It’s Election Day. You Won’t Read this Post.

I VotedExcept you might read my post now that I’ve included a shameless mention of Election Day.

When your customers are universally interested in an event or holiday, don’t change the subject. Work with it. Although cycles of celebration may not correspond with your business cycle, customers will disregard marketing communications that don’t fit with their interests or current needs.

Small business marketing requires strategic use of resources that earn a high level of engagement from customers. We can’t waste time and money on efforts that will be ignored.

Here are some ways I help my clients address the ebbs and flows of the calendar:

  • One B2B client accepts that her clients’ attention is distracted during certain times of the year, including Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We focus our marketing efforts on other times of year and don’t waste resources trying to “cut through the clutter.”
  • Another B2B client tackles the New Year with challenges for his clients to plan for success in the coming months.
  • To tie-in with Thanksgiving, I’m helping one veterinary client promote pet safety during the holiday, for instance with this Fido Friendly Thanksgiving Infographic.
  • With another veterinary client, we typically run seasonally-themed Facebook photo contests for clients to brag about their pets. Last year, we sponsored a Winter Wonderland contest.
  • A landscape services company knows that pre-Thanksgiving is a popular time for customers to install landscape lighting, so we run promotions during that period.
  • This summer, another landscape services client earned customer attention when we suggested ways to create an herb container garden to enhance their outdoor kitchens and barbecues.

So, after you go vote and before the results start coming in, spend some time today considering how to make your marketing communications more seasonally relevant to your customers. It will certainly be more productive than nervously biting your nails as you wait to learn who our next President will be.

 

Build a Community of Customers with Facebook Sponsored Posts

Many small businesses have tried marketing with Facebook, and some have experienced lackluster results. If your business meets the characteristics described in my article “Is Facebook Right for Marketing my Small Business?,” Facebook can be successful for your business. The key strategy is to think of your efforts as building a community of customers (of both new and existing customers).

One element to building that community is through targeted Sponsored Posts. This Facebook advertising option targets people who meet specific criteria. For instance, you could specify women ages 30-50, friends of people who already like your page or people interested in DIY home improvements.

Unlike other Facebook ads, these posts appear in customers’ news feeds, instead of the sidebar:

Build a Community of Customers with Facebook Sponsored Posts

Because the post shows up in the news feed, customers are more likely to see, appreciate  and interact with a sponsored post than with a sidebar ad. So, if you haven’t had much luck with Facebook advertising, try sponsoring some of your posts by clicking the “Boost” button. It only requires a small budget and it worth testing.

Have questions about advertising on Facebook? Reach out to me: amanda@zooinajungle.com

Facebook as a Customer Service Tool

Have you ever had a customer reach out to you with a customer service issue on social media?

Most businesses think of social media as only a marketing tool (if they think of these channels at all). But including social media in your customer service strategy could lead to happier customers who rave about your business in public.

Facebook as a Customer Service ToolOne great example of a business using Facebook for customer service is my client Grady Veterinary Hospital. The practice receives frequent queries on Facebook, and always responds promptly and thoroughly, in a caring manner. If appropriate, the staff replies publicly. This customer service approach on Facebook is partially responsible for the practice’s 194 reviews, averaging 4.3 stars.

Customer service personnel need to be adept at more than just phone and email communication. Small businesses should empower them to interact on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp or other social media where your business has a presence.

By honoring customers’ communication preferences, you show that you listen to them and that they are important to you. Already, a reconciliatory tone has been set. And the customer has an easy platform to shout your praises from the virtual rooftops.

Make it Easy for Customers to See Your Marketing Content

When marketing your small business, keep in mind that customers are naturally less interested in seeing your marketing messages than you are in sharing them. One simple way to make it easier for customers to engage with your marketing content is to always think about removing barriers to accessing the content.

Let’s say you have a beautiful and effective direct mail piece that you want to share with your email marketing list and social media audiences.

Many small businesses will share a PDF or picture of the direct mail piece, inserting this image into an email or sharing a link to it on social media. But posting or emailing a PDF actually creates a barrier to seeing the content.

How do you remove the barriers and make your marketing more accessible?

When translating a printed piece for web marketing use, follow these tips:

  1. Reduce the number of clicks required to view the content. Whenever possible, include the marketing message directly in the media. For example, instead of including a “Read More” link, put the entire message in the email or social media post.
  2. Optimize loading speed. Build email marketing messages in HTML instead of embedding an image or PDF containing the entire communication. It will load faster, and if there’s a loading error, most of the message will still make it to the customer.
  3. Consider the media you are using and how customers interact with that media. On a printed direct mail piece, customers expect all the information they need to call you or to buy. However, on Facebook or Twitter it’s easy to put a customer into information overload. Consider more frequent, shorter messages.

Make it easier for customers to interact with your marketing content, and you will enjoy improved results and happier customers!

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.

Marketing Your Personal Life on Facebook? Don’t.

In an apparent effort to raise advertising revenues, Facebook is now encouraging individuals to develop a marketing plan for their personal lives by advertising “important news” to their friends and family. Find that hard to believe? It happened to me just yesterday, when I shared the news I’m expecting. Here’s the picture proof (personal details removed):

Marketing your personal life on Facebook. Don't.

If you’re wondering, Facebook wanted to charge me $7.00 to pester my friends and family with advertising.

What a terrible idea. My friends don’t want me to target them with a marketing campaign. And I’ll probably unfriend the first person to advertise to me.

I’ve always advocated thinking of customers as individuals and real people instead of “target audiences.” Facebook seems to be trying to do the opposite – turning friendships into impersonal marketing strategies.

Why Facebook Marketing Still Matters

Facebook’s stock price plummeted on the news that 83 million of its user accounts are fake– either duplicates, spambots or (most interestingly) pet accounts. That’s 8.7% of Facebook’s 955 million monthly active users.

Despite the market’s reaction to this news, Facebook marketing still matters. Why? Because Facebook marketing still works– if businesses do it right.

If you’re reading my small business marketing blog, it probably doesn’t matter to you if Facebook has 955 million users or 872 million users. You’re never going to need that many customers. Facebook marketing still gives businesses the opportunity to connect with people who are interested in their brands, products and services. For many of my clients, Facebook is still one of the most effective marketing tools in our toolbox.

To learn more about effective Facebook marketing, read my article, “Facebook Marketing Tips,” which gives the following four tips:

  1. Post interesting content to Facebook
  2. Motivate your customers to interact on your Facebook page
  3. Respond to your customers’ questions
  4. Be subtle with your sales

Facebook Marketing Fills the Movie Theatre

Saturday morning, Cincinnati’s Esquire Theatre introduced little-known movie Moonrise Kingdom on Facebook. Saturday evening, from my observation, both showings of Moonrise Kingdom appeared to sell out. As my husband and I, who aren’t particularly ardent film buffs, took our seats in the crowded theatre, we discussed how glad we were that the Esquire’s Facebook page alerted us to this movie we were sure to love (and which we did!). For the Esquire, these sold out shows represented a huge Facebook marketing success.

Kathy Parsanko, PR Director for the Esquire, Mariemont, and Kenwood Theatres, agrees that Facebook marketing played a role in the film’s success:

“We don’t often sell out, so Moonrise Kingdom‘s performance was impressive. I believe its success came from a combination of factors, including our Facebook promotion, trailers playing before our other films, really great reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and word-of-mouth. Many of our Facebook fans responded to the posts with shares, likes and comments.”

For casual film fans, Facebook might have been the only way to learn about the first showings of this movie. If you weren’t at the theatre to see the preview and don’t often check Rotten Tomatoes, a smaller movie like this might pass you by. Without these casual fans, Moonrise Kingdom probably wouldn’t have sold out.

When I ask Kathy what methods she used to get the word out on Facebook, she says:

“I used the ‘Promote This’ feature for this Facebook post. It was a reasonable cost, and many Facebook fans responded. We received 49 Shares for this post– which was extremely unusual.”

Here’s the moral of this story. Facebook marketing of interesting content like this:

Description of Moonrise Kingdom at the Esquire

Can help businesses achieve results like this:

Sold-out crowd at the Esquire

The Diversification of Search (and Your Marketing Budget)

In the near future, Google might not be such a hot-shot in the web marketing world.

That’s crazy!” you might think. Indeed, Google has been the major research resource for the vast majority of web users. And today, Google still accounts for 66.2% of all search-engine use, with Bing-powered search a distant 29.1%.

Diversify your search marketingIt seems that Google’s serious competition won’t come from Bing (at least, anytime soon). As a web marketing expert helping businesses reach their customers on the Internet, I see that competition coming from a very different field.

The big secret is that search is so much bigger than Google or Bing. Often, navigating a Google search can be frustrating as the user tries to grope after the right search phrase to get his intended result. For instance, consider a search for a professional speaker that only results in displaying high-end audio equipment.

This search inconvenience has given rise to many niche-search products built into commerce and social media sites. On Amazon.com, customers can search categories with pre-defined criteria that makes sense, like size and type of shoes. Yelp is organized by geography, so if a user is vacationing in Savannah, GA, he can get the local scoop on that city.

With so many shopping and social media options, web users are diversifying their search methods for more personalized results.

Here are some stats on a few special-interest sites that compete for search traffic:

  • 901 million users search Facebook to find their friends and favorite brands.
  • 161 million users conduct 4.2 “professionally-oriented” yearly searches on LinkedIn (such as recruiting or networking).
  • In a month, 89 million U.S. customers visit Amazon.com to buy or comparison-shop.
  • 71 million users search Yelp for information and reviews about local businesses.
  • 50 million visitors search TripAdvisor to plan vacations.
  • 10 million women search Pinterest to find the absolute perfect wedding hair or yummy appetizer recipe.

How Search Diversification Affects Your Marketing Plan

All of the above sites provide businesses opportunities to communicate with users and buy advertising. Marketing plans are beginning to reflect interest in these offerings, with businesses diversifying their web marketing budget to include a variety of advertising and communication efforts across different sites relevant to their own customers.

If your business happens to focus exclusively on Google AdWords for web advertising, it might be time to look into diversifying your web marketing. With the right social partner, you’ll likely reach more relevant customers, who are looking for a more personalized experience and are ready to engage with your brand.

Marketing Podcast: Facebook Timeline for Business

In this small business marketing podcast, learn some tips for marketing with the new Facebook Timeline and why I believe it’s a good marketing tool. For instance, businesses should change their cover image to match current marketing campaigns.

Listen or download below:

Facebook Timeline for Business

Marketing Podcast: Facebook Timeline for Business (3.1MB)

This segment first aired during “Getting Down to Business” on Alaska’s Fox News Talk 1020.