Welcome to our September business eNewsletter focused on the upcoming SpiritBank DREAM BIG Talks: sales, branding and social media.
Quote of the month:
“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” – Vince Lombardi
In this Issue…
- SpiritBank Business Resource Series Panel Discussion
- 6 Incredibly Simple Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
- How To Think Outside The Box When Marketing Your Small Business
- Stuck In a Sales Slump? Here’s Your 3-Step Plan to Closing Deals Again
- 4 Ways to Use the Power of Story to Build Your Business
SpiritBank Business Resource Series Panel Discussion
Join Transworld Business Advisors of Tulsa and SpiritBank for our next Business Resource Series Event: DREAM BIG Talks!
Learn from sales, branding and social media experts in a series of shorts talks from:
Enjoy networking, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and a lively presentation at this free event.
September 14, 2017
1800 S. Baltimore, Tulsa, OK
Space is Limited. Please RSVP early to Katie Segner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (918) 295-7222.
This series brought to you by the following local partners. Our mission is to provide you with expert advice, information and resources as you need them with no sales pitch. “When our customers succeed, we succeed!”
6 Incredibly Simple Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
By Martina Stričak, Guest Writer
Even with the high usage of social media these days, there are still a lot of questions being raised about it. The most common one is probably about the whole purpose of it. And you’ve probably asked this misguided question yourself. Hey, this is not a blame game, there are no wrong questions. It’s just that purpose and benefits are plenty and pretty much obvious. The real question, however, should be about how to achieve and use their purpose for success. If you already haven’t given a thought of attending to social media, you definitely should.
If you don’t have the time or resources to manage social media, you could always use a social media management tool like DrumUp to simplify the process.
To read more about how you can simplify (and automate) social media marketing in 13 steps, refer to this post.
Yeah, But Why?
If you’re a small business it’s alright to ponder the question. But given the popularity of social media and taking into consideration of how everything is online these days it should be a no brainer. Sure, you may have a successful business without having to use social media. But, what lies beyond is just so good to miss.
This is another big topic to write on, but just for a little heads up, you’ll seriously improve your image, start creating meaningful relationships that can turn into business success stories as quick as that. Everything you do online and on social media makes you so much faster and ahead of the others than in real life.
Of course, there are a number of strategies and tips you can use for your social media marketing activities. However, a whole lot of those online are for businesses that already undertook certain activities and have been present on socials for some time now. This doesn’t mean they are forbidden to use.
However, if you’re a small business looking to get your piece of a pie in a relatively small time frame I recommend concentrating on these six:
#1 – The Magic Number Three
Social media presence is a must for any business these days, but the only way you will benefit from social media is to actually use it. Use it in a smart way, that is. That’s why picking 3 channels and turning your focus to them rather than handling 5-6 at the same time with less focus might be a great thing to do.
The reason is simple, you’re merely experimenting for now and are just making your entrance. If you attend to every social network out there, you’re just going to get lost. No matter how tempted you may be, in this case, less is definitely more.
For all of you who are at a starting point, it’s even better to go with just one social network and you can gradually work your way up. Starting with the one you’re most familiar with may be the best option.
And even if you have a lot envisioned and are can’t wait to put all the content you prepared for your social media three channels are really enough. You can even diversify your channels and see how that goes which brings me to the next point.
#2 – Divide and Conquer
You can pick the kind of content goes on each social network. What this gives you is a place for every of your diverse ideas. This way you won’t create a clutter that in the end just confuses your audience and sends a wrong message out.
For example, share all your articles and interesting reads on Facebook with a video and photography or a video of everyday office life every now and then while Twitter can be used for discussion provoking content or vice-versa. There are plenty of options and you can always think of what suits the best for you.
The idea is to use every social platform for one main activity. For the latter mentioned magic number three this is what it could look like:
Facebook – mostly sharing your own blogs and promo, activities in groups
Instagram – everyday happenings at the office and creativity
Twitter – short updates, article sharing, networking with other businesses and your followers
This will also give the focus channel for each and every follower from your target audience. We’re not saying that manipulation is what you’re seeking to use here. It’s just a good way to imagine each channel to be a group that will reflect a certain part of interest for your audience.
#3 – Sharing is Caring
Of course, social media is here to promote yourself and share your own updates but it’s also great for networking and building relationships – both with your customers and other small businesses. Your social feed should include sharing articles from other sites as well as yours, and communication with other businesses.
You should always care more about the value of the information you’re sharing rather than the source. This will keep your audience engaged and sooner or later will create some serious business contacts. Remember to stay relevant and consistent to your core work and content that goes with it, rather than losing yourself and your brand identity in the stream of non-relatable information. Consider yourself to be a grand promoter of a thing you believe in and you’re bound to make that social master level in no time.
#4 – Why So Serious?
Marketing is definitely a serious business, but social media is fun (most of the time). It’s actually a big combination of both. You should be mindful about what your headlines and content are and at the same time be fun-loving and goofy. Sharing and posting some funny updates like gifs, memes and especially emojis and using them is a great way to get attention and to spread a word. They are also a great way to encourage activity and engagement on your socials as people just love tagging and sharing fun things with their friends.
Be brave about your fun side and throw in some jokes when engaging with the audience. People just love this and a good joke won’t hurt anybody. Many brands have already made a social media success through this kind of activity. Be careful, however, your jokes should be finely tempered and well intentioned at all times.
Wendy has become an absolute hit.
It just adds to exposing your brand as a tangible and being down-to-earth, rather than having that strictly corporate and business note. You’ll definitely strike a chord with people and they’ll love you more for it. It’s all about your audience having that emotional connection with you, and happiness and fun times are the strongest ones.
#5 – Make a Claim – Kick-Start a Discussion
Don’t forget about the “social” part of social media – engaging your followers in discussions about current topics is one of the most powerful things you can do on your socials. Always seek opinions for your own products/services or even on the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Or make a connection between the two, and compare. Now, that’s where the imagination and creativity will come in handy. Using them will just spark endless comment notifications. There are lots of examples out there and you don’t have to be as extravagant. But doing something unusual and creative with which your audience can relate will come a long way.
“Activate your fans, don’t just collect them like baseball cards.” – Jay Baer, Convince & Convert
Things just don’t stop there as that number of comment you just got isn’t only a pretty accomplishment on your page. Lots of possibilities come from this kind of activity. My favorite one is that it’s an awesome way to use those conversations as future content ideas. What’s more rewarding than using the voice of your audience in creating that new content piece? It just strengthens the connection and roots your brand closer to their heart.
#6 – Don’t Forget about “Media”
Just like the social part, keep the “media” one in your plans as well. People just love multimedia, visuals, videos, gifs – you name it. Add images and videos to your daily social media schedule. If it’s funny or interesting then it’s shareable, if it’s shareable then it will attract more and more people. You should always have fresh materials in stock if you decide to use this kind of activity as people will start to expect them. Especially if they’re catchy and good.
Consider the use of live videos as well. These are just great, and again go a level deeper into connecting with the audience. It’s sharing a piece of your daily life and this is what counts and shows openness to hang and have a good time. After all, 69% of the online present companies invest in their video content so you might consider getting in on the ride. Remember to keep them interesting and not to do them for the sake of it as this will only get the people bored instead of eagerly awaiting your next creative piece.
#7 – Bonus Tip
Don’t forget or ignore the fact that the advertising through social channels is a must these days. Not just because of the lower price than through the Google Adwords, but also the fact that there are numerous options to segment and reach to your target audience.
For example, the image below shows just the top level of segmentation criteria available on Facebook Ads platform.
Many marketers would highly recommend using ads on at least one of social channels (for example Facebook as it’s the biggest one).
Advertising on social media has become so popular that most of the businesses are now using it. The idea behind it should not be aggressive selling, but doing same things you’re already doing with existing fans and audience. Except now you’re not targeting just your existing audience, but the one you’ve segmented and consider possible future customers. This is where the magic happens. You’re getting a percentage of genuinely interested and attracted people who’ll love to see what you have to offer and this is where you are using your social media’s full potential.
Read this article Drumup.com
How To Think Outside The Box When Marketing Your Small Business
By HelenJ Marketing
As a small business, chances are you don’t have access to a substantial marketing budget. But just because your budget is small, doesn’t mean you can’t gain the exposure your business needs to grow.
When you have access to any marketing budget, it’s easy to invest it into the mainstream channels including pay-per-click and paid social. Many small business owners invest in these paid channels because they feel paying for traffic is the most foolproof way to generate awareness and website visitors.
But, is there a better way to invest your marketing budget?
The short answer is yes.
There are three main things that the majority of small businesses lack: time, resources and technical know-how. So in order to address these restrictions, you need to invest your budget wisely and you need to use your time effectively.
According to Small Business four in ten small companies don’t make it to the five-year mark.
Let’s make sure you’re not one of the four!
Encourage the user to share your content
Sounds obvious, right? I’ve witnessed e-commerce stores operate like this and it works really well.
As an example, let’s say you have a free guide on offer. When the user gets to the thank you page, encourage them to share your eBook offer to unlock another piece of content. You need to offer something more enticing say a free hour consultation or an extended demo trial.
This is a great way to encourage content sharing amongst your audience. This strategy costs you nothing but your offer. It’s a great way to get your content in front of a wider audience.
Partner up with an influencer
Approaching influencers with a fantastic content idea or an ‘ask me anything’ social campaign concept can be the start of a mutually beneficial strategy. Both parties gain brand exposure.
Try approaching influencers that complement your products or services. If you pick influencers just based on their sheer number of followers, you won’t necessarily see the results you want.
The size of their social following is almost irrelevant. As long as their audience is engaged in the content the influencer shares.
Only work alongside influencers that are relevant to your audience and offer valuable insight for your audience. It was reported in the 2016 Demand Gen Report that 96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders. So this strategy is perfect for enhancing your digital presence.
Make use of free and cost-effective tools
There are so many tools on the market that will help support your small business. You just need to locate the best ones for your needs.
Some marketing tools you should check out include:
Survey your current customers
Instead of wasting your budget on paid campaigns mass-marketing to everyone, why not find out what your audience is looking for?
Surveying your current customers is free of charge, just setup a basic Survey Monkey questionnaire and find out what questions your customers came to your site with. This task is surprisingly insightful. It gives you the inside track to your customer’s purchasing journey.
Once you know what triggered their purchase with you, you can build highly-relevant campaigns. Now you know how to target them and the content they enjoy consuming, you’re onto a winning strategy.
All for free – even better!
What better way to think outside the box than to carry on learning new skills? Learning more about how to market your business using best and new practices can give you the edge over your competition.
There are many free and reliable resources online including:
Digital Garage by Google
Think with Google
Alison – Free online courses
Get everyone involved in a creative meeting
If you’re using the same marketing tactics you used last year, you’ll probably get the same results.
Going back to what you know, is easy. It’s having the courage to take a different perspective that will help your small business grow.
Get everyone in your company involved in a creative brainstorm meeting. Encourage everyone to put at least one idea forward to discuss. Just because someone works in the accounts department, for example, doesn’t mean they don’t have a fresh marketing idea.
If your team members are a little shy, introduce an incentive to get the ball rolling. Any idea, no matter how stupid it seems, is welcome.
Stale marketing will just continue to drain both your resources and budget, with little to no return.
It can be easy to follow the crowd when it comes to spending your marketing budget. But as a small business where money is tight, it’s important you do invest it wisely.
Take a step back and evaluate if what you’re currently doing is returning the results you want. And if it isn’t, it’s time to take a fresh approach to your marketing.
Be bold and experiment, it’ll pay off – promise!
Read this article RightMixMarketing.com
Stuck In a Sales Slump? Here’s Your 3-Step Plan to Closing Deals Again
By Matt Given, CEO, Intelivideo
My company was in a sales slump.
We have great technology. We have a very sellable product. We have on-point marketing. We know who our buyer is and what they’ll pay.
Yet still, the monthly sales dashboard had a lot of white space.
Understand something here: I take this personally.
I’ve been in sales most of my career. I’ve sold millions of dollars worth of stuff. I’ve probably closed thousands of deals. I’ve hired and trained hundreds of salespeople and sales managers. I’ve sold three companies.
Despite all that success, I’m not immune to the slump. So there I was. Mired. Stagnate. Dry. In a funk. Slumping.
I currently have a team of three salespeople. For my technology startup, a good month is 12-15 normal-sized deals plus a whale. As I sat there on about the 25th of the month, I was peering down at four closed deals. Four deals that I’d stretch to put in the “normal” category.
When you’re in a slump, the pipeline seems to narrow and every potential deal gets magnified. In this mode, you tend to make some unforced errors. You put too much pressure on a prospect too soon. You offer deep discounts just to ring the bell. You take on an aura of desperation that prospects lock in on. It can spiral quickly. With each turn of the calendar, the pressure mounts, until you feel the weight of the world pressing down.
When will this slump end?
In my case, it has to be heal thyself. I’m the CEO. I’m also Chief Sales Guy, VP of Motivation, and Director of It’s My Job to Turn This Ship Around.
So, I dug into my old bag of tricks.
I keep everything. Parts of my office look like a paper recycling center. Right on cue, I found a three-step session I did for a company called Slump Busting for Dummies.
Here it is for you:
1. Treat every at-bat like it’s Opening Day.
Yogi Berra, the Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees, once famously said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”
Any Major League Baseball player would tell you that the trick to getting out of slump is to ignore the idea that you’re in one. When you approach every at-bat like it’s the first at-bat of the season, you force yourself to forget that you’re hitless for the month.
The same can be said for getting out of a sales slump. Approach every day like it’s the first day of the month or quarter. Forget the recent losses. Enter the box with a clean slate and an opening day mindset. After all, like baseball, sales is 90 percent mental.
2. Little things are big things.
Instead of fixating on the blank sales scoreboard, shift your focus to the building blocks that lead to success. Many slumps can be attributed to not consistently doing these very things. Keep making the same number of daily calls. Keep your email habits solid. Get up early and stay a little later.
When I audit a sales slump, I often find just a slight wobble in the attention to these little details. It doesn’t take much. To bust out, do these little things right.
If you do the right things that lead to winning, you’ll eventually do just that.
3. Systems beat talent, every time.
My favorite little sales mantra of all time is this one: “If you do not have a successful selling system of your own, you will by default work under the buyer’s system.”
I love this concept. I also know the absence of a system wrecks more sales goals than any crafty competitor or slip in effort. A repeatable process, both before and during calls creates a disciplined approach that establishes structure.
The best salespeople I have witnessed have first been good at executing a system. Almost counterintuitively, a disciplined system allows them to be more natural. Their system allows for creativity and thought within a structure built for winning.
While mired in a slump, stick to a system you know produces wins.
We eventually pulled out of the dive. Slowly, at first, deals started happening. Then a big one came around, and then another. Getting out of a slump usually happens slowly. For us, it wasn’t a floodgate that opened back up but a trickle that turned into a stream that turned into a spring with an occasional geyser. Win after win.
Treat everyday like Opening Day. Treat little things like big things. Stick to a process you know produces wins.
This slump has no chance.
Read this article at the Inc.com
4 Ways to Use the Power of Story to Build Your Business
By Ilya Pozin, Founder, Pluto TV
Authenticity is attractive. While most people are inherently suspicious of brands, 80 percent of consumers say that authentic content can compel them to engage with a company. In a world increasingly filled with “fake news,” “alternative facts,” and a deluge of marketing messages, people yearn for what’s real. As a brand, you have the opportunity to cut through the noise and reach audiences by telling an authentic story.
Your story is far more than just a sales pitch. It’s your brand voice – the way you talk to audiences and your internal team. It’s revealed in the imagery and words you use on your website, in your store, and even in marketing collateral. Ultimately, it influences the way customers and potential customers think and talk about your brand.
Ben Horowitz, partner and co-founder of renowned VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, says, “The company story is the company strategy.” What Horowitz and many others have observed is that a brand’s success hinges on its story because that story drives everything from marketing to product development to hiring and beyond. As such, it’s critical that you get it right.
Here are four ways to do exactly that:
1. Create a cohesive brand narrative.
Whether you’re building a brand from scratch or working to reposition a brand that’s more established, your storytelling strategy must be anchored by a cohesive narrative – one that captures the essence of who you are and why you exist as a company.
Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Your brand narrative serves both as a framework for external communications and as a beacon that attracts audiences who share your values.
Of course, telling a compelling brand story isn’t easy. Fortunately, there are plenty of people who can help you do it correctly. Erin Berman, founder and brand storyteller for Blackbeard Studios, uses a multitude of tools, including industry and audience research, customer and employee interviews, and more, in an effort to help businesses build their stories. She and her team then use those brand stories as focal points for inbound marketing programs that increase lead acquisition and brand awareness.
If you’re struggling to get started, consider utilizing storytelling specialists. They’ll be able to help you measure the ROI you get from communications and optimize accordingly.
2. Share a consistent story across channels.
To achieve maximum impact, you must tell the same cohesive story across all media you use to engage with audiences. Social media is a great starting point for getting your narrative out, but it’s only the beginning.
Partnering with events or other companies that share your values and align with your brand’s purpose will allow you to reach a wider audience while further developing your narrative. For example, Red Bull and GoPro recognized that their brands share more than just common aesthetics; they share a common audience. By partnering up, the two brands have been able to offer that audience completely new experiences.
The partnership works because it’s based on common values, and it allows both brands to continue developing their unique brand stories.
3. Include your story with your product.
Product sales aren’t just a way to increase your bottom line; they’re also an opportunity for customers to become a part of your brand story. TOMS famously launched its footwear business on the premise that for every pair of shoes customers buy, the company will donate a pair to someone in need.
Seattle-based glassblowing company glassybaby has used a similar model to build its brand. Founded by Lee Rhodes in 2001 after her seven-year bout with cancer, glassybaby donates 10 percent of company revenues to charity and has given more than $6 million to more than 350 nonprofits since its inception. The glassybaby website allows customers to choose from categories such as cancer research, children’s health and wellness, and environmental health. They can see the organizations that glassybaby chooses for each charity category to help them decide where their donations go.
4. Empower your audience.
Your brand story becomes even more powerful when your customers tell it. Like product reviews or customer testimonials, user-generated content has the power to resonate with potential customers in a way that traditional marketing messages can’t.
Famous electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla is known for producing innovative automobiles, but its marketing strategy is arguably just as innovative as its products. Tesla has been able to compete with venerable companies like Ford and Toyota – which often spend millions on a single television ad – without spending a dime on traditional advertising. Instead, it relies on word of mouth and user-generated content, including some pretty phenomenal spec video ads, to reach audiences. The strategy perfectly aligns with the brand’s singular focus, which is building cars. When your brand has an authentic story, your customers will often be more than happy to share it.
Brand stories are authentic when they reflect the daily actions of your brand. You don’t just tell a brand story; you live it. The more your actions mirror your messaging, the more that messaging will resonate with audiences.
You won’t complete all of the steps above in a single day, but brands aren’t built in a day. Ideas spread over time through storytelling, and if you start with a cohesive, authentic narrative, you can begin to craft a story that people will be telling for years to come.
Read this article at the Inc.com
The views and opinions presented in this newsletter do not necessarily represent those of SpiritBank.