Keep Mobile in Mind: Small Business Marketing Tip

More than 50% of customers view email marketing communications or social media marketing campaigns on a smartphone. This means every message you share must keep mobile in mind or risk being ignored by half of your customers.

Keep Mobile in Mind

Here are some tips for designing mobile-friendly marketing messages:

  • About 500 pixels wide will display beautifully on smart phones. Minimize the amount of horizontal scrolling required to see the content.
  • Try to keep file sizes as small as possible. Smartphones load content more slowly than desktop computers, and customers are ever more impatient. Also, you need to be mindful of how much data you are asking customers to download.
  • If you have fairly sophisticated abilities, design elements using responsive design that adapts with the customer’s screen size. One good option for email marketing are services like Mail Chimp that have responsive templates.
  • If you have to send your content as an image, use a PNG, GIF or JPG format. Avoid PDFs, as that format usually won’t display automatically like other file formats.

Designing mobile-friendly messages can be more challenging than designing for print or desktops, because screen sizes are different among devices. But if you embrace the challenge, you’ll have the marketing advantage over your competitors who stay stuck in the past.

Is Twitter Right for Marketing my Small Business?

Is Twitter Right for Marketing my Small Business?For many of the small businesspeople I advise, Twitter is one of the most confusing or overwhelming social media networks to make sense of. The barrage of information on Twitter is unrelenting, and it’s hard to know what strategies will work best for marketing your small business.

Good news! Most small businesses can ignore Twitter altogether and focus on other areas of web marketing.

More good news! If Twitter marketing makes sense for your small business, you’ll find it fairly easy (and maybe even fun!) to get results.

When Twitter Marketing is Right for Your Business

  • Fame is your game. If you are a thought leader, public personality or otherwise benefit from personal fame, then Twitter is an important place to see and be seen.
  • You naturally have fans. For sports teams, restaurants, event venues and other brands that could describe their customers as ‘fans,’ Twitter is a great place for them to follow you.
  • You’re in the information business. Twitter traffics in information, so it’s a useful tool for information-based businesses like newspapers or recommendation services (like Roadtrippers, Angie’s List, etc.).
  • Your customers are active on Twitter. Usually, this applies when your business offers products or services to the previous three groups. Promoting your customers’ tweets and engaging with them on Twitter is a great business-building activity.

When Twitter Marketing is Wrong for Your Business

Businesses that don’t meet the above criteria can probably cross Twitter marketing off their list and move on to more profitable media. In addition, even if my list describes your business, Twitter marketing is wrong for your business if you don’t have the time or resources to develop an active, loyal following. Turning Twitter into business success requires a dedication to the community, including near-constant monitoring and engaging in authentic conversations.

Have more questions about Twitter marketing? Send me an email:

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 LinkedIn Right for Marketing my Small Business?

Is LinkedIn Marketing Right for my Small Business?A few weeks ago, we answered the question Is Facebook Right for Marketing my Small Business? Today we shift focus to a different social media marketing platform, LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a professional networking platform with social elements, like status updates, groups and those connection update emails I’m sure you have received in your inbox. These are free tools that can be used in small business marketing. In addition, LinkedIn also offers premium accounts and advertising options.

Before deciding to use the free tools or premium offerings, you should determine if LinkedIn marketing makes sense for your business.

When LinkedIn Marketing is Right for Your Business

  • Your small business is B2B. In this case, you should have a LinkedIn marketing strategy. Marketing efforts should focus on where your customers are, and I can almost guarantee your B2B customers are on LinkedIn.
  • You have a business brand. If your customers are businesspeople, LinkedIn is a great way to find them. Examples of ‘business brands’ include of professional development training or ergonomic office products.
  • You frequently need to hire new employees. If you need to market your business to prospective employees, LinkedIn has amazing tools to do so.
  • You are seeking investors for your business. It’s very likely potential investors are using LinkedIn, and you will want to build up your employees’ and brand’s credibility through LinkedIn.

When LinkedIn Marketing is Wrong for Your Business

If your business meets one of more of the following criteria, you can probably allocate your marketing resources elsewhere:

  • Your customers are consumers. 
  • Your customers aren’t businesspeople. 
  • Your business is local. Contrast this with Facebook, where local businesses thrive. LinkedIn typically isn’t used for staying up-to-date with what’s happening at local businesses.

Even if you don’t use LinkedIn in your marketing plan, it’s a great resource for finding and researching employees and partners. Also, you may find benefit by connecting with groups of other businesses in similar industries. Have questions about LinkedIn marketing? Send me an email:

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.

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.

Marketing Podcast: Pinterest and Pilates

In this marketing podcast, Dave asks if a Pilates studio could use Pinterest in their small business marketing plan. I use this example to demonstrate how Pinterest could work for small businesses– and which businesses should just forget this social network altogether.

Download or listen below:

Pinterest and Pilates

Marketing Podcast: Pinterest and Pilates (6.4 MB)

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

The Pinterest Marketing Checklist

With 14.9 million users as of July 2012, Pinterest is certainly a growing social network. But should it be part of your marketing plan? If you answer “yes” to the questions in my Pinterest Marketing Checklist, a Pinterest marketing campaign should probably be in your future.

  • Are a significant portion of your customers or influencers women?
  • Is your brand related to fashion, art, crafting, event-planning, cooking, travel or something similar?
  • Can your brand tell a story with pictures? Do pictures of your products, services or location impress?
If you answered “no” to these questions, you can dismiss Pinterest from your mind and stop reading this article. I like to make life easier for my readers. Those answering in the affirmative should read on.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest LogoPinterest is all about organizing and sharing pictures of things you like. These pictures are collected in groupings, called “pin-boards.” Users see pictures that friends and brands “pin,” and they “repin” the content if they like it. Pinterest users want to display their style and personality, along with using Pinterest to help them plan events and store ideas.

The overwhelming majority of active Pinterest users are female. There’s some controversy in the media about the truth of this statement, but anyone who has ever visited Pinterest sees the obvious truth of it.

Brands must be careful about marketing on Pinterest– promoting oneself too obviously will ensure your “pins” are ignored. Engage users with stories and environments that subtly include products and services.

Pinterest Marketing Success Story

Fashion brand Anthropologie has made a concerted effort with their Pinterest marketing the last few months. Visitors to the Anthropologie website can pin any product, sharing it with their friends. Importantly, the brand encourages customers to spread the word on Pinterest for them, creating a more authentic, populist campaign (and relinquishing control over what products actually become popular).

Pinterest Marketing on Anthropologie

Anthropologie took the Pinterest marketing offline, as well. Pages in their catalogues cheekily display collections of pins, with copy, “From oodles of brooches to the pull of Pinterest.”

Pinterest Marketing from Anthropologie

If you’ve decided to give Pinterest marketing a try, use this Anthropologie example as a start, or contact me for more ideas – For readers who will be in Alaska on October 4, 2012, learn more about social media marketing during my presentation at the Getting Down to Business Sales & Customer Service Conference. Click here to learn more.

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