Monday, November 24, 2014

Why Do I Need Social Media When I Already Have A Quality Website


Background

A question that comes up a lot during my discussions with clients that have worked for years to design, build, populate, test, refine and measure their website is understandably, 'why do I even need all these social media platforms when I finally have a good looking, modern, fully functional website that is as good or better than most of my rivals in my chosen market space? Frankly it's a great question. The answer to the question is yes do need the other social media platforms as well as a current, functional and fully responsive website. Let me try to explain why.




                                                               https://verticalmarketingnetwork.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/traffic-website-brands-lead-photo.jpg

Attitudes

To fully understand the reasons why you need both a modern website as well as a strategic array of relevant and mutually supportive social media platforms as part of a combined digital media system, you need to fully appreciate the prevailing attitudes people have. Basically they view websites as corporate which they are. They are owned, run and populated by the business and there function is largely if not in some cases, exclusively to sell products and services.
That's actually not an issue. People know this and they are becoming increasingly more comfortable to go there to make their various purchases at the right time. Social media on the other hand is largely seen as the opposite to a website. People don't want to be sold on social media and in fact a recent report showed that over 80% of people on Facebook resented being sold to by businesses. It's simply not about business or selling. It's all about engagement, discussion, community building, problem sharing, insight generation and so on. As the name says: Social Media. Both very valid reasons for being but both very different. Now over time things may change but for now at least as marketers, we need to be aware of this and respect these views.

Behaviours

So how does this translate into action when the average person on the web is concerned? Put simply individuals get their information from social media and discuss it with and through their respective networks (with the average internet user belongs to three separate networks with around 140 to 170 users per network), until they have made a decision about what they are going to do with respect to that issue, challenge, required purchase or necessary action in general. Once they have made that decision they will then go to the website of the business they have identified as the best option for their needs. It is now believed that around 85% of consumers adhere to this principle.

Final Analysis

In the final analysis what all this really means is that the majority of people will make their minds up away from corporate website and only when they are confident that they have made the right decision will they then approach the site and transact online. I am sure that in some case some individuals may even go the website earlier to pull off some key information that they will use as part of their decision making process but it will rarely be a case of show me something on the site with a 20% off tag on it that will get the job done anymore. Customers and prospects alike are becoming much savvier, well informed and equipped to find and leverage the best deals online and with the ongoing success of aggregator, are perfectly placed to find and receive the best value with each purchase. As marketers it is a simple matter then of setting up these external social media sites and engaging with people there to ultimately have them come to your site to buy. That is why you need both a good website and social media to succeed in today's multimedia market space.

As always if you'd like to learn more about any aspect of social media just sign up for  a free Digital Enterprise Workshop here on:  www.vecci.org.au/dep/workshops
and sign up for any of the seven free workshops which will also qualify you for a free four hour coaching session specifically focused on your business needs. 

So until next time, good luck and good marketing.
Regards,
Daniele.

Monday, November 17, 2014

LinkedIn: Five Must Do’s To Drive Your Success

Really Only Five

It seems unusual to be able to call this blog post: Five Must Dos To Drive Your Success because I can think of at least fifty tips that would be worthy of being on such a list and perhaps even before mentioning them we can begin by saying that LinkedIn's potential is best highlighted by the fact that you can literally have ten lists of five great tips, and it would be one person's opinion against another as to which list is better. But for what it's worth here is one list that I hope will help position, promote and ultimately drive your LinkedIn business further.


 1. Complete your profile 100%

LinkedIn keeps a careful eye how complete your profile is at any given point. Ideally your aim should be to totally complete your LinkedIn profile. Within this, you should include all your past and present work history, a summary of all the key professional skills you have, detailed information about which qualifications you have and the educational institutions you have attended to receive those qualifications. LinkedIn will suggest to you what else you need to further fill out your personal profile to get it to 100% and All Star status.

2. Post a professional image of you in your profile

On Twitter and some other more playful platforms you can have a casual photo or even animated avatar but not on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the preeminent white collar, professional networking site in the world and positions itself as a serious site for serious people. Not surprisingly then, a serious shot of you adds to your credibility and makes your profile look more professional and in keeping with the tenor of the site so remember to only use a high resolution and professional image. This is defined as a head and shoulders portrait of you or something in a serious pose that may come from the work setting such as giving a presentation. 

3. Continue to drive quality new contacts within your network.

And in keeping with this third point, never be lazy enough to use the default invitation as it’s cold and impersonal and shows you have put absolutely no thought or effort into approaching someone that you want to add to your LinkedIn network. Alternatively if you can do some due diligence and add what you have learned into your note asking for them to join with you, not only will you have a far greater chance of success but it will also position you as someone that has taken the time and effort to find out more and by extension someone worthy of greater consideration and respect.

4.  Complete your specialisations

Specialisations should answer the question- what makes you unique from everyone else.  Now with well over three hundred million active users on LinkedIn, it is becoming increasingly important to differentiate yourself from others that may have a similar background to you with comparable qualifications, skill sets and documented professional experiences. One way to highlight this difference between yourself and others is to take extra time to fully flesh out this section that explores additional skills and abilities you developed over the journey that may not necessarily be typical or common within the various role you have undertaken in your career.

5.   Join a group

Join key groups on LinkedIn is a wonderful way to meet and connect with large numbers of people that may be members of your ideal target audience and by inference, key prospects for your business.  AS well as customers and prospects, you also have a real opportunity to meet other businesses that may be complimentary to yours where there is the potential to form strategic alliances as well as meting businesses that operate either before or after you in the distribution channel, where you may supply them or visa-versa.  It goes without saying that as well as joining existing groups you can also start your own group and try to act as a key opinion leader in your field.

Take Action

Regardless of  which steps you decide are most important for you in your current situation on LinkedIn, the key is to take action. Start now and even if you commit to only one of these a day you will have done all five within a week of starting which will surely start to drive high levels of engagement and potentially business development for you and your business brand.

As always if you'd like to learn more about LinkedIn or any of the key social media platforms, just sign up for  a free Digital Enterprise Workshop here on:  www.vecci.org.au/dep/workshops
and sigh up for any of the seven workshops which will also qualify you for a free four hour coaching session specifically focused on your business needs.  

So until next time, good luck and good marketing.
Regards,
Daniele.




Thursday, November 13, 2014

More Proof That Pinterest Needs TO Be Part Of Your Digital Media Marketing Strategy

Four Years

As many of you will already know I have been a strong advocate for Pinterest over the last years and have consistently included it in virtually any discussion on social or digital media in virtually all the presentations I give ranging from the Federally Funded, Digital Enterprise Program to my own monthly podcast business series, Dan&Matt.com.


Validation

Consequently it's pleasing to occasionally find some independent validation of the growth, utility and overall effectiveness that Pinterest provides both its business members and users alike and in particular I spotted this infographic above through White Gloves Social Media that encapsulates seven key points that ironically I have been touting as well.
Of the information provided I don't think anything is more important than the first point made that Pinterest is the fastest growing website in history at an incredible 40% faster than Facebook at the same stage in its development. Certainly Facebook is still significantly larger but has had at least a seven year head start to build that sizable lead.
Inevitably I get asked about which of these two sites is better to promote a specific product or business brand or whether they are both outmatched by a professional looking blog. To answer this you need to understand that it's not about size or the rate of growth although both of those dimensions are important considerations, but rather about the central and different function of these platforms.

Blended Learning Appeals to All

We know from our understanding of learning styles that people are largely visual and are stimulated and greatly engaged by quality pictures that can then be used to gain attention and interest. From this starting point they want to generally find out more about the item they are admiring and ultimately discuss their findings with other members of their trusted inner circle of friends and colleagues.

Now if that sounds reasonable then by now you are also thinking that sounds like a smooth and logical progression that moves from Pinterest to a Blog and then on to a Business Page on Facebook.
And if you thought that you'd be right because each of the three platforms has an important function in the process of how people find, learn about and consolidate their understanding about things so what it really means is that all three are vital to a fully functional and cohesive social media marketing strategy.

Digital Enterprise Program

For more information on all things social or digital media please go to the Digital Enterprise Program link and book in your next free workshop: 
http://www.vecci.org.au/business-solutions/digital-enterprise-program/workshops

So until next time, good luck and good marketing.

Regards,
Daniele.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Segmentation: Another Great Example From A Budding Young Business



Through my ongoing association with the Digital Enterprise Program I have this week found another wonderful example of a clever and strategic example of SME segmentation , in the form of an impressive young business in: Leaf, Root & Fruit.


 Now you may be hard pressed to think of any markets that are more saturated, operating in a highly competitive  market space with a fairly homogeneous product offering with little perceived difference between players and the existence of key major players in Bunnings and others.

D
espite this careful market mapping and segmentation has lead the Leaf, Root and Fruit brand to differentiate, position and target a highly significant and yet largely untapped segment of the market.


In broad terms, Leaf, Root & Fruit is a Gardening Business recently set up by forward thinking principal, Duncan Cocking with the expressed purpose of assisting people to grow their own food. Committed to reducing the impact of modern living on the environment, Duncan actively promotes a sustainable and organic approach to gardening.

His core belief is that having your own edible garden provides you with fruit, veggies and herbs that are tastier, healthier and better quality than what’s on offer at your local supermarket.

Leaf, Root & Fruit offers gardening services to support food production in front and backyards, veggie patches, balconies and courtyard gardens all over Melbourne.


One of the brilliant insights through careful market segmentation Duncan has made is to provide support to anyone with mobility issues, enabling them to get back into the garden and rediscover their passion for gardening through the use of raised garden beds. In this way he is able to tailor make  individually designed, elevated cypress sleeper veggie garden beds that allow comfortable gardening, whilst standing or sitting as required for people of ages.  


With no need for chemical treatment, cypress is the safest and most sustainable option to use in the veggie patch, whilst combining this offering with a wide range of allied services such as workshops, vegetable patch planting and garden maintenance services.


The name Leaf, Root & Fruit came directly from the Philosophy of Edible Gardening that Duncan has developed. The philosophy is simple. Leafy greens are the easiest to grow and anyone can do it. Fruits are more of a commitment, they take a long time to get to harvest and have more complex growing requirements. Roots are somewhere in the middle, in terms of complexity and commitment.
 

The company logo is cleverly colour coded with a traffic light system to reinforce the message. In keeping with his belief, that everyone should be able to grow their own food, Duncan provides ongoing support and has set up an impressive array of complimentary value adding social media platforms  including his blog as well as Facebook and Pinterest.

He encourages the Leaf, Root & Fruit gardening community to take an active role within the group:  by clicking on:
http://www.leafrootfruit.com.au/edible-gardening-philosophy/
and ask questions about gardening, as well as sharing  ideas, discoveries and experiences through the social media platforms. To get more information on the numerous exciting products and services offered by Duncan and Leaf, Root and Fruit, simply click on: http://www.leafrootfruit.com.au/about
A wonderful example of an SME that has put the hard yards in early and has laid the strategic groundwork for great future success. And until next time, good luck and good marketing.
Regards,
Daniele.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Call To Action. The Most Important Thing You Need To Do On All Social Media

The Worst Mistake

I was lucky enough this week to be able to spend some time in the beautiful rural setting of Horsham where I presented some workshops on Social Media and related digital media and marketing practices. Through the day I was asked about what I thought the worst mistake you can make on social media might be. 

Now I see a lot of poor decision making in general in my travels but with the possible example of being dishonest and intentionally misrepresenting yourself which I don't believe any serious business does these days, I believe the biggest faux pas that I see consistently in the digital space is the consistent lack of an effective, short sharp and simple call to action at the end of every interaction with your audience on every social media platform you use to promote your business or organisation.

 


Rationale

Perhaps it is that the function of the Call to Action is so obvious that we often forget to put it in but regardless of why it is important to fully understand what it does. Basically the Call to action answers the question 'what next'.  Specifically what is it that you want that individual to do now that have finished with the piece of content they have just finished reading, looking through, watching, etc. and you now require them to go onto the next step.  Now in the ideal world it would be nice to think that everyone engaging with your content would intuitively know what to do and how to do it next. Experience of course shows clearly that they won't always know how to so the simple solution is to tell them simply and clearly by way of short, sharp calls to action.

Types of Calls to Action

As you might expect there are a plethora of popular, proven and appropriate calls to action that will work for any conceivable situation on social media. From a structural point of view it always helps to combine what is needed with what will happen when they do that.

For example:

  • Click here to download
  • Press to sign up free
  • Insert code to get a 30% discount on price
  •  Subscribe now by clicking here

In every case the  person receives a single clear instruction that provides the required action and the immediate benefit that answers the all important question of: what's in it for me or WIIFM as the marketers like to refer to it. This is a critical thing to consider as regardless of your market or segment or product offering, everyone out there today in the Google age where we have been conditioned over several years to want and receive additional value frequently, will be looking to get the same from you with minimal effort in the process.

Format

In more recent times as the appreciation for the role of the Call to Action has grown, more attractive and aesthetically appealing formats have become available to use so that it is generally no longer just a few words of content turned into a hyperlink, but more likely to be a stylish button whose size, colour and shape support the other design elements of your web or social media page and as such further support the branding on that page. Buttons like these shown below from Max Buttons are typical of what you can use and adapt on your own corporate website or social media web pages:



 Summary

In the final analysis it is an important strategic function to map out what you are trying to achieve at each customer touch point and by extension what the next step beyond that will be so map it all out first and then check that you have provided all the necessary instruction by way of a well thought out and straightforward series of Calls to Action for your digital audience.

So if you'd like to learn more about PR or any other form of marketing or social media marketing  just sign up for a free workshop through the Digital Enterprise and there you will qualify to earn a free four hour one on one workshop. Just book by clicking on:

www.vecci.org.au/business-solutions/digital-enterprise-program

 So until next good, good luck and good marketing.


Regards
Daniele - See more at: http://roadscholarsmarketing.blogspot.com.au/#sthash.hLRVBQgv.dpuf

 Naturally if you would like to learn more about any aspect of social media marketing please feel free to sign up for any of the seven free two our workshops and earn a free four hour coaching session for your business as a reward for attending the workshop by checking out the session times and dates on:


http://www.vecci.org.au/business-solutions/digital-enterprise-program/workshops

So until next time, good luck and good marketing.
Regards,
Daniele.









So if you'd like to learn more about PR or any other form of marketing or social media marketing  just sign up for a free workshop through the Digital Enterprise and there you will qualify to earn a free four hour one on one workshop. Just book by clicking on:

www.vecci.org.au/business-solutions/digital-enterprise-program

 So until next good, good luck and good marketing.


Regards
Daniele - See more at: http://roadscholarsmarketing.blogspot.com.au/#sthash.hLRVBQgv.dpuf


So if you'd like to learn more about PR or any other form of marketing or social media marketing  just sign up for a free workshop through the Digital Enterprise and there you will qualify to earn a free four hour one on one workshop. Just book by clicking on:

www.vecci.org.au/business-solutions/digital-enterprise-program

 So until next good, good luck and good marketing.


Regards
Daniele - See more at: http://roadscholarsmarketing.blogspot.com.au/#sthash.hLRVBQgv.dpuf


Thursday, October 23, 2014

How To Add Value To Your Business


Perhaps it shouldn't surprise me that this week as I delivered two separate day long courses on Social Media marketing and Selling Skills, I was asked the same question by members of both classes. Namely what's the best way to add value to my business? Certainly this is the million dollar question that as marketers we all need to ask as the basis for meaningful differentiation.


As I've alluded to several times over the years with this blog the  key is to refer this question back to the unresolved portion of the customers need and focus on providing solutions around those.
In particular the two broad areas that yield the most benefit for businesses I believe are the ability to increase the amount of benefits customers receive whist concurrently decreasing the effort required to deal with your business. Each of these broad categories plays a huge part in the delivery of true value.

Added Benefits

Again it's easy to say that we all want to add benefits to our clients and prospects alike but how. Simply stacking on additional elements of the offering may in itself not motivate the customer because they may see little or no benefit in it. Suffice to say the more closely related these additional product offerings are to customers own need, the more they will be sought after and valued.
Key examples of added benefits include:
  • Extended warranties
  • In house training
  • Free servicing
  • 24/7 Online and /or phone technical support
  • Free placement parts under warranty

Decreased Effort

Equally as important as adding additional benefits to your product offering is the notion of reducing effort through any form of improved efficiency and /or increased convenience.  There are several examples that can be used to illustrate this area of value adding such as:
  • Extended trading hours each day or week
  • Free home delivery service
  • Free assembly service
  • More locations
  • Multiple payment options
Ultimately the aim of leading brands will be to optimise value added offerings by both adding sought after benefits whilst concurrently decreasing the effort required to buy, set up, run, maintain and ultimately dispose of the product or brand.

As a challenge then I ask every reader to examine their own key market offering and detirmine at least one additional way they plan to increase the marketability of the product by increasing value add and formally plan to make that change in as quick a timeframe as possible. In thirty years in Marketing I have consistently found that the best approach is to actively strive to offer both sides of the Value Adding equation together, rather than one or the other per-se.

For more information on marketing please purchase a copy of the critically acclaimed Marketing Works now at: http://amzn.to/1tNJYem.


So until next time, good luck and good marketing.
Regards,
Daniele.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review Sites And The Need To Build Your Online Reputation



Background

Through my work with the Law Institute and numerous individual law firms I have seen first hand the belief that so many current day service providers such as lawyers have that referrals will continue to power their business development as it has in years gone by.

There is no doubt that in years gone by a business card handed over from one person to another would essentially drive a guaranteed approach from another potential client and although most people are still happy to  provide advice when asked, most recipients of that advice will now do their due diligence on that individual or business being put forward. Enter the advent of the online review site.


How Review Sites Work

Basically these sites are a platform where customers are able to go to write independent reviews by your current clients. customers, members or subscribers. Ultimately the level of customer service, product quality and how well the business delivers on the expectations of its target market will determine whether the review are positive or otherwise.
These reviews are certainly important and form the basis for another potentially viable point of differentiation between your business and key segment rivals so complimentary review will be well received. 

What Sites Are Most Important For Your Business

Different review sites are popular within different markets. It is therefore important to research the most popular to uncover what type of reviews are most commonly submitted to that site as a function of the community that use it and therefore the markets that are most directly influenced by it.

For example Urban Spoon is widely used to source quality restaurants, cafes and eateries of any description,  Trip Advisor is a leading website to source the best value in travel and accommodation packages and Angie's List which specialises in service reviews.

Highly Rated Review Websites

There are literally dozens of specialist review sites out there that review products, services or any other conceivable market offering. This is further heightened by the fact that virtually any site can be used to capture and promote consumer reviews. Understanding this it is imperative to stress that the number one priority for any business is to provide an unfailing level of customer service and quality delivery that will be the undermining motivation for people to review you regardless of the site. So first thing's first. Get it done right every time. Then you can selectively target sites you feel are most closely aligned. Some of the better know ones include but are not limited to:

          Amazon Review
·        Angie’s List
·        Bing Places
·        Citysearch
·        Doneright.com
·        Epinions.com
·        Google+ Local / Google Places
·        Home Advisor
·        Insider Pages
·        Judy's Book
·        MerchantCircle 
      Stumble Upon
·        Trip Advisor 
      Urban Spoon
·        Yahoo! Local
·        Yellow Pages
·        Yelp!

Formulate A Review Strategy for Your Business Or Brand

On confirming which particular review sites you want to focus on the next logical step is to formalise a consistent and scalable strategy that can be adopted to harness and leverage the goodwill by creating an account on these sites for your business and filling in a comprehensive profile on the business.

It is vital that any business wanting to build a stock pile of glowing reviews needs to make it almost effortless for their clients to go to these sites and generate the favorable reviews. Tactically this could mean some simple actionable points such as:
1. Put two key site URLs on the back of your business card or a separate 'appreciation' card
2. Provide the inbound link you want people to click on to land on your preferred landing page
3. Lay out some brief steps on how do a review
4. Institutionalise the process of consistently asking satisfied customers for reviews

Despite being largely undervalued and underperformed by many businesses, review sites can be highly impactful to raise awareness and create selective demand for your business.

To learn more about review sites and all other aspects of social and digital media marketing please join us at any of the free Digital Enterprise Program workshops and automatically qualify for a free four hour coaching session to develop and hone a superior marketing strategy for your business on:

 http://www.vecci.org.au/business-solutions/digital-enterprise-program/workshops

So until next time, good luck and good marketing.
Regards,
Daniele.