Monthly Archives: June 2013

Mistakes Are a Marketing Opportunity

Mistakes typosMistakes happen. Someone mixed up a customer order or made up a bill wrong. You send out an email to the wrong list. There’s a bug in the rice. (This happened to me not so long ago.)

No matter how hard you try, how good your employees are, or how rigorous your quality-control process is, some things slip through the crack.

It’s how you manage after the mistakes where your company’s culture and customer support shows. How you handle the customer after she complains, or after you discover the mistake, determines whether you can manage to retain her.

When I got that tiny bug in my rice, the restaurant manager apologized profusely and when I refused another serving of rice, offered another dish as replacement. We were at a lunch buffet, but for the rest of the meal, we got served at the table. It’s been some months, and I still remember the incident, but I have mostly good feelings about that restaurant. In contrast, I’ve had many experiences at other restaurants where the wait staff made a mistake but were quite blasé about it.

So I found this recent email from the CEO of PowToon both amusing and admirable.

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Is Marketing for B2B Different from B2C?

Not much. Your marketing should be dictated by the preferences of your target customer segment anyway, and there is often less difference between marketing to small businesses and marketing to consumers than there is between marketing to small businesses and marketing to large businesses.

Is marketing less important for B2B?

One presumed difference between B2B and B2C is that B2B is driven more by sales and references, and B2C by advertising and marketing. But that difference is due more to the value of the product and the length of the sales cycle than to any inherent differences in marketing practice. For high-value products (like a large IT consulting contract), you have to hand-hold the customer through the process and (gently) nudging them towards the sale. Because a big amount of revenue hinges on every deal, there is a lot more resources spent on having each deal come through than it would if you were selling a SaaS product or an iPad app (even if they’re also business products).

But the differing value of products matters in B2C as well: if you’re selling apartments, reputation and word-of-mouth are critical: and you’d expect to have to nurture the customer and nudge her towards the sale.

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Marketing Tips for Small and Local Businesses

Since last week was Small Business Week in the U.S., we’ve been tweeting about marketing for small businesses all week. Here are a few of the links that are useful all year-round.

On Small Business Trends, 5 reasons why signs work for your small business.

But if you’re thinking you only need signs, think again: Search Engine Journal explains why offline businesses need online marketing.

According to the BIA/Kelsey  report, 97% of consumers use online media before making local purchases.  Google Research  showed that 9 out of 10 internet searches resulted in a follow up action, such as calling or visiting the business. Mobile searches triggered an additional action or conversion 73% of the time; and 28% of mobile searches resulted in a store visit or purchase.

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How Small Businesses Are Using Hashtags on Facebook

I’m not sure whether I’m more excited or wary about Facebook hashtags, but I do think it’s a game-changer. I took a look at how small businesses are using hashtags on Facebook, and what we can learn from them.

Don’t: overuse them.

Facebook post with a bunch of similar hashtags: #smallbiz, #smallbusiness, #business

We’ve seen this on Twitter all this while, and now it’s on Facebook: overuse of the hashtag. Don’t use a bunch of synonyms in your hashtags — just use one or two hashtags that might be most relevant.

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5 Advantages of Being A Small Business

It’s Small Business Week in the U.S., a good time to write about my pet theory: being small is an advantage. Big businesses have big resources, what do small businesses have?

Small businesses are closer to the customer.

Hummingbird and flower
Small can be both beautiful and effective

If you’re a small-business owner or marketer, you know your best customers by name. You know why they are good customers — which goes beyond being just regular to being easy to work with, or maybe they give you constructive feedback. If you’re a B2B business, you know their business challenges. If you’re a bakery, you know Donna loves cheesecake and is allergic to walnuts.

Why is this an advantage? Because it makes it so much easier to tailor your marketing and sales to them. To tell Donna she might want to try the new mango cheesecake just in and that you’re baking a fresh set of nut-free brownies. Big businesses have to get sophisticated CRM systems to keep track of that stuff…  but small businesses can do it more organically and easily.

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Using Markitty: Website Performance Table Compares Monthly Visits, Unique Visits, Page Views, Visit Duration, and Bounce Rate

Your Website Performance table on Markitty is a quick snapshot of your website over the current month and the previous three months. It gives you a quick look at how your website data is trending, answering questions such as:

  • Are visits increasing but unique visitors decreasing? (Do you need to reach out to more new visitors? Are your visitors becoming more loyal?)
  • Are visits decreasing but page views going up? (Are your visitors more engaged with your website?)
  • Is average visit duration increasing over time? (It should!)
  • Is your bounce rate going down?

Markitty's Website Performance table with columns Month, Visits, Unique Visits, Page Views, Visit Duration, Bounce Rate

Continue reading Using Markitty: Website Performance Table Compares Monthly Visits, Unique Visits, Page Views, Visit Duration, and Bounce Rate

Monday Marketing Mash-Up: Social Media News You Should Know

Social media changes: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter
They’re all beginning to look the same

Looks like all social media sites are making tons of changes. Here are some recent changes that affect small businesses.

Facebook has removed a number of features, including sponsored stories — which is great, because we’re all tired of those sponsored “your friend likes this page” updates. But I’m sad that they’re killing questions (though why not call them polls, Facebook)?

Here’s the announcement by Facebook and a nice explanatory post on HubSpot. What does this mean for businesses? Now you can’t waste money promoting what someone did on/to your page or content.

The other big Facebook change is the introduction of hashtags: this could really change the game for Facebook, by making search and discovery much easier. Marketers, start optimizing your Facebook posts!

Twitter’s adding analytics. This is really cool, but no idea when this will be rolled out to all users. For businesses, this is will help to see what tweets are working and whether you’re just wasting your time (even if you’re not using Markitty).

Twitter has started 2-step log-in verification, and so has LinkedIn.

Speaking of LinkedIn, you can now share media files in your updates, so start sharing those photos and presentations. LinkedIn also previously added the ability to add visual content to your profile (or page). 

With these updates and having added the ability to tag people, LinkedIn’s begun to look eerily like Facebook and Google Plus. And Facebook’s trying to be more like Twitter, earlier with timelines and now hashtags. Which begs the question: if they’re all the same, should we bother trying to be present on all of them or just focus on one? Or maybe automated cross-posting is the answer (please, no).

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Facebook Hashtags: Tips for Marketers and Small Businesses

facebook announces hashtagsThe big argument for using Twitter for marketing has been that you can see what others are talking about, even if they are not in your network. Facebook is out to change that.

Facebook today announced its much awaited feature: Hashtags.

“Starting today, hashtags will be clickable on Facebook. Similar to other services like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest, hashtags on Facebook allow you to add context to a post or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion.”

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Common Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

I wrote on YourStory about marketing mistakes I find myself making repeatedly and see most often in others as well.

Here are some ways to avoid making such mistakes:

  1. Study the data. Be careful you don’t misinterpret it, but make sure you’re looking at it and can figure out what it means. 
  2. Ask your customers. Make sure you’re talking to them and know what they really think, and not just what you think they think. But of course, they need to be the right customers.
  3. Talk to people who’ll ask you the hard questions: be it a partner, advisor, or a friend.
  4. Don’t lose sight of your vision. Don’t change something just because someone suggested it: see if it fits into your vision of your business.
  5. Measure your productivity. Are you spending time on the right things?
  6. Question yourself constantly. Why are you doing [something]? Are you making the right assumptions? Is there a better way of doing this?

Tell me: what are the mistakes you try hard not to make?

Using Markitty: What Type of Facebook Post Works Best for You?

Update: Facebook Insights also shows you your post types now, but Markitty still gives you more detail.

Photos, videos, links, text, questions… which should you post on Facebook? Research tells you that photos do better on Facebook than other types of posts, but is this true for your page? What post types get you the most impressions, shares, and clicks?

Markitty’s new Average Performance by Post Type table compares all your post types this month so you can see what’s worked best for you. (Don’t forget to click on Previous Month to see what happened then.)

Average Performance by Post Type table on Markitty
Here’s a screenshot of the table

Only have one or two post types in the table? Try experimenting with a few different post types and see what works for you!

Continue reading Using Markitty: What Type of Facebook Post Works Best for You?

Monday Marketing Mash-up: All You Need to Know for Business Blogging

I recently realized I’ve written a lot about blogging. Here are a few of my posts that might be useful to readers of this blog.

Why You Should Blog

This post compares blogging to other social media channels and tells you whether it’s right for you. Here’s what I think is most important:

Blog posts last better than most other social media posts: your older posts will continue to get you visits long after your tweets and Facebook posts have faded into oblivion.

Starting Your Blog

If you’re just starting out, this post explains six tips that I’ve found useful, including being regular and frequent, using relevant keywords, and improving usability on your blog.

Finding Blog Topics

Continue reading Monday Marketing Mash-up: All You Need to Know for Business Blogging

How to Pick Your Target Customer Segment

Over on Search Engine People, I explain how to pick a target customer segment that’s right for you. I answer questions like:

  • How do you start with a basic customer profile?
  • How should your target customer segment affect your marketing?
  • How do you learn enough about your audience to target your marketing better?

This post was inspired by several questions at recent workshops I’ve conducted, and I know this is a common challenge that all businesses have to deal with.

Read the post here, and tell me how you like it!

The Most Important Marketing Metrics for Small Businesses

In our interview series, we asked marketers and entrepreneurs we admire about their marketing practices. One question I asked most people was about metrics: what metrics do they measure or think are most important for small businesses should measure?

Website Metrics

If your website is also your product (content sites like Ask A Manager and YourStory, product startups like AppSurfer, e-commerce sites), website metrics are of paramount importance.

The AppSurfer team tracks website metrics regularly, especially engagement-related metrics: pages per visit, bounce rate, etc.

We met Jubin Mehta of YourStory recently, and he told us that YourStory focuses on the number of unique visitors — not total visits or page views, but the number of readers.

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Using Markitty: Daily Tips and Insights on Your “Today” Page

The daily recommendations are the most important part of Markitty. Your Markitty home page tells you exactly what you should be doing today.

We just redesigned the page to make this more obvious (and pretty). The Home page is now the Today page: as in, your things to do today.

This is how it looks.

Online marketing recommendations and tips

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Managing a Business While Parenting

Mother and daughterI’m not a parent, but I’m in awe of those of you who manage a business and are parents of young children. So this week, here are some tips from other parents who’ve been there.

Sahil Parikh inspired this list with his Productivity Hacks of a Startup Dad: tips that can be useful to all of us, even those who aren’t parents.

I love that building a routine doesn’t work for him (since I keep trying and failing at establishing a routine myself) and that he doesn’t follow general or world news (another practice I’ve been following for a couple of years that makes me feel ignorant but less stressed out). I don’t use email notifications either, though  I don’t follow any of the rest of his tips (I do want to follow the first one though, but again, routines seem to be beyond me).

On Women’s Web, Monalisa Saxena writes about managing her business while she was pregnant: a nice set of tips that would probably work for any scheduled downtime, whether a long vacation or maternity leave.

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