Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Social media marketing for the big and the small…

You know what is great about social media marketing?  You can do it successfully whether you are a multi-billion dollar organization or a small mom and pop style grocery store.

  • For the mom and pop store, it allows you to seem bigger than you are.  You know, what having a cool website did for you about 10 to 15 years ago!
  • For the large corporations, it allows you to become smaller.  I know what you are saying…”what? Seem smaller?…Why would I want that?”  Ah, grasshopper, the reason is community and relationships.  As companies grow, their line of sight to individual customers narrows to something that you need a telescope to see.  So, by actively listening and then engaging in social media platforms, large corporations can get back to the one-to-one marketing they used to do when they first started out.  It makes a difference…really.  Just ask Starbucks!
 
A mentor of mine, Dr. Bret Simmons, posted a question on Facebook asking about how conducting social media marketing would differ (if at all) for a company in a metropolitan area than for a company in a rural area. My short answer to this question is:  it really shouldn’t be any different…that is the beauty of social media!  
 
The only difference in social media marketing in a rural area versus a metropolitan area is reach.  Because rural areas tend to have fewer options when it comes to internet connections and fewer people in general, the reach you will get with your social media marketing efforts  in a rural area will be much smaller than in a metropolitan area.
 
One point to be made about social media marketing…it cannot be done in a vacuum.  Your social media marketing campaign has to be:
  • Integrated into your company culture:  You can’t say one thing in social media and then do another during the purchase or post purchase experience.
  • Integrated into your marketing campaign:  To get through today’s clutter, you need to integrate your social media into an integrated marketing campaign.  So, combine your social media efforts with your direct mail, advertising and digital marketing efforts.
  • Fully emersed:  You can’t just do a couple of tweets and expect the world to come to your door.  You have to consistently be there and engaging with your community.

So, how are you integrating your social media marketing efforts into your customer service efforts and your marketing campaigns? 

Happy Marketing!

 

Entrepreneurial Permission

As I toiled away on my elliptical machine tonight, I re-read Tina Seelig’s book “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20.”  And what I love most about this book has to do with what makes a small business owner successful.  Is it being a marketing genius? Is it being a financial wizard?  Is it having a parent with a very large bank roll?  They all help, but that’s not it…at least not for the long run away.

At the end of the day, it really just boils down to a couple of traits or states of mind; traits/states of mind I would like to share with you.  The presence or absence of these traits/states of mind will tell you if you have the stomach and the know-how to become a successful small business owner.

  • Turning failure upside down—entrepreneurs can take failure because they know that failure shows them how to succeed the next time.  Failure is temporary.  Failure is sometimes necessary.  And, guess what? It took Thomas Edison something like  1,000 “steps” as he liked to call it to perfect the light bulb.
  • Knowing that “no” sometimes means not now—let’s face it, very few people in life like hearing the word no; especially as it relates to their business/baby.  Successful entrepreneurs understand that “no” might mean call me next week when I am in a better frame of mind.
  • Try everything, at least once—Successful small business owners will do just about anything to keep their dream alive.   And, they get creative…both inside and outside the box.  They are constantly thinking about what is next for their business and questioning whether if they are doing everything right and everything they should be doing.  Just like their business, they are in constant motion.
  • Test and learn beats fast and furious (…just ask the rabbit)—successful small business owners don’t waste money on big splashes, they take a disciplined approach to just about everything. They aren’t tentative, but they do their due diligence.

Here is my favorite and the most important part of being a successful entrepreneur.

  • Give yourself permission—the permission to start, the permission to stop, the permission to take risks, the permission to accept failures, the permission to say you were wrong, and the permission to say you were right.  Whatever permission you are denying yourself…give it freely.  You don’t have to wait for permission from someone else.  Who cares what they think?  Give yourself permission to start doing what you love today!

Since this blog isn’t about my normal marketing or market research topics, I have decided to end with a quote from Thomas Edison rather than “Happy Marketing”.  Here goes:

 

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

 

Here’s something from me…I give you permission.

What is a small business…?

Well, you thought you knew, but the SBA would like to change all that (it’s a proposal…not for certain).  Now, before you get your hackles up…I believe what they are doing is a good thing.  They are basically getting with the times. 

Here’s what the SBA said in their press release:

A proposed rule published today for comment in The Federal Register by the U.S. Small Business Administration would adjust the size definition of small businesses in the transportation and warehousing sector to reflect changes in marketplace conditions in those sectors. 

 The proposed revisions would increase the revenue-based size definition businesses must meet to qualify as small businesses in 22 industries of the transportation and warehousing sector. As part of its ongoing comprehensive review of all size standards, the SBA evaluated all industries in this sector that have revenue-based size standards to determine whether the size standards should be retained or revised. 

So what does this mean for you?  Well if you work in the transportation and warehousing sector and you are bidding on government jobs…a lot!   Basically, in the past, if you were reaching the size limit…you couldn’t make any more in revenue to retain your eligibility to bid on government jobs (as a small business).   Now, you have a bit more wiggle room!

Here’s what the SBA also said:

The changes would allow some small businesses that are close to exceeding their current size standards to retain small business eligibility under higher size standards, give federal agencies a larger selection of small businesses to choose from for small business procurement opportunities and allow small businesses to qualify for financial assistance from the SBA.  SBA estimates as many as 1,200 additional firms will become eligible for SBA programs as a result of the proposed revisions, if they are adopted. 

Here’s the new data that I prettied up for you!

For more information about SBA’s revisions to its small business size standards, click on “What’s New” on SBA’s Web site at:  http://www.sba.gov/size.

Are you breathing a sigh of relief on this proposed change?  I am!

Happy marketing!

U.S. Small Business Outlook…

Building and running a successful business is difficult period. Add in a weak economy and woe is the business owner, small businesses in particular.

That said, I am happy to see that even though times have been tough, small businesses are keeping a stiff upper lip. According to a new survey conducted by EMPLOYERS®, America’s small business insurance specialist® (through ORC/Inforgraphics), almost half of small business decision-makers (46%) feel that the U.S. Economic Outlook will be better this year than last— a significant improvement compared to 25% measured when they did the study in Dec. 2008.  And, 41% of small business decision-makers expect their revenue to grow this year over 2010 levels.

While the survey showed a ray of hope glimmering in the eyes of small business decision-makers, it did show some lingering pessimism. Specifically:

  • 69% of small business decision-makers say that some worry about their business keeps them up at night.
    •  The most often reported worries were: the economy, figuring out how they can grow/maintain their business, operating expenses and rising fuel prices.51% of small business decision-makers believe it will be more than 12 months before their sales revenues return to pre-recession levels.
  • 49% of small business decision-makers say it will be more than six months before they begin hiring again.

Here’s how they did the study: The study commissioned by EMPLOYERS surveyed 501 owners or managers of small businesses with 1-99 full-time employees. Data was collected through telephone interviews during the period February 23 – March 1, 2011 at the 95 percent confidence level.  The survey was conducted by ORC International, an Infogroup company through their Small Business CARAVAN.

That’s how the average small business owner is feeling…what about you?  Are you bullish or bearish about the U.S. Economic Outlook in 2011?

Happy Marketing!

Small businesses & social media usage statistics

In the middle of last year, I wrote a blog about small business and their usage of social media entitle “Small businesses are getting it!”.  In the blog, I gave you some stats on small business’ usage of social.  Well I am happy to say that I have some updated small business social media stats to share with you from the next wave of the study.  And, the results show that social media utilization grew among small business decision-makers from the first half to the second half of 2010.

In the past 12 months, owners have made key accomplishments with social media, including:

  • Staying engaged with customers (63%)
  • Increased brand awareness (61%)
  • Identifying and attracting new customers (59%).

Here’s what small businesses are using as it relates to social media:

So what do small business decision-makers think as it relates to technology and the future? 

  • Nearly half expect to have a social media presence (46%)
  • 66% expect to have a website
  • 36% expect to have an SEO plan

On a not so positive note, more small businesses have found that social media is not meeting their expectations:  36% feel that their use of social media has fallen short of expectations and just 9% say their social media efforts have exceeded expectations.

Visit http://www.networksolutions.com/smallbusiness to download a full copy of the Small Business Success Index Wave-5

So, small business owner what are you waiting for?  And large businesses…your customers are online and engaging in social media.  Where are you?

Happy Marketing!

Small businesses are getting it even more…

Those of you who follow my blog know that I love seeing firmographics and demographics and how they change over time.  So much to my joy, I found some stats on how social media is growing among small businesses. 

According to a study called “Local Commerce Monitor-Wave 14” from BIA/Kelsey and ConStat, twice as many small businesses are using twitter now (in Q4’10) than in Q3’09:  19% up from 9% in Q3’09.

  • That said, Twitter (19%) usage is still woefully behind Facebook usage (48%) among small businesses.
  • Interestingly, more than a third of small businesses had increased their use of links and ads on social media sites over the past year, and 46% planned further increases in the next 12 months.
  • And, coming as no surprise…younger businesses are most active in social media—and least active in traditional media.

Thanks to eMarketer for providing these wonderful stats!’

So, now that small businesses are “getting it”, what is your strategy to attract and capture these socially aware small businesses?

Happy Marketing!

A 10% Response Rate? Who’da Thunk it?

So, you are probably thinking, okay you got me with the 10% response rate…now what gives? Did you really achieve a 10% response rate?  God’s honest truth here:  YES! For one of the main direct marketing campaigns I am running at work I am achieving a 10% response rate (or better).  How’d I do it?  Well, believe it or not…the old fashioned way.

A lot has been said lately about the effectiveness of going digital and using social media in your marketing efforts.  I agree that they can definitely be effective…for the right audience.   But…my audience for this mailing has been a little slower in adopting social media…I know this because I do a lot of research with my target markets.

So now what?  Yes, right, the old fashioned way…direct mail and telephone calls.

As I stated in my post, Direct Mail Is a Viable Option for Marketing to Small Businesses, direct mail is not effective in a vacuum.  Direct mail alone won’t do the “heavy lifting” for you.  To be effective, direct mail needs to be part of an integrated campaign. 

And, in this case, my integrated campaign includes a few things:

  • Targeted message letters
  • Outbound telemarketing
  • Email follow up with support information—opt in of course

I know that others are replicating my success with integrated marketing campaigns focusing on direct mail. 

What’s your marketing success story?

Happy marketing!

Addressing the “social” side of your group…

I know what you are thinking…Sharon you are market researcher at heart, where are your stories with a market research flair?

Ok, since you asked, here are some great market research statistics about the impact Americans think the internet has had on group participation.  In this survey, the Pew Internet Project asked about 27 different kinds of groups and found great diversity in group membership and participation using traditional and new technologies.

Following are the percentages of Americans that say the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to do the following:

  • Communicate with members: 68% of all Americans (internet users and non-users alike) and 75% of internet users said that
  • Draw attention to an issue: 62% of all Americans and 68% of internet users
  • Connect with other groups: 60% of all Americans and 67% of internet users
  • Impact the society at large: 59% of all Americans and 64% of internet users
  • Organize activities: 59% of all Americans and 65% of internet users
  • Raise money: 52% of all Americans and 55% of internet users
  • Recruit new members: 51% of all Americans and 55% of internet users said that.
  • Impact local communities: 49% of all Americans and 52% of internet users
  • Find people to take leadership roles: 35% of all Americans and internet users


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Small Business Owners Are Getting Onboard…

If you read my blog long enough, you will see that I have a special place in my heart for small businesses.  And, since I am all about social media…well let’s just say the statistics I am about to share are right up my alley.

According to January 2011 report by eMarketer and to data from Ad-ology:

  • Over half of small businesses (55%) believe that Facebook is beneficial to their business (29.7% believe that Facebook is very beneficial)—up from 33% last year.
  • Just under a third of small businesses believe that LinkedIn (33%), twitter (32%, up from 18% last year), and YouTube (31%) are beneficial to their business.
  • Small businesses also feel that buying group sites are beneficial:  Yelp (18%), Groupon (16%) and LivingSocial (14%).

And why do small businesses find social media so darn beneficial to their business?  Read on.

  • Lead Generation (57% say it is beneficial for this activity)
  • Listening (54%)
  • Keeping Up with the Industry (53%)
  • Improving Customer Experience (52%)
  • Competitive Intelligence (52%)

 While I wish that the percentage saying very beneficial was higher for “Improving Customer Experience”, it is good to see that the majority of small businesses find social medial at least somewhat beneficial to their business.

So small businesses are getting onboard with social media and getting the benefit from social media.  How about your business?

Happy Marketing!

The Numerati are watching…

Who or what are the Numerati you may ask?  Well they aren’t a religion nor are they Santa Claus, but they know when you are sleeping and when you are awake (whether you have been bad or good is up to you and your conscious).  Just ask Stephen Baker

Marketing has certainly reached a tipping point as it relates to targeting.  No longer do we have to develop large targeted advertising and marketing campaigns…thanks to the Numerati.  Okay, back to my original question…who are the Numerati?  They are the technological and statistical gurus who have figured out how to target us without asking us one single question.  Can’t be?  Read on.

Ever wonder how it is that while surfing the web you are consistently receiving banner advertising that seems to be targeted to what you are currently shopping for?  How about online advertising that pops up on your favorite news website for things you are vaguely interested in based on your hobbies?  To use a phrase from Hawaii Five-O last night…you know what they say about coincidences…they take a lot of planning.  And the Numerati do nothing but plan…how to reach you.

Without getting into a lot of techno babble and market research geek, the Numerati are the folks that take volumes of behavioral data from the web and, through the use of some pretty sophisticated modeling and programming, determine what online advertising should resonate with you.   

The Two Main Benefits:

  • It can help you quantify a hard to define/segment market—it goes beyond the typical demographic and psychographic variables
  • Behavioral targeting can significantly reduce the cost of sale (new and ongoing)

The Drawbacks:

  • It’s a model…and models can be wrong
  • There is too much junk out there for a meaningful conclusion for targeting
  • We are lazy and ADD (attention deficit disorder) surfers…not everything we search or click on is meaningful to us.

Marketing is truly at a tipping point.  Soon I wont even have to think about or desire anything! The Numerati will tell me what I want and make it very easy to buy it!

Happy Marketing!

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