Creative Combustion Blog
Marketing and branding tips for the badass small business owner.
Showing all posts from December 2011.
December 22, 2011
This is a guest post by Constant Contact GM of Social Media Mark Schmulen
In today’s highly-connected world, effective marketing is no longer about broadcasting content and promotions. Talking at your customers just doesn’t fly -- that’s the old way. Social media has changed (for the better) the way businesses connect and communicate with their customers and prospects. Consumers want more than just content; they want to get to know the people behind the brand, they want to hear from other consumers and they want to be heard and acknowledged. That means you must engage.
The tools for engaging your audience include both social media and email. It’s not a question of which channel is better; smart marketers know that both email and social media are important components to a complete marketing mix. Your customers want and expect choices. Some will prefer to connect with a brand on Facebook or Twitter; and others, through email. Engagement requires permission and to get your customers and prospects’ permission, you need to connect with them on their terms. That’s actually a good thing because email and social media go hand-in-hand. Want to really crank up your visibility and reach new customers? Leverage both channels into an integrated marketing campaign and make your emails social.
Because of the real-time nature of the newsfeed and other factors like the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm, email remains the best way to get your message heard. However, social media is certainly the best way to get your message to spread. So why not leverage the strengths of both channels? You can expand the reach of your email campaign beyond the inbox by simply sharing a link to the campaign across your social channels. Adding the “Like” and “Tweet” buttons in the body of your email will make it easy and more likely for your subscribers to share your message with their friends. Another common approach is to use a strong social call–to-action to draw your email readers to Twitter or your Facebook Page to continue the conversation. Try using email to ask your customers for feedback, invite them to share their stories or to simply ask you questions that you can respond to through Facebook or Twitter.
It’s no longer enough to just provide solid content, it has to be heard and made easy to share. Additionally, it’s not enough to just broadcast a message; you must listen and respond to your audience. These are the key factors to effective engagement marketing, and both email and social media are the tools to make it possible.
Mark Schmulen is responsible for guiding Constant Contact’s social media product strategy and external education efforts around social media marketing. He’s the former CEO of NutshellMail and a former investment banking analyst at JPMorgan Chase. Follow Mark on Twitter at @mschmulen.
[Image: Flickr user Marc Berry Reid]
December 21, 2011
You can tell a lot about someone from their profile picture. It’s the window to our social souls—that one thing that can reflect our unique personality better than anything else. When we get it right, people are unavoidably drawn to us. When we get it wrong, they usually move on to someone else without batting an eyelash. Whether you’re a small business owner, Fortune 50 corporation, or somebody who just loves talking about bacon, your profile picture defines who you are and what you’re all about in a few short seconds. Before someone reads one word of your profile, they’re going to see your picture…that is, if you even have one.
A few months back, I stumbled across Robert Caruso, CEO and Founder of BundlePost.com on Twitter (@fondalo) and I was immediately fascinated by his profile picture. At first glance, I wasn’t sure if he was an amateur superhero, aspiring boxer, or auditioning for a boy band (see above photo)—but there was just something about his phantom punch that made him stand out from other folks. Over time, it has become clear that it is a great expression of his personality and even his personal brand.
That profile picture ultimately led to a phone call. Like two Glamour Shots photographers separated at birth, the more we talked, the more we agreed. And what resulted was this handy dandy list of profile picture imperatives:
1) Always know your purpose. Your profile is often the most viewed part of your profile. As a matter of fact, studies on Facebook have shown that your profile pic is THE most clicked section of a person’s profile. To determine your purpose, you need to ask yourself a few questions...
- Do I want my social media first impression to be that of a “pitch”?
- Do I want the impression to be some logo or brand image they don’t know or even care about?
- Do I want the impression to leave them wondering WTH?
Now, if you are using social media for fun and not for business, not much of the above really matters. If you are, it matters significantly. The answers you give will reflect your true understanding of social media and how effective you wish to be using it for marketing.
2) People connect with people, not logos. We want to make connections in social media that lead to real human relationships. That is the real power of this medium. We know people hang around people like them, relate to people like them and most importantly buy from people they feel they know and like. I can’t have a relationship with your logo. I can with a person from your company.
3) Leave the Glamour Shots for somebody else. Seriously folks. I know most Realtors are the biggest offenders here, but can we be real? If you have your 1987 high school photo on your business card like many real estate agents do, you are in for it within the social graph. You’re not fooling anyone in person and you most certainly won’t in social media.
4) Let your freak flag fly. I’m borrowing this tip from Eric Boggs from Argyle Social because 1) it’s totally on point and 2) I’m a huge fan of the alliteration. Caution: your freak flag doesn’t actually have to be “freaky” at all, it just has to represent you—your unique personality and your unique style. When you get that right, your profile will be memorable and that’s really what it’s all about.
5) Don’t be afraid to mix it up a little. Your Facebook “you” should relate to your Twitter “you” but that doesn’t mean your pics have to be identical across all of your social media profiles. Sure you want them to be unified but they can still be unique. Be real, make it fun and therefore effective.
December 15, 2011
One Sharpie, the back of a padded envelope, and a few handwritten words on an invoice might be the only thing standing between a ho-hum purchase and leaving your customers smiling from ear to ear. All it takes is a few extra seconds of your time. A little bit of ink. That's all.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a blog post about a company that exceeded expectations by providing a $3.00 refund on their shipping cost. The fact that a company was willing to make the adjustment is an example of great customer service in and of itself. Not only did the refund, which was rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things, make one customer incredibly happy, it's also what brought me to order my very own 3D Doodle Pad.
And the story of great customer service continued...
When my order arrived in the mail, the first thing that brought a big smile to my face was the big smiley face which greeted me on the back of the padded envelope. A little thing. Totally unexpected. Totally memorable. Totally awesome. The perfect way to make your customers feel really good about their purchase.
When I opened the envelope, I not only found the 3D Doodle Pad (complete with my very own 3D Doodle Pad eyewear), but I also found a nice little handwritten note thanking me for my purchase. What really made it stand out was the fact that it was personalized, not mass produced to look like it was handwritten (which is becoming all too common as small businesses try to cut corners). I also loved the fact that Donnachada used an exclamation point after my name which showed a little enthusiasm and excitement for his product and ended with a squiggly line to give his note a formal close and some personality.
Delivering outstanding customer service is almost always about the little things. I'm not sure how long it took Donnachada to draw the smiley face or write the note, but I'm guessing we're talking less than 30 seconds plus a tiny amount of ink--a small investment when you want to create unforgettable customer experiences. Think about your customer service. What are some little things you can do to make them smile?
By: Shawn Graham
December 13, 2011
72% of small business owners indicated that 2011 was a good year for their company. 89% are optimistic that their company will grow in 2012. That’s according to data from the Manta SMB Wellness Index, a quarterly snapshot on the state of the small business economy.
Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, Manta surveyed 1,026 small business owners about how this year’s business environment has impacted their health and their plans for 2012.
Although 63% of respondents indicated they worked more than 40 hours per week on average in 2011, 31% still indicated they are actually happier in their personal lives—a sentiment you’ll often hear from small business owners who would rather put in longer hours working for themselves than fewer hours working for someone else (otherwise referred to as “The Man”).
So what are their Top 5 New Year’s resolutions?
- Grow the business (62%)
- Improve relationships with family & friends (25%)
- Eat healthier (11%)
- Work out more (add me to that list) (6%)
- Work less (4%)
Manta’s data provides a glimmer of hope for small business owners and our economic outlook. Here’s hoping 2012 will be a holly jolly year for small businesses.
[Image: Flickr user Kevin Dooley]
Categories: Marketing Inspiration
December 9, 2011
When we think about volunteering, we typically focus on the positive impact it can have on the lives of others and how good it makes us feel to help those in need. But the benefits of volunteering don’t stop there—getting involved in your local community can also be good for your business.
Earlier this week, I had a chance to moderate a panel on the benefits of volunteering at a HUB (host, unify, blend) event hosted by the New Pittsburgh Collaborative, Urban League Young Professionals of Greater Pittsburgh, and J’Burgh. I was joined by Ryan Mundy, safety with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Katie Whitlatch, Co-Owner of urban mommies.
During our discussion, the panelists shared examples of how their professional lives have benefited from their volunteer efforts. For Ryan, it has helped to raise awareness around his causes and community initiatives. For Katie, it has helped to generate leads for her small business. In both cases, they’ve been able to develop meaningful connections that might not have been otherwise possible.
As a small business owner, it’s often incredibly difficult to find time to be active in your community. Whenever possible, try to carve out some time to get involved. Even one hour a month can have a huge impact on those in need and just might help your business.
Categories: Marketing InspirationNext Page »
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Hall of Fame
- Visual Interest: The Rise Of Photos In Online Marketing (15 comments)
- The Golden Rule Of Successful Social Engagement (14)
- Are Business Cards On Their Way Out? (13)
- Don’t Be An SEO Chaser (12)
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- 5 Must Read Books For Small Business Owners (8)
- Using Social Media To Break Into Your Local Market (8)
- Pittsburgh Young Professionals, PodCamp Pittsburgh, And Paneling (8)
- Delivering Killer Customer Service (8)
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