A Professional Social Media Road Map for Small Business Marketing

Every Small Business needs to have an online marketing strategy that supports their offline presence. Here’s a simple social media strategy that every small business can utilize to help grow their business.

Social Media Presence – If you haven’t already done so, take some time and properly implement a social media strategy for your company. If your not talking about your company online, via social media, chances are someone else is. Make sure you control the story. There are many tools to help monitor what people are saying about you or your company. You can monitor what people are saying about your company’s brand, services and products by subscribing to free online monitoring services like Hootsuite, Google Alerts and Twilert. These same services are a great way to stay informed about your competition. All these services allow you to target your results by keywords, company names or general terms that help define your query. So once you realize that people are talking about your company or your competition, you’ll want to participate in the conversation so that you can help steer the conversation in the right direction. The following social media platforms are a must for every small business owner to participate in.
Twitter: Twitter just might be the greatest online marketing tool your company can have, and its free! Take a look at this video clip by TechCrunch which interviews UCF’s Dana White. Take a look at this info graphic by KissMetrics. There are over 1 billion tweets posted per week. As a Small Business owner, you have a particular expertise in a certain area. Its important for you to create a twitter account and talk about the things that can help other people. Things you can and should write about are topics related to the services and products your company offers. Always write with a flare for giving advice freely. In addition, ask your customers to follow you on Twitter. Use the platform as a way for communicating special offers and deals relating to your business. Starbucks has a great social media success story that every small business can benefit from. The Next Web did a recent story on their social media strategy here. The great thing about twitter is that people will find and follow you if you have something to say. It also allows you to follow what are people are saying. Go to twitter and sign up for a free account. They recently launched brand pages which is similar to Facebook Pages for business. It allows you to set up a brand page for your business. Don’t worry about “writers block”. The cool thing about Twitter is that you can re tweet other peoples tweets. Make sure you follow people that have similar services and products and don’t be afraid to share or re tweet their stories. Follow these Twitter steps:

Sign up – Reserve your name before someone else does.
Upload your logo: Spend a few dollars and hire a graphic design company to really make your Twitter page pop. I personally recommend Gamby Studios.
Link your Twitter account to your website, business cards and brochures.
Follow Industry Leading people that have similar interests to you.
Tweet: make sure to tweet or re tweet relevant information.
Down load a Twitter Application on your Cell Phone. I suggest Tweetcaster or Hootsuite.
Check out TwitHawk: A great way to send direct tweets to people who are talking about your industry, services or products…. in real time! Its kinda like Google AdWords but for Twitter. Its a great advertising platform that allows you to send direct messages to people that need or talk about your product.
Check out 48ers too. Free service that allows you to send direct messages back to people ( in real time). Set up keywords to track and let the application do the rest. It will show you real time results in both Facebook and Twitter. Great way to market your company in real time but just make sure you have time to manage this properly.
LinkedIn: According to several leading social media sites, LinkedIn is fast becoming the most popular “sharing” button on both business and personal websites. With over 100 million users, I rank LinkedIn as the second best social media marketing tool for small businesses. ( Yes, even better than Facebook ). A properly set profile allows users to opt in for business venture requests from other users. If your company is a b2b service then LinkedIn is the place. This is not a viral marketing strategy. Most people are professional decision makers that can be targeted based on their set profiles. My advise would be to pay for a premium service plan. Check out the ad platform and run a few targeted campaigns.

Facebook: The 10,000 pound gorilla is my 3rd pick for social media marketing. No other site with the exception of maybe StumbleUpon and Reddit gets more page views on a daily basis. By now, if your reading this you already have a Facebook account. Now take the next step and create your Brand Page. Every business is slowly but surely creating a Facebook Page and you should too. Once your page is up and running head over to Wildfire Promotion Builder for contests, coupons, group deals, and sweepstakes. Its a great way for you to have your own personal Groupon. Wildfire also has great tool for Brand Pages Design.

Google+: Google+ pages are just starting to create some buzz. Not fully released to the public but soon every business will be able to create their own page for their business. Here’s what you need to know:

Get Started Early: Don’t wait. Although not as popular as Facebook pages, Google+ pages will be very beneficial to your business in the long run.

Call to Action for customers: make sure you get your visitors to join one of your “circles” Keep them updated on interested products and services and invite them to “hangout”.

Don’t Confuse: Unlike Facebook, Google+ allows you to create multiple pages for your brands and products. Just be careful not to go overboard. Simple is better.

Website+1 button: make sure you have one on your website so people can share your website with other Google+ friends. Google also measures the relevancy of your website by several factors which now include how many people use the Google+ button on your website.

Use a Google+ URL shortener: The URL Google gives you for the brand page is very long and not good for marketing. Several companies offer a service where they can assign your Google+ URL a better and shorter string.

Its not FACEBOOK: Google+ users are a little different than most other social media users. The platform tend to attract a much more tech savvy user. Make sure your comments and content is relevant to your business and don’t deviate into babble diatribe.
Note: Facebook will be releasing a new “Coupon” application, currently in Beta. Should be a great way for businesses to start offering coupon deals similar to Groupon but much more effective and much cheaper.

Company Blog: I personally suggest Tumblr. Its a free service with great templates to choose from. Posting articles in Tumblr can automatically be sent to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Blogs have much higher relevance to search engines and can be a huge boost to Search Engine Optimization for your website. make sure your articles are well written and unique in content. Don’t steal or scrape information from other sources. ( Search Engines like Google can quickly figure out that your information has been stolen. They wont index your site if they find this out. ) Take time to write good content or hire a company to do this for you. There are plenty of services out there that provide copy writing as a fee. Feel free to have one blog or many blogs but just make sure you update on a continuous basis and be the expert in your field. make your content so good that people will want to share your information with other friends and people.

YouTube: Create your own YouTube channel. Try creating something unique. If people like your video, they share it with potentially hundreds or thousands of people and pretty soon you have a viral campaign. YouTube now has a video ad platform. Online media marketing is big business. Spend some money and create a company video that explains your business and services. Its a great way for people to learn more about you without reading boring text on a website.

Direct Mail Marketing is Hard Work, But the Rewards Are Amazing!

Direct mail for real estate investing is advertising targeted directly at consumers or businesses. The key is that the actual physical advertisement goes directly into the hands of the targeted person. There is nothing in the middle to distract the recipient, like a magazine, a newspaper or a radio.

In addition, good direct mail always includes a “call-to-action.” This means requesting that the recipient makes a phone call, sends an email or goes to a website for more information. Other forms of marketing often only spread the company’s word or message in a vague way.

The other advantage of direct mail real estate marketing is that you can track and measure the results. If you send out 1000 letters, and 100 people respond, you know you have achieved a 10% response rate.

Direct mail marketing requires effort.

Direct mail it not as easy as simply placing and ad in a newspaper or on a billboard. So, why try it? Because it works!

If you place an ad in a newspaper it’s nearly impossible to know how many people see it and what the effect is. But with direct mail you know exactly how many mailings you have sent out. And if your mailing has a low response rate you know you have to make changes the next time around. But if it’s a huge success you know you shouldn’t change a thing.

And the best reason of all to use direct mail? Because it’s created millionaires in many industries… including real estate investing.

If you follow the proven steps – the steps the pros have honed to a fine art over the last 50 years – direct mail is one of the best marketing methods available.

Direct mail marketing strategies for real estate investors:

1) Target your market – Choose your market and choose your customers. As cost effective as direct mail marketing is, it can be a waste of time and money if you spread your resources too thin and market to everyone. After all, one good lead is more valuable than 100 bad leads. The solution? Choose your target market, and get as much value out of that market as you possibly can.

2) Start small – Even the biggest companies test the waters by mailing to a small group before mailing out millions of sales letters. This is especially important for smaller real estate investors.

3) Continual follow up – Don’t just mail once and stop. Studies have shown that each time you make contact with a potential customer or client the more likely it is that you’ll make the sale. Don’t give up on the first try.

4) Never stop educating yourself about direct marketing – There are incredible resources out there: books, blogs and seminars about direct marketing for real estate investors. What worked last year might not work today in direct marketing, so you have to keep up on what the pros are saying about the subject. In short, the more you know the better off you are.

5) Test, test, test! – The best investors make it the top by continually learning, testing and improving their direct marketing campaigns. Use a spreadsheet or a simple database to keep track of your mailings and responses.

Possible target groups for direct mail marketing:

Bankruptcy – People going through a bankruptcy often need to get rid of their houses quickly. Check your local court documents for bankruptcy filings and names of contacts.

Divorce – Just as with bankruptcy, people going through divorce often want to unload their houses quickly.

Death – Estates with property, especially those divided among multiple heirs, often need to be liquidated quickly. Quick sales are often more important to the sellers than getting the highest price, so there can be great opportunities to get cheap real estate.

Pre-Foreclosure – Homeowners who are behind on their mortgages often would rather just sell their properties than go through a lengthy foreclosure process.

Delinquent taxes – Due to the power of the IRS and local and state governments, many homeowners are forced to sell their homes when they get behind on their taxes.

Direct mail marketing overview:

Be professional – Not only in your marketing but also in your manner when dealing with homeowners. Your marketing message should clearly communicate the benefits you are offering your customers.

Repeat, repeat, repeat – Remember, it takes multiple messages and multiple contacts for a seller to decide that you are “real” and pick up the phone to call you.

Always be positive – Don’t waste your time dismissing your competition or putting them down. Not only is this an advertisement for your competition, but it makes you look unprofessional and distracts from your message. Tell your clients why you are the best, and tell them why choosing you is the only logical choice.

Get the Hands Involved and Improve Your Marketing

Years ago when I was relatively new in direct mail I had a chance to tour Metromail’s old lettershop in Seward, Nebraska.  It had some of the most amazing inserting and affixing equipment on the planet.  The mechanics at this cavernous mail center had built machines that could affix nearly any small object to paper.  Pennies, stamps, cards; you name it and these folks could stick it on a piece of paper and get it in the mail to you.

But why go to the hassle?  Why increase production costs by making a direct mail piece interactive at all?  The answer was simple — the longer you could keep the mail respondent involved with the direct mail piece, the greater your response rate.

Get the hands involved in your next promotional piece.  How often do you walk into your grocery store on a Saturday and are offered a free sample of cake or sausage or juice?  Does your favorite local coffee shop offer to give you a free taste of the flavor of the day to help you decide what to drink?  Car dealers almost wet their pants in anticipation of getting you in the car so you can take a test drive.

There is no substitute for putting a person’s hands in touch with an object; not only does touching get them involved it opens their minds to the possibilities of how they will use your product.  There is a feedback from the brain to the touch mechanisms in our fingers. We are tool users, and the hands are the manipulators of the tools…the hands are the brain’s number one tool, actually.  It is just so incredibly vital to get the person’s hands involved.

But what about engaging the intellect…overcoming objections with logical sales presentations and expressions of the facts?

Sure, that’s great and necessary.  People don’t buy on either emotions or reason alone.  Go ahead and answer the objection in your promotional marketing …but at the same time get their hands involved and engage their brains on another level.  While their hands explore their imaginations kick in.  They imagine how good that coffee will taste; they imagine how good they will look driving that car around….they imagine what they can do with your product.

Now, how do you do that on the web?  You have to get their hands involved with the keyboard… give them a chance to interact with your product as much as possible.  Allow them to comment on your blog or rate your product or customer service.  The more you can entice people to become involved with your site and hold their interest, the more you will sell them.