It’s All About the Backups, Baby

We’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled small business marketing article to discuss a necessary condition for all marketing success– backups of your data.

Yesterday, my faithful MacBook Pro went kaput (that’s the technical term). While I wait for word from the Apple repair center, I’m not worried. Everything is backed up, and I have access to all the files needed to keep my clients’ marketing ships afloat.

However, many people live in nervous fear over what would happen if their computer fails. Here’s a secret: computers are machines, and machines will fail. If your business depends heavily on data, you need to have a backup strategy.

To keep your marketing data safe and working for your business, here’s a checklist of what should be backed up.

Marketing Data Backup Checklist

  • Graphic design files – Your small business used significant resources creating graphics for your various marketing campaigns, and hopefully the designs are robust enough to use for future iterations.
  • Video files – Video creation might be one of the most labor-intensive parts of your marketing strategy. Backup the source files, along with the completed videos.
  • Stock purchases – Stock content like photos and video often represent a significant investment.
  • Campaign analysis documents – Those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. You’ll want to keep your tracking and analysis data safe.
  • Website components – Most websites contain both a design framework and a database for content. Make sure both of these separate elements are regularly backed up.
  • Web services account names and passwords – No one remembers their email marketing provider, analytics service and social media account information. If you lose you browser history, you’ll need a backup of this information.
  • Contacts – For both customers and partners, including email, phone and address information.

Since you probably hire professionals for some of this work, you’ll also want to check with your partners to make sure they have a backup plan for all of your important data.

All of this backing up may seem like an expensive hassle, but the cost of a few external hard drives or monthly off-site storage fee might just save your business someday.

Why Make Big Problems Out of Little Problems?

Here’s some great marketing advice from author P.D. Eastman, in the toddler board book, Big Dog… Little Dog:

Why make big problems out of little problems?

Every small business faces marketing problems. Keep in mind that your problems are probably not big problems. Big problems are literally life and death decisions. If you aren’t facing something that serious, consider yourself blessed and calmly address the little problems that arise.

Like the book’s wise bird, take time to think about and investigate the true source of each problem. Often, the reason will be as simple as, “Big dogs need big beds. Little dogs need little beds.” If your profit margin is too low, perhaps you’ll discover your customer acquisition cost is too high. Or lack of customer loyalty might be traced to poor customer service practices.

Once you identify the facts surrounding your problem, make sure to fix it! Problems never fix themselves, and they only grow bigger. For the problem of high customer acquisition costs, a business might implement a referral program or further optimize its online advertising. A customer service problem likely requires some procedure changes and employee training.

The next time a marketing problem pops up, keep things in perspective. Why make big problems out of little problems?

Well, that was easy to do!

Microsoft’s Social Media Marketing Fail

Some marketing campaigns are so groan-worthy you have to share (and turn them into an object lesson).

I received the following email from Microsoft, proclaiming, “You’re social, we’re social”:

Microsoft's Social Media Marketing Fail

Object Lesson #1: Don’t Beg

There are few things more pathetic than a brand begging you to be friends with them. I’m sorry, Microsoft, you can’t join my “cool kids” party. From the looks of things, if I “get social” with you, you’ll just beg me to buy a Surface next week.

Object Lesson #2: Avoid Marketing Jargon

Another big problem with this marketing communication is that it has so much jargon. I guarantee your customers don’t use phrases like “follow us on social” in their daily lives.

Object Lesson #3: Know Your Customer

Microsoft has no idea who I am or what I like, so they had to send me a generic, meaningless email full of marketing buzzwords. In our analytics-driven age, even an ordinary small business can know more about its customers than Microsoft apparently does about me.

Learn from these lessons, and you can at least prevent your customers from rolling their eyes at your marketing messages. To motivate your customers to do more exciting things, learn about the Communication Trifecta.

Is Facebook Right for Marketing my Small Business?

Facebook MarketingSocial media marketing can be a confusing area. There are many choices and intricacies involved in each platform. And there’s plenty of opportunity for wasting valuable marketing budget finding the right strategies for your small business!

Let’s explore marketing with Facebook– when you should engage with this platform and when you can safely ignore it.

When Facebook Marketing is Right for Your Business

  • Your customers are consumers. People mostly use Facebook for personal reasons, and usually engage with brands that are part of their personal lives.
  • Your brand lends itself to passion and loyalty. If customers usually feel strongly about your brand, you should consider Facebook marketing. For instance, Facebook is a great fit for philanthropic organizations like Cincinnati Youth Collaborative.
  • Customers consider themselves friends with your business. Small businesses have the edge here with Facebook marketing. Many consumers are friends with their dog groomer. Almost no one thinks of themselves as friends with AT&T or Verizon.
  • You have enough customers to build a community. If you have 100 or fewer customers (And your potential for growth isn’t in the thousands), there are probably better places to spend your marketing resources.
  • Your products or services are interesting to most customers. Let’s face it, some of us do work for customers that the customers themselves don’t want to think much about. But if you can find a way to be truly interesting to your customers, then Facebook might still work for you.

When Facebook Marketing is Wrong for Your Business

If your business doesn’t meet a majority of the above criteria, you can probably ignore Facebook and focus on other social media marketing efforts.

I have clients who have built successful businesses using nothing more than Facebook, search and referral marketing strategies. Give me a call if you want to find out if these efforts could work for your small business.

How NOT to Use Video in Your Marketing

These days, video content is a powerful marketing tool. Each month, 45.4% of internet users view at least one video. Each day, 100 million internet users watch video content. And Video Brewery reports that 90% of one online retailer’s customers report that video helps them make purchase decisions.

But anything can be taken too far. Take, for instance, AT&T’s brand new campaign: the video bill.

How Not to Use Video in Your Marketing

A personalized video explanation of my bill? Are you kidding me? It’s ludicrous to expect customers to watch a video just to see how much they owe you. Consider: you can either watch this 4-minute video or glance at your statement. Which would you rather do?

This campaign is a case of AT&T’s content team becoming enamored of a new capability like personalized video and ignoring if implementing it makes strategic sense. A video bill is clearly not an effective marketing tool that customers will value.

Video needs to be used with purpose. If you can’t enhance your customer’s experience with video, it’s the wrong medium.

Now you know what NOT to do. Here are some tips for creating effective video marketing: How Videos Boost Your Small Business Marketing.

How Videos Boost Your Small Business Marketing

Do you know that Google owns YouTube? You probably do. Google owns lots of things and is buying and creating more things every day.

Google has a simple business goal: to take over the world. And one small part of achieving that goal is to make YouTube videos ubiquitous. If you help Google achieve this goal, you’ll be rewarded with SEO cred that boosts your small business website’s search rankings.

Here’s a process you can follow for making videos that help your small business marketing efforts:

  • Create YouTube videos that are relevant to your brand and offerings. Make them short and interesting– 90 seconds is plenty of time.
  • Write video descriptions that contain your desired search keywords.
  • Embed these videos in your website, such as in blog posts or on product pages. A great example is on Steve Yastrow’s page for his Ditch the Pitch sales training methodology.
  • Write short, interesting content to surround the video. Again, make sure to include your keywords.
  • Frequently update your site with new videos, so Google sees that you are creating fresh, relevant content for website visitors.

I follow this process with my small business clients, and we see significant success with our organic search traffic. Give it a try!

 

What Church Potlucks Taught Me about Marketing

What Church Potlucks Taught Me about MarketingThere’s a curious phenomenon at church potlucks, which anyone who has cooked for one has witnessed. Simply cooking a dish you know to be delicious is not enough to entice people to eat it. As my mom taught me, you have to nicely display and properly portion the food. Slice meat into individual servings, and cut cakes into appropriately-sized pieces.

My younger, incredulous self had two questions for my mom:

  • I did the cooking. Can’t the people eating it show the initiative to portion it for their own consumption?
  • How do people survive in life if they don’t even have the ability to try dishing up a new food?

My disbelief notwithstanding, my mom was right. If I didn’t plan for how people would dish up my food, it would go uneaten. But if I served the same casserole cut into small squares, it would disappear.

The church potluck is a mini marketplace and can teach us several things about small business marketing.

  1. As there are so many options in the buffet line, people just choose the easiest, most familiar ones. Similarly, your business has plenty of competition, and customers will gravitate to the choice that is easiest to understand.
  2. No one likes to be embarrassed or feel like he’s not in control of a situation. Cutting up food carries some social risk– what if you drop it? what if you suddenly see something you don’t like? (like the one time I found limp, cooked pickles in a casserole)  You need to make things as easy for your customer as possible. Make her feel smart and in-control.
  3. Word of mouth is powerful. If one early-adopter raves about your pie (or product), others will just have to try it. Before you know it, your dish will be the talk of the church! Or, your product will be on everyone’s wish list.
  4. On the flip side, the unknown is scary. Very few people are willing to be the first to try something new. You have to make it attractive for them to be first.

All of the above factors come into play even at a church potluck where the food is free, and the risks are low. Since your customers pay for your offerings, their reactions in the actual marketplace will be more pronounced. But take my mom’s advice, and you’ll be successful.

 

Five Terrible Small Business Marketing Taglines

Positive reinforcement can be very powerful, which is why I wrote Ten Great Small Business Marketing Taglines. But we often remember negative examples more clearly.  Here are five examples of bad small business marketing taglines, along with some tips for every small business.

Apollo – Quality Since 1910

What kind of small business do you think Apollo is? Based on the name and tagline alone, we have no idea. For small business marketing to be effective, the business name and tagline need to describe what the business does. (By the way, Apollo is an HVAC and plumbing company).

Tom Gill Chevrolet – A Business of Character

When Richard Nixon told Americans, “I am not a crook,” that didn’t work out for him very well. Americans expected their President to have that basic level of character. Everyone also expects small businesses to have character, and customers become suspicious when a business feels the need to tout its virtue. Make sure your small business marketing tagline goes beyond claiming to be honest and trustworthy.

Isaacs & Isaacs – One Call, That’s All!

Besides being unclear about what business this law firm is in, the tagline is misleading. Does anyone actually believe you can get a satisfactory settlement with only one phone call? Small business marketing taglines shouldn’t over-promise, or customers will be disappointed.

Gold Star Chili – Celebrating 50*Years

Here is a sad fact of life many small businesses don’t want to hear: No customer cares how long you have been in business. And they certainly don’t care about celebrating the fact with you. Don’t waste valuable marketing space telling customers how long you have been around. I’m sure Gold Star Chili has much more compelling reasons for people to eat their chili.

University of Indianapolis – Inspiring Excellence

This tagline is less terrible than boring. It makes my list because the sentiment is mundane. Don’t all universities aspire to inspire excellence? The tagline doesn’t give customers a clue towards what makes University of Indianapolis different from its competitors.

Take these examples and compare them to your own tagline. If you find any parallels, try tweaking your tagline right away. And then do some customer research to craft a great one.

And if you want to see some really bad, punny small business marketing taglines, follow this link for a laugh.

Ten Great Small Business Marketing Taglines

A Million Gallons of FunSmall businesses have many advantages over big businesses– the ability to build real relationships with customers, agility, flexibility, and more.

But brand awareness is one area where the big guys excel. Building Lasting Relationships with Clients and CandidatesThey have millions of dollars in marketing budget to educate customers about what they do and just why customers should care. Because of that, a big brand’s tagline can be esoteric, aspirational and vague. Think Nike’s Just Do It or Coca Cola’s Open Happiness.

Irresistible Ice CreamA small business marketing tagline has to work harder, though. It needs to tell the story of what you do and why customers love you in one small, memorable package. It’s hard work, and that’s why many small businesses don’t have a tagline. But the effort is worth it. Just check out these ten great small business marketing taglines:

Prompt and Proven Sprinkler Service Clearly a Better Carwash

  1. Newport Aquarium – A Million Gallons of Fun
  2. Graeter’s – Irresistible Ice Cream
  3. TriState Water Works – Prompt & Proven Sprinkler Service
  4. Lighthouse Carwash – Clearly a Better Carwash
  5. LMB Associates – Building Lasting Relationships with Clients and Candidates
  6. Dewey’s Pizza – Hey! Ho! Let’s Dough!
  7. Thrive Chiropractic – Adjust. Advance. Thrive.
  8. VooDoo Doughnut – The Magic is in the Hole!
  9. WAVE POOL – A Contemporary Art Fulfillment Center
  10. Yats – Cajun. Creole. Crazy.

Hey! Ho! Let's Dough!A Contemporary Art Fulfillment Center

Cajun. Creole. Crazy.Each one of these taglines combine with the business name to clearly communicate what the business does, while letting customers know what makes it different and special from competitors. For Dewey’s Pizza, VooDoo Doughnut and Yats, the tagline conveys the fun vibe found at these establishments. Others, like LMB Associates and TriState Water Works set their service models apart from competitors.

The Magic is in the Hole Adjust. Advance. Thrive.

 

Five Tips for Small Business Marketing Research

Research is the best way to start a small business marketing strategy. Specifically, conducting research with your customers will help you learn what they care about, why they buy from you, what problems most affect them and other important issues that affect your marketing strategy.

1. For marketing that matters, find out what your customers really think

TriState Water WorksBy gaining real insight from customers, you avoid the pitfalls of mistaking assumptions for facts. My client TriState Water Works excels at helping customers optimize their sprinkler systems for efficient water use. However, in customer research, we uncovered that customers most value TriState Water Works’ promptness– plenty of convenient appointment times and technicians that show up on time. This insight allowed us to align our marketing campaigns with what customers care about most.

2. Let your customers talk… and talk

Grady Veterinary HosptialFor small business marketing purposes, forget multiple-choice questions and rating scales. An unstructured interview is the best way to uncover the hidden gems of insight your customers are just dying to share with you. During interviews, clients for Grady Veterinary Hospital described their relationship with the practice in rich, beautiful ways that inspired us to build a Facebook community that has become incredibly successful.

3. The most valuable insights are the ones that surprise you

Be prepared to learn a lot about your business you didn’t know! Pay attention to the surprising things customers say to you, and ask follow-up questions to learn more. These topics are fuel for marketing brainstorming.

4. Small business marketing research can start, well, small

Market research can seem overwhelming– large companies spend thousands of dollars and hours of effort perfecting their results. But small businesses don’t have those resources. Start small, and you can still gain valuable marketing insights.  Interview five of your best customers, and see what you learn.

5. Remember to act on what you learn

Knowledge for knowledge’s sake is a beautiful thing. But not in small business marketing. Start making changes to your marketing immediately– as soon are you learn something great.