From data, humor, entertainment, honesty, off the wall stuff, the value is defined individually. This is what brings them in, turns visits to leads, leads to customers.

Want sales from Social Media?

Know what is valuable to your core audience/target market.

The idea is to attract/be interested in followers who would make good customers for the products/services you offer. (Plus, I like to follow people in the same industry). Focus your postings on what is of interest to those specific people and forget the rest.

This is what valuable content should look like: Please note that I don’t talk about how great my products /services are because people don’t care, they want so much more, they want:

  • Postings that educate: Teach/explain a concept that is relevant to their situation. Show them that you understand.
  • Postings that inform: News about industry changes, trends, topics that will positively change the way your followers think/feel about you.
  • Postings that advise: Short and sweet tips / best practices that help followers positions. Save them time / money, and they will reward you.
  • Postings that engage: Motivating people to take action on their situation shows them that you are ‘aware.’ Asking your followers questions, getting them to think all lead to one thing; communication.

Social Media value is subjective, we all know that. Give your customers reasons to put you in the front row when it comes to making buying decisions, it is what they want. Being social is work, being social and gathering highly targeted followers who want to become paying customers.

Becoming a valued ‘must follow the account’ is based on the value you bring. They will re-tweet and share it. That is the goal, isn’t it….to bring more people towards your products/services.

SEO Tips – Tools Don’t Mean Anything

Before any website owner goes and hits the SEO button, think; what am I trying to accomplish?

Business Objectives First

If a site is not user-friendly, turns off customers, doesn’t get any business, lacks all value and/or gives support to the visitor, why would you spend energy/resources on driving traffic (SEO) to a site nobody wants to spend time on? If your sure that your website is user-friendly, analytics tell the truth every time.

Most sites serve three primary functions: Education, Nurturing (problem identification / solving), Motivating (selling).

  1. Education: Explaining the features, benefits, and concepts to visitors who show up early in the buying process. (most organic visitors start here). What doesn’t seem immediately known is that too much education and the visitor may be turned off on buying.
  2. Nurturing: Building relationships with visitors by providing exceptional content, encouraging comments to blogs, sign up for e-books, analysis, top ten lists, etc. This is extremely important to building credibility as a source for visitors to ‘want’ to work with. Be careful about spending resources on visitors who don’t have decision-making ability.
  3. Motivating or selling: Offering well-developed packages (products and/or services) for qualified buyers who are ready to make an immediate purchase.

The reality of a successful website is not to focus pages on accomplishing all three, but to segment the site based on where you want visitors to go and what you want them to do.

A well-executed site will give visitors what they want when they want it with goal oriented-driven SEO content.

Once you identify the targets, demonstrate content the time is for visitor/search SEO tactics.

Every page needs to have a purpose and intent. Every dropdown/subpage needs to have meaning and intent. Visitors are finicky individuals who make decisions based on emotion and back them up with logic to justify.

Focus on your goals (business goals) and be capable of reaching, connecting and persuading visitors that you are the right one for their situation.

Make Business Decisions – Brand ‘You’

SEO and Blogging matter, that is if you want to grow your brand.

Today, while doing my shopping at Costco, I met a professional young woman. We talked about our alma mater, St. Cloud State University (Go Huskies). This is an example of how the right SEO Blogging platform builds your brand better than any outbound marketing.

Why is this important? Because many people who are specialists in their field, striving to build their brand with the current company, making sure that they are doing what they love. So, what is missing?

Branding, SEO marketing, sharing of valuable information to make the world a better place as well as be known throughout the internet as ‘worthy of recognition / opportunity.’

I told her what I did and asked the simple question: ‘Do you share your craft/knowledge on the internet via blog or other means? She was sharing her ‘brand’ with those who understand her craft, know, demonstrating her as a worthy professional that they look to for insight and information to improve their patient’s outcomes one on one. This is just what we should do, plus we should be sharing our craft online. Why? One to many is much more valuable in 2011. The internet demands it.

The fact is that we all get consumed with our current state of affairs in doing our job and miss the opportunity for the future.

What opportunity?

Creating valuable content creates positive energy/awareness of your capabilities. Otherwise, how would anyone ever know valuable information that shows you are a quality professional? Years gone past included people interacting at trade shows, educational requirements for medical professionals, etc….

People want to read for themselves and make decisions on your validity, not through advertising, minutes together in a group, etc. The internet has brought the tools, so why aren’t you using them?

I don’t have time
I don’t see the value

What amazes is that we all use the internet, search for answers, read blogs, articles all in the hope to better understand our own situation/problem. Yes, its tough to put the energy into a blog that shares information openly creates a sense of purpose and identifies you as a go-to person. Branding isn’t hard, overcoming previous ideals and triggers for changing habits is.

How do I quantify having an SEO blog when I need business/sales? This is not hard, getting people to read your blog adds value to the reader, do it well enough to create buzz and repeat visits, fill out a form for more information and you have built a desirable brand. The one thing that most fail to realize is that doing this provides lasting value, a great article on branding / blogging, once it is published, is forever on the internet.

A good SEO blog post can be worth 50 cents when factored into the lead generation process the first month. Take a real look at that article a year from now, and it creates 500 dollars….see where this is heading? Create blog postings 3-4 times a week can really add up to bottom line dollars. What are you waiting for?

Giving Visitors What They Want

Small business needs clarity & revenue. Common mistakes so many make with regards to copywriting. Avoid these mistakes:

There are so many mistakes made out there regarding websites. So many build them to build & bill for the owner. SEO, Copywriting, Blogging take a back seat to sell a website. Yet a website is for business, do business right:

  • Not knowing what a landing page is for example or how to write/use one for creating engagement/leads. You can’t send people to a webpage/brochure and expect sales.
  • Boring, poorly written headlines: People read H1 tags (headlines) and make decisions to read further or hit back button. This is a costly mistake.
  • Formatting content on pages/blogs: Are you correctly adding value & calls to action? You have their attention, move them to the next step. Stating that they will contact you is a lame excuse for poor website performance.

Content, good content that people want to read. Hard to engage in content bores readers and tells them that you do not understand their situation. Why ask them to leave when you have their attention in the first place?

The difference is this: People who invest in doing what is necessary for good search results, good engagement, good people building skills are the ones who build strong, profitable businesses, the rest are merely working to stay busy.

3 Skills Necessary for Inbound Marketing Success

As a small business owner, I depend on actions that move my business forward, it is crucial to stay ‘tuned in’ to what is working, and grow with technology. A major reason why I feel strongly about Inbound Marketing. Progressive business owners recognize the need for growth internally, as well as externally.

Now, look at the skills common to success in small business:

1) Diligence:

Whether it is a start-up or grow-up with the economic shifts, the reality is the same, taking small steps to develop your plan fully (from you’re ‘in your head’ to tangible form) is crucial to moving the needle on the 2010 version of growth in a tough economy.

Build your plan, keep it current and take in as much information relative to understand twin cities industry marketing to connect and build rapport with your core customers.

Do you know your mission statement? How about your team? When you know it, you eat, sleep, breathe it with every business action. Having the best tools will improve your ability to make razor sharp business decisions, cause you to know right away on how it lines up with your business objectives/mission. It also allows you to make big decisions smaller by breaking them up into realistic bite-sized pieces.

2) Leading vs. Managing, understand the differences and when to use them.

How many people really understand this component of business? Both have their place in small business. Most of all, you need both at the right time/place for sustainable growth.

Management is all about driving your twin cities team to be the best, deliver the service levels necessary to reach ‘branding’ with your customers. Structure, clean, balanced use of power, rules, training to standardize the process, and team building, to name a few.

Leadership is a different animal. Leaders must face the people challenge, inside and outside your company. Giving people the power to be accountable for their own actions – adding value/benefit to the growth of the company.

Both are mandatory for internal/external business growth.

3) Humility

Understanding that the reality of our economy has made ‘mediocre’ unacceptable in the online world. People/ visitors to your site know how to gather enormous amounts of information, remember, this is a buyers market. Make solid plans, know when you don’t know, and get the highest level of knowledge on reaching your audience without pushing / selling. Give consumers what they want and when they want, and you will rise above the crowd and be a well respected online business. That is the core behind Inbound Marketing.

The takeaway — this list does go on, what matters here is making business decisions with the best information/people on your team. Focus on your core offerings, work on your true market. Don’t be afraid to seek ‘experts’ in your area of focus.

The Importance of Social Media Marketing; here is my story, everyone has a story

I wanted to find out the business hours of an organic pumpkin patch that I had seen advertised in a small, local paper. But I lost the paper. After failing to find the business online with multiple search terms that made sense to me, and some that did not – just in case – I gave up.

Unlike many rural pumpkin patches and apple orchards, this one does have a website. But their website is useless without social media marketing. I couldn’t find them, and I was actually trying to!

Smart business owners understand that internet marketing is essential. But having a website is not enough to attract business. Social media marketing explodes the effectiveness of a business’ internet presence, taking their online marketing strategy to a more sophisticated level.

The Difference between Traditional Marketing and Social Media Marketing

Traditional advertising offers a static message. You craft your message, you send it to the paper, and you hope it gets read. How many people read your ad? You don’t know. You only know the circulation statistics. How did people react to the ad when they read it? You don’t know because they have no way of commenting, short of calling the business or coming into the business.

Social media marketing engages prospects and customers in a more intimate, higher quality dialog than traditional print media. It’s all about the quality of dialog. A higher quality of customer interaction shows sophistication in communication.

Sophistication in communication with your customers is important because consumers demand it. The younger generation takes it for granted that they can Tweet their complaints, post reviews online and recommend en masse great businesses to their friends (and acquaintances).

Consumers and prospects want information. They want to be able to research you, engage with you, and learn from you before being motivated to buy. This is an expectation of quality of online dialog. SEO (search engine optimization) comes naturally when you keep your audience in mind.

If you don’t understand the importance of social media marketing or the difference between traditional marketing versus online marketing, then hire someone who does. Otherwise, you will lose out on business, have a lower quality dialog with your prospects and customers, and miss out on cultivating loyalty to your brand.

Michele Thompson
Michele Thompson is the Director of Operations at Marqui Management, an author, entrepreneur and finance coach. She has over twenty years of experience in mortgage banker finance, global investor services, real estate and debt consulting. Coupled with her advanced degrees she drives to help new and existing businesses to reach their goals. Connect with Michele via social media or her website here @ Michele Thompson

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