Tag Archives: marketing

346h

Social Media Engagement is More Than a Thumbs Up!

Social Media Engagement is More Than a Thumbs UP!
By Talmar Anderson
Talmar It Up, LLC

 

“Social media is THE way to economically and organically grow a business.” That is what a lot of entrepreneurs are being told by well-meaning friends, vendors and other business owners.  And it certainly can be. However, please be aware that engagement is REALLY how social media works for helping significant leaps happen for your company.  Clients sometimes list social media under their marketing plans with a line item expense of little to minimum costs.  I challenge that because your social media plans need to include engaging with your audience to take full advantage.  Engaging certainly costs more (whether more of a commitment of your and your team’s time or by hiring an outside marketing vendor) but WOW, that is where that exciting and exponential growth can come from for your company.  Whether growing to a billion dollar company like Chobani or developing a raving and true following like Chubbies Shorts (clothing line with marketing content that is real AND funny), engagement can help a company sell products/services, grow market share, build brand awareness and even improve operations. (You know I love the last part!) …. Consider focusing on this piece if social media is in your marketing plan or a part of your strategy for the year.

Pushing out posts, messages and pictures can provide true value when engagement is a part of the plan.  Your social media plan must include assigning not just the content creation and the management of the posting schedule, but also who is authorized to respond to your audience. How are they allowed to position your company through responses? also cover how to capture and track the engagement data that your audience is giving you with every “thumbs up”, share or comment.

As you start spending time and energy for engagement consider that it is more than going through to “like” posts. Your process should include thoughtful consideration on how you handle the good and bad comments. Want a great response? Choose an area that you think you are doing well and ask that loaded question. “What could we do better with…?” Boy howdy, strap into your seat and get ready. Continually encouraging feedback (good AND bad) will help your company define and improve on what your clients really want. We all know that social media lets the public they you what they really think about any given subject.

What can engagement do for YOUR company?

  • PR (stands for public RELATIONS people!)
    • building a larger market opportunity through awareness and education
  • Build your brand and reputation
    • Here is where your company’s responsive, timeliness and topical relevance can shine
  • Improve customer satisfaction and operations
    • Gathering data on what clients like, want, don’t like and LOVE. See below for a great example!

I love this one excellent example that could EASILY be applied by any small business. Recently, Elon Musk and his company Tesla took a social media post complaining about how cars were parking in the charging stations and within eight days created an entirely new company wide- process. It is well thought out. (Check out this Inc. article for more details HERE). This whiplash-speed operational change not only resolved the issue to incentivize people to get out of those spots and free them up for other customers who need to charge their electric cars but allowed that it could also create a new revenue stream.

I do recommend developing your social media plan to include a thorough engagement commitment and policy. Certainly, an outward push is helpful but incoming information and your team consistently monitoring to allow responsive, considerate engagement and ensure there are no great opportunities missed is where the bigger “bang for your dollar” comes in.  The right engagement in the right moment will enhance your reputation, build a more loyal fan base and potentially grow more of the market share. Engagement can help you deliver exactly what your clients want AND operational follow up can build immediate brand loyalty and strengthen your company’s reputation. Now Go! Grow!

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Networking for Deeper connections that are looking out for your professional growth!

Deeper or Wider? Your Networking needs both!

Deeper or Wider?
Your business needs you to network BOTH ways!

by Talmar Anderson

I love words. What about you?  Network…net – work. It is both a noun and a verb. Which way do you network in your professional sphere? The noun Network is a group of people with which we associate because of a common interest. I would challenge that most of us actually consider our noun Network associations when we are booking our business development actions. Certainly some school chums and wine connoisseur friends may send you business if they can keep up with your newest offerings over the sports announcer’s chatter or the oakiness of the tastings. But let’s look at the verb network.  You KNOW I love action!

“Network (v.): To cultivate people who can be helpful to one professionally through employment or moving to a higher position”. Do you have a group that is actually looking out for your professional advancement? The good news is that there are more of these than ever before usually through professional associations, membership communities and continued education accelerators. [Talmar It Up Truth: Make sure they are working for you as much as they are working your wallet (always with the metrics…can’t help myself!).]

When networking for business, we tell ourselves that we are going to meet prospects so that they will buy from us and therefore help us advance our business success. This wide casting of your “net” can work if we are targeted about who will be in attendance wherever you chose to spend those networking hours.  How much access will you get to each attendee? Will the topic be conducive to what your business does? Will people there be interested in talking more about your business or will they be fighting to make sure they get the last appetizer before the food gets cleared? This is where some networking events can get a bad reputation.  If you go EXPECTING to be able to spend time and actually talk with someone to grow your business and network, you need to do a little homework before you commit.

It is time to go deeper with your network. It is up to you to understand what type of people attend these events and how the agenda will be a driven. If you sell to Human Resource Directors of companies with 5,000 – 50,000 employees, a BNI structured event is probably not going to be your best use of time with its brief intros and focus on one member. If you sell direct sales of skin care, the Bar (law firms) Association’s Committee on Economic Development may not be a great use of your networking hours. Long committee reporting and socio-economic considerations may not allow the entry point for what is happening in your business right now.

Look for groups that will cultivate the kind of conversations and / or people that will help you advance your business.  A group that can share common interests you have in your position within the company or industry. Then you plan for the time to allow consistent, uninterrupted and engaging conversation around your business topics! Crazy talk. I know!  Imagine that there could be a better place for a baker to spend their time than a panel on “How Service Industries will be Repositioned in the Government Sector” just because he belongs to a group that may have a prospect attending. Go deeper.

Yes, we need to meet new people. Yes, we need to be open to possibilities. But, if you surround yourself with successful people looking for and creating topical discussions you are far more likely to form a DEEP network that gets you, your business goals and can EASILY refer you qualified prospects. That is makings the best use of your networking time and opportunities! Now GO! Grow!

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114H

Where are you coming FROM, Dear?

Where are you coming FROM, Dear?
by Talmar Anderson

Let’s talk about the most significant way YOU can take control of your company’s spending AND earning.  Truly it is a simple process that can be rolled into conversations and takes just minutes to track…and yet, most of you are NOT DOING IT! Seriously, you are breaking my heart.  Be nice to Talmar and start doing this EVERY SINGLE time you have a prospect conversation or inquiry. These two questions can significantly lower your expenses while increasing your income.  This is not sunshine I am blowing. Check this out…

I want to know, I mean actually detailed and counted, know where you are getting your leads. When anyone asks about your services, your company’s pricing or how to work with you, stop and focus! I know your adrenaline starts pumping and you are trying to figure how to close the sale before you have even determined the problem, your solution and if it is a good fit but take an extra pause and invest in gathering data for your own business.

You must take the time to ask them how they heard about your company. You owe it to your own business to make sure to get more than “the internet”. Are you advertising on Facebook? Have you invested in SEO? Did you hire someone to manage and write a blog for your company?  Wouldn’t you like to know which marketing dollars are working for you?? This is our opportunity to know! Follow up questions take just another couple of minutes.  “Was it an ad or did you read an article?” “What were you searching for when you found our information?”

If the person on the other end of the telephone says “I met someone at a networking event that mentioned you”, make sure to ask if they got the name of the person.  What event were they at?  These details can ensure you are networking where your prospects are as well as make sure to acknowledge the referring person!

And let’s talk about that referring person. Are they a former or present client? Are they in an industry that is complimentary to yours? Consider that if you continue to get referrals from the same “type” of person you could start a targeted marketing campaign focused on these areas.  Then we take note on your referral tracking system/ worksheet/ notepad. I don’t care where just do it and make sure you can get to it for review!

As you review, you look for similarities. If previous customers are a strong source of referrals, make sure to be in front of all of your previous clients in some consistent way that reminds them to refer to you.

That is how this can really focus your expenses while increasing income.  If we find that our leads and clients are NOT coming from internet searches, than you may be able to move a significant part of your SEO budget to a focused direct mail “thank you” campaign to previous clients. Now we are not spending money that is not converting and we are focused on marketing to referrals we have PROOF converts to clients.

Take the time to ask.  The time to document.  This will move you away from “thinking” you get your clients from point A or being “pretty sure” that they are coming from Point B. You will KNOW how to spend marketing money that converts to paying customers. THAT is the definition of a win/win!

Now GO! Grow!

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comparison between income and expense with money on hand

To Represent or Not to Represent

To Represent or Not to Represent.
By Talmar Anderson

When is your time well used by attending an unplanned conference, speaking engagement or workshop and sponsoring a table? Let’s take out of the equation the well planned out annual conference that is a budgeted item and 100% your target market.   It was “Practically free” is a term I have heard people say in defense of a poor response to sponsoring an event. Really?  Free?? Having a Vendor Table “Go bag” (an easy to grab bag with items you would use at any and all events…business cards, note pads, bowls for card collection,  pre-printed promotional items) is always a good start for these “opportunities” that spring up.  However we need to really be sure it is a good use of our time. ALL of the time, energy, and expense we will use for the event.

So let’s pump the brakes…this “practically free” event is your target market, right?  And you can be assured I will give you a hard time if you tell me there “might be” a few in attendance. You must be able to gain insight and numbers from the host of the event on the attendees.  Remember to apply your own business’ conversion performance to make sure it will be worthwhile for you to be present.  If your conversion is at 50% and there will “probably” be 3 people in the audience of 100 that are your market, will it be worth 2 sales (I’ll let you round up because I am sure you will be on fire that day) to spend your time and money there? Of course, this assumes you will actually have focused access to the correct 3 during the event sometime.

So let’s talk preparation. Do you have a way to gather prospect information?  Do you have a piece for them to take away to remember your company.  How much time did you put into personalizing a sales page or the marketing flyers that were created?  How much expense went into the giveaways and the printing costs?  Don’t forget the candy!  This will always be a way to bring people to your table to give you a possible opening. Now add up the cost of your hours, the designer hours, the printing and the candy expense.  Is this still less than the 2 possible sales? Good. Let’s add in the final piece.

Consider the “day of” expense.  This should include driving time, gas and tolls, time and energy to drag in your marketing materials, the time required to be set up BEFORE the event starts, and then you will have to decide what is more valuable to your business – missing part of the talk or missing people at the table?  How we are doing? Is the expense still outweighed by the potential income?

Here is the real killer rule I give to ALL of my clients.  Did you schedule follow up time the next day?  I mean truly do you or your staff have calendared time set aside to follow up and make sure your company is remembered from within that sea of information your prospect just waded through?  I am sure you had dedicated time to make a significant impression and they are never gonna forget your story about the stubbed toe that was bleeding through your shoe…but let’s make a plan for follow up just in case!

Going to these events, spending time and the money required to be professionally stocked and ready is likely for not if you are just going to play the wait and see game.  I know you don’t want to seem salesy.  I know you don’t want to be pushy.  But educating a prospect that showed interest in your services or products by stopping by your table  (even if it was the candy…they DID drop their card.) is the whole point of doing this!

Add that in…how might you do at this “free” event?

When the audience is your specific market, you have decent access to them and have something to sell now and intrigue for later, THAT is a definite YES for sponsoring. Sponsoring does contribute to your marketing strategies but “practically free” usually is sooo costly in the end!

Visit www.TalmarItUp.com to learn more about Talmar and how she works with business owners!

“It depends” is Not a Price but It Is a Killer!

By Talmar Anderson

Pricing is a challenging part of any business.  Making sure you are taking advantage of market trends, value delivered and demand from clients are all items we want to consider when setting a price.  And oh yeah, covering cost of goods, operations and…dare I say it? Make a profit!  A common issue that my service industry clients struggle with is how to have a set price for client consideration. “It depends” is a killer.  I promise that while start to expound on the different possibilities you are losing the listener.  “It depends” is to open ended and scares the buyer.  They worry that there will be no clear end on the investment.  Hourly pricing is the easiest because it is quantifiable and therefore most service professionals comfortable justifying the price when it comes to invoicing or proposals.  I would challenge this and suggest that you consider packaging to bring in more qualified prospects and improve your sales conversion ratio (how many leads turn into paying clients).

Packaging is the process of setting an inclusive price with a set expectation of delivery.  If you can find a component of your business deliverables and create an easy to understand package then your clients will be able to more quickly understand your offering and self-qualify.

A package should have:

  • a defined price,
  • details of exactly what is included (and depending on your industry possibly what is NOT included) and
  • a declaration of how exactly a client can add to the package as well as any price considerations.

As an example we can look at a website development company.  As the owner, you can take a backward look and case study review of your past clients and projects. Let’s say that you have decided that your company can create a quality product, with consideration of your costs and expense, of a delivered website for $5,000.  This beginning package may not be at your highest profit margin but is easily duplicated and is still a good step one for your entry level clients.

Once defined you can put that Package “out there” – on your marketing materials & website or as a rolling-off-of-the-tongue starting price point that is easily quotable in any conversation, amazing things will happen.  Several great benefits will occur:

  • Prospects can easily self-qualify.
  • Referral sources can make sure that leads will be more consistent with your potential target market.
  • Confidence and talking points come more easily to any team member that is part of a conversation representing your company.

EVERYONE can know that your projects start at $5,000.

This process can be replicated for other services or price points within your company. Consider packages based on average sales and even the high-end projects can be packaged.  If the website development company can also offer a full year of brand management, website development and content generation, this package can be spelled out to ensure you are in the running for those types of jobs.  Don’t worry about missing out.

The key to packaging is to not worry about what you COULD do.  Could the website designer create a logo for someone?  Sure….but let’s be known for websites if that is our core offering.  As you get in front of qualified prospects and existing clients you can expand on their needs and educate on your company’s other skill sets.  Packages will get you in the door but absolutely DO NOT have to be all that you offer.  Getting rid of “it depends” for fear of missing out will strengthen your credibility and allow clients to more easily connect.

Lazy or Defeated by Choices? Referrals are a great Business Opportunity!

More and more companies are tracking that referrals are the best lead generator for each of their businesses. SEO (Search engine optimization) is certainly up there as a great resource but most of my clients and business contacts are stating point of fact that a high percentage of their new clients are coming from referrals.  I would be willing to bet that a big reason that referrals are beating out SEO is due to the vast amounts of information a person must consider to find a solution to their problem.  Whether you are lazy about looking at every possible result or frustrated by the browser generated “matches” for your internet searches, asking a trusted person IS easier these days.

The big push the past couple of years in marketing efforts has been to create content that is searchable by all of the internet tools. However, all of that content has flooded the internet and search engines with choices.  There is no such thing as a “quick” internet search anymore and that is making it much harder to find the sources we need for problem resolution.

Your search results will bring white papers, opinions, blogs and online magazines that are first ordered by advertisement before offering the search tool’s best match. The newsletters alone that come across our computers continue to grow our “To Read” folders so that they feel like one more thing “To Do” as opposed to a way to build our own knowledge base and understanding. All that information is out there to be found. Where do we go for the quick answer? Starting with a referral is MUCH easier and faster.

Now more than ever, I am one of those people that will first ask my trusted network of peeps when I have a need.  This saves a huge amount of time by not having to look through the pages of results. With group pages on many social websites, I can instantly reach out to many of my business partners with one quick question.  Not only does this really narrow the field of possible follow up options  but it is a base of already vetted possibilities. They ACTUALLY do what we need them to do to resolve our problem. So now we need only verify that they are right for our company and this specific need.

My process is to then go through the “trust but verify” procedure of logging onto company websites and social media platforms to see which of the referrals looks to be the best fit for my needs. After reading a few articles or white papers and a phone call or two later, I am on the way to a solution that is a great fit for my business.

I use it in my personal life too!  If I want to make chicken for dinner, I used to go straight to the website to look for a recipe.  Well, I will get not just the recipes but all the websites that might have chicken recipes, articles on chicken for dinner and reviews on why chicken is / is not the best  thing for dinner.  Too much work!  Much easier to call my neighbor down the street and ask for the recipe she cooked last month at the pot luck.  Tried and true!

Tried and true. Don’t we all want our businesses to be thought of that way?

Understanding that this is a legitimate and growing part of lead generation leads me to want to remind each of YOU that with a growing resource for your business comes a growing responsibility. 

If referrals are a large part of lead generation for your business, then your company may need to make a conscious shift in your marketing plan.  Just because referrals represent the coveted WOM (word of mouth) marketing this does not mean that money has magically appeared from your marketing budget.  Business should be budgeting to manage or encourage this area. Remember, for this to truly benefit your company you must deliver on MULTIPLE levels.

  •  Referrals must know what you do to find a qualified lead
    ( Especially when adding new products or services!)
  • Referrals must know that you deliver quality work
    ( So, you actually have to deliver quality work.)
  • Acknowledgement and appreciation for referrals is required.
    (No “Thank you”? This resource will feel no loyalty.)
  • And just like with new leads, referral sources must have you and your company top of mind.

Too often a business owner will think that they do not need to market to existing contacts because their prospects are already coming in as referrals.  They will network less because their referrals are up.  They may even start to depend on certain referral sources without marketing to generate new client leads.  This can lead to what many looking back at their downward trends consider as a down cycle or slow period.

As long as you are measuring regularly so you can be responsive, you should be able to change your process and grow again. Better is to shift the correct portion of your marketing budget to manage and grow this productive segment of your company’s lead generation NOW!

Which do you do first – search the internet or reach out for referrals? I’d love to read your comments!

Why your marketing isn’t working the way you want! And what your marketing consultants are trying to tell you.

By Talmar Anderson
Originally published Jun. 11, 2014

Marketing is the most frustrating and overwhelming part of running a business. It is not as black and white as addition. While I am prone to think I am the only one that struggles with the mythical “marketing strategy” I find that many of my clients have the similar issues. Primarily, I start by ensuring my clients understand that marketing and sales are 2 different areas of your business and you should be expecting 2 different results.

Sales efforts need to result in clients and products sold. Marketing efforts need to result in brand awareness and prospect generation. But just understanding those differences are still NOT ENOUGH to help you gain better results from your marketing.  NO… don’t blame the website.  It’s not your logo.  It’s probably not even your elevator pitch.

I am going to ask you a question….ready?  What happens that moves your prospect over the line to client by creating the buying decision?  What is the catalyst that has leads a client to finally click the button or pick up the phone to call?  Is it an emotional decision?  Is it a definitive need?  Is it a point in their life cycle or business cycle?

I know this is a very specific question but it really goes back to that first question all marketing consultants will ask you “who is your target market?”  If you are unable to answer that question as specifically as the triggers for that markets buying decisions, it is going to be very difficult for any marketing company to deliver on your goals.

This leads to the other reason that your marketing is not performing for you. It is wrapped around my favorite topic…metrics!! For successful evaluation, we must measure.  To measure, we must define a result (Are you following??)

If we want to measure whether a marketing effort has been beneficial, we will need to define what result we expect.  Clearly and specifically define who we want to do what exactly. We must do this for each and every marketing effort we make for our company.  “MORE CLIENTS!”….I can hear you all now.  “More clients” may be the reason why you have decided to invest in your marketing efforts and growth structures.  However, let’s get specific.

Are you planning a new marketing campaign to grow your contact list? Are you developing and delivering speaking engagements to broaden your credibility? Are you creating a promotional effort to grow the sales pipeline of a specific income stream?  What is the result you want from this effort?  Pick one.

It is possible your business will receive two benefits but pick one primary reason and communicate that with your marketing team (whether internal or external).  Then create a metric that will allow evaluation before, during and after the effort for that singular result.  Now we can measure success.

Clever phrases and neato slogans only help if they help brand identity which should lead to prospect generation which should lead to the company sales pipeline which should lead to more clients.  Each of these items requires a separate process and metric for performance evaluation and continual progress.  Tracking these items will allow us to better focus on what is and what is NOT working.  It is seldom as easy as changing marketing teams or consultants

We need to REALLY understand our target market and all that includes so that we can communicate effectively with our marketing teams to measure our results and drive prospects to sales.

Are you really surprised my answer is more clarity through process and metrics??? (Imagine my wickedly twinkling eyes!)