Tag Archives: advertising

Tips for Holiday Marketing on Social Media

 

Kelly Farrell - Teach Me Social -headshot (2)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Social media is all a-twitter with holiday promotions, holiday party selfies and businesses competing for your business and spreading holiday joy! The social media world can become a very noisy place during the holidays, but here are a few ways you can ensure your small business can stay ahead of the crowd.

Hashtags

Using holiday trending hashtags can keep your business visible among your target audience. Choose hashtags that your target market is already using or might be following. By providing content that aligns with the current conversations on social media you can ensure that your brand will not be forgotten when people create their holiday wish lists.

Seasonal trends

Stay tuned to what’s trending this season and share content that shows your brand is in-the-know when it comes to what people are talking about.

Visual aids

Getting noticed is all about standing out. Create captivating graphics for your social media posts and blogs that are sure to grab people’s attention and make them want to click. (lighting, graphics, design, colours)

Ads / promotions

Social media ads are the most effective way to grab the attention of potential customers. You can create custom audiences of people who may have already visited your site or may already be on your mailing list. This allows you to focus directly on an audience who is already familiar with your brand and thus more likely to follow through with a sale.

Use email

Email is still the most effective way to follow up with customers and potential customers. Many email clients can connect with your online store to help you follow up with website visitors who may have “window-shopped” without finishing their order.  Try sending exclusive coupon codes to your email list for special holiday offers.

Above all, remember that there are real people on the other side of the network who are just as busy as you are this time of year. Present them with solutions to solve their problems and make their life easier. Stay social and engage with your audience online through relatable, interesting and engaging posts and make sure to take time to answer back!


To learn more about how to maximise the effectiveness of your Facebook marketing efforts, schedule a complimentary consultation with Teach Me Social. Teach Me Social owner Kelly Farrell has been helping empower Canadian Small Businesses through social media since 2012. Teach Me Social offers effective social media services which include training sessions and consulting as well as full-service social media account management.

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Top 5 Reasons why You should Blog for your Business

Jemi

Blogging has become a huge phenomenon in the online world. Anyone and everyone can start a blog. It’s easy and very inexpensive to start. All you need is a computer, the internet, and the time to put together a blog. As a business owner, you can stand out from your competitors by giving useful tools and great expertise to your customers at minimal cost to you. Here’s what blogs can do for you and your business:

  1. Open Communication between you and your customer: You are starting a conversation with your potential client. When they read and follow you, it gives them a direct insight to how you are as a business owner.
  2. Subscription list: If your readers enjoy your blog they can be notified directly via e-mail. This is an opportunity for you to create database for you to promote your services and products. Limit your e-mails to once a month or twice a month.
  3. Affiliate marketing: When you are receiving a large following of readers, you may want to consider using affiliate marketing into your blog. This will create another stream of passive income right into your bank account. Affiliate marketing are just like businesses advertising on your blog, when your readers click the ad from your blog, and a sale is made, you will get a portion of the sale!
  4. Higher rankings: Google analytics like to see different clicks going to and from your website. The more clicks coming to your blog from your social media sites, and vice versa, Google “bots” see it as a popular place to be and will rank your blog and website higher for FREE.
  5. Free publication: Having a blog puts you, as a business owner, on a different and personal expertise level than someone that is competition and not blogging. You never know who may be reading and following your blog that can create a whole new venture for you that will make you even more money!

Hope these tips will get your fire burning to write a blog. Even if the blog is just once a month to start, it will generate a following that will be expecting your great insight. Happy blogging!

Contact Jemi Echevarria by phone: (647)785-5851 or by e-mail:  jemiechevarria@gmail.com

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10 tips to Cut costs, Increase sales, and Save time

Jemi

For every small business, there will always be costs to be paid out. The trick is to receive more business than having to pay bills. Whether you are a small start-up company or a retail store, these tips you can do right now. Marketing and advertising doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. With a little planning and some time, you can achieve the results you want. Try all of these tips once and track the progress. If it works, great! Do it again. If it doesn’t, note why you think it didn’t and how you would do it over again.

Tip#1 Know your customer! A pet peeve of mine is when an entrepreneur will tell me that EVERYONE is their customer. Although it is true that we can take business from anyone, there will be a group of people that will be your primary customer. This is the “type” of customer that buys from you regularly. They say 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers. Get to know your customers very well. Learn about their buying habits, their education, and lifestyle.

Tip#2 Following the previous tip, create a customer management system. This means a database where you place all your customers information including birthdays, anniversaries, spouse’s name and number (for gifts), and any other information that you can use to personalize the experience for your customer. These types of small gestures will bring a lot of business over time and a loyal clientele base.

Tip#3 Hire a student. College and University students are looking for experience in their field. You can hire them for an hourly basis or per contract. For example, I had a business mentor that didn’t have time to punch in her receipts into her excel so she hired an accountant student to simply punch in her numbers. The student gets extra money and the business owner has more time to do what they love to do.

Tip#4 Do not go with a very elaborate website. Start with something small and simple then work your way up when your business grows.

Tip#5 Try a joint venture. During your travels as an entrepreneur you’ll find some great people in the same industry but are not your competition.(For example; a makeup artist and hairdresser) These two professions are not in competition but they do cater to same market. You can join together on marketing (IE one business gets one side of a postcard, and the other has the opposite. Together you can split the cost of printing and get your business out there twice as fast)

Tip#6 Know your competition. Do a SWOT analysis of your greatest competition. “S” stands for strengths. What does your competition do better than you? “W” stands for weakness. What does your competition lack? “O” stands for opportunity. How can you improve your business from your strengths and weaknesses? “T” stands for threats. Where can your competition really hurt your business?

Tip#7 Barter goods. When you make great connections with other businesses, you can sometimes barter for goods. This means providing a service for a service instead of using money. You may give a service of printing business cards to get your car detailed for instance. This is a win-win relationship.

Tip#8 Track your invoices, receipts, and bill payments. When you have a handle of your finances, you are able to see where you are making the most money and how. Keep a journal and calendar on when bills need to get paid and when invoices are being charged.

Tip #9 Conduct surveys regularly. The best way to improve your business is to find out directly from your customers. Give coupons or discounts to your customers for participating in the survey.

Tip #10 Give out useful information for free. Your brain is full of so much expertise. Create opportunities to showcase your talents. You can hold free webinars. Volunteer to speak at different engagements. Write articles for different newspapers.

These ten tips will increase your bottom line immediately and save you money. Not every business owner has thousands of dollars to hire an advertising agency. Become an expert in your own marketing.

For more information contact Jemi Echevarria, marketing campaign manager at

(647)785-5851 or jemiechevarria@gmail.com

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SEO: Getting Found by Search Engines

SEOsweetspot

 

In the fourth post in this series, I described social strategy: which social platforms you may want to prioritise for your business, depending on your conversion funnel.  Over the next 2 months of this series, we’ll finish fleshing out the remaining pieces of the content strategy puzzle, and this month we’ll tackle a murky and mysterious area: search engine optimisation.

There are 6 basic ways to get your business found online, and while each one is important and some of them are closely connected, how you prioritize them and which one(s) you focus your time and money on depends on the way your target users are seeking your type of product or service, and the value of a conversion for your business.

 

The Six Basic Ways to Get Found

1) Directory Listings

2) Advertising (I’m referring to Google Adwords or Google display ads)

3) Having a Social Media Presence (covered in post 4)

4) Inbound Links

5) Content Marketing

6) Organic SEO or search engine optimisation

Organic SEO encompasses all of the other tactics to a greater or lesser degree, so it will be our focus for this article.  And organic SEO is almost synonymous with, or at least shares many tactics of, content strategy itself.  In fact, one of the primary reasons to have a good content strategy is so that your digital business will get found, because the bottom line is without content, you will not get found.

The intersection of organic SEO, content strategy, and usability or user experience design is a sweet spot where you will get found, get customers, and make money.  We’re going to talk a lot about the keyword aspect of organic search engine optimization because it is a great way to focus in on the words and phrases that will best target your users and help them to find you. Getting found using organic SEO is all about search engines like Google, so it’s worthwhile to describe very briefly how Google works.

 

How does google work?

Google’s mission statement is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.  In order to do this, they have what are called Search Spiders: these are little bits of computer code that “crawl” the Internet, scanning pages as they go.

Google has an algorithm that then ranks each and every page; giving it what Google calls “page rank”.  Page Rank is based on multiple factors that only Google really knows, but they are things like:

  • Does this read like real content or does it sound false or fake?
  • Are there certain words that are used enough times (2-7% of the time) so that we, the robotic spiders, can guess what this page is about?
  • Does anyone else on the Internet, especially sources that have a good page rank and therefore good reputation, link to this page?
  • Does this page load quickly?

Then, when a user searches for, say, “Content Strategy”, Google’s algorithm looks for all the pages that it ranked as top quality for the words “Content Strategy”, and it serves them up on the Search Engine Results Page or SERP.

The goal of getting found online is ultimately to be there on the first page of Google’s search results when people are searching for the kind of product or service you offer.  Very few people will ever look on the second page of Google, and in fact, very few people will ever venture beyond the first 3 results served.

 

Keyword Optimisation: the basics

To drive traffic and develop a relationship of trust with your customers, you really must create relevant, helpful content.  But optimising that content for keywords is an important and useful practice, because it will increase your visibility in search and it will also help you focus your content.  What this means is that you need to choose a word or short phrase that represents what you believe your target users might be typing into Google’s search box when they are searching for your product or service.  You need to imagine what words THEY would use.  Then, you need to make sure that those words comprise 2-7% of the text on the page you are optimising.  Every page on your website should be optimised for one keyword (or keyword phrase); this keyword should appear in the URL for the page, the page title, in the body copy of the page, even in any image descriptions on the page.

There are lots of simple places to look to figure out what keywords you might use to focus on in your blog posts, landing pages, and product pages.

Look on competitor websites and see what kinds of words they are using to describe products and services similar to yours

Listen to your customers: what words do they use to describe their problems, their solutions, and their needs?

Type your ideas into Google and see what alternatives appear as you type

Look at the bottom of the SERP or search engine results page; you will see further variations there

Each page should also have 4-6 secondary keyword variations, so as you are doing this research, try to group keywords and phrases and their close variations together on a spreadsheet so you have lots of options when it comes time to write your blog posts, landing pages, or other site copy, and try to include location as keywords if your product or service is local.  Imagine your website as a series of landing pages: every product page, every post, should be created and written with keywords in mind.

Keyword optimisation is something you should do on your website even if you are not blogging!

 

Inbound links

When we talk about inbound links, it’s really important to distinguish these links from the links that you might put on your website, between pages or linking out to other websites.  When we say inbound links we’re not talking about the links ON your pages, we’re talking about the links TO your pages, FROM other websites

Inbound links are as important as keyword optimisation as far as helping your pages to rank well for Google.  They are especially important if your conversion funnel is more weighted towards passive discovery rather than active discovery and they are critically important if your service is consultation, thought leadership, expertise, or education.

The easiest way to get inbound links is to submit your site to directories; while some directories cost money and therefore give you what is called a “no follow” link, they are still really important if you are a very active discovery type of business or to build your credibility as might be the case, for example, with being listed by your community’s Better Business Bureau.

However, if you are more of a passive discovery business where customers require multiple touch points before they make a buying decision, you need to use content to generate trust and develop the relationship, much in the way a traditional salesperson might do.  This is where Content Marketing in the form of blogging, white papers, report, eBooks, videos, or info graphics can serve double duty.  They can be keyword optimised to drive organic search traffic, but they also provide you with key pieces of content that can be leveraged to obtain inbound links from Influencers.

Influencer ‘Backlinks’

What is the ecosystem surrounding your product or service, the community?  Who in that ecosystem influences your customers’ buying decisions?  Making contact with these bloggers or businesses online and making them aware of content you might have that might interest their users is a great way to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with them, one in which they might link to your valuable content, giving you a valuable inbound link or ‘backlink’, and you will have access to their audience and may drive some of that traffic to your site.

 

Advertising

Google adwords can be an extremely inexpensive way to catapult your website onto the front page of Google in the form of an ad.  Paying for advertising will not improve your website’s organic search ranking, but it will help you get your brand in front of consumers while you build your content marketing bench strength, and it is an excellent research tool, enabling you to really finesse your keywords and see very clearly what words to drive traffic and conversions.  You need to figure out the balance between advertising spend, which can be very low, and organic spend.  To do a good adwords campaign, you need continuity between your keywords, ads, and landing pages, so there is no way around having good, focused content on your website, but sometimes one really good ad & landing page can drive more traffic than a whole bunch of blog posts, so it can be a good idea to advertise early in your content marking lifecycle so you can drive immediate traffic while you build you bank of landing pages.

While there are no hard and fast rules, the 70/10/10/10 rule outlined in this chart can help you to prioritise your efforts:

MyFindabilityTacticsMatrix

On this chart, I’m assuming that active discovery means your users need very few touch points with your brand before they buy, whereas passive discovery means they need more touch points  before they buy.  If you need a refresher on active vs. passive discovery, have another read of last month’s post in this series.  You can use the chart above to prioritise you SEO efforts behind specific tactics that will make the biggest difference, the most efficiently.

 

What we haven’t covered

This series is about content strategy, but when it comes to very thorough SEO, there are issues that impact on your ability to get found that are more technical in nature.  The easiest and most important one to address is the speed of your webiste.  Your pages should never take more than a couple of seconds to load.  The bottom line for SEO is that if your site is reasonably fast and you have authentic, focused content, you have a great base on which to build your SEO.

Next month, the last in this series, we’ll cover Content itself: what are the options in how you can most effectively and inexpensively generate the kind of content marketing that will move your digital business into the spotlight.

For more resources and information on Content Strategy and to download a detailed description of what content strategy entails, go to analyticalengine.ca/resources or download a Content Strategy Info graphic at http://bit.ly/1qY9tYp.

Christine McGlade is a Business Analyst, Content Strategist, and Usability Consultant.  With over 25 years experience in the media business, Christine helps small business, social enterprise, and Not for Profits how to leverage the power of the Internet to grow their business.  Learn more about Christine at analyticalengine.ca

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Communications

Sheralyn

The importance of effective communication, in any business, simply cannot be overstated and can’t be overstated simply.  Say what????

Giant Jet Ski Sale.  We drove by this sign on our way up north recently and these four words made me laugh out loud. I immediately envisioned a large lake full of enormous jet skis, something large enough to keep the Jolly Green Giant afloat. Is that really what the store was offering, or were they instead conducting a sale of epic proportions, with perhaps hundreds of jet skis (regular size only) for sale? Were they selling a volume of product or a product of volume?  In any business your communications clarity matters and it matters very much.

Small business entrepreneurs often don’t have the benefit of a large marketing and advertising budget or an elite advertising firm supporting them and providing great copy.  You have to write it yourself.  The problem for many entrepreneurs is that while they are subject matter experts (SME) in their chosen field, such extensive knowledge and expertise can prove to be an impediment when it comes to selling their product in a clear, concise and engaging way.

Entrepreneurs are often passionate about their product or service and it becomes difficult to critique your own content.  To you, everything is important but to a potential client that’s simply not the case. Distill your message down to the most salient points, those that your potential client most needs to hear. If you are not sure how much is too much information think “need to know” not “nice to know.”

If you’re having trouble with this process ask someone else to read through your website and promotional materials. If not an editing professional, at least ask a friend. A person who knows nothing about your chosen profession is ideal because if you can clearly convey your message to someone with no previous knowledge of your business that’s a great start. (As long as you trust their ability to give you honest feedback that is!)

Another excellent exercise is to take a sample paragraph (perhaps the one where you attempt to explain what your product or service is) and distill that message down to just ten words.  Can you get your point across in ten words or less? My guess is that you can and you should!  The message will likely be much better and certainly more concise.  If you offer multiple services make sure your message doesn’t sound muddled implying you don’t have a focus.  You might do several things but clarity and an attention grabbing headliner are still the most important factors in drawing the reader in.  Establish a ten word tagline, get your audiences attention, then you can up sell them on all your services.

This last piece of advice might sound obvious but it never ceases to amaze me how often it’s ignored: Spell check, spell check, spell check! There is nothing sloppier than reading a website riddled with spelling mistakes.  I understand grammar and syntax is often challenging and particularly for newcomers, the vagaries of the English language can be frustrating.  But spelling? The computer does that for you!  Click on “tools,” pull down grammar and spelling, follow the bouncing yellow dot….ok, there is no bouncing dot but it’s really that simple and there is no excuse for not doing it.

And that’s all you need to know about communications.  Simply stated. Statedsimply.

 

WRiting Right For You
“At a loss for words? I can help you find them!”
Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.

Business: 416-420-9415
Email: writingrightforyou@gmail.com
Website:http://writingrightforyou.weebly.com

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Creating Connections Through Colour

Open Your Mind to Creative Thinking

Colour is a tremendously powerful medium. It perhaps, is more influential than many people (especially those with an untrained eye) may realize. Colour has the unique ability to influence a number of thought provoking, subconscious emotions without even saying a word. Along with an unlimited number of feelings, moods, memories and emotions, colour has the capability to invoke physiological and even metabolic responses. For example the colour red and its ability to stimulate the appetite or the colour yellow, which may create a feeling of anxiety for some.

I recently stumbled upon an interesting infographic that examined the psychology of colour as it relates to business and the consumer. It really peaked my interest, as all things “psychology” tend to do and got me thinking about the choices I had made in the past regarding the branding and corporate identity I was hoping to create for my businesses. Without any formal training on this subject I found it incredibly interesting to see where my colour choices at that time landed in the spectrum of colour psychology and if, in fact they were representative of the message I was trying to convey to consumers through my colour selections.

I encourage you to check out the same infographic brought you by the creative people at WebpageFX to learn more about the psychology of colour in business and consumer behaviour. http://www.webpagefx.com/blog/web-design/psychology-of-color-infographic/

I found this particular infographic is especially informative as the creator has taken the time to include logos and branding of popular companies under colour heading to illustrate the connection to the psychological meaning of the colour. Or two colours, as the case may be.

Here are a few thought provoking questions I’ve created for you to ask yourself after you’ve reviewed the psychology of colour infographic. Ladies, when your small business first launched:

•Did you examine the role that colour plays in influencing consumer behavior?

•Was your unique brand developed by a professional?

          o If yes, did said professional clearly understand the vision and message you wished to convey of your brand?

•Did you identify which emotional messages (for example: trust, honesty or integrity) that are representative of your brand?

          o If yes, did explore the role that the psychology of colour plays in creating consumer engagement?

If at the present time your brand doesn’t seem to be generating the hype you were expecting and you answered no to any (or all) of the above questions perhaps it may be the right time to incorporate examining the psychology of colour into your strategic planning.

Brands are continually being reinvented. Consumer behavior isn’t static. It shifts for a variety of reasons dictated by a myriad of economical and social factors and in order for a business to keep connections strong as well as generate valuable new ones it must be aware of and in tune with its target audience.

My savvy business women remember that while purple may be your favourite colour it may not create that unique emotional connection you are seeking in order to engage your clientele. Some people are gifted with an instinctive, naturally creative flair while others possess a gift for crunching numbers, stats and hard data. Be as it may, we all have strengths and challenges. This is what makes us unique as individuals. But what sets us apart is our passion for small business and the limitless drive each of us possess to learn what we need to in order to grow our venture into successful enterprise.

GRAPHIC: Open your mind to creative thinking. Source: http://hongkiat.com

Shannon Lauzon is a serial entrepreneur and the Founder of Pragmatic Approach, a boutique small business development, strategic planning and social media marketing firm located in Southwestern Ontario. Pragmatic Approach’s mission is to provide purposeful, solution-focused consulting to entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout all stages of their business life cycle.
Contact information: Pragmatic Approach ~ Tel: (519) 498-4958 ~ Email: purposeful.biz@gmail.com ~Twitter: @shannon_lauzon~ Blog (under construction): www.PragmaticApproach.wordpress.com
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Calling all Bloggers

Canadian Small Business Women Blog will officially launch mid-February. The goal of this blog will be to provide valuable busines information from experts to my followers. We will also feature a “Small Business Woman of the Month.” This will be in the form of a short bio along with a short Q & A section. To nominate a business woman for this feature, please submit the following via email by the final day of each month for blog consideration:
**Two high resolution pictures
**A 500 word bio
**Answers to the following questions:
*What inspires you?
*As a small business owner, what achievements make you most proud?
*What advice would you give to other aspiring small business owners?
*What new things can we look forward to from your business in the upcoming year?
**Please note, we will require you to place a link to our blog on your website and facebook page for your feature month.

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We are also looking for experts in varous fields across Canada to be blog contributors. We need experts in Small Business Banking, Marketing, Business Management, Business Planning, Social Media Strategies and other related fields. We will only require a maximum of 2 blog entries per month. Interested parties, please email a short bio to canadiansmallbusinesswomen@gmail.ca

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Our official website http://www.canadiansmallbusinesswomen.ca launches on February 1st!! Join the excitement by checking out all we have to offer. If you would like to post a banner ad or a thumbnail ad on our site, contact us for more information. Advertising space is limited, so act fast.

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