6 Holiday Marketing Tips for Small Business

reindeer piggy bank

Start Small Business Marketing For the Holidays Now

Well Shoppers, there are only 51 more shopping days until Christmas – that’s 12 Fridays if you are counting – and if you are a small business that relies on the holidays to boost your profits then you are most likely getting prepared now. In fact, ChannelAdvisor did a survey of online retailers in the US. and UK recently and discovered that 59% have already launched their seasonal campaigns. Three-quarters say that fully 20% of their profits come from holiday sales, especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Not convinced that you should start your holiday marketing now? Check Pinterest then, where there is already a plethora of pins showing holiday decorating ideas and gifts. Another market researcher, CivicScience, reports that 47% of Pinterest users begin shopping before Thanksgiving – much higher than the 39% of the overall population. About 25% of shoppers begin in October and nearly half are already done by Cyber Monday!

As a small business owner, you may be wondering how you can compete during the holiday season and get your share of the sales. The answer is good marketing. Try a few of these ideas to improve your small business marketing during the holidays.

  1. Start now, but be creative. Remember to use bold holiday graphics in your E-mails, print ads, etc. Women are more likely to begin their shopping early, so construct your ad copy and images to appeal to them.
  2. Price aggressively. Early shoppers are looking for bargains now, when the selection is good. Appealing to this market now with competitive pricing can help you avoid making major markdowns later in the season. Highlight your pricing with phrases such as “lowest prices of the season” or other indicators to customers that they can get a bargain now.
  3. Ensure your online shopping experience is a good one. There is nothing worse that forcing a customer to search through your website for the information they need to make a purchase. If you are not sure about your website, ask customers to give you feedback or hire a web marketing firm to review your site and make suggestions. In 2014, almost half of the highest online shopping days were Tuesdays or Wednesdays, so think about offering specials on those days, or even scheduling E-mail messaging on those days.
  4. Begin the festivities! Yes, it might be 75 degrees outside, but bring a little holiday cheer into your business with holiday music, decorations and scents. About 1 in 5 holiday shoppers enjoy shopping in stores and they are more likely to make multiple trips. Keep in mind that the sense of smell is very powerful. Bring back a few fond memories for your customers by using seasonal scents like cinnamon, Christmas trees, etc.
  5. Make it Mobile. Keep in mind that more than half of all searches are now done on smart phones. Last year, 45% of the 4th quarter web traffic came from mobile devices like phones and tablets and 28% of sales last Black Friday were completed on mobile. Make sure you have “Buy Now” button prominently featured with your products. Most importantly, be sure your online store is mobile friendly. Not sure? Google will test it for you at no charge.
  6. Manage Your Advertising Budget. If you are using Pay-Per-Click advertising, adjust your budget on Black Friday to show more ads in the morning when more people are shopping. On Cyber Monday, target evening hours, as peak online shopping takes place then.

Yes, the holidays do seem to come earlier each year. As a small business owner, your seasonal marketing strategies should already be underway. But if they are not, give Deppe Communications a call at 904.524.0170 or Email info@DeppeCommunications.com and we will get you started.

What is your Facebook Attitude?

Today’s blog post is a guest post by Kat Roedell. Kat is not only a business owner here in Green Cove Springs, Florida, she also has a tremendous background in a variety of corporate leadership roles. Kat is actively growing her Mary Kay business and working as a leader with a local Women in Business Network group. She is a natural marketer and I think you’ll appreciate her take on Facebook posting guidelines – Kim Deppe

What’s Appropriate for Facebook?

Facebook is one of the most popular social media forums today. Yet, time after time, I see my friends posting “I’m leaving Facebook, there is too much drama, and it’s too negative.” I am surprised and saddened to see them leave, because I know their newsfeed can be managed to make life more upbeat, and keep the drama mamas away!
graphic of person with words coming from mouthWe’ve seen the posts filled with swearing, negative comments, inappropriate pictures and stories designed milk sympathy or dollars from “friends”. It feels as if no one has a filter these days, a thought goes directly from the brain to the keyboard and the social niceties have gone out the window. When people act this way in public we see them on the Jerry Springer show – online they think they are invisible.
It is hard to remove yourself from a place where you can connect with people you haven’t been in touch with for years. Facebook is a great place to keep up with friends, talk about your interests, market your business and express your creativity. You wouldn’t stop advertising in a newspaper or radio because you didn’t like one piece. So how do you control what you see and attract the right people?
Recuse Yourself. Step away from the drama. Unfollow feeds and friends that bring drama along with them. A simple right click on a post will allow you to block a post, or unfollow someone. Right click on their name to unfriend them. This isn’t personal, this is business. If you know them well, talk to them about ways they can change their image on Facebook – some will.
Be Transparent and Real. Post touching family moments, helpful things, things that lift your spirit, and share the good stuff. Make sure your filter is established. Always keep your posts upbeat and influential. The goal is to connect with other people and build relationships.
Establish Yourself as the Expert. Publish helpful tips about industry based items that the general public will find interesting, events that are networking based, connect people to people, and people to your product – but keep the sales language to a minimum. We don’t want to hear about the how and what, we want to know your why!
No Comment. Facebook is like an open air café. You don’t know who will be wandering by, and what they will see. If someone posts something that really makes you angry, you can take the high road and ignore the post, or instant message someone to have a conversation that doesn’t need to be shared with the world. There is no requirement to “like” everything someone puts up. If you don’t like a comment someone put on your status post, hover your mouse on the right-hand side of the comment and click the remove button. If they do it frequently enough, block them or unfriend them.
Surround Yourself with Excellence. Identify trendsetters in your industry and follow them, or become a trendsetter yourself. Post a positive status every day! Add a strong visual to capture attention. If you have a critique – post a positive solution along with it. Recommend sites that are upbeat, and add substance. You are A Positive Light in the darkness – Shine Brightly!

You can E-mail Kat Roedell at katroedell@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Frequently Asked Questions From My Clients about SEO

photo of white hat for SEO blog

Common Questions About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I am extremely fortunate to work with a wide variety of small business owners, professionals, and non-profit organizations. That range of businesses continually challenges me to be sure that I am on the leading curve of trends in SEO, marketing, public relations and communications. I thought it might be helpful for other business owners to read some of the Q&A from my clients. If you have a question that’s not here, just email me and I’ll answer it in an upcoming blog. Thanks!

Q: What the heck is SEO and do I really need it?
A: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process that professionals use to enhance your website so that is shows up higher in the search engine results. Google, Bing and other search engines have specific things they are looking for when determining which websites to serve up in a search. Those things change several times a year, so hiring an SEO professional is an advantage for your business.

Read the other FAQs About SEO.

 

10 Ways to Improve SEO

 

seo button

Five years ago, most of us had probably not even heard of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) let alone understand its importance to our small business websites. Back then, webmasters would fiddle around with things called meta tags, alt tags and keywords in some mysterious way that sometimes helped our websites get more traffic from the search engines. It was not uncommon to throw in a laundry list of keywords that may or may not have anything to do with your website, including the name of your competitors as a way to try to get their search results sent your way.

But today, SEO is another story. Search engines have changed and are more focused on delivering better results to searchers based on what is actually on a website and not a list of words stuck in a meta tag. That isn’t to say there aren’t a few tricks you can use to enhance your SEO efforts, though. But the real bottom line is that great content is key to getting good search engine results. Without that as your starting point, all the rest of these tips will be useless.

So, with that in mind, here are 10 things you should include in your SEO efforts. CSEOgraph

  1. Page Descriptions. This is a short paragraph that summarizes the content of the page. It somewhat replaces the meta tag, but should be specific to that particular page. Page descriptions are very important in helping search engines figure out what your website is about. Do not use the same description on every page. You will have to go to the Admin section of your website to add these in.
  1. Page URLs. Each page should have its own unique URL that is related to the content on that specific page. This is what will show up in the address bar when someone clicks on the page. An example is www.mywebsite.com/SEO-basics. You can see that the page URL immediately describes to users what they will find on the page. Again, do not use the same one over and over. You can include the name of your company in the page title.
  1. Page Titles. These also appear in the Admin section and is a brief few words that describe what is on the page. Each page should have a different title.
  1. XML Sitemap. If you do not have an XML Sitemap on your page, go to the Google Webmaster Tools and create one. This makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site.
  1. Alt tags. Use alt tags for every photograph on your website. Since search engines cannot “see” photos, they rely on alt tags to tell them what is in the photograph. Also, alt tags are used by disabled individuals who cannot see the screen. Keep the tag brief, but descriptive of what is in the photo. Use the word “image” or “photo” at the beginning of the description.
  1. Heading tags. H1, H2, H3, etc. are all heading tags. Typically the H1 tag is used for the headline at the top of the page. It should be a brief summary of what is on the page. Subheads or section heads can be smaller – H2 is smaller than H1, H3 is smaller than H2, etc. These tags are picked up by search engine crawlers and provide more clues about the content of the site.
  1. Simple Navigation. Try to keep your menu as simple as possible and make sure that it does not include industry jargon in the navigation. There is a reason that most websites use “About Us” and “Contact Us” – users know what those mean and what to expect when they click on them. Getting too fancy or clever with navigation menus can actually confuse users, so use the KISS (Keep It Simple Sunshine) principle.
  1. Text Links. The content on one page of your site is most likely connected to other pages. Help your readers by adding text links to let them jump to that content quickly. If you are writing about SEO and you have a whole article on “SEO definitions” on another page, then create a link that will take the user to the article. These connections are crawled by the search engines and will improve your SEO results.
  1. Anchor text. This is related to text links. The anchor is the word used to create the link – in the above example, it would be “SEO.” Use these more descriptive keywords instead of things like “click here” or “learn more.” A short keyword gives the search engine a better clue.
  1. Keywords. While this is listed last, it may be the most important of these 10 tips. Having the right keywords identified before you start writing for your website is very important. There are many keyword tools, including Google’s, to get help with building a list of appropriate keywords. Keywords and phrases should represent the things that your users/customers are most likely to type into a search engine to find you. Do you sell carpet? Then “carpet” and “flooring” are obvious keywords. “Floor coverings” and “shag carpet” and “rugs” should also be on your list. Once you have a list, use your keyword planning tool to learn which of these words are searched for the most. Look for niche phrases that might not have a lot of traffic, but represent an opportunity to garner visits. For example, “pine wood flooring” might not have a lot of searches but if you carry a lot of it, you might want to choose that keyword anyway. Try to narrow down your keyword list to a dozen or so really important ones, then focus on one or two of them on each page of your website. If you have a page but no matching keywords for it, then consider whether you should revise either the keywords or eliminate the page. Do NOT throw keywords into your content willy-nilly. First, it makes your content sound like gibberish to the reader. More importantly, keyword stuffing will get you penalized by Google and they might just remove you completely from their search engine. Your content should read naturally and keywords should be incorporated where they make sense. That’s why you should select the keywords before you write your content. Trying to add them in later could make your copy sound unnatural.

Understanding SEO and using it properly can help your small business website show up better in search engine results. Make sure you are showing up for the right results, though, and are focusing on things that will drive business not just traffic. As always, set up a tracking mechanism for leads that are generated by your search results, such as a contact form. Be sure to check your Google Analytics regularly to understand which keywords are working for you, and which you should think about changing.

There are other things, of course, that you can do to improve your SEO…great content, link building, website design, etc. But these 10 things will definitely get you on the right path. If you need help with SEO for your company website, call Deppe Communications at 904.524.0170 or E-mail info@DeppeCommunications.com.

Meet the Boss: A Social Media hub for small business owners

shutterstock_130608956

We join clubs and groups to socialize and network, but mainly to be among like-minded people. That’s why many business owners have social media accounts. We want to network and socialize for the sake of our business. But I know it can be a hassle to search for and attract such like-minded people through popular social media platforms, especially if time is limited.

Luckily, sites such as Meet The Boss eliminate that problem. Its users are business executives from various industries who network, communicate, and share and gain knowledge. As a business owner, you will fit right in. While you still have to do a little searching to find the right people to connect with, gone are the days where you have to search extensively.

The best thing is that it caters to everyone. Whether you’re just starting out, you’re a seasoned business professional who wants to gain new knowledge, or you’re an expert looking to share your knowledge, Meet The Boss is great for you!

It prides itself on being “the platform for better business conversations,” which explains why it is also used by many members as a problem-solving tool. We find ourselves at times facing different challenges in our industries, but hearing how other people overcome them can not only be helpful, but inspiring. With Meet the Boss, users facing such challenges can select a fellow executive, visit their profile and initiate a video call to engage in a discussion. By doing this, you have a new connection, great advice and exposure to new markets.

When you can spare a little time—I know this is hard, but it may be worth it—to dedicate to Meet the Boss, tell me about your experience.

Sources:

http://www.meettheboss.tv/about-us

http://www.sqcircle.com/projects/meettheboss-com/

Guest Blog: Leading On Purpose

image of Small Business Ideas graphic

Today’s blog post is a guest post by Kat Roedell. Kat is not only a business owner here in Green Cove Springs, Florida, she also has a tremendous background in a variety of corporate leadership roles. Kat is actively growing her Mary Kay business and working as a leader with a local Women in Business Network group. She is a natural marketer and I think you’ll enjoy what she has to say about being a leader in your own small business – Kim Deppe

Leading on Purpose
By Kat Roedell

It often seems to me that on my journey to becoming a strong leader, the talent part came easy. I was always the one that started the project, the adventure, the imagination, and the other kids joined in. I never considered it special, and I really never did it intentionally – I was just always a leader. It came naturally.
As I grew, I realized that some of it was due to my basic spiritual beliefs. As a Christian, I am called to follow Christ, and bring others to Him. We are all leaders in that way. Another part of it was charisma, that ability to transfer my passions to others, to engage them in what I what I was doing and why I was doing it.
As I entered the workforce, I kind of took it for granted. I was the one people always came to for the answers. I didn’t question it, that was just the way it was. I always followed a strong moral compass, had an aversion to politics, and to this day I don’t use my influencing talent to manipulate people – in part because it is too easy, and it’s wrong. In my mind, one of the biggest sins you can commit is to use a position of power as a method to control others, or extort what you want out of them.
So, to get to my topic, Leading on Purpose, I was a leader – but I wasn’t a Leader, because I wasn’t working intentionally in my talents and skills. I led because I was good at it, but not because I chose to lead. I had to figure out where the line was between influencing and manipulation. This is what I discovered Leading on Purpose Means:

Actively Engaging Others For Their Benefit.

You aren’t looking to forward your own agenda when you lead on purpose, you find where your agenda and their agenda aligns, making a WIN/WIN solution for all.

photo of business people talking about marketing
Clearly Defining Your Goals.

If your goal isn’t clearly defined, how can you tell if it aligns with another’s? Being crystal clear on the finish line helps you elicit others into your vision without manipulation.

Pouring Belief Into Your Team.

As Leaders we see clearly where the gaps are in our team, and where the potential is in our team members. Pouring belief into your team mates can fill in the gaps in the foundation of their self-belief, and provide them with the tools to begin pouring belief into others. It lifts them out of their self-limiting viewpoint and puts them on a firm footing. Until people believe in themselves, they often cannot fulfill roles they haven’t stepped into yet.

Filling the Gaps.

Once the team is on the right track mentally, they can step up into places they haven’t yet. But it is still the Leader’s role to play the missing parts until you can replace the need with something or someone else. A Leader should be just as comfortable playing a support role as they are in the visible position.
Work When No One Is Looking.

Leading on purpose is about doing the “and then some.” It’s about rising to your personal challenges and facing them head on, regardless of who is watching. It’s about walking in integrity, and being your best you. When you set the example, on purpose – others will follow. That is Leading on Purpose.

You can E-mail Kat Roedell at katroedell@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

[contact_bank form_id=2 show_title=true show_desc=false]

How To Increase Sharing of Your Online Content

I came across this fantastic infographic this morning and just HAD to share it! There is really good information here for anyone using social media to market their small business. Fortunately, the creator of this content made it quite easy for me to share this with you. Thanks to Uberflip and Buzzsumo for the great content. Just click on the graphic below to see it.

3 Types of Content That People Love to Share (Backed By Data)

Are you going mobile?

mobile device Deppe

It’s just about common knowledge that the majority of Americans use a smart phone these days. And chances are pretty good that in addition to at least one smart phone in the home, there is probably a tablet or two, as well. A desktop computer? Maybe not.

Mobile devices began outselling desktop computers a couple of years ago. Except for an office setting, many people don’t use a desktop to do things online. Mobile is hot, mobile is “in” and mobile is the word of the day. So, how are you incorporating mobile into your marketing strategy?

Not long ago, Google made changes to its search algorithm that gave “extra credit” to websites that are mobile-friendly. It doesn’t matter if you have a separate mobile site or have a website that automatically adapts to the device being used (a “responsive” site), as long as you have a mobile component to your site. If you don’t, you will be losing ground in the search engine results race. Your website will begin to sink lower in the rankings unless you have a mobile-friendly site.

But business owners need to do more than this, especially if you are involved in advertising online. If you use Google or Bing Pay-Per-Click ads, you can now optimize your ads for mobile devices. Because fewer ads are shown on mobile devices than on desktops, your mobile ads may cost more. But it will be worth it because there is less competition for your ads.

More than 50% of all online searches are now done from a mobile device, so making sure that your ads are showing up is important. A recent study showed that in the second quarter of 2015, 43% of Google search ad clicks came from a mobile user. Mobile devices also generate more than 60% of clicks from a social media site to a website and about 2/3 of those were from Facebook.

Website designs are also changing, as more people have smaller screens. We are seeing a move away from the traditional slider at the top of the page and more toward a vertical orientation that is more easily viewed on phones and tablets.

If you don’t have a mobile strategy yet, this is a good time to start. It is clear that mobile is here to stay and will continue to play a growing role in online business.

Oh, and for the Baby Boomers out there….sorry for the Earworm. You’ll be hearing The Who in your head for hours!

Ryze up!

cartoon guy with phone

Some social networking sites can be difficult to use because when it comes to their user friendliness, they are behind. But what if I told you there was a free social networking site for business professionals like yourself that is easy to use? It’s called Ryze.

I know that my definition of easy may be different from yours, but by simply visiting Ryze’s website, you see that it has a simple design, which makes it easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for. So for those who are not interested in social media because you think it is too difficult, your problem might now be solved!

So, why use Ryze? It allows you to join special networks related to your industry, interests or location. There are more than 1,000 organizations that host networks on Ryze, and this gives you many options and opportunities to connect with like-minded people.

There are more than 500,000 Ryze members in more than 200 countries, which is another reason why using it can be great for you and your business. Social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter have millions of users, which makes the playing field very large and extremely competitive. That’s why Ryze is great if you’re looking for a smaller and more concentrated platform to network and grow your business!

In addition to it being user friendly and close knit, Ryze also allows users to hold conversations within their networks, which can create a tight community of individuals with similar interests. And this can eventually lead to relationship building which grows your network and can even be word of mouth for your business.

I’ve given you a few reasons why I think Ryze is great, but I want to know what you think. Create your profile, build your network, and drop me a line letting me know how it goes!

 

Sources:

https://www.ryze.com/faq.php

http://professional-networking-services-review.toptenreviews.com/ryze-review.html

http://get-susan.com/services/10-best-social-media-sites-for-small-business-owners/

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235864

Does a website with all the answers really exist?

 

 

 

 

 

What is a Quora? Glad You Asked….

There’s buzz surrounding a site, Quora, and many people seem to think it has all the answers. You ask a question, hit the search button and you have an answer…or 15! It may sound simple, but as a small business owner, this can be very beneficial to you.

Here’s more about Quora: It’s a question-and-answer website that allows users to post questions, answer them, share them and engage with those who have similar interests. You simply sign up and ask any burning questions you have. Currently, the website has thousands of topics ranging from social media marketing to maintaining a small business.

information from QuoraSo, as a small business owner, you may be confused about Quora’s benefit for your company. Sure, it’s great for your personal use, but what can a question-and-answer website really do for you? Well, if taken full advantage of, it can do the following:

  1. Build your business contact list: Who doesn’t want more contacts? Whether you’re a web-design guru, social media junkie, or you eat, sleep and breathe PR, it doesn’t hurt to use Quora as a place to share this knowledge and connect with others like yourself. And sometimes, they can even teach you something new!
  2. Do away with your writer’s block: If you own a business and you have a blog, chances are you have writer’s block at times. It happens to the best of us. Luckily, you can use Quora to find trending topics to use for blog posts. And after a while, you’ll find yourself asking, ‘What’s writer’s block?’
  3. Keep you connected: Quora gives you the option to connect your account to your Facebook and Twitter pages. This is great because as you are sharing your wealth of knowledge with your followers, they may like what you’re about, visit your profile and follow you on your other social media platforms. More exposure for you!

You name it, Quora has an answer for it. Go ahead and try it out. Sign up, ask your burning questions and see what or who you find. Let me know what you think!

Sources:

http://get-susan.com/services/10-best-social-media-sites-for-small-business-owners/

http://get-susan.com/2013/01/18/are-you-in-a-quandary-over-quora-dont-be/

http://www.wired.com/2011/04/ff_quora/

%d bloggers like this: