In this week’s video I offer advice on executing an online strategy within your small business.
Archive for the 'Online strategy' Category
How much of your sales can you attribute directly or indirectly to your online presence - website, social media, etc.?
5% - 100%
10% - More than half
12% - About half
55% - Less than half
19% - None
I long for the day when we stop talking about an online strategy and simply go to market with online tools as part of our plan. But until then, since so many small businesses have far to go to effectively and successfully incorporate online resources into their business model, I have to keep asking questions like the one we asked in our online poll last week.
The good news in our poll results is that 81% of our small business respondents see at least some business performance from their online strategy. I’m going to have more to say about this in next week’s Feature Article, including a comparison to past surveys on this topic. Stay tuned.
Be sure to check out my segments from The Small Business Advocate Show with guest Kathy Perry. Kathy is a nationally known social media speaker and trainer with more than 25 years experience in technology sales and marketing strategies.
Click HERE for interviews with Kathy Perry.
Last time we talked about focusing on developing customer communities as a way to find relevance through your online strategy, including website and social media. Now let’s strengthen this relevance by focusing on values.
Increasingly, prospects will turn into customers, and customers will become loyal, because they’re attracted to what your company stands for. They are looking for evidence of your values in your online elements. For example:
- Are your brand elements – brand promise and image – all about you and your stuff, or do they sound like something that would benefit your customer community?
- When delivering information to the community, is it all about you, or does it contribute to helping customers?
- What is the tone of your marketing message? “Tone” is how brand messages are incorporated as you serve the community, from crassly commercial to almost subliminal. You should strike a tone balance between making a sale and serving the community.
In a world where everything you sell is a commodity, value – product, price, service – is the threshold of a customer community, but values are the foundation. Anyone can find value, but when customers like your values, they tell their friends. Indeed, the most dynamic and potentially viral element of any online community is the feeling members have about your values. But remember, that “feeling” can go either way – positive or negative.
Here are a few guidelines for establishing compelling values online that match your values offline:
- Acquire and use the technology that makes online community building possible.
- Create an environment where an online community can flourish around the value you deliver and the values you demonstrate.
- Serve and protect your customer community, while accepting that you cannot control it. As customer members come and go, and say what’s on their minds, maximize the positive and repair the negative.
Once community members find your value and like your values, prospects will turn into customers and customers will turn into your best salespeople.
Write this on a rock…
Build and serve customer communities by delivering value and demonstrating values.
For more great Small Business Advocate content, click HERE
Here is a question many small business owners ask: “Do we need a social media strategy if we have a website?”
The answer is the same as for why you have an email address, even though you have a phone. It’s not an either/or decision; it’s both/and.
Clearly, your beautiful website is also very handy: cyber address, digital brochure, e-catalog, virtual store, etc. But as versatile as it is, there is one increasingly important capability you need that a website isn’t good at: community building. That’s what social media does.
By my definition, social media is much older and more comprehensive than the popular Johnny-come-latelies, Facebook and Twitter. Your social media strategy includes everything you do to build, connect with and serve customer communities, including: the new stuff, email marketing, customer loyalty programs and, the original social media, face-to-face.
What are these communities? Do you have one?
In the old days – like 1999 – your customer list was just names on an accounts payable report or sales forecast. Today, those customers are part of your business’s community; the rest are prospects who are becoming interested in you. But unlike the passive customer list of old, this community is functioning and has expectations you have to meet, or they will join another community.
At the risk of hurting your feelings, once customers find you, returning to that beautiful website of which you’re so proud will be of decreasing interest to them. But the good news is that anything you have that’s new – product and how-to information, order status, special offerings, etc. – is of increasing interest to customers. They just don’t want to have to come back to get it. More and more, customers are saying to businesses, “I’ve seen what you offer and like it, but I won’t be returning to your website much, because I’m very busy. Why don’t you follow me home?”
This is what customers and prospects mean when they join your community by giving you permission to connect with them and send them stuff by email, text messaging, Twitter, Facebook, etc. They just want the new stuff, including updates to your website.
Connect with and serve your customer communities by following them home with all social media resources. That’s how a small business transcends merely being competitive by being relevant.
It’s both/and: Build and serve customer communities with a website and social media.
I’ve talked a lot about building online communities on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. Click here to see all my interviews on social media, but first, let me know what you think about building customer communities.
How are moms finding your small business? Stacy DeBroff joins Jim Blasingame to talk about why more moms are looking for your business in the online communities they hang out in, not necessarily your website.
Stacy DeBroff is founder and CEO of Mom Central Consulting.
For some time now, I’ve been encouraging small business owners to buy and use a smart phone - the kind that allows those cool mobile apps to be downloaded - like an iPhone or a phone with Google Droid operating system. The reason is because mobile computing is the future. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google said he expected Google to be more successful in the future with mobile than they ever had been with the desktop.
We wanted to know what kind of hand-held communication device you were using, so last week we asked this question: What kind of mobile phone do you have? Here’s what our small business audience told us:
Those who said they used some kind of a smart phone, represented 53% of our respondents. The rest, 47%, said they were still using a regular cell phone. Based on industry numbers about the smart phone adoption rate of all users (27%), our survey would indicate that small business owners are employing smart phones to a higher degree.
I love it when people listen to me.
On The Small Business Advocate Show, I’ve talked with Chuck Martin, author of the new book, The Third Screen, many times about the future of mobile computing and creating a mobile strategy to remain relevant in the 21st century. Click here to see all of the conversations I’ve had with Chuck on this important topic.