Once again, the City Treasurer’s Office and Constant Contact are teaming up to recognize your small business’ efforts and success with online marketing in the Third Annual Email Marketing & Social Media Contest.
Four free educational seminars will be offered to help you learn how Email Marketing & Social Media Marketing can help your business.
Register for the next event on Tuesday, January 29th at the Chicago Cultural Center. See the details below. HAPPY 2013.
8:15 am – 8:45 am – Registration
8:45 am – Noon – Presentations:
* Agenda is subject to Change & Additions
Social Media Marketing Made Simple
This is not Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn 101. Instead, this session will cover some of the strategies and best practices to get the most out of your social media activities including time management and measuring the return of your activities. We will talk about what social media marketing really is, how to incorporate it into your business life without losing productivity and look at how other businesses are using these low-cost tools to gain visibility, develop relationships and drive sales and response.
We will discuss the various social media outlets that are available, how they interact together and ways to leverage their inherent strengths and to evaluate them for best use for your business or organization
Steve Robinson – Constant Contact – Social Media Marketing Made Simple
Social Media for Sales Success
We’ll address strategies and tactics for the small business owner, sales and marketing professional looking to tap into the full potential of social networks to create new profitable connections and generate leads. You will learn how to find your targets, how to build relationships through compelling content and dialogue and how to convert these new relationships into vetted leads. We will look at tools, tips, hacks, best practices and checklists that will help you build a process and a routine to do the most with your precious social media time.
Got an email newsletter or social media campaign that you’re proud of-whether recent, or soon to launch-to promote your business? Send it in for consideration! It could mean great rewards for your business. Any small business can enter their email or social campaign.*
*You don’t have to use Constant Contact to enter
You could win your share of
$7,000 in cash prizes
$10,000 in free Constant Contact accounts
What: Chicago City Treasurer’s Online Marketing Contest Educational Event Series-Social Media Marketing Made Simple-Social Media for Sales SuccessWhen: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 from 8am to 12pm
Chicago Cultural Center
78 East Washington
Chicago, IL 60602
Perhaps this will help inspire you to create one! Mother’s Day is around the corner and I’ve run across some very creative tie-ins from Twitter contests to blog posts! Now, it may be too late (or not) for you to jump on the Mom’s Day bandwagon, but I thought I’d share in hopes of seeing some creative promotions for June which, by the way, is National Safety Month, Adopt a Cat month, National Iced Tea month, Turkey Lovers Month and a bunch of other holidays!
Of course these easily carry over to Facebook and other social networks as well! Please share if you have, or have seen, any great social media strategies that are “calendar” or promotion based in the comments and feel free to comment on these too!
The same reasons that make Twitter so popular are those that make describing twitter problematic.
While that might not makes sense at first glance, once you realize that Twitter has no real product direction or single “primary use” you may begin to realize just how difficult it is to describe (and figure out) Twitter’s relevance as a businesses tool.
Here’s a parallel challenge:
Come up with one blanket statement that clearly describes what our existing land line phone systom does.
Why is that a challenge? Well, in your description you will have had to include all uses of consumer land line phones such as fax transmission, internet connections, VOIP phone line connections, 911 ermergency services, automated home alarm warning services, etc. So, that being said, please consider the technology of Twitter just as complex.
That’s all great, but WTF is Twitter?
The direct answer: Twitter is whatever you can make of it.
That’s probably disappointing, but its absolutely the reason people say things like “I’m still figuring Twitter out” or “trying to get used to Twitter” or “I don’t get it.” The unfortunate fact is, once you create your account you are stuck trying figure out what to do with little to no direction and that takes time most people don’t have. Fortunately there are a lot of folks, like myself, willing to spend way too much time writing stuff like this and trying to help out:-)
10 things you can do with Twitter (for free):
Connect with fans using Twitter by offering relevant information.
Provide updates on your product for active Twitter users (millions & growing).
Improve your website by posting updated information to your site via Twitter (RSS) fed widget.
Offer scheduled information to anyone interested. May included daily, weekly or random information to customers which could include specials, coupons,
Follow experts in many industries for fresh information as it happens.
Post last minute deals, specials, emergency information, etc. to customers or other interested parties (because users choose to follow you we can assume they are “interested”).
Update any RSS capable reader or product connected to the internet.
Get found in real-time keyword searches. *Google, Bing and other search engines are adding Twitter search results to their own first page results and further integration is ongoing.
Have your “tweet” reposted in the streams of organizations followed by tens, hundreds, thousands or even millions of passionate people.
Publicly comment on anything.
So why use Twitter?
First and foremost, because the simple act of posting information on Twitter significantly increases the chances of being found in search engines and because using Twitter as one of your marketing channels makes for a great introduction to using Twitter.
What did I miss? Got more ways to use Twitter? Do you disagree? Please add your thoughts and ideas in the comments.
If you like this explanation, please link to it in your blog posts > Twitter
Inovedia Marketing provides the following services, how can we help you?
Social Media Marketing
We provide training, monitoring, blogging & copy writing services which means we can just get you started or manage and build your social networking efforts!
Let us create your web videos! We have Emmy award winning talent and the know how to create high quality videos & podcasts on a budget. For bigger projects, our access and established relationships with full service facilities means the sky is the limit!
Web Design & New Media Development
Put the web to work for you! From tweaks to complete redesigns, we’ll transform your website into an engaging resource your ideal customers will frequent! Ask how we can deliver highly target-able audiences to your door through new media product development! We can extend your brand, drive traffic and multiply your reach!
General Creative Services
Copy-writing, design services, online and traditional marketing campaign development, contest creation & management. Ad creation including banner ads, print, radio, television, newspaper and direct mail.
FOCUS is the number one obstacle you will face in any “new media,” web or social networking project be it company wide tweeting or starting a Facebook fan page. Without focus businesses “forget” to update websites, they post links customers don’t care about and generally send mixed messages. It’s no coincidence focus is also the number one obstacle in any marketing project! Everything your company does involving new media – even the content – is marketing and the possibilities are endless so it’s very easy slip off track.
Set guidelines “What Would My Brand do?”
Is your brand loud and fun, like the t-shirt above? Use your brand’s “personality” as a guide for what you should post on Twitter or Facebook. A comedy club might post jokes when a Lexus dealership would not. While B2B might connect with customers via Linkedin.com, everyone should consider starting a “brand” account on Twitter in which you only post business related updates, successes, discussion and events. Facebook is an exceptional place for small business owners to connect with customers as “friends” to exercise your personal brand. Everyone wants to know the owner!
Make a plan. Check it, tweak and repeat.
You never really know what any given moment will bring, so executing a plan might be just be your biggest challenge! Whatever you decide to do, make sure you sit down with the calendar you really rely on and schedule it! Schedule daily or weekly updates for Facebook, plan out the next 3 months worth of recipes for your blog. Keeping the plan simple and making it a priority will improve your chances for success tenfold. Create ways to measure your success so you cannot fail! If you were to create a goal to get your regular customers to be your friends on Facebook by sending them email invites you should check your progress in a month or so. If your efforts are stalled tweak your approach. Consider handing out social media business cards, direct mail or contesting. The point is, keep on eye on your progress and tweak it if it isn’t working.
Need help with your online product, projects or marketing? There are many free programs available for scheduling tweets and Facebook statuses and there are ways to have your social media sites monitored (for free) as well. If you cannot be active on the sites, please seek out other solutions because at the minimum you should be reasonably “accessible.” If you are asked questions or worse, taken to task, you need to be aware and you need to respond!
If you need help, there are a lot of resources “out there” that are very cost effective and you’re welcome to shoot me an email or begin a discussion right here in the comments.
You have a store front, so does your competition. You have a website, so does the competition. You might even have a blog, a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account but if your competition doesn’t already, they will soon. So, how can you stay ahead in the marketing game? How can you stand out from the pack, ensure growth and make a difference that will really matter?
Build a community.
What does that mean? It means create a market place where you can provide a product or service to draw like minded individuals or folks with common interests. This could be anything, a blog, a tip newsletter, quote or photo of the day, whatever you can come up with and, if successful, your new market place will provide you a growing community filled with those who need and/or want your service.
Where do you begin?
Identify your ideal customer.
Identify your ideal customer’s needs or wants.
Identify new products that can deliver that content.
Experiment and test your ideas without breaking the bank.
Set expectations and deliver on promises!
Commit to the long term!
Ideal Customers: These aren’t your favorite customers or even your best customers. These are the ones who want or need your product the most. If you make baseball bats you are probably interested in reaching kids who play baseball, their parents or perhaps schools who outfit entire teams.
Identifying Needs & Wants: This can get a bit tricky so ask them! Social media is great for this! If you’re not active on Twitter or Linkedin, start now! Linkedin groups are a great place to ask questions and get feedback but start now so you can get comfortable using the site.
New Products Brainstorming: Successful new products can be as simple as a branded e-newsletter, a blog or podcast and as complicated as an un-branded video sharing site. If you’re an electronics store, avoid creating a gadget blog because there are already so many out there. Your going to have to be much more creative! Investigate hobbiests and other niches, perhaps there’s an opportunity for that electronic store to blog about installing or tweaking car stereo systems. Look at your staff for hobbies and passion to tap into! Testing: If your new product resembles a blog, newsletter or other niche website take advantage of WordPress.com’s free blogs to create test sites. If you’re considering a podcast build a free channel on youtube, if it works you may just end up sticking with it anyway! If you have an idea that’s not working toss it right away! With proper benchmarking steps in place, failing strategies can be quickly eliminated.
Set Expectations & Deliver on Promises: Trust is, with out a doubt, the key ingredient for any community and once you lose it there no telling if you can regain it! It’s very important to be as transparent as possible! If you’re creating a new unbranded product don’t deny or hide the fact that your company is supporting it. If the product is good and solid there’s no reason to hide. If you plan on serving ads begin doing so early-on to set the expectation of how many ads there will be and try to stick to a posting schedule.
Set your own expectation, this is not an overnight process! While marketing costs can often be curbed with good social marketing plans and by utilizing resources and databases you already have, such as lists of email newsletter subscribers, vendors, trade inventory, etc., this is a process that will take time to build and cost you time to maintain!
Commit to the long term: Depending on the community, you may have to moderate or provide content for as long as the product is in place. Understand that to keep a community going you have to be actively involved!
The possibilities are endless! With an ideal community at your fingertips you can speak to folks who are actually listening whether your strategic goals are brand building, product positioning, increasing press coverage, educating new customers, re-educating existing customers, driving traffic, creating buzz or creating new revenue streams. Even more importantly, you can reach folks who are actually interested and that’s an amazing thing!
This morning I ran across a nice article pointing out creative ways small businesses are “unique and different” which prompts me to ask “What would they write about you?”
Let’s finally admit that we’re often too geeky about our product, ads and ideas to see that the differences we’re selling may just be too subtle to be noticed by average Joe Public. Other times we may fall into the trap of putting a lot of effort into selling product differences that, unfortunately, few folks care about. Write down a couple of your products / businesses differentiators and email them out to your colleagues, staff and friends (not your family – let’s not try to sway the vote). See what they have to say. You might just find some new unique and different facets about your own business.
So what would the local paper, a blogger or trade magazine write about your business? If they’re not writing anything… write it for them and send it to them! Well, I’ll save that advice for another day, another post.
Claiming a community of 30 million, Linkedin.com is a social network for professionals offering small business owners vast potential for increasing their bottom line whether they have national, regional or local customers. Here are some straightforward and some “more clever” ways you can tap into that 30 million users to get real results for free.
Make a More Personal Connection: Don’t just offer your Linkedin connection to colleagues and peers. Offering a connection to everyone from customers to clients and venders is a great idea! Doing so shows customers you are online, and more importantly, it’s a meaningful gesture sure to give you an edge on the competition who is probably not engaging customers in the same way. Remember, and this relates to your business too, at a restaurant everyone wants to know the owner!
Make a Great Impression and Improve Your Image: Once you have a Linkedin profile, encourage customers, clients and venders to give you a “Linkedin” recommendation. Here’s why: If I’m looking for a home builder and I Google “custom + homes + your area” your Linkedin.com profile will help you appear toward the top of that search. If I Google your name, there is an even better chance you will be at the top of that search where I can be very impressed by: your many flattering customer recommendations, your well defined business description, expert answers you’ve provided to Linkedin questions (see next tip) and direct links I am now presented with to your website.
Answer Linkedin questions: Regardless of what your business does this will build your brand and promote it in the Linkedin community. One could argue that this is particularly relevant for B2B and national services, but certainly anyone can benefit. By answering questions related to your product, brand or service you are placing your name in front of a large attentive audience and effectively soft selling your services to potential customers! You can also directly offer your services to “question askers” but be sure that your “answer” is actually helpful to the asker or you will be doing yourself a PR dis-service.
Keep Track of important and “not so important” contacts: By connecting to practically everyone you meet via Linkedin you will build yourself a “one stop shop” for keeping track of customers, clients or whomever. You don’t have to keep up with them because as they update their own information it will be available to you. When that time comes for you to make some quick cold calls, reach out for a favor, check in on a customer who hasn’t been by in a while, or quickly push excess product, their information will be sitting there waiting for you!
Test Your Ideas: Join a Marketing group and utilize the “start a discussion” feature to act as a focus group for your marketing materials to test new ideas you have for expanding your business before you take the leap. You will be putting your ideas in front of a large well spoken community of professionals, many of whom are upper level executives and creative types in large agencies who you may otherwise never be able to connect!
Connect with other Small Biz Owners: By Joining a Small Business Group you will find many small businesses owners and other small business resources readily available to you. Some of these will be local to you and some won’t but having the wide and diverse group will serve you well.