Category Archives: Inbound Marketing

Own Your Own Business: Strategize and Measure

(part 3 in a series of 3)

The corner where Marketing Ave. meets Strategy St.I saw the movie “You’ve Got Mail” again, and a few key points of reality became very clear to me. This blog article captures the third and final part of this clarity.

“The Shop Around The Corner” made two mistakes:

  1. extreme loyalty to its customers,
  2. not reacting to the new competition.

First, loyalty to your customers is not a bad thing, but in overdrive could blind a business owner to trends from their customers. In the movie, Kathleen Kelly had asked a author when her new book was coming out so she could schedule a signing, and the author told her not until January. Some days later, Ms. Birdie Conrad passed by the window of the competition, she saw a sign indicating the signing had been scheduled — with Fox & Sons Bookstore. When you combine this with the trailing foot traffic count and the loss of $1200 in revenue within the first week of the competitor’s opening, you get a profile of a business in trouble.

Second, reacting to changes around your business is normal, almost an evil necessity, but whenever possible should be tamed with strategic planning and measuring. You can plan which buyer personas (a.k.a. target markets) to concentrate on with a specific message and call-to-action (CTA), and how you will follow-up with each person. Next, you must build a sales process to give you a roadmap for engagement with each persona. This includes knowing where each persona is inside your sales funnel, and how you will move them along to the next level: conversion. Without strategic planning, any marketing effort will be watered down to a “spray-and-pray” disability that will hinder growth.

Along with that, if you don’t measure your marketing efforts, you won’t know if you are achieving your goals or falling short. Use a good CRM software like ZOHO or Salesforce to help you track prospects, leads, and client conversions. Perform A/B tests on your landing pages’ CTAs (calls-to-action) and adjust for a better customer engagement experience. Calculate what your conversion ratio is and what types of marketing helped you achieve it. Measure where your prospects and leads are coming from — you may have a referral partner and not know it. Measure all the good and be courageous when looking at what needs improving.

The takeaway:

Be vigilant and flexible to changes in and around your business. Measure and compare your efforts to your marketing and business plans. Are you still on target to reach this year’s goals, or do you need to make adjustments? Are your marketing and sales departments (or hats) working together? Don’t just think you’re successful; know you are.

Ready to mix your regular marketing with inbound marketing tactics? Connect with me by phone, social media or click this link to get started.

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.

Own Your Business: Do Your Homework

(part 2 in a series of 3)

The corner where  Marketing Ave. meets Strategy St.I saw the movie “You’ve Got Mail” again, and a few key points of reality became very clear to me. This blog article captures the second part of this clarity.

As the movie goes: Kathleen Kelly denies, for a good chunk of the movie, that Fox & Sons Bookstore is a threat to her own bookstore. She says it’s a fad, shiny and new, and will wear out quickly because there’s no personalized service and the employees don’t actually read books. Spirited words, yes! What did she do next?

Nothing. That is, until she was encouraged by her friends, employees, and boyfriend. Oh, yes, and by Joe Fox himself, a.k.a. NY152 AOL email/chat buddy, when he told her “go to the mattresses and fight”. She does, finally, but this advice was heeded too late and she ended up closing her shop.

What went wrong?

  1. Denial. Sounds simply and silly, right? Yet how many of us are in denial of a new business competitor? Competition can hurt or help your business, so it’s wise to keep eyes and ears open as to what they are doing. Walk in and take a look around. Notice their products, prices, fliers, POS system — even their lighting.
  2. Complacency. Business owners can get comfortable in their own neighborhood, sometimes too comfortable. They may be okay with competition coming in, not recognizing a potential threat (or boon) to their own bottom line. Research. Find out how the new guy ticks, what their marketing strategy is, what products or services they offer. This critical to not only keep your business afloat, but alive and kicking.
  3. Analysis Paralysis. Business owners can find tips on marketing, sales, and business best practices. Once you find out what the competition is doing, take some time to come up with a marketing strategy to keep in touch with your current clients. If too much time is taken, you can miss an opportunity and lose more than a sale.

The takeaway:

While businesses should stay flexible enough to adjust to trends or offer a special, creating a marketing strategy should never be a reactive response to competition. Marketing should be a continual flow of ideas, tips, and advice (and the occasional sale) to your clients and prospects, keeping your business TOMA — Top Of Mind Awareness — to both. Move prospects through your sales funnel until they convert to customers, one step at a time.

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion in this series.

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.

Own Your Business: Own Who You Are

(part 1 in a series of 3)

Business owner worries about many hats he/she wears.I watched the movie “You’ve Got Mail” and a few key points of reality became very clear to me. This blog article captures the first part of this clarity.

Joe Fox tells Kathleen Kelly, “I’m in the book business.” Kathleen then tells Joe Fox, “I’m in the book business.” According to the movie, both are in the book business, but from opposite viewpoints. Some business owners don’t know who they are, and may not own it until competition knocks on their door. They are the business owner. What does that phrase mean, exactly: “business owner”? More precisely, what “business” or knowledge do they own?

As it pertains to the business, the owner owns all the challenges, all the opportunities, all the risks of owning that business. That seems pretty simple enough. So, then, what part do some owners have trouble with?

Owning who they are.

Part of owning who you are is admitting you might not have been in the right place. I wrote an article a few years ago about the many hats business owners tend to wear. A business owner takes on different roles in their quest for growth and success. They become the visionary, marketer, sales force, accountant, and collections agent — just to name a few. Some business owners aren’t in the right role (or not spending enough time in it), and they don’t know it.

I had trouble with this, too. There. I said it.

By trade and training I’m a graphic designer and have been for more than 15 years. The confusion to my business soon showed to my network as I started asking questions that were more typical of a marketer than a graphic designer. I was also very curious about social media (still am!) and wrote many blog articles about the things I’d learned about SoMe and online marketing. Because of my articles, people began seeing me as a”go-to” person in social media. This caused more confusion; people didn’t know how to refer business to me.

The takeaways:

  1. Clearly define yourself. Make sure your network clearly understands what you represent so they can properly refer the right prospects your way.
  2. Evaluate your network. If your network has your in lists defining you a certain way, step back and review your actions and words. Ask them why they see you in this light.
  3. Read what you write. Go back through your blog articles, podcasts, and Powerpoint voice-overs. Does your current passion match what you say you do? If so, great. If not, are you shifting deliberately or unknowingly?
  4. Promote one business. There are quite a few business owners who own more than one business. It is very difficult to promote more than one business successfully. Step back a minute and ask yourself what you like doing. Focus on your passion.

Through the guidance of my very wise friend and mentor, and some really supportive friends, I have finally decided to own the role of social media consultant and inbound marketing specialist — hence, the birth of Visibly Media LLC!

Tune in tomorrow for the 2nd article in this series: “Do Your Homework”.

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.

3 Top Reasons You Should Write A Blog

As a business owner, you want as much visibility as possible. You could take out paid advertising both online and offline, but it may not get in front of your target market. Moreover, with online ads, you have to depend on someone clicking on the advertisement link. Organic search results are better for being found, and blogging is a strategic way to gain visibility and getting found.

quill and ink bottleThe 3 top reasons you should write a blog:

  • Strategic. You may have similar expertise, offerings, and experiences as your competition. The key word is, similar. Not everything about your business is a carbon-copy to your competitor’s. Writing articles about your business, product or service, and views on trends allows viewers to see YOU as the expert. Include some free how-to white papers for download. Consider writing a monthly subscription newsletter about industry trends and business know-how. Be sure to include a call-to-action on all blog articles. Post article links using the social media platforms your target market and clients are using.
  • Visible. Google is the #1 search engine in the world. Blogging on a regular basis provides fresh content for spiders and bots to index this content to Google, increasing both your visibility and findability. Blogging is also about consistency and timing; make sure you publish each article at the same time on the same day(s) each week. For extra visibility, consider adding your blog to a service such as NetworkedBlogs. Using social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook will help create a culture around your business while increasing visibility. Invite past and current clients to subscribe to your articles.
  • Be Found. As your articles are indexed to Google’s search engine, you will gain new eyeballs. As you build your knowledge database (a.k.a., your blog articles), you will gain new subscribers and followers. Your past and current clients will be updated on your knowledge, offerings, and expertise. As you post your articles and interact with people on social media, more will become aware of who you are and what your business is all about. The more places online you can be found, the more likely you will be found by people looking for your offerings.
  • Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.