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Introducing Barbara Gobbi Marketing!

After spending the past 20 years in marketing and advertising, I have found the most rewarding part of my job is when I help a new or distressed company to focus on the most appropriate marketing strategies that fit their industry and will attract their demographic audience.

My goal is to work with small businesses to identify the strategies that will help them to stand out from the competition and get found by the customer.

Join me on my new website http://www.BarbaraGobbi.com!

 

 

 

Marketing for the Small Business Owner: Let It Go and Let It Grow


Many small business owners prefer to do their own advertising and marketing. They think that they can’t afford to hire a professional to help them. Here are a few reasons why I think they can’t afford not to.

1.       Know Your Role

I make a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich, but I’m not a chef. I stick to what I know and I practice my craft. But business owners who prefer to do their own marketing know their business, and many don’t know about advertising and marketing and most have not taken the time to educate themselves on the latest consumer behaviors and trends.

I’ve noticed recently that everyone who has a Facebook page thinks they know how to market their business on Facebook. They set up a profile page for their business and one of two things happens: 1) they do nothing with it. Or worse 2) they get all their friends to become friends of their new page and build a rather large network. Then they realize after they have hundreds or thousands of “friends” that they’ve set it up incorrectly. Now they have to figure out how to convert their friends to fans and set up a Business Fan Page.

Business owners also tend to focus on antiquated marketing methods rather than creative strategies, simply because they have devoted their career to their industry and not studying advertising and marketing trends.

2.       Spreading the word

There are so many advertising choices today. The marketing world has evolved so much in just the past 5 years alone.  With all of these decisions to make, most small business owners typically make 1 or 2 choices that are probably not the right fit for them, and then they get paralyzed and do nothing else.  Whether it’s because they became overwhelmed with running their company or because of the clutter of messages being thrown their way, business owners often neglect implementing a well-rounded campaign.

Business owners need to ask themselves if their marketing campaign includes all channels or if they carry all their eggs in one basket? Customers don’t have one preferred method of communication or one favorite social media site that they frequent. So a successful marketing professional knows that an extensive campaign that includes an array of social media, search engine optimization and customer communication methods will best reach a broad audience.

3.       Can you spare a minute? Or an hour?

Business owners who spend their time doing their own marketing don’t have time to effectively run their business. And a business owner who is busy running his business doesn’t have the time to devote to consistently running a social media campaign. Marketing isn’t something you can put on the back burner and come back to later when you’re not busy. In order for any marketing campaign to be successful, you need to commit to nurturing it and tending to it daily, analyzing feedback and making adjustments if necessary.

What comes naturally to a marketing professional may take a business owner twice as long. By delegating these responsibilities to an outside agency or a part-time professional, the business owner can devote his time to growing his business.

The small business owner doesn’t need to invest in a full time position to achieve his marketing goals. There are companies who will consult with them and create a comprehensive marketing plan, set up social media platforms and help to grow them, and create better search engine optimization.  So it’s time to “Let it Go, and Let it Grow!”

Facebook vs. Google+: What’s the score?

Here we are, back to work. After a very tumultuous last week for the social media giants, Facebook and Google+, I was so relieved for the weekend. I don’t know about you, but my head was spinning by Friday and I was starting to get whiplash with the back and forth announcements from FB and G+, that it reminded me sitting courtside at Wimbledon.

First Google+ serves by opening the floodgates to users and is now allowing the public to create their own personal profile, joining the 43 million who’ve been enjoying the clean simplicity of the new site in its test phase.

Then Facebook volleys back by announcing at the f8 conference the new Facebook Timeline profile that creates personal scrapbooks out of each user’s data and delivers a custom webpage of status updates, photos and videos in chronological order that is fresh, clean, yet bold all at once.  Advantage: Facebook.

But this is a new week and both companies have promised more surprises to come. Facebook’s Timeline feature won’t be made public until September 30th, unless you were lucky enough to get a Developer App and play with the gadget yourself.  So Google+ delivers a backhand shot by declaring that they are almost ready to allow businesses to create profiles. Until now, Google+ has only been available for individual people with the promise that the business feature would be coming in Fall 2011. By my calendar, that was last Friday.

Let’s wait and see who will make the next shot. I don’t think either will win the Grand Slam, but it makes for an interesting match.

Facebook Timeline

Facebook announced their latest bombshell yesterday at the f8 conference and with the unveiling of the Timeline put the ball back in their court.  I had a chance to set up my Timeline today and have to say that I liked what I saw on my own page.  There wasn’t much for me to do because the app populates most of the information into it for you, but you can tweak it a little to customize how you want it to appear.

The Timeline is a little bit personal webpage, and a little bit scrapbook. This is ideal for me because I never have time to “scrapbook” and my friends and family are always asking me about what has been going on in my life. Now I can defer them to my new Facebook Timeline and they can scroll through status updates, photos, videos, posts and see what I’ve been up to. But isn’t that what we had before on our profile page? Yes, but now it is much cleaner, each item has their own feature box which calls attention to it, they aren’t just a streaming list of items but rather an aesthetically laid out page that is less blog and more webpage or photo album.

But I think one of my favorite features is the timeline link on the top right of the page that allows you to skip to a specific time period.  Let’s say you were out of the country in July and wanted to catch up with a friend. Click on July and you can see just what happened in that month because it will jump down to that section of the timeline without you having to scroll through dozens of status updates.

Although this is another huge format change for Facebook that might take some getting used to visually, it won’t be too difficult to adapt to using. I give this new feature a thumbs up for Facebook.

 



Google+ vs. Facebook – Round 1

Do we really need another social network? After all, Facebook does everything we want, right? Or everything it tells us we want. And when we need a quicker, savvier alternative, we turn to Twitter, right?  But competition can be a good thing. It raises the bar. It takes us out of our comfort zone and it challenges us. So Google came out with their newest product, Google+. And I know what you’re thinking, “another Google product”. But wait! This time, people are starting to take notice. Has a social media war begun? I can almost hear Michael Buffer announce as the gloves come off and Google+ and Facebook battle each other in the social media ring. “LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!”

Google+

In the left corner we have Google+. Google has almost 50 products under their belt, but this is by far the biggest thing they have done and ties all their products up in a nice neat usable package. It has created such a buzz that Google+ in its trial phase reached 10 million users in just over 2 weeks!  But do we really need another social network? I won’t go into gross details about all the technical aspects of the two products. But here is an overview of how Google+ is different.

The first difference is with your friends or people on Google+. With G+, relationships are not reciprocal, which means that I can follow you without you following me, as opposed to Facebook where friendships need to be requested and accepted.  Once you search for people, you can sort them into “circles”.  Users can share their posts with certain circles of people and/or individual people, and you can view the comments of your circles by selecting that particular group’s Stream of posts.

“Hangouts” allow groups of up to 10 people have a video chat. Comparing this to Facebook in which you can only chat with each one another by text with unless you are using an added Skype application.  “Sparks” lets users search for a particular topic, save the search and then review streams of posts based on this topic. Posts can be from people that the user follows or other articles found within a Google search.     +1 has become the equivalent of the ‘Like’ button. The beauty of the +1 is that it will eventually help SEO by giving more weight to posts with more +1s.

Google+ is currently only set up for individual people and not businesses. My biggest takeaway so far is that G+ is more about quality than quantity. There is no prize for having the most people in your circles. No one knows how many people you have or how many circles you have. So for the past 2 months it as still in the trial period and each person was given 150 invitations. I was a hog about my invitations and I think I only shared 3. I didn’t want all my high school friends on Facebook cluttering up my clean and pretty Google+.

Facebook

In this corner heavyweight champion Facebook with their 750 million users has evolved and transformed their site to make themselves better, even though users didn’t know they wanted it.  Every time Facebook makes changes, the reaction is “where is a ‘dislike’ button so I can express how much I hate these changes”? If it weren’t for change, we would all still be using MySpace. Remember them? But this time Facebook has listened to their users and this week unveiled three new features that I think I’ve seen before. But where?

The first is an improved Friends Lists. You can finally sort your friends into groups and share different messages with different lists. Don’t want your co-workers to know you’re at the beach? Haven’t told mom and dad about your new boyfriend? Create and separate your friends into Lists and set whether these lists see have Public or Restricted access to your information.  Sound familiar?

The Subscribe Button allows you to customize how much and the type of content you are now receiving in your newsfeed. I have a pretty decent number of friends, and want to stay in touch with all of them…most of the time. But I don’t want to unfriend them simply because I’m not interested in their farm games or their coupon programs. I like to actually go to their walls to read what is going on in their lives and not have my news feed cluttered with this minutiae.  The other beautiful thing about the ‘Subscribe’ button is that it lets you hear from people even if you’re not already friends, depending on their security settings. ‘Subscribe’ is found in the top right corner of your friend’s profile and by selecting this, their status updates will appear in your news feed.  Where have I heard this before?

This brings me to the new layout of the News Feed. Facebook’s layout of the news feed page includes 3 new areas. The first being the top center which includes Top Stories of What Matters Most from your friends.  Beneath which you will find “more stories”. And the top right is a scrolling ticker of status updates in real-time.  Sounds a little like Twitter, huh?

Some other new features are enhanced photo layouts, improved sharing and tagging of photos and posts, and improved mobile and gaming features. But Facebook isn’t quite done yet. Since Google+ has laid down the gauntlet, Facebook has eluded to many more changes to come in the coming weeks.

All of these changes may have your head spinning and both sites may have changed already by the time I have finished this blog.

First round goes to….Social Media User

How Facebook and Twitter have made users become “thoughtful” writers.

I am one of those people who mentally correct people’s English when they are speaking, so often times I pay more attention to the context of a comment rather than the content. However, I have noticed that many of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers are probably taking a bit more care in formulating their thoughts to make their microblog stand out amongst the clutter of the rapidly scrolling wall of posts. And it made me think that I wished that some people put more thought into what they uttered out loud before they hit “send”.

For those who only write once in a while, getting the nerve to write their thoughts and feelings in such a public forum can cause angst and pride at the same time. Some may edit and reread their post several times to make sure it sounds just right. Others are pros and it just flows naturally. But these newbies to the world of microblogging are trying to compete in an arena of natural born speakers with a silver tongue and clever wit. Give these astute writers a momentous event like an east coast earthquake or the death of despised world leader and they will scramble to their smart phones, iPads and laptops to quickly come up with the one post or Tweet that will stand out in hopes that it will go viral. Reading this stream of quips reminds me of an episode of Last Comic Standing. Let’s face it, we all have a shorter attention span because of the gross amounts of information we are bombarded with. I like to read the headlines of the news and if it grabs me, then I will delve into the story. The same is true for microblogging. If the post interests me, then maybe I will dig a little deeper and follow the stream to the person’s page or website for more information. I might even send a direct message with specific questions.But it’s great to be given the option of how much information I want to given.

Which leads to another question, do people actually read other posts, or are they just on Facebook and Twitter to get their 15 minutes of fame amongst their friends and followers. I have seen people who are more concerned about the number of people who respond to their posts rather than the actual responses themselves, proving that they aren’t even reading the responses on their own wall, just looking at the number hoping it proves their popularity. For those who need this ego boost, I have news for you: content is king. Give people a reason to come back and have healthy conversations on their walls as well. Sometimes you have to leave the “walls” of your wall to find your true friends.

But where would we be without these little tidbits of information? Facebook and Twitter posts are still great ways to make announcements and share information. A friend of mine commented that without Facebook he would never have know what all of his friend’s kids wore on their first day of school. And Facebook is how I found out I was becoming an aunt again. I should probably respond to that post, but first I’ll think of something really clever to say about how I had to read about it on Facebook. Better yet, I think I’ll pick up the phone. How “thoughtful”.

Can I have a side of customer service, please?

As our fast-paced world finds us looking for options to speed up processes, we have implemented systems and products designed to make our lives easier. I’m not just talking about technology replacing maids like Rosie the Robot on the Jetsons, or the phone system replacing a human when you’re trying to call your bank that leaves you pressing 1 to send you to cyber-nowhere.  I’m referring to the dying art of customer service in the restaurant industry.

I can understand the lack of the personal touch in fast-food restaurants. My expectations are inherently low. I drive through. I place my order from a minimum wage teenager. And my only hope is that my order is correct. What a lovely surprise when I go to Chick-Fil-A and they actually smile and say, “My Pleasure”! Not “You’re welcome”. No “Thank you”. It is customary for Dan Cathy’s associates to let every one of their guests know that it was their pleasure to serve them.  When a guest walks into a Moe’s they are enthusiastically greeted with a hearty “Welcome to Moe’s”!

These are examples of a fast food and fast casual restaurant who haven’t forgotten to acknowledge their guests. And notice I call them guests, not customers. Guests are people that you invite into your home, and you would naturally treat them better. You take pride in your restaurant. Your place is cleaner, your employees are friendlier, and you truly care about your guests and the impression you leave with them. With customers, you will serve and they move along. Which experience is more memorable?

But what happened to the customer service in a full service restaurant?  I recently met with an advertising representative who was trying to sell me on a texting platform that would replace servers and extra bartenders. He added that when bars are so busy that people can’t get the attention of a bartender, they can text their drink order that will then be sent to a special printer. One person will be designated to watch that printer for orders to appear. Isn’t that great? No! If your restaurant or bar is so busy that you feel you need to implement a texting program solely to fill customers’ orders, you don’t have a shortage of technology, you have a shortage of staff!  How many guests walk out the door because of your lack of attention and customer service? If you can designate one person to watch a printer, get him on the floor taking orders! And when was the last time you were actually greeted at the door by a hostess at a full service restaurant? Remember restaurateurs, these are your Directors of First Impressions.  If I wanted to greet myself, seat myself, and hunt down my own beverages, I would have gone to a fast casual restaurant and saved about 30%. But I came to full service for the “service”. Where did it go?

Can we make a pact to get back to creating memorable experiences? And can I have a side of customer service, please?

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