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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Build both your reputation and your customer base

 

Most small business owners already know the basics of local marketing, both online and off. It’s good to be active and have a vibrant social media presence. You can keep your local customers updated by maintaining an active blog, or a mailing list for a newsletter. And, of course, you want to encourage business through sales, signage at your storefront or office, and word of mouth. But are the basics enough?

There are plenty of simple ways to ramp up your local marketing efforts, helping you build both your reputation and your customer base. Here are four ways to make some neighborhood noise and boost business on your home turf.

Get into Google+ Local

Yes; Facebook is the undisputed king of social media, with more than one billion users and connections galore. The problem is, there are one billion users on Facebook, and it’s really hard to stand out.

Google Plus (also called Google+ or G+), has built-in tools for locally optimizing your business. The detailed Google+ Places for Business feature includes addresses, maps, photos, user reviews, and space for your profile, along with easy-share social media tools. Plus, it’s backed by the power of Google—the search engines that hosts 66% of searches worldwide.

Put Out a Press Release

This may be the digital age, but media outlets still rely on press releases to find interesting local news. If you get picked up by a hometown newspaper, blogger, or other media source, it’s free publicity for your business.

And remember, not all PR is created equal. The key to a successful press release is to make it newsworthy. Don’t just announce the existence of your business—unless it’s your grand opening. You can write a press release whenever you’re having a special event, making interesting changes to your business, or tying in a holiday or local event.

Of course, you need to get eyeballs on your press releases. You can post them to your website, and use either a free service like PR.com or Express-Press-Release.net, or paid services like PRNewswire.com, to get the releases in front of media outlets.

Generate Some QR Codes

QR codes are specialized type of barcodes that can be scanned with smartphones. You can create QR codes that advertise a link, website, or landing page; show a map with your location and phone number with Click to Call option; offer exclusive discounts or coupons; and more.

There are many free QR code generator programs online. Once you’ve created a few, you can start getting them in front of potential customers by printing them on business cards, postcards, or flyers, placing them in your storefront windows, or—if you’re feeling bold—having them printed on staff shirts.

Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce

While this marketing option isn’t exactly free, it’s often one of the most fruitful investments. As advocates for entrepreneurs and small businesses within their communities, the Chamber of Commerce often provides free promotion and marketing, along with opportunities to participate in local events, trade shows, and sponsorships. In addition, joining the Chamber of Commerce gives you an instant credibility boost, and lets local customers know that they can trust you and your business.

No matter what type of business you run, you can benefit from strengthening your local marketing tactics. These tips will help get you started!

Mosaic Printing, Signage and Marketing Services,
250 West Main St, Branford, CT
203-483-4598
http://www.printingct.com

Who uses the Word Press platform?

Word Press is extremely popular as the foundation for a large percentage of websites right now. In fact, 60 million blogs use the Word Press platform in countries around the world. About 41 million new comments are posted monthly to these sites. And, on an average, 34 million new posts occur monthly on this popular platform. What is even more impressive is the fact that more than 3.5 BILLION pages are viewed monthly by over 386 million people.

Companies of all sizes use this platform, ranging from small start-ups to international conglomerates. Companies include news-related CNN, NBC Sports, Forbes, Reuters, MacLeans, and the New York Times. Fortune 500 companies that use Word Press platforms include General Motors, United Parcel Service (UPS), Volkswagon, Sony and eBay. Other well-known users include the National Football League, Tech Crunch, 9 To 5 Mac, ElleGirl, StyleWatch, Modelinia, Katy Perry, MP.3, and Lollapalooza. That just names a few of the powerful companies who find this platform valuable to the success of their enterprise.

Why is Word Press popular?

It is run by people wanting to share the joys of free writing and online technology. Known as freeware, the technical support is provided by highly skilled volunteers who willingly share knowledge and insight to improve user’s experiences. Word Press is known for its excellent customer service. In addition to being able to freely communicate with developers, users can learn through tutorials and multistreaming video lessons.

It is easy to use
Word Press takes pride in offering a quick, convenient and easy way to start blogs and/or websites. If you use its servers, simply update your content and the software takes care of formatting and HTML concerns. Every theme includes an easy-to-use dashboard that makes updating and changing your site an easy task. Even if you doubt your website development skills, Word Press makes tasks like editing content and adding new pages easy to accomplish.

It is budget friendly

Using a Word Press platform can be one of the best things you do for your company’s budget. It depends upon whether you choose to operate your Word Press site on their server or your own. If you choose to operate your site on the Word Press server, there is no charge. By doing this, though, your website address may have wordpress.com in it. This will let others know you are using the Word Press server. You cannot beat the cost, though.

If having your own business website is important, you may decide to host it yourself or host it on another server. This gives you more control over your Word Press site. When you do this, your website will be on the WordPress.org platform. It is your responsibility to find an appropriate server that meets your needs and budget. What is a comfort to know is the fact that if you start your blog using the WordPress.com free platform, the company makes it very easy to transfer your blog onto another host server. You just need to choose from any number of  Word Press-friendly hosting companies to do this.

With so many benefits provided by using the Word Press platform, your business will be losing its competitive advantage by not taking advantage of this powerful medium.

Mosaic Printing, Signage and Marketing Services,
250 West Main St, Branford, CT
203-483-4598
http://www.mosaic247.net/

How Community Involvement Can Boost Your Bottom Line
Companies that encourage community involvement distinguish themselves from their competitors, and see many benefits, including loyal customers and happier employees. According to a May 2013 study by Cone Communications and Echo Research, 82 percent of U.S. consumers consider corporate social responsibility (CSR) when deciding which products or services to buy and where to shop.

“I’ve found that customers really want to know how you’re making the world a better place,” says Erin Giles, an Aiken, S.C.-based business philanthropy consultant who helps entrepreneurs find causes they’re passionate about and incorporate their message into their business. Moms and Millennials are particularly interested in a business’ corporate social responsibility platform, Giles says.

Here are four things to consider when incorporating community service into your business plan.

1. Build relationships within your community.
Look at your community to see what’s important. Are the schools struggling? Does the animal shelter need donations? For example, Cody Pierce, vice president of marketing for Orange City, Iowa-based Pizza Ranch franchises, says the restaurants host “community impact” nights, where friends and family members bus tables to support a local cause, such as raising money for a class trip. Pizza Ranch donates the night’s tips and 5 to 20 percent of the profits to the cause, while community members often provide additional donations.

The business benefits because it fills the restaurant on a typically slow night. He says building relationships starts by making genuine connections with your customers, then finding ways you can contribute.

2. Get your employees on board.
Giving employees an avenue to give back is important to morale and builds a collaborative and inspired team, Giles says. “When your employees love what they’re doing, they do a better job,” she says. Giles suggests that businesses offer employees an opportunity to volunteer during work hours or participate in get-togethers after work, which is more fulfilling than just meeting for drinks.

Volunteering also provides leadership opportunities for employees, which leads to increased staff performance and fulfillment and, ultimately, increased productivity and sales, Giles notes.

3. Create a custom volunteer plan.
Giles recommends that business owners evaluate their business and employee strengths and select volunteer activities that draw upon those strengths. For example, if you own an accounting firm, you could volunteer to help a nonprofit set up their accounting practices or do their taxes.

Likewise, if you own a restaurant, consider catering a school staff meeting to show your appreciation for your local teachers. Pierce says this may open the door to future catering opportunities, an incremental way to increase revenue. Decide how much time your employees can volunteer through the business on an annual basis, taking into account your operation demands.

4. Let customers know how you’re giving back.
Once you’ve implemented your volunteer strategy, let current and prospective customers know what you’re doing by including this information on your website. Giles suggests putting a dollar amount of how much your donated time or services would normally cost next to the number of hours your employees have spent giving back so it’s easy for customers to understand how much your company gives to the community.

Mosaic Printing, Signage and Marketing Services,
250 West Main St, Branford, CT • 203-483-4598
http://www.mosaic247.net/

How to Acquire New Customers Through Recession Marketing

The world of marketing often seems so fast-paced and ever-changing, and it’s easy to want to rework and overhaul our strategies in order to fit the times. While this line of thinking may mosaic printing marketing tipsseem progressive, it often takes our “eyes off the prize” and causes us to lose focus on what’s really important when it comes to small business marketing.

True, the world of marketing is fast-paced. Times change. People change. Behavior changes. Businesses don’t necessarily need to change, but rather, adapt.

For example, today’s customers are adapting. They’re adapting to having less disposable income and doing more and more in order to make ends meet. Adapting to such a lifestyle takes time. For some, it’s easy. For others, it’s difficult. Likewise, businesses need to pay attention to their customers and potential customers. Everyone’s tightening their belts and holding on to their wallets. Businesses should be well aware, and their marketing strategies should adapt accordingly. Marketing to consumers who aren’t so eager to spend is somewhat of an art, yet recession marketing should definitely be in the repertoire of the modern small business looking to acquire new customers despite today’s struggling economy.

What exactly is recession marketing?

Firstly, let’s look at traditional marketing. A traditional marketing strategy may push a low price point or the immense features of a new product or service at a customer in order to drive them to buy. While such techniques certainly do have their place in the marketing world, recession marketing takes a slightly different slant in an attempt to reach customers who simply don’t have much money in the bank.

Recession marketing instead places emphasis on the cash a customer may save by buying or switching to a product. These savings may be due to the shortcomings of a competitor’s product or perhaps the result of the product eliminating the need for other products for the customer, thus resulting in more money saved. In short, recession marketing forces the consumer to weigh “wants” and “needs,” with the product in question hopefully being seen as a “need,” urging the consumer to buy.

We’ve seen these tactics at work over the last decade. How many infomercials have you seen for a cleaning product or super-sponge that heralds in the end of paper towels forever, saving you hundreds and hundreds over the course of the year? It may seem a bit silly and sometimes even hyperbolic, but such products are incredibly popular and such marketing tactics do work. Now, hopefully your product actually delivers on such promises, for that’s what will keep your customers coming back.

Another shining example of recession marketing comes from the hybrid car industry. How many ads have we seen over the years promising us big savings through the purchase of hybrid vehicles? Higher miles per gallon equals more money in the bank, right? Such savings combined with the growing environmental appeal make such cars a booming commodity.

Employing a recession marketing strategy also requires your business to show a bit of emotion. Why? In an economy where so many are struggling, it’s crucial to stand apart from the competition. Your customers should know that you understand their plight and that your product and service is here to help. By showing understanding and compassion, you’re not only more likely to acquire new customers but also retain them for the long-term. Consider creative ways you can employ such compassion in your marketing strategy, whether through marketing language on your website, emails or signage.

For small businesses, recession marketing is an especially effective route to go in today’s economy, granted that you know your audience. By appealing to the needs and emotions of your potential customers, you may grow a loyal base of business that will stay with you even after the recession ends.
Mosaic Printing, Signage and Marketing Services • 250 West Main St, Branford, CT • 203-483-4598
http://www.mosaic247.net/

Why a Press Release is a Small Biz Owner’s Secret Weapon

You’ve tried social media. You’ve written blog posts. You’re generating a modest amount of traffic back to your company’s website, but you want more.press release seo secret for better rankings

Have You Considered Press Releases?

They’re great for creating backlinks to your site, boosting SEO (though there is debate on that), and generally creating interest in your company.

You Don’t Need Big Guns if You’re Armed Properly

You might think only giant corporations use press releases. While they’re a part of most big companies’ marketing and PR strategies, press releases aren’t restricted to brands with bigger budgets and branding than yours. Many small businesses aren’t using press releases to drive traffic, and therein lies the benefit to you.  If your competitors aren’t reading this post, you’re one step ahead of them.

The Shotgun Approach Never Works

Many small business owners falsely assume that a press release will get the attention of major media. That rarely happens, so please adjust your expectations. When you distribute a release online, it gets your name on dozens of news and industry websites. And as you know, the more places your brand name or website are found, the more traffic you can send to your site.

Another option you have for distribution is pitching a journalist or blogger directly. Here’s the secret to that: start building media relationships long before you need them. Six months or more before you issue your release, you should be identifying journalists that cover your industry or competitors, following them on Twitter, and commenting on their articles. Link to them on LinkedIn. Find a reason to connect, without needing anything.

Then when you are ready to pitch them your news, they should have an inkling as to who you are. That saves you from being immediately dragged to the Trash bin in their email. From there, it’s up to you to sell a journalist on why her readers care about your news.

Do Press Releases Make a Big Bang, or Do They Shoot Blanks?

If you dig deep enough, you’ll find a debate on whether Google ranks websites higher when they publish press releases on multiple sites.

My theory is this: if you use what Google deems spammy press release distribution sites, it won’t help your placement in search results.  But if you work with reputable press release distribution sites then you may see your company rank higher, as long as you use the keywords you want people searching for to find you in your release.

Let’s say you want to be found when people type in “San Diego marketing firm.” It makes sense that you should use that phrase in the press release, right? Just don’t go overboard and stuff more than two or three keywords in your release.

Also, if you put out not-so-newsy press releases, Google will take notice. Don’t even consider putting the word “free” in a release, because it sets off the site’s spam triggers. With press releases being reviewed for quality, you have less to worry about with the better distribution sites.

Tracking the Kill

After you issue a press release, take a look at your analytics to see which sites that published it sent your site the most traffic. Take a look at where you ranked for specific keywords before you put out the press release, then check it afterward to see what movement, if any, there was.

Assessing this information, you can mold your PR strategy to get maximum results. If every release you issue about a business study you conducted gets mega hits, do more of those. If your announcement about relocating your office resulted in yawn-worthy traffic, stick to what your web visitors want more of.

Mosaic Printing, Signage and Marketing Services,
250 West Main St, Branford, CT   •  203-483-4598
http://www.mosaic247.net/