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Who Should Be Your Next ‘Go To’ Employee?

“So I have a website –now what?” That is the question I often get when a client is asking why the website they either made themselves or ‘had a friend’ design isn’t getting any results. And I mean it –ANY RESULTS. So many small business owners are not getting the point. A website is only one piece of the online marketing puzzle but its potential to help your business is the secret to solving that puzzle. Your website is not the place to CHEAP OUT.
INTERNETS: ON/OFFphoto © 2005 mikael altemark | more info (via: Wylio)

Many entrepreneurial business people consider a website an afterthought and as not really that important to the success of their company. They are quickly being proven wrong. Inbound marketing which starts with having a website, is the most affordable method of marketing your business and is most likely to get you the best results. Using a pull strategy in Inbound, a.k.a. Online Marketing, you interact with people through many social media networks, then pull them into your online business realm via a website or social media platform specific to your business.

What a website isn’t

It should not be a static online brochure, a website that after you’ve given people your web address they can pull it up and… what? Gawk at it? Exclaim of its beauty? See all the ‘stuff’ you’re trying to sell? It should DO more than that.

So what should a website do for a business?

Kirt is beaming with new careerphoto © 2011 www.lancashire.gov.uk | more info (via: Wylio)

Every smart or lucky business has a ‘go to’ employee. Someone that takes on every challenge, is your best advocate, is the warehouse of much of your companys’ knowledge. That ‘go to’ employee, in this case, is your website and it’s vital that you prepare it for the challenge it is about to face. It will provide a foundation that you can use to venture into the social media network. This foundation should have SEO capabilities for every single thing that you publish. It should have reporting capabilities both short term and long term. It should nurture your leads or in other words help you convince consumers to buy or at least engage with your business. It should allow you to work the way you want to –either on a day-to-day basis or with scheduling far into the future. It should allow you and your business to grow.

What are the other pieces of this Internet puzzle?

“Build it and they will come” strategy may work for big brands like Disney, but if you have a small business, how are people going to find you? You need to chart out ‘how’ that is going to happen. Where are your potential customers now –online or off? What would make them visit you online –and keep them coming back? What would entice them into buying your offering?

Social Media sites

Sure, there is Facebook and it is not to be overlooked. But more specifically, there are social media sites that let you, as a small business owner, narrow your efforts to get closer to your niche. If you’re selling craft or gift items, then Esty.com may allow you the larger, targeted audience your business needs to sell successfully. For service companies, like automotive service or beauty salons, I like Yelp! Yelp! Is a review site for professional services offered in your area. Let your customers do the talking for you. That is far more powerful than tooting your own horn. For the travel industry, Trip Advisor is fast becoming the most respected of online travel sources because of the use of customer reviews.

Don’t forget email

internet explorerphoto © 2010 Sean MacEntee | more info (via: Wylio)

It’s not really glamorous, but small business owners should not forget email. Email offers a one-to-one relationship with your client and is of high value in the world of marketing, do not under-estimate its power. Plus, it’s affordable. Have you been collecting business cards for years and just use them to draw for a free dinner? It’s time to up the ante. Keep collecting those cards, but then start an email campaign that first gets them to ‘approve’ of you sending them these email messages from time to time. This would be called the ‘opt-in’. Then provides them periodic updates and offers to keep them interested and directly relating to your business over a period of time. Include links to your website that provides even more incentives and more info. An extra reason for keeping a solid email list is that it is an actual business asset. Think of it as an investment into your businesses future. –One more thing about email. Do you have your website address and social media handles at the bottom of your email signature? No? Do it today! It is a vital part of branding your business and should not be overlooked.

Integrate it!

With today’s popular mantra of “online marketing is where marketing is at”, one thing that seems to get overlooked, and is critical, is the integration of ALL your marketing efforts. On –AND Off line. Integration helps you get every bang for every buck. TV Advertising? Add in your web page. If you are planning on having a booth at a local farm market, be sure you have a brochure or business card that has your website on it –and maybe even add in how people may find extra value by looking your business up online.

Better yet, design a campaign that integrates some of the traditional advertising that you have done in the past and uses the website as a critical piece that drives excitement. Maybe it’s a TV campaign for a free prize that takes entries via your Facebook page, thus resulting in a large audience that ‘likes’ your site.

There are so many options and some, frankly, work better than others. Give us a call today, we’ll help you hone in on the audience you need and plan a strategy that will pull them to your business.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their conversion rates by adding proven online marketing techniques to their marketing mix.

In addition to building great dynamic websites, we do this by integrating inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and by utilizing digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Free -and Legal- Images for Your Blog

Creative Commons Attribution Levels

from http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/

For basic tips on using images online, please see our blog, Image Basics for Bloggers, from last week.

What is Creative Commons?

In the past, buying photography was expensive and complicated. Royalties needed to be paid and photos were limited to many restrictions on how they could be used. Then along came Creative Commons in 2001, and everything changed. This non-profit corporation started with a cooperative effort between MIT and Harvard Law professors (among others) who realized that the digital revolution altered many past concepts on copyright theory. The ability to work collaboratively, globally, decentralized and create derivative works and collections that were low to no cost were all issues that were eased with the creation of Creative Commons licensing. Click on the following link for more information on Creative Commons licensing.

How do I use a Creative Commons image?

Things are much easier today in the world of social media and inbound marketing. How do you know if it’s legal and IF you’re placing it correctly?

  • Be sure the image you choose and the way you are using it, applies under the Creative Commons license category shown to the right.
  • Credit the photographer (a.k.a. attribution)
    • If saving the photo, add the contributors’ name into the file name of the image (when downloading or taking a screen shot).  example: pen_ParkerDuofoldNib_JanosFeher_Flickr.jpg
    • If using a link, HTML or BBCode, review the code to be sure the contributor’s name is included.
  • Link back to them when you can.

How do I find Creative Commons images?

Google Creative Commons

From Google Image interface

What do you need to do to add photos into your blog or website with little to no cost, legally? Here are a few suggestions.

Google Images offers an “Advanced Image Search” (found just to the right of the standard Google Image search button) that allows you to use images “labeled for commercial use” only. Just click on the blue link and a window similar to this Google image  appears. In a search for ‘pens’ you enter the word in the top field and make sure the “labeled for commercial use” is chosen in the field second from the bottom. Membership is not required. Attribution is required.

Flickr image options

from Flickr

Flickr has a nice interface for Creative Commons. You choose the level that works for you depending on if you blog to earn money or just for fun. To use an image in Flickr, you click on the bar above the image, as shown in this Flickr image, and grab the Link or HTML/BBCode. The problem with this is that the image is not physically loaded into your site, it’s called ‘hot-linked’ and means it is ‘linked’ to your site through the Internet and does not sit on your directly-accessible servers. Test it to see if your page takes too long to load. Membership is required. Attribution is required.

New, Wylio.com for Creative Commons Images

With all that said, THIS ONE GETS MY VOTE… Wylio.com!

Wylio.com

Wylio.com search for pens

Wylio is a slick, new image search engine that only searches for images offered under the Creative Common’s license. Users can be sure that all images offered are free for use. It’s a simple 3-step process: Search for an image, Resize and Position, and Copy and Paste the Code. Bloggers can easily grab the code to place in their blog posts, or for the low cost of $2.99 per month they can buy the premium version of Wylio.com and download the files.

Here’s the best part. Wylio inserts the photographer’s attribution into the code for you, no asking for permission, no wondering if you’re ‘covered’. Grab it and you’re done! With that said, I am testing this ‘hot-linking method’ today for download speeds and performance. Let me know, in the comments section below, if the pen image gives you any trouble. It is a ‘live’ test from Wylio.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter. How do you use images? Have you worried about your images?
Ballpoint Pensphoto © 2009 Jana Lehmann | more info (via: Wylio)

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their conversion rates by adding proven online marketing techniques to their marketing mix.

We do this by integrating inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and by utilizing digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Still need some help? Give us a call!


Dating, Sex and Sales!

Dating is like sales

Before meeting with a new client, I often hear “this is like a date” from my team. How true… and obvious, actually. Creating a great sales relationship is much like dating. They both begin with uncertainty and require a mutual interest that may result in a leap of trust and, if successful, a closer relationship. So here’s the secret to matchmaking in sales.

  • Getting to know you- On a date, you learn more about the person; hopes, dreams, best behavior and bad habits. In business, you learn the same but call them business goals. Today, we sometimes get to know people online. Sites like e-Harmony, Chemistry.com, and Yahoo! Personals are for dating. For business, there are many lead nurturing websites with everything you need to know about a product or company. The Internet allows you to check each other out, assess, and then take the next step.
  • Is there a fit?- When dating, you find out if you’re compatible by discovering common interests and viewpoints. In business, something very similar happens. You spend time making sure the client knows how and why you’re different from your competition by offering them your value proposition. Perhaps this would be a more effective way of finding a compatible date!
  • Timing- Back off –less is more. Don’t ask for ‘The Ring’ right away.
    • Flirt
    • Offer candy
    • Intrigue – lift your skirt only a little
    • Laugh, have fun
  • Dance- Recognize the next step and THE moment for the next step (and the next).
  • Certainty and Comfort- I believe in you. You believe in me. We’re euphoric that everything is working out so well.
  • Seal it with a kiss. Close the sale. Sign the contract.

See? Sales = dating. The difference is only what price is paid, when and by whom. For ideas on how you can start your online matchmaking between buyers and sellers give us a call. We’ll show you how to ease into new client relationships and enjoy good business.

Even Santa likes Social Media

It’s got to be good if Santa likes it. The phenomenon of social media continues into a Christmas-decorated living room near you. Social media are now part of celebrating Santa’s annual visit to children near and far.Santa

Mashable has just posted “9 Ways to Connect With Santa on the Web” so kids can get in touch with Old Saint Nick. Services range from Santa emails to tracking his sleigh in the skies as he delivers presents around the globe. It’s just one more instance of how Social Media pervades our private lives and provides businesses with ways of engaging their customers.

In the true spirit of Christmas giving, most of these services are free and can be found at http://www.emailSanta.com/.

And what do you give in exchange? Your gift is personal contact information and permission to market to you and your little ones.