Creative Combustion Blog
Marketing and branding tips for the badass small business owner.
Showing all posts from March 2012.
March 28, 2012
Given how much they have in common, you’d think ecommerce and social media would go together like two peas in a pod. After all, they provide the perfect platform for bringing technology, people, and products together. But although it seems like they should be a great fit, a recent survey indicates ecommerce might not be as social as you think.
Argyle Social, a social media marketing platform that enables social publishing, customer engagement, and marketing insight, recently collected responses from 566 online retailers ranging in size from big brands to specialty sites. According to Argyle’s data, consumers and businesses alike have been slow to fully embrace social commerce.
Integrating ecommerce and social
Of those surveyed, only 17% of businesses indicated they featured a product catalogue on their Facebook fan page. Less than 30% (29% on Facebook and 23% on Twitter) offered deals exclusive to a specific social media channel. That means the vast majority of online retailers aren’t taking full advantage of their social presence and, as a result, are missing out on the opportunity to market their products to their followers.
Embracing calls to action
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to make a sale without having a clear call to action. That rule applies whether you’re writing content for your online storefront or using Twitter to generate leads. When it comes to social commerce, you absolutely must find a “socially appropriate” way to ask for the sale. Yet more than 44% of respondents indicated they never use a call to action on Facebook or Twitter.
Leveling the retail playing field
The good news for niche online retailers is that audience size doesn’t appear to be strongly correlated with revenue. In fact, Argyle’s data indicates smaller ecommerce sites often have more followers than big brands—proof that technology (in particular social media) is continuing to help close the gap between the two.
What about you?
How do you see social media changing the landscape of ecommerce going forward? And what will those changes mean for online retailers and consumers?
By: Shawn Graham
[Image: Flickr user Gavin Llewellyn]
March 27, 2012
When you think about small business marketing strategies, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? With its promises of being quick, cost effective, and the perfect platform for reaching an unlimited pool of potential customers, social media is almost always at the top of the list.
But now we’re getting to a point where every small business (and I mean every) is doing it. And even if you assume they’re not doing it that well, they’re still making it that much harder for you to stand out from the crowd. If that sounds familiar, it should—it’s the exact same thing that happened with direct mail.
Think back to the days before Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest when small businesses relied heavily on catalogs, fliers, and coupons to pitch their wares to prospective customers. Because the strategy was relatively inexpensive and allowed small business owners to reach a large number of potential customers much more efficiently than with cold calling, direct mail volume drastically increased overtime. That is, until the price of postage started to climb and recipients started to get fed up with all of the junk mail. Just like that, direct mail was put in “time out” and the shift to digital marketing was officially upon us.
After a lengthy hiatus, is it finally time for direct mail marketing to reemerge? You betcha. Try as you must, but you can’t put all of your eggs in one small business marketing basket. A well-executed direct mail campaign can drive prospective customers to take action just as effectively as any website or enewsletter.
Take for example this postcard I received from Mad Mex, a Pittsburgh-based Tex-Mex restaurant.
For starters, it just looks different. It’s obvious they spent time and money designing and printing the postcard. They incorporated their logo, unique personality, merchandise and an image from one of their locations showcasing their wide variety of beers on tap making it almost possible for you to picture yourself sitting at the bar having a drink to wash down a piece of delicious cartoon birthday cake.
With my birthday right around the corner, I can redeem the postcard for a complimentary burrito of my choosing. And because they have their direct mail process down to a science, it arrived early allowing me enough time to actually use the thing (a minor detail but one that can make or break your campaign). Of course, there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to bring a friend and that means a paying customer.
Direct mail marketing for restaurants is a no brainer. But if you’re not in the restaurant business, that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own campaign. Think about your products and services. What offer would entice potential customers to come into your store or visit your website to redeem your postcard? Don’t be afraid to experiment with a few different ideas to see what resonates best with your audience. And when you’re ready to give it a try, check out Every Door Direct Mail from the USPS.
What about you?
After its extended hiatus, do you think direct mail marketing is poised for a comeback?
By: Shawn Graham
March 20, 2012
When you think about spring cleaning, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Washing the windows? Cleaning out your garage? Pressure washing that patio furniture? Well, you can forget it. After a few months of hibernation, your website wants (needs) your attention.
So while the days start getting a little warmer and the grass starts getting a little greener, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and whip your site back into shape. Here are 5 tips for spring cleaning your small business website:
- Remove dead links and outdated info. Click through each and every page on your site, updating, editing, or removing old links and information as you go.
- Refresh your look and feel. What might have looked cutting edge two years ago might look a little tired and dated today. If you created your site using a blogging platform such as Wordpress, check out their latest themes to see if anything tickles your fancy. You can also purchase Wordpress templates from sites such as WooThemes, themeforest, and StudioPress or use them as a source for some design inspiration.
- Tighten your content. You have a finite amount of real estate to get your point across. When your paragraphs are too long, people just don’t read them. Therefore, you want to make sure every word on every page of your site has a specific purpose.
- Add your most recent customer testimonials. You want to celebrate and showcase successes. Testimonials are a great way of showing potential customers how you and/or your products and services were able to help others who are like them solve a problem.
- Replace ineffective calls to action. As you review your website content, look for opportunities to tweak your calls to action based on how well they’ve performed. If you’re not getting a lot of traction, don’t be afraid to mix things up and experiment.
According to the calendar, spring has officially sprung. For small business owners, that means putting off those household chores just a little while longer so you give your online home the love and attention it deserves. Don’t worry—I promise your windows, garage, and patio furniture can wait.
What about you?
How do you get your small business website ready for spring? If you're looking for some new ideas, let's chat.
[Image: Flickr user Jon Gilbert Leavitt]
March 13, 2012
Facebook? Friends and family? Those professional sign spinners you see on the side of the road? If you had to pick the one source that gives small business owners the biggest boost, what would it be?
Although it’s super easy to get swept up by the latest and greatest social platforms and niche networks (yes I’m talking about you Pinterest), according to a new study of over 1,000 small businesses conducted by Manta, there’s still no better substitute for growing your business than one time-tested method.
More than half of respondents (55%) indicated customer referrals as the primary source for new leads--trumping social networking sites, meeting people at events, and connections from friends and family. Similarly, 56% of those polled say they base their decision to use a new vendor or work with a new business partner on recommendations from people they know.
When a customer recommends your business to someone they know they’re giving you a personal stamp of approval and that’s worth way more than any amount of advertising you could buy. Yet 22% of respondents indicated they hadn’t asked for a recommendation and that means a real missed opportunity given the important role they play in the buying process.
Whether you’re looking to grow your customer base or trying to find a new vendor or business partner, referrals are likely to play a huge role. As such, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to spread the love on your behalf. Create an area on your website for collecting and showcasing feedback and testimonials. Ask your customers to share their stories. By doing so, you’re helping to build credibility and buyer trust.
What about you?
How important are referrals to your small business?
March 9, 2012
Pinterest. Instagram. Foursquare. Tumblr. Every time a new network sprouts up, many small business owners are left scrambling to figure out where they should dedicate their time and marketing dollars.
Although it can be tempting to jump onboard what you think is going to be “next big thing,” unless your target customers are active on that particular network and you have meaningful content to share that will resonate with your audience, it might not be the best fit.
To help companies figure out which networks might the best fit Argyle Social, a data-driven social media marketing software company, recently held a webinar on “Nailing Niche Networks.”
If you’re a small business owner and you’ve been wondering how to decide which network (s) to focus on, you’ll definitely want to check this one out.
Get Free Marketing Tips
Sign up to receive your very own small business nuggets, specially hand crafted and delivered fresh to your inbox.
Get the freshest content from Shawn’s Blog via RSS
May 14, 20138 Tips for Meeting Your Next Customer
May 8, 2013Join Me At The Entrepreneur’s Growth Conference Pittsburgh
May 2, 20135 Highly Effective Email Newsletter Examples
April 18, 2013[Survey] Small Businesses Struggle with Facebook
April 17, 2013What Should Be On A Business Card For Small Businesses
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)
- Using Holiday Cards To Deepen Customer Relationships (10)
- Is Going Viral An Effective Marketing Tactic? (10)
- 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)
Tech Time Warp of the Week: Apple's (Other) 1984 Advertising Masterpiece http://t.co/dlXuuQ25jA about 1 hour, 2 minutes ago
@ReginaTwine I think NC State should include proximity to Snoopy's in their job descriptions. It's that awesome. about 12 hours, 41 minutes ago
@LindseySmithHHC You got it! about 13 hours, 49 minutes ago
My Fast Company Blog
Creative fuel for intrapreneurs and chronic idea generators
- The Telecommuting Genie Isn't Going Back In The Bottle; Here's How To Strengthen Its Magic
- Why Invasive Marketing Will Come Back To Bite You
- Managing Customer Service In The Age Of Instant Gratification
- 5 Smart Sources For Finding The Best Startup Talent
- The Key To Successful Cross-Channel Marketing
Sites I Like
- Get Your Own Badass Business Cards @Moo
- Build Ecommerce Stores That Exude Badassery @Shopify
- Make Your Phone System Simply Badass @Grasshopper
- Manage Your Social Media Badassery @Argyle Social
- Brand Marketing
- Customer Engagement
- Email Marketing
- Lead Capture
- Marketing Inspiration
- Marketing Strategy
- Social Media Marketing
- Website Design
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- November 2010