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3 Ways Small Businesses Should Leverage Location-Based Marketing In 2011

By John Joyce on October 13, 2010 - Comments 0

Small business owners have an opportunity to take advantage of several great technologies to broaden their local reach and position themselves as the big fish in their respective small pond.  I’m going to assume that most local businesses are listed with the three major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) but, if not, refer to this white paper for instructions.  Each of these platforms has local search embedded, to some extent, so you want to be able to take advantage of this free marketing platform.

To go one step beyond simple search, let’s take a look at ways you can proactively deliver your message to prospective customers based on their geographic location:

1)  Twitter

I just read an article this morning about a local bakery, Sugar Coated Bakery, that has managed to thrive in this difficult economy even with the rising cost of ingredients like flour and sugar.  They have a Facebook page but no Twitter account listed on their site and I immediately thought of a product I read about last year, Baker Tweet, which enables you to scroll through your list of baked goods and Tweet when a new batch comes out of the oven.  Also, Advanced Twitter Search allows you to identify people based on their location, follow them and, hopefully, they’ll follow you back.

Give people the opportunity to friend, follow or like you in any way they choose and then make sure you keep the conversation going.

2)  Foursquare

I’ve written about Foursquare before and it has defined the location-based marketing space by proving the value of building a participatory community as opposed to the more conversational platforms like Facebook.  This is a solution where you can reward your best customers and build an army of evangelists simply by letting them take part in your success.

This is one of the best ways to build loyalty and generate repeat business from your most loyal customers.

3)  Location-Based Advertising

If you’re having trouble building a following within social media platforms, help may soon arrive in the form of location-based advertising from Twitter.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could reach your core demographic within 20 miles of your business with a very focused value proposition?  Foursquare has stumbled in their efforts to deliver location-based advertising options but maybe it’s a sign that their platform is best suited for DIY campaigns only.  Google just announced that Marissa Mayer has been promoted from VP of Search and User Experience to a new role focused on location-based services.

Three big players all vying for your advertising dollars.  Let’s hope at least one of them comes up with a solution that delivers.


Building Your Online Persona vs. Being A Narcissistic Blowhard

By John Joyce on September 12, 2010 - Comments 0

Facebook Breeds NarcissistsA recently released “study” by a psychology student at York Univiersity in Canada showed Facebook users are more likely to be narcissistic.  Their next piece of research will likely answer the age-old question, “do the Irish like beer?”  Seriously, though, this should serve as a reminder to companies using social media -  be genuine and don’t try to project a false image.

Self-promotion is an integral part of social networking but you can’t change your message or image simply because it’s different from more traditional channels. The unique advantage of new online communities is that they are bidirectional and in real time so feedback is instantaneous.  In the future, when you’re interacting with prospects and customers online, make sure you follow these three guidelines:

  • Be honest
  • Be consistent
  • Listen

Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part X: Vertical Communities

By John Joyce on March 25, 2010 - Comments 0

Effective Use of Social Networks for Small Business OwnersFacebook and similar networks where “socializing” is truly the main objective can be ineffective marketing platforms for many businesses. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a fan page for your business but, what I am saying is that you have to prioritize the amount of effort you provision for each online marketing vehicle based on simple ROTI.  (Return On Time Invested)  For each network, you must ask yourself 1) How do you find your target audience? 2) How do you convey your message in a way that is meaningful to them? 3) Should you be marketing to people who have become members of the mafia or have started a farm? (you know exactly what I’m talking about)

Wouldn’t it make more sense to put your effort into a network of like-minded business people who are actually interested in professional networking, business deals and partnerships? I have been using LinkedIn since 2003 when it was in beta and it is, by far, the most effective business networking tool I have ever used.

Vertical Social Networks for Small Business

Click image to view interactive online marketing ecosystem

Of course, the only way to know which network is best for your particular business model is to test both platforms.  An easy way to do this is to run some simple advertisements on LinkedIn and Facebook.  You set all demographic criteria to narrow down your target audience.  You can also set a daily limit for spend and choose to pay per click (PPC) or per thousand impressions (CPM).

Building your marketing ecosystem is a balancing act where you must test, evaluate, rinse and repeat.  It’s important to build your online presence but it’s even more important to optimize your efforts which is a perpetual learning experience.


Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part VI: Friends And Family

By John Joyce on March 9, 2010 - Comments 0

Social Networks For Small Business

Click Image to View Interactive Online Marketing Ecosystem

This one’s going to be quick based on the fact that most people are already Facebook users and understand the power of the platform.  As I have said over and over again (sorry for being a broken record), you have to present your business information in as many places as possible and that includes social networks.

As was illustrated in my last post, you can automate the process of spreading the word across different platforms without actually having to manually do so within each application.  If you don’t want to post your marketing outreach on your personal page, make sure you create a fan page in Facebook and only post there.  Either way, your friends and family are great resources for creating word of mouth momentum.


Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part 1: The Foundation

By John Joyce on November 3, 2009 - Comments 0

Building_A_FoundationThe first step of every business identity creation process is to build a solid foundation from which you can nurture a living, growing online presence. Because business owners become so entrenched in the day to day operations of their company, they don’t consider taking a step back to objectively reflect on the “state of the business”. Much of what I’m going to tell you in this post might seem incredibly elementary and you might even want to say, “duh”, to me. However, this simplified approach works even for an established business that wants to verify that their marketing strategy maps to their overall business goals. Let’s begin:

Who Am I? Why Am I Here? Admiral James Stockdale, although he picked the wrong venue, asked two important questions that should be pondered by any business owner. In many cases a business’ personality is as important as the product/service being offered. So, a clear understanding of “who” offers a identifiable persona to which prospective and existing customers can relate.

What do we do? This can be one of the most difficult messages to nail down for a small business but it is vital to the success of your marketing initiatives. Not only must you clearly articulate what you do but it’s imperative you differentiate your offering and communicate value.  Don’t get caught up in the trap of listing fifty features and all of the “cool widgets and gadgets” you have built.  Tell them how you are going to impact their bottom line and make them more successful.

Who Cares? Rather than engage in outbound marketing to the masses, now is the time to identify the characteristics of your dream customer and focus on driving them to your site.  If you already have happy customers, reach out to them and ask if they would be interested in participating in a quick survey.  The data you collect will shed light on why they chose to do business with you, what you can do better and it gives you the opportunity to thank them for their business.

Where Are They Looking? The final step, after identifying and segmenting your target audience is to understand where they go to find information about you/your product/your service. There are the obvious places such as search engines but, to dig a little deeper, you have to do some research and identify specific places (websites, Q&A sites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) where people are talking about what you do and then you have to become an active participant by offering valuable information and linking back to your site where possible.

This entire process is continuous but it will organically build your brand and online presence over time. You have to be committed to this process and willing to commit the necessary time and effort. You will learn about the market, prospective customers, current customers, keyword strategy, potential new markets, and even potential partnerships with related businesses.

Once you identify the Who, What and Where, you will be better suited to develop your core message and consistently present it across all possible mechanisms.


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