First Check out video on the free Sales Funnel Download Tool
First Check out video on the free Sales Funnel Download Tool
In my last article I introduced a concept I call Coupon Conditioning, I also introduced a salon practicing Coupon Conditioning and today I give you my solution.
I enjoy receiving my Groupon emails daily, don’t you? Ever notice how salons are always running promotions? That’s why I choose them in the example above. Here is one way to leverage a service like Groupon in your marketing system:
A salon runs a Groupon offering 50% off a Hair Cut and Style, but also adds a hair wash and condition, style and style consultation. The business normally charges $120 for the haircut and dye, $25 for the wash and condition, $25 for the style and $25 for the style consultation. The total normal cost is $195; Groupon cost is 50% or $97.50. This salon uses Facebook to run weekly promotions. The promotions vary with things like a Free $5 Starbucks gift card to the next 5 people who call and make an appointment and mention they saw the Facebook offer. The salon has signage in the building promoting Facebook and the special offers. In the initial visit the customer’s information is taken and added to a mailing list. The customer is also given a loyalty card which offers a free haircut after 11 visits, and offered credit for two visits if they set-up a follow-up appointment to maintain their new style. A mailer is sent the next day thanking them for their business and includes 3 referral cards to pass out if they liked the service. Business is good.
Big difference here to the previous business right? You see they found a way to increase traffic and get more money for the Groupon deal by assigning value to the package. These items didn’t cost much more money and really do add value, so you can ask for more money. (Warning only assign value to items that actually enhance the experience, otherwise you come off as a nickel and dime biz, you know charging for everything).
Instead of discounting their services on social media, they use a give away costing $25 a week or $100 a month for people who make an appointment. This allows the business to leverage social media while not losing value to the business. The first business didn’t spend any money upfront for social media; they only discounted the service, which ends up costing the business more money after only a few customers.
The loyalty card is used to help with follow-up business. The offer to get credit for two visits cost the company nothing and is used as a tool to close the sale right now. The mailer is used to leverage word of mouth and cost only for the letter, the three cards and postage. I already tell people about businesses I love for free, why not encourage that behavior?
The bottom line: Coupon Conditioning causes your business to devalue your services/products, and it slowly kills your business too. Next time you create a special offer, look to building a package or add-ons to increase value so you don’t have to offer deep discounts to get business.
Today business is tough, even tougher than before. So how does a small business grow its sales? Today with so many discount services out there it’s easy to jump on the “Discounting” bandwagon. It’s simple right; sign up with a service like Groupon, Living Social, etc, begin to bring in sales. Fact: These services have a lot of reach and ability to make your cash register ring. When done correctly these service types can cause a huge influx of sales and even return customers if you do it right, but that’s another article.
Check out this scenario to help me illustrate what I call Coupon Conditioning:
A salon uses a discounting service like Groupon for a Haircut and Dye job, we’ll say the offer is for 50% off. The normal price is $120 so the deal is for $60. This causes a huge spike in business and things seem to be going well. They also use Facebook to run promotions that include deep discounts on the same items twice a month every first and third Friday. Once a customer comes in for the first time they collect their information and add them to the mailing list. Then the next day after their initial visit a mailer is sent offering 40% off their next visit.
This seems like a great marketing system that has been installed. It has a way to reach and attract new customers, uses social media to drive more traffic, and even have a follow-up system in place to help with repeat business. Let’s let the story continue:
Three months after installing this new marketing system something begins to happen, there are warm bodies in the business but the business is not making more money than before the new marketing system was installed and it seems you are working harder than before too! You notice most transactions are discounted and the business is very slow the second and fourth weekends every month. It is decided you need more business the second and fourth weekend and now run a weekly promotion with the same deep discounts. After six months you have fallen behind, with an increase cost in raw products and less revenue regardless of any promotion or pricing change you try. What happened? The customers of this business were conditioned to never pay full price. Coupon Conditioning is to blame.
Wow what a powerful idea! You see at first it seems that this is an awesome marketing machine and it’s driving new business, but later this model got the business in trouble. Coupon Conditioning your customers causes you to decrease the value you bring to their lives. They never expect to pay full price because they simply have to wait a short time before they can receive deep discounts. Now I’m not saying you should never offer deep discounts, we built marketing plans for free, just make sure your marketing system moves you out of this space quickly.
So how can we fix this? Well the obvious answer is don’t build your marketing system only around price, but in today’s world you may need to leverage a service like Groupon now and than. My next article gives you my suggestion, but what would you do this fix this?
Three Awesome Business Networking Events to Jump Start Your Month
It’s the beginning of the month and I thought I would suggest 3 networking events to attend this week in the Albuquerque Area. I plan to attend each event, make new contacts and than follow-up with every new contact for the next couple of weeks. Looking for more tips? Try these 3 Networking Tips from last month’s post.
Exhib-it B2B Expo Thursday, June 7th 5:00pm-8:00pm
Hosted by DJ Heckess and Exhibit this event looks to be a huge opportunity to meet local business owners. This event comes only once a year and presents two different opportunities, first there will be businesses who purchased tables and are there to show their services/products, these people maybe great partners for you. The second group of people are, the business owners walking around at the expo. Remember to shake as many hands as possible. (I got that tip from the Business Coach, Michael Loewenthal) Hope to see you there! You can get tickets for $15 at the door if you didn’t pre-register.
ABQ West Free Business Networking Event Wednesday, June 6th 5:30pm-7:30pm.
This is the best Networking Party in Albuquerque! Every month I meet many great contacts at this event! This free event is one you should put on your calendar every month. Last month I met an awesome photographer who helped take pictures at the Go Local Community Expo.
Rio Rancho Chamber Visionaries Wednesday, June 6th 8:00am-9:00am
The Visionaries meet twice a month and are community focused, plus they get results! Why should you attend this week’s event? We will be discussing the upcoming Maui Money Event to benefit Storehouse West Food Pantry and Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico. This one is free and includes breakfast.
Wow all that and it’s only the first week of June! I hope your business hits the ground running at these events! Want to start marketing your business today? Here are some free online marketing tips.
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Five Free Ways to Market Your Small Business Online-Small Business Marketing Firm
Disclosure: First off this page is a work in progress. I plan to add How-To Videos of how to make the most out of your online listings for each of our recommendations. Now, let’s get into it.
Is your business marketing on a low budget? Are you looking for ways to increase your business visibility online and create sales? Awesome! You’re in the right place! This page will give you five awesome ways to market your business online for free and you of course can grow your marketing budget from there. And if you are finding it hard to know what to say you may need a marketing plan to keep it consistent and you can learn how to get a free one here.
1. Facebook Pages
This one is simply a no brainer! Facebook has so many users if it were a country, it would be the third largest country and a whole bunch of other mind numbing stats. You need to be on Facebook because your customers are. You can set-up a page once you have a personal profile. Simply go to www.facebook.com and click “Create a Page” under the “Sign Up” Button.
Creating a page will give you access to “Insights” which is Facebooks analytics and the ability to promote your page with an ad. Right now they are giving you $50 advertising credit when you hit 50 “Likes” or more. I have written and created Facebook for business training videos and tips page, so I won’t go into the details here.
2. Google Places*
Google Places is the ultimate listing online! This should be considered a top priority. Google continues to dominate the Internet everyday, with more and more people using Google than finding you in the Yellow Pages Book. When someone searches “Your Industry in Your Town” your business will show up on map inside Google. Set-up is quite simple, head to http://www.google.com/places/ and click on where it says to get your business found on Google. It will ask you the basics about your business and allow you to add extras. Make sure you take the time to fill out as much details as you can about the entry. Add as many pictures and any You Tube videos you have for your business. The more complete your profile the better your potential for better rankings.
Once your business listing is complete Google will complete your listing by either mailing you a letter or giving your business a call. If you have more citations or listings in other directories, the more likely you are to receive a call. Check out Google Offers a free way to promote your product or service with deals. And when you are ready, you can also use Google’s amazing platform to run ads to increase your visibility. We Specialize in Google Adwords.
*Google Places will soon be converting to Google Plus Local. We will update this article as soon as all the details are worked out. Learn more here
Yelp is an online community where people can add your business and write reviews about your company. You should take the proactive approach and list your business yourself. First, head over to https://biz.yelp.com/ and search for your business. If your business is already listed claim the listing and make any corrections. If your business hasn’t been listed, go ahead and list it. Yelp will simply send an email to your inbox and you just can verify with a click. This listing is by far the easiest to set-up. Once Yelp approves your listing you’ll receive notification. One cool thing you can do is run Yelp Deals. These are similar to offerings like Groupon and Living Social. You set up a deal, “Save 50% on Marketing Plan”, Yelp will collect the money and keep 30%. The nice thing is this form of advertising doesn’t cost you anything out of pocket, it’s free to set-up and you only pay when someone buys.
Manta is a listing service that is designed to help small business owners grow. It is a little newer so I will explain this one in a little more detail. I found Manta by searching for a local optometrist in my area. That optometrist ended up being listed in Manta. I decided to list my business and really liked the Manta service. Manta has premium listings you can pay for or you can sign up for free. Setting up this listing begins at http://www.manta.com/ and clicking on add your business. This process involves you calling Manta to activate, they will try to sell you the upgrade of course, and then it’s done.
So why do I like this listing service? First, of they have analytics so you can see how many views your profile is currently getting. Next, you can add product pages and even put links back to your page where people can buy your products, this is really similar to Linkedin Business Pages but better. The final reason I like Manta is because they are doing some Search Engine Optimization for you on all search engines as I discovered recently. A simple search on Bing or Yahoo for Marketing Firms in Albuquerque and my listing showed up from their site, of course.
I do have to list a few cons though, first off, if you don’t pay for premium listing when someone views your page they will see ads from local competitors on your page and if they scroll to the bottom they will see competitors from all the areas around you. Next, they rank your listing higher if you are paying for a subscription. I’m currently #6 in their results and I’ve been getting about 40 views a week in the short time I have been listed. I have found that the more complete your profile is, the better you rank. I think this one definitely has potential to increase your traffic and sales.
5. Blogger or WordPress
This last one I fought over for a few minutes before I decided to list them both. These two sites are blogging platforms. Why blogging? From a Search Engine Marketing Perspective this would be key. Now you can build your whole site on one of these platforms or add a blog as a supplement to your online presence and talk about a specific topic to a specific audience. What to blog about? Your company’s expertise, how it’s made, or customers, are a few simple topics and the topics are unlimited. Blogging can be a big part of your marketing plan tools. You can use this platform to direct all the listings from the four places I just listed, and create sales or leads if done correctly. These platforms could be a whole other article so for now, I’ll stick to the differences between the two.
Blogger is a platform owned by Google. It is easy to use and it’s free. I know a local business owner who uses this platform and has much success with it. Visit http://www.blogger.com to learn more. It makes sense that this platform can increase your online visibility since the worlds largest search engine owns it.
WordPress is another blogging platform and my favorite platform to use. Now WordPress gets a little confusing because there is wordpress.org that is self-hosted, meaning you pay for hosting and have complete control and WordPress.com that is free and they host for you, but limit some cool things that the self-hosted platform comes with. This site is a self-hosted WordPress site and I love it. You can start for free with a wordpress.com blog and later move to a self-hosted site if you wish. To get started visit http://wordpress.com.
So now you have it, Five Free Ways to Market Your Small Business Online! Whew! Are you ready to get started? How about one special offer? I will list your business and get you started on Google Places for FREE! If I list your business you will not only get a huge value from my expertise and save time to run your business, but you also get my proven copy writing skills too! This may sound too good to be true and I have to say I will ask you for one thing. I will require testimonials from you to provide for future clients and ask for referrals too. (No Referrals need to be given if you don’t think I do an amazing job for you). This offer is limited so please take advantage of it today. Simply fill out the form below.
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Business is hard, hard to get one going, hard to keep one going. We have no control over what the external forces have in store for us, we can only control how we respond to them. How successful we are at responding depends on how well we utilize good business principals.
In the day to day operation of business there are things we must do, things we want to do, and of course, the things we do not want to do. Let’s look at the “things we do not want to do”; this is most likely part of the 20% that the Pareto Principle refers to.
Cold Calling, no one likes to cold call (well, most everyone), we hate the answer, ‘no’ we hate people not returning our calls, we hate it when people do not take our call and we hate it when they say that they are “all taken care of”, especially since they have no clue how much better we can make it for them.
Cold Canvasing, this is the act of walking into a business, any kind of business without an appointment with the hope of speaking to the decision maker. For many people, this can be a scary thing to do. Personally, I prefer this to the cold call.
Following up, the act of calling back people you have called 813 thousand times before. “Call me back in two weeks…” we have all heard this countless times, and we follow up (most of us anyway) and guess what, they are never there or they say, “I haven’t had time to go over what you sent me, call me in two weeks”, two weeks later, the same story. Over and over we do the follow up with little results to show for it.
Sounds eerily like the definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. No, we are not crazy, doing what we don’t like is all part of a process that needs to be in place, ask any successful person.
What is important about all this is that it is part of a process, good or bad, it is a process, and every business requires processes to operate on. If the processes don’t work, then they can easily be changed. Without processes, systems, all you are doing is shooting from the hip, and just as in the days of the old west, most gunfights where the opponents drew their sidearm’s and fired at each other, missed their intended target. Shooting from the hip does not work. The exception here is, it only works for the extremely proficient, well trained person and even they only shoot from the hip in rare cases.
The duck always seems to float along effortlessly on top of the water. In reality, beneath the waters surface their webbed feet are paddling constantly, the muscles in their legs, the connective tissue to the joints, and the muscles in their body all work together in harmony to move the duck where it want to go. There is a system in play here that works for the duck and it makes it appear effortless for the duck to get from point A to point B.
Have processes, systems, in place for your business, do them daily. It does not matter if you are a retailer, a service provider, a distributor, mortgage broker, insurance sales person, or a commercial cleaning company, without a system to follow, you are just shooting from the hip, and one day you will shoot yourself in the foot. Worse yet, you could be like a duck without webbed feet.
What are you going to do to take your business to the next level?
What do you listen to in your car, music or CD’s/tapes to help you in your business/sales.
Do you implement, do you know what to implement.
Lost opportunities a bound when systems and processes are not active.
“Opportunities are never lost. The other fellow takes those you miss.”~ Anonymous
Coach Michael Loewenthal of Albuquerque NM is a ‘Main Street’ Coach,helping businesses overcome obstacles through coaching, process development, marketing plans, and training (sales, cust’ svc. etc) and how to PROPERLY run a business. Professional Speaker-Trainer, Learn More about The Business Coach
As a Small Business Owner sometimes we think of our business as Small “Big Business.” We market services like big business, but different. Your small business is actually “weird” when compared a to big business. Marketing thought leader Seth Godin came up with “The Weird.” Which I think sounds weird? But it actually makes a lot sense, let me explain: In big business you are always looking for ways to take a product and make it scalable so you can produce for the masses. When Steve Job’s took over Apple again in 1997, after being booted out, he found their products were being specially produced for certain merchants. He quickly reduced their product line by 70% to just 4 products. This would prove to be invaluable in Apple’s journey to becoming the powerhouse brand that is today.
Apple’s example also presents a huge opportunity for the small business owner. Since most big businesses are focused on economies of scale, you don’t have to be. You find a niche or under-served market and simply serve that market, maybe the one that apple stopped producing for. Serving specialized and catering to specific markets is what Seth refers to as “The Weird.” It’s creating products or services and marketing them to smaller groups, something big business doesn’t understand. You don’t have to be the Jiffy Lube in your neighborhood, but rather the Toyota specialist.
We can use this notion of the weird with our small businesses by focusing on products and services in markets where needs or wants are not being met. This can also help with your positioning as an expert in a specific field or for example, the go to person for computers software built out for a specific industry not available at big box retailers.
By focusing on industry specific needs you can leverage your time by increasing exposure to the market and increase value since you are so specialized. Some businesses can grow off that one niche, which is a small business advantage. Another benefit is you can than develop cross-markets as time goes on to grow your business too. Think of your business and who you market to today, can you find a under-served niche and step to serve that niche?
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Next weeks Virtual Networking Event will include Cheif Consultanting Officer for Core Strategy Group Mr. Craig Brinkley. Mr. Brinkley consulted with Diet Coke executives to help bring the brand to the number two soft drink brand in the US, only second to Coke and beating Pepsi. Be ready with a pen and paper so you can have key strategies in building your brand.
Sign up Below:
Expanding on the SEO Training we hosted in December, here is quick tip to increase your Local SEO Plan:
Remember the Long Tail Strategy? Example: I search “Italian Restaurant in Rio Rancho” and not “Restaurant.” Simply add your address and/or neighborhood to your pages. Sounds simple enough? It is. Sample Page:
Title: Rio Rancho’s Favorite Italian Restaurant
Body: Compelling Content Complete with Call-To-Action
Footer: Address of your business
After this has been completed head to Google to get them to index this page PRONTO! Not sure what this means? Check out our free SEO Training for Small Business Owners!
Also don’t forget to list your business on: Google Places, Merchant Circle, Yahoo, Yelp and Bing Not sure how to do that? I can do it for you…for free! Plus I’ll get you on Fran Tarkenton’s GoSmallBiz.com, subscriber site over 65k monthly visits, simply fill out the box below and I will contact you within 24 hours to get your business found by potential customers.
As a writer, as well as a dedicated user of social media, it is sometimes a challenge to keep coming up with topics that are interesting and engaging. Yes, you heard right–even I struggle as a weekly blog writer from all the research and information I read.
Topics and content are what secure your social media following. Without interesting content, no one wants to engage, and then all the time and effort you put into social media becomes futile and a waste of time. At the same time, you cannot just write about some random topic that has no relation to your industry just because some people may find it interesting. If you are using social media, you have to realize that you cannot reach everyone. What you need to do is discuss things that are relevant to your industry, and valuable to your followers/fans.
The power of social media is undeniable. It assists in building rapport, can increase web traffic or even bring in walk-ins! That is why content is so very important. Social media can be the fuel behind your business, and content is the fuel for your social media. What you need is a source for your content, your fuel, that will not only help you get over that crippling condition known as writers’ block, but make your social media postings a “must read.”
Everyone needs a little helping hand, so here are some tips that will help to make sure you never run out of fuel for your fire.
1. Get Everyone Involved!
The amazing thing about people being different from one another is that everyone has an opinion, a perspective and general way of looking at things that are fresh, new and exciting. This is why it is a great idea to get all of your employees involved in your blogging and social media activities. They may have ideas about content that never once occurred to you, or have a new way of approaching a topic that to you seemed boring and useless. If you have a FAQ (frequently asked questions) area on your website, or a place for comments or concerns, have employees write blogs in response. That way, not only are you answering customer questions and solving potential problems, but you are creating content that is relevant and valuable to your following from multiple points of view. And just to make sure that all blogs and postings are formatted the same, you can create templates! Go to contentrulesbook.com for some template ideas.
2. Use an RSS Reader to View Your Subject Specific Blogs at a Glance.
Every writer needs a source of inspiration. One tried and true method is to study the subject you want to write about by reading what other experts have already written. You can sign up for a free RSS Reader that will allow you to see all of the blogs you are subscribed to in one place instead of hunting the Internet for interesting topics to write about. As always, Google is an amazing resource for just about everything. Google offers a free RSS Reader (Google Reader), as well as a place for you to go and search for and subscribe to blogs that are relevant to your industry. If you have a few different areas of interest, you can divide them into categories which will make it easier for you to scan and pick out what you want to talk about. As with all writing, you must make it your own. Combine the new ideas you have read about with your own creativity and ingenuity to create a blog that is new, exciting, and full of valuable and relevant content.
Also try using Google Blogs for their search option to search the blog directory sites such as Technorati
as shown below or Blogcatalog to find blogs that are relevant to your product or service. Be sure to organize your RSS Feeds into folders and sort by category for ease of scanning and you can combine the topics by industry classifications with your own commentary to create posts that stand on their own.
3. Use LinkedIn Groups.
The internet is a constant source for finding tools. Some of the tools offered do not appear that way at first, so you must open your mind and look at everything as a potential resource. One resource you may not have thought of is LinkedIn! I know, it seems crazy to use social media as a social media content resource, but used the right way, LinkedIn can be an effective tool.
There are hundreds of groups discussing hundreds of topics, and believe me, people have no problem expressing their opinions. Join groups that are relevant to your industry, and again, take advantage of experts in your field being willing to share their knowledge. It is never a bad thing to look at things from another’s point of view.
Don’t be shy, everyone does it. And it is truly a great way of finding out what the average Joe is interested in. Of course you do not have to listen to everyone’s conversations at all times, but keep an ear out for key words that are relevant to your niche in the world. You can even go as far as carrying a little notepad and pen around with you so you can jot things down as you hear them or even better use Evernote to make it easier to remember things whether big or small, using your computer, the web or even your phone. You can do this while waiting in lines, sitting on the train, or an airplane, or eating out are all good opportunities to hear what interests the average consumer.
5. Audience Participation.
Here is a concept that seems obvious but is so often overlooked: ask your audience. Post something on Facebook or Twitter asking what THEY would like to read about. Many times your followers and fans know exactly what kind of advice they want from you, and they will not hesitate to tell you when given the chance. You can also take polls, surveys and ask questions to find out what the general public is interested in learning from you. Your client base is the backbone of your business, so do not forget about them. You write blogs so they will read them, so who better to go to for subject matter?
6. Audio Books.
What on Earth did we do before the Internet? Oh yes – we read books! We sat down and actually took time out of our day to study, research and learn. Of course I understand that we do not always have a few hours to just drop everything and read a book, but that is why they invented audio books! You can be driving down the highway and still reading, but in a much safer way. The basic point here is not to get so wrapped up in the up and coming way of doing things that you forget about our old friend, the book–believe it or not, they are still around. Check out eMusic or Audible for a nice selection of titles to choose from.
Call it old fashion, but you should never forget our old friend, the forum. Do a simple web search about forums in your industry and see what is going on. This method is simple, fast and effective, so why not use it? You do not even have to tell people where you found your information if you don’t want to.
8. News Sources.
Isn’t it terrible to be behind the times on current events? Well, there is a way to avoid that…keep up with current events! These days there are an infinite number of sources available for news no matter what topic. You can use sites like http://www.AllTop.com or Google News that will allow you to search current events by area of interest. You can find news about your industry from all over the world and instantly have a topic to blog about or share with your fans. Just take a look; you will be surprised what you can find.
9. Go To Events.
I know this one kind of seems like a no-brainer, but just like getting feedback from your audience, this tip is often neglected. Attend meetings, conferences, seminars, webinars, tradeshows, or any other kind of face to face event relevant to your industry. It gives you a chance to learn the up and comings of your industry as well as gather interesting new content to share with your following. Try setting up your own Meetups, Tweetchats, Conferences or Webinars through a wealth of events hosted both on and offline and on a weekly basis with so much free exchange of wealth of knowledge and ideas. You will be left inspired with new ideas and new-found energy to turn those ideas into remarkable content.
10. Merge Your Unfinished Ideas!
If you are anything like me, I am sure you have a plethora of half-finished blogs hanging around, just waiting for something to be done with them. Today is your lucky day, because I am going to share with you how to turn them into a workable, post-able source of information. Go through your blogs and see if you can find a few with related topics, then merge them together–simple as that! Not only have you freed up space on your computer, but you have just created an amazingly informative blog out of ideas you never thought would go anywhere.
11. Try Making a Tag Cloud.
You can use entire conversations based around your keywords that are relevant to you to build a tag cloud. Look for 15 tweets that mention your brand, industry or product and drop them into a tag cloud application such as Wordle. This is a site that is a toy for generating “word clouds” from the text you provide. These clouds give greater prominence to your words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can also tweak the clouds you create with different fonts, color schemes and layouts. The images you create with this tool are yours to use whenever you like. You can print them out or even save them to the Wordle gallery to share with all your friends. You may even find keywords you may not have thought of in addition to a few surprise topics of association. This is a great way to find emerging trends to blog about and stretch your content dollar!
DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
Full BRAIN Marketing
About the Author
DJ Heckes is Founder/CEO of Full BRAIN Marketing, LLC – a Woman-owned small business headquartered in Albuquerque, NM and author of Full BRAIN Marketing for the Small Business.