Picture
Social Media Explorer recently wrote "How to Get Started with Visual Content Marketing" and lists visual content marketing tools to create compelling visual content. 

Check out their tips and the great tools for creating effective visuals on the go or on the desktop, no designer required!

 
 
Picture
Many small businesses do not have a marketing plan and are operating in a reactive way with their marketing activities. 

Proper planning is key so be sure to put pen to paper and identify your goals. It doesn't have to be complicated, but once you have your plan in place, you can take a better look at your business and how to make it stand out from the rest. 

Some items to have on your plan outline:
  • Who is your target market? Do you have one or many different audiences? Prioritize them.
  • Where do they get their information? Poll your customers and find out where they go on and offline to get business information.
  • Who are your competitors? What are their marketing activities? What sets you apart from them? Create a competitive analysis and track their activity online with Google Alerts.
  • What are your goals? Is it to renew previous customer business or attract new customers? Have a strategy for current/past customers as well as prospects.
  • What is your budget? What funds do you have available?
  • What resources do you have? Do you have marketing staff or do you need to outsource? 
  • How will you measure your marketing? Put some targets in place and be sure to follow up and do a review every few months.

These are just a few topics to have in your outline. Pricing, partners and product details may also need to be addressed. 

Once you have your plan on paper, it will be easier to focus on your marketing strategy and stay the course.

Image by smarnad from freedigitalphotos.net

 
 
Picture
Facebook's recent changes signify The End of Free Facebook Marketing, especially for small businesses. It is estimated that businesses will only be able to organically reach about 3-4% of its fan base. What does that mean for your small business?

First, take a look at your website. Does it need an update? Is it easy to read and navigate? Is your messaging clear? Are your contact information links and social media links present on the home page? 

If you have built a Facebook page, keep engaging with your customers. You may find that you will have to start spending a few dollars a day to boost your post visibility. WIth Facebook's detailed demographics, it is still cheaper than many other alternative.

Just remember, your website should be your central hub of your business online. Everything should point to it including your social media channels.

 
 
Picture
Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound, is offering The Best of the Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week 2013 on her website as a free ebook that I highly recommend. 

She includes many tools that help public relations professionals save time and money such as the social media image maker that helps you resize images for all types of social media accounts.


She also gives out valuable tips that are hard to find elsewhere. The tips she shares are hidden gems that PR pros would usually pay money to acquire.

Here are some of the neat tips and tricks that are in the free ebook:

—Where to find a huge directory of freelance writers

—Where to find a giant list of local and regional magazines so you know all your pitching opportunities

—36 places to publicize your startup

—Where to find a free 39-page report on how to research and pitch bloggers, step by step

Check out this wonderful ebook and start using her PR tips today.


 
 
Picture
I recently wrote about retail promotion tips for the 2013 holiday season. If you are a small business, there are ways you can stand out from the competition this season.

Start promoting now. The holiday season is shorter this year and the retail outlook is lower than last year. Email newsletters that share what's new and spotlight promotions

Offer stand out promotions. Get creative. Make your repeat customers VIPs and give them the star treatment. Start a referral program. Find ways to stand out and draw in new customers.

Customer service is tops. Above all, make sure your customers experience a positive, helpful environment. Going above and beyond expectations will ensure they return.

Image courtesy of Naypong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 
 
Picture
It's hard running a small business. How do you carve out time to market your business when you are busy running it? 

Here are some great public relations tips from Media Leaders to generate publicity. Some of my favorite tips include:
  • Have a story to tell.
  • Build a short list of highly targeted media.
  • Keep your pitch short and sweet. Leave them wanting more.
  • Partner up with a technology company and show how you solved a customer's problem.
  • Track your inbound links and those of your competitors and see what works and what needs work.
What tips have worked for your business?


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 
 
Picture
One of my favorite marketing blogs is Hubspot. They have a resourceful blog on lots of topics including small business marketing.

For small business owners, it can be hard to market their business when they are busy with sales, operations and other facets of their business.

Hubspot's Small Business Marketing Hub offers tips and tricks to give small businesses a head start on marketing programs that they have been thinking about. 

Spark some ideas!

 
 
Picture
Small Business Trends talks about Why You Should Be Focusing on Visual Content Marketing. They are spot on. Think about when something has really moved you emotionally - was it a commercial or a picture someone posted on Facebook? 

Usually an image or video presented with messaging has made a difference. We are human and are visual beings. Think about how you can add visual images and concepts to your story that you are telling. It is the best way to connect with your audience.

How have you used visual storytelling and how do you plan on improving it in your marketing messaging?

 
 
Picture
Have you checked your company website lately? Is it up to date with news and information? Here are some tips for a quick website audit.
  • Home page - is your message clear? Can someone tell what you sell and who you sell to in 3-5 seconds?
  • Is your contact information and social network information easy to locate?
  • Is your copy written in clear conversational language?
  • Remember short and sweet. Visitors do not want to scroll down a website and read a long passage.
  • Can you search on your website?
  • Are you hiring? Do you have recent news?
  • Don't use stock photos of business people. Use photos of real people like your employees and customers.
  • Are your meta tags filled out for your website? Title, description, keywords for each page.
Remember, your business website is your central hub for all of your online activity. Be sure it's worth visiting.

 
 
Picture
Small Business Saturday is an initiative by American Express and local businesses to build awareness of the power of buying local and supporting our community. 

How is your business involved in your community? Find out how to get involved in this initiative and promote your business.