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.

Using All the Resources Available – Build Your Network

Success sogm

Photo (CC) Bruce Berrien, on Flickr

In order to do the best job we can, whether we are in business or are a service provider, the bottom line is we must use every resource available.

For business owners, one such resource are other business owners. This idea formed the basis for the Power of Business effort.

For service providers, such as those of us working for Extension, we have this vast network of each other that we can turn to for help and ideas.

Both of these internal resources are great and I hope you use them. Yet many more resources exist in organizations and businesses outside of our and second circles of connections. The example I will use here is the Farmers Market Federation of NY. 

This organization provides information for customers, farmers, and market managers. I have followed it for a couple of years. No, I am not from NY but what they provide gives me ideas for my work with local food promotion and the growers involved in that effort.

In there August 17th newsletter, they wrote about holding music events during market days. Now that may not be something new to you, but they included a press release used by a market manager, the Facebook event connection, and a photo used.

The article also provided some other resources (I love these type of freebies) including where to find special days and months (National Chicken Month, National Smile Day, etc). This lets you make an event when you might not think nothing exists. They also challenged market managers to make the market the special event of the week.

There may be nothing new here, but outside resources, such as these, can remind us of ideas we may have forgotten and new twists to something we are already doing. 

 

Be a Destination

destination sign

Photo (CC) 2.0) by Mai Le, on Flickr

You probably have heard small-business owners talk about being a destination.  And you might have said to yourself that while it works for them, the type of store you have would never lend itself to that. But why let traditional thinking stand in your way?  This owner didn’t http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/08/convenience-store-owner/494756/

Take Control of Time Spent Doing Your Small Business Online Marketing

Online Marketing

Online Marketing Options

Developing an online presence is a necessity.

However, you hesitate because: you hear it takes a lot of time or you are not comfortable with technology or you know your customers won’t use it or they all know about your business already. Perhaps it a combination of these items and more. So why have an an online presence?

Yet if you are reading this, you are using that same technology. And if you look around, you will see mobile technology all over being used.

Let’s not hide the fact though that the time needed for a large online presence can be substantial. This article clearly points out that fact. Yes, it really does talk about 12 to 104 hours per week just for doing search engine optimization of your web site. Such time is not even available in your wildest dreams. Perhaps if you didn’t want to sleep…… And we haven’t even talked about your social media efforts yet!!

But are you at that level?  If so, then go for it.  If not, keep reading.

So what can be done to build an online presence and yet control the amount of resources it takes? 

These are my thoughts on the steps you might take. Others may disagree but this will get you started.

First, learn about the online world and the technology. Understand its place in a marketing effort. Then find a way to dip your toe in the water. Let me suggest the following steps:

  1. Learn about the online world and be ready to commit some resources. Take some classes about what this online world is at your Extension office, library, school, college, etc. Any time you are out, look at the people around you, they are probably online with a mobile device (and you may well be reading this on your mobile device). And ask how much you can carve out to commit to developing an online presence.
  2. Online starts off-line so talk with your customers. What are they doing online and how are they getting online? What would they like to see from your online presence? At the same time, see what your competitors are doing as well as other businesses in your community.
  3. Claim your bubble. You know, that little pin that shows where a business is located. Get listed in at Google business and other similar services. Correct inaccurate information. Google is the current big player but don’t overlook other sites such as Bing and Mapquest.
  4. Check out the review sites where your business might be listed.  Set up a plan for reviewing those sites on a regular basis. I would encourage at least a weekly review and a response to any negative reviews. A thanks to positive reviewers would also be a good idea. Now might be the time to consider how you can get more reviews. (15 minutes per week)
  5. Set up Google Alerts or some other means of getting an update, such as Twitter lists,  Feedly or Hootsuite, to know when your name or the name of your business is mentioned online. You may also want to follow your key products, trends, or key industry informants (15 – 45 minutes per week)
  6. It’s now time to take the next big step in your online presence. My recommendation is to build a website. The reason for that method versus something like a Facebook page is you control it. Social media sites are owned and controlled by others. If they decide to change, everything you worked for can disappear quickly. Your site can vary from something basic to very elaborate with shopping carts, etc. You can do it yourself or you can hire someone else to build it. Taking this and step 7 may require more help and training. This is also where your required time commitment will start to grow.
  7. Another big step – Now it’s time to add social media perhaps including a blog.

You have covered the basics (Steps 1 through 5, and have moved on with items #6 and #7. The first five steps require a reasonable (dare I say small) ongoing time commitment, maybe as little as 15 minutes per week although I hope that you are getting lots of positive reviews that take time to read. Just a reminder, though, there is upfront time being spent to get ready.

At this point, you can look at social media advertising, search engine optimization, getting ready for mobile, and tracking your metrics.

The bottom line is you can begin an online presence without spending the hours suggested by that first article. And you can do much of the work yourself, even with the long days your business takes.

Additional information:

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.

 

Adding Facebook to Your Marketing

The use of online marketing tools is rapidly growing.  And the largest, and still growing, is Facebook.

If you haven’t thought about how online marketing can be a part of your world, you need to take action. The time to think about it is over.  Oh, not everyone needs to be online but the list of who might not benefit is getting smaller and smaller.

Facebook is the largest player in this arena. James Barnes, Assistant Professor, Mississippi State University Extension, is actively studying it, along with it capacity to place Facebook ads.

Watch the First Friday chat as James talks about the experiences of companies he has assisted in using Facebook and Facebook Ads. Listen to the stories and tips he shares. And check out his program, Mississippi Bricks to Clicks.”

 

You can also find short informational briefs James has prepared at:

Barnes, J. and K. Coatney. 2015. “Facebook ‘Farming’ for Rural Organizations“, The Daily Yonder: Keep It Rural, March 30th.

Barnes, J. and K. Coatney. 2014. “Regional Economic Development and Marketing Rural Tourism Events Using Facebook: The Woodville Deer and Wildlife Case“, Mississippi State University Extension, Publication 2855.

Barnes, J. 2014. “Social Media Marketing: Facebook”, National eCommerce Extension Initiative, eBiz: Tips for Marketing Your Business, Southern Rural Development Center.

Make sure your marketing plans are reaching your intended audiences. Today that includes Facebook and other online tools.

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.