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Five Killer Tips for Location Based Services

local1In these days when social networking has become a part of one’s daily and business lives, Location Based Services or LBS is making it more effective. This is one marketing strategy that takes your use of social media to another level, and helps your efforts become specific and more concentrated. This will aid in getting more customers within a particular region or locality. Moreover, thanks to LBS, you can expect your customers to visit to your place and get the feel of the products and services. The major LBS applications that are currently in vogue are Loopt, Foursquare, and Gowalla. Let’s examine some killer tips to make the most of these services.

Knowing Your Apps: Let’s face it. Unless you know your applications inside out, you will not be able to get the best out of them. Different applications work differently, but they are all connected to the Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) that locate the area where the user is logging in from. The primary applications that people generally use include Facebook, Google Latitude, Loopt, Foursquare, Yelp, and Brightkite. Downloading all these applications on your mobile will show that some of them also endorse badges, logos, and free gift announcements. Considering the fact that LBS users often refer a place their friends, you can offer these freebies whenever they login from your place.

Cut to Your Size: The ultimate strategy is to customize according to your need. Now, this is again interconnected to your understanding of the application or the services. If you know your application well, you can create a logo or marketing strategy that will fit the uniqueness of the application. You will get the freedom to make your own changes with most of these applications. Rather than waiting for the customers to create a to-do list, you may offer them once as soon as they drop by your shop or area. All you need to remember here is that many of these customization options are dependent on the network that you will have.

Connect with Customers: Connecting with customers will become more direct and much simpler with the help of these LBS. Whenever customers log in from your place, you can inform them about your new products and services. If they like it, they may pass it on to their friends or family. These services give you enough scope to become more creative with your approach. The combination of innovation and technology can do wonders for your business.

Tracking and Analyzing: Yes, with LBS you can also find out the result of your communication and advertising strategies. This is important to see whether your steps are making the expected impacts, or whether you need a change of strategy. You will also come to know the patterns that customer behavior often shows. This will help you to fine tune the marketing strategy further, as and when it’s necessary.

What not to do: Here are a few things that you should avoid by all means. It is a good thing to avoid any kind of false review and make sure that your ad is well made. It should have directness that suits the medium.

Using Social Media to Fight Negative Press

negative-pressEvery company undergoes it at some given point. Just Google it on the internet and you will find a good number of problems involving high profile companies. In an era where social media has become one of the major sources of information, controlling PR crises has become even more challenging. One false step and your business may get promoted throughout cyberspace in a matter of hours. But at the same time, one can use these same media channels to fight negative press. In fact, there are many PR professionals who plan strategies keeping in mind their possible impact on social media. The important question is how one should approach the problem.

Communication: Any relationship, be it personal or professional, can become stronger through communication. Moreover, communication helps one to clarify doubts and misunderstandings. Proper communication becomes more important during the time of PR crisis. It is very important that you place your side of the story to the customers without losing any time. And it is here that social media can help. A short message on Twitter or a Facebook post will get you more attention than mere press releases. Remember, keeping mum will not help you at all; rather, it will be seen as an acceptance of the mistake.

Preparation: The best way to avoid a crisis is to stay prepared for it. Though some of the crises are unforeseen, some others happen because we tend to overlook alerts. Starting a social media profile is a first step. Opening one at the moment of crises will not help. The more you nurture your social relationships through these sites, the better it is. This will help you to get the confidence of the users. You will also come to know what people are saying and thinking about your brand, services, and product. Any negative talk or any red signal, and you can act on it immediately.

Introduce “Black Pages”: The term “black pages” may catch some unaware. But, it is just a fancy name of a web page where your users and other browsers can post their comments and feedback on various topics. Most of the time, these pages operate live sessions. Understand the possible problems that can crop up while running the business, and prepare their solutions or answers. So, if any of these questions comes up in future, you may immediately provide the answers.

Propose Service: While offering solutions to any crises, continue an attitude of service provider over the social media. A humble tone and acceptance of mistakes, followed by quick solution will keep your customers happy. Chances are that you will get a good load of positive tweets or Facebook posts.

Continuous Process: Though it’s a bad habit, the common practice is that people start ignoring social media once the crisis is handled. Considering the trend in businesses, this will not be a wise move. Irregular presence in social media will not give you any benefits. As said earlier, keeping a relationship is a continuous and long process. If you remember the social media in your good times as well, it will definitely be of great help to you during your worst times.

Social media are neither the enemy nor the competitors of the PR department. Rather, they are one of the most potent weapons that the department can use to evade or solve a crisis.

Using the Social Web to Generate Leads

seo-analyticsSocial media is a great way to listen to clients' needs and build a credible web presence that extends beyond your website... but did you know you can use the social web to generate leads? Below are some tips on how to acquire new business using popular social media sites. If your current and prospective clients are there, you should at least be in on the conversation.

Twitter - Twitter search is one of the most powerful lead sourcing tools available. Using this feature, you can see in real-time what people are tweeting about. Search and see how many people are tweeting about your topic... hundreds! Now, how many of those people are looking for an expert like you? How many need an SEO expert? The list goes on and on -- don't let these cries for help get snatched up by someone else.

Search for your area of expertise. Find the leads. And then send them a friendly tweet letting them know you can help. Remember: people hate spam. Don't hit potential clients over the head with your pitch. And before you start hunting for leads make sure your Twitter profile outlines your expertise and includes links back to your credible website, portfolio, etc.

Facebook - Like Twitter, people share their thoughts on services they want or need. And you can use their search feature to see who may need your help. Try searching your service or product in Facebook's search feature. On the left sidebar, look at the option to choose Posts by Everyone. This is everyone that is currently posting about that topic. Again it's a lot of people... but one of them might be a potential client.

LinkedIn - As you probably know, LinkedIn is a fantastic place to network and join groups of like-minded professionals. But are you using it to garner business? Does your profile mention that what services you offer? LinkedIn is a great site to promote your services.

First and foremost, add an offer to your profile updates. What's more compelling to a potential client: "Looking for a new car" or "Get a Free analysis at (insert your url) and see what I can do for you!" Also make sure your specialties and summary include your strongest skills. If you want to drive business make sure you have the profile to back it up.

Craigslist- Much more of a barebones approach as opposed to the previous mentioned sites, but definitely another great place to find people looking for your expertise. You can use Craigslist's search feature to look for "gigs" in your area that apply directly to your expertise.

Email Marketing for Small Business: What’s the Big Idea?

email marketing for successYou’re considering email marketing to promote your business? Smart Move!
Congratulations, you’re about to step into the world of email marketing – one of the smartest ways ever for developing your business. And to help you get started, here’s a bird’s-eye view of what email marketing’s all about – from planning, to getting your campaign going, to making it successful. For more helpful tips on this exciting marketing tool, take a look at Constant Contact.

Good, Fast, or Low Cost Marketing?

Now you can have all three. And effectiveness, too.
We’ve all heard the old adage about how, when it comes to marketing, you can get what you need done well, delivered quickly or produced inexpensively; but you can only choose two out of the three.

Well, thanks to the wonders of technology, those days are gone. Today, using email marketing, you can communicate effectively with quality content, design, and delivery. You can do it quickly and repeatedly. And, you can do it within a budget that makes absolute sense for your business. What’s more, you can do all this and at the same time build excellent relationships with your customers.

Who doesn’t want to save money?
When you communicate with your customers through permission-based email you get everything you would in a print ad – except the paper. And without the paper, you can skip things like printing costs, mailing costs, and media costs. Plus email targets exactly who you want to reach, so you don’t waste dollars on unlikely prospects, like other advertising options do.

It is said that communication is a 50/50 proposition.
We beg to differ. We believe good communication should be a 100/100 effort. With email, you not only control your message, but you also create a welcoming, easy way for recipients to have a two-way dialogue with you. They can also pass along your message to their family and friends – valuable referrals for your business.

Just like fingerprints, no two customers are alike.
With email marketing, you can send different messages to match the interests of different customer groups or even individuals. And, because email is so easy to create and change, you can revise your messaging to reflect the changing focus of your audience.

Things To Think About

  • What was the total cost of your most recent newspaper or direct mail campaign? Do you think it was a good investment?
  • What mechanism do you currently use to hear the voice of your customers? Is it effective?
  • How much time does it take to adjust your marketing message using your current system of communicating with your customers?

How Well Do You Know Your Customers?

Now you can learn more about them as they learn more about you.
The fact is, all of business is built on relationships. And the better you understand your customers, the better your chances of building a mutually- rewarding, ongoing relationship with each other. An email marketing campaign should be built on a clear understanding of your customers and their needs, as well as what you have to offer them.

It’s easier – and cheaper – to keep a customer than to find a new one.
The more you know about your customers, the better able you are to meet their needs. That means they are much more likely to remain customers, and you don’t have to spend extra money and effort trying to find new ones. What’s more, a satisfied customer is your best advertisement, and can help you build your business through referrals to their friends and colleagues.

No matter what you say, say it consistently and regularly.
A sustained email marketing campaign is the perfect way to educate your customers about your goods, services, policies, and community involvement. Just be sure to map out a strategy for the types of information you plan to share with them, and make sure it’s helpful, informative, or enlightening.

Don’t forget to listen.
Every successful email marketing campaign shares a very important common denominator – the ability of the recipient to respond to the message. By including at least one, and preferably several, ways in which your customer can reach you (by email, phone, or in person), you invite comment, criticism, and congratulations. All are valuable ways to learn more about your customers and respond to their needs.

Make sure your email marketing campaign fits with your overall marketing plan.
Different kinds of objectives are best served by different kinds of email. For example, if you are looking for immediate sales, then an email highlighting a price reduction or new product introduction may be best. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to establish yourself as an expert in your field, then a more informative email with case histories may be appropriate.

Things To Think About

  • Can you identify satisfied customers who may be willing to be quoted in your email marketing campaign?
  • What would a communications calendar about your business look like?
  • How can you ensure that your business responds to all customer comments in a timely fashion?

Do You Make Every Contact Count?

Collecting contact information is as simple as just asking for it.
The fact is, that email marketing can help you establish and build relationships that will help you grow your business. But, there are two rules you need to follow:

  1. You can’t communicate if you don’t make contact.
  2. Not all contacts are equal. The more information you gather about each contact, the better your chances of delivering the right message to the right person.

There’s really no mystery to how to collect contact information.
Simply ask. Most people will be glad to supply basic contact information. Just be careful not to ask for too much personal information or they may balk at answering. Start by asking for a name and an email address. That’s enough to get a contact on your list.

If the contact is in person or on the phone, you can also ask for a street address and a phone number. Additionally, you can capture contact information from a business card or an electronic communication.

Don’t get caught “spamming.” Get permission first.
When you send someone an email marketing communication and that person has not given you permission to do so, you are “spamming.” There are strict regulations against "spamming" and you never, ever want to send "spam" to anyone for any reason.

The way to avoid becoming a "spammer" is to always get permission to send your messages to the people on your list. You can ask for explicit permission – which means the person understands that an email message will be headed their way – or you can go with implicit permission which means that you have an existing business relationship with the person and that they are open to hearing from you.

Motivate people to give you their contact information.
When you offer something to motivate contacts to provide their information, chances are more likely you’ll actually get what you asked for. It doesn’t have to be much, but it must have value to the person receiving it. A discount on certain products is a powerful motivator but something as simple as a downloadable white paper is also a good choice.

Things To Think About
Are you and your staff asking for contact information at every encounter? Why not?

  • Have you ever sent an email with a marketing message to someone who might not want to have received it? Did you know it would be considered "spam"?
  • What low cost but effective offer could you make to help ensure the collection of contact information and permission to communicate with them?

Why Would Your Customers Read Your Email?

Make it relevant and you’ll build trust – and your business.
The surest way to get your customers to come back again and again is to get them to trust you. And one way to earn their trust is to communicate with them honestly, regularly, and in a way they can relate to. Give them that, and you’ll not only have satisfied customers, you’ll have true advocates.

Show that you care about their welfare, not just their dollars.
When information is useful, it is more likely to be remembered and acted upon. And remember, customers want to hear about things they care about – not just what you’ve got to say about your business.

For example, if you want to announce a sale, don’t just talk about the dollars off (though that’s certainly important). Also add information about how the product or service can benefit the customer. A 20% discount on cleaning a home’s air ducts is interesting, but improving the air quality of one’s home, or protecting one’s children from airborne pests, is compelling. This kind of messaging encourages trust and demonstrates that you are interested in the welfare of your customers, not just how much they spend with you. It’s all about building trust.

When in doubt, ask the experts – your existing customers.
If you find it difficult to figure out what to include in your emails, don’t overlook the obvious. While you may think certain topics are “old hat,” you’ll be surprised how many customers may not know – or may have forgotten – certain pieces of information.

Another good source of content is your customer. Many of them will be happy to suggest topics, lend advice, or even be interviewed for your email campaign.

Things To Think About

  • Can you name three things you think your customers would be interested in knowing about your service or products? What kind of story can you tell about each one?
  • Can you name four customers you can seek advice from regarding your email campaign?
  • If you were to survey your customers on what they would like to see in an email from you, how would you do it?

How Can You Get Your Email Opened?

A few simple rules can keep you out of the junk mail file.
You may be thinking that, for all the potential benefits of an email marketing campaign, there are just too many emails floating around out there. And it is true that many emails are simply discarded without being opened at all.

But yours doesn’t have to be one of them. Here are some simple ways you can encourage your customers to open, read, and act on your emails.

Make sure they know it’s from you.
If there’s ever a time to ditch the clever headline in favor of the straightforward approach, it’s in the “from” line of your email. Always use the better-known of your name, your company name, your product name or whatever other designation your customers will most readily recognize. And do not use such common but ill-advised addresses like sales@ or service@. They’re unfriendly and won’t do a thing to build your relationship with your customers.

Make sure they know it’s something they’re interested in.
Is there anything more frustrating than opening an email and discovering you just don’t care what it’s about? It’s a waste of time and a frustration to your customers. That’s why your “subject” line should be descriptive but not deceptive. Instead of a generic phrase like “What’s New This Month,” try, “10 Reasons…” or “New Survey Reveals…” or “8 Ways to…” as more compelling titles.

Keep those emails coming.
No one likes to be bothered unnecessarily, but there is something to be said for establishing a regular schedule of communication and sticking to it. If your emails are interesting and pertinent, your customers will look forward to receiving them – and will be disappointed when they don’t.

The way your email looks is just as important as what it says.
No matter how important or well-written your email is, if the design is cluttered, too busy, or just plain disorganized, the message will never get read. Remember that readers decide whether to read an email by previewing the first few lines. Be sure to use strong headlines and include words and phrases that appeal to their interests.

Things To Think About

  • What emails are you most likely to open and read? Which are you most likely to trash without reading?
  • If you were one of your customers, what would you like to read in an email from your business?
  • Can you make a commitment to regularly scheduled emails? Do you need help maintaining a regular schedule of communications?