Marketing with Videos

Pam Schallhorn, University of Illinois Extension, recently shared a video from Alton, Illinois. the video is a great example of how, without a lot of dollars, businesses and communities can effectively use videos in their marketing.

Videos continue to grow in popularity and use. Two trends in the use of videos make them attractive for marketing. The first trend is that short is great.  This video is around three minutes.

The second trend is that you don’t need a lot of fancy gear, a simple camera or even your smartphone can do the job. Plus you don’t need to do a lot, if any, editing. Even if some editing is needed, there are some programs that most people can pickup and use in just a short period of time.

Check out this video and then, “Lights, camera, and action,” should be your next step.

To here to read Pam’s blog.

Listening for the Need

Surprised child

Photo (CC 2.0) by Jay Ryness, on Flickr

How many times have you asked yourself, “What do our customers want?”

I hope you answered that by saying you consider that question every day. Or maybe once a week. At least I hope it’s once a year as you set up your goals for the year.

Yet I suspect that often our answer revolves around thinking we know what the customer wants. And that can be a big mistake.

So what should be the answer to my question? I would hope we would answer “This is what our customer wants BECAUSE WE ASKED!!!!!”

We may think we know what the customer wants or we may treat a part of the issue but do we get to the cause.

This video, from Stanford eCorner, tells the story of how Intuit realized its product was used as much in the business world as it was for its designed market, taking care of our personal finances.

Watch it and then ask yourself again, “What do your customers want?” I suspect your answer will be, “We better go and find out.”

Savor the Surprise

And don’t think you only ask once. Your market will change

Getting Found: It’s a Must!

Market

Photo (CC 2.0) by Blullana_Miranda, on Flickr

The idea of getting one’s business in front of the target audience remains a crucial step.

Yet getting this done continues to become harder and harder. The number of marketing messages grows on a daily basis. As the number of messages grow, consumers are just tuning out more and more of them. Some estimates suggest that 90% of the messages placed before us don’t even register in our minds.

So business owners face getting noticed among the forest of competing marketing messages.

A couple of year’s ago, I did a blog for Small Business Survival in which I noted the importance of networking. That remains one effective tool.

Another tool is the importance of “you” the owner. Your efforts in networking as well as in establishing the brand, reputation, and identity of your business are crucial.

Third, develop your ambassadors. Today with social media and third-party review sites, this step perhaps is easier than it has even been. Encourage people to rate their experience with your company. Just this last weekend, my wife and I ate a favorite restaurant. As we finished our meal, the staff person at our table brought us a postcard and said if we liked our meal to send the card to a friend. The card offered a discount. What a great way to encourage people to spread the word.

The bottom line is that your customer will typically not find you without a great deal of effort on your part. Marketing is key to a successful business.

 

Dr. James Barnes Talks Facebook and Facebook Ads

In our December Friday 15, Dr. James Barnes, Mississippi State University Extension, discussed Facebook and Facebook Ads for your business.

In her introduction of James and the topic, Jenny Nixon, moderator and Extension Educator with University of Nebraska, mentioned that 50% of people online have a Facebook account. This means potentially great opportunities by having your business on this social media platform.

In his chat, James mentioned the need to have your Facebook page up and running well before you started using any ads. Some of the components necessary include fresh and engaging content, good images, and changing, diversified content. He said that a 30-day calendar, at a minimum, of planned content was important.

Once a business owner gets ready to run ads, he or she need to know their budget, should start small, set goals and monitor the metrics, especially impressions, reach, and frequency. Also, there needs to be a consistent core message

Finally, Dr. Barnes mentioned that a business Facebook page cannot just be sell, sell, sell. There needs to be a flow of information, tips, contests, and other items that will keep people engaged.

You can find more resources about the Mississippi “Bricks to Clicks” effort including a variety of publications at: http://www.msbrickstoclicks.com/pubilcations.html . One specific publication looks at the economic benefits of Facebook marketing.

Dr. Barnes mentioned that the rules and opportunities for Facebook, and other social media platforms, are always changing. For example, Facebook has just recently added the opportunity to add a shopping cart on your Facebook page.

Facebook and Facebook ads can be a great marketing tool for your business. But like any other tool, it must be done right and an integrated part of the overall marketing plan.

 

Social Media: An Effective Tool for Rural Businesses

This week’s blog information comes from work done by Dr. James Barnes and Dr. Katlyn Coatney, both of Mississippi State University. They are working to look at how online marketing tools can be effectively used by rural, small agribusinesses. Part of the work of Dr. Barnes includes examining how Facebook ads can be included in the marketing mix.  All of this work is part of  the Mississippi Bricks to  Clicks program

social media channels

Photo (CC) by mkhmarketing, on Flickr
mkhmarketing.wordpress.com

It’s no longer should  you use online marketing, it is how soon can you start.

The idea of online marketing is not new to any business owner.  If the owner isn’t already doing it, they have probably been approached by someone encouraging them to start.  Just in their daily lives, business owners see the idea in action as they go online themselves or even pick up a newspaper or magazine and see advertisements directing them to an online site.

If you look at the data, more and more businesses have begun to include use of online marketing in their overall marketing strategy. Somewhat research finds that businesses in rural places and agribusinesses have been somewhat slower in instituting such practices. To encourage business owners, Drs. Barnes and Coatney have authored a case study, The Economic Value of Social Media Advertising on Mississippi Agribusiness: The Case of MG Farms, Inc. 

Through their work with MG Farms, it was possible to show the economic benefit of using Facebook and Facebook advertising as a marketing tool. Focusing on an upcoming sale, MG Farms made an effort to increase the number of people who liked their Facebook page and who became engaged users during a three-month period.

Such likes and engagement forms a valuable intangible asset for a business.  In the case of MG Farms, that value was worth around $122,000.

Yet Facebook and Facebook ads also had tangible benefits to the business. When the sale was held, attendance increased by 20 percent and gross revenues increased by 33 percent, both based on 2015 as compared to 2014. The social media effort was the only thing MG Farms changed during the year.

The cost for MG Farms for the advertisements was only $735 thus making for a strong return on investment.

The report from Drs. Barnes and Coatney provides a research on the effectiveness of social media marketing for rural businesses. If done with guidance on its effective use, it has the potential for substantially growing your bottom line. 

 

Being Effective Online

Online tipsHaving an effective online presence is as important as simply being online.

Being online will bring some likes and friends, but that  activity will come from people who already know you or from your family and friends. What you want is an online presence that creates awareness of your business, or educational efforts in our case, and keeps that customer coming back for more. The goal is to make your customer a lifetime ambassador for your business.

Part of our Power of Business effort has been to get first-hand experience on reaching those goals. This video is a first report on our initial efforts as we develop platforms and writing titles that sell. Examples of what we learned are shared plus you get a peek at the on-going effort where we look at the power of Facebook and the Facebook ad.

Online is huge and it matters. Getting found though is often the issue. Just today I read that 2 million blog posts are put online each day. Add that to all of the tweets, posts, pictures, and videos posted, you can see why you need to focus on being efficient and effective in your online efforts.

In the video various types of content formats are discussed. Here at Power of Business we curate content, offer videos, do our monthly chats, provide some short fact sheets, and, of course, our blog.

Admittedly getting online is a scary undertaking. This is where a team can help you out as can a personal learning network. Dipping your toe into the online world may mean finding people you can learn from. There is nothing wrong with lurking and learning.  In time, you can begin to ask questions.

An effective online presence means you need to write, think and act differently. People want information quickly and they are typically focused on one problem at a time. You also need to offer some fun and flair. At times you may feel more like an entertainer than an educator. You also need to be flexible and be able to change quickly.

So get online. Engage and network with your customer base. Enhance their online experience. It builds your bottom line!!

Find the Powerpoint slides here at “Are We Entrepreneurs?”

 

Marketing and Your Business

It can’t be said enough that “build it and they will come” is just a myth. A “one-and-done” effort will not get you what you want, either. Developing a successful business means putting a marketing plan that creates and maintains awareness of your product and/or services.

Learn how to build your marketing plan from Glenn Muske, small business specialist for North Dakota State University Extension.  Check out Glenn’s article on marketing your small business for more information: Standing Out from the Competition

Tell Your Story

story book

Photo (CC) by UNE photos, on Flickr

Information provided by: Susan Moffat, Extension Educator, Oklahoma State University Extension

Storytelling is a marketing tool small business owners should capitalize on. They have great stories on how they got the idea for their business along with its growth, bumps and all. Plus it allows them to highlight some of their own story.

Susan provided the stories that two quilting/fabric shops have included on their websites. (You may see a theme in these stories. I worked with Susan and know quilting is a passion).

Missouri Star Quilt Company discusses the reasons why they started along with why they picked this industry. They make a strong case for going online thus showing that a solid business can grow in small towns. They offer some key elements that helped the business grow. Hamilton, MO has now become a destination because of their efforts.  Read their entire story at: https://www.missouriquiltco.com/content/aboutus

Prairie Quilt, http://prairiequilt.com/about-us/our-history/, also has their history posted in the “About us” section. They not only include the history of how Randa became the owner along with information about the team and story hours. They also list nearby hotels. The date the business started as part of their logo as well as their tag line, where sewing is fun, is all found on their website.

Both of these examples show how story telling is a great tool in marketing. You don’t find anything lengthy. Pictures were used to highlight the stories. And they are not just about the business but also about you, the owner.

Do you include your story in your marketing? Do you have a short version to tell when networking? Consider them. Customers enjoy knowing more about how you and your business.

For more information, check out:

Are You Telling (and Selling) with Your Business Story at Small Biz Survival blog

http://smallbiztrends.com/2015/05/what-is-brand-storytelling.html

Is Your Market Changing?

change

Photo (CC) by SEO, on Flickr

My drive to work is usually spent listening to news on the radio. Three recent items got me thinking about this column.

Yesterday one of the stories highlighted how millennials are now the largest segment of the U. S. workforce. Today a news story discussed how ethnic backgrounds in various parts of our country have constantly changed since our country’s founding. And last week a news article, discussing the slowdown in oil production in western North Dakota, commented on the rapid change in the mix of people again occurring.

The point these three stories make is that markets change. No matter where you are located or who your market is today, things will be different tomorrow. Developing an understanding of your market is something you do just once. Never stop updating your information about who your market is.

This means your:
• Product and service offerings may need to change.
• Marketing methods may need to change.
• Pricing may need to change.
• Acceptable payment methods may need to change (just an aside – an article yesterday indicated that over 80% of today’s customers do, or want to, pay using credit or debit cards).
• Competition has probably changed.
• Service and support may need to change.

You probably have the picture. Not only do you need to know who your market is but you need to respond to what the market wants. It is rare for a business today to be able to continue to always do business “the good old way.”

There are lots of ways to keep in touch with changes in your market. Following the news is just one. Being involved in the community is another. Keeping up with census data and reports done for local officials or the chamber of commerce is a third method. And of course, you can do your own market research.

Your market is changing. Your continued success happens if you stay in touch and continue to be innovative in your operation.

Getting Found

Map pin

Photo (CC) by stefanopaganini, on Flickr

In the recent few months, I have talked with several small, rural business owners about developing an online presence.

One of the topics that always comes up is the need for them to be found on the various online mapping services. Or if they already are listed on a service, to make sure that their pin or “bubble” is in the correct spot and that the information about their business is correct. In a couple of instances, the pin was incorrectly located by about six blocks.

Six blocks in today’s world could just as well be six miles or six counties. People unfamiliar with an area depend on the directions provided by these online mapping services. If the information is incorrect, it is rare that the traveler will search out the correct location. The bottom line here is lost revenue.

What can you do?

The UNL Extension Community Vitality Initiative, has written a great blog on how you can “Claim Your Bubble.” Read the post and make sure that your business is online and that the information is correct.

An online presence is crucial in today’s mobile society. And the world doesn’t wait for you to get your information up. If you don’t put it there, someone will probably do it for you. It’s your job to make sure it is correct and then to regularly stop by to ensure it remains accurate.