Some days, I just want to stay in and away from everyone
I’ve always known I’m an introvert. But it wasn’t until I read Susan Cain’s Quiet that I realized how much work and cultural practices are built around extroversion. Quiet helped me figure out how to manage my work better to leverage my strengths as an introvert instead of trying to work around my weaknesses. If you are an introvert, this might help you too.
1. Find your optimal level of stimulation
Cain posits that introversion is about sensitiveness to stimuli, which made perfect sense to me. We introverts like to feel in control, we find it hard to adapt to disruptive experiences: strange places, strange people, noise. The key, I’ve learnt, is to first figure out what’s the best level of stimulation that makes you most productive.
Jennifer Lewis voyaged into entrepreneurship with her own food business, and now helps other food businesses become successful. Her site, smallfoodbiz.com, has lots of resources and advice for artisan food entrepreneurs. She tells us about the specific challenges of running a small food business, her favorite social media platform, and more.
My questions are in bold.
How is starting a food business different from other forms of entrepreneurship? What peculiar challenges does a small food business-owner face?
People tend to come into the food world because they’re driven by passion for the items they make but they can face an uphill battle getting their products to market because of the numerous regulations that are specific to the food industry. This can be anything from health code permits to labeling regulations. It’s a complex world and one that’s very different from other types of entrepreneurial ventures.
Think you don’t have enough time for Twitter? If you have 15 minutes in the day, you can do this.
Day 1: Sign up and create your profile
Choose a username that is as close to your name or your business name as possible and is easy to remember. For example, we didn’t get “markitty,” so we got “markittyapp”.
Make your profile description interesting and snappy. Don’t just copy your boilerplate company description. Make it clear what your business is about or what you stand for; people should be able to look at this and figure out what you tweet about and whether to follow you.
Specific marketing tips and insights on the product, general marketing advice on the blog. Managed by @Unmana and @NileshBhojani.
Done? That’s it for today.
We have put together our most useful Twitter tips in The Beginner’s Guide to Using Twitter for Business. This includes:
- Important Twitter features you should know
- Who you should follow
- Tools and tips to easily find relevant people on Twitter
- How to use Twitter for business in 15 minutes a day: a step-by-step guide that tells you how to get started and keep going, in just 15 minutes every day
- Twitter mistakes you should avoid
- Tools and apps you can use to get more out of Twitter
Get all of this for free!
Failure’s been on my mind lately. It started a while back, with this startup founder writing about the inevitable end of the business.
And of course, last week I wrote about another startup failure, inspired by the TechCrunch article reporting it.
So today I share some more stories of failure with you, hoping we can avoid their mistakes and their fate. The next three links are from this Business Insider article.
This entrepreneur started his business of selling condom key chains: he failed, but it’s a great story.
This blog post has some interesting insights, including this:
One industry that I think is fertile ground for marketing content is Bed and Breakfast inns. These inns provide a more picturesque, intimate experience than bigger hotels, and as far as I know, most of them seem to be run by the owners. So it seems to make perfect sense that innkeepers would blog about their inns. But do they?
I searched for [bed and breakfast blog] on Google.
What surprised me is that most of these blogs haven’t been updated recently. If you look at this screenshot, one of these blogs was last updated in April! The blog with the most recent post (not in the screenshot) was on August 24.
I changed the search to pages updated in the last week, and got a wholly different set of results. Even so, one blog listed in the first page was updated 2 days ago; everything else was between 5-7 days.
The Blue Door on Baltimore, for example, has a charming blog with photos and behind-the-scenes info about the running of the inn, as well as tips on what to do in Baltimore. But the blog hasn’t been updated for over a year: there were three posts in the first week of June 2012, and nothing since. Is the inn still running?
One objection I had heard from business-owners or CEOs about participating in social media was, what if someone writes bad things about us?
If they would write bad things about you… they probably are anyway.
You don’t own social media. A disgruntled ex-employee, an unhappy customer, is likely to be venting on Facebook and Twitter anyway.
If you’re also on social media, at least you get a chance to present your side of the story. As I say in my guest post on the Entrepreneur in Heels blog:
It’s “back to school” season in the U.S. and some other parts of the world, and many businesses have special promotions during this time. Let’s see how small businesses are using the #backtoschool hashtag on Facebook.
This hashtag isn’t important for you? You should still know how to use similar seasonal hashtags for your Facebook page.
1: Offer a discount or deal
The most obvious way to cash in on a seasonal trend is to offer a special deal or promotion.
A common question business-owners who use Twitter ask us is, “How do I find relevant people to follow?”
In my last post, I talked about who you should follow on Twitter: now let’s look at how to find these people.
A useful but rarely used feature of Twitter is Advanced Search.
I wrote this about my entrepreneurial journey, especially how we got started. I titled it somewhat provocatively, but the point is that I needed to reduce the distractions in my life to think clearly, to figure out what I really wanted to do.
The TV had filled our lives with noise. In the silence, we could hear our thoughts, our dreams.
Towards the end, I offer more tips on reducing distractions and improving your focus, something I struggle with every day. This post was also picked up by women 2.0.
I like reading stories and learnings of other entrepreneurs for motivation: it makes me feel less alone, it gives me hope that we’ll make it too.
Twitter is a tricky medium for small businesses. You will find a lot of people saying it’s a waste of time and enough people who swear by its benefits. You need to build your following, but when you start out you have to focus on following the right people.
Here is a quick guide on what kinds of people you should follow.
1. Customers – existing customers or people in your target customer group
You should follow your customers to see what they are talking about — what they are interested in, what products/service they like and what they are complaining about. Also this is a good way of letting them know that you are on Twitter. If they are interested in what you offer, they might even follow you back.
But don’t start selling to them on Twitter, not yet. Listen, engage and offer help but don’t be pushy.
Twitter is a tricky medium to get right, and many, many brands make a few simple mistakes.
Not Following Anyone (or Following Too Few People)
Twitter is a social medium. If you’re not following anyone, that tells me you’re not interested in listening, only talking. If you’re a big brand with tens (or hundreds) of thousands of followers, you can get away with this, but small businesses can’t.
Listening’s necessary, but why are you on Twitter if you’re not tweeting?
When I looked for marketing ideas for the Fourth of July for this week’s round-up, I couldn’t find much for social media posts, which surprised me. So if you’re looking for ideas, here are some I have.
The Fourth of July is the American Independence Day. If you’re marketing to customers in the U.S., don’t miss this opportunity of doing a special promotion or marketing message. I’ve put together some ideas from other bloggers.
This blog post has a ton of ideas on marketing for the Fourth of July, including special tips for bakeries, consignment stores, cafes, salons, spas and health clubs, tattoo parlors, florists, restaurants, or retail stores of any kind.
And here are some more tips just for restaurants.
This blog post has more ideas: all about offline marketing.
If you’ve noticed, all the posts I’ve linked to are heavy on the offline marketing. What can you do on social media? Watch out: I’ll do a post just about that tomorrow.
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.
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.
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.
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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The 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.”
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Talk to people who’ll ask you the hard questions: be it a partner, advisor, or a friend.
- 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.
- Measure your productivity. Are you spending time on the right things?
- 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?