Quality Content – Essential for Marketing Success

quality contentFlash back to the days when the internet didn’t exist and communication was mainly done through the written or spoken word. In those days, and that wasn’t so long ago, all successful marketers and salespeople knew that the quality and value of their words was the key to their success. Today, when online content dominates print content, many of the world’s top SEO and web marketing experts still say that “Content is King.” And to which I add, “Quality Content is Queen!”

Why? How is it that even after decades, no matter the medium, content is still the crux of good marketing?

Content Builds Customer Loyalty

Businesses aren’t built on first-time visitors. I learned this in my early days as a Technical Representative for Minolta… we couldn’t support the company just selling each customer a camera. We needed them to become involved in photography and buy – and use – additional lenses and accessories. And companies like the Wall Street Journal don’t make most of their money from people picking up their newspapers for the first time.

They make money from people who’ve read quality content and then decide it’s so good that they either want to purchase again, or better, subscribe. If businesses had to get a new customer every time in order to get paid, they’d all have gone under by now. One of the adages entrepreneurs know is that it costs five times more to acquire new customers than it does to keep existing customers.

Yet many businesses use models that rely on getting new customers rather than repeat sales to existing customers. And in their online communications, instead of focusing on repeat visitors, they focus on optimizing for search engines so they get more new customers.

At the end of the day, however, the really famous and successful websites, blogs, and businesses like Huffington Post or TechCrunch, ultimately still get most of their traffic from repeat visitors. Yes, search engines love them – but their businesses would be a fraction of what they are today if they didn’t have quality content.

Quality Content Impacts Search Engine Results

For many years search engines have worked towards making their search results offer better and better results. They want people who search on their engines to find the best content possible in relation to what they’re looking for (that’s where their repeat business comes from).

As search engines get smarter, marketers who focus primarily on marketing tactics rather than actual content find their visitor counts falling off over time.

Search engines have proven this repeatedly by continually downgrading the importance of low-quality links and upgrading the importance of usage statistics and other metrics (like how long visitors actually stay on a page) to actually measure the content value of a website.

If you build your website around great content while having a decent understanding of basic SEO, your site should flourish. If you put all your attention on SEO and don’t pay much attention to your content, you’ll always be trying to stay barely one step ahead of the search engines.

Great Quality Content Can Sell High Ticket Items

A low quality content website might be able to sell $0.20 clicks via AdSense. But a high quality website can sell high value coaching DVD sets by the hundreds.

Having great quality content allows you to build a relationship with your readers. That relationship allows you to sell many different types of products. From high end items to recurring memberships to one on one coaching, it all starts from having high quality content that your readers find valuable.

In the long run, a successful business can only be built on content that helps people engaged. Content that just fills the page and doesn’t provide value for readers is likely to get downgraded more and more as time passes… quality content is what wins.


Top 10 Common Public Domain Mistakes

Public Domain MistakesPublic domain is a fantastic way to generate content, but it’s not without its potential perils. There are all kinds of mistakes you can make with public domain content that you might not be aware of. Some of these mistakes may result on a slap on the wrist, while others could end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars.

Here are 10 most common public domain mistakes.

Mistake #1: Not Checking the Copyright

Just because something “should” be in the public domain theoretically doesn’t mean it actually is. Perhaps the copyright was renewed. Perhaps you got the dates wrong. Perhaps the work you’re using falls under a strange legal loophole that you weren’t aware of.

Getting sued for copyright infringement isn’t fun. Not only are you looking at huge settlements and fines; you’re also looking at huge legal bills. Protect yourself by checking the copyright.

Mistake #2: Checking Yourself

Trying to check whether or not a book is in the public domain is quite a complex process. While it’s possible to do it yourself, it’s likely to take an enormous amount of time. You’re also apt to make mistakes, since you’re not actually trained in doing that research.

Hire an attorney to do it for you. In the unlikely event that they make a mistake and you get sued, you’ll be able to counter-sue your attorney, who’ll be able to pay you out of their malpractice or liability insurance. In short, you really protect yourself by hiring a lawyer. Here again, as I mentioned in the previous post, when I want to make sure something is clear for me to use, I still use BZRights. I’ve been using them for more than 20 years. And longevity, to me, is always one of the best recommendations as to the quality of someone’s work.

Mistake #3: Publishing as a Sole Proprietor

If you publish your public domain work under your own name, as a sole proprietor or under a “Doing Business As,” you risk a personal lawsuit. A lawsuit could take you for every penny you own.

If you publish under an LLC, an S-Corp or a C-Corp, you’re protected. If you get sued, you’re protected by your corporate veil and can only be sued for the money you have in your corporation, rather than what’s in your personal bank accounts.

Mistake #4: Not Copyrighting Derivative Works

If you take a copyrighted work and make changes to it, that’s now your work. You own the copyrights! Put your name on it and put your own copyright on it. Don’t let other people think its public domain anymore.

What makes a derivative work? Adding explanations. Changing the texts. Taking old English and turning it into modern day English. Anything that changes the old text is considered derivative works.

Public Domain WarningMistake #5: Thinking No © Means No Copyright

Just because a website doesn’t have the copyright symbol there doesn’t mean it’s not copyrighted. In fact, works are copyrighted by default unless otherwise specified. If a work is published in the last 50 years, which absolutely means any content published for the web, it’s safe to assume it’s copyrighted.

Mistake #6: Using Copyrighted Images

Bloggers and website owners have historically been a little lax around their copyright policies. People would often use other people’s copyrighted images, thinking that the likelihood of them getting caught using a copyrighted image was slim.

That’s changed now.

Image searching tools have gotten more and more sophisticated. Google Images makes a free image search tool that allows copyright holders to find anyone using their photo. More complex photo recognition algorithms can allow people to search specific industries for derivative works of their images.

In short, use public domain photos or paid stock photos. It doesn’t pay to use copyrighted images without permission.

Mistake #7: Confusing Creative Commons with Public Domain

While creative commons licensing can be very similar to public domain, it has some key differences. Some CC works can be used freely with no attribution, just like public domain works. Others require attribution, or are meant only for non-profit or educational use. Make sure you check the exact license before using these images.

Mistake #8: Low Perceived Value

One thing you have to manage with publishing public domain works is perceived value. Will people see your content as valuable, since they can just get it themselves for free?

If you’re bringing your own public domain works to market by sourcing your own content (E.g. finding old books and having them transcribed) rather than finding it online, you don’t have to worry about this. But if you’re republishing something that a lot of people have seen already, it can be a real concern.

Make sure you add value to whatever you’re doing, so people can see you really created something worthwhile.

Mistake #9: Saying “Not My Copyright”

One of the most common mistakes people make is the assumption that they can use something just by saying it’s not their copyright. For example, if you hop on YouTube you’ll quickly find thousands of videos from people saying “I don’t claim any copyright on this.”

The truth is, if you use someone’s copyrighted work, you’re breaking the law, whether or not you claim to own the copyright. Using just a small portion or putting a disclaimer doesn’t change this fact.

Mistake #10: Only Looking on the Internet

Public Domain LibraryIt’s true that the internet has a lot of public domain resources. However, much of the real gold you’ll find is actually offline. Online public domain works have been used by thousands. If you look offline however, you may just find the only copy to a rare book that people would gladly pay for.


Public Domain Can Enhance Your Business

not public domainAs you look for content to use in promoting your business on your blog, website, or emails, you’ve probably heard the term public domain. If you haven’t, or aren’t quite sure what it is and how you can use it to benefit your business, this should help. (This is the first of a series of posts on how you can use Public Domain works to help promote your business.) Simply put, public domain works are images, sounds, texts, videos or anything else that no longer has copyright protection which means that anyone can freely use them for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial. Public Domain (PD) works can be used on their own, or freely altered and turned into a derivative work with no need to attribute (credit) the original creator.

Public domain works become available in a number of different ways:

  • Many are published with no copyright in the first place. For example, most governments, including the US government, publish their materials with no copyright to begin with. In other words, photos by the US Army or NASA are born copyright free – in essence, we paid for them with our taxes.
  • The copyright can expire. Different countries have different laws governing when copyrights expire. Generally, it’s around 50 to 70 or more years from when the last creator passes away.
  • Some intellectual properties can’t be copyrighted at all and are considered public domain the moment they’re created. For example, mathematical formulas can’t be copyrighted. A list of ingredients in a recipe also can’t be copyrighted, though the accompanying text and methods can be.

Public Domain Materials to Grow Your Business

use public domainPublic domain materials can be used as a key source of content or as a supplement to your own content. For example, many businesses work by republishing public domain works or derivatives of public domain works. For example, a re-write of a Shakespeare work is a derivative of a public domain work.

Similarly, you can do the same for your business. Let’s say you run an origami store. Why not go out and find a bunch of public domain origami photos and use them on your website, with your own explanations?

Public domain audios and music are great places to look for source materials for new music. For example, remixing Mozart’s best works into your own musical pieces, or using it as background music – but you do have to look out for Performance Rights – though the music is in the Public Domain, the performance may very well have performance right restrictions. You may need to get permissions there. One of my favorite companies that I have used quite successfully in the past for checking and acquiring clearance is BZRights.

Public domain works are frequently used as supporting or background items. For example, copyright free clip-art or government images are often used to help illustrate presentations, or as background images.

One great thing about public domain works is that you can both sell them and give them away. So you can use them to create subscription premiums for your newsletters, as well as build on them to create entire digital products that you sell.

Finding Public Domain that Works for Your Business

finding public domainFinding public domain works can be a little bit of a treasure hunt. How you do your search depends in large part on how you plan on using the PD work.

If you plan on using the public domain work as supporting material, you can find a lot of what you need through Google searches and through public domain database searches. Just head over to a public domain archive (I’m updating a list of PD resources that I’ll make available at a later date) and perform a search.

You can also try using search parameters to find public domain works. For example:

  • In image search, type in “Origami Public Domain”
  • Use site:.gov to find government sites with what you’re looking for. For example, “site:.gov rocket shuttle” (leave out the quotes)

If you plan on using a public domain work as a primary piece of content that you’re selling or giving away, you may want to dig a bit deeper to make sure the work is fully clear. BZRighs has the resources to help you ensure you’re clear. If you want to come up with unique content that you can sell and impress visitors, it pays to go above and beyond and make sure.

Public domain hunters often try to find their own pieces of public domain content, instead of looking for them online. Go to old bookstores, both online and offline and buy physical copies of old books that are outside copyright. If you find one that really shines, have it transcribed. Believe it or not, you can get a whole book typed up very reasonably on freelance sites like Elance.

Alternatively, you can find a piece of public domain content online and really rework it to make it shine and give it your own style, layout, and images. If you’re charging for content though, avoid just packaging easily accessible public domain works and selling it, as that can really come back to bite you.

There are many ways to find public domain works, both online and offline. The percentage of the public domain that’s easily accessible online is tiny compared to all the copyright free works out there. Don’t be afraid to do a bit of digging – it can be very good for your business.


Brick and Mortar Marketing – Get Your Customers to Open Your Emails

Email-Graphic_01Our email marketing campaigns, using a mailing service like AWeber, start with getting names and emails, but that’s really only the beginning. The real challenge – and what makes email great for brick and mortar marketing – is getting recipients opening, reading, and taking action on our email messages. Otherwise, it’s just wasted time. Let’s look at 5 ways to help make sure we get our customers’ eyes actually on our email messages.

Is The ‘From’ Line really you

Send a test message to yourself to see what your recipients see. If the ‘from’ line doesn’t clearly state who you are, your recipient is much less likely to open the message. In fact, emails from ambiguous senders are probably getting relegated to a spam folder. The ‘from’ line should be the name of your company and not an email address. It needs to be as instantly recognizable as your business (in other words, the list the customers signed up for).

Does the Subject Line attract your readers’ curiosity?

Most often, it’s the subject line that gets readers to either open or ignore messages. The subject line needs to capture the readers’ attention quickly. They’re likely to give it only a few short seconds of their time at most, so it needs to be so compelling your readers MUST open the email.

And messages also need to deliver on what the subject line promises. If we say in the subject line that we’ve got some secrets to share with them, the email had better deliver some secrets. If it doesn’t do this, our customers will quickly start tuning out messages – no matter how compelling the subject lines.

Is the content exciting?

If people aren’t consistently opening our emails, we may need a content upgrade. When we offer good, valuable content that truly helps our customer, they’ll be eagerly awaiting each email. If each email is a sales pitch or just plain boring, they’ll quit opening after a few. By all means, we need to walk a few miles in our customers’ shoes – what would you like to gain from the messages? It also helps to mix up your email messages. Don’t only offer promotions, but also give helpful tips, multimedia content, or other things people can use. One helpful ratio I’ve seen suggested is about 80% valuable content to 20% promotion.

Too Little or Too Much?

Frequency also factors into whether or not people will open your emails. It’s hard to strike a perfect balance. If you send too many emails, people will get sick of you. If you don’t send enough, they’ll forget they signed up for your list. As a general guideline, most people recommend sending two to three messages per week maximum, but it depends on the nature of your email list. There’s also the time of day to think about. Certain times have higher open rates – your email service should have numbers that tell this story.

Are you Testing?

It can be tough to figure out just how to make your email messages more productive… that’s why testing is essential. Each of the last three topics can easily be tested. Experiment with different subject lines, message frequencies, types of content, and other factors, you’ll start to discover exactly what your readers want. Even different types of pictures in the emails may make a difference. Testing gives you a realistic idea of what your subscribers like and don’t like. You can build – and bank – on that!

I took a more in depth look at email practices, and you can get my book, Solving the Email Puzzle in Today’s Integrated Marketing World, here. On the information page, I relate some stories from my earlier days working in a retail camera store and later at Minolta, and how email would have made an immense difference in the marketing I was doing at the time. I was basically doing brick and mortar marketing marketing one to one as I educated my retail photo customers and later, traveled around sharing photographic information with photographers around the country. With email, I could have been sharing that information not just one to one, but one to many. Read about it here. And don’t miss the special coupon code, 2016welcome. Enter that on the check-out page for a $10.00 discount… but I can’t keep that up for too long, so get it quick.


Brick and Mortar Marketing – Profit from Pinterest

Pinterest_Logo is a unique social media environment based on pictures. It’s successful because, as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Pinterest can be used in brick and mortar marketing as well as online businesses to gain exposure and communicate directly with customers.

What to Pin?

When Pinterest first came out, it was really only used by companies specializing in visual products, like clothing retailers or interior designers. However, today businesses in all kinds of markets have found ways to use the site effectively… just mix in a little of your own creativity.

Show off Your Products

The most obvious way to use Pinterest is to show customers the products you offer. When you launch a new product line, feature it on its own board. Create boards for similar products or products that go well together. Another good idea for using the site effectively is to show your products in action. Take snapshots of people using your products or show creative ways they can be used.

A Tour of Your Store

You can other create boards that showcase your store. This is an especially good idea for stores that have a unique layout or offer a slightly different shopping experience. Another idea is to show the inside workings of your store. Customers love to see how products are made and delivered, and your board can give them a sneak peek inside your operations.

Creative Ideas for Using Pinterest

Beyond these simple ideas, there are lots of ways to get creative. You don’t have to only feature your own goods and services. Pin images related to your business. Social media websites thrive on customer engagement and there are lots of ways you can use Pinterest to get your customers actively involved. Have them send in their own pictures featuring your products and make boards for those. You can hold a contest and give the best photographer a discount or free giveaway – tie it in with your referral program.

Events and Videos

Pinterest can be used to showcase your offline events and videos. Your boards can show customers all of the things you do beyond selling the products they love. Whenever you have an event, make a point of taking pictures for its board. The videos themselves also work wonderfully as Pinterest content.

How You Profit from Pinterest

The key to using Pinterest effectively is to have a plan. What is your desired outcome? This should direct all of your activities using the site. Pinterest can help you get noticed by more people, give your customers a stronger connection to your brand, and engage them to build a long-term relationship.

Integrate Everything

How do you get people to your boards? The key is to interconnect everything you do with Pinterest. Install ‘Pin it’ buttons (like those below this post) on your website pages so that customers can instantly share with their friends. Promote your Pinterest boards on your site, your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and your offline store. As I’ve always said, “Make it easy for people to do what you want them to do.”


Brick and Mortar Marketing – Keep Your Social Media Positive

FB_Logo_webSocial media can be a great help for your brick and mortar marketing. It gives you a quick and direct link to your customers and helps you find new ones. But done poorly, it can be more negative than positive for your company’s image. Here are a few of the most common mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Slow Response

Social media can work well to help establish your good reputation but it can also destroy it. It’s a platform where your customers have a voice – which they should have. But if one of them is unhappy with your products, services or practices, they can publish their complaint so that everyone sees.

Here is where you can shine; it’s social media’s great business advantage. You will not please all of your customers, but it’s how you respond that can make or break you. If you respond too slowly or in a negative way, everyone will see it… and if you have created good will with that customer, everyone will also see that. And you really can’t get a better referral than that. So monitoring your social media sites is a 24/7 responsibility and when a negative comment comes up, see how quickly you can turn it positive.

Responding the Wrong Way

You can easily turn a slight bump in the road into a complete negative by being negative yourself. If someone is rude or insulting, we may be tempted to respond negatively or be defensive… DON’T! Even if the comment is completely out of line, a negative response makes your business look bad. As I mentioned above, your response should always be positive and constructive.

You’ve probably noticed that you can often simply delete comments that you don’t like (if it is on a site you control). This can actually be more unfortunate. This tells people who saw the comment before it was deleted that you are afraid to deal with problems in your business and looks very bad. Only delete comments that are obscene, spammy, or excessively rude.

Selling, Selling and Selling

While the overall purpose of your social media presence is to boost your business, one of the biggest mistakes businesses make is to overly self-promote. If you do this, you’re misunderstanding the real purpose of social media. Your customers are there to socialize, meet people, and share common interests. They’re not interested in being marketed to. If you blatantly promote your business too much, you’ll lose them. You also risk having people complain to the whole world about your social media tactics. Instead, think of social media as a way to build a stronger connection between your business and your customers.

The Wrong Spokesperson

To handle all of your social media tasks and maintenance, you should assign someone from your company to be the manager. Try to choose someone who is positive and social media savvy. Keep in mind that one of the deadliest mistakes you can make is assigning a negative person to this post (but then again, if they are that negative why do they still work for you?). The wrong person is someone who might make the job too personal, talking about himself too much, or might make political, religious or other touchy comments. Your social media manager should know that his or her job is to represent the company in a positive way, and that’s all.

Social Media Disaster Prevention

The key to managing social media effectively is to have a solid plan. Long before someone makes a negative comment, make sure that you know exactly how you plan to handle it. Talk to everyone in your company who is involved in social media and make sure they understand the protocols and rules… be positive they will be positive.


5 Brick and Mortar Marketing Strategies for Boosting Profits

5_Marketing_IdeasLooking for a few ideas to boost business with your brick and mortar marketing? There are lots of easy strategies that will get your customers coming back for more. Here are five that have proven the test of time and should really profit your business.

Offer a Coupon at Point of Sale

A classic brick and mortar marketing strategy that always gets people back in the door is to offer a coupon at the point of sale that they can use on their next visit (your know this works because the grocery store where many people shop always prints coupons as we check out). This strategy does two things at once – it gets the customers to come back and also rewards their loyalty. Give customers something exclusive that they’ve earned by being your customer.

Deals through Email

As you gather your customers’ email addresses, send them follow-up offerings them special deals. This works in essentially the same way as the coupons, the only difference is that you’re doing it online – and you’re making sure your customers do not regret giving you their email. When you email your customers, make sure that the ‘from’ line of your email says clearly who you are. Otherwise, the email may get tossed into their spam folder. If you plan to do more emailing, or as your list grows, seriously consider investing in an email provider like AWeber that automates sending emails for you. Many personal email providers will not let you send lots of emails as they think you are spamming – but providers like AWeber pride themselves in their relationships with internet service providers so your emails through these companies will most often get delivered unimpeded.

Always have an expiration date on your special sales

Your customers are much more likely to respond to a limited-time offer because scarcity sells. Hold a ‘flash sale’ for a short period of time, like 24 hours. Publicize this sale through your social media profiles and pages (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and through other online channels such as your blog and email (snail mail promotion us usually too slow for this type of event). Make sure it’s abundantly clear that the sale is only for a short time and offer great deals that they’d be crazy to pass up.

Joint Venture with Other Businesses

Another brick and mortar marketing strategy is to connect with other similar businesses in your area and launch a joint venture. Find businesses that share some of your customer base or are about your customers’ related interests. Joint ventures are mutually beneficial because you each share your customer base and also get a chance to market to the customers of other businesses. Run a beauty salon… partner with a barber shop for family discounts. Run a gym… partner with a health food outlet for complementary sales… you get the idea. See what’s in your neighborhood and build relationships that are good for all the local businesses.

Give It Away

Offer free samples or premiums with a purchase. Many businesses cringe at the idea of just giving stuff away, not realizing how powerful this is. When you give customers a sample, they see the quality of your offering. If your product or service is something customers can’t live without, they’ll be coming back for more (and paying this time)… consider the barber shop/beauty salon example above. Samples of hair care products, that are often provided very inexpensively or at no charge by distributors, can often bring customers back to buy. See what is available for your products.

Leverage Your Social Media Presence

All of these strategies work even better when combined with online social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. If your business isn’t already active on these sites, get started right away creating profiles, pages, and building a fan base. On all of your marketing materials, ask your customers to ‘find us on Facebook,’ and tell them that you’ll be offering exclusive deals there as well as offline. Social media is an extremely effective way to reach your customers. And, of course, like email, this is a great place to announce new products as you add them to your inventory.


5 Easy Ways to Use Brick and Mortar Marketing to Keep Your Customers

Store_FrontHere are five things you can be doing to keep your brick and mortar customers coming back and ensure that your marketing is a constant draw.

No Follow-Up

Following up with your customers is just as important and maybe more so than the initial contact. Many brick and mortar companies fail to follow up because they don’t want to be pushy, they forget, or they don’t have an effective follow-up system in place. However, following up is essential for building long-term relationships. It’s how we keep our customers, so be sure to keep in touch. This is where an email autoresponder series from a company like AWEBER is a great help. Once you have it set up, your customer keeps getting relevant emails from you that remind them how valuable they are. Emails don’t have to be often, but they should be there. The great part is that once we have this channel opened up, we can occasionally offer “customer only specials” at almost no cost.

Low Quality Goods or Services

With competition being what it is today, there’s no skimping on quality when it comes to our products and services. They must be excellent, or they won’t sell. Don’t believe for a second the old saying that ‘It’s all about the marketing.’ The quality of what we’re selling will shine through our marketing efforts. If we pass off poor quality on our customers, they’ll tell others and we’ll gain a reputation for poor quality. Always seek to constantly improve upon your offerings. There’s an old saying in business: “Nothing exposes a bad product quicker than good marketing.” And, it’s true!

Pathetic or Non-Existent Customer Service

Businesses today don’t care about the customers that are their lifeblood and they don’t take any responsibility for making sure that all is well in customer-land. People are jaded and many have just accepted poor customer service as a fact of life. What an opportunity this opens up for us. If we bend over backwards for our customers, we’ll blow them away. Good customer service is the wow factor that turns any company into a business loved by all. Plus, when we offer good customer service, we outdo any competition who hasn’t realized its value. Another good business adage: “Under promise and over deliver!” Try it and see how well it improves your business.

Bad Mouthing Your Competitors

Sure, some of our competitors may not be very nice, but we really don’t want to be the ones saying that. Bad mouthing them makes us look unprofessional, defensive, and petty. The best thing we can do is to ignore them and pretend they don’t exist. Instead, to show that we have confidence in our business focus instead on our own high quality offerings. Bad mouthing the competition shows we really may not believe that. Many years ago when I moved from the Midwest to the East, I had several van lines bid on the job. One of the van line reps spent more time telling me how bad the other lines were than they did assuring me about their quality. As you may well imagine, I didn’t select that mover.

Not Giving Guarantees or Refunds

Many companies today may not offer a guarantee because they’re afraid their goods will be returned. What kind of confidence does that show? When we offer a guarantee, this shows that we know our product is quite good, and we’re willing to return our customers’ money if they don’t think so as well. Yes, you’ll get a few refunds here and there but it won’t be much. Budget for this. But if you do end up with lots of refunds, this is your customers telling you that you’ve got some fixin’ to do.

Listen and Learn

No matter what business you’re in, it’s all about listening and responding to your customers. Don’t assume you know what they like or what they’re looking for. Companies that communicate well and pay attention to feedback succeed because they’ve got their fingers on the pulse. Establish several lines of communication with your customers (like web sites and Social Media) and don’t be afraid to ask them how you’re doing. (Remember the great Mayor Ed Koch of New York City… he was always asking, “How am I doing?!”) This can also be a great starting point for your referral program.


Brick and Mortar Marketing – Should You Be on Facebook?

FB_Logo_webFacebook is one of the most popular websites on earth. Although it’s used mostly by people for personal networking and entertainment, businesses have found that it’s an effective way to extend their brick and mortar marketing brand and communicate with their customers. If you’re wondering whether you should start using Facebook to promote your business or not, here are some things to consider.

You vs. Your Competition

Is your competition there already? If so, you’re losing customers. Often, in addition to regular search engines, people search for businesses on Facebook and if they look for yours and you’re not there, they’re finding your competitors instead. On the other hand, if your competition hasn’t started a Facebook account yet, you’ve got the competitive edge. You might be the first in your area.

Are Your Customers There?

Although practically everybody in all demographics uses Facebook, there’s still the possibility that your customers aren’t there… yet If your target market is older people who are not heavy Internet users – again, yet!, it may not be worth your while marketing to them with Facebook. One way to find out is to come right out and ask. At every opportunity you have to speak to your customers, give them a quick survey to find out if and if and how they use social media.

‘Find Me on Facebook’

The traditional exchange of phone numbers has in recent years been enhanced by people – and businesses – also saying, ‘Find me on Facebook.’ It offers a great way to connect with people you’ve met offline. This is how many people make personal connections but also how they reconnect with people and brands they love. When you’re there, customers, clients, colleagues, business associates and anybody else your business comes into contact with can find you on Facebook.

Searching on Facebook

People are increasingly looking for the products and services they need using Facebook, though regular search engines still remain the most popular tool. This is especially true of local search, where people are looking for businesses in their area. This feature on Facebook is a great way to connect with people who you might otherwise not come into contact with. Social media sites like Facebook have also extend the traditional ‘word of mouth.’ People will find your business on their friends’ profiles and take that as a valuable recommendation. And the links from others pages to your page helps people find you on FaceBook, and also, regular search engines like them.

Special Fan-Only Deals

One interesting Facebook strategy that can work especially well is if you offer something exclusive that’s only available to your online fans. Create special deals that are only for customers on Facebook. Run contests using your Facebook page where people can win prizes. Establish a customer loyalty and referral system to reward your customers for likes and shares. All of these strategies give customers a reason to spend additional time interacting with your business, beyond when they walk into your store.

Interaction and Engagement

Facebook is different from a regular website in one major way – it’s all about interaction. If you’re going to start using Facebook as part of your brick and mortar marketing plan, the goal should be to get people onto your page and engaged. Give them something to do on your Facebook profile, and use that to bring them into your store. When you do this, it gives people a sense of participation in your brand, and this goes a long way in creating long-term customers. It’s long been said that people buy from people (and brands) they know and trust, and FaceBook is one of the many ways to develop this relationship with your customers.


Brick and Mortar Marketing – Do Postcards Work?

Years ago, the Internet came along and changed everything in marketing for Brick and Mortar businesses. Brick and Mortar marketing relied on tried and true outbound marketing methods like cold calling, but now the Internet offers almost limitless opportunities for inbound marketing. Many even believe that the Internet has made traditional marketing methods obsolete. However, it’s not time to toss them out the window just yet. But Small Office Communicators know that Direct mail postcards still work if we use them effectively.

Qualified Leads

post-cardsWhen done right, direct mail postcards are brick and mortar marketing tools that can get you qualified leads that are primed to buy. The usual method is to offer customers a premium item or discount if they’ll complete a quick survey or drop in for a purchase. The invitation on the post card can “pre-qualify” the recipient and is a great first step in an effective sales funnel. Cast the net wide, sending out postcards to every address you’ve got, and the responses we get narrow the field down to qualified leads only. This is also a good way to introduce or remind your customers about a referral program where your customers receive some valuable consideration from you for recommending someone who then completes a purchase.

Offer Value

What you offer in terms of your premium or discount needs to be valuable to your customers. Even the five minutes it takes to fill out your survey can be a hassle for them so the premium sweetens the deal. When you select premiums for promotions like this, dollar value isn’t the only consideration here… utility will bring productive results. We really need to know our market and know the kinds of goods and services they want from us. When we match our targets up with the product they want, we do well.

Follow Up!

The reason many businesses have thrown postcard promotion out the window is that they don’t follow up. If we only follow up once or twice, we’ll usually find a weak response. This is where Persistence Pays! What you need is a follow-up system that keeps in contact with the customers. The system also needs to be designed so that it runs on autopilot in order to save you labor. And the answer to that is an autoresponder system from an email vendor like AWEBER.

Outbound marketing is more labor-intensive than inbound, which is where you create your content and let customers come to you. But the major advantage of outbound marketing is that it’s consistent. If you do it the same way each time, you’ll get the same results, guaranteed. Your follow-up system should do this for you.

Make It Easy

Another key to making direct mail postcards work is to make it easy for the customers to respond. I’ve said for years that we must always make it easy for people to do what we want or need them to do. If there’s anything vague or complicated involved, people will usually ignore us. Think of all the noise and static people experience every day (not to mention postcards from other companies). The response you want from customers should be as simple as possible.

Begin a Relationship

It’s important to look at the long-term when you use direct mail postcards in your brick and mortar marketing. Don’t look at it as one transaction but as the beginning of a relationship. Ideally, you should be following up with them for years to come. The goal is for your business’s brand to become a part of your customers’ lives. If you can achieve this, selling your goods and services to them becomes effortless.






P.S. AWeber has a great book to start you off with email marketing, “Growing Your Business with Email Marketing.” You can get it here.


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