Why You Need Marketing Automation in Your Small Business

By Tracie Rollins with Infusionsoft

Marketing AutomationEmail marketing remains one of the most effective ways to nurture leads as well as keep your customers in the loop, but it’s certainly not the quickest of all marketing strategies to set up. It takes time to create and schedule messages, track who opened them and follow up appropriately. If you’re doing this manually, you’ll find yourself in an administration nightmare spending way more time managing email than working on building your business.

With marketing automation software, you have the capability to set up a single campaign that will last a lifetime with a few minor tweaks here and there. Think about information that your audience would normally pay for and freely offer it on your website to entice them to share their contact information with you. This can be done by creating a webform that requires contact information before access is granted to the free offer.

Marketing automation will assign a label, which is also called a tag to the contact record. This helps you know how they found you, but more importantly which follow-up campaign you’ll assign to them. You’ll probably start with one simple email campaign, but over time you’ll discover how your audience segments themselves and can add additional elements to respond directly to their actions or inactions.

Your follow-up emails are more important than your initial offer because these emails help build upon the relationship. Most people aren’t going to buy your product or service right away unless you are in a very niche market without competition. In fact, it’s likely that they’ll search for alternatives prior to making their decision.

You’ll want to continue to stay top-of-mind and available to answer any questions they have. The best way to do this is by sending out frequent communications. Too many and you’ll lose subscribers. Too few and you’ll lose market share. Experiment with frequency and make adjustments based on the data that is unique to your audience.

As your leads engage with your content by opening your emails and clicking on your links, your automation software can assign point values to their actions. This is often called lead scoring and helps you qualify your leads before you call them. Because your time is limited, you can spend it with those who are most likely to purchase today. Automate communication with those who aren’t ready today until they reach your score threshold.

To talk about all the benefits that marketing automation provides would take a more time and space than we have in this post. Instead, let’s put it this way: if you are happy with the leads and deals you’re generating via manual e-mail campaigns, consider how much more delighted you’d be when you make the switch to marketing automation.

About the Author:

Tracie Rollins of InfusionsoftTracie Rollins has focused her professional efforts on bridging the gap between knowledge and performance. She applies over 18 years of experience to marketing strategy, research, and development of content that educates, influences and improves the lives of others. She believes that education provides knowledge, knowledge drives actions, and actions change the world.

As the Content Strategy Manager at Infusionsoft, Tracie Rollins helps small businesses succeed by developing e-learning and authoring content for small business consumption and application.

As an entrepreneur, Tracie has appeared on KTVK’s Good Morning Arizona show, and has been featured in the Institute for Industrial Engineering magazine, Woman’s World, Arizona Republic and multiple local publications. She and her husband, Lonny help small business stand out amongst the competition with The Rollins Advantage, LLC. You can connect with Tracie online at LinkedIn or on Google+.

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Content Marketing – Getting People to Read Your Blog [Infographic]

By Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz

Content Marketing - Getting People to Read Your BlogContent Marketing must be a part of every businesses marketing strategy to be able to compete in today’s marketplace. Producing good content keeps the Google search engine happy and Google will reward you with an improved SEO score. This infographic from QuickSprout shows the steps and key elements necessary to have a successful blog.

Some of the data here that stood out for me was:

  • 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs
  • 92% of companies who blog multiple times per day have acquired customers from their blog
  • 96$ of people decided to come back to a blog based on the content quality
  • 41% of people continually read a blog if it is written by an authoritative figure.

The main takeaways are:

  • Be different – what’s make you unique?
  • Develop your own voice – this you can’t do if you hire someone else to blog for you!
  • Have an opinion – stand for something!
  • Be consistent and produce content regularly
  • Tell stories!
  • Demonstrate credibility
  • Have a content marketing strategy
  • Have a call-to-action

Content Marketing - Getting People to Read Your Blog [Infographic]

If you’re not sure about your content marketing strategy or even if you’ve got your blog set-up correctly, then you must attend the SCORE Seminar 9/19: Content Marketing, WordPress & Blogging: How To Get On The First Page of Google.

 

About the Author:

Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media WizGiselle Aguiar, founder of AZ Social Media Wiz is a social media, inbound and content marketing strategist & trainer helping small to mid-sized business owners learn how to leverage the power of social media marketing, increase traffic to their websites, generate leads, increase brand awareness and establish themselves as experts in their fields. As with anything in business, using the right tools in the right way and at the right time are critical parts to your success. Learn from someone who’s known the Internet since it’s infancy. Official Social Media, Newsletter and Blog Manager for Greater Phoenix SCORE and Adjunct Faculty at Phoenix College. Social media training – 1-on-1 or for groups. WordPress sites and blogs. http://azsocialmediawiz.com 602-738-1700. You can connect with Giselle online at LinkedIn or on Google+.

 

 

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Don’t Hit ‘Publish’ Just Yet – Blogging Grammar

By Peter Dillon, GoDaddy

Don’t Hit ‘Publish’ Just YetI know you want to, but give it five minutes or so before you hit “publish” on that new blog post or send that article you just wrote for an industry publication. Use that time to read this post, then go back and see if you are actually ready to send your words out into the big, wide world.

The rewards in finishing a post range from “Whew, it’s finished!” to a serious sense of accomplishment at a job well done—but as skilled at writing as you feel you might be, the number of posts that are written without error the first draft are, let’s face it, probably none. And no matter how many times you re-read your 500 words, chances are you’ll miss typos time and again.

So how do you avoid posts that grammar-nuts would have a field day with?

  1. Backwards, you will go! Reading the post as it was written—forward—can put you into auto-pilot. You might skim through it instead of read what is actually there. Instead, read it backwards. Start with the last sentence and read it out loud to yourself. This might not help with overall composition because this method doesn’t allow for one idea to be built upon another, but this deliberate method of reading your work will help you spot those otherwise-elusive typos.
  2. Having friends has its benefits. As mentioned, reading your own content doesn’t necessarily help you spot those pesky errors, so having a friend look over your work, and inviting them to comment on it, can help you get your post into a polished state with a lot less stress. It’s easier to accept spelling mistakes and assorted typos when someone else points them out to you. And don’t ignore suggestions made about grammar and flow—accept the comments graciously and follow up on them yourself.
  3. Go to bed. Before you hit the hay, however, print out your work. The following day, read it again with a fresh pair of eyes—it’s amazing the difference a day makes! Also, reading from a hard copy gives it a whole new look, and it’s easier to spot what you might have missed on the screen.

If you’re still not sure, ask a professional to proofread your work. I certainly do (thank you, Andrea) and am never surprised at the changes made before posts like this go public.

Every day I read articles containing multiple typos and grammatical errors. It’s easy to get over an incorrectly used semicolon, but it’s a lot harder to ignore the ubiquitous errors involving “they’re/their/there” and “then/than.” And that’s where spell checkers might not help: those words aren’t typically spelled incorrectly; it’s all about context.

There are a number of online tools that can help. If you’re second-guessing the spelling of a word, then Dictionary.com can be your best friend. PaperRater and Grammarly will help with typos and a range of grammatical errors. If you’re looking for a download, then you might try Ginger, which lets you download software that checks everything including emails. This post () also has some great tips for writing website copy.

I doubt I’m alone in thinking that writers who don’t care about the quality of their work might not care so much about the content itself. And I am not one to leave a comment complaining about dreadful spelling; I will just move on and look for a writer who cares. I hope that’s you.

About the Author

Peter DillonPeter Dillon was transplanted from Wales, UK, about 10 years ago and joined the GoDaddy family in 2010. He lives in Phoenix with his wife and cat, who adopted the couple last year and has allowed them to live with her since. A specialty trainer at GoDaddy, Peter loves education and enjoys being on both sides of the desk—knowing that there is not only always something to learn, but there is always something that can be taught. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars— check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.

 

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Charting Strategies for Business Growth

By George Obst, Certified SCORE Mentor

Strategies for Business GrowthIn every industry there are individual companies that grow their sales each year no matter the economic conditions.  We are talking about organic sales, not increased prices.  In other words these companies sell more of their products and services each year.  The question is, “how do they do it?”

Creating a market driven organization requires a culture that actively targets market growth.  The key components follow:

  1. Achieve product and/or service quality with every sale, every day, every month, and every year.  In other words strive for consistency of product or service.
  2. Create product and service leadership that differentiates you from competitors.  Strive to make your company unique, in both product and service.  Develop a list of ways you could distinguish your product/service from the others.  Implement the necessary changes in your organization to deliver the differences you identify.
  3. Connect with customers to create customer intimacy.  To achieve customer intimacy the customers are at the top of the organization chart.  They are followed by the front line sales and service staff, and all other staff who have direct customer contact.

In this setting management is the catalyst that provides this customer intimate environment, and achieves it by taking the following actions:

  1. Consciously decides to improve what is already in place by focusing on manufacturing and/or service effectiveness.  These companies strive to deliver a product or service at a lower cost, in record time, and with no errors.  The result is operational excellence.
  2. Ensures that all staff who deal with customers have adequate training both in their area of expertise as well as customer listening skills.
  3. Listens to feedback from those who deal with customers and determines where to initiate changes to better serve customers.
  4. Values highly those who interact with customers and recognizes/rewards incidents of exceptional customer service.
  5. Avoids all polices and rules that stop those in contact with customers from being able to solve their problems.  In other words, empower those in contact with customers to be able to solve problems on the spot.

Creating this climate of customer and operational excellence will ensure that your company will grow and take market share from your competitors.

SCORE, a resource partner of the US Small Business Administration has certified mentors who can help you achieve market leadership.  Call  today, (602 745-7250) or click here to make your no fee appointment with a SCORE mentor.  There is never a charge and you can be assured of the very best counsel and advice.

About the Author

George Obst, Certified SCORE MentorGeorge Obst is a Certified SCORE mentor with more than 30 years experience profitably managing and growing businesses, including start-ups, financing, purchasing, and selling businesses.

 

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There’s still a Time for Old-School Marketing

By Mike Hathcote, GoDaddy

We spend a lot of time talking about how to market your business using online resources like a website, social media, search engine optimization, and email marketing. No doubt, these are important tools for spreading the word about your business.

But sometimes, it’s still OK to get “old school” with your marketing efforts.

You can’t hand out your website at a networking event. Face-to-face interactions call for basics like business cards. Doing a trade show? Then you’ll want printed collateral — such as branded stickers, signage and banners — on hand. Of course, you can use all of these items to refer customers to your Web presence, as well.

Business CardsFirst, let’s talk about business cards. The old expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” comes into play here. Nothing beats meeting someone for the first time and having a take-away about your business for them to refer to later. Some people go as far as having their business cards made into magnets so that the customer won’t lose it. Check out some cool new trends in business card design.

Stickers can be the most widely distributed piece of collateral. There are tons of applications for using stickers — from bumper stickers, school notebooks, laptop computers, even in-store windows. Stickers also offer unlimited design possibilities. Their impact can be far reaching. Try running a customer contest through your social platforms, offering discounts or prizes for customers who send photos of your business sticker in interesting locales (like famous places). That’s the kind of creative, fun marketing that builds customer engagement and loyalty.

Banners are another way to get your message out to the masses. Look for events that attract your target demographic — like sporting events, music festivals, or corporate gatherings. Design a banner that showcases your brand while attracting attention. And make sure you’ve got some swag to offer visitors to your space. They like that.

There’s no shortage of places to find graphic designers and artists to help you if you’re like me and don’t have an artistic bone in your body. You can go local or online, where you can peruse designers’ portfolios in online marketplaces also is a popular one-stop-shop for collateral design and production.

About the Author:

Mike HathcoteMike Hathcote is a small business owner and serial entrepreneur with 16 years of small business experience. His current title is Manager-Customer Care Communications at GoDaddy, where he helps small businesses kick ass. In his free time, he enjoys skateboarding, snowboarding and voiceover acting. Connect with @mikehathcote on Twitter.

The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.

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Nonprofits Have Two Missions—Not Just One

By Rod Houston, Certified SCORE Mentor

Non-profitsOften nonprofits start-up and run on the energy that comes from the passion that is the original reason the organization was formed.  Founders put their heart and soul and sometimes personal resources to making the effort work.  And often they have great success —for a while.

However some unexpected event always seems to occur that puts the organization’s existence at risk—government funding gets cut, the economy takes a downturn, key donors or people leave, etc.  Unfortunately, it is only then that they realize that there are really two missions that the organization has—the passionate mission and the business mission.

Passionate Mission—this is why the organization was founded and is the moral compass for the organization.  It must never be compromised and should drive the organization’s direction.

Business Mission—the organization is a business and must be operated like one.  This will ensure long-term sustainability.  A nonprofit cannot succeed long term without being successful with both missions.  Some elements of the business mission are:

  • Think strategic—the board’s responsibility is to do the strategic planning for the organization, and operational oversight only.  The Strategic Plan is the board’s plan with strong input from the Executive Director, and the Operating Plan is the Executive Director’s plan with strong input from the board.  Too often, board of directors meetings are taken up “counting pencils” rather than doing operational oversight, looking only at significant deviations from the Operational Plan by exception.
  • Think like a for-profit business and get orders—the nonprofit’s customers are its donors.  They give money expecting that specific results will be obtained, the same as buying a product or service in the for-profit world, so it is important to understand what they are buying, measure it, and report the successes.
  • Think efficient, effective operations—your donors demand it.  They are giving money to your cause that was not easy to come by and you owe it to them.  Too often, with a lot of volunteerism being involved, people get involved with paths that don’t contribute significantly to the mission, and become a distraction.  Good planning makes sure everyone is on the same track.

People involved with nonprofits must recognize that there are always two missions—a  passionate mission and a business mission, and that you must succeed at both to be effective over the long term.

More information on this and other aspects of running a nonprofit successfully, is available at the seminar “Making Your Nonprofit Work”, presented by Greater Phoenix Score, on Sept 16, from 6:00-9:00 PM.

About the Author:

Rod Houston, SCORE mentorRod has been a SCORE Mentor since 2004.  During his extensive 40 year career, Rod held various executive positions in Sales and marketing at General Electric Industrial Automation and Power Generation units and other energy and environmental companies. Rod has mentored more than 400 small businesses and 100 nonprofits as a member of SCORE and the Executive Service Corps. He has been a board member of seven Not for Profit organizations.

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7 Keys to Employee Commitment

By George Obst, Certified SCORE Mentor
7 Keys to Employee CommitmentWhy do some employees do what is expected and others don’t see what has to be done? Why do some employees accept responsibility for their mistakes and others blame others? Why do some employees appreciate the job opportunity and others feel entitled? Why do some employees work to improve things and others accept the status quo?

The answer is that really good employees, have ideas, do more than their “job” requires, take responsibility for what goes right and what goes wrong, and are motivated to do their best. These committed employees  respond positively to the following 7 keys to employee commitment:

  1. A clear vision on where the company is heading. They need to buy into the vision that is clearly and often discussed by owners and managers.
  2. Well defined values that communicate what the company stands for and that the company “lives” by these values.
  3. Positions, no matter at what level, in which the employees know that they make a difference. They need to know that their actions impact the success of the enterprise because they have “ownership” of their jobs. They need to know the importance of their jobs to the success of the business.
  4. Positions that are clearly defined in which specific goals are spelled out. Equally important is that everyone will know when the goals are achieved because they are measurable, and not simply “pie in the sky”. The most committed employees have a major hand in setting these goals and measurements of success.
  5. Supervisors and managers who receive appropriate training in management and people skills. Most employees who leave a company due so because of a poor relationship with their boss, not because of the company. The bosses who are promoted to management because of their technical skill sets, need to develop management skill sets in order to be effective leaders of employees.
  6. An environment that creates learning opportunities. Employees want to create more value by growing in their jobs. They need to have personal development goals, along with the well – defined goals for their position.
  7. Supervisors and managers who are serious about “listening” to their employees. There is a real hunger for employees to be listened to and this very activity will result in much more committed employees. The sad thing is that bosses are much more busy giving orders and direction and spend too little time seeking and listening to employee thoughts and ideas.

The bottom line is that if bosses implement effectively, the seven keys stated here, they will have employees who have more pride, confidence, and the ability to make a difference.  They will have truly committed employees.

Greater Phoenix SCORE, through their certified mentors can provide your business with the tools necessary to gain committed employees. Call 602 745- 7250, or click here to make your appointment with a SCORE mentor today. There is no cost, except your time commitment to work on your “improvement program”.

About the Author:

George Obst, Certified SCORE MentorGeorge Obst is a Certified SCORE mentor with more than 30 years experience profitably managing and growing businesses, including start-ups, purchasing, financing and selling businesses.

 

 

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No Pain No Gain!

By George Obst, Certified SCORE Mentor

No Pain, No Gain - in Business, too!No matter what our age and experience, no matter whether we are in business for ourselves, or working for someone else, our pattern of beliefs and behaviors are echoed every day and every week. Call it our routine, our repetitive behaviors are the backbone of our actions. We hope these behaviors give us the results we are seeking, and help us achieve our dreams and goals. However, all too often, we don’t examine these behaviors in the cold light of day, and determine the effectiveness of our behavioral patterns. Usually, these very repetitive patterns of behavior are roadblocks to constructive change. We get “stuck” in our old familiar ways, and over time, we diminish both our effectiveness in our personal relationships and business dealings. Gradually, and over time, we fall into what I call developmental retardation.

What are our roadblocks to change? I can think of three:

  • We don’t have time. We are so busy in our business and personal lives that we don’t take the time to think about how we could do things better.
  • We are so comfortable with our patterns of behavior and communication that we just don’t want to change – i.e. we are in a rut.
  • “Thinking” is hard work. It’s just plain easier to rationalize why changes won’t work, rather than thinking about how changes might improve results.

Successful entrepreneurs travel on a road of continuous improvement, recognizing that as the world changes, they too must change. They examine the activities and results achieved, and accept the premise that personal growth is the key to successful businesses and people relationships. Past successes do not ensure tomorrow’s success.

Successful entrepreneurs are in a continuous state of examining their actions and learning new skill sets to enhance their performance. They know they will not be “comfortable” with new behaviors, but are confident that this road of continuous improvement is essential to “living the dream” and optimizing results. They live by the adage,

 “NO PAIN NO GAIN”

Successful entrepreneurs surround themselves with folks who are honest in their communications, not sugar coating their comments because they think that’s what the boss wants to hear. They create a climate that encourages constructive dialogue including ideas that are different from the boss.

SCORE, a resource partner of the US Small Business Administration, has certified mentors who will not sugar coat their comments, and will provide guidance to entrepreneurs starting businesses or to existing businesses who want to be on a road of continuous improvement.  Call 602 745- 7250,  or click here to make your appointment with a SCORE mentor todayThere is no cost, except your time commitment to work on your “improvement program”.

About the Author:

George Obst, Certified SCORE MentorGeorge Obst is a Certified SCORE mentor with more than 30 years experience profitably managing and growing businesses, including start-ups, purchasing, financing and selling businesses.

 

 

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The 7 Sleep Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

By Giselle Aguiar

English: A Sleeping moon in a cap.

Can’t sleep at night? We entrepreneurs are in the same boat. Especially “solopreneurs” – we folks that do it all ourselves. Getting 7-8 hours sleep is a challenge. This video from Entrepreneur Magazine caught my eye and it has some great sleep tips that we can all use to get our ZZZZs.

Which one to do find the hardest to do?

  1. Avoid alcohol 3 hours before bedtime
  2. Turning off electronics before bedtime
  3. Right down your to-do list or thoughts
  4. Create a sleep environment
  5. Exercise
  6. No sugar before bed, high protein and fat snacks instead
  7. Wake up to the light
  8. This one’s on me – avoid caffeine after 3 pm. Oh, but that’s when I need coffee to get me through the rest of the day! Try caffeine-free herbal teas like lemon-ginger, acai berry or peppermint. They’ll give you a boost without the caffeine.

For me, it’s turning off the phone and tablet. I guess I’ll take that stack of magazines from the living room and put them on my nightstand. Read those instead of the news on the tablet. What about you? Please comment below.

About the Author:

Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media WizGiselle Aguiar, founder of AZ Social Media Wiz is the official Social Media, Newsletter and Blog Manager for Greater Phoenix SCORE and Adjunct Faculty at Phoenix College. She’s a “solopreneur” who offers social media training – 1-on-1 or for groups, social media setups, WordPress sites and blogs. You can connect with Giselle online at LinkedIn or on Google+.

 

 

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