poor eyes were working so hard the last couple years! Plus I get to channel my inner Liz Lemon.

It is nice to know at least some parts of my health care can be affordable. Thanks Zenni! Might be needing some sunglasses for the summer…

Marketing Monday: Badly Targeted Ads

I think most business owners are excited about the idea of using the internet to do targeted marketing.

Search engines like Google have allowed us to do pay per click advertising to a certain demographic in terms of location and search terms for years. (Ex: target this ad text to people searching “internet marketing” in Maine.)

Yet, when we all think of social media sites like Facebook, we know much more demographic information is available from users that we can take advantage of:

  • marital status
  • interests
  • location (specific to town)
  • employer
  • age
  • and more…

So how would a small business use this? Here’s an example: one of my clients wanted to have a sale during the last snowstorm. He wanted to give a 25% discount to those who braved the weather. So in addition to the usual social media about it, I also took out a Facebook ad targeting his ideal customer within several miles of the Bar Harbor area (didn’t want too many people driving in a blizzard!), in total targeting about  200 people for the five hours he was open. It was economical and had around 400 impressions (and one click) so I know that people did see it.



Companies have begun taking advantage of this targeting particularly on Facebook. And a few of us have noticed some weird ads in the Facebook sidebar. Here’s one from my friend Renee that’s the funniest I’ve seen yet:

socialworkerfbad

This actually prompted us to start a separate blog about it: http://badfacebook.tumblr.com/ (There is a ‘Submit’ button if you have your own fun ad you’d like to contribute.)

Based on what we’ve seen, a few tips to target your ad, on Facebook or other sites like it:

  • Make sure the ad text/idea matches the target. If you’re advertising a wedding photography business, don’t make it show up for single people. Don’t talk about running after your toddler to 60 year olds. You’re just wasting money on people who see your ad and think “This doesn’t apply to me.”
  • Don’t worry about targeting a very small group of people. That’s the idea. Wouldn’t you rather pay to target 100 people who might buy your product than 1,000 people who never will? Be as specific about your customer as you want.
  • Do a little A/B testing. Experiment by running two different ads with different photos or slightly different wording and see which ads do better. Use these results in future advertisements.
  • Use keyword research. You have a limited amount of space to display the text of an ad so put words in it that people are searching for. There are many keyword tools out there that can give you an idea of not only how often a keyword is searched but how valuable it is. For example, if you knew ‘maine rentals’ was more searched and higher valued than ‘maine vacation homes’, wouldn’t you want to use that? (This is true by the way, I do offer keyword research as one of my internet marketing services if you’re interested!)
  • Pick a good photo, and one that you have permission to use. Try a Creative Commons search or use something you’ve created. In the example above, a photo from a horror movie probably isn’t the best way to promote your social worker education program. It makes you either look like you’re trying to be funny (which is weird) or that you’re completely out of touch (which means people won’t want to give you money to enter your program).
  • Link to your Facebook page. People who are on Facebook want to stay there as a general rule. Your ad will be more successful linking to a Facebook page or event versus an external website.

Can this take the place of all your marketing efforts? No. Is this a tool that, if used properly, can help you out? Absolutely. And while Facebook is the popular targeted ad option, any website out there collecting this demographic information about  users has potential for business use as well.

So rather than being annoyed by these ads, realize you can use them to promote your business… or at least have an occasional laugh.

Marketing Monday: Thoughts On Instant Gratification

I never know what to tell people when they want instant gratification in our work together. In a world of people who tell them they can get them they can get a number one ranking in Google, who am I to tell them none of it is a guarantee? Yeah, I’m a bit of a killjoy. Sorry about that!

I realize that this news seems especially disheartening because the internet seems to be the one place in life where we can get instant gratification. There is no such thing as overnight weight loss or a functional happy relationship in one month, yet your online video can get a million hits in a week or in a month, you can double the traffic to your blog.

Here’s the thing though: the reason you hear about sudden instant web successes is that they are very rare. And there is something about lucky breaks that makes great stories.



True life example: I recently heard the story of my boyfriend Dan’s stepfather’s parents. They married after knowing each other a total of five days in Las Vegas. They’ve since had twelve children and have been happily married over 60 years. Great story right? Only this story would have never been told if the marriage hadn’t lasted. I only heard it because it was such a rare and lucky thing.

Most everything in life we know takes hard work mixed in with a luck (usually in the form of good timing). Just like I’ve been working my butt off at the gym the past three weeks to only lose a few pounds, we all work really hard to get those first 200 Facebook fans or 500 blog hits in a week, whatever success looks like online to us. The first while feels almost painful because really it’s about developing new habits and changing our internet mindset.

At a certain point though, you do get some momentum. Suddenly, our inbound links have doubled in four months (I found that mine recently had with me just doing my normal stuff) or you get from 100 to 300 Twitter followers with almost no effort. But from what I’ve seen, there is no shortcut to putting in that important initial time. Of laying the groundwork and doing that other hard stuff.

Why do I make my social media maintenance clients sign a six month contract? Because I need to put in that inital time, and I want them to see the momentum for themselves. This requirement also makes sure I continue to work with people who not only see the value in what I do but who are willing to put the time in. If it’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that instant gratification people are difficult to please because their expectations are inherently unrealistic.

What about you? Do you think your expectations are realistic in terms of web goals? Have you found true online success takes effort like I say?

Marketing Monday: 13 Ways To Promote An Event

I have three workshops coming up in the next three weeks. Add to that two speaking engagements and a regular workload and you’ll see why I’ve been forgetting to do my usual checklist of event promotions. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Have online registration. If people can order and pay for the tickets online, they are much more likely to register. I use Eventbrite for my stuff and I see that in using this software, I can take electronic payments as well as offer directions and get my event autoposted to multiple websites like whofish.org.

2. Create a Facebook event. You can invite people that are your friends on Facebook or you can invite people via email.

3. Use your press list. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of an old fashioned press release.

4. Tease your event on Twitter… and don’t forget to link to your registration page!

5. Partner with another business. Then you can take advantage of their email contacts, Facebook fans, etc.

6. Email your list. If you have an email newsletter, let people know about upcoming events. Make sure your email newsletter is CAN-SPAM compliant though!



7. Have a page on your website where people can learn about events. www.breakingeveninc.com/events for example has all my event information.

8. Post flyers at high traffic locations. In Maine, bulletin boards are alive and well. I once got a lead from posting something I posted at the Bar Harbor Launromat!

9. Give a bit of lip service to upcoming events at speaking engagements. The way I figure it, if I talk to your group for 30 minutes, I can spend 1 minute or so telling people what’s coming up as long as a) I have an otherwise great presentation and b) I am not rude/ridiculous about the promotion.

10. Use business organizations you are a part of. Chambers, Rotary Clubs, and other local groups you are a part of likely have websites, email lists, and more. They are also more than happy to promote your event.

11. Post your event on online community calendars, including news organizations and general community websites. They’re free and people clearly use them if these businesses and organizations have dedicated staff time to keep them up-to-date.

12. Take out a pay per click ad on Facebook or Google Adwords. By targeting your ideal customer, you’ll have more success.

13. Create a short video clip to ‘tease’ the event. It can be on Youtube (or other social media site) and/or on your website. People might not read a mound of text but most people I know will watch a short video about most anything.

In other words, I get most of the word out online but do a couple old school things too. The combination works well in Maine which is home to both internet cafes and rural general stores. But I could also use some new ideas!

How do you promote events, online and off?

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