Tag Archives: small business marketing

Building a community of followers

Building followers and building community are not the same thing. You can have thousands of followers that are uninvolved and don’t check your page – or have a dozen that comment on every post and check your page religiously. Ideally you’ll have both – thousands of active and involved individuals. So, how do you get there?

Building followers: You don’t want to be talking to yourself, so the first step is to get followers. There’s no magic bullet to getting followers. It just takes actively working on it. The first and most obvious thing you should do is ask your friends, customers, family, etc to “like” or “follow” you. Hopefully this will get you started with at least a hundred people following you. From there, you’ll want to continue ask people as you get new customers and friends. You also could consider running a campaign to get more followers. Many businesses have done this quite successfully. For example, some businesses will have coupons but you can only see them if you like their page on Facebook. Another business I am familiar with offered a steep discount to the person who got them the most likes on Facebook. You could also have some sort of competition to incentive people to post about you. For example, have a prize for the best answer to “If our business was an animal, what type of animal would it be and why?” Then people would have to answer it linking your name on Facebook – which then puts you in front of all their friends.Lastly, you could consider purchasing a Facebook ad asking people to like you for coupons, etc.

Building community: Having an active group of followers is ideal for any business. Not only are they frequently posting on your page, responding to your posts, and posting about you – they are also loyal to your brand. By them posting about you/on your page, they are getting your name out there in front of their friends – basically doing marketing for you. Getting that active community is the tough part. There are two essential components: 1) Frequency 2) Content.

Just like blogging, you want to update social media frequently. For Facebook, you’d ideally be posting stuff daily – if not a few times a day. What can you post about? Lots of things. For example, your blog posts, pictures of customers at your business, pictures of new products, articles relevant to your business/customers, polls/questions for customers, contests, funny jokes/pictures relevant to your business, trivia, etc. With many of these things, you can use them to build your followers. For example, when you ask customers a question/poll you can also ask your friends on Facebook to answer it (there’s a button for it) and it will show up on the page of anyone that answers it. The nature of your content will also determine whether your community is active. If you just post an article link, it won’t inspire participation. But if you post an article link, share some thoughts on it, and ask others what they think – then you might get some comments. Similarly, running contests, polls and trivia will also get people to comment. The key is not doing these things just once a week – you should do something daily that encourages people to comment. Obviously you shouldn’t ask a trivia question every single day – but asking one a couple times a week – or at least once a week “Trivia Thursday” will help build commentary. If you post interesting, comment inspiring stuff frequently, it will help pave the path to an active community.

Wondering about social media for your business? Check out 30 days to Becoming an Entrepreneur: Promoting your business through social media

Photo Credit: Picrazy

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30 days to Becoming an Entrepreneur: Promoting your business through social media

Every business should include social media in their marketing strategy. Social media can be a valuable tool to promote your business. It can help you create a community that people enjoy being a part of and want to participate in. There are many options for social media ranging from YouTube to Facebook, Twitter to blogging. You need to figure out what will be the best fit for your business.

For small businesses, I think Facebook and Blogging are the best options to consider when you first start. While tons of people are on Twitter, it just isn’t a good fit in my opinion for small businesses. YouTube can be a good fit for advertising – but it could be a costly endeavor unless you or someone you know has some skills in video making. Blogging is a great fit for some businesses – but not all. We have blogs for both The Woof Room and Deckci Decor. The Woof Room’s blog focuses on highlighting dogs that visit us, promoting dog events, and providing dog tips and advice. It helps create a community with our clients providing them with useful information and featuring their dog. We’ve had many clients comment to us that they love reading about all the dogs that visit us. Our blog is also helpful in providing a forum for us to explain changes in our policies and pricing. Deckci’s blog provides wedding tips and advice, and features pictures from the events we do each weekend. Since weddings are a one day event that people invest significant time and money in planning, clients want to feel confident that we know what we are doing and can provide what they need. The blog satisfies this as they see that we do many events each weekend and are able to see our work.

Facebook is the best all-around option for a new business. It can be used similarly to a blog by providing pictures, updates, and information – but allows you to get in front of people daily. Facebook can be used to run promotions to get more likes – and do polls of clients. While it does take time to manage, it’s a free service. We have a Facebook page for The Woof Room – but haven’t focused on it for Deckci yet. For The Woof Room we have linked our blog to Facebook so that anytime we write a blog post, it automatically gets posted to Facebook. We also will add random pictures of dogs in daycare, run contests, or ask clients questions. We have found Facebook to be very useful in reaching our clients.

The most important thing to remember about social media, and specifically about Facebook and blogging, is that you need to be active. Do let weeks or months go by between postings. If you want to build your community and raise awareness about your business, you need to be active in promoting it!

Next, 30 days to Becoming an Entrepreneur: My biggest regrets

Photo Credit: Gee Ranasinha

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30 days to Becoming an Entrepreneur: Developing a marketing strategy – ideas for getting the word out

How do you get people in the door when you open? As a new business, the plethora of advertising and marketing opportunities will amaze you. Advertising is everywhere. There are two strategies you’ll be focusing on:

Advertising

As a new business, you’ll likely have a small budget for advertising so it is especially important you use those dollars wisely. In my opinion, most traditional forms of advertising won’t give you as good of a return on investment. TV, newspaper, and magazine ads are costly – skip these in the early stages. I’d recommend you focus your advertising on three areas:

1) Online. I have had success purchasing advertising from Google and Facebook. They are pay per click – so you only pay if someone actually clicks on your ad and views your website. For a new business, this is perfect because you only pay for people that actually look at your ad and are interested enough to click on it to see your website. Google is much more expensive than Facebook – but for a reason. You can use Google to purchase advertising so that anytime someone types the key works you select your ad will come up in the sidebar or the top of the page. You can also put caps on how much you spend, so once you hit your budget maximum they just stop showing your ad. With The Woof Room we did this when we first opened, we wanted our ad (we had a coupon in our ad) to come up for anyone searching things like “dog boarding,” “dog daycare,” etc.

2) Related venues. Advertise in targeted locations. For example, we bought dog poop bags with our information on them and put them at all the local dog parks. Know your market and target it directly for advertising.

3) Daily deal site. Groupon, Crowdcut, LivingSocial, etc are all options for getting new clients.

Referrals

Word of mouth and customer referrals will be one of the most important – and sustainable ways to advertise your business. There are two ways you can build referrals to your business:

1) Customer referral program. Customers that love your business will tell others about your services/products. Oftentimes though, people don’t even think about it until they are asked. Turn your customers into proactive referrers by creating a customer incentive program. Give them a reward – and the person they refer a reward – once that person has purchased anything. We created a referral program at The Woof Room and it has been helpful in bringing in new clients.

2) Partnerships. Create partnerships with similar businesses and nonprofits. Help them whenever possible. With Deckci Decor we have several partnerships with event venues where they refer us to their clients and have us listed on their website. At The Woof Room, we partner with several local rescues and provide free daycare and boarding for dogs without a home.

Next, 30 days to Becoming an Entrepreneur: Daily deal site – is it worth it?

Photo Credit: Mark Smickilas

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