Articles By Bobbi Nagle

Online Review Do’s and Don’ts

Online Reviews Can Help With Small Business Marketing

Ever since Amazon starting using reviews, the idea of peer-to-peer recommendations has become an important and influential source of referrals for customers. Most of us have read the reviews about a company or product before buying, as it is a great way to learn about it before spending your own money. Small business owners can also benefit from reviews online, and it can be one of the best free marketing tools available. But there are rules,photo of tablet showing review page and if you don’t follow them, you can end up being banned from some review sites. 

Google and other services will flag or remove reviews if they think they are bogus. Google’s review guidelines explain why:

“Reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased … Don’t offer money or product to others to write reviews for your business or write negative reviews about a competitor. We also discourage specialized review stations or kiosks set up at your place of business for the sole purpose of soliciting reviews.”

Definite Don’ts

Don’t Offer an Incentive. If you give your customers a gift, a discount or something else in exchange for the review, that’s a paid endorsement. Not only will it cause your reviews to be blocked by search engines, but it also violates the Federal Trade Commission’s Guidelines.

Don’t Create a Review Template. Business owners want to make it easy for their clients to write a review, and customers or clients appreciate a shortcut. But if you give them a form to fill out to make reviews easier, the services will catch that. It is not hard to spot reviews that have the same format. Resist the temptation to hand out a pre-written review to customers, even if they ask.

Don’t ask your clients to remove a bad review. Even if you fix the issue or resolve the problem, the review sites will see that as review manipulation. While you can’t pay for a positive review, you also can’t pay or give an incentive to remove a bad one. 

Don’t ask for reviews from your location. Reviews will incorporate the IP address, which is tracked by the review sites. It will show that they all came from the same place, and that’s a red flag for review sites.

Don’t ask clients to write reviews all at the same time. If several reviews come in during a short period of time, it will be a red flag for the review sites. A slow, steady trend of reviews over time is a better strategy than all at once.

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Things To DO:

Do Report Fake Reviews. Rev
iews that violate the policies of the review site will be removed. If you suspect a competitor or former employee is behind the posting, you can report it and it may be removed. 

Do Encourage Your Customers To Give Reviews. After the work is completed, it is a good idea to remind clients that you appreciate their honest reviews on Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, etc. 

Follow Up After The Sale With A Reminder. If you regularly send out customer surveys, include a reminder about posting a review of your services. For example, “please visit us on Facebook or Google and leave a review so others will know about your experience.”

Ask For Reviews on Social Media. Google+ and Facebook have convenient ways for customers to leave a review, so occasionally post a request for a review. 

What all New Entrepreneurs Should Know about Working from Home

Like me, a lot of small business entrepreneurs work from home. It’s not always as easy as people think! Here are a few things to think about from guest blogger Brooke Chaplan.

Working From Home Sounds Great, Right?

Technology has made it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to start their own work-at-home business, often as one of many independent contractors who work through a broker. This can be a great opportunity to make money and have the flexibility to stay at home and watch your family grow. If you are thinking about switching to a work-at-home environment, consider these must-know facts before jumping into the world of making money in your pajamas. image of Small Business Ideas graphic

Take it Seriously
Yes, you can work in your own comfortable bedroom, living room, or home office and enjoy all the comforts of your humble abode, but that doesn’t mean you should slack off. Working at home requires serious discipline in order to turn a profit. That means staying off of addicting social media (unless, of course, that’s part of your job) and avoiding the many distractions home life has to offer long enough to pay the bills. Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it religiously. Many online brokers offer incentive for being extra productive, and if you’re a freelancer, your incentive is making your own hours and turning the profit your own way.

Say Goodbye to Benefits
One of the biggest reality checks of working from home is that if you’re self-employed, you won’t be getting the benefits most commuters and office employees get. That means no business-sponsored health insurance, life insurance, or anything related. Make sure you budget responsibly to leave enough money for your own health bills or insurance. It might be a good idea to consult with an insurance agency before getting started to see what options are available for self-employed individuals.

Paying Your Own Taxes
If you live and work in the United States, you’ll most likely be filing your taxes as a private business and logging your income on a 1099-Misc sheet. This will calculate how much money you owe the government, since your clients and contractees do not account for taxes when they pay you for services rendered, nor do they pay the government on your behalf, like employers normally do. Again, make sure you leave enough money around tax time to compensate for this expense.

You are Your Own Accountant
On a related note, you have to keep track of your own expenses as a business as well. Just like your family budget, but a lot more pricey, this can be a challenge for a lot of new entrepreneurs. If your work involves selling products as you travel, you’ll probably be purchasing Shipping Cases, cargo cases, and packing material. If you need to buy and sell investments or stock, this might take up a lot of your business budget as well. Make sure you are prepared to make room for added expenses as well and can account for everything you purchase.

Working at home is a liberating and powerful way to make money. Just be responsible. After all, you are your own boss now.

 

 

Marketing Online: Tips for Promoting Your Business to the Right Crowd

Target Your Best Customers With Online Marketing

Concentrating your marketing resources on the right crowd is essential for getting the best return on your marketing investment. Design your brand image, your social media profiles, and your website to appeal to your target audience so once you reach out to them using these tips, they will trust your business to meet their needs.   photo of chess queen inside a target

Analyze Your Product’s Problem Solving Ability

Who needs the benefits your product provides? People usually buy things to solve a problem or need and finding places where consumers congregate, is the key to reaching the right audience. Search for forums, chat rooms, and online communities where people are discussing the difficulties with something your product resolves, then offer expert advice. Link to your website so people can learn more, however, don’t promote without also offering valuable information. For example, Succeed At Eagle offer ways to share and promote real estate which could be useful for someone in mortgage. Find ways to show a solution to a problem.

Utilize Social Media Demographic Data

Consumers spend a lot of time on social media, but don’t assume that Facebook marketing will automatically reach your intended audience. Social media platforms publish their user demographics and you can use this data to discover where your prospects are spending their time. Know each social media platforms typical user; Pinterest’s average user is an upper-income, suburban female age 30-48. If this is your target audience, create a Pinterest business account and pin regularly. If you have trouble creating engaging social media posts, have a marketing company do your social media marketing.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Actively seek out sponsorship opportunities for fundraising events or support a charity to get your brand in front of people who are likely to purchase from you in the future. Engaging with the community is a great way to connect more personally to your consumer base and show your product or service off.

Consider Geo-Targeted Marketing Campaign

A surprising number of consumers do not opt out of location reporting, allowing you to concentrate your marketing efforts on areas where your target audience frequents. For example, targeting university locations can help you reach the 18 to 25 year-old demographic. You can also seasonally target locations, such as advertising snow shovels to Buffalo, New York residents before a major storm is due to arrive. Targeting specific neighborhoods will help you reach the right crowd. For example, if you sell high-end designer clothing, geo-target wealthy neighborhoods for the best results. 

Marketing campaigns that target everyone who is breathing are expensive and often, a waste of time. Define who is most likely to buy from you, then, when you find the right crowd, market to them, and you will see much better results for less money.

Mobile Marketing Missteps You Should be Aware of

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You Can’t Afford To Ignore Mobile Users

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The number of mobile internet users is quickly ballooning towards 5 billion. This is a significant portion of your consumers. As such, it’s wise for all companies to have mobile marketing plans in place. Even though mobile can be lucrative, successfully marketing to people with smart phones and tablets isn’t always as easy. Below are some common missteps you should be sure to avoid.



Not Optimizing Your Content for Mobile


These days, all your content should be optimized for mobile platforms. When a potential customer accesses your website, they should find pages that scroll up and down as opposed to left to right. All text should be clearly legible, and all buttons and links must be able to be clicked on a touch screen. Talk to professionals to see if your site has been properly optimized. 



Relying on QR Codes


QR codes were a fad that quickly passed. While the idea of scanning a mysterious pattern with an app to reveal a message, discount, or something else was novel originally, consumers have seemingly tired of the trend. Research has shown that marketing campaigns that relied on QR codes produced rather mixed results.



Not Taking Advantage of Project Management Software


If you decide to launch a mobile marketing campaign, make sure you take advantage of project management software like LANDESK by using it to help drive your campaign. You can use the software to designate tasks, control budgeting, and track feedback and mobile conversions.



Not Marketing Your App


One mistake many companies make is thinking that apps sell their selves. If you have invested a significant amount of money and resources into developing an app for your company, you must also make the appropriate effort to raise awareness among the public of your app. Don’t expect results from simply dumping it into the app store.



Not Measuring Engagement


Just because your app has a high level of downloads does not mean your mobile marketing campaign is successful. If a person only uses the app once and never again, you have failed. Instead, one of your goals should be producing customer engagement that has the ability to last for the long term. This way, you will produce a solid revenue stream from that app.



Mobile isn’t a trend that will disappear anytime soon. It has fundamentally changed how people use the internet and purchase products and services. However, you must also be smart about how you design your apps as well as your mobile marketing campaigns. If you make serious mistakes, you could be losing a lot of money.

Why Your Marketing Strategy Isn’t as Effective as It Could Be

 

Top Marketing Mistakes Business Owners Make

Are your marketing and advertising plans performing far below expectations? There are several mistakes business owners tend to make in their advertising efforts from not having a strong value proposition, not understanding their audience, to not having a clearly defined strategy. Here are some of the reasons why your marketing may be lacking, and ideas on how you can improve it.

You Don’t Know Your Ideal Customer
The first thing you’ll want to find out is who your ideal customer is. For example, if you’re in the printing business, you might need to think about whether you want to target small businesses or larger companies. You may discover it’s more profitable to target smaller businesses in your area as your main clientele. It’s up to you to analyze your business structure and model it after what type of customer you plan to market to.

Differentiating Yourself from the Competition

If your marketing doesn’t communicate how your business is different from similar products, why would people do business with you in particular? You need to let your consumers know what your business does differently and why you’re a cut above. The key is to state a unique proposition that communicates clear advantages in a sentence or two. For example, Dominoes used the hook “hot pizza in 30 minutes or less or it’s free” to clearly distinguish themselves from their competition. What can you come up with?

Lacking a Clear and Focused Marketing Strategy
Many business owners dabble in multiple things to generate business, but it’s often a much better idea to hone in on what’s working the best and maximize those results. For example, if you’re already doing well with social media, try to get the most out of that particular platform instead of dabbling in other things like search engine optimization, pay per click, etc. Once you feel like you’re doing the best as you can, it’s time to tap into other advertising channels to increase your revenue.

Stay focused on your clients and customers and don’t go too far off base with how you reach them.

Finding a Follow Up System
Many businesses fail to follow up with their prospects. Just because a customer didn’t do business with you the first time around, doesn’t mean they are a dead end. It often takes multiple follow ups for prospects to convert into customers. For online campaigns, this may mean using email autoresponders to send a series of emails to educate prospective clients and promote your offer throughout the process. For offline campaigns, it may mean using direct mail, post cards, handing out business cards at events, and phone calls to follow up on qualified leads. Make sure any follow up you use is professional. Third party email services can make auto emails look personalized to clients and physical advertising should be made unique with things like 4 Color Print embossed cards or 3D fliers.

The above are just some of the mistakes you could be making in your marketing strategy. Luckily, they can be solved with just a few simple solutions. It’s a matter of analyzing your marketing and figuring out what’s missing.

Finding Your Demographic: Tips for Switching Gears in Your Marketing

Today’s guest post is by Brooke Chaplan, a freelance writer and blogger. This is great information for focusing your small business marketing efforts on the right target audience.

 

Discovering Your Marketing Demographic

The crux of marketing revolves around finding the right people to deliver the right message to. Anything less represents a strategy that could be improved. The challenge is often switching incredibly difficult. You may not even know where to begin looking for the more profitable demographics hiding among the people your marketing currently reaches. Let’s explore some tips that can help you find the most desirable target demographics, and refocus your current efforts so that you can improve the overall efficiency of your marketing campaigns.graphic of pie chart

Use Website Analytics to Find New Demographics
Your website is an amazing place to start looking for new demographics. You can generally spot outliers and trends based on keyword usage. While this information alone will not help you form a clear picture of new demographics, it can give you clues as to where you should start looking. It may even allow you to notice underlying trends between access time and keyword usage that can help you refine your current demographic targets.

Ask for Data from Your Users About Themselves
Visitors tend to be willing to share information with you, especially when that information pertains to their own interests. All you need to do is start asking them for it. By setting up a simple pop-up survey, you can acquire this information anonymously. This can help you form information about the most prevalent demographics on your website, and help you notice the smaller groups that visit it. The one thing to keep in mind is that you should be polite when you ask. Give your visitors the choice to opt out, as they may feel less compelled to share otherwise.

Opt for Market Research
Market research is considered one of the most appropriate ways to acquire information about new target demographics. It utilizes a wide variety of techniques and multiple steps to acquire this information. You may, for example, use a market research company like Lucintel to find out what motivates your current demographic through product studies. You can then look for information from random survey takers to find people whom may enjoy your products. Once that is done, you can align the desires of your current demographics with your potential demographics. This can effectively and efficiently help you find new customers to reach with your marketing campaigns.

Focus on Mobile Users
Users of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets represent a new type of consumer. Their reasons for buying tend to differ from traditional demographics. By focusing on mobile users, you may be able to acquire new information about your potential target demographics. You may even be able to acquire information that can help you with your existing demographics. Don’t be afraid to target mobile users to learn more about who you can reach.

Refocusing Your Marketing: Putting It All Together
The big “trick” to shifting your marketing focus is to look for new traits and commonalities between demographics. You can use the methods outlined above to begin finding those traits, but be aware that this is often a lengthy process. Once you have enough information to begin formulating pictures of your potential demographics, then you can change your marketing strategies. You should start small with these new demographics, and expand once you confirm that they will provide the results you seek.

 

No Marketing Plan is Complete Without A Budget

Finding Marketing Dollars May Not Be Easy, But It Is Important

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Not setting aside a marketing budget each year is a mistake that many small businesses make. Many business owners don’t believe they can spare the funds for marketing, or that when business picks up they will spend a little on advertising.
But that is a mistake for many reasons. First, advertising can and will drive business to your door. It is an effective way to tell customers about your products and services, sales, coupons, discounts, etc. Even the largest and most well-known companies (think McDonald’s, Apple and GM) advertise regularly – they know that keeping their brand fresh in peoples’ minds is key to profitability.

Guess What? You Will Probably Spend It Anyway

The bigger issue around not having a budget, though, is that you will probably end up spending money anyway. Whether it’s running an ad in the local paper to support the high school football section or buying a yearbook ad, you are likely to spend at least some dollars on ads. The problem with not having a budget is that it makes it more difficult to track those expenditures and to decide if they are helping you or not.
There is no flat rule about how much to spend on advertising, and it depends heavily on your business, your customers and your marketing strategy. You can start small, budgeting just 1% of annual revenues for example, and adjust as needed from there.
Your marketing strategy should be supported with the appropriate budget to help you achieve your business goals. Deppe Communications can help you with that plan – just give us a call or E-mail me.

How to Avoid Six of the Biggest Marketing Flops

Today’s guest post is by Brooke Chaplan, a freelance writer and blogger. This is an excellent overview for businesses of any size on how to avoid some basic marketing mistakes.

Avoiding Marketing Mistakes

A good marketing campaign exists on a razor-sharp edge between success and failure. There are few marketing campaigns that do just well enough to get by, because when a marketing campaign works, it really works. But when it flops, you may find yourself looking for a new marketing manager. Because marketing relies on edgy promotions to break through the noise of a modern life, you stand to lose customers if you don’t follow a few best practices. image of marketing plan steps

Extensive Research
If you don’t do research, you deserve whatever backlash you get from a bad campaign. Be careful and look at the plan from different angles. If you decide to target a foreign market, get your translations right. Pepsi once marketed a campaign in China that promised to “bring your ancestors back to life”.

Test it Small
Large companies can afford marketing focus groups, but smaller businesses may have to wrack their brains to try and determine whether anything in the campaign is too narrow or broad reaching. Take it to your local coffee shop, ask everyone and anyone you can find. 

Tread Lightly with Viral Content
Hot topics, controversial ideas, and trending topics can go horribly wrong in marketing campaigns. Ask yourself if your promotion helps your brand, or detracts from it. Use a mission statement to ensure every message you release coincides with the image you want to portray. Be careful that your campaign promotes your company in a positive light.

Originality Counts
If another company launches a campaign and it works, don’t copy it. Apple pretty much has the market for white backgrounds and simple explanations down. While you can certainly attempt to create campaigns that are simple and to the point, be very careful about branding your company as a copycat.

Find original ideas and make yourselves visible in other ways. Sometimes marketing can be as subtle as being recognized for your specific workwear uniforms or logo. Use the visibility you already have and incorporate it into how you advertise.

Use Customer Data
Use your customer data to ensure you are marketing to your demographics. If you don’t know your customer demographic, you shouldn’t be trying to create a marketing campaign in the first place. Invest time and energy into finding out who your customers are, and why they buy your products or service.

Social Media Mistakes
Don’t try to be everywhere unless you have the capital to invest in managing many different social media pages. Choose a few platforms, and provide a very specific type of information on each page. For example, articles can be posted on Facebook, while promotions and contests can appear on Twitter.

Take the time to find out how your customers would respond to your marketing campaign. With the right advertising plan, you can gain more visibility and new customers all while avoiding some big marketing mistakes. 

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.”

What About SEO in 2016?

Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Important For Your Business?

I get this question often, especially from small business owners who market to local residents. They are just not sure that catering to the search engines is going to bring them more business.

The answer is yes – definitely. Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, and all the other search engines drive billions of searchers to websites every month. In fact, there are more than 1.1 billion searches on Google alone each month. In that same month, 350 million people searched on Bing, 300 million on Yahoo, 245 million on Ask, 125 million on Aol….well, you get the picture. If you added up just the Top 10 Search Engines for the month of December 2015, you would see that more than 2.4 billion searches took place.

photo of keyboard with 2016 on enter key

What do people search for on Google?

Anything and everything you can imagine, from hurricanes to hot movies, trendy makeup, Cecil the Lion and the newest emojis. Oh, and they are also searching for your products and services, too.

Do online searches result in sales?

They do, and they result in both online sales as well as brick & mortar sales. About 64% of in-store sales are influenced by digital interactions, according to a recent study on omnichannel retailing. And while e-commerce sales were projected to increase by nearly 14% this holiday season, online sales still only account for 9% of all purchasing behavior.

How Does SEO Fit Into Your Marketing Plan?

First, be sure that your website is optimized for mobile – both smartphones and tablets. The best way to do this is to have a website that is responsive, which mean that it will automatically adjust the pages to fit the user’s device. It is not just user convenience that makes this important – Google and other search engines value mobile friendly websites enough to penalize those that are not by dropping them lower in the search results.

Mobile is Changing Search Habits

More than half of all online searches are being done on a mobile device these days, and it is important that your website meets the needs of those customers. Your SEO efforts will need to address the changing way that customers are searching. For example, when searching for a new dog on a desktop, you might enter “boxer puppies” or “breeder for boxer puppies” in the search engine. But on a phone, you are likely to be talking out loud, so your search phrase will probably be something like “where is the nearest breeder for boxer dogs” or “find local dog breeders.”

By knowing the questions your customers are asking, and then answering them on your website, you will be creating informative and helpful content. You will improve your SEO and become more authoritative in the eyes of customers. If they can find the information they need on your website, they are more likely to buy from you – whether they are across the street or across the country.

Want to improve the SEO on your website?

Send an Email or call Deppe Communications at 904.524.0170 and we will get you started on improving your online search engine results today.

Flexible Funding: Which Advertising Techniques are Worth the Price?

If you take the time to do the appropriate research, advertising is often shown to be more an investment than an expense. Unfortunately, with so many different techniques to try and platforms to advertise on, it’s possible you could spend your entire budget on techniques that aren’t worth the price. Since marketing and promotions are the only two efforts that will help expand and grow your business, setting aside funding for the right tactics is key. Here are some tactics that offer the best return on investment so you can maximize your profits without expanding your budget.

Online Advertisements photo of mobile devices
We live in a society with extremely price-conscious consumers. Since many people put price over everything else, it’s important to keep your prices low and competitive by funding the right ad campaigns. One campaign to allocate funds to is online ads. According to analytics, many businesses have measured that the average short-term return on investment for online ads is about $2.18 per dollar spent. This is much higher than the short-term return on magazine advertisements and newspapers ads. Retail stores like Nordstrom’s and Target have been able to find added success with offering online coupons from discountrue along with printed ones.

Increasing Brand Loyalty With TV Ads
TV ads are effective advertisements that will drive sales in the short term while also offering you brand loyalty and recognition. With the right message and the right distribution choices, you can make a commercial ad campaign generate business now and later. According to the data, online techniques are great for immediate returns, and TV is the best option for a consistent return over time.

Discounts and Promotions
One way to influence consumers to buy is to offer discounts and promotions through either in-store program or through other online channels like social media. By giving the consumers an opportunity to save money, they are far more likely to buy from you now. This means you will drive your sales for as long as the promotions are valid, and can build a customer base to market to in the future. If you’re shopping and offered coupons for your next purchase, these offers are forms of advertisements used to get you through the doors and spend money. The money you lose out in the cost of the discount or gift is the advertising investment.

You should always be mindful of how each technique in your campaign is performing. With the right message, the right channels, and the right tweaks, you can increase effectiveness and gain more on each dollar spent. Keep an open mind and integrate different methods so you can keep up with advertisers who are always trying new ways to engage and convert customers.

Today’s guest blogger is freelancer Brooke Chaplan and you can reach her at brookechaplain@gmail.com.

 

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