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Small Business Success Index 4

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73 marginal
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Computer Technology 73
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Posts Tagged ‘lead generation’

From the GrowSmartBiz Conference: Proven Strategies to Convert Web Visitors into Customers

November 17th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

One of my favorite sessions at the GrowSmartBiz Conference on November 5 was a Technology Track panel discussion that offered valuable, no-nonsense ways to convert Web visitors into customers.  Thanks to Jennifer Shaheen, President of the Technology Therapy Group, Melinda Emerson, the Small Biz Lady, and Walt Rivenbank, VP of the Mobility Applications Consulting group at AT&T for such great information!

Their strategies are fairly easy to implement, but they will require some time.  Here’s what to do:

1. Check Google Analytics to find out whether your Web visitors are staying.

If you don’t have an account yet, get sign up for one today (it’s free, natch).  One of the things Google Analytics looks at is your website’s bounce rate.  If people are visiting your website but not staying long and not moving from one page to the next, it’s not good.  It means you are probably not supplying them with the information they are looking for and you are definitely not converting them into leads, let alone customers.   It also means you need to update your website.

2. Have a clear call-to-action (CTA).

Update your website by offering a consultation, white paper, how-to guide—anything that is both educational and valuable.  As Melinda Emerson, the Small Biz Lady, said, “Give away your best stuff.”  But you’re not giving away anything for free!  Before they get that free consultation or white paper, ask them for their name and e-mail address.  Your web designer/programmer can help you set this up.

3. Be sure your CTA is easy to find.

Don’t hide your CTAs!  Add them to every page in the form of a big button that is hard to miss (it need not be a garish eyesore, just prominent).  If you have a shopping cart, make it a really big button that is easy to click on.

4. You have 7 seconds to convince your Web visitors to stay.

Your website is your home base and most visible online presence.  Because you only have 7 seconds to grab the attention of your Web visitors, your home page must be especially well-written.  As you are writing—or re-writing—your website content, also keep in mind that your website is not a book—people do not read it from beginning to end.

5. No handouts.

When you give a presentation or workshop, do not hand out information that elaborates on your topic.  Instead, ask attendees to visit you online at your website, Facebook page, or Twitter account to receive some great information that they will find useful (really sell it!).  You can, however, give them a one-sheet (a one-page brochure) that acts as a CTA.  It should only include some information to pique their interest.  Your goal is to get them onto your website or connected to you via social media so you can continue to engage with them and convert them into customers.

Photo Courtesy Shashi Bellamkonda

How to Apply Marketing Strategies to Attract the Best and Brightest When You’re Hiring

November 10th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

Though I currently have two superb interns, I know that eventually I will have to write a job description and craft an ad to hire my first employee.  Because I’m a marketing person, why not apply some marketing strategies to attract only top quality applicants?  Why not indeed!  Finding great candidates for a job opening is basically lead generation.  You need to define your target market, position the job and your company in a way that is most attractive to your target market, and promote it through select channels.

Here is how to apply marketing and lead generation strategies to attract the best and brightest candidates when you are hiring:

Define your target market

Write a profile of your ideal candidate, and make it as detailed as possible.  Include:

  • All job experience, education, and certification requirements
  • How much supervision they will need
  • Traits they’ll need to thrive: motivation and energy levels; creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills; familiarity with specific technology, tools, and methods; sales and business development skills, etc.

Sell that job!

Write an energetic, attractive, and clear one-page description of the job that lists all responsiblities and expectations.  Action verbs, adverbs, and adjectives are your friends!  Be sure to specify what, if any, job requirements are non-negotiable.

Include a request for a cover letter and portfolio of work, if applicable.  If the job is a creative one and/or requires a great deal of critical thinking or problem solving, create a hypothetical situation and ask all candidates to describe (within a specified number of words) how they would address the situation/solve the problem.

Position your company as a great place to work

If your company is growing; the job is challenging; there is a great opportunity to learn new skills, lead projects, and grow with the company; the work environment is casual; employees can bring their dogs; telecommuting is allowed…mention it!

List all aspects of the company that make it especially attractive.   Start with your location and include information on your office building, qualities of the neighborhood, access to public transportation, and convenience to restaurants and shops.  Discuss salary and benefits in as much detail as you’re comfortable sharing.

Promote the job

Skip the large online job boards.  Post the ad on your website, relevant professional interest listservs, niche job boards, your Facebook page, and industry-specific LinkedIn groups.  (I would avoid Twitter unless you have a very industry-specific following.)  E-mail the ad to clients, business partners, and professional associations; include a note requesting that it be forwarded appropriately.

Image by Flickr user HiredMYWay (Creative Commons)

Numbers Don’t Lie: Why You Need to Use Social Media Marketing

October 6th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

The good folks over at HubSpot put together a great presentation on social media stats and sound bites that should convince you, once and for all, that you can’t afford to ignore social media marketing anymore.

Global Internet Users

The number of global internet users worldwide is, in a word, huge, making your potential audience very big no matter what industry you operate in, who your target market is, or whether you sell a product, service, or combination of both.

North America: 252,908,000

Latin American/Caribbean: 179,031,479

Europe: 418,029,796

Africa: 67,371,700

Asia: 738,257,230

Australian/Oceania: 20,970,490

Social Media Users

The volume of information being shared online is staggering.  In 2009, 90 trillion emails were sent.  The biggest, most popular social media platforms are not only generating a tremendous amount of information as well, but they’re also being used by tons of people.  Again, this translates into a lot of potential customers.

There are 550 million Facebook users and counting.

Blogs on the Internet number 126 million.

Since 2006, over 10 billion tweets have been distributed on Twitter.

Every day, 2 billion videos are streamed on YouTube.  Every. Day.

Even though I have the tendency to sound off on the fact that so much is written about social media at the expense of marketing in general, I happily acknowledge that social media is the future of marketing and advertising.  Not only is it where the people are, it’s an easy way to share information about your company to a targeted audience and track the return on your marketing investment in the form of new clients.

Social Media + Lead Generation Opportunities = New Clients

Using Content Curation To Become a Thought Leader

August 11th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

Ever hear of content curation?  Neither did I, til I signed up for another fabulous American Marketing Association webinar on that topic last month.  Pawan Deshpande, Founder and CEO of HiveFire, and Chris Brogan, President of New Marketing Labs, collaborated to present the informative, funny, and very interesting webinar.  Here’s what I learned:

Thought leaders share four qualities:

  1. They distill information into key insights
  2. They foresee new directions their industry is taking and set trends based on that information
  3. They are trusted, go-to authorities for information
  4. They look for patterns in trends and news and report on those patterns

Chris Brogan

So, what a thought leader will do is identify a topic they think is worth pursuing.  They’ll do research on that topic and produce a report, article, blog, white paper, or whatever.  Then they repurpose the content for different uses, distribute it, and start all over again.

The reason it’s so important to become a thought leader in an industry is due to the power of influence.  You want to not only influence your prospective clients but, most importantly, have them seek you out, rather than vice versa.  Remember, though, that thought leadership is NOT about tooting your own horn.  If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: no one cares about you, they only care about themselves.

So let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about content.  Content marketing evolved as the cost of publishing information nose-dived.  Thanks to the internet, free blog software, and numerous social networking platforms, anyone can publish and distribute content for the price of a high-speed internet connection.  This, as we well know, has lead to its own complications. There’s just so much out there!  And because marketers struggle to get found, they publish tons of stuff and distribute it on as many mediums as possible.  So now there’s this vicious cycle going that is expensive, time-consuming, and creating content marketers rather than thought leaders.

Pawan Deshpande

Pawan Deshpande

This is where content curation comes into the picture.  Rohit Bhargava defined it very nicely: “A content curator finds, groups, organizes, and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific topic online.”  Think the Drudge Report, TMZ, the Huffington Post.  Because these companies are so good at content curation, they have become thought leaders.  We go to them for our information.

To become a thought leader using content curation, you have to first decide if content curation is a good marketing strategy for you.  Ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is your brand focused on an issue and do you have an innovative perspective on that issue? 
  2. Do your prospects conduct a lot of research on this issue?

If you answered yes, then here’s what you do:

  1. Distill information into key insights
  2. Provide fresh perspective on a topic (or topics) within your industry

As always, easier said than done!

How to Kill Your Business, Or Lead Generation Gone Awry

April 29th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

During this past month, we, the Network Solutions bloggers, have been relentlessly driving home the fact that inbound marketing is vital to any business.  The whole point of inbound marketing is to continuously drive leads so that your sales funnel, and by extension, your back account, is always full.

So, I have to ask: Once you get those leads, what are you doing with them?  This is where you say, “I’m talking to them via email, Facebook, and Twitter and answering their questions. I’m also gently feeding them our value proposition while finding out what their needs are.  As a result, I’m converting them to new business.”

But if you’re not saying that, what’s going on?  It can be easy to focus so intently on the needs of your current clients that you forget about cultivating potential clients.  If you want to kill your business, here’s what to do:

  1. Ignore comments and messages on social media. You already make time every day to reply to email, so set aside additional time to answer direct messages on Facebook and Twitter and reply to comments left on your blog.
  2. Only market your business sporadically. To keep a steady flow of potential customers coming in the door, so to speak, you have to be consistent in your marketing efforts.  That means setting up an online ad program, making sales calls and going to networking events even when you’re really busy, and so on.
  3. Send out newsletters and blog posts randomly. As stated above, you have to be consistent.  Publish your newsletter and blog at regular intervals.  Your newsletter should go out at the same time every month and your blog posts should be published on the same day(s) every week.
  4. Don’t bother with a mission statement. You need to know what problem(s) you solve for your clients, so potential clients will instantly understand why they need your product or service.  You also need to have a concise elevator speech so you can quickly answer the oft-asked question, “What is it your company does?”
  5. Confuse people once they’re on your website. Is your company’s mission statement front and center on your home page?  Is your website easy to navigate?  Do you make it easy for people to reach you by phone and email?  Are the benefits of your product(s) and/or service(s) clearly stated?   If people have to search for any of this information, kiss them goodbye.  They’re busy, and they’re not going to bother.
  6. Keep messaging inconsistent. Use the same language, industry terms, tone of voice, and style in all of your messaging, including on your website and in your marketing materials, newsletter, and blog.
  7. Un-brand yourself. Not only does your messaging need to be consistent, so does your look.  If your company looks sloppy and disorganized, potential clients might think your work is, too.  Find a graphic designer you like, and use them for everything: logo, stationery, business cards, website, brochures, etc.

Marketing, the Small Business Success Index, and You

March 19th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business released the findings of their Small Business Success Index survey on February 16.  The index is designed to track the competitive health of the small business sector over time, and the results are always interesting.  Scores in 6 categories are graded; marketing and innovation got a C-.  Let’s see why: 

From celestehodges on Flickr[S]mall businesses perceive themselves at a disadvantage in marketing and innovation.

That statement surprised me, because one of the key findings of the survey was that small business owners have embraced social media: social media usage has increased from 12% to 24% in just 12 months.  Since social media is widely seen as an excellent tool to level the playing field between big, multi-national companies and small, me-myself-and-I businesses, it would seem to me that the small business owners who are using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (the most popular social media sites) are doing something right with their marketing strategy. 

But then I read this: 

Common marketing methods for reaching potential customers include print advertising (37%), email marketing (24%), social media marketing (19%), telephone sales (18%), direct mail (17%) and broadcast advertising (14%).

I honestly do not understand why so many small businesses still use print and broadcast advertising.  I considered advertising in a local magazine for business women last year.  But then I realized how tiny the chance was that potential customers would not only see my ad but remember it, too.  I’d have to invest a lot of money to run that ad every month. Think about it: what if your potential customers don’t have time to read that newspaper issue, or listen to the radio that week because they’re on vacation, or watch TV because they lost cable during a big snowstorm?   You just spent all that money, and what kind of leads did it generate?  If you’re getting a great ROI using traditional advertising methods, good for you, but if you’re not, time to talk to a marketing strategist, who will save you time and money (in the long run).

Back to social media:

The majority of small business owners who use social media (58%) feel the medium has so far ‘met expectations.’  Another 12% feel it has ‘exceeded expectations’ but twice as many, 26%, feel it has ‘fallen short of expectations.’ 

The fact that 70% of small businesses are finding new customers, engaging with current customers, and generating awareness with social media is encouraging, as it proves that integrating social media into your marketing efforts is worthwhile.   

Half of users, though, said social media has used up more time than expected.  Yes, it does take time, but it is time well-spent.  Being able to so easily connect with people who want, need, and/or use your company’s product or service is an amazing opportunity that was not possible just a few years ago.  Embrace technology, don’t run from it.     

I am active on Facebook (professionally only—I do not use it for my “regular” life), Twitter, and LinkedIn, and I write blog posts for Grow Smart Business.  You need not be active on a handful of sites, though.  Pick one or two and stick with them.  There are lots of guides, white papers, and articles online that contain valuable information on how to use social media effectively.  Spend an hour or two on research, and either put together a new marketing strategy yourself or, like I said above, hire an expert to help you.

Money, Money, Money! Profit Planning for Your Small Business

March 17th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

At every networking event I go to, I feel like I meet a coach of some sort, whether it’s a business coach, sales coach, elevator speech coach, speaking coach, etc.  After a while, they all kinda blur together into one big bunch of dark suits.  I always think, “Coach?  I don’t need a coach!  I am doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.”    


From DavidDMuir on Flickr

Last month, I met yet another coach, but he stood out.  He was totally low-key, easy to talk to, and interesting (meaning, he didn’t talk about himself the entire time).  I told him about the Grow Smart Business blog and how I needed to come up with finance-related topics to write about.  He said he had lots of experience with finance and would be happy to share some advice and ideas.  So we set up a meeting, and on a cold, rainy afternoon, I learned the basics of profit planning.  For someone who hates numbers, I must confess that I was fascinated by the whole process.

In his pre-coach life, David MacGillivray had quite the career.  He founded, operated, and sold a $7 million import/../../css/rtner_with_Ernst___Young. _Obviously__he_knows_business_finance. _He_is_now_affiliated_with__a_href__0zdqkvkkvvacjsre26xjrc.css”” onclick=”javascript:_gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’,’/yoast-ga/outbound-article/’]);” target=”_blank”>ActionCOACH business coaching.   

The profit planning strategy he uses with his clients is called 5 Ways to Super Profits, which helps you plan numbers and identify strategies to achieve your goals.  First you look at what you made the previous year, starting with the number of leads you generated.  Then you work your way down to your profit.  To figure out your goals for the current year, you work backwards:  You figure out how much you want to make and work your way back up to how many new leads you need to generate. 

Here’s the formula, which is normally written down the page, but to save space I wrote it across: 

# of Leads x Conversion Rate = # of Customers 

# of Customers x # of Transactions/Customer x Average Sale = Revenue

Revenue x Margins = Profits

There are five things in the above formula you have control over: leads, conversion rate, number of transactions, average sale, and margins.  If you want to make more money, you need to increase one, some, or all of these things. 

Your target conversion rate should be 70-80% (didn’t know that), as it can take a lot of time and money to generate new leads (did know that).  Once you improve your conversion rate, you can decrease the number of leads you need.    

If you can believe it, there are over 300 strategies to help implement your profit plan!  I asked David if he put this all together, and he laughed and said no.  This is based on the book Instant Cashflow by Brad Sugars, who founded ActionCOACH. 

David and I finished up our conversation by talking about social media and social networking, which he doesn’t know much about.  We decided that I would help him with LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and he would help me refine my profit plan.  Seems like a fair deal, especially since we figured out I could make $108,000 in profits this year by making a few tweaks to what I am currently doing.  For someone in their second year of business, that number sure looks sweet!

When Bad Websites Happen to Good People: Six Common Mistakes to Avoid

February 15th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

From Jurveston on Flickr

One of my favorite projects is writing and editing website content. I love putting together messaging that clearly introduces a company, explains what they do, and successfully states why they’re better than the competition.  For me, it’s a really fun challenge.  Plus, I get to meet a lot of interesting people and learn about new industries.

Lately I’ve been working on several websites.   Whether the company is big or small, new or well-established, selling a product or a service, I have been running into the same simple mistakes over and over and over again.  These mistakes can turn out to be costly in a major way.  After all, the purpose of your website is to be informational, yes, but more importantly, it should be a lead generator. If people cannot quickly and easily find the information they are looking for on your website, not only will visits to your site be short, but they will not result in new customers.  As I am so fond of saying, not good.

Here is my list of the top six most common website mistakes and how to fix them.

So…what do you do again? Ever been to a company’s website and couldn’t figure out what they did?  Not clearly stating your company’s mission statement front and center on your home page is the number one mistake I run into.  If I don’t see it, I am not going to search for it.  Instead, I am going to go back to my search engine results page and click on the next company that is listed.  If your mission statement is on your About Us or Company Profile page, move it to the home page pronto.

Watch your language! If your company is of a more technical nature and has its own language, make sure your website is written in plain English so that both industry insiders and outsiders can easily understand what it is you do.

Less is more. I am begging you, dear readers, please remember that less is more.  I am known for editing entire pages down to two paragraphs, as I firmly believe there is no reason to continually repeat the same information using ever larger SAT words.  No one is going to read it!  Also—and this is worth repeating—be sure to have someone edit the content before it is posted.  It must be free from grammatical mistakes, run-on sentences, spelling mistakes, and punctuation errors.

Bread crumbs. It should be really easy to move around on your website.  If you have multiple sections with multiple sub-pages, make sure it is easy to get back to that section’s main page and to jump from one page to another within that section.  Keep a navigation bar for the section, as well as for the entire website, clearly visible at all times.  (By entire website, I also mean the home page.)

Graphics. Use graphics that are of high-quality, professional, and relevant to your industry and your company.  This should be obvious, but, well, to some people it is not.

News should be new. If you have a News page, and you should, keep it updated.  Even if you don’t, be sure all the information on your website is current.  You should not be referencing the holiday 2009 season, upcoming fall specials, or have a press release from August 2009 prominently featured.  Visit your website at least once a month to update it.  If your content management system is difficult to use, find someone within or outside the company who is comfortable with it.