Monday, May 14, 2012

Business Blogging 101

Blogs are underrated and their reach is underestimated. Most businesses think blogging is not for them.  They are wrong.  It is great for educating clients and differentiating your biz from the competition, but also it is putting a human face on your brand.  I have laid out 6 simple tips that will help the success of your blog. 

Tip 1: Relevant Content.
There are a million things to talk about—but keep it related to your industry. For instance, talk about your products. Customers love comparison-shopping and they want to know how your products compare to others. You can also talk about solutions to consumer’s problems. I love Mod Cloth’s Blog because not only do they offer me fashion ideas, but solutions on how to wash and stitch certain fabrics. This comes off honest and friendly.

Tip 2: Participate in the communities where your audience already gathers by commenting on blogs and forums. People read comments and if you have brought up something that grabs their attention, as well as leaving a link to your own blog, they will most likely click it. 

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This allows people to ‘subscribe’ to your blog. 90% of people who read one of your blogs won’t come back. This is not because they don’t find it interesting and relevant but because they just forget. Having them subscribe will let them know you added new content and ensure their revisit.

Tip 4: Have fun with it.
Professional, structured writing is NOT the way to go for blogging. A light tone is best to help add the fun. Don’t forget to squeeze some humor into a post to keep people interested.  >Insert funny joke here<

Tip 5: Tag!
Tagging is what helps index your blog post by search engines. Without tags, search engines may overlook your posts and they will end up at the bottom of the pile. By adding appropriate tags, people who are searching for similar information can find your blog a lot easier and faster.

Tip 6: Don’t Forget Images.
Not only will images help break up the writing and make your blog attractive, they also have great SEO value. Adding a description to the images will allow search engines, such as Google, to catalog your blog posts. Having images can increase the visits to your blog by up to 10x.

Taking these fundamental tips into account, it is never too late to start your own blog. Honest, relevant, clever writing is what people fancy. Provide this and you will have a solid following.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Will the Summer Sun make your Sales Shine or Fade Away?

Many business owners say their sales dwindle in the summer months. Summer depicts a season of no worries and slowing down, but this does not mean your sales have to slow down too.  There are countless marketing techniques that can be used to make your business BOOM during the summer months.

There are a lot of unusual and just plain ridiculous holidays out there. As a business, you should find one related to your industry and start celebrating. I was recently walking past a Rack Room Shoes and there was a big sale on flip-flops because it was National Flip Flop Day.  There were big holiday signs outside, party streamers inside, and even free cake for the holiday! Integrating your products with summer elements is a creative and funny way to grab any passer-bys attention. Can’t think of a holiday?  Visit

Everyone is outside and active during the summer. This is great potential for capturing people’s eyes with sidewalk sales. Set up tables and displays outside. You can even use the sidewalk to unload excess inventory at discounted prices or display your best products outside — encouraging customers to visit the inside of the store. Another great thing about being outside is summer festivals, street markets, and parades. Research upcoming fairs and festivals and see if you can reserve a spot to set up a table. You can sell products here, and also engage with customers and other local businesses.

During the hot summer days, free food and cold drinks are the perfect way to draw in customers. You can host a BBQ cookout for loyal patrons and also invite new potential patrons. Here you can connect with customers through casual conversation and show that you appreciate them. Handing out some freebies, like re-usable water bottles, is a nifty promotional tool as well. Customers will love things like that to bring to the beach. This will keep brand exposure strong.

Before the summer months begin, make sure you have a tailored marketing plan to incorporate themes from the season to help catch the attention of the public. Summertime promotions and advertising are fantastic opportunities for your brand to be fun. It is everyone’s vacation time, just make sure your marketing and advertising doesn’t take that vacation as well!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Marketing Plans Are Part Of What It Takes To “GET” Your Business

As small business owners, we sometimes have trouble grasping all of the moving parts of what it takes to be in business.  Large corporations have marketing departments, accounting departments, legal departments, etc.  Being in business for yourself typically means that you become those departments.  I often think back to something I once heard from a fellow business owner; “being in business for yourself means you have the ability to choose which 14 hours of the day you want to work”.  So True!
In this economy, it’s tough to pay people to manage every aspect of your business; hence many business owners take on the task themselves.  Ultimately it is hard to be the master at everything, but gaining a general understanding can be a huge help for every business owner. 
On April 17th, I had the opportunity to team up with Gateway to Entrepreneurial Tomorrows (GET) and Orange County Trust Company as part of a workshop for small business owners.  The goal was to provide useful information to business owners about what it takes to effectively market their products and services.  We discussed the importance of creating a marketing plan, which then spun off into a variety of different directions from Facebook to e-marketing. 
Having been in the marketing industry for so long, it still amazes me how quickly things have changed.  Just 5 years ago the conversation would have spun off into discussions about print and radio advertising and now everyone’s primary focus is social media and digital advertising.  With technology being ever changing, it is so important to keep up with new trends in marketing and incorporate them into your marketing strategy.
The workshop was very interactive and engaging.  According to Tim McCausland, VP of Corporate Strategy and Business Development at Orange County Trust Company, it was the biggest turnout yet!  I thoroughly enjoyed giving the presentation and it was great to see that Orange County Trust sponsors events like this for the small business community.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Being In The Movement Business

If you were able to get out and about last Tuesday, you may have noticed a surplus of barefoot walkers ranging from business people to retail workers.  It was quite a peculiar site to see a business professional walking the streets of NYC in a full suit with no shoes.  This was all due to the movement “One Day Without Shoes” started by the shoe company TOMS.

At TOMS, they don’t consider themselves to be a business but rather a movement.  Their philosophy is to help people in need — one shoe purchase at a time.  For every pair of shoes purchased from TOMS, they donate a pair to someone in need in a foreign country.  The company started when founder Blake Mycoskie, was inspired by a trip to Argentina. “I was so overwhelmed by the spirit of the South American people, especially those who had so little,” Mycoskie said. “And I was instantly struck with the desire — the responsibility — to do more.”

Since it’s inception, TOMS has successfully turned a business into a movement by engaging their young consumers via social media and the web.  They have taken a trendy design and marketed it to the right people, using the right platforms.  Through the viral support of their young customers, “One Day Without Shoes” was started in 2008.  TOMS helped their follower’s idea become a reality.

With word of mouth spreading so fast, TOMS has created tremendous brand recognition for themselves in a matter of a short time.  “One Day Without Shoes” has almost worked as a guerilla-marketing tactic for the company.  If you saw several people walking around in the rain without shoes on, wouldn’t you eventually ask what was going on?  Even Hollywood has jumped on the ban-wagon; last Tuesday’s episode of GLEE featured occasional bare-footed cast members.

Being trendy, social, outrageous yet generous has caught the attention of today’s youth.  TOMS has created a relationship with their customer base making them a huge asset as the driving force behind their business.  Essentially their customers have become a part of their marketing team.
What is your marketing plan for getting your business where you want it to be?