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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!”

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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.

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

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