Why Use Social Media?

why use social mediaSocial media. You see it and hear about it all the time. Notifications show up on your phone, you hear about it constantly, you see hashtags and social sharing buttons everywhere. Being so popular, many people mistake social media as a trend, but the truth is, social media is a staple in our culture that is not going away.

In fact, the use of social media is evolving, advancing, and becoming more and more prominent in all aspects of our lives. Social media doesn’t just work because it’s popular, it is popular because it works. This post covers why social media is used for business, how it works, and why you should be using it for your small business!

Why Social Media Works

Social media works because it is widely used, relatively intuitive, and very versatile. It supports a wide range of media, and can be used for just about any topic in life that you can think of. In terms of businesses, social media works because of its targeting, visual element, and convenience (especially if you stick to social media best practices!).

Targeting

Social media was once about publishing posts to your followers as a whole. Then, you could choose which posts were public and which followers could see your posts. Now, the targeting on social media is extremely advanced. You can target your ads and posts toward specific genders, regions, age groups, and interests. You can target people based on their interaction with your business website, or target people who are similar to your existing customer base. Social media works because it allows businesses to reach new audiences, and to make sure they are not wasting their time or effort on groups not interested in their business.

Visual Benefits

Another reason why social media works so well for business is its visual component. What do you look at when you flip through a magazine or catalogue? Pictures. When you’re on Craigslist, how likely are you buy a product that has no picture? In fact, do you even click on postings with no picture? The visual sense is extremely important to marketing, and makes social media marketing extremely effective. Not only do user learn about your value, features, benefits, and culture, they can now see it, experience it, even feel a part of it. Social media works for business because images increase the appeal and attractiveness of your business, its products, and posts, and allows you to be more transparent.

Information Consumption

People consume information in an entirely different way now. We used to browse through newspapers, catalogues, and encyclopedias in search of the topic on our mind. Now, we expect to have platforms tell us what we want to know, and to quickly get the gist of multiple topics at once. When it comes to information, people like to know, know now, and know quickly. Social media works because it meets our need to quickly see the content we are interested in, to get real time information on it, and to digest it quickly through bite sized pieces of content.

Why Use Social Media for Business?

Businesses use social media because it can improve the frequency, quality, and reach of their. marketing. It is a quick and easy way to promote your business’s sales, promotions, events, and other marketing activities.

Market From Anywhere

One of the many benefits of social media is that it can go everywhere with you. You can remind people about a promotion you are running while waiting to be seen by the dentist. Happened to stumble upon someone interested in your business on the train? Pull up your Instagram album to show them examples of your products or work. Businesses use social media because they can promote their products, inform and educate customers, and stay in touch with their target audience from anywhere. When you can run social media campaigns from anywhere, why wouldn’t you use it?!

Connect with your Target Audience

Sending emails, hanging up flyers, and speaking at events are effective ways of reaching your target audience. However, they are less effective at interacting with them. Social media opens up a dialogue between you and your target audience, enabling them to engage back with you directly and immediately. Rather than talking to your target audience, you are conversing with them, which is a higher quality interaction. Use social media to not just market to your target audience, but to be a part of it as well. There you can learn about them, better serve them, and deepen your connections with them.

Let Users Market For You

As a small business owner, it is highly likely that your team of marketers is not actually a team, but one person (that one person being you). The reason why you should use social media for your business is because it is jam packed with people who are ready and waiting to market your business for you! By engaging with your social media campaigns, liking, sharing and commenting on your posts, they are spreading the word about your business to their followers, and encouraging your followers to join in. Also, posts and pictures from people praising your business make for great user generated content. That is, not business owner generated—which means less effort and more social proof for you!

Social media is no longer associated with just friends and fads. It has permeated our culture, and is used by people to make decisions, obtain information, and get their needs met. It is no longer about why you should use social media for your business, but how.

How to Increase the Visibility of Your Small Business Blog

How to increase the visibility of your small business blogIf you want to build your relationship with your target audience and the size of your target audience, your business needs a blog. A blog benefits your business in relation to your target audience by earning their trust, and proving your value, and ultimately getting you more customers. However, simply publishing your blog posts is only the first step in getting your blog in front of your target audience. It is important to promote your business blog through multiple marketing channels, and to utilize every opportunity possible to make your blog known to others. Here are eight ways to increase the visibility of your business blog.

Ways to Increase the Visibility of Your Business Blog Through Email

Subscription Opt-In

One way to promote your business blog and increase its visibility is to allow readers can subscribe to your blog. This means that they will get an email notification whenever new posts are published.

You might put a subscribe button on your blog homepage with a call to action phrase like “Don’t miss a post! Subscribe to this blog”. Or you might put a call to action button on the sidebar of your posts that says “Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to this blog!” You can also incentivize people to subscribe to your blog with small offers, like a free eBook or small discount.

Email Newsletters

If you have an email newsletter, this is a great channel for increasing the visibility of your business blog. These newsletters can contain the posts published in the past week or month, with a brief description of what each one is about and a link to each post. The advantage here is that even if people don’t read or open the email right away, it will remain in their inbox and serve as a natural reminder, and they might return to it at a later time. While there are many benefits of social media, the downside of promoting blog posts on them is that your posts will get buried under hundreds of new posts in a person’s feed very quickly.

Another approach with a newsletter is to put out a quarterly or bi-annual email with a list of the most popular blogs. Knowing that other people have taken interest in your articles will encourage others to read them too.

Email Signature

Speaking of email, here’s another way to use it to increase the visibility of your business blog. Put the link to your blog homepage into your email signature. You could do this for your personal account, professional account, or your business’s general info email account if you have one. You’d be surprised at how many people you correspond with to whom your blog is relevant, but was not known! Including it in your out of office replies is also a great way to still be useful to people even when you’re not around.

Drip Emails to Leads

Leads are people who have indicated interest in your business by providing their contact information, usually in exchange for something of value, like a piece of content. However, it may take several additional engagements with your business over time for a lead to eventually become a customer.

One way to continue engagement with your leads is through drip emails. Reach out to them once a week with useful information, ideally information related to their initial encounter with you. Your standout blog posts make great material for drip email campaigns. You can include a link to the post with a brief description that connects the post to the original offer the lead pursued.

Not only is this a great way to increase the visibility of your blog, these forms of engagement over time allow people to get more familiar with your business and learn to trust you—which increases their chances of becoming a customer.

Ways to Increase the Visibility of Your Business Blog Through Your Website

Add Blog to Website Homepage

A good business website provides the most important information up front but at the same time makes it easy for people who want to take a deeper dive to do just that. Putting your blog on your business website will increase its visibility by putting it in front of people who know you exist but didn’t know you had a blog. It will also help prospective customers to assess your knowledge and expertise before making a purchase.

Make sure that whatever path users take to get to your blog from your business website is easy to see. Whether it’s a button, call to action, menu item or navigation element, website visitors should be able to identify it quickly upon arriving at your homepage, without having to take additional action or put in additional thought.

Include Related Posts

Another way to get more of your website visitors to see your blog is to include links to blog posts that are relevant to specific pages or sections of your website. If you have a page describing the services you offer, you could include a link to a blog post you wrote that is related to that service (why it’s important, what it entails, etc.). This not only gives your blog more visibility, it gives customers more insight into your expertise on the subject and your desire to be informative.

Improve Blog Navigation

Giving users visibility into your blog as a whole is important. Rather than feeling confined to one page, you want them to be aware of and able to access other posts. This way they can see that you have more to offer than just the post they are reading, and will be more likely to stay on your blog longer.

Go to the homepage of your blog and make sure it is easy to quickly identify the general gist of what the blog is about.  Are there categories to choose from, so that readers can select articles based on topics or dates, and discover new topics? Are these categories only visible on the homepage or do they remain visible in specific blog posts? Are you assigning each post to its proper category? You may also want to use tags to quickly provide a more detailed idea of what each post is about.

Thank You Pages

When someone in your target audience makes a purchase or downloads a piece of content, it is a common practice to direct them to a thank you page. You might want to include a link to your blog or even a specific post in your thank you page. This is a great way to increase the visibility of your business blog to people who are highly interested in your business. After all, they have already engaged with it! Just make sure the content is relevant to the action you’re thanking the person for taking.

Note: a thank you page is not the same as a landing page. It is not a landing page best practice to promote your blog on these pages, since landing pages are designed to guide users toward one specific action. Any additional links or calls to action on a landing page will distract the user away from taking the ultimate action you want them to take.

The visibility of your content is just as important as the content itself. After all, if people don’t see what you’re putting out, how can they learn to trust you, let alone form an opinion about you? Increase the visibility of your blog to get more of the right eyes on your content, and more of the right people learning about your business.

How to Promote Your Small Business Blog

how to promote your small business blogBlogging for your small business is a low cost (essentially free) marketing tool for your business. By merely supplying useful information to your target audience, you can earn the trust of potential customers and distinguish your business from your competitors. In order to get the most out of blogging for your small business , you need to promote it! The more people who see it, the more your blog can help your business to get customers, increase brand awareness, showcase its expertise, and increase its website traffic.  This post will go over how to use social media and other existing marketing channels to promote your business blog.

Promoting Your Small Business Blog with Social Media

Social Media Posts

One of the easiest but most effective ways to promote your small business blog is through social media posts . Promote your blog with a post that includes a link to the blog post and some context. This could be a short description of what the post is about, a comment on what readers will get out of it, or a stat, quote or fact from the post that will intrigue readers. Sometimes the title itself will do. On Twitter, you’ll have less characters to work with, so it’s best to go with either the title of the blog post or a very brief description. You may also want to use link shorteners like bit.ly to conserve characters.

Posts with Pictures

When you use social media to promote your blog, social media posts containing pictures typically will get more engagement. If your blog post already has a picture, most platforms will automatically render the picture once you paste the link into the post. If you don’t have a picture for your blog post, check out our post on small business blogging basics to find tools that can help you. If it does not automatically render (Twitter does not have this feature, and sometimes it doesn’t work on other platforms), you can manually upload one.

Sharing Buttons

Not only should you promote your business blog on social media, you should also encourage readers to promote your blog as well. They can do this by reposting or retweeting your posts, but they can also do this on their own too. Organic shares like this may carry more weight since the reader shared the post on their own accord, and can help to increase your social media engagement.

The key to getting readers to share your blog on their own is to make it as easy as possible for readers. Insert social sharing buttons directly into your blog posts. You can even use Click-to-Tweet to pre-write an interesting or attention grabbing Tweet for the reader, that they can share right from your post with just one click (or tap).

Hashtags

Social media is a great way to get more traffic to your blog and give your blog more visibility than publishing alone. Hashtags can further extend your reach, and to the right audience as people may find your blog post by searching hashtags relevant to their needs and interests. When you promote your posts on social media, use related hashtags so that more than just your followers can discover your posts.

Groups

Another way to use social media to promote your business blog is through groups and forums that are related to your business. Supplying useful content is a great way to start, add to, or join the conversation. However, make sure that are consistently active and equally interactive in these groups. If you only join the conversation to promote your content, but don’t engage with or acknowledge group members otherwise, you are likely to lose favor in the group. This not only defeats the purpose of a group but also comes off as self serving, which goes against social media best practices. For some groups, it might be best to wait until you’ve been active in the group for a while before promoting your own content.

Micro-Influencers

A micro-influencer is someone in either your local or industrial community that has an influence on your target market. They’re not world famous, but they are well known, trusted, and closely followed on social media by concentrated audiences, also known as niche markets. You can use micro-influencers with popular blogs and social media accounts to promote your blog in a number of ways. For example:
•  The micro-influencer could write a guest post for your blog.
•  The micro-influencer could link to one of your blog posts in their blog post.
•  You could write a guest post for their blog. Typically, blogs that have guest writers will include a bio of that writer with a link to their main blog.

Collaborating with micro-influencers will promote your blog by expanding your reach to their target audience, and granting it exposure to more people that could be interested in your business.

Other Ways to Promote Your Small Business Blog

Business Cards

You can also use business cards to promote your small business blog. You may just want to put your business website on there, and then make your blog easy to identify and navigate to from your homepage. However, if you put your blog on there as a separate entity, you are showing that you take pride in your blog and treat it separately from your website. If it’s important enough to you to put it on your business card, people may be more inclined to visit it.

Your Blog

Did you know that your blog can promote your blog? In addition to making your blog stand out with engaging content and powerful visuals, you should also include links to other posts in your blog articles, to create a network of information. If you mention something in a post that readers might want to know more about or not be familiar with, but you have an existing post on that subject, you can link the text right to that article. This keeps readers on your blog longer, and shows them that your knowledge goes beyond just this one post.

You can always go back and include links to new posts in your old posts. In fact, this process facilitates ideas for additional blog posts. For example, if you find yourself mentioning a particular concept, product, or service in your blog posts, it might be worth writing a separate blog post on that topic that you can go back and link your posts to. The more information readers can get from your blog, the more you can become a go to resource for them and show yourself as an expert in your field.

Blog for SEO

Another way that your blog can promote itself is to optimize it for search. Write blog posts not just on topics related to your business, but on topics that potential customers are interested in or searching for. Keep in mind that you may need to simplify your language a bit. For example, people may not necessarily know to search for “geothermal heating systems” but they might type in  “green plumbing” or “energy efficient heating. Catering your content for topics and words that people are searching for will promote your blog by enabling it to get found by more people.

Blog Directories

There are a number of directories online that serve as a search engine for blogs and can help you to promote yours. These directories help people to find and filter blogs that are relevant to them with respect to location or topic. Just be sure to find out if there are any fees associated with getting listed, and to verify that the directory is a credible resource.

A blog may be free, but it does cost you your time to write posts. By promoting your blog, on social media and through other marketing channels, you are increasing the return on the investment of your time, and letting more people know the value you have to offer.

9 Ways to Benefit From Your Competition

ways to benefit from competitionYour competitors are businesses that may deter people in your target audience from choosing you. While this immediately makes them seem like the enemy, the truth is that competition is not all bad. In fact, it is important for companies to have competitors, because it is through competition that innovation and improvement occur. However, innovation and improvement only occur if you know how to respond to competition properly. By learning about your competitors and striving to distinguish your business from them, you can actually benefit from your competition.

Benefits of Knowing Your Competitors’ Target Audience

It’s important to know your own target audience so that you can stay attuned to their needs and adjust your products and services accordingly. However you can also benefit from knowing your competitors’ target audience.

Stay Ahead

Standing out from your competition requires you to always be on your toes, not just knowing what they are up to now, but knowing what they’ll be up to next. When you know your competitors’ target audience, you can gain insight into who they’ll invest extra effort in, and how; as well as what their future steps might be. Benefit from your competition by using knowledge of their steps to stay one step ahead. For example, if you’re a plumber and see large plumbing companies booking online, you may want to consider getting ahead of the curve of other small business plumbers by getting online booking too.

Reduce Trial and Error

Every target audience and business combination will produce different results, and a major part of running a business is experimenting with what works. However, knowing how your competitors are interacting with their target audience can benefit you by reducing some of the trial and error you will have to do.

If you have a similar target audience, you can learn from them by watching which strategies succeed and which ones do not. For example, if a competitor is successful on social media, follow along and take cues from their most engaging posts. If they’re running Facebook ads or Instagram giveaways to get more customers, try to see if it will work for your business!

If you have a different target audience, you might learn some ideas to adopt and apply to your audience. Or, you might be able to predict that if a particular strategy is working for their target audience, it will not work for yours.

Find a Niche

At first glance, it may appear as though you and a competitor have the same target audience. However, take a closer look. Can the recipients of your products or services be divided into subgroups, such as beginner, intermediate, or advanced? First time or repeat? Occasional or frequent? If so, are there groups that your competitor is not able to serve that you can target? For example, does your yoga or fitness studio have a lot of pregnant women or moms? Consider offering pre-natal yoga or childcare to stand out and attract more of these types of clients! Finding segments, needs or opportunities in your target audience that your competitors ignore can benefit you by helping you to find a niche market.

Benefits of Knowing Your Competitors’ Customers

While customers come from your target audience, these two groups are not one in the same. Your target audience encompasses the types of people your products and services will fit best, and those who engage with your business. Your customers are those people who recognize that you are the best fit for them, and who actually make purchases from you. Here’s how you can benefit from knowing your competitors’ customers.

Learn About Your Customers

If your competitor has the same target audience as you, knowing about their customers—their habits, preferences, problems, and lifestyles—can help you learn about your own target audience and customers. For example, let’s say that you and your competitor both target young female women. Had you not seen that the majority of their young female customers are married, you might never have recognized that the majority of your customers are single. You might then be able to leverage other forms of marketing like singles meet-ups. Observations and realizations made by contrast is a great way to benefit from your competition.

Learn How to Get Future Customers

If you can, talk to the customers of your competitors and find out more about them, specifically in relation to your competitor. Find out why they choose them, how they found them, or why they continue doing business with them. You may benefit by finding out what you can do to prevent losing future customers to this competitor.

Improve Customer Loyalty

It’s also important to find out how long your competitors’ customers have been with them. If they are long time, loyal customers, you might learn a thing or two about customer loyalty ideas and strategies. If they are not long time customers, maybe there’s a chance that you can get them to try you instead. Understanding the level of customer loyalty of your competitors benefits you by enabling you to set realistic expectations for your business.

Benefits of Knowing Your Competitors’ Products and Services

Develop Your Own Positioning

Knowing which services are being offered by your competitors benefits you by helping you to understand your own positioning. Does a product or service they offer meet a particular need? If so, can you meet that need with a different product or service? If they provide a similar product, can you differentiate yours with certain features? For example, if your competitor offers a more detailed service, maybe you can focus on offering a quicker service. If they sell large quantities of a particular product, you might see that you can benefit from highlighting the quality of your product.

Get Insights Into Your Strengths and Weaknesses

You’ll want to know why customers are deciding to go with one company over yours. Knowing the options they are deciding between can help you understand whether it’s the products or services that are winning them over, or if it’s something else.

On the flip side, if you notice that your competitor is starting to offer something that you provide, this may be an indicator that what you’re offering is in high demand or that you offer it well! Unfortunately, you might now need to find other ways to distinguish yourself from them. Benefit from your competition by using them to gauge and improve your success.

Improve Your Products and Services

Pay attention to what products or services the customers of your competing business buy most. If they are buying them because they are in high demand, then you might want to start offering them too. If it is a popular item because your competitor can produce or provide it better than your business, then you have your work cut out for you: either improve yours or choose to specialize or excel in a different product or service. Also, your competitors’ products and services can help you stay on top of what’s new and exciting, and provide inspiration for your own innovative ideas.

Enhance Delivery/Distribution

In addition to the products or services your competitor offers, you will want to find out how they present or deliver them to clients. Do they bundle services together? Do they offer discounts for bulk purchases? Do they have bonuses, payment plans, or special add ons? Seeing how your competitors present their offerings can help you determine how to make your products and services attractive to your target audience, or more attractive than theirs.

They key to benefitting from your competition is in how you respond to the knowledge you obtain about them. It is okay to adopt ideas from others, but it is important to apply your own company twist to them or even add on to them. The idea is to innovate, not imitate. Competition happens because every business is unique, and change and improvement happens because of competition.

5 Things You Should Know About Your Competitors

5 things you should know about your competitorsGrowing your business requires you to be constantly learning about it and making necessary adjustments. However, you can only grow and improve so much when you learn in relation to yourself. This is why it’s important for companies to have competitors. Learning about your business in relation to the competition will broaden your knowledge about your target audience and industry so that you can refine your business strategy.

Knowing about your competitors will help you to communicate with your target audience, distinguish your business from competitors, improve your processes, and navigate challenges in your market. Here are five things to know about your competitors that helps your business in these areas.

What Kind of Competitor Are They?

The first thing you should now about your competitors is the kinds of competitor they are. Your competitors include any business that might deter a potential customer from choosing you, but this can take different forms.

Direct Competitors

Direct competitors are businesses that have the same product or service offerings. For example, if you’re a landscaping company, your direct competitors are other landscapers. Information on your direct competitors will facilitate your ability to stand out above them.

Indirect Competitors

Indirect competitors are those who don’t offer the same service, but meet the same need in an alternative way. In the landscaping example, your indirect competitors would be businesses that facilitate do-it-yourself lawn care, like local nurseries, home improvement centers, and hardware stores. Information about your indirect competitors will help you to find effective ways of getting in front of your target audience.

Knowing what kinds of competitors you have, and why they are competitors can help you to identify which marketing activities and messaging are the most effective for your business.

How Do Your Competitors Position Themselves?

The same product or service can be offered in a number of different ways, through various combinations of circumstances. People vary in what combinations of circumstances are most important to them, which is why several businesses with similar products and services can exist. The combination of circumstances under which a business presents its offering is its positioning—which is another thing you should know about your competitors.

The more you know about your competitor’s positioning, the more you can differentiate yours from it and make your business unique. This also makes it easier for customers to quickly compare businesses and understand how those differences apply to them. If you have similar positioning to your competitors, this is okay too. Knowing how your competitors are operating within this context can help you to learn what’s effective and what’s not.

So how do your competitors position themselves? Do they appeal to a particular age group, gender, or niche market? Are they a luxury service or geared for the cost-conscious? Do they use environmentally friendly practices or products? The more you know about your competitors’ positioning, the stronger you can make yours.

Understand Your Competitors Pricing

You should know about your competitors’ pricing for many reasons. The first is so that you can keep your pricing in line with what people in your target market are willing to pay. In addition, you might learn about new pricing models that are more appealing to customers.

Knowing your competitors’ pricing isn’t always so that your pricing can match or beat theirs. The point is to understand where your pricing falls in relation to your competitors in the greater market. If your pricing is lower than theirs, this is an advantage. However, you will need to convince prospective buyers that the value of your product or service is as good as those with higher prices.

On the other hand, if your pricing is higher than that of your competitors, you will need to be able to convey the added value that comes at this price. Even loyal customers may turn to a competitor if the price is low enough, so you need to give people a reason to pay more.

Knowing about your competitors pricing will help you determine the pricing that is right for your business, and also to obtain and retain customers with those prices.

What Are Your Competitors Strengths?

Yes, you want to beat your competition, but ultimately you want to best serve your customers. Therefore you should know what your competitors strengths are. What do their customers like about them? For some things that customers really like, you may want to offer those too, or something similar or better. You have your own offerings, but the addition of something else that customers really like may be enough to win them over.

However, there may be some things that your competitors offer that you won’t be able to match or exceed. In this case, it won’t be worth your time or effort to try and win customers over in this area. Your business can’t meet every need, and that’s perfectly okay. Now you know where your time and energy will be best spent.

What Are Your Competitors’ Weaknesses?

In addition to knowing where your own business can improve, you should also know the weaknesses of your competitors. First, because many of your own strengths come naturally to you, so you don’t always realize you have them. Knowing your competitors’ weaknesses may help you identify your strengths.

At other times, your competitors will have weaknesses that are strengths you know you have. Knowing the weaknesses that stick out to people can help you determine which strengths to highlight in your marketing and messaging.

Sometimes, your competitors’ weaknesses will reveal an area of importance that you hadn’t thought of, which you can incorporate as a new strength into your business. Knowing the gaps in your industry created by your competitors provides opportunities for you to fill them.

Yet in other cases, your competitors will have a weakness because of a significant or common problem in your industry, community, or target market. In this case, seeing how your competitors face those challenges can help you learn how to handle them better or know what to avoid.  With the power of online customer reviews, today, you’ll want to do everything you can to create the most positive customer experience possible.

It is extremely important for you to know about the positioning, pricing, strengths, and weaknesses of your competitors. The insights you gather on your industry and your own business will help you to improve your marketing strategies and truly stand out to your target audience.

8 Unique Social Media Ideas for Your Small Business

unique-social-media-ideas-fiComing up with ways to stand out to users and distinguish your business from competitors on social media can be tough. With millions of users and even more posts and ideas buzzing around, how can you come up with something unique?

The key is in how you define “unique”. You do not need to be unique on social media in general. Think smaller. Be unique within your industry, in your community, or even just in relation to your company’s typical marketing. The unexpected or surprising nature of your campaigns (think guerrilla marketing tactics) can make them effective among your target audience. Or, you might try a traditional campaign that is new to your business, and find that it becomes a regular part of your social media marketing strategy. Here are some unique social media ideas to try out for your business.

1. Make a Recommendation

One of the more unique social media campaign ideas is to recommend to your audience an account that you follow and that would be helpful to them. One of the social media and blogging basics for small business is that of showing your expertise—not to toot your own horn, but to show current and potential customers that they can trust you. However, you don’t always have to be putting out your own content or extensive thought leadership pieces to show your expertise. Simply being connected with others in your field and sharing their information will also indicate expertise and trust—as it shows that you’re up to date on your speciality and are looking to supply useful information for your followers.

2. Recognize a Competitor

Take that first social media idea a step further and try posting something you appreciate with regard to your competitors. While you don’t want to promote your competitors, there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging actions that you appreciate or find useful.

This kind of social media post shows that you’re staying up to date in your industry, confident in what you do, and are committed to providing value to your audience—not just promoting your brand. In fact, it’s a social media best practice to limit how much you promote your business. Having respect for your competitors will earn you respect from your target audience.

3. Share an Unusual Photo

When it comes to photos of your product or service, whether in a Facebook ad image or social media post, it is a good idea to use a typical customer using the product in context. On the flip side, one unique social media idea is to turn that concept upside down. You might post a picture of someone using your product or service who is unlikely to use it, or a typical customer using your product or service in a strange way or in an unusual location. If you get unusual enough, you just may have yourself a guerrilla marketing strategy!

4. Lighten Things Up with Funny or Inspirational Images

What makes this social media campaign unique is that businesses typically want to highlight their professionalism and expertise. However, it’s also important to show your personality and your human side—maybe even a little vulnerability—as these create opportunities for your audience to connect with your business.

A funny or inspirational image or quote that fits in with your followers’ lifestyles or reflects your business’s values gives you a chance to show the unique sides of your business through social media. If you can, include your logo in your image somewhere; and if it makes sense, accompany the image with a quick comment.

5. Take Advantage of National Observance Days

Did you know that November is Banana Pudding Lovers Month? As well as Family Stories Month? Or that November 4th is National Stress Awareness Day? There are hundreds of observance and awareness days, weeks, and months throughout the year. Whether supporting a cause, raising awareness for something important to yourself or your business, or looking to lighten things up and have a little fun, these events provide an endless source of unique social media ideas and campaigns.

6. Make a Refreshing Change with Indirectly Related Photos and Videos

Social media campaigns don’t always have to do with your product or service directly. After all, your customers have lifestyles outside of your business. Your followers will appreciate a photo or video that resonates with their interests, values, or needs. It will also show them that you are in tune with your target audience and customers.

7. Ask Your Audience for Advice

Social media posts that ask questions can help increase social media engagement, create discussions among your followers, and generate constructive feedback for your business. A unique spin on question campaigns is to ask your followers for information or advice. Reaching out to your followers in this manner will reveal your transparency, show followers that you value their input and intelligence, and will demonstrate your trust in them. Trust begets trust, so the idea here is to help strengthen your customer relationships.

8. Try a Blast from the Past

Putting out a mix of timely and evergreen content will ensure that your social media posts are relevant to your followers. On the other hand, changing things up a bit and posting something from the past can be effective too. One idea would be to share a memory that Facebook presented to you, or a then-and-now company photo. It’s okay to express how excited and proud you are at how far your company has come, and your followers will be glad to celebrate along with you.

Growing your business and marketing has a lot to do with consistency. However, you can still try new things and stay true to your values and brand messaging. Take advantage of the opportunities your business has to be unique, and you might surprise yourself!

How Blogging Helps a Business Get More Customers

how blogging helps a business get more customersYour business needs a blog because it helps you get more customers. No, owning a small business is not about just getting more customers; you are passionate about what you do and are dedicated to your community. But your business grows because of its customers. And your customers reap the benefits when your business grows. Put another way: Blogging for your small business increases and enhances engagements with people most in need of your service. In this post we’ll take a closer look at exactly how blogging fuels this mutually beneficial exchange, which ultimately helps your business to get more customers.

1. Blogging Strengthens Your Brand

Your business website is an essential tool for providing information to your current and potential customers: where you are located, what services you provide, how you can be contacted. However, you don’t only want to provide information to visitors; you want to provide an experience for visitors. With so much logistical information to provide and so little space on your homepage, it can be hard for your business’s personality and voice to shine through.

Blogging helps a business to get more customers by helping to provide the experience that you want visitors to your website to have—the experience that sets your business apart from competitors and makes an impression on people. By using a consistent tone and voice—a business blogging basic—you can develop your brand identity and make clear to your customers the personality and values of your company. The more that people can feel personally connected to your business, the more likely they are to become customers.

2. Blogging Increases Your Online Visibility

A greater online presence affords your business more opportunities to express its personality, and also more eyes on your brand. The more people are exposed to your business, and the more familiar they become with your business, the more likely they are to become customers.

Blogging helps a business to get more customers by increasing its online presence. First of all, your business website has a limited number of pages, such as the homepage, an “about” page, a products/services/pricing page, and a contact page. However, with a blog, every post counts as a page. The more pages you have, the greater the chances you have of being discovered by potential customers searching online.

Second, if another blogger, local media outlet or larger organization finds one of your blog posts to be helpful, they may include a link to your post in their content. This is called backlinking, and it now puts you in front of their target audience as well. Expanding your reach to a relevant audience greatly increases your chances of obtaining more customers.

Third, blogging yields content that can be shared. By sharing your blog through social media posts and via email, you can greatly amplify the number of people who see your post. Each new person who reads your post is another introduction made to your business—and another potential customer.

3. A Blog Helps Establish Your Business as an Industry Leader

Establishing your expertise within your industry is a great way to attract more customers to your business. Providing useful information to your target audience will earn their trust while at the same time showing your value. However, you only have so much space on your business website to show how much you know and prove that you can be trusted.

A blog, on the other hand, provides a platform to continuously showcase your knowledge and show visitors that you are there to help. Through it you can become a trusted go-to resource for people in need of your service. They may use one of your blog posts to do something on their own, but when it comes to a greater task that they aren’t able to do, they already have a trusted resource in their head that they will turn to. If you’ve helped them in the past, they are more likely to turn to you in the future. Blogging helps you to get more customers by establishing trust and keeping you top of mind with your target audience.

4. Blogging Boosts SEO

Blogging does not get you more customers through informative content alone. You need the people who are searching for the information to find it in the first place; and if your website shows up on 7th page of Google search results, let alone the 2nd, it is unlikely to get seen.

A blog can help your business to improve its rank on search engine results pages. Search engine optimization requires several efforts over a period of time, but blogging can help facilitate the process. First because search engines like websites that have a strong online presence and produce fresh content—two things that a blog can provide. Second because search engines also place high value on relevancy. Blogging gives you more opportunities to put keywords into your content, which will help Google to serve up your content to people searching for it.

5. Blogging Increases Website Traffic

Increasing traffic to your website can bring in more leads and potential customers. People can go to your site by typing your address into the search bar, but that requires them to know you exist, and to know your website address. What about all of the other people out there who don’t know that you exist?

Here’s where blogging helps your business. Each blog post is an additional channel by which people can arrive at your website and discover your business—not because they knew to look for your business specifically, but because they were searching for information that your blog post provided. Blogging helps your business to get more customers because it not only brings more people to your website, it brings in people who are interested in your products or services. By sharing your blog posts on social media and with your email list, you can further increase website traffic.

Using your online presence and expertise, you can strengthen your brand messaging and familiarize people with your business. Blogging is like the glue that binds these efforts together, ultimately connecting your business to more people who are looking for it. So do your business and your customers a favor, and start blogging!

7 Ways to Distinguish Your Small Business from Competitors

how to distinguish your small business from competitorsOne of the main reasons why it’s important for companies to have competitors is because it keeps businesses on their toes. Why are they on their toes? Because they’re trying to set themselves apart from their competitors; and in their efforts to do so, services and offers improve, and standards are raised.

If you want to attract more customers and grow your business, you have to distinguish your business from others like yours. There are many ways to stand out above the competition using resources you already have. However, there are also some more proactive efforts you can take to set yourself even further apart from competitors. Here are 7 ways of doing just that.

Proactive Ways to Distinguish Your Small Business from Competitors

Focus on a Niche

One effective way to separate yourself from your competition is through niche marketing. By specializing in a specific product, service, or type of audience, you can get a leg up over your competitors. You might serve a broader audience as well, but a specialization can help distinguish you.

In addition, those within your niche market will be more likely to turn to you. If they are in need of a product or service that you specialize in, knowing that you have concentrated practice in that specific area gives you an automatic advantage over your competitors who might be more broadly experienced.

Support a Cause

One of the simpler ways to stand out from your competition is to incorporate your own personal values into your business. Take it a step further by supporting a specific cause you care about. You could do this by donating a portion of your proceeds to an organization, directly providing goods or services to a population in need, or getting your team to volunteer at that organization once a month.

Supporting causes you care about can help to highlight the values of your company—not just the value of your business—and set you apart from competitors.

Have Surprises

Surprises are a fun and effective way to set yourself apart from your competitors. If you’re feeling creative and have the ability, you can always take on a guerrilla marketing campaign.

If you’re not quite ready for guerrilla marketing tactics, you can just keep it small and simple. Give a small gift to the nth customer of the day, stick a positive note or inspirational quote in your packaging, or send a random customer a coupon in the mail. If you’re a construction company, surprise your clients by leaving behind a welcome mat or home sweet home sign. These small and simple yet memorable activities can build your reputation as a thoughtful business and distinguish you from others in your industry.

Provide Extraordinary Service

Every business strives to provide exceptional customer service. However, when times get crazy and unexpected occurrences happen, it can be easy to make exceptions and excuses. One strong but overlooked way to set yourself apart from competitors is by going out of your way to stick to this mantra —and doing it every time.

Sporadic moments of accommodating your customers will pick up no traction; and one [negative experience or customer review can cancel everything out. By consistently going the extra mile to create the best experience for your customers, you will ensure that you—and not your competitors—stay in the forefront of their minds, no matter how good their offers get.

Focus on Your Key Features and Benefits

It’s not possible to be really good at everything, so if you claim to be just that, you will lose trust in customers fast. On the other hand, if you distill your value down into a few key points, you can earn the attention of your target audience and stand out from your competition.
Think about what you are really good at, the core features that set you apart, or what specific pain points do you eliminate with customers. Then narrow them down to what you perform, achieve or adhere to 100% of the time.

Some examples include:
• Using materials from a particularly special source.
• Using a new technology or trusted method.
• Being the first or only business to use it.
• Handcrafting or customization.
• Processes that support a social or environmental cause.
• Noteworthy characteristics about your idea formation or final product testing.

The key is to think in terms of extremes: what you do every time, what you always provide, or what you never do. These are the attributes that can truly distinguish your business from your competitors, and should be included in your messaging and marketing collateral.

Create a Powerful Offer

Another approach in getting buyers to choose your business over your competitors is to reduce the risk or hesitation they face when it comes to making a purchase. Think about the immediate and long term concerns a potential customer might have when choosing the product or service you provide.
For example, for home heating issues, fast assistance may be a primary concern. For more technical products, it may be more about the personal customer service. For frequently needed services, it might be more about price.

Here are some examples of powerful offers to help you distinguish your business:
• A year-long return policy
• Return all customer service calls within 24 hours
• No automated answering services
• Money back guarantee
• Free trial
• Rewards for repeat customers

Be sure to promote your offer on your business website, with powerful call to action phrases and buttons.

Create Brand Evangelists

Sometimes, your customers can be just as (if not more) effective as you in distinguishing your business from competitors. People trust what their fellow consumers have to say, even if they are complete strangers. This is why online customer reviews are so powerful.

If you have repeat customers, express your appreciation by giving them exclusive deals and offers, or by going the extra mile. Accommodate special orders, remember customers’ names, or throw in an extra bonus every once in awhile. This will turn repeat customers into loyal customers, and loyal customers become brand evangelists. Brand evangelists are like mobile advertisements for your business. They will promote your business in their conversations, on social media channels, and on review sites—most likely reaching those in your target demographic. A business with a few brand evangelists will get distinguished from a business with many simply satisfied customers.

Your target audience may be a large group, but they have many small and specific wants and that make them a fit for your business. By matching your products, services, offers, and messaging to those wants and needs, you can distinguish your small business from your competitors and attract customers who will be happy they found you.

Why Your Business Needs a Blog

why your business needs a blogBlogging doesn’t just help a business; with today’s online consumer behavior, business blogging is becoming essential to maintaining an online presence, standing out above the competition, and even obtaining customers. Given the benefits they offer to business and the role they play in digital marketing today, you should absolutely be blogging for your business. This post will explain 9 ways in which a blog helps a business to grow, and why you need one for your business.

How Blogging Helps a Business

Business growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It occurs in relation to your competitors , your target audience, and even search engines. Here’s how business blogging helps a business in these areas.

1. Blogging Helps Your Business to Compete

There are many other small businesses out there that provide the same products or services you do. However, no two companies are truly identical, so it’s important to emphasize what makes your company unique. Blogging helps to show the personality, information, and experience that will distinguish your business from competitors and even compete against larger companies. If you want to make yourself known to your target audience, your business needs a blog.

2. Blogging is Statistically Proven to Help Businesses

It may be nice to hear that blogging helps your business to build brand awareness and show its expertise, but without tangible evidence, it may not exactly be convincing. Well, thanks to several studies and surveys, there are numbers to show why blogging is good for business.

There are statistics to show that:
• The custom content from blogs warms prospective customers up to your business.
• Businesses that blog generate more leads than businesses that don’t.
• Blogging can sometimes be just as effective, if not more, in promoting your company than through advertisements.
• Blogging helps buyers find out

3. A Blog Provides a Channel of Communication with Customers

A good business website may be geared toward helping current and potential customers, but it does so by providing information in a one-way manner. A business blog, on the other hand, creates opportunities for two-way interaction with your audience. This helps your business to build its relationship with—and not just its presence among—customers.

Through a business blog, you can present your content in a more casual and personal way, and actually have conversations with your readers in the comments section. Ideas can be exchanged, you can understand your readers’ points of view, and your readers get a chance to be heard.

4. A Blog Offers Insight Into Your Audience

The more you know about your target audience, the better you can serve them and appeal to them. Blog analytics (such as through Google Analytics ), feedback on the blog by readers, and comments on social media posts that link to your blog articles will help you to learn about what content is most interesting to your target audience, and what will increase engagement with them.

In addition, online customer reviews —a powerful marketing tool for small businesses—do not just happen on review sites. Customers can provide important feedback about your business right on your blog, which is yet another reason why your business needs one.

5. A Blog Can Improve Your SEO

One last reason your business needs a blog because is because it can help you to increase your search engine rankings. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a long term process comprised of a number of different activities. A business blog won’t get you on the first page of Google overnight, however it will significantly enhance your search engine rankings over time.

This is because search engines reward you for producing fresh content, using relevant keywords, and meeting the needs of online searchers. Blogging provides you with opportunities to do all three of these.

More Benefits of Blogging for Small Business

If you’re not yet convinced that your business needs a blog, here are some additional benefits of blogging for small business.

6. Maintaining a Blog Strengthens Your Own Expertise

Writing about your service, field, or industry keeps you on your toes. You have to dig into your knowledge, stay on top of your industry, and practice articulating effectively. Blogging benefits your business because the stronger your knowledge and communication of that knowledge is, the more trust you earn. Trust turns interested viewers into customers and current customers into loyal customers.

7. Blog Posts Provide Social Media Content

Struggling to come up with ideas for social media posts? Here’s another benefit of blogging for small businesses. One blog post does not equate to just one social media post. In fact, the information contained within a single post can be repurposed in many ways, into several social media posts. For example, you can collect statistics from different posts, excerpt an important quote that sticks out, or extract an interesting fact and add a graphic.

Not only will your audience appreciate these informative and easy to digest tidbits; these quick and easy posts will help you to maintain a consistent and valuable presence, which are two important social media best practices.

8. A Business Blog Grows Your Email List

While email marketing is a great way to stay top of mind, it can be hard to get people to sign up to have yet more emails crowd their inbox. Here is where a blog benefits your business. If people find your blog posts to be interesting and informative, they are more likely to trust that your newsletters are too. They may also sign up if you include links to your latest posts in the newsletter, among other relevant information such as promotions, new products or services, and company updates.

9. A Business Blog Can Generate Leads

Many of the blogging platforms available today allow for layouts that are optimized for actions that are important to a business. For example, the page that displays your blog posts may have a header or sidebar, where you could have calls to action such as download a free eBook or get a free consultation. In this sense, a blog benefits your business by creating more opportunities for you to present offers and generate leads.

Blogging is not as hard as it may seem, and it offers a wide range of benefits for your business. If you are looking to set yourself apart from the competition and capture the attention of your target audience, your business needs a blog!

Why You Should Blog for Your Small Business

why you should blog for your businessIn today’s age, when you want to know something, you look it up online. The next time you do this, take a closer look at the listings in the search engine results pages. Did you ever notice that many of the web pages that are equipping you with the knowledge you need are in fact blog posts? Or, think about some of the websites you frequent or companies you engage with most. How many of them have a business blog? With all of the benefits they offer, blogs play a major role in the online community today, and make up a large part of the digital marketing landscape. What most people don’t realize is that this is true for all businesses—large and small. In this post we will cover why your small business should have a blog, and why you should be the one writing it.

Why Your Business Should Have a Blog

There are many reasons why your business needs a blog. A blog supports several factors that affect the growth of your business, including brand awareness, audience insights, customer loyalty, and online visibility. In addition, your blog can help facilitate various business goals, such as lead generation, website traffic, and customer acquisition.

Furthermore, a blog can play a key role in other strategies you use to market your business, like your social media and niche marketing strategy. There are many benefits of blogging for business, but for now, we’ll just name a few.

Blogging Gives Your Business a Personality

Your business website is a source of information for visitors, but with so much logistical information, it can be hard for your business’s personality to come through. A blog, on the other hand is a great place for more detailed information, written in the tone and style that reflects the personality of your business.

Blogging Provides Opportunities to Add Value

A good business website provides the initial information a current or potential customer needs in order to engage with your business. A blog is a great place to show additional information that shows your value and expertise without cluttering your homepage.

Blogging Boosts Online Presence

Another way that a blog benefits your business is by increasing your online presence. By inserting keywords into your blog posts that are relevant to your target audience, you can improve your search engine optimization (or SEO) and get found by more relevant online searchers. In addition, sharing your articles through social media posts can significantly boost your exposure.

Why You Should Blog for Your Business

So, you know that your business needs a blog, but chances are you haven’t started one because you don’t have anyone to write for it. Well, the good news is, you do have someone to write for it. The [perhaps not so good] news is, that person is you! As a business owner, you are probably thinking, no way. The truth is, you can blog for your business. You just need a fresh perspective on the barriers you are facing. This section will address—and remove—some of the most common barriers to blogging that business owners face.

I’m Not a Writer

You don’t have to be a professional writer or even good at writing to blog for your business. The purpose of your blog is not to show your expertise in writing, it’s to show the expertise in your field. In addition, your task with blogging is to provide valuable information to your target audience in an easy to understand way. If you can write in your style and in simple terms, you can blog for your business.

If you’re not confident in your skills, you can ask others to help brainstorm, write, and proofread your work. If you don’t have anyone to help you, there are plenty of free online tools to help, like the Hemingway App.

I’m No Expert

As mentioned above, the basic aspect of blogging is to show your expertise. This may feel a little strange at first. You may be one of 100 plumbers in your area, and yes, some may even have more knowledge than you. But remember, you don’t have to be THE expert. All you have to be is AN expert. Plus, people have different standards for what expert means to them. So, if your reason for not blogging is that you’re not the top expert, then you’re throwing away the opportunity to establish yourself even as a basic expert.

Keep in mind also that you’re not just comparing yourself to other plumbers or to major companies thought leaders. Compared to the Average Joe in your target audience, you know far more than they do. You’d be surprised at how much information is in your head that you consider second nature that some people have never heard before and consider valuable.

I Don’t Have the Technical Skills

To blog for your business, you don’t need to know complex code, have a degree in design, or an artistic eye. There are plenty of free tools out there geared for people just like you. Free blogging platforms like WordPress make writing, editing, and posting blog articles very easy. Design tools like Canva can help you create visually appealing graphics to accompany your posts. With the tools to do it so readily available, you should blog for your business!

I Don’t Have the Time

As a small business owner, you are very busy juggling many things. However, one hour out of each day, or even each week, can yield what would equate to hours of work in the future. Your blog can generate traffic to your website, warm potential customers up to your business, and boost your online exposure even when you’re sleeping. Putting an hour a day into something that will do hours of marketing for your business? It’s a no brainer!

The ultimate reason why you should blog for your business is that not only is it a free promotional tool for your business, it is doable for you as a business owner. Yes, it requires time, energy, and thought, but the return on investment is far too good to ignore. Start blogging today, so your business can grow tomorrow.