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Posts from — October 2017

Managing Your Funnel


With the over whelming success of the Digital Marketing Age, you may think that the concept of a marketing funnel is now defunct. And, yes, what used to be a fairly direct route from drawing in leads to converting them into clients has now exploded into a multitude of micro processes.

However, the concept of a Marketing Funnel is still a good way to create a marketing plan that needs multiple levels of engagement to convert leads into clients. Today, in this era of social media and smart phones, we are definitely in a (sometimes) brave new world of marketing plans. Even when we’re ready to run screaming from our computers after trying to make sense of all the rapid changes that have evolved.

If you use a marketing funnel plan, there are probably some adjustments that could be made to your process that will help you see even better results in lead generation and subsequently converting those leads into paying customers. Here are a few procedures to improve your marketing funnel and provide even more successful results quickly.

Carefully Research and Develop the Stages of Your Buying Process

Outlining the steps of the potential client’s process needs to be very specific. How you define a potential client gives you an idea of what key information can help you continue to perfect your marketing plans.

By converting your definitions to relate to buyer stages, your emphasis focuses on where the buyer is in the process. Using care when forming these definitions can be crucial so that the data you receive is actually what you want to know.

Utilize Coding When Tracking the Lead Process

The information your team gathers as customers progress through your marketing is crucial. This habit is a valuable resource, allowing you to follow what stage the buyer is in, where the lead originated, and which campaign produced the lead. Using detailed and accurate coding techniques to accomplish the tracking will tell you at the end of a campaign exactly where leads did and didn’t grow. Additionally, they will inform you what factors successfully lead a buyer through all the stages of the funnel to a positive outcome.

Create a Process to Separate Your Quality Customers from the Rest of the Herd

Although it would be a bad idea to refer to your customers as a herd of cattle, with the wide range that initial lead capturing plans cover, it’s important, as the stragglers weed themselves out, that you are able to start recognizing high-quality clients.

On the flip side of that idea, be aware of clients that may have a negative effect on your business. These are the ones you will probably prefer not to do business with in the future.

When ranking your potential and actual clients, be sure to include definitions of what the mediocre and trouble clients may be like. This way you can determine where they came from and decide if you should you remove your efforts from those venues to prevent more issues from coming up later.

Run Additional Metrics Reports When You Make Any Changes

Usually, key metric reports can be done only once a month, however, when changes are made you’ll want to get an immediate idea about how effective the changes are. During this time, it’s best to increase the reports to once a week.

October 18, 2017   No Comments

Safety Practices for Small Business Social Media Use

No longer the “New Kid in Town.” Social Media and its marketing resources have gone from a compulsive form of recreation for many to a fundamental piece of any business plan, large or small.

What is still not readily known by many business owners and managers is that use of social media by companies and their employees can seriously compromise a businesses’ security. Very often, when it comes to maintaining safety and security via social media, employees can end up being the biggest issue.

Whether it’s from posting on their personal page about things happening at work, or clicking on things they shouldn’t while using an office computer, employees can accidentally leak information or download mal-ware into your network without even realize they are doing it.

To help avoid the issues that can result in these seemingly small actions, here are some tips to assist you in keeping your business and your employees safe from social-media troubles, both at work and at home.

Advise Employees to Avoid Posting Info About Where They Work

Even though you can’t stop an employee from telling people where they work, explain that like giving out their home address and phone number online, revealing where they work can make it easy for people to find them and collect more info on their daily routine.

Employees should also be informed that associating the company with a personal account on questionable social networks could hurt the company and, by default, hurt the employee as well.

Keep Privacy Settings Updated

This is important on two fronts. First, train your employees how to maintain their own accounts’ privacy settings, this will lessen the possibility of unauthorized info getting leaked.

On your businesses’ accounts, it’s likely you don’t know most of the followers you’ve cultivated. Taking steps to secure those accounts as much as possible, with privacy settings that will work best for your company, will significantly add to your online security

Establish Work Place Use of Social Media

Most of us have done it, checked our Facebook page during lunch or a break. Instead of trying to ban the use of social media on work computers, it may be better to create some policies on how to use it instead.

For instance, stating that visitation of these sites may only be made during breaks and that the use of apps like games, quizzes, or anything else that requires clicking on links, are prohibited on company computers. Putting these policies in place will assist you in avoiding issues that can affect your network.

Make Sure Your IT Specialists Are Trained to Handle Social Media Specific Issues

Once you’ve established an office policy for Social Media use, it will need to be enforced. This means ongoing surveillance of online activities. To accomplish this, invest in consulting, and antivirus protection via software and hardware.

Additionally, the company’s technical staff will need to be updated about current social-media security risks.

A Word on Hacking

All businesses and their social media accounts are potential targets. Any compromise of these tools could result in irreparable damage. Fortunately, the items we’ve already discussed can help prevent a hacker from successfully breaking into your account.

Additionally, use strong passwords with unique alpha-numeric combinations. These days to create the best possible login security, you need to use upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and accepted punctuation as allowed.

Once you have one password, don’t use it for multiple logins. If a hacker manages to figure one account out, you’ll have given up the keys to the entire kingdom.

A Little Prevention Can Go A Long Way

The most important way to prevent harmful issues from social media use is to educated and even provide training for your employees.

Whether this is via a workshop, meeting or included in a section of the employee handbook, be sure your employees have the knowledge that can save your business’ social media accounts and their own from unnecessary attention and use.

Monitoring the social media marketing landscape is vital to your success.

October 17, 2017   No Comments

Knowing Your Blog Posting Options

These days it seems like everyone has a blog. whether it’s an outlet to type out our inner musings of the world today or to let people into a part of our lives we would have difficulty discussing out loud, there a never-ending number of reasons to start one.

If you own a small business, there are even more reasons to have one. While there are a few that would argue as to whether blogs are still applicable with the surge of social media marketing platforms that have taken the world by storm, it’s believed by most that blogging can be an integral piece of your marketing plan.

In case you are still waiting to take the plunge into the web log world, some reasons to consider moving forward with your own blog are:

They are a great way to develop better relationships with your current customers
They will increase your SEO on sites like Google and Yelp.
They can position your brand as a perceived industry leader, even if you are just starting out.

Types of blog posts: Articles on your own blog, mini articles on a microblog, and articles on other peoples’ blogs.

What is a Microblog?

Microblogging is a combination of blogging and instant messaging. It allows users to create short messages to share with an audience online. Two common microblogging platforms are Twitter and Tumblr.

Benefits of Microblogging to consider:

Your content will take less time to create.
It’s easier to post more frequently.
It’s perfect for disseminating urgent information to a large audience.
Ease of access through mobile apps.

How and Why You Should Consider Guest Blogging

Guest Blogging is basically creating an article for a blog that is not your own. It’s a way to share your knowledge with others while simultaneously increasing traffic to your blog. This also means you will need to plan on featuring posts from other bloggers in the future. Featuring guest posts will give your audience a new perspective on your industry as well as help freshen your content if you’ve gotten stuck in a rut.

To get started, first decide what benefits you are looking to get from the process of guest blogging. This will assist you in finding businesses you may be interested in creating content for and give you an idea of which guest bloggers would be good to invite to post on your site later.

Research is essential to guest blogging, begin by asking yourself some questions:

Do the businesses you are looking at have a large number of active followers?
Do these followers regularly participate by posting comments or sharing?
Do these businesses also have a Facebook page and Twitter account where they share their blog posts?

Focus on finding bloggers within your niche and market industry. You should agree with what they have to say, their opinions should match your own. If they don’t this could lead to content issues later if their content doesn’t line up with your business, personality, or tone.

Be sure to promote your guest blog posts on your own social media accounts and on your own blog. This will bring more traffic back to your guest’s blog and their business. It should become a habit to share your content, plus it’s a good way to say thank you to your host for publishing your guest post.

Overall, blogging in each form is a good way to widen your reach and bring more traffic to your own web presence.

Monitoring the social media marketing landscape is vital to your success.

October 10, 2017   No Comments

Improve Your Email Marketing with a Marketing Funnel

What is a Marketing Funnel?

The idea of a funnel is used to illustrate the process a potential client goes through as they become familiar with your products or services.

Visually, clients enter the funnel at the widest part, the top, then proceed to descend, stage by stage, leaving at the level they lose interest. What you end up with at the bottom are the final few who have purchased and love your product or service. These are the clients that will keep coming back

Your goal is to raise the number of potential clients that enter the top and lower the number that loses interest at each stage.

To accomplish this, you will need to have a conversion tactic for each stage.

There are a few different Funnel maps out there that vary in their vocabulary but each basically means the same thing, for the sake of this article, we’ll go with the following terms:

Awareness
Interest
Conversion
Loyalty
Advocacy

Using Email Marketing to Get a Client All the Way to the Bottom

Now that you understand how a marketing funnel works, let’s discuss email marketing plans for each.

Awareness

The top of your marketing funnel is awareness. This is when the potential client finds out you exist but doesn’t know anything about your product yet. At this level, you should start showing them the value of your product or service. This can be done with free informative content, such as a free eBook on product related subjects.

Interest

At this level, potential clients are starting to show an interest in your company and products and want to know more.

You also know more about the client, which allows you to send them more targeted content that can relate how your product or services can help them. This email could include specific items that you believe will be beneficial to them and even include an invitation to a free consultation or demonstration.

Conversion

Now you potential client is aware of the value of your product or service and it’s time for them to decide if they are ready to purchase.

Here, you start communicating to the client why your product and service is better than your competitors’ and perfect for them.

Loyalty

OK, you’ve made the sale, your potential client has graduated to the title of actual client. Your work is not over, however, not even close.

Now you need to implement your plans to keep them.

Repeat and long term clients are a wonderful asset for any business. Help keep these valuable assets by continually engaging them with fun and useful content such as educational emails related to upcoming products or surveys asking them their opinions on potential changes coming. Make them feel like their opinion really matters to you.

Advocacy

Advocacy happens when your clients turn into your biggest fans.

They’ve probably purchased or used your services several times because they adore you. The best part? They start telling everyone about your and how great your products or services are!

Word of mouth, still the best way to gain more potential clients that will stick.

Now, as you start to recognise these special clients, you can start sending them special requests like emails asking them to refer you to their friends. You could even create a version of your initial email sent to the Awareness level that they can forward to friends and family they think would most benefit from your products or services.

Now you have the information you need to plan your own email campaign and begin to channel your potential clients all the way to being actual clients.

By developing your email strategy with the marketing funnel in mind, you’ll convert more prospects into customers and more customers into fans, which means more money for your business. Yay!

Monitoring the social media marketing landscape is vital to your success.

October 9, 2017   No Comments

Fear and Entrepreneurship

Your stomach ties itself into a knot. Your heart races nowhere as your mind sorts through every conceivable worst case scenario.

We call this “fear” and our instincts often scream for us to avoid it at its source.

As irrational as it can be, as silly as it sometimes seems in others, fear is something we have to continually confront throughout our lives.

But artists, entrepreneurs, and ambitious people especially—who often elect to walk paths and choose goals steeped in uncertainty—have to learn how to live with fear if they want to go far.

Because what should scare us most about fear isn’t how it makes us feel, but how it tricks us into denying ourselves the things we want most.

Understanding Fear

For many neuroscientists, “fear” refers to the physiological state of a particular neural circuit in the amygdala that decides how we respond to threats.

The way we experience fear, however, is a negative emotional response to perceived danger that affects us both physically (rapid heart rate and breathing) and mentally (expecting a potential undesirable outcome). Physiologically, the fear of public speaking could feel very similar to the fear of getting hit by oncoming traffic.

Fear is supposed to serve to protect us from harm and preserve our well-being.

When it’s not actually protecting us, however, fear can be an obstacle. In a recent survey of our readers, fear was second only to marketing knowledge when we asked what almost got in the way of getting that first successful sale.

fear in entrepreneurship survey

“I was kind of scared to launch; [I] didn’t know if my website was lame or not.”

—Anonymous Store Owner

The 5 Types of Fear

“Fear” is just the word we use to capture a feeling that can vary greatly in intensity, duration, and irrationality that can be triggered by any number of things.

So in order to understand it, it might help to group fear as we commonly know it into 5 categories described by Dr. Karl Albrecht in his book Practical Intelligence:
• Extinction: The fear of no longer existing (a.k.a death), which gives birth to the fear of heights or flying.
• Mutilation: The fear of losing any part of our bodies or being physically invaded or harmed (includes the fear of spiders and sharp objects).
• Loss of Autonomy: The fear of being helpless because of physical or social restraints that are beyond our control. This includes the fear of closed spaces or even commitments that might make you feel like a prisoner.
• Separation: The fear of rejection and being unwanted or unvalued by others, which can be especially damaging when you consider that we are social creatures that crave connectedness. This is usually the voice in your head that asks you, “What will people think?”
• Ego-death: The fear of losing our established sense of self, having our confidence crushed, or questioning our own competence and understanding of who we are. This includes the fear of failure and shame.

Each type of fear can be tied back to our needs as humans, but the last 3 categories are perhaps the most prevalent for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Are you afraid of commitment to a new venture and the loss of freedom that it might entail? Are you afraid that being successful might mean you lose the life you know or your current circle of friends and family? Are you afraid of the shame you’ll experience if you fail?

These are the kinds of questions only you can answer; fear is very personal after all. Our tendency to be fearful or anxious may be genetic, but what triggers it is something we can learn from our environments and experiences (i.e. phobias or chronic fears with specific triggers).

However, fear can also be what defines an entrepreneur.

The Fear of Failure Can Be an Entrepreneur’s Friend

You’re probably familiar with the “fight or flight” instinct we rely on when we encounter any source of stress. The choice we have seems binary (do you address it or do you avoid it?). But there’s a third option that we sometimes choose instead: “freezing” or no action at all.

In animals, like possums, the freeze instinct can be justified as a way to automatically “play dead” when confronted by danger. In humans, it can result in inaction or indecision that we might mislabel as run-of-the-mill procrastination.

For entrepreneurs, the fear of failure comes out of our assessment of threats in situations where we could potentially lose. These situations force us to recall what failing feels like or the consequences it has led to in the past.

However, that can lead to one of three outcomes:
• Flight: We avoid facing the situation altogether.
• Freeze: We find ourselves paralyzed in the situation and unable to commit (such as being unable to launch a business even though we know it’s ready).
• Fight: We approach the threat aggressively and fight to control the outcome.

Choosing to fight—to attempt to be the master of one’s own destiny when presented with the prospect of failure—is what makes an entrepreneur.

In fact, this is a common theme I’ve noticed in my conversations with entrepreneurs who often experience a sense of urgency born out of fear: a fear of being last to market, a fear of wasting all their invested effort by giving up, a fear of not being able to pay the bills, a fear of never realizing their full potential.

For these entrepreneurs, fear becomes a rival and not an enemy, as the things that keep them up at night are also what get them up every morning.

The Fear of “Success” (It’s Real)

“The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
—Steven Pressfield, War of Art

The fear of failure makes total sense. You can understand why someone wouldn’t want to fail and look badly in front of everyone.

But what we don’t talk about enough is the fear of success. A huge part of it, according to at least two studies that interviewed young adults, seems to be the anticipation of discomfort and drastic change we expect as a result of unprecedented success.

The mere prospect of these uncomfortable changes can create anxiety in otherwise achievement-oriented people and encourage underachieving. The studies found that this anxiety was pronounced in those from disadvantaged backgrounds who anticipate a jarring loss of community and culture from success, or are uncertain what will happen to them if success forces them out of the role that society has for so long expected them to fill.

Dealing With Fear: Breathe, Meditate, Push Past It

“Fearless” is a lie. We just learn how to lean into our fears, even when it hurts, until it no longer does.

It’s easy to say “just face your fears”, but that’s not always easy. Fear is a physiological response and can sometimes take a bit more than just willpower to overcome.

One of the more noticeable symptoms of fear is rapid breathing. Scientists have found that rapidly inhaling (which we do when we’re under duress) improves memory recall and response times that can be useful when we’re faced with a threat.

But when there is no reasonable threat, we can use conscious, deep breathing to help ease fear and anxiety. This is also a key component of mindfulness meditation, which on top of controlling our breathing, helps us look at our emotions and thoughts as passing experiences.

Apps like Headspace or Stop, Breathe, Think (free) can walk you through mindfulness meditation, helping you slow down a little every day or whenever you need to most.

On the Other Side of Fear

Fear is an inherent part of entrepreneurship because uncertainty, risk, and standing out often are as well.

But fear is also the thing that lights a fire under us and gives rise to our ambitions, like the fear of regret, an un-lived life, and unrealized potential. I won’t deny that fear has kept me from doing some of the things I’d like to. But it’s also what pushes me to do the things I most want to.

What’s interesting is that in the dozens of interviews I’ve had with entrepreneurs, the same plot point often comes up in their stories.

Before they started or found success with their businesses, they came face-to-face with the same proverbial monster.

On one side of it was them. On the other side of it was their ambition and everything they ever wanted.
Link to Original Article

October 2, 2017   No Comments