social media

Making Social Media Work for your Bar or Restaurant

We have reached the point where everyone can agree that social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Whatever Network Appears In The Next Ten Minutes Before I Post This) is a critical component in any restaurant’s marketing strategy. What no one has seemed to have done is clearly define whose responsibility it should be. That is until now.

Social Media is as much a process as anything else, and while I hate the buzzwords that have obscured the issue (brand ambassador, engagement, influencer, conversation facilitator, etc.) there is no denying that the core of the issue is customer relations. Therefore the person that becomes the online face of your restaurant must possess several indispensable skills:

1)They must be articulate – and not just in 140 characters

If someone is writing about your food you need them to able to express themselves confidently and coherently. Great literature no, remedial grammar abilities – yes! Typos happen, but they shouldn’t become a distraction to potential dinners reading about your current desert special.

2) They need to be knowledgeable

Whoever is tweeting or posting about your menu should know it at least as well as your servers do – if people ask questions they should know the answer.

3) They need to be invested

And I don’t mean financially – the person must be invested in the success of your restaurant in a manner that extends beyond the next week, the next pay check or the next tip. They need to be a committed professional that cares about product and service.

4) They need to be personable

Personality is an integral component of any dining experience – an engaging server can mean a big difference in check size versus one going through the motions – it works the same online. We all know a limp handshake is worse than none at all.

5) They need to be accountable

There has to be a chain of command where it is clear exactly who is responsible for social media marketing – and who they report to. There are already too many cracks for this process to fall into – make sure everyone knows their role.

Okay, the next question is who is the person that fits all of these criteria? Well, they are probably already on your staff – and they may not be the person you think they are. First of all let’s discuss who this isn’t.

It isn’t the host or hostess. Yes, I do realize that Derek or Mary are very personable, probably cute and no doubt perky, enthusiastic and likable (you hired them, after all). However if you look at the list above you’ll see that they may not be knowledgeable or necessarily that articulate about food. And they certainly aren’t invested or accountable. While they may blossom into an eventual GM they could just as easily tell you they’re leaving for a week at Bonnaroo at the end of the month. And while they may be extremely active on Twitter or Facebook, it doesn’t mean that those personal habits translate into marketing skills. Looking good behind the wheel of a car doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to drive.

It is also probably not the assistant manager – the person responsible for schedules, seating, printing, reservations and pretty much everything else happening on the floor. You don’t want your field general in charge of public relations – they’re used to prioritizing, and something called “Twitter” is going to fall off the end of that list faster than you can say “The ice machine is broken”.

It is also not the chef, waiter, back waiter or bartender – all of these employees might be willing and available, but will almost always fall short in one of the above stated qualifications (I know, I’ve tried everyone). However, there is someone we haven’t mentioned. I can also say that with almost four years’ experience developing the online marketing programs for the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, as well as other prominent restaurant organizations, that this is the clear cut favorite for the position of social media manager.

Virtually every restaurant has someone in charge of Group Dining and Event Planning. This may be a dedicated role, or the responsibilities may be combined with other promotional efforts, but in general it’s going to be someone that possesses the requisite skill set. The catering manager is going to know the menu – they have to sell it every day – and they are going to be able to speak about it intelligently and confidently. They are going to be personable and skilled at marketing – they are probably working on some sort of commission. They are going to be invested in the success of the restaurant because it benefits them both monetarily and professionally – and they are going to be accountable, they are probably already an important person in the chain of command.

However the most important part of this role may be one I haven’t mentioned – consistency. It is important to not only appoint the current group dining or catering manager social media point person – it is critically imperative to make it part of the job description. And anyone applying for such a position in this age of constantly evolving social networking should already have those skills – you don’t hire the sous chef hoping for on the job training. This will ensure that you won’t find yourself searching for passwords or logins – responsibility for account maintenance will be handed off the same way it is in the kitchen and on the floor – qualified personnel in the right place to do the right job.

Now, before I get a lot of unhappy comments from devoted hostess tweeters and bartender bloggers – this does not mean that other people on your staff are automatically unqualified or unprofessional. For instance – Jimmy Y, Server at Ravaglia’s restaurant in Lake Mary, Florida is engaging and informative when writing about his menu, and he also takes the most amazing food pictures I’ve ever seen – but that is very much the exception to the rule. Social Media Marketing Admin is an increasingly vital position in any marketing campaign, and the position is one that needs to be consistently executed at the same level of competency expected from any other position on your staff. Any other approach is a sure recipe for, are you ready, failure.

Lessons In advertising

No matter how wonderful your company’s product or service is, if you don’t advertise, nobody will know about it. The goal of any advertising program should be to cost-effectively reach the largest audience possible and attract new customers. If done correctly, advertising can be a wonderful investment for your small business; if done poorly, advertising can become a huge money sink.
Despite what you see on “Mad Men,” advertising can be a tricky game. We present 10 important tips to help you plan, execute, and monitor your advertising program.

1. Go After Your Target Audience

An advertising campaign should be geared toward your niche market. It is a common mistake to create generic ads that do not speak the language or grab the attention of your potential customers. Ask yourself what kind of customers you want to attract, and make sure your ads speak to them on a personal level.

2. Highlight Your Competitive Advantage

One of the keys to all advertising is to accentuate the pros of your company — those factors that give you your competitive edge. Too many ads are clever but fail to sell the specific benefits of the featured product or service. Unless you highlight these benefits, your ad delivers no value to potential customers.

3. Establish an Image

You can recognize the McDonald’s arches while whizzing by on the highway. Likewise, there are plenty of products that you recognize by their packaging or logo.
Image counts when it comes to advertising and promoting your business. Too many advertisers do not work to build a consistent image, and they’re missing the chance to make an impression on prospective customers.

4. You Have to Spend Money to Make Money

There are ways to save money, but advertising is typically not the place to cut corners. Doing so will affect sales, and that affect the bottom line? Successful advertising may cost some money, but that is because it works, so contact our team.

5. Advertising in the Right Places

Your favorite magazine, radio station, or even television program might not be a favorite of your audience. Do some research about your target market to understand who they are and determine what they read, watch, and listen to. Then advertise in the appropriate media to ensure that you reach your target market.

6. Don’t Allow Your Budget to Run Your Ad Campaign

If you budget $5,000 per month for advertising, you’ve made it very easy from a bookkeeping perspective. However, if like most businesses you have seasonal highs and lows, you are spending too much money advertising during down times and not enough when you want to attract customers. Too many entrepreneurs do not budget according to their seasonal advertising needs.

7. Advertising Diversity

It is all too common for business owners to choose the best place to advertise based on price and potential rate of returns, and then stop. As is the case with investing, you do not want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Spread your advertising dollars around by choosing a variety of suitable media for your audience and budget.

8. Don’t Try to Be Everything to Everyone

No product or service will appeal to everyone. Many business owners, including corporate executives, try to come up with ways to reach every market. Typically, this does not work. It can spell disaster for small businesses, who cannot afford to spread themselves too thin. Therefore, find your market and be everything you can be to that audience.

9. Test Your Advertising in Advance

If you have the time or money to invest in focus groups, you should test your ads on other people. Do they understand and accept the message you are trying to convey? If not, get insight into how you could more effectively communicate your message.
There are other less-expensive ways to test your ads as well — questionnaires, for example.

10. Monitor Your Advertising

It is very easy to ask new customers or clients where they heard about you. As simple as this is, many entrepreneurs do not bother to do so. It is advantageous to understand which elements of your ads are most effective and which media offer the most profitable advertising opportunities for your company.

Marketing Customer Service Manager Overview

Every successful business should have a best customer service department. It’s not just to answer customer’s question or complaining, it connects your brand with the consumers.

Here Are 5 Benefits of Having A Marketing Customer Service Manager

  • A marketing customer service manager is responsible for creating a positive image for your brand, company and its products.
  • They include identify potential customers, communicating with said customers through social media channels and find the right way to advertise products to your certain demographic.
  • They oversee company representatives who communicate directly with customers through social media, email correspondence, over the phone or in writing to help free up your time while keeping you involved with your customers at the same time.
  • They also communicate with customers to learn more about common complaints and address those issues on a large scale in an effort for you and your business to prosper and succeed.
  • They are strategically-minded, they see the big picture and do not shy away from proving ROI through increasing referrals, cross-sell/ up-sell opportunities. They turn regular customers into raving advocates.

What to look for when hiring a Marketing Customer Service Manger?

  • Strong passion for serving and understanding customers
  • Interpersonal skills to help them nurture customer relationships
  • Incredibly creative marketing and communication skills
  • Analytical skills to determine marketing effectiveness and ROI of customer engagement efforts

Strategic thinkers that can see beyond the day-to-day grind to help reach marketing and sales goals, create a stronger brand, and improve the customer experience

social media management

12 Steps of a Social Media Manager

1. Curating

Depending on the type of content you share on social, curating can have a huge role in the way you create your updates. Discovering and vetting content from others involves having a deep well of sources to read—as well as the time to read it all.

2. Crafting

Once you’ve found what you want to share, it’s time to figure out how to say it. Crafting a social media update is likely a task that goes faster over time as you gain experience writing headlines, using the most impactful words, and arranging things just the perfect way.

3. Posting

Here’s where a social media management tool really makes a difference. Instead of logging in to a handful of different channels one after another, you can log in to your management tool once and post faster and easier.

4. Scheduling

The next step beyond posting is scheduling: writing your updates ahead of time and queueing them to post throughout the day, overnight, through the weekend, or any other time when you can’t be actively updating your accounts.

5. Measuring

Once your updates go live, you then dig into the metrics surrounding each post. How many clicks did the post receive? What was engagement like? Which stats matter most to you?

6. Analyzing

With the measurement numbers in hand, you can analyze and make your strategy moving forward. For instance, in analyzing the metrics, you might notice that it would be beneficial to change the times that you publish or to focus on a certain type of update. Constant measurement and analysis can reveal these opportunities.

7. Responding

Chances are that people will be responding to your social media updates or reaching out to you directly. At least some portion of a social media manager’s day should be spent responding, however you feel is appropriate—with a reply, a thumbs up, an outreach email, or something else.

8. Listening

In addition to responding to direct contact, you can also keep your ear to the ground via a listening tool or an advanced search that helps bubble up those conversations about you and your brand. It’s amazing how many opportunities are out there that might be missed without proper listening tools in place. For instance, following Twitter mentions for “@buffer” might not turn up all results when folks talk about “Buffer.”

9. Engaging

In addition to replying and responding, there’s also an element of outbound happiness in engaging with your community and other accounts. This can happen via chats or comments, delight campaigns to reach out to others, and by following, friending, liking, and retweeting content from others.

10. Helping

Occasionally, folks might come to you with problems—bugs, breaks, troubleshooting, big questions. These can fall into the realm of the social media manager to handle as best as can be. (Neil Patel’s advice as mentioned above is to send this task along to a customer support team.)

11. Planning

What is the roadmap for future social media marketing? Every so often, the manager needs to zoom out from heads-down work and take a big picture view of things.

12. Experimenting

We’re a bit partial to this one at Buffer. We love experimentation, and this ties into many different tasks already on the social media manager schedule: curating new ideas to try, measuring results, analyzing the numbers, scheduling, crafting, and posting.

social media discussion

Social Media Marketing

Marketing communication is shifting. No longer will traditional promotion alone (banner ads, print, TV, radio, email, outdoor media, direct mail, etc.) build company brands and bring the results needed to be successful. No longer is communicating just one-sided. Marketing is now a two-lane highway where companies—engineers and contractors as much as retail or commercial businesses—not only speak to their audience, but also, more importantly, must listen to what they have to say.

HOW TO MARKET SOCIALLY

  1. Content is King
    Develop strong content to display through social media channels. The content produced—images, stories, videos, graphs or charts—needs to be timely and relevant. According to Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairperson, as much information is created in two days as was created from the dawn of civilization until 2003. That is more than five exabytes of data every 48 hours. In a world where everyone has a voice, a company’s brand must stand out from the noise by being positioned as a leader and influencer. No need to throw current marketing plans out the window; just amend the plan to include social strategies that complement the business objectives.content social media marketing
  2. Develop Voice
    Engage in communities, blogs and LinkedIn discussions where people are discussing the industry’s “hot” topics, such as the latest construction software, Building Information Modeling (BIM), upcoming talent shortages, design-build, etc. Regular participation keeps a business’s name and expertise in front of potential clients.
  3. Connect Communities
    Fostering connections with industry bloggers, LinkedIn groups and publications will promote a firm and its expertise. These communities can introduce an audience which may not have otherwise been reached. For example, LinkedIn can help pursue potential clients and allows for possible business opportunities. Furthermore, commenting on industry blog posts or even guest blogging can mark a firm as an industry expert.
  4. Share Expertise
    Start a company blog to announce new products, communicate successes, showcase work, discuss new trends, and announce events that are being hosted or attended. Do not forget to promote these posts in social media networks: Tweet about the post, start a discussion on LinkedIn, share the post on Facebook. Did a company executive just finish an extensive project that the firm is proud of? Share photos on Flickr or create a video about the project and upload it to YouTube. These tools will put a company’s portfolio on display for a wide audience.
  5. Improve SEO
    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the number of visitors to a website by getting a high ranking on search result pages. One of the main benefits of social media is that it directs traffic back to a company’s website and increases SEO. From there, the website can showcase even more work and provide details about services and products. Now a business is on its way to generating leads and improving bottom lines.

As social animals, people love to share good things as well as bad experiences. Businesses need to humanize their image and create a personal appeal that resonates in their market. Companies must begin to find out what people are saying about them on social channels. When they start to monitor these avenues, companies can discover useful information on how to further position the brand to reach company goals. Companies must ask themselves whether they are listening to what is being said.

google my business

Why Google Business Listing is extremely important?

There are over 3.5 billion people searching on Google every day, and your business is just one in a million that shows up on each relative search. But Google is the fastest way to let people know about your business and can even convert your products into sales.

 

“My business is over 10 years old and everyone already knows about it”

It’s true that you have a lot of regular customers for your business, but with the new generation coming in, are you sure that they actually know about you? You really don’t want to miss out on that market. Google has an amazing tracking system that will let customers – who might be interested in your products or services – will see your listing first. It is a much better method of advertising, especially for businesses who have been in the game for a long time and may fear that their industrial voice has been lost.

 

“I did my Google Business listing 5 years ago”

Is the information on your Google listing still up to date? Google loves fresh content. Everything you update about your business gives you a higher chance of Google putting your company above the others.

 

 “I don’t know if I have a Google Business Listing or Not”

Many business owners have said that same thing when asked about their Google listings.

Emerson Street Automotive, for example, were unaware that they already maintained a Google listing and attempted to create a new one. However, since Google doesn’t allow duplicate business listings, the old listing information needed to be retrieved and updated.

The fastest way to check it is to search your business name on Google. If you have listed with them before, there will be a small window on the right that will have all your company’s information.

 

“I don’t have the access to my Google Listing”

Mid-State Construction has been on the market for over 10 years. Their website, which was created at the time they opened the business, was still a listing in the Google search queues. That means that their old website was receiving all former and updated customer information, because customers were still going to the old site; also, the experience of the old website was not as user-friendly as the new site was designed, so their clientele had taken a small hit. Remember to be careful when storing account information, because it can take anywhere up to two-weeks or so to retrieve the information from Google and verify that it is indeed your account information.

social media search

Top Social Media Search Tools

Finding it difficult to find the right people to connect with on social media?…or… Do you want to identify when someone talks about you, your product or brand on social media channels? Do you sometimes struggle to find great content to share? In this article, you’ll find some great answers to all these questions. Here are 7 different ways to do an effective social media search.

1. Find mentions on social media channels using Brand24

There is a broad range of social media monitoring tools that allow you to track mentions across various social media channels. Brand24 is one such tool. In the image below, you can see that you can filter content from Twitter and Facebook. It even finds images that are shared that mention what you are looking for.


You can also see, in the image above, that it tries to identify how influential the person is on Twitter. You can apply a filter to look at which influential people are sharing out the content. You can also look at charts such as this.

People and companies sharing your content the most

This shows you the people with the most influence who are sharing your content, and the people/companies sharing your content most frequently. You need to track both lists. You need to look after the key influences and best supporters and build relationships with them.

2. Use Google to search social media channels

When you are searching through LinkedIn, your search results are restricted based on the subscription that you have paid for. But…The majority of profiles are indexed on Google. If you could just search on Google and find what you were looking for, would that be useful…? Want me to tell you how? On Google, you can use the site command to restrict a search based on a particular site. For example, a search for “mediarescue site:twitter.com” (without the “”) will return mentions of mediarescue on Twitter. But there’s an easier way. You can set up a custom search engine for Google that automatically filters out content. Here is a custom Google search for LinkedIn. If you log out of LinkedIn and do a search using this custom search engine, you get access to everyone’s full profiles with no restrictions!
Here is an example: when you click on each one, you get full access to their profiles, assuming they have not switched off any/all of their profile for Google indexing.

Search for LinkedIn profiles using a Custom Google search

Useful?

3. Find Most Popular Content using Post Planner

Post Planner is a social media management tool for Facebook and Twitter. One killer piece of functionality with Post Planner is its content-discovery engine. It finds the most-shared content across social channels and you can then pick links from this content to share out on your own social channels. I recently listened to an interview on Kim Garst’s show on Blab where she talked with Josh Parkinson, founder of Post Planner. He said that, when you share content on Facebook, Facebook will share this out to more of your fans and followers if this content has already proven to be popular on Facebook. Of course, the opposite is also true. Share something that is unproven and it’s more likely that Facebook won’t share it out to too many people.
With Post Planner, you can do things like:

  • View a list of the most-liked images on Facebook for a particular category/time frame
  • View the most-shared pictures on Instagram to re-share on other platforms
  • View the most-shared updates from one or a collection of Facebook Pages that you add.

This is really powerful functionality so it’s well worth checking it out.

4. Use a hashtag-search tool

Hashtags are very popular on Twitter and Instagram but they are less popular on other platforms. But, if you want to search social media for content around specific topics, then searching hashtags could be very useful. There is a variety of hashtag search tools available but one of the most useful ones is Tweet Binder. There are paid and free versions but you can get some cool information with the free version.
Here’s a list of the most active people that Tweet Binder found for the hashtag #blogchat, which is a weekly chat about blogging.

Here’s a filter of the tweets based on this hashtag.

5. Use keyword filters provided in Hootsuite or similar tools

Hootsuite is a social media management tool and it gives you the ability to set up a filtered view of content by using keywords (and also hashtags). It’s not a very advanced search but it could be used to filter content based on your company name, personal name or certain queries you are interested in. For example, if you ran a restaurant in Dublin, you may apply a filter for: Restaurant Dublin ? You’re looking for any tweet that has these words included in any order. The reason you use the question mark is because you want to filter out things that are not questions. If you’re looking for a restaurant in Dublin, you are likely to say something like:
“I’m looking for a restaurant in Dublin for 15 people, any ideas?”


This search string will show you tweets that include both the words in your search, and tweets that include a question mark. These are most likely to find tweets that you could respond to and prove yourself to be useful.

6. Use a content cu-ration tool such as ContentGems

ContentGems is a site that helps you to find relevant links and stories to share to your social networks. By inputting some keywords and search terms, ContentGems curates a list of content, relevant to your search, that you can read, store or share socially. In the example below, ContentGems auto-filled some keywords and search results. They are in a format that you will be familiar with if you have ever used any kind of advanced search capabilities, with words that can be included, words that should not be included, and words that must be included.

Here are the results we got:

You can see that there is a wide range of content from a variety of different websites. At the bottom of each result, there are some icons. Let’s take a look at them:

Actions you can take on each article
On the left, there are icons for Hootsuite and Buffer. If you click on either of these, it brings up the relevant interface so you can share the article directly or add it to your sharing queue. Next, there are icons for Instapaper and Pocket. If you want to save an article to read properly later, you can do it with these services. Then, there is an envelope icon to share an article by email, and the final icon lets you share posts through ContentGems itself. On the right, you can see how many times an article has been tweeted. These sharing and saving options makes ContentGems easy to use alongside the tools you already take advantage of. It integrates with some of the most popular services, making it a great option for finding and sharing relevant stories and links to your social media feeds.

7. Find trending content using BuzzSumo.

It’s good to know what topics are trending in your niche. If you share them on social media, it shows that you are aware of what’s going on. And it makes sure you don’t miss out on any industry news. BuzzSumo is a tool we’ve talked about a lot in the past, and one of its features is very useful for finding trending stories.
In the menu at the top of the screen, choose Trending Now.

Next, you can choose whether you want to see trending topics for wide categories, or for your own search terms.

You can choose from the categories at the top or, like we have done, you can click the + symbol and add your own search terms. Unsurprisingly, we chose ‘social media’!
BuzzSumo then shows you the topics that are trending for your category or keyword.

If the results you see aren’t quite right, you can tweak them by changing whether the trending topics should be from the last two hours or 24 hours, or anything in between. You can also choose which country they should be from.
When you see a result that looks interesting to you, you can see the number of social shares that link has had. This can be a good indication of whether your audience will be interested in the topic.

There is a goldmine of information out there on social media. But you need to filter the noise to find what’s relevant. What are you doing to find the best information to share?

marketing firm orlando

Your Business – 7 Free Marketing Tips

Market Your Business for FREE

You may not have wads of cash to spend on marketing your business in the early stages of your startup, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t effective ways to get your brand out there.

Before the Internet, small businesses only had a few ways to market their products cheaply, through methods like printing out fliers or sponsoring little local events. Now there are all kinds of opportunities out there on the Web—you just need to know where to look.

Here are seven ways to promote your business online that won’t cost you a dime:

  1. Use the three big local listing services

Registering your business with Google Places allows it to be found more easily on Google searches and it shows up on Google Maps. All you have to do is fill out the form and register, then get your business verified through their confirmation process, which can be done either with a phone call or snail mail. Yahoo! also has a big database of businesses called Yahoo! Local. It’s free, and is certainly worth the few minutes it takes to set up. Microsoft’s Bing has a similar service that’s easy to sign up for.

  1. Embrace social media

Social media isn’t just a tool to gain exposure—it has now become a necessary time investment for every business to make. You can tie in ads and offers on your Facebook page and have a direct channel with your customers on Twitter. Networking on LinkedIn—both at the personal and company level—can be another way to help your startup.

  1. Start a blog

A blog not only helps your company get its name out through followers, but is a way to connect with your consumers more directly. But remember that one of the major keys of blogging is to keep your stream updated as frequently as you can. A dormant, abandoned blog is worth nothing.

  1. Put up multimedia on YouTube and Flickr

YouTube provides a free way to distribute creative promotional videos, but in order to succeed you must put up content that people want to view and are relevant to your business—a simple ad will not work. A Flickr profile can also help by giving you one place to compile all the photos for your business, and allows you to link back to your website.

  1. SEO your company website

Search engine optimization cannot be underestimated in the world of constant Googling. Pick up a book or head over to an online how-to-guide on SEO and make sure your site is primed for performance on search engines.

  1. Press releases

Every time your business does something newsworthy, don’t hesitate to shoot off a press release—maybe folks will pick up on it. They’re a powerful media tool to use to help generate publicity, and having free distribution of them is a bonus. There are dozens of websites out there that you can use for your press releases, such as PRLog and 24/7 Press Release.

  1. Join a relevant online community and contribute

Every niche has communities online that you can get involved in. But just signing up for a forum and posting every once in a while about your business isn’t beneficial for anyone, and will likely just annoy people. Actively contribute and build a rapport with the community, while keeping your business out of it. Passively promote your business by putting a link in your signature or mentioning it only when the context is appropriate.

marketing campaign

Tips For Success with Marketing Campaigns

Gaining leverage, competing for business, standing out from your competition, and creating a stronger reputation for your brand can sound like an overwhelming task.  But over time, and proven again and again, it really all boils down to how effective your marketing campaign runs, and how consistent you are with it.  There are many rules to achieving success with marketing, and since many businesses are unique, there is going to be plenty of trial and error along the way.  But to minimize the amount of money wasted, and to reach your desired results faster, I have compiled some basic marketing tips that will help you in efforts. 

1. Understand your customers

Getting to know your customers is the most important stage of marketing process. The more accurate your information and knowledge, the more effective you will be at selling. Use all the information at your disposal to understand customer’s behavior, demographics, and requirements. This information should steer your major business decisions and allow you to write a marketing plan.

2. Observe the marketing environment

Knowing your customer is vital, but there may also be business opportunities which emerge as a result of changing global circumstances. For example, in recession budget brands such as camp sites or cheap food stores tend to flourish as people dial down their annual spending. Emerging technologies may make new products possible, and new legislation may shift consumers behaviors – a good example is the reduction in road tax for low polluting cars. Make sure you regularly ‘scan’ the external environment for opportunities (and threats).

3. Design your product or service around the customer

Once you have a marketing plan in place, you need to make sure your product or service is tailored to your customers – from the packaging to the way it is promoted. Entrepreneurs often fall into the trap of making the product they want to sell, rather than designing and presenting things in the way the customer wants.

4. Ensure you are smooth and efficient

The process of conducting your business is almost as important as the product itself – make sure delivery is quick, returns are dealt with courteously, your staff greet customers with a smile and a cup of coffee. Surprise and delight your customers by going above and beyond the call of duty for them. Word of mouth is a powerful selling tool and this is exactly the way to generate it.

5. Design targeting advertising & customer communications

Placing a few ads just isn’t enough to get noticed any more. Consumers are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages every day of their lives and take less and less notice. You need to do something pretty special to stand out, so make sure your messages are clear and appeal to exactly the people you are trying to sell to. Use both emotional and rational arguments to demonstrate what you are selling and why they need it.

6. Invest in your people

Your staff are your most precious asset – look after them and give them the training they need to do their jobs well. From your receptionist to your salesmen, make sure they are motivated, have the tools they need and understand their role in the business plan. If everyone works together, your business will look after itself. 

7. Make sure your shop front is immaculate

Good presentation is a huge influencing tool, it generates trust, motivates your staff and makes customers comfortable with their decision. If your front of house is messy, what does that say about your warehouse or filing systems? Even if things are chaotic behind the scenes, never lower the standards of your customer facing areas

8. Have a pricing strategy

Don’t just set a price based on production costs plus a margin. Pricing is a powerful tool to achieve your goals – decide what you are trying to achieve and what message you’re giving out by setting your price at a certain level. High prices mean you’re likely to sell less, but can give the impression of a premium product. Low prices can allow you to break into or dominate a particular market, although this may mean low profitability in the short term. Ensure pricing is part of a greater strategy, and include this in your marketing plan.

9. Respond to complaints well

Every complaint is an opportunity to turn around a dissatisfied customer – respond quickly and positively. Remember your brand is easily damaged, and the last thing you want is for people to be actively spreading bad stories about your business. A complaint that is dealt with well can often result in a loyal customer, they will have refreshed trust in your brand and the confidence to buy again knowing that if things do go wrong they will be sorted out quickly.

10. Write a marketing plan

Develop your strategy in the form of a written marketing plan, as this will ensure all members of your business understand the company direction. The plan is a comprehensive and well researched document which covers all essential aspects of taking your products to the customer, including the points listed above. When developing the plan, ask yourself the following questions.

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • What opportunities exist in the environment?
  • How will we get there?
  • Who will do what?
  • How will we know we’ve arrived?

If you think this is too much to handle, or you just want to get an opinion on what you have as a marketing plan/strategy feel free to contact us for a free consultation.  We will gladly take the time to listen to your strategy and offer our opinion with no obligation, no cost, and no commitments.  Just one professional business to another.  call today: 1.855.456.6993 Ext: 1491  Best of luck to you.

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10 Characteristics Successful Business Owners Share

Why do some people succeed, while others fail to reach their goals? Here’s one business owner’s observations about what successful people do that others don’t.
I have been a business owner for about a minute. In fact, that would probably be quite generous if you compared me to the business moguls out here or anywhere for that matter. But in spite of that fact, I probably know a lot about business, more than I realize and much more than you would expect, if you knew my background. It is my life as a business owner that has finally made sense of all the data and observations that I have gathered over the years. I spent 20 years of my life working for others, most unknown, some infamous.
Because my jobs were in an executive assistant capacity for the past 20 years I, like all assistants, get to see the workings of the company almost like a fly on the wall. We get to see the inner workings of the people we work for. We get to hear the opposing view from others who work for the company, both those who are close to the boss and those far removed.
I don’t know about other assistants, but for me it’s like watching a horror movie where you know what’s behind the door but the person opening the door has no idea. And you are in the audience screaming don’t do it! But who is going to listen to you? So you just see and feel certain behaviors and actions and you file them away like you are gathering data for future analysis. Well I am now in that future and this is my analysis. Life and business are not all that different. Some people would like you to think the rules of the game are different in business, but they really are not. They like to keep the mystery about it, the smoke and mirrors going. But in my own experience, observation of others and readings about the lives of countless others, this is what I believe it takes to be successful in both life and business. It is what I constantly strive to achieve for myself. And in the style of David Letterman, we’ll begin with number 10!

10. Letting your gut-instincts keep you safe.

This is more than street-smarts. I believe that gut instinct is not just some strange source but 1- the spiritual essence of us and our connection with the source of life, but also 2- it is a lifetime of observation and learning from experience. I surely have experienced life and I have spent my life observing people. I have the ability to peer into the insides of people. My mother could do it. She would make these statements about people she barely knew and she’d hit the nail on the head about their very essence. I too have this ability. The thing is it’s not always something you can verbalize but your gut tells you some things right off the bat. This is a very useful thing in the business world and I believe we all have this ability but not everyone taps into it. Being able to read people doesn’t mean that you immediately run or become best friends, it means that you proceed with caution filing away the info you’ve got on hand right now. If there is something queer about a business proposition, keep this up front as you examine it. You know in your gut when something’s right and when something’s not right.

9. A lifetime of self-examination – I cannot stress this enough.

We are a work in progress. You will make mistakes, your attitude will change and you will grow. But if you don’t take the time to examine yourself and your attitudes along the way, you run the risk of becoming stagnant and brittle. And brittle is a good candidate for crumbling dust. Examine your relationships with people, your business practices, not just your finances. In the end, it is your relationship with people that makes you successful in both life and business. If you find yourself having the same issues arise, it’s time for some self-examination. What are you doing to contribute to this issue? What can you do to create a change?

8. Open mindedness to new ways of thinking.

How many times have we seen people, throughout history, hold on to what they believe is the ONLY way to think, to find the world moving on without them? It was generally thought the automobile would never catch on; after all, weren’t bicycles and trains more than enough? It doesn’t mean you have to change your way of thinking or embrace it, just examine it, educate yourself about it and recognize that it may be here to stay.

7. Open mindedness to new technology

This relates to number 8 but in a business capacity, it is even more important. A pencil and paper may be your preferred method of working on finances, but you had better know a few things about technology or you and your pencil will be left behind. Sure you can hire others who know, but what you don’t know CAN hurt you. Read! You can learn so much about anything by reading. And if you were tech savvy you would know the internet is the greatest addition to the library in regard to learning about everything!

6. Being streetwise and book-smart

There is nothing more important than having a reasonable balance of both. Naivety can cost you and not being educated to the level you need to function well in your chosen environment can cost you as well. Don’t leave your street-smarts at the door in business environments but temper it with real knowledge as well.

5. Education and constant re-education

I am not talking about college degrees here. Though they are a great start, you must continue to educate yourself. Take part in seminars, read everything, surf the net. Even when you think you’ve got it, press on.

4. A willingness to give back

First, take care of yourself. Put yourself in a position to give back. I’ve had the privilege to hear so many people speak about their ideas for new businesses. The first thing they say is that they want to help people and that they want to give away what they’ve got. Andrew Morrison, from Small Business Camp (http://www.smallbusinesscamp.com) and believer that questions are more powerful than answers (see his book “21 Questions that Will Build Your Business in 90 Days”) always asks the question, “Where’s the money?” because if you can’t support yourself, if you have to close your doors because you are bankrupt, how can you realistically help others? Sure there are exceptions to this, but most people have been able to give back and help others because they helped themselves. When you’ve helped yourself, GIVE BACK! I’ve seen many people become selfish and bitter in this regard. “I had to do it for myself! Nobody helped me!” They begin to dole out help in a miserly manner, looking for something in return including gratitude. They also give with suspicion. They suspect that those they give to will use it to steal something from them. If you watch closely, here is where they will begin their descent. If you feel like you got where you are on your own, look carefully I say, because you did NOT get to where you are without help. And much of it was given unselfishly and without restraint. Give generously and from the heart and don’t look back! (CAUTION: DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE DRAINED DRY BY THOSE WHO LIKE TO PLAY UPON THIS NOTION EITHER)

3. Love and caring for yourself

Here is a simple analogy. When you board a plane you are treated to a demonstration of what to do in case the oxygen masks drop from above. The first instruction is to put your mask on first. This is especially important because if you don’t take care of your need first, you will not be able to help others and that includes your children, your spouse or anyone else. How does this relate to business? Create the situation that best helps you first. Put yourself in a position of power or at least close to the ear of power. Do a great job, first for you. Excel for you. Then assist others, speak up for others, do for others

2. How you treat people

I believe in this. I don’t think you really have to right to abuse people. Some people think that certain groups of people are okay to abuse. I am not speaking from a standpoint of race here either. These people think that it’s okay to abuse “the help” i.e. countless waiters and waitresses, assistants, maids, children. They also think it’s okay to abuse what they deem “fat people” or people they believe are “ugly”. They believe it’s okay to treat “telemarketers” with disrespect when these are just people doing a job (I’m not talking about rude or abusive telemarketers either!). I believe that the golden rule is truth that still stands, because truth will always stand. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, or your daughter or son, or spouse, etc. I urge you to read “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, by Dale Carnegie, over and over again. Study the lives of the charismatic. Success was written in their everyday dealings with people. Not on a superficial level but on a deeper connecting level.

Here is what I believe is the number one key to success for an entrepreneur. Are you committed? What I am trying to say is that in all of my observations, and from my own experience, I find that the journey is always the same. It’s a long road of self examination and improvement, skill examination and education. It’s making judgment calls about people, things and situations. You continually correct the “course” until you are headed in the right direction. To trust your gut, to keep the faith, to make it through tough times, takes practice. The question is can you stick it out? Do you quit because the money is low? Do you quit because you can’t find the right people? When do you say it’s over?

Commitment to the journey. It is the key to success. Because you will always see things that make you want to run. But you have to put your faith on the table. You really have to stand against all odds. It takes courage. And when you do this, you will succeed.