Is Your Sales and Marketing Working? 5 Tell-Tale Signs You’re “Lookin’for Love in all the Wrong Places.”

By Lonnie Sciambi

“Lookin’ for All in All the Wrong Places,” is a song that made its mark as part of the music track of the 80s movie, Urban Cowboy, and it often defines ill-fated sales and marketing strategies that entrepreneurs pursue. When you’re ramping your business up, there’s almost nowhere you wouldn’t look for revenue. But once you get going, even if you’re fabulously successful, you always have limited resources that you need to deploy judiciously. Which means that your sales and marketing have to carefully planned and that they are both “joined at the hip.” Sales success has a direct correlation to marketing success. And both need to have a plan to succeed.

But, unfortunately, not enough entrepreneurs recognize this fact and what ensues is, often, a hodge-podge of “stuff against the wall” and either wasted opportunities, wasted resources, or both.

Here are 5 tell-tale signs that you’re “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places,” and if you can relate to more than one or two of these, you really need to re-think how you’re approaching your sales and marketing:

You equate marketing to a website and Facebook page.
Your website is critical because it, effectively, tells the world who you are and what you do. A Facebook page, does much the same thing, but enables you to do it in a more current way, potentially, with new company, product or customer information. But without traffic to your website or fans on your Facebook page, they are like “being all dressed up with no place to go.” “If I build it, they will come,” only works in the movies. You need to have a plan for how people will find you. But equally important, your website and Facebook page should be part of an overall marketing plan, not the sum total of it. The more proactive that plan, the better.

You or your sales people still do cold calling.
Hello. 1975 is calling. They want their sales strategy back. If you are still having your sales people make “x” number of calls per day, whether they be on the telephone or in person, regardless of your product, it’s time to get those bell bottoms and that leisure suit into Goodwill. A small business always has limited sales resources, sometimes only a single sales person and maybe the founder. You can’t afford to waste those on a “dialing for dollars” approach. Why squander those precious resources on a shotgun approach? All leads are not created equal. They need to be qualified; meaning they are not only aware of your company but have shown a real interest, by either responding to an email solicitation or opting-in to a download or newsletter from your website or social media. But, once they are qualified, you still need to research them to better structure a call or a visit. The more you know, the better your chances for success. Put another way, the further you are from cold calling, the more you know about your prospect, the better!

Your target market is whoever you’re calling on today.
Again you have no plan, so whatever pops up on your radar is today’s target market. Plus, the corollary to this is that you believe that “you can do everything,” so you chase anything. If somebody makes an inquiry, then they become today’s priority. And there’s no business you won’t pursue or say no to…and sometimes you just have to say no. You need to determine niche markets where you’ve had success, focus very tightly on those niches and build on them.

You’re constantly looking for the “Hail Mary.”
Are you always looking for the “big win” that will “put you on the map?” Being an entrepreneur, often, is not about the major victory, but the individual small victories that sustain success. While the “Hail Mary” play or the grand slam homerun in the 9th inning, might bring you a boatload of revenue at one time, chasing it is, usually, a big odds gamble, where you can waste a lot of time and resources and simply end up “always a bridesmaid, never a bride.”

When you close a sale, you rarely know where the lead came from.
The symptoms of this sign are in several of the previous ones. It could mean you actually do have a decent marketing plan, but don’t close the loop by establishing a tracking mechanism, whether that be through a CRM or simply an Excel spreadsheet, that tracks each and every interaction with the company by a prospective customer. If you don’t, you are losing valuable information that can show you what’s working and what’s not in your sales and marketing; what you should do more of, and what you should abandon.

Many small businesses are guilty of “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.” Hopefully, reviewing some of tell-tale signs can you get your sales and marketing back on track that will help you better achieve success and build on that success for the future.

“The Entrepreneur’s Yoda” knows these things. He’s been there. May success be with you!

Has your small business been “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places?” Tell about your experience. It can help another entrepreneur.

Has Facebook Got You Fooled?

 

By: Jeff Bullas

I’ve been preaching about this for a while now. I wrote about it back in January, hate to say I told you so, but read on.

Facebook marketing

Are you chasing likes for your brand page? Paying for fans? Maybe it’s time to stop.

In 2008 I joined Facebook. It was the first social media network I decided to place a stake in as my online social media home. It was fun, frivolous and free. Everyone was discovering the power of multimedia sharing of their life with friends and family. Facebook obsession was apparent and addictive. It was the new digital drug of choice and 6 years later it is the world’s largest social media playground.

What made Facebook cool was that you saw “all” your friends updates. It was hard to miss a “what I had for breakfast” share and see the latest drama and joy in a friends life.

What you shared appeared.

The Facebook “liking” frenzy

The success of personal Facebook profiles opened up the idea of Facebook for brands. So Facebook “pages” were launched! It was the start of Facebook becoming serious about monetising its business. Brands piled in and started to build their profiles on the big social network. Chasing fan “likes” became the new shiny marketing toy and tactic.

A big list of fans drove traffic and brand awareness for free. It is called “earned” marketing. For this blog it became the second biggest social media traffic source behind Twitter.

Then something changed.

Facebook decided to filter your updates

In 2013 Facebook floated. It became a public company and the shareholders demanded a return. The pressure was on. It had to make money from its advertising. It started to become pay to play. Facebook is deciding what updates you see and don’t see. It’s called a “News Feed algorithm”. It extends to Facebook pages and personal profiles.

Facebook is pushing you to advertise. To promote your post is now just a couple of clicks. Easy but it costs. One of the motivators to use Facebook as a page is now almost zero.Is there any point to chasing likes except for “social proof”. Some research is showing that only 4% or less of people are seeing your page updates in their newsfeeds when you post on Facebook. Here is some research from the 4129 agency on ZDnet.com showing the decline in just 12 months from 2102 to 2013.

It appears that in 2014 that organic reach is still in freefall. Zero is maybe not an unrealistic expectation. Is that possible? Jason Loehr, director of global media and digital marketing at Brown-Forman which owns the brands Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort thinks so.

The Ignite Social Media agency did an analysis in December 2013 and saw a 44% drop in brands organic reach in just 12 days.

Are big brands ignoring Facebook?

Beyonce announced her new album launch on Instagram not Facebook. This is despite having over 60 million fans on Facebook and only 8 million Instagram followers on Instagram. Maybe the advice by her digital agency was that it would receive more organic reach and visibility than Facebook.

This big drop in organic reach is making brands such as Jack Daniels and Southern Comfortconcentrating more on their “owned” channels such as websites, blogs and email.

Some companies such as Charity Engine are quitting Facebook. Is the age of free social media traffic from building fans and followers over?

Facebook is a leased digital property. You’re at their mercy and their aggressively tweaked news feed algorithm.

So what can you do?

There are two key strategies that you can pursue.

  1. Roll with the Facebook changes and adapt. This means tactics such as running moreFacebook competitions and posting more news updates. The Steamfeed blog has a good list of tactics worth checking out.
  2. Shift your focus from Facebook marketing reliance. Invest in building your owned online assets such as websites, blogs and email lists. Pursue an integrated digital marketing strategy!

So if you are a blogger or marketer that doesn’t have a big brand budget and you want to earn your traffic by persistent effort, engagement and creating content then you do have some other options. So you may have to forget Facebook if you don’t want to spend advertising dollars to reach the fans you have spent time and effort to acquire.

How to earn free earned and organic traffic

Here are some specific tactics to create online traffic and brand awareness without paying the new gatekeepers such as Facebook to reach your own fans.

1. Search engines

Before hitting publish on your blog make sure that you have optimized your post for search engines so you will be building your SEO. Make sure you know what your key words and phrases are that customers will be using to find you. Then create content that includes them in the headline, content and meta description. Plugins such as Yoast can provide easy guidance on those tasks.

Then continue to create and market content that covers the range of 20-50 keywords and phrases that you want to be found on Google for when potential customers start looking for answers to their questions and performing research.

2. Email marketing

Brands both big and small are growing their email lists. You should do this from day one. An email list is something you have control over. The simplest tactic is to offer something for free such as an ebook, an online video tutorial or some form of premium content.

3. Switch your social media focus

There are many other social media networks that will drive traffic to your blog and website that you don’t have to pay for. These include Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and Pinterest to name a few. There are a couple of channels that have surprised me over the last 6 months. They areFlipboard (is starting to drive more traffic than Facebook) and even the often forgotten Stumbleupon.

Twitter is not filtered and its focus as a place for breaking news means that it very unlikely that it will ever suffer the same fate as Facebook. Twitter for me has been my biggest social media traffic source and that came from focusing on building and engaging with my followers from the day I launched this blog.

If Facebook push this too far there is a real possibility they will push brands advertising into the arms of Twitter, Google+ and other social media and digital channels.

Maybe its time to forget Facebook for your free earned traffic?

What about you?

How are you reacting to Facebook’s filtering? Have your tactics changed? Are you focusing on other social media networks, email and content more?

Has Facebook Got You Fooled?

 

By: Jeff BullasFacebook marketing

Are you chasing likes for your brand page? Paying for fans? Maybe it’s time to stop.

In 2008 I joined Facebook. It was the first social media network I decided to place a stake in as my online social media home. It was fun, frivolous and free. Everyone was discovering the power of multimedia sharing of their life with friends and family. Facebook obsession was apparent and addictive. It was the new digital drug of choice and 6 years later it is the world’s largest social media playground.

What made Facebook cool was that you saw “all” your friends updates. It was hard to miss a “what I had for breakfast” share and see the latest drama and joy in a friends life.

What you shared appeared.

The Facebook “liking” frenzy

The success of personal Facebook profiles opened up the idea of Facebook for brands. So Facebook “pages” were launched! It was the start of Facebook becoming serious about monetising its business. Brands piled in and started to build their profiles on the big social network. Chasing fan “likes” became the new shiny marketing toy and tactic.

A big list of fans drove traffic and brand awareness for free. It is called “earned” marketing. For this blog it became the second biggest social media traffic source behind Twitter.

Then something changed.

Facebook decided to filter your updates

In 2013 Facebook floated. It became a public company and the shareholders demanded a return. The pressure was on. It had to make money from its advertising. It started to become pay to play. Facebook is deciding what updates you see and don’t see. It’s called a “News Feed algorithm”. It extends to Facebook pages and personal profiles.

Facebook is pushing you to advertise. To promote your post is now just a couple of clicks. Easy but it costs. One of the motivators to use Facebook as a page is now almost zero.Is there any point to chasing likes except for “social proof”. Some research is showing that only 4% or less of people are seeing your page updates in their newsfeeds when you post on Facebook. Here is some research from the 4129 agency on ZDnet.com showing the decline in just 12 months from 2102 to 2013.

It appears that in 2014 that organic reach is still in freefall. Zero is maybe not an unrealistic expectation. Is that possible? Jason Loehr, director of global media and digital marketing at Brown-Forman which owns the brands Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort thinks so.

The Ignite Social Media agency did an analysis in December 2013 and saw a 44% drop in brands organic reach in just 12 days.

Are big brands ignoring Facebook?

Beyonce announced her new album launch on Instagram not Facebook. This is despite having over 60 million fans on Facebook and only 8 million Instagram followers on Instagram. Maybe the advice by her digital agency was that it would receive more organic reach and visibility than Facebook.

This big drop in organic reach is making brands such as Jack Daniels and Southern Comfortconcentrating more on their “owned” channels such as websites, blogs and email.

Some companies such as Charity Engine are quitting Facebook. Is the age of free social media traffic from building fans and followers over?

Facebook is a leased digital property. You’re at their mercy and their aggressively tweaked news feed algorithm.

So what can you do?

There are two key strategies that you can pursue.

  1. Roll with the Facebook changes and adapt. This means tactics such as running moreFacebook competitions and posting more news updates. The Steamfeed blog has a good list of tactics worth checking out.
  2. Shift your focus from Facebook marketing reliance. Invest in building your owned online assets such as websites, blogs and email lists. Pursue an integrated digital marketing strategy!

So if you are a blogger or marketer that doesn’t have a big brand budget and you want to earn your traffic by persistent effort, engagement and creating content then you do have some other options. So you may have to forget Facebook if you don’t want to spend advertising dollars to reach the fans you have spent time and effort to acquire.

How to earn free earned and organic traffic

Here are some specific tactics to create online traffic and brand awareness without paying the new gatekeepers such as Facebook to reach your own fans.

1. Search engines

Before hitting publish on your blog make sure that you have optimized your post for search engines so you will be building your SEO. Make sure you know what your key words and phrases are that customers will be using to find you. Then create content that includes them in the headline, content and meta description. Plugins such as Yoast can provide easy guidance on those tasks.

Then continue to create and market content that covers the range of 20-50 keywords and phrases that you want to be found on Google for when potential customers start looking for answers to their questions and performing research.

2. Email marketing

Brands both big and small are growing their email lists. You should do this from day one. An email list is something you have control over. The simplest tactic is to offer something for free such as an ebook, an online video tutorial or some form of premium content.

3. Switch your social media focus

There are many other social media networks that will drive traffic to your blog and website that you don’t have to pay for. These include Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and Pinterest to name a few. There are a couple of channels that have surprised me over the last 6 months. They areFlipboard (is starting to drive more traffic than Facebook) and even the often forgotten Stumbleupon.

Twitter is not filtered and its focus as a place for breaking news means that it very unlikely that it will ever suffer the same fate as Facebook. Twitter for me has been my biggest social media traffic source and that came from focusing on building and engaging with my followers from the day I launched this blog.

If Facebook push this too far there is a real possibility they will push brands advertising into the arms of Twitter, Google+ and other social media and digital channels.

Maybe its time to forget Facebook for your free earned traffic?

What about you?

How are you reacting to Facebook’s filtering? Have your tactics changed? Are you focusing on other social media networks, email and content more?

lead generation marketing, prospecting for leadsI believe that Lead Generation strategies are the most important element of any marketing plan. Especially for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Don’t get sucked in to the brand building game. Branding is for bigger companies that have big marketing budgets, not businesses operating on a shoe-string marketing budget.

Here are 31 Lead Generation, prospecting attracting ideas. I’m sure there is something on the list that you can implement in your business. These examples are courtesy of the 60 Second Marketer.

1. eBooks – If you’re like most businesses these days, you blog. If you blog well, you’ll have a series of related articles with comprehensive how-to tips or stories. Take five to ten of these themed articles and turn them into a resourceful eBook. Set up a landing page on your website to email-gate your book and give it away for free. You generate warm leads and get seen as a knowledge leader in your sector. You don’t have to be a B2B to generate leads with ebooks. B2C’s use this tactic too, with recipe, do-it-yourself or fashion books.

Here’s an example from 60 Second Marketer, of how to give away a free ebook and develop closer ties with your readership:

2. Webinars – Host a webinar related to your industry. Get people to sign up through your website to get leads. Webinars warm your leads, as you’re speaking directly to future and returning prospects.

3. Live workshops – Similarly to a webinar, host a live workshop to educate your demographic about an industry related tip. Make it engaging, with questions that you ask your viewers. You could even make a test at the end – that participants pass or fail!

4. Pre-recorded webinar series – When you’re planning your webinars, make themed content that can easily be made into a series about your topic. Record your live webinars to reuse your valuable content – and generate more leads. Use five or more webinars to create a series on your website. Email-gate it with a teaser landing page to invoke leads.

5. Podcasts – Make podcasts by reading out your blog content, for example. Make a themed series to create a valuable source of information. Podcasts are great marketing tools as your customer can listen to them at work, home or on mobile.

6. Whitepapers – Hey, when you’re marketing to business, speak the language of business. Whitepapers are brilliant for B2B’s. Condense an eBook topic into high level tips. Create a two to three page paper that’s easy to scan and packed with information. Generate leads for your sales team.

7. Industry report – If you’re a B2B, compile statistics, charts and data related to your industry. Condense your findings into the most relevant points. Design your report into an easy to scan format.

8. How-to hub – Create content in various formats, such as blog posts, infographics, slideshares, ebooks, webinars, short videos and more. Put themed content together to create a rich, useful how-to hub for your customers.Lowes Home Improvement rules the how-to hub. They have a wealth of information with videos, tips and more. It generates leads – and creates a comprehensive community hub

9. Free demo of service or product – Give a free demonstration of how your product or services works. Get people to sign up through an email-gated landing page on your site.

10. Free consultation – Offer a free personalized consultation of your services, in exchange for an email.

11. Appointment booking – Make a page on your website for people to book an appointment with you. Get them to submit an email or phone number so you can follow up with them quickly.

12. Event registration – If you’re hosting an event, whether online or offline, make a registration page to generate leads. Your page could direct attendees to another site like eventbrite or cvent.

13. Pre-launch ordering – When you’re introducing a new product – give your most valued customers the special treatment to get it first. Set up a pre-launch page to start marketing your product and get leads.

14. More information – Encourage website visitors to get more information from you when they have a specific question they need answering.

15. Newsletter sign up – An oldy but a goody, generate emails leads with a newsletter sign up. Then send out relevant, interesting engaging content on a regular basis.

16. Exclusive membership – Set up an “exclusive membership” club. Give your customers good reason to join the club by offering the best deals, coupons and being the first know your news.

17. Free trial – Offer a free 14- or 30- day trial to generate interest in your product with a risk-free trial. Let your prospects ‘kick the tires’ so to speak. Once someone’s signed up for your offer, keep in touch with email.

18. Free quote or assessment – If your business doesn’t have set pricing models, make an easy-to-fill-in form on your site for quotes. This works well, for example, in real estate, plumbing, custom drapes and other related businesses.

19. How-to guides – Somewhat like the free ebook, make how-to guides for your business related services. How-to guides focus on specific practical tips to generate interest. For example, if you’re a real estate broker, create a ‘how-to’ guide on successful real estate investing. Make it easy to download with an email address so you generate leads.

20. Product catalogue – Make it easy for potential customers to download a catalogue in exchange for an email.

21. Daily tips – Send out daily tips or inspiring quotes related to your industry. For example, a spa might send out daily tips on how to reduce stress.

22. Discounts and Coupons – Host a coupon directly on your website. Coupons are great lead generators as they attract people who are interested in your particular deals – and they can you an immediate sale.

23. Loyalty programs – Create loyalty program campaigns, such as a “refer a friend” promotion. Give progressively better discounts and exclusive offers to customers bringing in the most referrals.

24. Free gift – Give an actual physical gift for free. Offer a free, branded t-shirt, or a sample of your product. Mail it out to your potential customers in exchange for their email and contact information. There’s nothing quite like giving something of tangible value to deepen your customer ties.

25. Choose a book cover – This is a brilliant tactic to both involve your readers in your content, and start to market your upcoming piece…Jamie has done this superbly, by reaching out to his readers and asking us which ebook cover we prefer. He doesn’t generate email leads (he uses many other engaging tactics to show up in our inboxes!), but he does spread the word about his book and gets us interested in its future success.

26. Sweepstakes – Host a sweepstake. Make it easy to enter by email-gating it. Give away a prize with the perceived value to motivate your niche to enter.

27. New product name – Get your customers involved in business decisions. Ask for input into a new product you’ve developed or designed. Using this crowdsourcing tactic, you not only get leads, you spread the word about your upcoming product offering. The more vested a person is, the more likely they’ll buy your product – and tell their friends.

28. Product development input – Take the “name a new product” contest a step further, and crowdsource the design and development of a new product. This works well, for example, in a short manufacturing process such as fashion and food.

29. Product label choices – Get your prospects to engage with you – and generate warm leads – by letting your consumer tell you which label they like best.

30. Themed photo contest – Get user-generated content (and leads) by hosting a photo contest on your website. Keep your photos themed with a business marketing campaign to deepen the connection with your consumer and your brand. Motivate by offering a valuable prize.

31. Reuse themed user-generated content in a book – Ask your visitors to submit their favourite recipe, fishing tip, or online marketing tip. Give a relevant, valuable prize and a chance to be featured in your upcoming book. Select the best entries from your UCG contest to compile tips in an ebook. Give it away for free to all participants. Email-gate it for others.

Source: The 60 Second Marketer

More people than ever are living their lives on multiple screens. Smartphone ownership continues to expand as ever more affordable devices and data plans hit the market.

Over the past two years, smartphone adoption in the US has grown from 36% to 61%.3 (Canadian numbers are similar) And tablet owners, typically associated with high disposable incomes, represent an increasingly mainstream demographic as manufacturers introduce a slew of more economically priced models.

As a result, consumers can now use smartphones, tablets and computers to interact with businesses 24/7, from anywhere—at home, at work, on a bus. Powered especially by the rise in smartphone adoption, this constant connectivity has created many more opportunities for marketers to connect with consumers.

Companies have taken notice and begun embracing this always-on behavior, building businesses that lead with mobile.

Your future customers could be literally just around the corner and mobile marketing strategy can get them in your door.

Smartphone Users Using Their Phones To Find Local Businesses Online

mobile marketing trends