Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Social Media Fitness: Learn to Weigh the Progress of Your Social Platform

I finally went out and bought myself a bathroom scale. For years I had avoided weighing myself, saying things like “I go by the fit of my clothes. If they get too tight I know it’s time to lose some weight.” But the reality was, by the time my clothes were too tight, I had already put on 5-10 pounds and bought a new wardrobe.

Some fitness experts recommend you weigh yourself daily so you catch the weight creeping up at 1-pound gain not at 10 pounds. The same applies to measuring your social engagement activities. Are you making positive progress or just putting on the weight of more to do?

Now instead of a bathroom scale, I recommend you go out and buy yourself a fabulous spiral notebook. This will be used daily to track and measure your “Fitness Level.” Here are 5 simple things you can do without even breaking a sweat.

Plan your menu and set your weekly goals:

1. Plan your menu. Write down your content strategy each week. What events or promotions do you have coming up? What are 5-10 tips you can share with your on-line community? What ideas do you have for your blog? Having this content strategy is like having a bowl of fresh fruit out on the counter. You will avoid those mornings when you don’t know what to post so you go for the junk food…or unfocused content.

2. How many new “FANS” do you want to attract this week? Growing your fan base takes consistency. By posting great content you will get fans to STAY and ENGAGE with you, but you also have to let new people know that you have this community and that you want them to join in. If you use Facebook for personal and professional networking, share a post or two each week from your PAGE with your personal profile friends and ask them to join you. (Use the SHARE option on the bottom left of your PAGE, instead of SUGGEST TO FRIENDS so you can add a personal message.) Be sure you schedule a couple tweets telling people to join in, and if you send out an e-zine or newsletter, tell people how they can find you on Facebook.

3. How many new connections do you want to make on Twitter this week? We all know that it is not just about the numbers on Twitter. You must be strategic and target the audience you are trying to attract. Use search tools like http://Search.Twitter.com or go to http://Twellow.com to target specific industries or keywords.

4. How many posts will you commit to this week? Blogging drives traffic to your site and shows your expertise. Commit to posting at least once a week, but if you enjoy writing and can put out several short posts each week…even better!

5. Now at the end of each day take out your measurement notebook and track the following:

• How many new Facebook connections or new people who have LIKED your page do you have?
• What is the level of engagement? How many people commented, shared your content or LIKED your posts? This will help you determine whether you are meeting the needs of your community. Don’t worry if your numbers are low at first or on occasion. Catch the 1-pound weight gain and make adjustments.
• How many people clicked through from your PAGE to your website? (If you use http://Bit.ly to shorten your links you can track how many have clicked through. Using Google analytics on your site will do this as well.)
• On Twitter, how many FOLLOWERS do you have at the end of the day?
• How many people ReTweeted your content? ReTweets are the sign of great content being shared. When your community is not passing on your content, it is time to make adjustments to your posts. Keep track of what type of content DOES get passed along.
• How many comments did you get on your blog posts? This will help you keep your focus on providing great content, inviting comments at the end of your post with questions or even a bit of controversy.

So let’s get out that scale and start tracking our progress. You will learn a lot about what is working and what is not. Obviously, increased sales is the ultimate goal and should also be tracked (Where did this new client hear of you?), but don’t let your daily activities go unmeasured.

How are you tracking your progress? What works best for you? Share your wisdom with us!

Gina Schreck
President & Co-Founder of Synapse 3Di, LLC

Gina writes and speaks about technology and how we can use it to connect and engage with our communities. She is the author of “Getting’ Geeky with Twitter: Build Your Business and Manage Your Brand with Today’s Hottest Social Media Tool”, and she is also the host of GETTIN’ GEEKY, a popular web show that makes learning about tech tools a little less scary. You can find Gina on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Marketing on a Budget Part 4: Business to Business.... New Media

So what do you need to do differently if you are a business to business marketer.

In most cases, you will still want to focus heavily onyour website, SEO, and e-mail marketing. You will also want to consider Social Media for B2B. This is still very new, but the internet rewards first movers in many ways, and there are some clear opportunities for those who can navigate the unchartered territory.

Ask Questions and Listen

Where are your customers "hanging out" on-line?
Which media are influencing their purchasing decisions?
Depending on industry firewalls and security may rule out some media.

Establish Implement Your Strategy

Set yourself up to succeed. Choose a reasonable plan that is consistent with your resources. Even though social media is "free" it really isn't and for this reason alone, many plans fail.

Use Social Media to drive leads through e-mail subscriptions.

Mix Free content with paid content, and increase your revenue streams and opportunities.

Use Social Media to promote your events, meetings your attending, and tradeshows... this is a great way to connect..... and start the conversation.

Turn cold calls into warm connections. Use the search features within Linked In, Facebook, etc. to find people at specific companies or with specific job titles. Get introduced to these people, and then set up sales calls.

Amanda Wodzenski is a regular blogger for the WSBA, and the owner of CRMastermind, a consulting company that specializes in CRM and e-mail marketing for Small Business. Visit her blog Your Small Biz Technocoach.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

5 Tasks You Should Outsource Today

Virtual Assistants are talented, on-call independent contractors who work with successful small business owners to help them generate more revenue, gain more free time and do the tasks they do best in their business, while outsourcing the rest!

Some Virtual Assistants are one-person shows, but Virtual Assist USA (owned by WSBA Member, Danielle Cuomo) is a multi Virtual Assistant firm that offers Virtual Assistants in every area a business owner could possibly need assistance with.

Below are 5 tasks that a Virtual Assistant can do for you:

1) Manage social media campaigns: A Virtual Assistant can create an entire social media campaign for you, or simply maintain the one you already have.
2) Build and maintain a website: A Virtual Assistant can be more cost-effective than hiring a marketing firm, which charge upwards of $5,000 per site.
3) Bookkeeping: Virtual Assistants, like the ones at Virtual Assist USA, often have many certifications in this specialized area
4) Create a public relations campaign: Public relations is something that so many small business owners often overlook, but shouldn't - because PR is free buzz!
5) Search engine optimization: Virtual Assistants will formulate an entire SEO plan for your website and ensure that you are visible on the search engines!

Virtual Assist USA is a Virtual Assistant Firm whose clients range from CEOs to mom-entrepreneurs… internet millionaires to start-up businesses. Learn more here: www.virtualassistusa.com

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Marketing on a Budget Part 3: Business to Consumer.... New Media

Now we are ready to get to the juicy stuff: Websites, Blogging, e-mail marketing, and social media. Many of these tools are free or very low cost.

Initially your website should just be a simple site, and contain basic information about your company, products, and services. Your website will validate your company. It is important to keep your costs low in the start-up phase. Keep in mind that you will likely want to make several changes within the first year, so do not spend too much time or money on the initial design. If your business and brand are established, it makes sense to put more resources into your website and to focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Many business owners steer clear of blogging because they feel they cannot make the time commitment. Blogging is an effective way to grow your business and build your brand. Start with a weekly post and recruit guest bloggers to ad value and take some of the pressure off.

E-Mail Marketing
E-mail Marketing still offeres tremendous return on investment. Some programs are even available for free. start with a monthly e-newsletter. Focus on great content - with teasers to drive traffic to your blog and your website.

Social Media
Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Foursquare, Flicker, Digg, and the list goes on........ If you are new to social media, start with a personal profile and a business page on facebook, as well as a LinkedIn profile. Use these tools to build your business connections, improve relationships, and engage your customers. Let your network get to know you on a more personal level, while focusing on your business.

Keep in mind that there is a cost to using any of these tools. Everytime you blog, post, or e-mail you risk your "friends and followers" losing interest. Everyone is overloaded with information these days. Keep the content interesting and relevant --and you will keep your audience.

Amanda Wodzenski is a regular blogger for the WSBA, and the owner of CRMastermind, a consulting company that specializes in CRM and e-mail marketing for Small Business. Visit her blog Your Small Biz Technocoach.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Marketing on a Budget Part 2: Business to Business......Old Media

This week we will continue to explore "Marketing on a Budget" Some of the strategies from last weeks post may be good for your B2B Small Business, and some are not appropriate. This week we will take a look at specific strategies for the business to business market.

Get Referrals
Spend time marketing to and building relationships with people you already know. This takes less time and effort than cold calling, but depending on your network may not be sufficient to build your business. What is your referral strategy?

Cold Calling

This is a tried and true method that has survived the ages. To get the best results from your cold calls, you will want to have a script and a targeted list available. Be prepared to leave voicemails, handle objections, and more. There are many resources to help you target your list. Check out Pittsburgh's Carnegie libary website. A library card will get you access to some powerful databases. Warm calls are better, but more on that later. When cold calling, be sure to follow all do-not-call laws or you could get stuck with a hefty fine.

Speaking Opportunities
Create speaking opportunities. Research upcoming conferences and fill out speaker applications.

Develop Partnerships
Partner with other large and small businesses to cross-promote each other's products. Focus on businesses with similiar customer base.

Reduce Direct Mail Costs
Strategize for reducing costs include using postcards, use 2 color (instead of 4), consider third class mail, and most importantly really target your lists so you send less mail with greater probability of success

Reduce the Cost of Media Buys
Ask for discounts and Renegotiate contracts. Prices are almost always negotiable, and you may be able to get a lot more for your dollar.

New companies often make the mistake of hiring expensive advertising agencies that are not able to deliver low-cost marketing programs. If you are considering hiring, look for success stories specific to business your size.

Amanda Wodzenski is a regular blogger for the WSBA, and the owner of CRMastermind, a consulting company that specializes in CRM and e-mail marketing for Small Business. Visit her blog Your Small Biz Technocoach.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Marketing on a Budget Part 1: Business to Consumer...... Old Media

The typical small business owner does not have a huge budget for marketing, especially in the early phases of the business. Yet, without new clients the business cannot survive or thrive, so marketing is a must. Here are some high impact - low cost marketing strategies to get you through the early years. This will be a 4 part series..... and I will start first with Old Media, because I think we are forgetting some tried and true marketing methods in favor of the New.

Neighborhood Marketing
Select a neighborhood or a few neighborhoods that you would like to target for business, and put together a campaign. Your campaign can consist of knocking on doors, leaving door hangers or small bags with info, menus, coupons, grand opening specials, refrigerator magnets, etc on the door. To get the best value for your efforts, try to talk with everyone in the neighborhood personally, and leave something every 2-3 weeks for the first few months. After you have "established" yourself or your business in the neighborhood, you can market less frequently incorporate some direct mail, and/ or hire someone to walk the neighborhoods for you.

Create Media Hype

Send press releases to all regional and local newspapers and publications. Create a "newsworthy" story for your business, and this will go a long way to help you build awareness for your business in the community.

Local Events
Find ways to promote your business inexpensively within the community; through fundraisers, festivals, conferences, chamber events, networking events, and more. Look for events with a large draw and low exhibitor fees. Use a personal touch to engage your prospects.

Celebrity Endorsement
Can you get the endorsement of a local celebrity? This may be easier than it sounds and free or inexpensive. Offer free products in exchange for their endorsement. Do you already have a well-known client? Ask your friends for help.

Consider Radio Advertising
Radio advertising is typically much less expensive than television, and allows you to target your demographic well.

Print Advertising and Direct Mail
Be very selective with print advertising and direct mail. Both can be expensive with minimal results when not used correctly. Consider using coupons as part of your ad. or direct mail promotion to help drive traffic to your business. Print advertising and direct mail are best reserved for those with a very focused market and a focused audience. If your audience is broad, and a publication or mailing list is broad... marketing dollars may be better spent in some of the other areas mentioned.

Next Week: Part 2: Business to Business...Old Media

Amanda Wodzenski is a regular blogger for the WSBA, and the owner of CRMastermind, a consulting company that specializes in CRM and e-mail marketing for Small Business. Visit her blog Your Small Biz Technocoach.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Do you have any idea how many people you actually know? Kristen Wolf tells us that scientists have researched this question and discovered that on average a person knows roughly 2,000 people. And, he or she stays in contact with 500 of them on a regular basis. Who makes up the 2,000 people? Friends, families, colleagues, neighbors, clients, teachers, hairdressers, accountants and lawyers are among this group.

Networking, or creating contacts with people, strangers or acquaintances alike, has become a popular way of doing business in the last five years. Take a look around and you will see ever-increasing opportunities to meet people from all walks of life. Whether you are a business-owner, seeking work or already working, networking is a staple. It’s a fact that well-networked individuals have greater job security, will find new employment faster and have a steady stream of
prospects in the pipe line.

So, how does it work? First, you attend networking events. If you have never done so, ask a friend or associate to come along. If you don’t know where to go, check with people and find out where they network. You can check local papers, do a Google or Yahoo search of your area or call local chambers or business associations. Networking events are a bit like dances. If you are an introvert, then you will need good strategies for meeting new people. If you are an extrovert, you’ll take to networking easily.

Regardless of your personality type, there are rules about networking. And, even if you come home from a networking event feeling pretty good because your pockets are bulging with others’ business cards, you must follow up in order to turn those contacts into customers, clients or careers. Networking is about building relationships, which occurs over time. Just as with family and friends, the way to build and maintain relationships is to keep in touch.

Here are a few tips that will help you make the most of networking:

Most important, enjoy yourself and be yourself. There is no need to put on an act when meeting new people. You will click with some and not with others. That’s okay! You can’t network with everyone.

1. Write a simple note after you meet someone with whom you want to stay in touch. Handwritten notes are opened right away and it’s harder to throw them away. You've seen such notes tacked on bulletin boards. Be brief and mention something about your conversation that trigger the receiver's memory about you and where you met.

2. When you update your business card, send a new card to your contacts.

3. Update contacts on the progress and outcome of referrals they have given you. Send a thank you note or small gift for referrals.

4. Make matches. Put people together who can be helpful to each other or who have something in common. Ask them to let you know how the connection turned out. People who are known for their ability to make matches will receive more referrals from strangers.

Always give referral or support. There is plenty of work for all of us and it is always nice to be remembered as a generous giver. And, remember to have fun. It won’t take long before you become a seasoned, successful networker.

Barbara Schwarck leads Clear Intentions, an international people development company that offers Neuro Emotional Coaching™, training and assessment services to leaders and professionals who want to create exciting new possibilities for their future. To find out more about how to get rid of your leaky roofs or any other triggers or get a copy of Barbara’s book called From Intuition to Entrepreneurship: A Women’s Guide to Following Her Dream, visiting www.clearintentions.net.