Archive for August, 2011

I have scoured the Internet, unsuccessfully, trying to find a Hermione Granger Time Turner from Harry Potter.  Apparently they were all destroyed in 1996 in the battle at the Ministry of Magic.  Oh well it sure would’ve been helpful.

The challenge for business owners today is finding time to manage their online marketing efforts & social networks.  A business owner could easily spend 8 hours  a day just doing social media.  But unfortunately most owners wear many hats and marketing is only one of them.  Customer service and the day-to-day operations do take priority.

Here are five time-saving ninja marketing tips to manager your social networks.

  1. Schedule 30 minutes first thing in the morning and 30 minutes right after lunch or in the late afternoon to review your social networks.  Interact with all comments made to your posts and comment or retweet posts made by friends and followers.
  2. Use an aggregator to monitor your social networks.  Programs such as Tweetdeck, and Hootsuite are 2 such services that will pull the feeds from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn into one site for monitoring,  commenting and sharing.
  3. Schedule your updates.  One great feature of both Tweetdeck and Hoot Suite is the ability to schedule your tweets or Facebook updates in advance.  Once a week you can plan your week’s updates, and schedule them for the day, time and even the specific site you want them posted to.
  4. Install the Hoot Suite plug-in for Firefox.  If you use Firefox as your browser, Hoot Suite offers a plug-in that makes it easy to share articles and blog posts to Facebook,  Twitter and LinkedIn and even schedule them to post at a more desirable time.
  5. Combine your Facebook and Twitter feeds into Google +.  Even though the aggregator programs have not yet incorporated Google + into their platform, there are G+ apps already that will add your Twitter and Facebook feed so it can be monitored with your G+.

Do you have any other time saving tips?  Feel free to share them.

Are you new to Google + or curious about how to get started?  Download my free Guide to Google + at www.800bizninjamarketing.com. Gary Wagnon is the CMN (Chief Marketing Ninja) at 800biz Online Marketing Solutions.  Using an integrated approach to online marketing (combining web site design, search engine optimization, social media and action driven content), 800biz specializes in helping businesses stand out above the competition and drive more traffic to their door.

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Whether a reaction to Google + or a planned system improvement, Facebook has added a new local of privacy that is rolling out starting today.  Many of the changes revolve around the way content is shared.

Profile Controls

First change is you greater control to the visibility of your profile.  With each section of your profile such as music, movies, religious preferences or political views, you’re able to choose who can see each of those areas.  The changes are made directly on the profile editing page where previously the changes were made in the account settings.

An in-line cue or icon will provide a visual indication of who can see each element.  Choices are to make the content public, only seen by friends, are customized for a friend list.  A “view profile as” feature has been added so you can see how your profile will look in different situations.

Tagging

Tagging individuals in photos, status updates or location tags is a popular practice.  Currently, individual control is either limited or unavailable.  With the new settings you can approve or reject any tag before they appear in your profile.  This includes photos and status updates.  This can be turned on or off the pending on user preference.

Given the new tagging controls, Facebook now allows the user to tag anyone in a photo regardless of whether they are a friend or not.  Of course the tag will have to be approved unless you set your privacy controls to always allow tags.  The dilemma with always allowing tags means you do not have control over your image.  As a business professional, protecting the image we portray should be vitally important.

Some of the other features you will see are changes to Facebook places and a “Nearby” icon in mobile apps for tagging locations.

The privacy and safety groups are hailing the changes is positive actions.  For business owners it will require some adjustment to the way they interact with other people.  But with everything Facebook, standby.  About time you master this something else will change.

Gary Wagnon is the CMN (Chief Marketing Ninja) at 800biz Online Marketing Solutions.  Using an integrated approach to online marketing (combining web site design, search engine optimization, social media and action driven content), 800biz specializes in helping businesses stand out above the competition and drive more traffic to their door.

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I had a phone call this morning from a salesperson (I use the term loosely) offering to sell me advertising.  I felt a desperate need to have 911 standing by in case she passed away on the phone.  In a dialogue that was lacking in excitement or enthusiasm,  it was almost painful to listen to.

The caller started by introducing themself and saying they were offering to sell me advertising.  Woo hoo!  Just what I wanted this morning, to be sold advertising.  When I quizzed her about her publication and whether it was a good fit for business-to-business advertising, her response was “you’d be surprised”.  I’m not sure if that meant I’d be surprised if I got any results, or if I’d be surprised at how many people blindly bought without knowing the effectiveness of the publication.  Needless to say I was not impressed.

At one point during the conversation she said local businesses that need a website could call me and explain their problem, then I could go out to their house and take care of.

As an online marketing guy I typically don’t make house calls to fix a computer problem. Major hint: learn what your prospect does so you can talk halfway intelligently.

So this conversation got me thinking about how you communicate with prospects, whether on the phone, your website or your social media sites.  Are you enthusiastic about your product or service?  (If you’re not, I’m sure not going to be.)  Do you talk about you, or do you talk about how you are the answer to my problem/pain/needs/prayers?

Take a trip outside your body and look at the message you are sending out.  If you were considering  doing business with you, would you or would you buy from your competition?

 

Gary Wagnon is the CMN (Chief Marketing Ninja) at 800biz Online Marketing Solutions.  Using an integrated approach to online marketing (combining web site design, search engine optimization, social media and action driven content), 800biz specializes in helping businesses stand out above the competition and drive more traffic to their door.

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Let’s get ready to rumble!  In the blue corner you may know him as Col. James Braddock, Maj. Scott McCoy, or. Walker Texas Ranger.   He’s the man, the legend, Chuck Norris.  In the red corner, he bowls overhand, sharks have a week dedicated to him, he’s won trophies for his game face alone.  He’s the Most Interesting Man In The World.

If these two immovable figures were to square off in a throw down which one would be the last man standing?  While we will never know the outcome of this mythical battle, businesses can learn a lesson from it.

Both of our iconic fighters display a tenacity that businesses should strive for.  Defeat is not in their vocabulary.  It seems that no task is beyond their capability.  In any adversity they adapt, create a plan of attack and act immediately.  In business, we face challenges on a daily basis, some more daunting than others.  How do we react to new competition?  How do we react during a downturn economy?  Or changes in government regulation? Price increases in materials and supplies?

Do you view changes with dread, wring your hands and saying “what am I going to do?”  Or do you welcome the challenges as a nudge to evaluate your business, to find more efficient methods and procedures?  During challenging times like these, the businesses that are able to adapt are the ones that survive.  And not only survived but thrive in the future.

Our two combatants are recognizable brands.  You can see a picture of either one and immediately know who it is without reading the name or seeing a logo.  The reason –  their brand has been so successfully created that we can easily identify it.

We think of branding as a logo like Ford Motor Company’s blue oval or Geico’s Gecko.  Or we think of slogans like “Red Bull gives you wings” or “Just Do It.” But a brand is not a logo or a slogan.  A brand is a perception, the entire persona that exists in the mind of your customers.

As small business owners we may think we don’t have the resources to create a brand.  If a business does not create its own brand, their customers will.  Whether you’re a company or an individual, you have a brand.  To quote Seth Godin, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” (Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?).

Create your brand by finding your niche, what you do best, and continually reminding your current and prospective customers what you do.  Consistency is the key.  Your brand should reflect your personality, your company philosophy and its environment.  Don’t be afraid to be different, to have fun if that’s who you are.  Obviously there are certain businesses that require a very rigid, professional persona.  Even in that case, it’s still critical to brand what separates you from the competition.

I always find it an interesting exercise when talking with a new client about their business.  One of the questions I ask is “what do you do better or differently than the competition.”  Another is “why should a prospective customer choose you over the competition?”  The answers I typically get are “we all do about the same thing”. Or I may get an answer like “better customer service” or “lower price.” What that really means is “I don’t know.  We are just doing our thing.  We don’t really pay attention to our competitor unless they beat us on a job.”

The first step in creating a brand is defining what separates the business from the competition.  Every business (if they are going to stay in business) must define their strengths and own their niche.

I recently went through this exercise in my own business.  While there are many web site designers, many search engine optimization specialists and many social media experts, very few do all three with successful results I can produce.  After many years of identity crisis, I finally created the brand that separates my company from the crowd.

In today’s online marketing world, buying decisions are influenced (if not made) by your brand reputation.    What is your brand to say about you?  Does it accurately portray your strengths and your specialties?  Is it consistent?  In a throw down with your competition who’s going to come out on top?

Gary Wagnon is the master Ninja traffic generator for 800biz Online Marketing Solutions. Using a combination of action-centered web site design and the latest search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, combined with efficient and effective use of social media, 800biz creates an online presence that helps it’s clients stand out above the competitors and drive more traffic through the door.

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