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.




Thursday, October 9, 2014

Networking In All Its' Variations Great And Small



In a recent post I spoke about how unfortunate it was that one of the most powerful or all promotional tools in the form of Public Relations was so often overlooked by so many businesses that could I believe. benefit greatly from it and in the same way I know that networking in what medium you prefer has a similar capacity to further augment the existing marketing efforts of most businesses.

To this end it was interesting then that I was recently invited to a BNI networking event by Mark Wenzel the noted Principal of the Eon Financial Group who introduced me to Melinda Nash.

Apart from being the Head of this newly formed BNI Chapter, Melinda is also the Director of Integrilend Loan Solutions which is a leading business based in Kew  that provides Residential, Commercial and Asset Finance loan services for the Melbourne metropolitan area providing a huge range of finance services including refinances, new property purchases, first home buyer loans and Reverse Mortgages for senior citizens.  www.integrilend.com.au)

Melinda understood that referrals were an obviously ideal way to grow a Mortgage Broking business.  As she looked into ways to grow her business, Melinda discovered BNI (Business Network International).

During a visit to an existing chapter in Carlton it became evident that the power of this system was real. At this particular group there was already a mortgage broker in the group and given the nature of the system adopted by BNI  that allows only one position available for each business type, it was also clear that she would need to start a new group for her to be part of an BNI group.



Accordingly Melinda started this new chapter a few months back and despite the challenges involved has managed to lay the foundations for a powerful group. Currently this group has around 20 BNI applications for membership and with only around 5 to go, it is well on its way to establishing itself as Melbourne’s newest BNI Chapter at Green Acres Golf Club in Kew East.

If any businesses would like to investigate the possibility of joining forces and becoming a member they are welcome to contact Melinda on 0410 502 337 or melinda@integrilend.com.au for more information on BNI.

Whether it's with BNI or any other in person or online system, I urge everyone to review what groups are available to them and make a concerted effort to join in and contribute in a way that is mutually beneficial and satisfying.

Until next time, good luck and good marketing.
Regards,
Daniele.





Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Case For PR As Part Of Your Blended Promotional Marketing Mix

What is PR

 Public Relations (PR) or publicity as it is sometime called is one of the key pillars of Promotion and for many businesses especially small and medium sized enterprises, remains very much the missing piece for a complete promotional package.

Public Relations is complementary to but different from advertising, direct selling, sales promotion, digital media and all other forms of promotion based marketing. Specifically PR has been defined on Wikipedia as:
 
The practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public by using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment.

http://bit.ly/1ru6OVa

The Aim of PR

The aim of public relations is to positively influence or persuade the public, prospective customers, investors, the media, strategic partners, staff and any or all other stakeholders to gain, remove or maintain a certain point of view about it, its management, products and services, associations or political leanings. 

Typical PR Activities

Common activities include but are not limited to: Working directly with media outlets and providing direct content for stories or being interviewed  to provide in part or whole the basis for a journalistic  piece for that publication, written content for news and feature articles together with arranging interviews with expert spokespeople, speaking at conferences, winning industry awards, sending press releases to prominent news distribution services like AAP, who drive press release distribution
via Australia’s leading press release distribution network.

Benefits

The  key benefits for using Public Relations as part of your promotional strategy revolves around two key advantages. Namely:
1. There are no direct costs for publicity so for example if a food reviewer comes to your restaurant to review the quality of the food, it will cost you nothing.
2. Such publicity is seen generally as being independent and therefore much more reliable than say internally generated and run  content for advertising purposes.

Disadvantages

The biggest single drawback to having any form of publicity is simply that for the most part you simply have no control of it. In the example above of the restaurant reviewer you don't know if you will receive a favorable review or a poor one, with the case of AAP you send your press release out to hundreds and in some case thousands of news outlets but again you have no control as to who will and wont pick up the piece, which often amounts to a large amount of wastage in time and related costs such as content writing fees and  sending fees for news services.

What Makes A Story Attractive For PR


 News items tend to get taken up when they are newsworthy. By this I mean interesting, funny, topical, educational and generally of meaning or significance to a particular audience or group.
If your story or content meets one or more of these criteria it will have a genuine chance of being picked up and published in some of the new services you're targeting. On the other hand if it doesn't meet any of these criteria it probably wont so you will need to rewrite the PR release to make it more news worthy. For a free copy of the AAP Press Release Template you can go to:  http://bit.ly/1viehIi

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


 

 

 

 

 

 




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Seven Key Learnings The New Brownlow Medalist Can Teach Us All About Social Media Marketing

Brownlow  Night

Like millions of others I sat by the television the other night and followed closely as the Brownlow Medal count was held at the palatial Crown Casino and watched  with great admiration as the winner of the most prestigious individual award Matt Priddis accepted his prize with an amazing level of grace, humility and professionalism.Through this speech it occurred to me that several of the same factors that had propelled this rare individual to this moment of  glory are the same key principles that each brand needs to embrace to work towards gaining the same level of respect and admiration.


1. Play to your strengths

Every business will have some area or areas of expertise and excellence where they are as good or better than the opposition. Hopefully with a well thought out and updated SWOT analysis these strengths will be properly articulated and understood for your business. Know them, leverage them and always play to them. In Matt's case, his incredible in and under ball getting ability.

2. Identify areas of development and improve them

So often with awards like this one we see winners of awards with players who are gifted and seemingly have no weakness but the reality is they all do. The only difference is they acknowledge those weaknesses and actively work to consolidate that area over time.  In Matt's case, early on his disposal by foot was inconsistent and needed further refinement.

3. Be transparent and real in all your communications

People can smell a fraud a mile off so don't be one. When you speak for yourself or your brand be real at all times. Put the ego on hold and speak plainly and to the point. As a rule, people appreciate this and reward it more often than not. In Matt's case his acceptance speech was filled with a simple honesty that was clear for all to see.

4. Respect and acknowledge your rivals

In the real world few if any businesses operate in a monopolistic arena. It is important to be aware of and acknowledge the value of key competitors and the value that they offer the target market you also seek to positively influence in a sincere and genuine manner. In Matt's case, he spoke in glowing terms of the champion midfielders he has admired and tried to learn from for years citing the likes of Ablett, Judd and Selwood.

5. Persevere

Unlike other marketing functions such as sales promotion, social media marketing is a proverbial slow process which requires time, effort and patience. Greatness almost never happen overnight. If you're not prepared to do the hard yards in finding, engaging with and supporting the needs of your audience, social media is simply not for you. In Matt's case after being overlooked in four straight national drafts, he was eventually drafted in 2006 and over the course of the next eight years established himself as an A Grade midfielder and a people's champion.

6. Be humble

Modesty some would argue is not mandatory. On this you can make your own mind up but personally I prefer someone modest in victory and humble in defeat. Someone that takes accountability and never practices the art of deft deflections to the fine leg boundary. Companies that mirror this approach as an extension of the core values are universally admired and ultimately successful.          In Matt's case, a speech that resonated with a genuine modesty and almost disbelief at having achieved such a sought after prize.

7. Always look the part

Ultimately people expect to see a professional looking and well organised, functional approach to everything you do to reinforce your positioning and the value that you bring to the table should they decide to use your product or service. In Matt's case, Exhibit A: the photo above. Enough said. 

Summary

In the end every business wants to impress and positively influence both existing and potential customers alike, yet only some end up doing so. A quietly spoken young man this week etched his name in football immortality but more important showed us all in a few minutes how it's done.

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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The PEST Analysis: Providing Insight Into The Market Infuences And Dynamics


Background

As readers of this blog you know that I have always believed that the most underutilised tool in the business world is the all encompassing SWOT analysis. It is perfect for any business in any market and provides unfailing insight into both the internal processes and systems of your business as well as the external market forces that prevail outside of your business.  Recently I had a student ask me about what is the best way to assess the current and foreseeable opportunities and threats that are likely to present themselves within the next twelve months?  Enter the  PEST analysis.

                                                                  http://bit.ly/1pkgwUJ

The PEST Analysis

The PEST analysis is a structured framework of macro-environmental (external) factors, which essentially act as a feeder that facilitates a better awareness of the likely opportunities and threats that your market will present your business in the short, medium and long terms based on the current available knowledge and understanding. It is made up of four key groupings.

Political 

Political factors examines how directly and to what extent the Government (National, State or Local) intervenes either in the market your business operates in and/or within the economy. Political factors include monetary and fiscal policy, taxation levels, employment law, environmental legislation and regulation, trade policies and tariff settings.

Economic

Economic factors include various aspects that measure the state and dynamics of the economy such as the inflation rate, foreign currency exchange rates, income tax rates, the level of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the level of budget deficit or surplus.  The robustness or weakness of the key economic indicators have a direct and profound effect on the level of business optimism, levels of risk tolerance and subsequent levels in business expenditure.

Social (and Cultural)


Social factors look at the prevailing attitudes, beliefs and generally sum up the current mind set of the people within different groups that make up the community or market place. These factors include: key demographics such as age distribution and population growth rate as well as attitudinal data such as environmental attitudes, home ownership, career aspirations and immigration. Changing beliefs in these social factors affect the demand for a company's products and future products. Currently for example Australia has a Baby Boomer driven aging population that will increasing require additional levels of pharmaceuticals, medical services, retirement facilities,etc.

Technological


Technological factors as the name suggests involve any refinement or advance that occurs in the processes, automation or broad technology used by that market or industry. As the levels of sophistication and cost for technology rise in any given market, so to do the barriers to entry which protect the businesses currently within that space and deter potential rivals from entering. Broadly speaking technological advances made by any business or group within a market, drive continued research by the other players to match and surpass that business and lead to greater quality, production levels of efficiencies in production supporting a more profitable outcome.

Summary

By utilising the PEST analysis and reviewing your findings on a regular basis you will be able to ensure that you are feeding the best, most relevant and timely information into the SWOT analysis as the basis for robust and reliable long term, strategic and short term, tactical decision making for your business.

Naturally to discuss any of the marketing and social media discussions raised here, please come along to any of the Free Digital Enterprise Workshops and sign up for a Free Four hour coaching session for your business at: http://www.vecci.org.au/business-solutions/digital-enterprise-program
Hope to see you there.

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

Saturday, September 13, 2014

LinkedIn Publishing Soon To Be Available To All LinkedIn Users

Background

In a recent post I mentioned that LinkedIn were trialling their new blogging feature LinkedIn Long Form Publishing on their site with a highly select group of only 20,000 key opinion leaders and influencers. The likes of Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Michael Cuban have been writing updates and posting on a regular basis to incredible numbers of readers.


So What Has Changed

Since that original introductory phase LinkedIn have revealed that this highly desirable feature will be systematically rolled out to all users in the next few months and will therefore be able to be used by anyone who is an active member of the LinkedIn platform. The potential for all members is extraordinary to direct and amplify a message or piece of work.


The Numbers Behind LinkedIn

LinkedIn  currently has over 300,000,000 members and operates in over 200 countries and territories globally in over twenty languages, making it unequivocally the number one professional business networking site in the world bar none. True some other sites are larger but those sites are for the most part social sites where many of the members have no interest in business, where as here with LinkedIn virtually the entire group is actively involved in business, networking or some form of lead generation.

How LinkedIn Publishing Works

Eventually we will all be seeing the same pen icon in the top right hand corner of our LinkedIn screens. When you see and click on this button the publishing input area as per picture below will open up with a brief set of explanatory slides to guide you with your first post.



This is a tremendous opportunity todemonstrate your knowledge, skills and experience and in so doing position yourself as an expert in your field and be able to build your reputation within your field. I think many people were disappointed when LinkedIn removed the Answers Feature some time ago which essentially allowed people to do much the same thing. So at least this new feature replaces Answers with the added advantage of being able to further amplify the message to a much greater extent than before.

After you post an update with LinkedIn Publishing, it will be added to your profile each time and from there you can share it with your own network, where your network members and followers are then able to share it both on and off LinkedIn. At any stage you will be able to check the internal analytics page to see how widely distributed the post is being shared. As well this content will be searchable both on and off LinkedIn for greater access so as always make sure you try to always optimise your content with the right key words and phrases.

Naturally for more information on anything LinkedIn, Social or digital media marketing you should
go to the:  VECCI website on:
http://www.vecci.org.au/business-solutions/digital-enterprise-program/workshops
Here you will be able to sign up for any of the seven free two hour workshops and automatically qualify for a free four hour coaching session for your business.

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


Monday, September 1, 2014

Cost Plus Pricing May Be The Preferred Method For Small Business But It's Filled With Risk

Pricing Is One Of the Four P's

Unashamedly this blog focuses most of its efforts on Promotion, Product and Place. Namely the 3 P's that costs the business money. Rarely if ever have we spoken about the equally important fourth P: namely Pricing which is coincidentally the only one of the four P's that earns the Business revenue so let's change that and have a discussion now.

                                                Image from:  http://www.trinityp3.com/2013/01/value-based-pricing

In truth I have been getting this same question for a while as to what is cost -plus costing, what are the pros and cons and how effective is it as a means of being able to set effective price levels for your business.

What Is Cost Plus Pricing


As the name suggests Cost - Plus Pricing is when you buy an item and you add some additional amount either in dollar terms or as a percentage of the cost price to calculate the sales price to plan to sell the item for.

How Is It Calculated

So for example if you buy a pen for cents a unit you might say we want to add fifty cents to the cost price and sell it for one dollar a pen, where this additional fifty cents will cover our additional costs and profit margin.

Perhaps a slightly more qualified example may be a s business that sells pizzas.
They know that it costs them $5 to make the pizza
They believe that they can sell 10,000 a year (or 27 a day).
They also project that their  operating costs for the year will be $100,000

There for the total cost of the pizza will be:

$100,000/ 10,000 =  $10 indirect cost per pizza plus $5 cost of cost of goods per pizza = $15/pizza.

Now they may wish to earn 25% profit on every pizza sold so the sales price would be:
$15 + $5 = $20 sales price per pizza.

Based on this the business would earn: $200,000 (i.e: 10,000 pizza sold at $10).

Pros and Cons Of The Cost Plus Pricing Strategy

Put simply the greatest argument that anyone can make for Cost - Plus pricing is it's simplicity.
You merely add or multiply the cost of the good by some nominated amount or percentage and you have your sales price. Simplicity itself.

However the negatives are I believe more compelling.  When you use this method you are assuming that your target market are willing and able to purchase your goods at the price you have come up with. But what if they are not able or willing to do it? In that case the product simply does not sell.

 The Best Use 

In the end based on the inherent drawback, the best use for Cost - Plus pricing is not to set prices purse, but rather to determine if  that market based on the current pricing levels and market dynamics is one you should be in or trying to get into. Many times this analysis will be proof you should just walk away and pick another market to go into business.

It is worth remembering also that at the end of the day any product or service is only ever worth what someone else is willing to offer you for it. Not what it's worth or what you paid for it, but only what they are willing to pay.

 And of course for more information on Pricing or anything else in marketing or digital media sign up for any of the seven free Digital Enterprise Program workshops and receive your free four hour coaching session for your business at:
http://www.vecci.org.au/business-solutions/digital-enterprise-program/workshops


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