Sales Professionals Need to Know This

Every sales professional needs to have an independent online presence.

It’s not enough to depend on your broker, employer or suppliers for your website and social media presence. Having their support is nice, but that support only lasts as long as your tenure does.

In 2014, the average employee stayed 4.6 years. This rise, by the way, includes passing through four recessions from 1983 – 2014. (Forbes – 2016)

The profession with the highest turnover? You guessed it! Sales. (Statista 2018)

Having an independent online presence is like having an insurance policy for the day that you change employers. It is a great way to cement relationships. Relying solely on your employer for your online presence is dangerous. Your professional self vanishes when your employment position changes.

There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of the online marketing help provided by your employer, brokerage, and/or major suppliers. It is a great support system, that costs little or nothing, and takes care of most of your marketing needs for you. Of course you should use it, appreciate it, and even depend upon it.

What can you do, that won’t take up too much of your limited time, will provide you with a current marketing edge over your competitors, and importantly, will serve as an online bridge when you switch positions?

Ideas and Recommendations

In order of importance:

  1. Use LinkedIn
    LinkedIn is important because it acts simultaneously as your “living” resume, and a home for your professional networking. Your profile should be complete. It should be current. And you should use it to stay on top of industry trends and the business activities of your peers and colleagues. Posting the occasional helpful tip or professional update never hurts. Contributing to a conversation on LinkedIn is even better.
  2. Have your own website and URL
    Ideally, a blog is best, but blogging takes time and commitment. Having a blog, under your own banner, goes a long way towards establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Blogging also helps keep you and your name in front of people on an ongoing basis. If blogging is either too time consuming, or too intimidating, then you should at least have simple business card website, or “microsite“. A microsite ensures that you always have a web presence that follows you even when you change employers or product lines.
  3. Consider using Twitter or Instagram
    Twitter and Instagram are essentially microblogging platforms. Unlike a long-form blog, where articles should be 300 to 1000 words, Twitter tweets are limited to 280 characters (up from 140). Instagram is more visual, and is ideal if you uses images or photographs to highlight your work (for example, real estate shots).
  4. Facebook
    Make sure that you don’t post anything on Facebook that would be a major “turn off” to a potential client or employer. Privacy settings are helpful, but they don’t guarantee that the things you post won’t be seen or shared by people outside your circle of family and friends.
    Facebook also offers the opportunity to set up a business or professional “fan” page. My personal recommendation for sales professionals and other self-employed professionals is not to bother with this feature. Facebook professional pages need a commitment of time and promotional money before they become useful. Let your employer look after this for you.

Dot Com vs. Dot Whatever | What Top Level Domain (TLD) Should You Choose?

Is Dot Com Still The King of Domain Names?

Are dot com (.com) domain names still the only good choice? There was a time, not so long ago, that the answer to this question was an unequivocal “yes”. The answer today is still probably yes – except that today – “yes” is no longer carved in stone.

Three Reasons That Dot Com is King

There are many reasons that owning yourname.com, as your primary URL, makes the most sense.

  1. It’s expected
    This is more important than it may seem. Expectations met = authority. Online authority = online reputation = your real life reputation. If you don’t own yourname.com, the entity that does own it has an authoritative edge over you.
  2. It’s easy to remember
    Chances are very high that if you tell people that they can find you at yourname.org, they are going to type in yourname.com when they get to the office. You’d better hope that isn’t the  URL of your competitor. The same thing applies to email. You’ll never know how many messages you never saw because they went to bob@yourname.com instead of bob@yourname.info.
  3. Browsers sometimes default to .com
    When a TLD (domain extension like .com) is not specified, some web browsers will simply direct traffic to the .com address when more than option is available. This has become less of a problem now that Google (Chrome) and Microsoft (IE) also own search engines supported by advertising revenue. Now their browsers would rather direct you to a search page when the address isn’t 100% certain.

The Exceptions:

There are only two exceptions to the dot com rule. But they are big, important, exceptions.

  1. Local Matters
    Dot com (.com) is big and important and recognized around the world. It carries a lot of authority. Sometimes worldwide authority is not what you want though. If your restaurant has only one location, or your law firm only operates in one country, it might make more sense to have your country code as your URL. So instead of presenting as OurFirm.com, you might be better off as OurFirm.ca – that way everybody knows you’re a Canada based organization. Whenever possible, securing the matching dot com, should also be a priority, though in this case it is less critical.
  2. Narrow Field Specialization
    There are now over a hundred specialized new top level domains. If your business is highly specialized, one of these might be perfect. The advantage is that you can find a very memorable domain name. For example, my business name is PoMo Media, so in addition to owning pomomedia.com I also own pomo.media – pretty neat, eh.

 

What’s Available For Domain Names?

In addition to the “Big 3” .com, .org, and .net, there are dozens of county codes, like .us (United States) and .ca (Canada). There are a couple of others like .edu and .gov that have been available since the early days of the Internet. And then there all of these (way too many to list in this post so you’ll need to click through to Wikipedia).

The Wrong Reason to Choose an Alternative TLD

The reason that most people choose something other than .com for the domain name in their URL is that the .com is no longer available. This is a bad reason. It is nearly always a mistake.

Why is it a mistake to use MyName.whatever if MyName.com is already taken?

Good question. Here’s why.

  1. Everybody knows that you settled for second best. Nobody really wants to settle for second best. Not you. Not your clients. Not your potential customers.
  2. Brand confusion. Are you the “real” My Name, or is the owner of MyName.com the “real” one? Why would I visit MyName.org when I could be visiting the real website at MyName.com?
  3. Not Memorable. We talked about this already, but let’s review. People remember .com automatically. That might change as the new domain extensions gain in popularity, but for now, you should assume that if you tell someone your domain name is MyName.org, they’re likely to remember it as MyName.com. This is important even if you are an organization. For example, a small organization that I support uses TheirName.org as their primary URL, but they also own TheirName.com. That means that the right web site will open whichever domain extension is used.

What to do if YourName.com is taken

Let’s start with the bad news. Every single word in the standard English language dictionary is already taken by a dot com. Every common surname is also taken. Every common FirstNameLastName combination is already taken.

So what is the good news? The good news is that language is flexible and diverse. With some creativity and trial and error it is still possible to come up with good, descriptive domain names in the dot com TLD. Not very long ago I was able to purchase PoMoMedia.com for myself. I was also able to purchase essentiallysocial.com (it’s for sale BTW).  The other acceptable options are a country code name, or a highly specialized name from one of the new TLDs.

I also suggest purchasing the .net and .org extensions of whatever domain extension you get. This protects you from either ill-intentioned, or accidental, copycat websites that dilute your brand and confuse your audience.

Netfirms is the Domain Name Registrar that I prefer most of the time. They also have the best Domain Name search tool, because it automatically shows all the possible extensions and suggests alternative names.

affiliate_link

 

3 Things You Didn’t Know About PPC Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing

Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing

PPC, or “pay per click” is a widely used and accepted way for businesses and organizations of all sizes to gain visibility on search engines like Google or Bing. Essentially, you choose keywords and/or phrases that are likely to be used by people when they search for things related to your business. When the search engine returns results, they will include small ads along with the organic (selected by the search engine algorithms) results. If the viewer sees something of interest in an ad, and then clicks through to the website, a fee is charged to the advertiser.

These links to Google and Bing offer everything you need to get started on your own. Of course if you need some help, just  let me know. I’m available. It’s what I do. Contact Me.

Three Things You Didn’t Know

  1. When you use a pay per click program like Google Adwords you gain tremendous free exposure for your business, organization, or professional service. That’s because you don’t pay anything for your ad to be shown to people. You only pay for clicks. While “gaming” the system to maximize exposure and minimize click-throughs will soon get your ad  banned, the free exposure remains a valuable hidden benefit of PPC.
  2. You can spend as much or as little as you want. It is easy to control your advertising budget with PPC advertising. Simply choose a daily or monthly budget and the built-in budget automation tools make sure that you never overspend. In the event that your budget is not being spent, it is also easy to tweak your ad by increasing the number of keywords, or adjusting the content of your ad to make it more attractive.
  3. You can target your ad very precisely so that only people likely to be interested in your offerings will see your ad. This is one of those good news – bad news things. The bad news is that Google knows more about us than we might care for. The good news is that because search engines like Google and Microsoft Bing know so much about everyone, it becomes possible to target an ad to very precise demographic groups. Combing geographic and demographic parameters, with careful keyword selection, pretty much guarantees that the people clicking on your ads, really are interested in your offerings.

Free Bonus Advice

Remember that ads like the ones you place are where Google makes its money. Google makes a lot of money. That tells us two things. One, search engine marketing works very well for advertisers or they wouldn’t keep doing it. Two, Google does not have much incentive to follow through on potential malfeasance. It is important to monitor your ads, and make sure that the clicks that you are paying for are actually worth paying for. The best way to know if they’re working is by the increase in business as a result of using them. But you also want to know if people clicking through to your website, stay on the website long enough to conduct business or read an article. Too many clicks with quickly abandoned visits could be a sign that either bots or humans are clicking through simply to drain your ad budget.

The potential for budget draining fraudulent clicks is why I strongly urge anyone getting started with PPC to stick with Google or Bing, and to steer clear of platforms that offer lower priced advertising options. You are infinitely better off paying Google 50 cents for each high quality click than you are paying a penny per click for low-quality or no-quality clicks from sketchy websites.

Websites for Professionals: Blog vs. Microsite

Self-employed professionals, and people managing professional practices, are being bombarded with advice about websites, bloggingsocial media marketing, and SEO. Through all the chaos and fog, it’s become clear that some sort of social media presence is now a basic requirement and that some sort of website is an absolute “must”. This post will offer help in choosing what sort of web presence makes the most sense for your professional practice.

Bigger organizations today all have big, multi-function websites. Websites with multiple components, sub-sites, blogs, and even micrositeswith separate URLs (www.our-microsite.com web addresses) that serve specific niche requirements. While it would be nice of your professional practice had time and resources for a major website, most self-employed professionals will not be able to match the resources of bigger organizations. For the typical professional the choice will come down to either a blog or a microsite.

Microsite:  a website that is either built on a single web page, or a website with only a few web pages,

Blog or Microsite, Which is Better?

I’ll be blunt. A blog is better than a microsite. But…

A microsite might be better for you!

Why is a blog better, and why might a microsite be better for you anyway?

A Blog is Better Because:

  • A blog is your very own private publishing platform.
  • Publish whatever you want, whenever you want to.
  • A blog has frequent updates with new content published regularly.
  • Blog content can be reused and recycled
  • A blog provides content for other social media platforms.
  • Blogging allows opportunities for outbound links to reputable resources.
  • Blogging provides content that other website may wish to link to
  • Having a blog gives you huge SEO (search engine advantages) because search engines like Google are known to prioritize things like content freshness, outbound link quantity and quality, the number and quality of inbound links.
  • Blog articles build your authority as an expert in your field.

Then why wouldn’t every professional have a blog?

Despite all the advantages, blogging has one huge disadvantage over a microsite. Writing for a blog takes time and mental energy. Lots of it. Unless you are prepared to write at least one blog article every month (and probably several articles in the first few months) blogging is not your best option. A stale blog can actually have disadvantages. Visitors to a blog that has only one or two posts, or posts that are years old, may believe that you are no longer in business, or no longer care about your business. 

A Microsite Might Be Better Anyway Because:

For our purposes we are defining a microsite as a website that is either built on a single web page, or a website with only a few web pages, that are mostly static (page content is updated only when necessary). For many self-employed professionals a microsite will be all they need. It may not be as powerful a marketing tool as a blog but it still offers a lot of “bang for the buck”.

  • Custom URL (your-business-name.com)
  • Websites offer an easy way for people to find and contact you online
  • Links to your social media accounts (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
  • A useful address to link back to from your social media accounts, especially if your posts have a “contact me” call to action.
  • SEO advantages. Move your social media accounts up in search engine rankings, and make sure that people that “Google” your name or service find your website.
  • Once it has been established, a microsite requires very little additional work to maintain.
  • A microsite is the least expensive means to having a professional web presence.

There you go! 7 reasons why a microsite might be better for you, even if a blog is the better marketing tool!

Microsite Sample

Sample website at porservs.caYou will find our own sample microsite at proservs.ca This site would serve the needs of a self-employed professional, like a lawyer, mediator, or real estate agent.

Contact me to talk about online solutions for your professional practice. I’ve helped lawyers, mediators, arbitrators, real estate professionals, and others. I’d love the opportunity to help you too.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s a Microsite, and do you need one?

Microsite: (def)

microsite is an individual web page or a small cluster of pages which are meant to function as a discrete entity within an existing website or to complement an offline activity. The microsite’s main landing page can have its own domain name or subdomain. (Wikipedia)

Sample Microsite from proservs.ca, our example of a microsite website by PoMo MediaTo the definition above, I’d add that a microsite can also be the primary website of an individual or organization that conducts the vast majority of its activity either offline or via social media.

From the information above you can see that for most small to mid-sized organizations, a standard website is still the best and simplest solution for a primary internet presence.

Who Needs a Microsite?

Microsites really come into their own to satisfy needs at the two ends of the worldwide web spectrum.

  1. Very Large Organizations:
    Organizations with multiple divisions, hundreds of products, thousands of employees, etc., can eventually end up with websites that are so busy and full of information that they become nearly impossible to navigate. It can also be very difficult for visitors to quickly locate only the product, person, or service they need. Setting up small (even single page) websites will make specific information much easier to find, and the SEO (search engine optimization) advantages of an independent URL (web address) become readily apparent.
  2. Very Small Organizations:
    Professionals and individuals who are self-employed, or small organizations such as nonprofits and associations, are faced with an equal but opposite dilemma. They rely on word of mouth, or are able to function fairly well on the internet using just a business Facebook page and/or LinkedIn profile. Unfortunately, without an actual website there can be big issues around credibility and authority. These issues extend well beyond simple problems of “being found” online. In the 21st century there is now a basic expectation that any “real” business or professional will have a website. Here again, a microsite is a perfect solution.

Microsite Benefits

  • Custom URL
    A website with your own custom domain name
  • Credibility and Authority
    Consumers, clients, members, and the public are always more comfortable dealing with people and organizations that they trust. In the preweb days that meant a bicks-and-mortar location. Today that means a “dot com” website.
  • SEO
    Search engine optimization refers to the steps one takes in order to make it easier for people using search engines, like Google and Bing, to find a website. Obviously, a website is a prerequisite to being found at all on the web.
  • Marketing
    Even a one page microsite is a capable and potentially powerful marketing tool. At a bare minimum it means that you’ll be found when people find your competitors and colleagues.
  • Boosting Social Media Engagement
    By linking to your social media accounts and profiles from your microsite, you can actually increase the likelihood that your accounts will be found before (or at least among) the social media accounts of your competitors or members.

Microsite Examples

ProServs.ca
You will find our own sample microsite at proservs.ca This site would serve the needs of a self-employed professional, like a lawyer, mediator, or real estate agent.

TorontoRealEstate.Deals and CaliforniaRealEstate.Deals
Two websites that have their Domain Names available for sale. Both using one of the new, highly specialized .deals Top Level Domain.

The-Fluxlist.com
A microsite that solved a problem for a nonprofit organization, read the full story below;

This organization that links contemporary artists together had a problem. Their primary means of communication with one another was through a Facebook Group. However the group had been in existence online since 1996 and had used the same name in multiple online forums since that time. They learned that organizations that had nothing to do with them were using the fluxlist name as corporate identities and URLs. There was no danger of losing access to their own name as it had been secured through continuous use. But there was a significant risk that the name was being confused and its meaning diluted because of its misuse by non-related entities.

Since it would be expensive, complicated, (and possibly futile) to attempt to get others to cease using the name, it was decided that a microsite, tying together all of their online communities would be a better solution. The microsite ensures that people searching for the artist network will find it, rather than unrelated corporate entities.

If a microsite is right for you,

PoMo Media Will :

  • Help you choose and purchase a Domain Name
  • Setup  a simple 3 page microsite based on WordPress
  • Secure your new website against hackers using SSL encryption and “captcha
  • Setup a personal email account for you at yourdomainname dot com

Contact Us

Air Canada Social Media Disaster

Air Canada Social Media Marketing Disaster anti-logoA recent experience with Air Canada demonstrates how easy it is to get things wrong, while apparently ticking all the right boxes for social media marketing.

Some big organizations get social media right. Some get it wrong. And some come close to getting it right, but then make fatal mistakes. Air Canada falls into this last category.

Customer Service Disaster at the Airport

On December 29th my son and his wife were returning to Los Angeles after visiting us in Toronto. They were travelling with their small dog, which precluded using the online check-in system. They arrived at the airport with plenty of time before their flight, and proceeded to line up in the Air Canada check-in queue. Upon reaching the check-in counter they were informed that they were in the wrong Air Canada line, and were told to go to the correct, USA bound lineup. They were also told, that since they had already lined up for some time, and were now getting closer to the cutoff time, they should go immediately to the counter, and not line up a second time. So far so good.

When they reached the second counter, the Air Canada employee there told them she didn’t care that they had already stood in line, or that they were simply following the directions given them by a fellow Airline employee. She sent them to the back of the line, forcing them to line up twice for the same flight. By the time they reached the counter again (and were sent to the same cruel employee) they were informed by the the ticket agent that they were too late for their flight! They were forced to re-book on a flight leaving nearly 8 hours later. A flight which it later turned out was delayed by a further 3 hours. They attempted to resolve the issue at the airport by speaking to a manager, but by the time the manager showed up, it was much too late for even an expedited trip to the boarding area. Not that it mattered since the on-site manager was unconcerned with their treatment by the counter clerk anyway.

Keep in mind that they are travelling with a small dog, which meant it was not even possible for them to clear security or customs and immigration before their flight since they needed outdoor access for the next 7 hours.

Air Canada Social Media Screw up

Here’s where a personal tale of woe becomes a lesson in messed up social media marketing.  Upon first impression, it is obvious that Air Canada has employed competent and professional social media consultants to set up their Twitter presence. The account is monitored, useful information is posted (along with plenty of typical corporate marketing fluff) , and responses from staff are very timely. But the airline has made a couple of disastrous implementation decisions, which will become clear in the next part to the story.

I reached out to Air Canada via Twitter, and relayed  the sorry tale of terrible customer service. The story was relayed like this:

They arrived at Pearson Airport and got in the Air Canada check-in line.
They got to the service desk and learned they were in the wrong line.
The checkin clerk was very nice, and told them that since they’d already waited, and might miss their flight, they should go directly to the front of the USA bound line, which they did.
The clerk there told them she didn’t care why they were there or when their flight was- they had to go to the back of the line again.
When they reached the front of the line again, they were assigned to the same woman. This time she told them they were now too late to get on their flight and would now have to wait for the 6 PM flight to LA.
They asked to speak to a manager.
The manager did not appear for another 30 minutes, and informed them that it was now too late for anything at all.
They are traveling with a small dog, and can’t even clear US immigration now, because they need outdoor access so the dog can relieve herself while they wait for the later flight.

There was a bit more information sharing back and forth, along with my request that the issue be settled with an offer of an upgrade to Business Class on the later flight, along with an on-site apology for the way they were treated by their employee. This is the response by an employee at Air Canada’s social media offices:

We regret to hear that these passengers did not meet the cutoff time of their flight. We always suggest for all our passengers to review the cutoff time policy published here, http://spr.ly/6011DyQ2H , in order to avoid circumstances like these. Unfortunately, all our agents must follow procedures and treat each passengers in the order they were lined up according to the right lane. Although we understand your frustration, we’re unable to honour your request. It is up to the passengers’ responsibility to ensure they’re checking in and present themselves at the gate before the closing time. /vv

I asked to escalate this to a more senior manager. Explaining that they had indeed arrived on time for their flight and check-in, and were following the instructions of one of their own employees. That had the Air Canada employee at the USA check-in desk not deliberately contradicted the instructions of another employee, they would have easily been able to board their booked flight on time. This is the “final response of the “senior manager” (JL) at the social media offices.

Hello Allan, we’ve reviewed the booking details of both passengers and the incident at the airport has clearly been documented. While we understand that this may not be satisfactory to you, kindly note that further communication will not alter the outcome of this case. Passengers are expected to arrive early enough to meet the cutoff times of their flight. We invite you to refer to the link provided previously by our agent /vv in order to avoid this in the future. We will no longer address this case further. Have a nice day. /jl

The Core Problem
(from a Social Media Marketing Perspective)

The biggest failure wasn’t entirely due to the social media activity itself. It was due to the social media department not being fully integrated into a corporate culture of customer service. For Air Canada, it seems,  the only purpose of social media is to further its advertising outreach, by mostly pushing out fluff, and attempting to add a bit of a personal touch along the way. It was never clear to me if the employees in the social media department had any authority at all to rectify a customer service problem, despite asking them a pointed question at the outset of our interaction:

Air Canada: We regret to inform you that we’re unable to arrange for an agent to call you from our end. Please send us a brief description of the issue, and we’ll see if we can assist. /lg

My Response: Sure. But I’m going to start with my expectations on how to make things right. 1) A face to face apology to them from a manager at Pearson. 2) An upgrade to Business Class 3) An escort to the front of the line for US passport control.
Is there someone in your office with sufficient authority to make those things happen?

There was never an answer to this question. Even after I answered all of their inquiries about the situation. It remains unclear to me if anyone at the social media offices can actually intervene to assist a passenger in distress.

From my interaction with the social media department it became clear that the primary corporate culture goals were:

  1. Deflect all criticism
  2. Defend the actions of Air Canada employees, even if the behaviour is egregious.
  3. Avoid any response that might cause inconvenience to employees or cost the airline money.

Fortunately, my next flight is NOT with Air Canada.

 

 

Facebook or LinkedIn – Getting Started on Social Media

Getting started with social media marketing with Facebook or LinkedIn

Start with either Facebook or LinkedIn. My previous post discussed why social media presence should no longer be considered an optional activity for organizations of any size; including solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, professional services, and nonprofits. But for people whose expertise is embedded into their profession and the services that they offer, getting started can seem complicated — and maybe even a bit intimidating.

So, how do you get started?

Ideally, even the smallest business or organization should be active on several social media platforms. And ideally, one day, maybe you will be!. But getting started can be pretty easy if you choose just one platform to begin your social media marketing journey. There are two primary social media platforms that have tremendous reach. Facebook and LinkedIn. Which one is right for you depends not so much on what your business offers, but on who your main customers are.

Facebook

FacebookFacebook has over 2 billion users logging on to it every day. That’s nearly everybody in the developed world, outside of China. But that doesn’t mean that Facebook is the right platform for you. Let’s consider who those users are… And why they are on Facebook…

Typically people use Facebook for personal social connections. They are not typically using it for business purposes. So why use Facebook as business marketing tool? Well, if your business or organization is oriented towards individual consumers, there is literally no better place in the known universe to connect with them.

LinkedIn

LinkedInLinkedIn continues to grow, but will probably never have as many users as Facebook does. LinkedIn currently claims to have over 500 million users, but third party sources but the number of users per month at about 106 million. So why use LinkedIn if it has only around 10% as many daily users as Facebook? Once again the key consideration is who those users are.

Typically LinkedIn users are using it strictly for business purposes. Cat videos and YouTube “fails” are strongly discouraged, and seldom seen there. LinkedIn is the online leader for business to business networking, and for individuals looking to build their personal network connections for business or career building opportunities. If your business or organization is primarily business to business (b2b), there is literally no better place in the known universe to connect with them.

Using Facebook Professionally

You probably already have a Facebook page that you use to stay connected with friends and family. Good, you are going to need that. What you are NOT going to do, is use that personal Facebook page for your business!

Set up a Facebook business page, also called a “fan page” by Facebook. Once you are logged in to Facebook, simply visit this page and follow the instructions to set up your page. We’ll talk again in a few minutes once you’ve done that…

Great! That was easy right?

Now we need to get down to business. Hopefully you had some images available, at least your logo, or a professional looking head shot. It’s no disaster if you don’t yet, but you are definitely going to want some images to take advantage of such a visual medium. You’ve also already gone through the setup wizard and entered plenty of relevant information about you and your organization and what it does. Now what?

Once you have created your Facebook Business Page, there are two things that need to happen in order to be successful.

  1. You need people to see your page
  2. You need something for them to see when they get there.

 

Getting People to See Your Page

The Achilles’ Heel of Facebook is visibility. Business pages only show up regularly in the Facebook feeds of people who have “Liked” the page. This creates a kind of “Catch 22” for new pages. You don’t get seen unless you’re liked, and you don’t get liked until you are seen. Ouch.

So what can you do about this? First, you will be able to ask all of your personal Facebook friends to “Like” your new business page. Click on the link that says “Invite your friends to like this page”. That should get your personal friends  connected to your business.

Of course that’s not why you created a business page, but it helps lend credibility to your page if it already has some “Likes”. Getting “Likes” is almost certainly going to require some paid advertising on Facebook. This is neither as difficult, or expensive as it may sound though.

Facebook offers what is probably the most detailed and granular advertising tools for small organizations available anywhere. You can set your daily budget to be any size you want, even just a few dollars at first to test the waters. You can also set your campaign to run for a day or two, or for as long as you want. Facebook also allows you to target your ad to extremely precise demographics. Want to target only women between the ages of 35 and 49 who have expressed an interest in natural health products? You can do that.

Remember, your immediate goal here is not to close sales. It’s simply to get the right people to visit and “Like” your Facebook page.

Posting to Facebook

Once people begin visiting your page, there needs to be something there for them to read and see. Once again, a quick reminder that Facebook is communications, and networking tool. If you post nothing but “hard sell” messages, it won’t be long before people start clicking on the “Unlike” button.

The key to all social media posting is to provide something of value to visitors. People are visiting your page because they want to, not because they have to. Whatever you post should give them something of value. What that is will depend on what you offer. Occasionally you can offer something with financial value, like a discount coupon or code, but more often than not, people will appreciate valuable information. For example if you sell hand made handbags, an article about how they are made might be nice, Maybe even a video showing all the steps involved in creating a quality handmade handbag. If your product is high end furniture, articles and picture that show what to look for when shopping for high quality furniture might offer value. Show people how a $3000 dollar coffee table is vastly superior to a $150 coffee table.

Using LinkedIn Professionally

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is set up from the get-go to be business oriented. But there are several ways to use it well. The first, easiest, and most important, is to get an account on LinkedIn. Once you have an account (or if you have one already) it is very important to make sure you set it up completely, and keep it up to date. I cannot stress this highly enough. You MUST have a complete profile, relevant titles, headlines and taglines, a decent professional picture, and up to date info. 

You have a complete and up to date profile, now what?

LinkedIn is a social networking tool. So the next step is to start networking. Connect with all of your business connections. They will probably all be on LinkedIn already, so find them, and connect with them. LinkedIn can also be connected to your address book on Outlook or Windows or MacOS. If you have a lot of business contacts there, you should consider clicking on “Allow” when asked if you want to link your account.

What About Connecting with People you don’t Know?

Generally speaking, this practice is discouraged, and considered to be “bad form”, or worse – “spammy”. But there are exceptions. If the person is a friend of a friend, you can either ask your friend for an introduction, or send a note with your invitation. There may also be circumstances where you feel that mutual interests are so strong, that a nice introduction note will almost certainly be well received. Hopefully, you have succeeded so far by having good judgement and people skills. Use those skills on LinkedIn just as you would in “real life”.

Other Best Practices on LinkedIn

 

Posting
Just like on Facebook, you are going to want people to find something interesting to read when the visit your profile. Post updates frequently (one or twice a week is plenty). Post articles occasionally, if you enjoy writing. Every time you post an update, a little note will appear in the LinkedIn feed of your contacts. So it’s a nice, easy way to stay connected. Well written, full articles, are occasionally picked up by LinkedIn Pulse. When this happens (if it happens) literally thousands of professionals and business people will see your article, and learn about you.

Endorsements & Recommendations
LinkedIn has a skills section that you should have completed when you set up your profile. All of your contacts also have skills listed. The value of these skills has become somewhat questionable, as there is no verification scheme in place. However, I recommend that you occasionally endorse your contacts for the skills that you know they have, and send them a quick thank you note when they endorse you. It’s just another nice way to stay connected, active, and keep your name in front of your contacts.

Recommendations are a bit more work, but also have significant value. Essentially, a LinkedIn recommendation is a “Testimonial”. Be generous with yours when appropriate. Ask for them when you believe they are deserved AND will be forthcoming.

Groups
Like Facebook, LinkedIn has groups. It’s a very good idea to join a few that are relevant to your business. Posting to a group guarantees that many people with shared interests will see what you have to offer. They can also be a great way to build your personal LinkedIn contact network. Even if you don’t post new articles to your group, an occasional comment or “like” — will keep your name in front of the right people.

LinkedIn Business Pages

Like Facebook, LinkedIn offers business pages. Unlike Facebook, there is not much need for a separate business page unless your organization has many members and employees. Remember, LinkedIn is a business oriented platform already. That means that your “personal” LinkedIn account is already a “business” account. If your organization does merit a separate business page, you can set it up here.

Hopefully, I have provided enough information here for you to get started, and keep using social media for your business or organization. If you’d like some more help, or for someone to go through the process with you, contact me. I’ll be happy to help you.

Think You Don’t Need Social Media? 3 Reasons you do.

3 reasons that your business needs to use social media marketing

If I had a dollar for every entrepreneur that told me they didn’t need to do social media marketing… I’d be rich. And since I’d like to be rich, here is why the excuses don’t add up.

Excuses, Excuses, and More Excuses

  1. I have enough business already

    This is my favorite excuse. It’s my favorite because it is hard to rebuke while remaining respectful. That’s because it reveals an inadequate understanding not only of social media, but more importantly of marketing.

    Marketing is NOT the same as sales, and social media marketing is not the same as online selling. Social media marketing is a way to remain engaged with your existing clients and customers, as much (or more) as it is about “advertising” your business to the world. Social media give you an opportunity to keep providing your clients with valuable information and insights, even when they are not actively seeking your services.

    Rather than look at social media marketing strictly as a way to drum up new business, think of it as a way to give added service and benefits to your customers. Let them know that you are thinking about their well-being, and they are far more likely to think of you as more than “just the guy that services their widget-whatever every year or two.

  2. I’m too busy to deal with Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn and Instagram etc.

    I get it. You are busy. That’s good. In the scheme of dangerous assumptions that have sunk innumerable small businesses, “I’m too busy with existing customers to worry about new ones” probably ranks at number one.

    Customer acquisition is always the most expensive activity of any business, especially a sole-proprietorship, or professional practice. When your primary product is your time, time spent trying to gain new business is uncompensated. It is also necessary. So the key is finding time and then using it wisely and efficiently.

    It is easier and much more efficient to retain existing clients, and to use an ongoing and simple marketing system to load the top of your sales funnel. Social media are the perfect means of keeping current clients engaged and simultaneously generating the kind of leads that can be built on when the time comes to move them down the sales funnel.

    What’s the secret? First it’s finding and using only the social media platforms that are most likely to be relevant to your clients. Second, it’s maintaining a “steady drip” of useful nuggets into those platforms, while being diligent about responding quickly to contacts and comments. It took discipline and determination to build your business.

    It’s taken hard work and discipline to keep it going. I have total confidence that with discipline, determination, and HARDLY ANY WORK AT ALL you can maintain a social media presence that will be of value to you, your business, and your clients.

  3. I Don’t Understand the Technology

    This is actually a valid excuse, but it’s only a temporary one! The technology and the social media platforms that run on the technology can be learned. Your kids learned it. I learned it. You can learn it too.

    In fact, I am pretty passionate about helping people like you learn to use social media technologies. We’ll go as slow, or as fast, as needed. And we’ll only concentrate on the one or two platforms, that we decide together, make sense for your specific situation. No wasted time, energy, or money.

  4. Did I leave something out? Got a better excuse? Let me know!

 

Contact me today if you want some social media help, or if you just feel like challenging my assumptions!

 

Solopreneurs – Is Facebook Right for your Business?

Facebook Sign - should your nonprofit, ngo, or charitable organization be using Facebook?

If you are a solopreneur, or self-employed professional, you’ve probably considered using Facebook as a marketing tool. But is it the right tool for your business or professional practice?

Let’s start with the benefits of Facebook.

  1. Nearly everyone you know has a Facebook profile
  2. Nearly everyone you know uses Facebook daily
  3. It follows that every one that will use your services or buy your product is also on Facebook!

But does that automatically mean you should use Facebook for marketing?

Not necessarily!

Let’s dive a bit deeper. Why are people using Facebook, and what do they want and expect from this particular social media network?

  1. Communicating with family and friends
  2. Keeping up with what friends and family are doing
  3. Letting family and friends know what we are up to
  4. Managing events, inviting others to events, and responding to event invitations
  5. Entertainment; checking out interesting and/or humorous memes
  6. Watching videos
  7. Learning new things and keeping up with different kinds of news

While not completely inclusive, the above list is pretty representative. You’ll notice that only the last item on my list has any real relationship to the marketing objectives of most businesses.

We are facing a dilemma, aren’t we?

All of our potential clients are on Facebook, but most of them are not using it to learn about new products or services, or to network with business interests.

How to use Facebook to Maximum Effect

The most important aspect of using Facebook for business interests is to use the technology appropriately.

Do NOT use your personal Facebook profile for business purposes! That is a surefire way to alienate friends and family, while simultaneously over-sharing with business related contacts. Your family does not want to know more about your business than you share with them at dinner, and your business contacts and potential clients, would probably be happier if you spared them photographs of you, shirtless at the cottage with a beer in one hand and a case of empties at your feet!

Set up a Facebook Business Page!

In my humble opinion every business of every type should have a business page on Facebook. Even if we recognize that Facebook is not our ideal social media marketing platform, we should have a presence there. Essentially, Facebook has become a secondary website. Just as people expect that every serious business will have some sort of web site, people now expect that every serious business will have a Facebook business page.

A business page is strictly business. It is managed from your Facebook personal account, but is separate from it. Posts made to your business page can be set to be from you personally (which makes sense if you are your business), or from the page name, which makes sense if your business brand is not the same as your name.

It is not difficult to set up the business page, Facebook has instructions, and easy to follow prompts, for doing so. And professional help from people like me is also readily available.

You Have a Page – Now What?

Let’s start with the basic “must do” stuff. A header image, a logo image (or professional head shot). Descriptions of your products and services, and of course invitations to “Like” your page sent out to your personal Facebook contacts. Add a couple of interesting posts over the next few days, and you’re set to go.

The really big question now needs to be answered in earnest. How much effort, time, and money should you spend on an ongoing basis of your business’s Facebook presence?

This takes us back to the dilemma we talked about at the beginning of this article. And here is how we are going to resolve the dilemma. We will ask ourselves the following two questions:

  1. Who is my ideal client?
  2. Is my ideal client likely to be responsive to my business interests via Facebook?

The concept of an “ideal client” is fundamental to all marketing efforts, whether through traditional (predigital) channels, or through contemporary digital channels like social media. Once you have a profile of your ideal client, you can answer the second question.

In broad terms, if your ideal client is an individual consumer, it’s reasonable to expect that your Facebook page is going to be very important to reaching out to them. Facebook has built its social network around individual consumers. In fact, we as individuals, are Facebook’s “product”. Facebook users are the product that Facebook sells to advertisers.

On the other hand, if your ideal client is another business—you are a B2B enterprise, Facebook is less likely to be your social media platform of choice. Keep your business page active. Check in on it from time to time. Be especially responsive to any inquiries or posts made to it, but don’t spend hours of time or thousands of dollars promoting it. Your basic presence there will probably suffice.

Your “Ideal Client” is a Consumer on Facebook

Here is where things get interesting. Once you have a Facebook business page, you can hope and pray that people will find it. Fortunately, some people will. Mostly they’ll be your friends, family, and most active customers. That’s great. But it’s clearly not enough. Those are the people that you communicate regularly with in other forums.

For your Facebook business page to be really useful, you are going to need to reach out, and that is almost certainly going to involve an advertising spend. Sure, you’ve been told that social media marketing can be done for free, and that has been the case (besides your investment in time) right up to the completion of your page setup. But since your ideal client is using Facebook, you’re going to need to find a way to be seen by them.

Fortunately this is where Facebook’s business model really shines. Because Facebook users are Facebook’s product, and because Facebook knows nearly everything about every user, it becomes exceptionally easy to be extremely granular about who will see your Facebook ads. There is literally no other advertising platform that allows such precision targeting. Is your ideal client a 35 year old single woman who is looking to be a condominium in Toronto? No problem! Target your ad to female Facebook users between the ages of 32 and 39 who have interests in real estate, condos, lofts, and home decor. Is your ideal client a 21 year old who likes to listen to live music in Oshawa? No problem. Target your ad to 19 to 25 year olds, living within 20 km of Oshawa who like local bands and dance music.

Keep at it. Stay engaged. Build your like list. And, as always, offer something of value on your Facebook page. Once you’ve managed to bring someone to your page, it is vitally important to keep that person engaged. At the end of the day you want all the time, energy, and money that you’ve invested to translate into sales, and lasting, mutually beneficial business relationships.

Want to talk about this a bit more? Contact me!

Solopreneur? 4 Reasons to Manage your own Social Media

solopreneur working from home

Soloprenuers and other self-employed professionals, like real estate agents, b2b consultants, lawyers, accountants, dentists, and ADR professionals, often feel themselves to be in a bit of a bind when it comes to social media marketing management. It can be hard to find time for social media, not every entrepreneur feels like information technology is a core competency (or necessity), and on the other hand—hiring a marketing agency to manage Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc, can be quite expensive. Too often the end result is that the solopreneur simply forgoes social media completely, or dabbles lightly just to be there.

There is Another Way!

It is possible to have a successful social media marketing strategy that any solopreneur can self-manage. The key to this lies in choosing only the social media platforms that make the most sense for your particular circumstances, and then dedicating just a few minutes every day to those platforms.

Why do it Yourself?
Here are 4 good reasons that every solopreneur should manage their own social media marketing:

  1. The first and most important reason is an unquestionable truth. Only you can be you.
    Unlike larger businesses in which the brand is represented by multiple employees and multiple stakeholders, the brand of the solopreneur is represented by the individual human being behind the brand. This also holds true for people like lawyers and accountants who may be part of a partnership, and for people like real estate agents who are working on behalf of a brokerage. Social media are for social networking. People like to interact with other people when they participate in social networks. Solopreneurs have a unique advantage over even the largest brands in this regard, and working social media as a “real person” can deliver dividends that are simply unavailable to big, impersonal, brands.
  2. It is way less expensive to manage your own social media accounts than it is to hire a marketing agency.
    On the page of this site that talks about pricing, I cite an example of a smaller marketing agency and their fees, which are also compared to the fees of their competitors. Suffice to say that typical social media management fees run to several thousand dollars every month. Hiring an employee to manage social media (even part-time) is still going to cost thousands of dollars, on an ongoing basis. And, most importantly, outsourcing social media account management, effectively kills the number one advantage that the solopreneur has when it comes to social media networking. Only you can be you.
  3. Why use a fishing net when you can simply bait a hook? There is no need to waste time, money, and energy on platforms that are not likely to yield results.
    Big corporations and their big brands pretty much need to be everywhere all of the time. Solopreneurs only need to be where their customers are. There is no point to filling your sales funnel with leads to nowhere. Learn where your ideal customers spend their social media networking time, and join them there.
  4. Get closer to your clients. Building community with stakeholders is what social media is all about. Join your customers, and potential clients, and become an important part of their online communities. At the end of the day, networking through social media is not that different than networking in the “real world”. Offer helpful advice. Be ready with solutions to problems. Ask for input, or even for help. Always remember that the people at the other end of your keyboard, are real, flesh-and-blood human beings, just like you are.

self-employed woman working on a computer

Next Steps

Now that you know why you should manage your own social media marketing, what can you do next?

  1. Choose between 1 and 3 platforms, sign up, and start posting.
  2. Be interactive and responsive to comments and inquiries.
  3. Post anything that you believe your community will appreciate from you. That means that you should NOT post only advertising slogans and sales pitches. If you would not appreciate seeing something similar from someone trying to sell to you, don’t post it.
  4. Ask for help! If you are not sure how to get started, or what platforms make the most sense for you, get help from a professional like me who can get you moving in the right direction. Yes, professional services (like your own) have to be paid for. But as you know very well, the right kind of help, from the right professional, is worth every penny.

Contact Allan Revich