Mobile Marketing for Your Business

Ever wonder what all those shoppers in the mall are doing on their phones?  They are probably trying to make a purchase and haven’t yet found what they are looking for.  They are checking their phones to see if they can find what they need in a nearby location.

Hang out with a group of smartphone users, and you will see that consumers are increasingly comfortable purchasing on-the-go.  It’s called mobile marketing, and your business could benefit from this cost-effective marketing option.mobile marketing

Think about it:  When you are out shopping for a specific item, that’s when you are most likely to consult your smartphone to find the best place to buy it.  And that’s when a business has the best chance of selling that item to you – that very day!

Max Byer has just posted this collection of mobile marketing statistics on the Business 2 Community website.  Here are a few points that stood out for me.

  • Worldwide, more people own a cell phone than own a toothbrush.
  • More than half of all mobile ads result in a phone call.
  • A mobile unfriendly site will send a majority of customers to a competitor’s site.
  • Half of all smartphone owners have scanned a QR code, with almost one-fifth of the scanners making a purchase.

You can read the entire list here.

Posted by Margot Dimond

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Is that all we can expect? Or did we choose the wrong PR firm?

As the owner of a professional services firm, I decided late last year that we needed to do a better job of promoting our services.  I know other firms similar to ours that receive quite a bit of attention in the media, and they seem to be expanding at a faster pace than we are, so it definitely seemed like the thing to do.  We interviewed several firms – small, medium and large – and chose the largest firm because it seemed to have the most to offer.  They touted their contacts at The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and gave us every indication that we would be featured in those national newspapers.  Unfortunately, after six months our total media coverage has been a small feature in a local business publication.  We are very disappointed and have decided to end our public relations program entirely.  Is this a common occurrence?  Why did this happen?

In answer to your direct question:  This is not a common occurrence, but it does happen all too often.  Unfortunately, it usually happens to business owners who have never before used any type of public relations service.  If your knowledge of public relations and what it can accomplish comes from what you see on television or in the movies, you may think that PR people can pick up the phone and news people will come running.  If only it were that easy!

It is rare that a small firm or a startup gets covered in major national newspapers, and for a public relations firm to dangle that idea in front of you was very misleading.  If, in fact, they promised you editorial coverage, they are in violation of the requirement to “accurately define what public relations activities can accomplish,” as listed in the code of ethics of the Public Relations Society of America, the professional membership organization for PR professionals.

Rather than giving up on having a public relations program, why not think about what you really want to gain from it?  You seem to want to expand your business.  By that, do you mean simply to have more clients?  Or do you have a specific type of client that you would like to work with?  Once you have determined the type of client you want to reach, you will need to have your PR firm work with you to design the right kinds of messages and media outlets to effectively reach them.  At that point, you should expect to see some kind of Action Plan with tactics, activities and timetables.

Your public relations program – whether undertaken internally or by an outside firm – should be viewed as an ongoing enterprise.  It’s all about reputation building and reputation maintenance, and that takes time.

Should you hire an outside firm, or go the DIY route?  Here are a some guidelines.

Posted by Margot Dimond

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In Your Expert Opinion: Contributing Articles for Publication

If your business provides a professional service, your marketing plan will no doubt revolve around showcasing your firm’s expertise. One of the best ways to do this is by writing an article that is published in an influential business or trade publication. When your article is published, you can make reprints to use for marketing purposes.  Recognition as an expert by the media enhances your credibility.

Not everyone is successful in getting these articles published, however.  Doing so requires more than just knowledge of the subject matter; it requires a basic understanding of what the editors of these publications are looking for.

Expert OpinionHere are five simple rules that will help you get published:

1.  Check out the publication and the type of articles it publishes.  Who reads the publication?  Are the articles technical or general in nature?  How many articles by outside contributors are published in each issue?  Are the articles mostly opinion, or are they factual reporting of research findings?  How long are the articles?

2.  Write about something specific.  This is not the time to share every bit of expertise you have accumulated over the years.  Stick to one topic, and save additional topics for other articles.

3.  Organize your article for an easy read.   The traditional advice for speech writing applies here as well:  Tell them what you plan to say; say it; tell them what you’ve said.

4.  Use conversational language.  Even people in your field won’t want to read an article full of technical jargon.  Keep it readable.

5.  Don’t promote your company in the article.  Doing so will guarantee rejection of your article.  Remember that you are writing to contribute valuable information or to share a point-of-view on current events.  You and your company will be mentioned at the end of the article.

Posted by Margot Dimond

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Starting a Social Media Marketing Program for a Small Business

Social Media MarketingYou own a small business – maybe a retail shop or a professional services firm – and you keep hearing that social media marketing is the way to go to get and keep customers.  But you don’t know where to start.  With so many new social networking sites, it can be confusing.

Don’t give up!  Social media marketing was made for businesses like yours – businesses that want to connect with potential customers, engage them in a dialogue and build the kind of relationship that leads to long-term business success.

The important thing to remember is that, like any other public relations or marketing venture, you cannot dabble.  You have to commit for the long-term.  And it may be best to designate one person or an outside agency to manage your program because, if done correctly, managing social media sites will take many hours per week.

That said, you definitely need to get on board.  But which sites should you start with?  Let’s keep it simple and start with these three:

Facebook.  According to American gangster mythology, when asked by a reporter why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton replied, “because that’s where the money is.”  Well, Facebook is where the people are.  It’s the top social site for referral traffic.  You can’t afford not to be on it if you are trying to reach potential customers.  But just having a Facebook page won’t get you anywhere.  You need to have a “call to action,” an opportunity to share, post photos and videos, and ask and answer questions.  Make your current and future customers feel as if they are a part of your business.

Twitter.    Got a sale coming up?  Have a special two-for-one pricing on meals or drinks?  Want to share a great tip on filing taxes?  Hear of a new trend?  Tweet all of the above – and more – in 140 characters or less.  Also, you can tweet relevant and interesting articles, start a poll, re-tweet customer comments, and on and on.  The important thing is to have an ongoing conversation with your customers.

Company Blog.  Your blog isn’t really a social networking site, but it is your voice to the world.  How is it promoting your brand?  Do you post regularly, or do visitors see outdated information there?  Are you linking back to your social networking sites and website, or does it just sit there – like an orphan?

Writing a blog is a real commitment, and it can become a chore, especially if you aren’t comfortable writing.  You can invite subscribers to post as well, but don’t count on that.  The important point here is that if you can’t keep it current by yourself, hire someone who can.

Posted by Margot Dimond

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New Takes on Social Media Users

A couple of interesting news items on social media came across my desk today.  One was an article in a business journal about a social media contest the publication is sponsoring.  It noted that of the 32 entries it had received to-date, 28 were from small businesses.  Very few of the larger companies the writer contacted for the article were actively pursuing social media.  Of those who did, most reported using it to communicate with employees or existing customers.

Social MediaThis has been our experience as well.  Social media is a boon for smaller businesses, for whom traditional advertising and marketing can be cost-prohibitive.  It’s an inexpensive way to reach potential customers quickly and efficiently and, in many cases, it can lead to rapid increases in sales and profits.  It also works well for larger companies that sell directly to consumers.

For large business-to-business firms, social media is less likely to produce immediate results.  The hierarchical structure of most large companies can make them less flexible when it comes to communicating, and flexibility is the hallmark of social media messaging.

The second piece of news is a report on Facebook fan pages in PR Daily. Apparently, brand promotion through Facebook is a dud with millennials – those cherished consumers born between 1980 and 2000.  According to a recent survey of college students, while 86 percent of millennials visit Facebook every day, only 1 percent visit a brand page daily.  If they are fans on Facebook, it’s usually for an organization they are personally involved with, such as a nonprofit organization or a sorority.  This seems to be yet another example of social media tools being used to communicate with people who already know you.

Posted by Margot Dimond

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What social media sites are best for my company?

Social Media SitesI worry that I’m falling behind in doing social media marketing for my company.  Just when I think I have a handle on all the types of social media, I hear of new ones and wonder if I should try them.  What’s the best way to decide what’s best for my company?

I can understand your confusion; it seems there is an endless array of sites out there, and it can get confusing and frustrating to try to keep up.  But it sounds like you are approaching this challenge tactically, rather than strategically.

Think of this as you would a home improvement project.  Your social media sites are your tools.  Do you look at the tools you have and decide what you can do with them?  Or do you look at what needs to be done, make a plan of action, then get the needed tools?  I think most of us would agree that looking at what needs to be achieved is the way to go.

It’s the same with promoting your company.  Determine what you would need to achieve your goals.

  • What kind of company are you promoting?
  • What products or services does it offer?
  • Who is your target customer?
  • When you communicate with them, what response do you want?

Once you do that, you’ll have a better idea of what social media sites will actually produce results for you.

The Social Media Examiner asked some of their top social media specialists for their 2012 predictions.  If you can wade through all 30 predictions, you’ll find some good insights.

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