You’re Crazy Not to Be Using LinkedIn for Your Business

LinkedIn should be ranked among the big three of social media sites, right with Facebook and Twitter. But LinkedIn is actually more valuable for your small business because in contrast to its rivals, this social-media site focuses specifically on business. Quite simply, you won’t have people on LinkedIn posting about how good their oatmeal tasted today.

How smart businesses are using LinkedIn

You operate a business. Your time is scarce. So why should you worry about LinkedIn? Listed below are some ways your peers (there are 1.3 million small-business owners on the network) are using it to their benefit:

  1. Sharing wins: Promoting your successes is just good marketing. It makes you look good to prospective customers. And with 2 million C-level executives utilizing the site, you might find yourself with a few influential new friends.
  2. Getting referrals: LinkedIn makes it easy to get peer and client endorsements for the work you are doing. Best part? When someone endorses you or writes a testimonial, everyone within your network sees it in his or her activity feed. This kind of social proof is the BEST way to get new business.
  3. Finding new talent: If your small business keeps growing, you’ll definitely need to hire new employees. LinkedIn is a great place—scratch that, it’s the BEST place—to find new players to add to your team.
  4. Promoting events: LinkedIn’s event feature is a game changer! It’s never been easier to spread your message and boost attendance for upcoming events. You can also use their service directory to find a caterer for your gathering. Simple.
  5. Boosting website traffic: A little-known secret about LinkedIn is that it’s very influential with Google; if you have a presence on LinkedIn, you’re apt to see a jump in search engine visibility, too. More clicks = more customers!
  6. Getting answers: LinkedIn is a goldmine for advice on operating a successful business. You can uncover great advice from some of the savviest business minds in the world in LinkedIn Answers and Groups. There are over 2000 groups focused on small-business-related topics.
  7. Finding investors, vendors and partners: It’s a networker’s paradise. Whether you want some capital, a new accounting firm, or a business partner, you’re not going to find a better resource than LinkedIn.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, people. Pay a visit to LinkedIn and set up a page for your small business. Trust me; IT’S WORTH YOUR TIME.

Facebook Is an Awesome Tool for Business, but Only When Wielded Awesomely

With nearly 10 billion users, Facebook is easily the most well known social network in the world. If Facebook were a country with a seat at the U.N., it would possess the third largest population, behind China and India. And like China and India, Facebook (should we call it Facebookistan?) features its own unique customs and norms, and you need to understand and respect them so that you can capitalize on the site’s potential as a tool for promoting and expanding your small business. When I see local businesses faceplant on Facebook, it’s often because they don’t invest the time to understand Facebookistan’s customs.

Tread lightly

What makes Facebook so distinct among all social networks? It’s the fact people that use the site have strong connections with one another. Everyone is connected with their best friends, their immediate family members as well as their close relatives. They share intimate parts of their lives. Stuff like:

  • Birthday celebrations
  • High school graduation footage
  • Baby photos
  • Wedding announcements
  • Anniversaries

The upshot for business owners? They need to be conscientious and careful within their technique. You can’t use the old kinds of one-way, direct-response marketing on Facebook, since people aren’t there to listen to sales pitches. They’re not necessarily in a buying mindset. They’re in a socializing mindset. You have to respect that.

Keep it real (for real)

If you try to port the old style of marketing into Facebook, you will be disappointed. The natives will get angry and shun you. “With Facebook, marketers of any size can do effective, word-of-mouth marketing at scale for the very first time,” says Annie Ta, a Facebook spokeswoman. “But Facebook is all about authenticity, so if your company is not being authentic or engaging with customers in a manner that feels genuine, the community will see right through it.”

Don’t be fooled: It’s meant to be hard

Don’t be fooled by social media “gurus” who make ridiculous promises about effortless Facebook success. Social media is all about creating relationships and influence—and this requires time. Many organizations believe that if they set up a page on Facebook, that’s all they need to do. Marketing on Facebook is definitely an extremely effective way to reach local customers (we wouldn’t be talking about it if it weren’t). But here’s the rub: it’s also challenging (and rewarding) if you’re doing it correctly. The payback is well worth the investment in time and attention. Based upon a study from Social Media Examiner, nearly two-thirds of small businesses involved in social media say that Facebook has improved their overall marketing effectiveness, and 80 percent report forming new partnerships after just two years of participation.

Why It’s Essential to Engage in Social Media

Way back in the day (last year) it was a relatively simple undertaking to rank your pages in Google’s search results. Optimize the pages, have decent, unique content and create a slew of backlinks to them.

Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case!

Google, in their quest to develop a more relevant, social collection of search results, has made the game a bit more intricate. In addition to making sure we are still performing most if not all of the aforementioned tasks, social signals are now playing a vital part in the Google search results algorithm, the formula designed to determine where our pages rank in the search stratosphere.

What in the name of Twitter are we supposed to do?

Here are three simple ways for you to enhance the level of engagement with your brand, increase the size of your prospective audience, and favorably increase word of mouth about your business.

  1. Use images and videos – Like it or not, we are now a society that thrives on images. Most would, whether by time necessity or purely visual stimulation, prefer to watch and see instead of read. According to Facebook pics and vids attract 53% more “likes” than text alone.
  2. Do it later in the day – Customer engagement in the form of likes, shares and follows, are occurring later in the day, according to this infographic. (See, you wanted to check it out, didn’t ya!)
  3. Be quick to respond – Getting people to respond to you is hard enough: don’t leave them hanging! Make sure you develop the practice of replying to comments, tweets and status updates as soon as possible. You’re wanting to engage, not find a way avoid this!

Don’t be like Freddie!

Professional golfer Freddie Couples was asked once why he never answers the phone. His reply was, “there might be someone on the other end.” Don’t be like Freddie! Engage with your followers!

Do Your Marketing Emails Look Terrible on Mobile Devices? That’s a Problem

Email marketing is tricky enough without us making the task even more complicated. With mobile email open rates rising quickly, it can be a virtual death sentence for your business if you neglect optimizing your marketing emails for small screens.

Mobile email open rates are on fire!

According to a study by Knotice.com, mobile opens accounted for 36 percent of all email opens in early 2012. Also, it’s by far (by 74 percent!) the preferred method of communication by online adults. And it’s not just phones on one platform either. ReturnPath reports that iPhones account for 59 percent of the open rate share, iPads 26 percent, Androids 14 percent and Windows phones and devices less than 1 percent. The takeaway here is that it’s not simply phones, and not necessarily on the move.

Some tips for optimizing your marketing emails

So just how do you go about optimizing your marketing emails? Not to fear, we won’t leave you in the lurch! Here are some must-do tips that really help make sure your messaging shows up the way you’ve intended it to!

  • Keep your messages short. People, especially on mobile devices, have a short attention span. Make punchy, enticing subject lines and material that keeps your reader engaged.
  • Keep image files small, as large files take significantly longer to load, you don’t want people exiting before they even get a chance to see what you’ve got!
  • Keep your font sizes in your main content at least 14, and headlines around 30. Anything below 13 will get automatically changed by the iPhone, and can wreck your formatting.
  • Make sure any calls to action are big enough for easy tapping. The average adult fingertip measures around 45 pixels, so keep that in mind.
  • Test your emails on different platforms before sending them out. Better safe than sorry!

Optimizing your emails is not a choice if you’re wanting to win with email. You must get on this today, as you can be sure your competitors will!

The pros and cons of developing a mobile app for your small business

Mobile site or mobile app? That is the question. Do you require one or the other, or both? Understanding your businesses’ needs goes a long way toward helping you decide if you should invest the time and money necessary to develop and put into play a mobile app for your business. Does a mobile app make sense for your company? What are the costs, both in building one and in maintaining one? Have you got anyone capable of updating it? You need the answers to these and many other questions in order to really make a wise decision. Let’s take a peek at some of the pros and cons.

The Pros and Cons of creating a mobile app for your business

Pros:

  • Over 50 percent of adult Americans are employing smartphones for consumer and business purposes
  • Keeps your brand prominent in the marketplace
  • Increases customer retention and loyalty, as the app is constantly in front  of them
  • App users typically spend a lot more time on apps than on mobile sites
  • Usually load faster than mobile sites
  • Available offline, though they would need to login to buy, or perform any other action

Cons:

  • A mobile app needs to be developed for each platform, iPhone, Android, Windows, or any other platform
  • Mobile apps require ongoing care, both as regard fresh content along with technology updates
  • Mobile apps are not as easy to optimize as a mobile website
  • Mobile ads may well serve the purpose
  • Apps can be extremely expensive! If you go the Do It Yourself route, be prepared for a lot of headaches, as they frequently break, and need to be updated.

We all know there are as many uses for an app than you’ll be able to imagine, however some are better than others. This is an example of how apps were developed in the health care market. By ensuring your app is useful and not a mere novelty goes a long way toward helping you make your choice. While it’s a given that you require a mobile version of your website, the question of whether or not you should shell out what might be big bucks for an app is one you ought to examine carefully. Take the time to weigh the pros and cons for your business before you leap into developing a mobile app!

Green Marketing

Green marketing: a smart move for your local business!

Don’t look now but Earth day is here again, and so this might be a good time to take a look at how Green Marketing could benefit your company by appealing to your environmentally conscious consumers. Green marketing is not only a sensible way to preserve our dwindling natural resources, but it is often a deciding factor with regards to consumer purchasing decisions. Beyond the benefit that Green marketing has for our environment, it could work magic for your company’s public image also! This is turning out to be a critical factor for many individuals weighing where and who to purchase from these days. There are a growing number that will opt for an eco-friendly choice over another company isn’t simply on that fact alone.

How can you attract socially conscious consumers?

Getting the word out in your normal media is an important path for many companies to emphasize your green practices, improve your public image, and generate overall good will. As outlined by a report by D S Simon Productions, “media initiatives with a corporate social responsibility focus generates 35-50% more positive media coverage on television, radio, web and social media than comparable programs without the CSR hook”. Developing “green teams” within your business can get employees involved and help brand your business as one that truly cares about conservation and the green initiative. Organizations like EarthShare can help.

How Arya Cleaners went green and it worked!

Arya Cleaners, a dry cleaner in Chula Vista CA, went all in for green marketing and it paid off handsomely. Updating their natural gas burning water heaters with a new technology that transfers heat from the boiler to their commercial laundry machines, replacing their company vehicle with a fuel efficient clean burning delivery van, and also by using wet-cleaning technology that reduced their use of PERC (perchloroethylene), a harmful chemical solvent used by dry cleaners, by 90%, are a few of the steps they took.

This lead to Arya Cleaners being named a CoolCalifornia.org Small Business Excellence Award Winner, being a Certified Chula Vista Clean Business, and being given the Mayor’s award for excellence in 2009 for green friendly business practices. Arya has got it. Branding themselves as an eco-friendly business in a business where there are few that are doing so made a huge difference. Take steps to embrace green marketing today, and discover if it doesn’t have a positive impact on your bottom line!

Website Management – Doing a Doctor’s Check Up for Your Business Website

Just like your body, your business website also requires a check-up. It’s easy to let things slip, and the consequence of that would be a steady decline in traffic, reputation and ultimately sales. This is a rather insidious way for you to lose traction with your site, as you don’t immediately see it occurring. But it’s very real, and will have very real results.

So in the spirit of prevention, listed below are 5 ways you can make a huge difference in terms of how your sites appear, operate and prosper.

  1. Are your pages loading quickly? – It’s been said you’ve got less than 10 seconds to load your page or the majority of people will abandon and head for faster, greener pastures. If your site is image heavy, and packed with flash, you may well want to optimize for faster performance. Moreover, Google will punish your site in the search rankings should your pages load too slowly.
  2. Old products, programs, links lurking – Be sure you remove any old product, programs and links that are no longer relevant. Nothing says your page is stale and dated more than your PDF download from 2008 that’s not only dated but unavailable. Dead links and 404 pages will also not help your search rank, either.
  3. Stale content and old images – Likewise cull out text and images that are no longer topical. All those great pictures from 2007 which feature people no longer working with you can probably be archived, don’t you think? People and search engines are usually after fresh, current content!
  4. Refresh your social media – Ensure that your social media buttons not only link to your current social media sites, but that you’re up to date with them.
  5. Fresh content – Nothing will help nearly as much as fresh, updated content, consisting of posts, videos, audios, and images. If you have posts on the first page of your blog that are older than a month, you really should rethink your content strategy.

Break out your virtual stethoscope and start breathing. Your visitors will thank you!

Even though it has been a few months since Google merged with Google Places to become Google Local, there is some confusion as to exactly what this new entity would grow to be. No longer. One shining example of what is possible for small business is the Google business page for BakeSpace.com. They’ve utilized all of the features such as hangouts, video and more to garner more than 330,000 users inside their circles. Companies are waking up to the massive opportunity that lies within Google Local and are finding fantastic ways to use it for finding buyers and prospects.

Let’s discover you can do that too! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Make your Google Local page stand out! – The most crucial element of this is to ensure that your page is totally filled out. Be sure you complete all text areas that are asked for, as this is important to Google. Use plenty of images, since the ranking of your page appears to hinge on how many images and videos it has. Not to mention that you’re able to present a terrific visual of your site and wares.
  • Use the search function to prospect – Using Google to look for prospects and hook up with potential customers is incredibly easy! The search bar at the top of your Google page can help you find folks that are discussing your niche or company. Add them to your Circles and begin the connection process!
  • Engage with Google Communities or video – A very good way to leverage your Google Local page is by engaging directly with your people in Google ‘Communities’ or via video chats. One amazing example of a company that has gotten this down is Cadbury. You can also lead people to enticing offers and coupons which can be accessed directly from your website. This is an brilliant method to convert Google visitors to onsite buyers.
  • Use Google Hangouts as a media channel – There are a variety of ways to use this versatile tool to pump up your business. You can conduct webinars, training sessions, online press conferences, offer free consults (related to your business) and possibly even host your own show. Google records these sessions, sends you the file, which you can then upload to YouTube. Beginning to see the possibilities?

I hope you’re realizing the possibility of what Google along with Google Local, YouTube and the rest of the Google suite can do for your business. Get started on Google Local today!

5 Powerful Online Reputation Management Strategies You Can Count On

Spend any time wondering about your online reputation management? That’s what I suspected! According to a study by Erik Qualman of Socialnomics.com nearly three-quarters of consumers report they trust the information provided by online reviews. Also some 80 percent have changed their mind about choosing a product after reading only one negative review online, and more than 84 percent reveal the fact that they see online reviews as being a trusted source of information.

This adds up to one simple fact: when those negative reviews or complaints appear, (and they will!) you need to take them very seriously and take countermeasures to reduce the negative effects!

Let’s have a look at five proven strategies to do that.

  1. Look at your brand’s search results frequently – Look at your company’s name in Google at least once a month. Google Alerts can be helpful to let you know if there is any conversation regarding you, your company name or your important keywords. Be sure to look beyond page one, as damaging entries may be lurking there on their way higher.
  2. Respond to negative content promptly – Make an effort to contact the source of the negative content as soon as possible, especially if they are a disappointed customer. Be polite, helpful, and seek to address their concerns in a positive manner. DO NOT get into a flaming match with them. You will be the loser every time!
  3. Optimize your pages with your company name – Make certain your company’s name is prominent within your optimization, especially in keywords, tags, and titles. The greater number of of your site’s pages that bear your name, the more chances Google will see your site as the authority for this keyword (your company name) and rank you higher, particularly because most negative content won’t have done any SEO.
  4. Create more content channels with your brand – You can use free blogs like WordPress.com, Blogger.com or even subdomains of your own site for this, along with your social channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and Google , will help keep your company name prominent. Post fresh content to these channels also, so they hold on to their search positions.
  5. Ask for reviews – Your very best option for an effective online reputation management tool is to ask your best customers for reviews. Don’t be pushy, but encourage and even reward reviews. This is also your best source of social proof!

Follow these tips to defend your good name! Trust us…you’ll be glad you did.

Use these marketing automation tools to free up time and money.

When marketing your small business online is truly looked at and laid bare, it’s hard to ignore the mountain of tasks that face you and your staff every day. Feelings of being overwhelmed and the uncomfortable suspicion that you’re forgetting something are always present. Every one of us face this. Online marketing is monstrously complex beast, and to tame it you have to employ some forms of marketing automation to handle the amount of moving parts that marketing in multiple channels necessitates. Not doing this is practically choosing not to compete. Let’s examine some ways we can apply marketing automation.

Cool tools for marketing automationautomate your services

There are oodles of great tools available that you can spend your time and money on, for our purposes here I’m going to concentrate on three areas that can be enormous time sucks and possess the most potential for return on investment.

Email Auto-Responders – Possibly the most important thing to automate, as without employing this type of tool you’ve got virtually no hope of building a customer email list. Loading up your autoresponder with marketing messages can help you give both new customers and prospects alike the feeling that they are being well cared for. There are several great email companies out there that will handle this seamlessly for you, such as AWeber, GetResponse, iContact, MailChimp and more.

Social Media – Checking and running social media campaigns can be a logistical nightmare if you’re not using some sort of tool. There are plenty of good ones out there that enable you to keep track of and post to your social platforms. Take a look at HootSuite, TweetDeck and Buffer.

Automate tasks As we all know there are lots of small tasks that need attention daily, or the entire house of cards may fall down! Some of the better tools to come down the pike of late are the development of task masters like IFTTT and Zapier. These tools, (similar in intent and application) can be lifesavers in regards to automating tasks between two different services. Very handy, indeed!

Be mindful that you’re not automating too many aspects, especially customer service. Specific things require your touch, and this is one of them. Do yourself and your business a favor and look into automating at least some of your online business today!

Facebook Ads – The Image is the Thing!

Utilizing Facebook ads generally is one of the most expedient and effective ad platforms for getting visitors to your sites, offers, and for many other purposes for your website. A Facebook Ad campaign is a snap to get going, has great demographic targeting tools, and can be up in minutes. One thing to understand is that the key to receiving the best results and return on investment (ROI) is through the use of the most appropriate and effective images available. It has been shown that imagery is 70-89 percent of the success or failure of a Facebook ad campaign. Let’s have a look at some useful tips to get the most from your Facebook ad images.

5 Awesome Tips for Facebook Ad Images

Creating an ad that produces a real impact and statement for your product or services is a matter of standing out from the rest. Here are five ways to do exactly that!

  1. Use high quality images – Because your images are going to end up quite small, make sure you’re purchasing from a reputable resource. Fotolia and iStockPhoto are two of our faves. The XS size of available images is going to be fine, as even these are going to be cut down to the size of a postage stamp. (110×80 pixels)
  2. Crop your photos to deliver maximum impact – Crop your photos carefully to focus on the most important aspect of your ad. Cropping faces from the eyes to mouth is the most impactful technique for riveting people images. Also, be sure that your model’s eyes have life. When using product images, get close!
  3. Employ eye-catching colors – Using bright, visually arresting pics will do wonders for your clickthrough rates. Too many people opt to blend in with the pervasive Facebook blue, and thereby consign their ads to a form of “banner blindness”.
  4. Choose the best looking images you can find! – Unless you are going for a certain statement, choose the most attractive photos you can find. Everyone is attracted to beauty. Period. This is not to say that sometimes beauty can’t be trumped by cute, funny or outrageous.
  5. Use humor whenever you can – All of us love a good laugh. If you have the opportunity to inject humor into your ad, don’t miss it! This will surely result in a higher clickthrough rate!

For some terrific examples of these ad-image principles in action, check out this great article at Search Engine Watch.

No email newsletter? You’re really missing out!

Many businesses are of the opinion that the e-newsletter is a tool from days gone by, when we were all connected to dial-up Internet via AOL and “surfed” the web like a herd of turtles with Netscape. Though the e-newsletter has existed a long time, it is still a valuable tool that you will do well to employ. This is perhaps even more true today than before. Anytime you can communicate more effectively and connect with your audience in a meaningful fashion is a useful one. An e-newsletter is an extremely good method to use, build authority and ultimately drive sales. The Direct Marketing Association tells us that every $1 spent on email marketing creates $40 in revenue. Aweber reveals that 77% of small business owners report increased revenue by using email.

Your e-newsletter doesn’t need to be boring!

You might have opted in for an e-newsletter in the past and been decidedly unimpressed. Been there, done that! However, your e-newsletter doesn’t need to be has as bland and un-sexy as those. Here are some eye-catching examples of E-newsletters that rock! What’s more, every major email autoresponder service has a wonderful array of newsletter templates, if you are hesitant or unable to design your own. Make sure you engage your readers by resonating with what interests them. Kayak, for example, isn’t simply attempting to tell you about the latest, greatest travel deals, but goes out of their way to sell the idea of travel.

Quick strategies for an engaging e-newsletter

Here are some tips for creating an e-newsletter that gets opened and acted upon!

  • Speak as if to a friend – Everyone loves to hear from a trusted friend!
  • You want to encourage communication – Be sure you give your readers every chance to respond and use specific calls to action to ask for it!
  • Be specific! – Don’t stray from your topic, and most importantly, don’t be boring!
  • Offer useful content – More than anything, offer content that’s fresh, useful and that resonates with your list.
  • Hit emotional hot buttons – Stirring up emotion makes your writing come alive, and will frequently promote more reader engagement.

Don’t permit this golden opportunity to reach your list in a more substantive way slip by. Create an e-newsletter today!

While at first glance it would make perfect sense that the smaller, more agile entrepreneurial companies amongst us would be by far the most innovative. You’d think this would be true. And you would be wrong. It’s not for a lack of trying or desire. It’s simply that smaller businesses lack the R & D budgets, the staff, and the vision that larger companies can commission.

Clearly, the challenge for small business innovation is to break past the glass ceiling managing to keep it from innovating, and actually get into the game! Fewer than half of small businesses were brought into being as a result of a new idea, according to a study by Erik Hurst and Benjamin Wild Pugsley of the University of Chicago. They state that most new business is another “Me-too” venture, offering the already crowded marketplace another grocery, plumber or florist. Little innovation required, and thus little growth.

So so how exactly does a small business get from the morass of just another business to one that is offering new and exciting services and products people are clamoring to try?

4  Ways to generate a culture of innovation in your business!

  • Encourage innovation – Rewarding your employees with tangible perks for helping to implement new and innovative initiatives is a simple way to help launch your company’s venture into innovation. Seek to create a buzz around discovering new and better ways to conduct  business and improve products and services.
  • Understand your markets’ needs and desires – Keep abreast of the latest trends and ideas within your market. Make sure to be hooked in to all the news and views that are effecting your company, and take action on what you hear and see!
  • Be sure to connect with your existing customers Listening and taking into serious thought what your customers say about not just your business and products, but about what their wish list would contain is paramount in helping to understand a direction you might want to investigate. Keep the conversation focused on what are the customer’s problems, and make use of those to help create solutions!
  • Be ready to try something new! – Don’t be scared to be innovative. A great example of a company willing to fill a need is Behance.net, a Web-based platform for creative works, where artists can show their work regardless of their resumes, aiming to turn more ideas into reality.

5 Proven Mobile Marketing Strategies for Businesses on a Budget

Local mobile marketing can be a virtual goldmine!

But you wouldn’t realize it studying the marketing activities of most local businesses…

The age of the smart phone has arrived but many small local business owners are still in the dark ages. They are playing catch up with their customers and their behavior. An interesting Web.com survey showed of 500 small business owners showed on 26 percent of respondents invested time and money in optimizing their site for mobile devices! What does this mean for small businesses? It means this is a excellent time to stand out from the crowd. The mobile customers are ripe for the picking and you’re in prime position to reap the rewards!

Since we are now seeing more than half of all searches happening on a mobile device of some sort, the time is now to take advantage of this. Listed below are five proven ways mobile marketing can help small businesses on a budget.

  1. Optimize the Site for Mobile Users – Google did a survey and found that 61 percent of consumers will leave a website if it is not properly optimized for mobile users. Without a mobile optimized site, the rest falls by the wayside. The site needs to be mobile friendly and available on all platforms.
  2. Look into Mobile Ads – Mobile ads are cheap and efficient. This may sound surprising but right now lots of the inventory goes unsold every month which keeps the prices down. This makes it a prime time to jump in and explore the concept of mobile advertising.
  3. SMS and Push Notifications – SMS messages (text messages) have a great open rate. According to Frost and Sullivan, they are opened at an amazing 95 percent! Push notifications are also an execllent method to stay in touch with your clients who choose to opt-in.
  4. Combining Mobile and Your Social Media – Nothing says social media like real-time connections with your customer base. This is the latest trend and the smallest of businesses can get in on the trend by combining their social media site with a mobile devices. Combine specials, events, coupons or just link a YouTube video to create buzz. Then Tweets and traffic will soon start coming to your web site. Next thing you know your site’s search engine ranking will start climbing and so will your Google . But the best part is, you’ll be connecting with your client base in a real-time way and they will provide you with valuable feedback.
  5. Location Based Marketing and Passbook – Your small business must be found on the web. Up to now, it meant Foursquare and Yelp. While this still is true, you also have to begin investigating new technology like Passbook in addition. Passbook is a great new app that enables its user to keep all kinds of things like boarding passes, gift cards, coupons, store cards, coupons and all sorts of mobile payments.

The most important thing for local businesses is to gather knowledge and constantly keep learning. Remember, it doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t need to be extravagant. You just have to begin where you are and never stop learning.

5 Things You Can Do to Move Your Business Ahead of the Competition

Anyone who’s tried understands that small business marketing is not for the faint of heart. Promoting your small business depends upon doing certain things and doing them effectively. The amount of competition we face nowadays is breathtaking, and working out how to get your pages delivering online is tricky.

Here are five necessary steps to get ahead of the game!

  1. Create a Marketing Plan – A comprehensive marketing plan is crucial to success. You don’t want to leave something to chance. It should be well planned. Map out every marketing element, and how you plan to get it done. At the very least, it should paint broad strokes to success.
  2. Social Media Marketing – Not just a time waster! Social media is often an enormous source of website traffic and new business. As reported by MediaBistro.com, 91 percent of experienced social marketers see improved website traffic due to social media campaigns and 79 percent are generating more quality leads.
  3. Build a Mailing List – MarketingProfs.com reported emails averages a ROI (return on investment) of $40 for every $1 spent. This far exceeds keyword ads ($17) and banner ads ($2). Don’t be misled into thinking collecting and building an email list is dead. If you don’t build a list, you are failing to build your business! You just can’t afford to leave such a large source of potential profits for your competition.
  4. Video Marketing – Connect with all the local traffic that’s out there in search of your business. Video marketing in this space is a relatively untapped vein, and having a simple video advertising your wares on page one of Google may result in tons of traffic and authority coming to your web site! According to the research company Forrester, any given video stands about a 50x better chance of appearing on the first page of Google than any given text page.
  5. Gain a Mobile Presence – Microsoft reports that by 2014 mobile browsing will overtake desktop browsing. If your company does not have a mobile presence, then you will become invisible. Therefore your small business’s website better start optimizing for mobile users and it should do it quickly. Right now, the numbers are encroaching on the 50 percent mark. Are you ready?

Don’t Make the Mistake of Going It Alone!

No one is a superhero and you don’t have to be. The realm of online marketing is always changing and evolving. You need to learn what is working now, learn from the best, and hire the best outsourcing you can find. In the end, it will pay off greatly!