Tag Archive for 'online marketing'

How are moms finding your business?

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.

Listen to or download the interview here

Small Business Advocate Homepage

A prediction becomes reality

Last week I compared the evolution of websites to that of social media adoption. I proposed that two things were likely in the future for small businesses: 1) They may be more likely to have a social media strategy than have a website; 2) More and more would employ both a website and social media to cross-collateralize content and e-commerce capability.

This line of thinking got me wondering how you’re using these two customer-connecting tools right now. So in our poll question last week we made this request: “Please choose one of these four options for how you connect with customers online.” Frankly, the answers surprised me.

Almost one-in-five respondents said, “We have a website for our business.” Of course, this would be way too low for this answer, except that we also offered this choice, “We do both - website and social media.” Those who chose this one represented more than 70%.

A very small percentage of our sample said they used social media as the sole method of connecting with customers online. In time, I believe this will change. And thankfully, those who admitted that they didn’t connect with customers online at all were also a small number of our respondents.

The good news I’m taking away from our responses this week is that my #2 prediction in the first paragraph is coming to pass sooner than I thought. Small businesses increasingly understand that in order to be relevant in the 2nd decade of the 21st century, you have to be prepared to use all methods of connecting with customers, the traditional and the new.

Recently on my radio show, The Small Business Advocate, I talked more about the connections between social media and websites, now and in the future. Take a few minutes to listen and tell us how you use social media in your efforts to connect with customers.

Comparing the evolution of websites and social media

What is the relationship between social media and websites?

Websites and social media will work together in the future

Don’t forsake your small business marketing strategy

It’s virtually automatic, sadly, that when the economy softens, businesses cut marketing first. And like many reactions, this one is almost always the wrong thing to do.

Marketing shouldn’t be an expense. When properly created and executed, marketing should result in more dollars in than dollars out. But before you get the idea that I’m some kind of Ivory Tower egghead, believe me, I understand how difficult it is to commit marketing dollars when dollar availability is declining due to a recession.

That’s why marketing in the 21st century is so exciting. Small businesses have sooo many more ways to penetrate the market including, and especially, on-line marketing. This universe has many characteristics that are perfect for a small business’ need to be efficient and flexible. For example:

1. Virtually all activity can be monitored – very close to real time.
2. Testing is easy – making adjustments is easier.
3. There is no marketing activity that is less expensive per unit of opportunity.

One of the most recent improvements to on-line marketing is the increased effectiveness of local search. Now a dry cleaner, restaurant, auto mechanic or any other business that serves a local market with traditional store-front products and services can use pay-per-click strategies that they only pay for when someone is looking to buy what the marketer sell in that market area.

Every small business should be investing in some level of local search key word marketing. It could be the difference between failing and surviving, or surviving and thriving.

Recently, on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I interviewed a couple of my Brain Trust members who know all about the power of on-line marketing. First, Robert Bly, author of Fool-Proof Marketing, and then Carolyn Rhinebarger, Chief Brainstormer at Strategic Guru, Inc. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear what these world-class experts have to say. And, of course, be sure to leave your thoughts.

For Bob Bly

For Carolyn Rhinebarger

Small business and the whole SEO thing

A website is your small business’ portal to the billions of Earthlings who are on-line. This thought is exciting, but before you get too worked up answer this question: Is your website structured to maximize SEO?

If you don’t know what SEO is, that means there is a great likelihood that your website is a digital wallflower wearing birth-control glasses (heavy black frames, thick lenses, circa 1960), when you need it to be partying in cool shades, 24/7, all over the world wide web.

So what is SEO, and how do you get it? First, follow me down memory lane for a few seconds.

For decades, a business relied heavily on a utility – the Yellow Pages of the phone book – to provide a gateway to prospects. In the 21st century that gateway is a search engine and, of course, the big daddy is Google, followed by little brothers Yahoo, MSN, and others. So, SEO stands for - search engine optimization.

Virtually every day search engines visit your website by sending digital probes called “spiders” which “index” the pages you have available to the public so that when someone does a search for something you’ve said or your company offers, you can be found. But search engine spiders are fickle and finicky; they like the red on their candy the way Goldilocks would: ju-u-ust right. So if your candy – I mean pages – aren’t “optimized,” your stuff will get indexed but, sadly, not very well. Think of it like this:

The late comedian, George Goble, once lamented about himself, “Did you ever get the feeling the whole world is a tuxedo and you’re a pair of brown shoes?” Well, if your website is not optimized, it’s a pair of brown shoes while your competitors’ websites are probably partying in their tuxedos.

If I’ve caused you a little discomfort, that was part of my goal. The rest of my goal is to get you to contact an SEO expert – today! These are really smart people who don’t have a life and have to be locked up at night, but they actually know what kind of candy search engine spiders like, and they can help you put a nice pair of black patent leather shoes on your website so it can be invited to more parties.

One of those SEO experts is Jim Baldwin, from NSPSO, and he joined me on my show recently to talk about the whole SEO thing. I promise you’ll learn a lot of SEO stuff by listening to our conversation. And don’t forget to leave a question or a comment.

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