Business EMarketing – Social Media Marketing Is Dying

When I read this article by Duncan Wierman, I have to admit that I agreed with him. I get so many people who either friend me or thank me for following them on Twitter by sending a Direct Message.

Invariably this is just a ruse to send me a link to their affiliate/product page. This is a really bad way to go about your business emarketing.

The way social media is supposed to work for marketing is that you friend people in order to build a relationship with them. You don’t sell… unless they ask you to. And they won’t ask you to unless you have built up a level of trust.

It’s all very well using software to search Twitter and Facebook for those individuals who are talking about keywords that relate to your product/industry so that you can interact with them – but they’re not stupid. If you only do it to bombard them with ads every time you post anything, they’re going to delete you pretty damn quick.

Certainly that’s what I do when it happens because I suddenly realise that I have an inbox full of ‘spam’. So the strategy really does have to be slowly and softly. You make them aware of your brand through the Twitter User Name or Facebook Fan Page but, otherwise, you don’t mention your product or services.

The whole thing that needs to be remembered when formulating a business marketing plan is that it takes seven exposures to your brand for someone to be ready to buy. That’s subliminal messages to their brain, be it through the logo on your company van, an ad in the local newspaper, a post on a relevent blog, a signature in a forum account on the subject, your Twitter account or Facebook Fan page.

Just like a virtual Derren Brown, you are sending them cues that will hardwire their brain to put forward your name if and when they have a problem that could be solved by your product/service.

Constantly ramming it down their throat will only cause immunity, bad feeling or deletion.

I thought long and hard about actually including the article because it is an article with a resource box that refers you to a type of software that builds leads by not using social media. However, in the spirit of article marketing, I have done the right thing as I think he makes some valid points.

Social Media Marketing is Dying
By Duncan Wierman (c) 2010

If nothing is certain, one thing is – social media is losing its magic. What once was a new and improved way to keep in touch with your closest loved ones has become just another sales pitch to convince you to sign up to another dreadful business prospect, newsletter, product, or service. There is no opening or closing – simply raw advertisements that lack sincerity. The people advertising their products don’t care about you or your general interests. They’re too set on the idea that you’re going to sign up and turn them into a success.

What’s wrong with this picture? Could it be that the advertisements lack taste and real value, or could it be that the people who want your business care less about who you are and what you are interested in?

What business entrepreneurs are forgetting is that they are on the other side of the fence of social media. They are on the advertising end, which means without a real connection to the “the people,” they are getting nowhere. At some point, a real connection needs to be established or otherwise all efforts to make a sale or spread the word are pointless.

The truth? No one cares about you unless you care about them, particularly when it comes to social media. Let’s say that you’ve got an account with Facebook. Each day when you see those tiny red notifications, you’re dead sure that they signify a message from your friends or family. Unfortunately, you open your inbox and all you see are loud advertisements. What do you do? You delete them, and you do so automatically without any interest whatsoever about what they say.

Advertising gurus are no longer “gurus,” they are simply annoying spammers who have no clue what they are doing. Business owners are missing the point. If their emails are getting read, it’s only by other advertisers just so they can compare tactics and techniques. Another sad part of it all is that no one is coming up with new techniques. Everybody is following someone who they think is successful, but in reality, no one is making any money because of their lack of effort and knowledge.

If you haven’t noticed (and you most likely have), all online entrepreneurs go about advertising their businesses in the same way. First, they request you as a fríend or become a follower (Twitter). Some of them may greet you with a “thanks for the request” or some other similar phrase, while others jump straight to the point and start bombarding you with their “winníng” sales pitch. Who are you more likely to communicate with? Nothing screams “delete” louder and faster than a sales pitch.

Some of the “thanks for the request” people might actually make it, as long as they don’t jump the gun too quickly. Unfortunately, the majority of them end it right there and automatically go on a link-posting frenzy, and immediately begin flooding your inbox with details about their products with no mention of how they might benefit you individually. It’s almost as if they are “demanding” that you purchase from them without any clear reason as to why.

On the other hand, some people are making sales. They are the ones who take their time in getting to know people. They ask questions and take a true interest in their prospects. Developing customer relationships is the most important part of advertising on social media because in the real world, customer relationships are a must.

It helps to wear the shoe on the other foot. Picture walking into a store with workers that aren’t friendly and don’t seem to have your interest anywhere in their top priorities. They are anxious for you to purchase something and that is it. They don’t care what you purchase or why, they just want your money. When you leave, they want you to come back over and over, even if you’re not interested in what they’ve got. It’s a horrible experience for both you and them.

When you look at it from a different perspective, it helps to see why social media is dying for your company. What people want is warmth and a display of interest in who they are, not lousy sales pitches. As soon as business professionals establish a connection, then they might have a chance, but until then, it’s best to just stick to more familiar means of advertising and leave social media to what it was always meant for. Bring common sense back to your marketing.

About The Author
Former Software CEO turned Internet Marketer. Duncan Wierman shows you how to use creative marketing methods to create a full time income online. Duncan is the original creator of the software that finds business LEADS and converts them to income. Get a trial copy at:
http://www.onlineleadfinder.com/

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Cheating Google

I found this brilliant article by SEO expert, Jill Whalen, which puts into words so much of what I’ve been feeling over the last couple of months.

Cheating Google

Just like in the real world, it seems as if the good guys keep on plodding away and sticking to the rules in the hope of being rewarded, whilst the bad guys in the black hats can do what they like and, not only get away with it, but get ahead of the rest of us because they keep on cheating Google and getting away with it.

Sure Google catches up with some of them in the end but they just move on and, as some of the gurus like to say, ‘rinse and repeat’. They just shut up shop when they get caught and go and do it again somewhere else.

It’s very frustrating.

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Small Business Customer Relationship Management

"small-business-customer-relationship-management"When I worked up in Town, I remember that one of my secretarial duties was to file away all the business cards that my employer had collected when he attended different industry events/corporate parties/business lunches.

Our small business customer relationship management existed in the form of about four leather-bound books containing several hundred cards, most from different individuals representing the same major players in our niche, but there were an awful lot of bits of thick paper. Very occasionally, I would be despatched to look through the plastic pages to see if I could help my boss to remember the name of the person he had been chatting to about a particular deal a few months before so that he could invite him out to lunch.

In what my kids would term ‘the olden days’, networking was done over lunch or in the pub across the road from the ‘market’ but this was the City and it was not a process that really affected local businesses. Such establishments would get their custom from passing trade, many of whom would be regulars because that shop/firm would be the only emporium of that particular type locally. They might give out a few ‘gifts’ at Christmas to those clients who had supported them the most but, more often than not, they had a pretty captive market because no one was going to travel all the way to the next town on the off-chance that things might be a bit cheaper.

These days, every High Street has two or three representatives for any one type of store – butchers, greengrocers, hairdressers, accountants, solicitors, restaurants, cafes, wine bars, pizza, fish and chip, and other fast food outlets, banks, building societies, chemists, off licenses – and these are all in competition with the giant supermarkets, who seem to have a toe in a vast number of markets that never used to come under their remit. Times have changed and people are no longer confined to shopping locally. Suddenly, the competition is not only right on your doorstep, it’s in every other local shopping centre, as well as on the internet.

This is why it is vital for small bricks and mortar businesses to hold on to their regular clientele, but so many of them have absolutely no idea who these are and no way of contacting them.

I was listening to a webinar recently and the speaker reminded us of the ‘goldfish bowl’ that used to stand at the check out of most businesses in days gone by – well, in small town America anyway. This bowl was a repository for the business cards of the regulars – just in case anyone needed their services. That was what you did. You made opportunities for yourself by leaving your card in places that other people might see it. Nowadays, most shops no longer have such a thing… or if they do, they just dispose of the contents after a week or so, with barely a second glance.

But, said the speaker, if you turn the original purpose on its head, isn’t that a great way to find out who your regular customers are?

In today’s hugely competitive market place, we should be using every method at our disposal to discover and retain the identities and contact details of our customers so, if they don’t return for some reason, we can offer an incentive to make them check us out again. Often, they haven’t come back because they’ve just forgotten the great service that was given. In today’s busy world, there are so many distractions and, if someone else is shouting louder/offering a cheaper service, it is easy to forget the original provider. Loyalty is not really a reliable commodity any more.

By offering your customers an incentive to leave their email address or name and phone number, a business can acquire a list of clients and have the ability to contact them from time to time with the offer of a money-off coupon or just to keep them advised of new business activities/changes of menu.

It’s a far more cost-effective way of advertising because you are preaching to people who have already tried and, hopefully, enjoyed the company’s service. Think about what happens if you put an advertisement in the Yellow Pages or local newspaper. These tend to be grouped together according to service/niche and so your ad is surrounded by all your competitors. If one of them is offering the service more cheaply than you, then you’ve wasted your money on that advert. They also tend to be aimed at a very large geographical area so you can also lose out if you’re too far away from the customer’s locale.

"small-business-customer-relationship-management"If you can email your customer base with a coupon, that’s a great deal cheaper than putting the same discount promotion in a newspaper ad and also a lot more focussed.

However, small business customer relationship management is still a tricky thing. There are rules and etiquette and codes of behaviour. Certainly in America, there are even federal laws covering ’email solicitation’. And you can’t just keep trying to sell people stuff or they will unsubscribe.

As with all social media, the goal is to provide information and offer good service. To build trust in your brand so that when people do need your product, it is you that they remember.

It’s not a quick process, it takes time. But it is an extremely worthwhile endeavour.

So, where is your goldfish bowl?

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Marketing Funnel

So many local businesses just don’t seem to understand the concept of the Funnel. It is no longer enough just to have a presence on the High Street or an advert in the Yellow Pages. With so much competition from other businesses offering the same service only a mile or two away, you have to offer more, be more personal, make the customer feel like you are the best choice for them and will have thier best interests at the forefront of your mind.

This involves making contact personally and quickly, but there is a fine line to tread so as not to appear too desperate for the business. Following up is not to be confused with being pushy.

You want the customer to buy your product and tell their friends all about it in a positive way. This involves being personable and providing an invaluable service. Too often the British business owner is laissez faire in a take-it-or-leave-it way. The attitude is all wrong because we don’t like to sell ourselves but, by standing back, we can appear unenthusiastic, even rude.

Sometimes a shift of ethos can be required.

I got a great deal of invaluable advice for the small business owner on how to create a funnel from a piece by Scot Smith on FaceBook.

"Marketing Funnel"Basically, Scot was expressing his surprise that so many small and seemingly relatively successful businesses seemed so reluctant to respond to his email enquiries about their services.

Whilst trying to arrange his upcoming wedding, none of the businesses he contacted collected his ‘lead’ information – email, address, phone number; one refused to quote him via email or telephone and insisted on sending a written quote by mail, risking the likelihood of losing out to a quicker response. And then compounded the error by not following up to check on the competitiveness of his quote with the one means of communication that he did have.

Another, more enterprising, individual had set up a direct mail marketing campaign for prospects identified within the target demographic. He had the ability to partner up with other companies offering complementary services, possibly even charging them to advertise, but this was all for nothing if he didn’t collect the lead information that allowed him to start the process.

Scot says: “Client data is your most valuable asset, and thus should be the focus of your interactions during the prospect-to-customer conversion process. With the internet, your competitor is only one page away. If you don’t have the burning desire to get an agreement with your prospect, and aren’t able to efficiently explain the benefits and advantages of your service; you will not close the sale. Easy!”

However good your service/product is, it will still sell better to a local customer through a conversation with your prospect and the sooner that conversation happens during the conversion process, the better.

The most efficient way to close a sale with an interested buyer who has contacted you by email direct is to reply to the email with a phone call, and only mail information if expressly requested. If you can call your contact within hours of the original query, the more likely it is that you’ll get them during their “want-to-buy” state of mind. This is the point where you can invoke buying emotions most easily with little, if any resistance. Not every consumer works this way but it is your job to make the purchase exciting and build your prospect’s want for your service during your conversation by explaining the benefits and value in your product, offering an incentive to make an initial deposit and then emailing a copy of the contract immediately but allowing a cancellation period. This could secure your client before they go to your competitors and is far more likely to produce a positive result than exchanging emails for days without properly ascertaining the client’s requirements.

Scot suggests that all business urls should be linked to an autoresponder that directs prospects to a landing page before they get to see the website. The landing page would collect e-mail, telephone, name, address, and something silly and nonsensical like a favorite color. Attempt to make it fun whilst keeping the buying emotions at fever pitch.

It’s a good idea to offer an incentive to complete the lead form as well. These ‘carrots’ are designed to persuade your viewer to go ahead and fill in the information box. If you use AWeber, Mailchimp or another auto-responder to collect the lead information, these services will automatically send a second email containing the incentive you offered for your lead generation.

Scot gives this example: “I was looking for wedding services so I might make my incentive an e-book with local venues, photographers, caterers and other wedding services with short reviews and comparisons. Maybe have an option to opt-in to offers from my partners who I would also charge to be listed in my free incentive offer for opting-ing. If nothing else, I would simply include a line in my Terms & Conditions that allows me to share information with other recommended and reputable Wedding Service companies that might also he of interest, and simply sell leads to my partners once I have a contract negotiated for my services. The opportunities here are endless if you keep an open mind that’s conversion oriented but also helpful to your prospect.”

Selling in this way is quite a difficult concept for a lot of British businesses. It is almost alien to our ‘nation of shopkeepers’ mentality to try to ‘persuade’ people to buy but, worse, it interferes with our attitude to ‘privacy’ to demand the name and address of every customer before we will do business with them.

This is what I meant about a shift of ethos. Persuasion is not necessarily the object here, it’s making the customer feel that, if only he had your product/service, his immediate ‘need’ would be satisfied. It’s appealling to an innate human emotion and building it up so that it overrides the natural reticence to spend money. And, with their email address, if they don’t buy the first time, you can ‘tempt’ them with other related products that might tickle their fancy in the future. You are still helping them to satisfy that need.

In these days where competition for many target markets is so extraordinarily fierce, combined with an economic climate that is making people more frugal in their spending, every available tool should be used to bolster your selling arsenal.

Scot is looking to connect with other like-minded thinkers and doers via Facebook.

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My first Affordable Small Business Website Design

Well, my plan for world domination has got off to a cracking start.

A few weeks in and my first client is already ranked Number One on Yahoo for his two chosen keywords.

For Google, we have achieved a good slot in Places with a position in the top four on the map for both keywords and second in the organic rankings for a non-directory listing. Not bad for a site that is only a few weeks old.

And this is now starting to translate into telephone and email enquiries.

A good way to achieve this position in the rankings is to use your keyword in the url. So many people want to use the name of their business but, if no one knows who you are, they don’t know who or what to look for.

It’s far better to identify a good search term and try to rank for that. By all means buy your business name as a domain too – you can always forward it to the main site to ensure that you don’t lose any traffic once you become more established.

Working on the basis that Google is a logical machine, if you type in a search term and the spiders have crawled a url which matches that search term, chances are it’s going to be pointing traffic in your direction eventually. However, you can also give those spiders a few clues by raising your hand and calling them over. Giving yourself a ping is always a good idea. As is making sure that you start to get a good selection of backlinks on trusted sites by submitting your site to the local listings.

Even more important is to have a strategy for ensuring that your website contains unique content which is informative, regularly updated and pulls in visitors. Making a blog part of your template is a great way to achieve this. It’s simple to use and very effective.

So, remember the Google Caffeine Algorithm? If your site has good, often changing content, a few back links to show that content is appreciated by other people and some comments to demonstrate that people are connecting with you on the site, then you have the Holy Trinity.

Content. Backlinks. Activity.

And Google will start to notice you.

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