Social Media for Small Business – using Google Alerts

There are now so many social media for small business options that many small business owners find it all so overwhelming. If you are one of these, I have found a great post that gives an overview on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networking sites, long with some basic strategies for using them. But what really caught my attention in the post was the below.

Social Media for Small Business – using Google Alerts

One of the most unusual topics covered and possibly the least known for small business is  the use of Google Alerts.  Emma from SocialMediaSEO.net writes:

 

Did you know that this search engine giant has total visits of over 1.5 billion as of May 26, 2012? This figure amounts to approximately 66.81% of all Web visits.

Seeing that plenty of people trust Google for information, you can benefit from it by using all its products. Since you want to leverage the great rewards of social media, setting up and managing Alerts to help you keep track of the following aspects:

  • Business name – whenever a site mentions it
  • Competitors – any comment about them
  • Official website – whoever is talking about and linking to you
  • New or potential customers – whenever they have enquiries
  • Industry – whenever there are developments in your field
  • New products – any feedback about these
  • Duplicate content – whenever someone copies the information on your site without permission
  • click here for the full post

Get the picture.

It quite easy to set up a Google alert, just type into Google Alerts into a  Google search queru and click on the options provided and away you go.  Review  the examples from Emma above, though I’m sure you will  have some more ideas for your business. Remember to check out the full post for the social media for small business overview

 

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Socially Responsible Businesses – Benefit Corporations

Fascinating times in the US. I have just read a very interesting and  informative article of a new type of corporation, a benefit corporation. While your normal very day type corporation requires a focus on ‘profits’ a benefit corporation  also has a social responsibility, ethics and sustainability mandate. It’s a focus on maximising profits and doing good at the same time.  Marrying profits and social responsibility in business will not be easy, but the benefits to businesses and the environment will be huge, especially as eco conscious brands are becoming more sort after by consumers.

If you are considering a socially responsible business, look into becoming a benefit corporation so that your business has a legal mandate for sustainability and responsibility. I understand that there are also provisions to change your existing business structure. It’s my opinion that the demand wave for socially responsible  businesses is still coming to a head and the way of the future.

 

To find out more, the article written by Michael Crooke  former CEO of Patagonia can be found here:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/47599530

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How Can Customer Loyalty and Retention Programs be Proven to Work?

I’ve been looking on the web for the answer to this question: Do Customer Loyalty and Retention ProgramsWork and

Do customer Loyalty Programs Work & How do you know?

if so Which Ones? And all I’m getting is a headache!.  Allot of my readers are asking the same question and many small business owners are searching the web, books, articles, newspapers in the hope of finding that magic answer. Well, I’ve come to the realisation that it is one of those questions that just cannot be answered with a any degree certainty. And it is a quantifiable answer I’m looking for.  I’ve seen the headlines like customer loyalty program increases customer loyalty by 67%’ but how do they know with any reliability.

So I’ve done some thinking. Yes I know it’s hard  to find the time to sit down on think about business but this just had to be done.

Why there is no definitive answer?

It’s just too hard to try and get reliable definitive data!…

Here’s what I mean

Transactions would have to be recorded and analysed in detail. Shoppers would have to be tracked and their spending habits noted across all of their purchases, stores would have to be allocated a ‘type’ e.g. groceries, hairdressers, dentists, shoe store, clothing stores.   And then broken down into other areas, into ‘like’ groups such as bargain clothing store as opposed to designer. Then further broken down into  those with a loyalty program, those without and then into the ‘value’ that each program provides.

While the data  could be mined  from the EFPOS & Credit Card companies this would still not take into account convenience  and other factors.  I’m out and about, look up and there’s a gift shop. That jogs my memory that I have to buy a birthday present.  Would you travel to another store on the promise of a loyalty point or just buy then and there, assuming quality and price are then same?

Take coffee, I’m thirsty I’m beside a coffee shop, they all have loyalty cards so it doesn’t matter where I shop… unless… I’ve made plans to meet a friend, I’ve thought I want to go to my favourite cafe for the ambiance and food more maybe more importantly the quality of the  beans and barista, has a coffee card influenced my decision?

How on earth  can all the variables that go into making a purchasing decision be analyised to prove that  I shopped at  store X because the loyalty program is better than shop Y.

Now sometimes this will be true. I will make a decision based on what else I can get out of the deal.

Loyalty means to me that I want my business to be considered the No. 1 provider of goods or services for those who have purchased from me previously. That even when they are faced with similar choices at other stores they will visit me first.  This is simply not possible for even say, 80% of the time for 80% of  your market, I think it’s the variables that stuffs every thing up.

Sometimes a loyalty program will mean  your store will be preferred, mostly when price is an determinate and the goods and services are of a perceived similar value, but what really gets customers though the door repeatedly are the likes of customer service, quality of product and ambiance , both feel good intangibles and product/service  tangibles.

Why would I consider a loyalty program?  ( and not because every one has one and for data tracking, so I can see really who is my best shopers  and market to them more)…

… I really really want to reward my loyal customers…. because I genuinely like them, I want them to know that they are appreciated just because they do walk through that door with a simile on their faces.

What are your thoughts on this? Have I totally missed the mark?? Do you have examples of sustainable business growth, now I mean long term here,  though a loyalty program?… well prove it! :)

 

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How to Handle Customer Complaints and Reviews – Don’t take it personally

One of the hardest things for me as a small business owner, who works daily in the business, is to know how to handle

how to handal customer complaints and reviews

What would you think seeing this sign

customer complaints and reviews. What I am talking about here is not how to put it right if a product has not lived up to expectations, but how to not  take it personally.  As Donald Trump say’s…’ it’s just business’. So I was heartened to read an article on a restaurant that had received a bad review on  Yelp and then set about take advantage of the bad press. It’s possible that the owner first had a melt down, but then turned the tables and with some courage somewhat embraced the review.

How to Handle Customer Complaints and Reviews – Don’t take it personally

The restaurant owner placed a placard outside his/her business which stated ” COME IN AND TRY THE WORST MEATBALL SANDWICH  THAT ONE GUY ON YELP EVER HAD IN HIS LIFE”. How this came about is self explanatory.

And by taking this approach Ken of Inkling Media gives some thoughts on what the unnamed business owner achieved by his stance.

3. It takes a risk – Most of what we do as small businesses would be categorized as “safe”. Even our risks are calculated risks. We do what is easy. But what if…what if that meatball sandwich really isn’t all that good? This restaurant is walking around with a bulls-eye, taking the risk that others might feel the same way as the one guy on Yelp.

4. It builds community – If I’m a regular customer of this restaurant, and I like their food, I’m going to rally around them. I might just eat there more often as a public declaration that I’m not going to let anyone tell me what to think or like. In times of adversity and negativity, you find out who your friends are, and in this case, your loyal customers might just step up on your behalf.

5. It draws new customers in – If I’ve never eaten at your restaurant, this sign might be just enough to intrigue me. I might just walk through your doors, and if so, I’ll likely order the meatball sandwich. One, because I love a good meatball sandwich, and two, because I’m processing through the first few points of this in my head and I know you think that sandwich is pretty good. If it is, you’ve won me over.

6. It promotes positive online reviews – Taking all of these points into consideration, by mentioning that one bad review on Yelp, the businesses is inviting all of us to check out their Yelp account. We’ll go there looking for the bad review. We’ll want to see what this one guy had to say, and probably chuckle under our breath. And since we are there, we are very likely to leave our own review, and we will probably not only be positive, we might just extoll the virtues of the meatball sandwich.

to read the full post click here

 

Do you think that you would have the courage to put it all out there? Or would you, like me, be too annoyed and hurt to turn it around. This unknown business owner has certainly opened my eyes to see what can be achieved with a little lateral thinking. How to Handle Customer Complaints and Reviews? Don’t take it personally and remember, it’s just business.

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Ethics in Business – when is false advertising not false advertising – paying to avoid excess legal costs

I’ve titled this post ethics in business, but it’s really not all about that, It’s probably more of a rave. I just wanted to get my take on the FTC claims and Ethics in business - should you get a refund if you didn't wear them?payments to be made by Skechers in regards to the Skechers Shape Ups and am really unsure of what I should call this post to get the best readership!

 

Point 1 – Ethics in Business – selling a retailers perspective

I am a retailer in New Zealand and I have and do sell Skechers Shape Ups. When discussing the shoes in store I always made a point of saying that the shoes are not a magic bullet and that it does  diet as well. I did this is I felt that the hype was probably overrated  & the small print on the in store banners we had were often overlooked.  This was an ethical stance that I took and am very comfortable with my decision. My conscience is clear. I would even go to the point of saying that by purchasing the shoes off me they shouldn’t be entitled to a refund, as I gave them a slightly more balanced view prior to purchase. That’s pretty subjective I know but that’s the way I feel. Now is this the way I should act as a small business owner? will it mean that my customers will trust me more in the future?

 

Point 2 – Skechers will be paying out to avoid a long protracted legal battle.

Skechers have issued a press release stating just this. They stand by their claims and advertising and have made a decision to pay out now. This is probably the best thing to do. By taking this stance the companies executives are no doubt basing this decision on what is best for the company’s shareholders. The trouble is  this payout looks like an admission of guilt to many/most people. Most cannot understand the buisness decision as opposed to admitting guilt and liability. They just don’t get it, and lets not forget, Skechers have not been fined or penalised.

 

Point 3 – Refunds – even if the shoes have not been worn the way intented?

Now I can see a rush on to get refunds. I have been contacted by 2 customers about how can they get a claim in already & I have no idea! My concern is what about those who never actually used the shoes as they should have, but instead had them sitting in the wardrobe collecting dust. Did they ever walk the miles they should of to see any benefit? And what about diet? Did they make any changes? I have a pair and  have worn them, but not enough to do any good! I’m one of those people who have all good intentions but did not follow through with action. I did/do feel good wearing them, especially for my posture, should I be entitled to a refund?

 

Point 4 – What about the other manufactuers who make outragous claims?

This morning I watched a infomercial on the Ab Pro Wave, boy this that a fabulous machine, I can sit  down & move side to side & I’m going to slim down. Wow the before and after photos look great! Maybe I’ll get one and then wait to see if there are complaints… maybe I can then get a refund.

This is a little cynical I know… hopefully the payment by Skechers ( and don’t forget the same thing happened to Reebok last year).. maybe what is required is more truth in advertising… now where would the fun be in that!!!

 

Does the Skechers issue mean anything to you as a small business owner?

Does the advertising claims made by the manufacturers of products you sell effect your ethics in business

Let me know your views… leave a comment on my rave.. do you agree, disagree or don’t care?

 

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How to Use Social Media for Business – Facebook

Are you wondering just how to use social media for business?  Before you go bah humbug I promise I’ll be quick. In a previous post we looked what isEngage with customers on your facebook fanpages required to build a social media content strategy (click here) which was presented by social media expert Mikal E. Belicove. You may be like me and find business theories interesting but  all too often find that the reality as quite different. So I was greatful to find an article and video which gives actual real life examples of how social media and specifically facebook has helped two businesses, in the language and style of actual small business owners. It also reiterated the steps in my previous post. Phew!

 

Click the link below to view the video & read the article:

http://www.kspr.com/news/kspr-social-media-reinventing-the-wheel-for-local-businesses-20120517,0,5946238.story

 

How to Use Social Media for Business

 

Don’t fall into the trap that Facebook and other types of social media are the total answer and will automatically generate sales. Social media is all about building a relationship, getting potential customers to know, like and trust you….. it’s then when your authority is established that the sales can occur.

Jennifer of Facebook Ads Lab has this to say:

The key thing to remember – and a big mistake many marketers make – is that your WEBSITE is the center of your business. Not your Facebook Fan page.

Gather traffic from Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc and drive it all to your main “money site”. This means that you want to use Facebook to continually send people to your website. Don’t get confused and start thinking your Facebook Fan Page is the “be all” of your business. It’s not. Your “money site” is. source: Fb ads lab.com

So this is how to use social media in business, as a tool, but not as a sales technique.

And also just to add more confusion, here’s something else to consider, do your customers actually want a social relationship with you? Pete Davis, MD, of Getmemedia.com shares the following on how brands can humanise their social media strategy.

So where should they start? I asked some the social media experts at UM to come up with their top five tips…

1) Don’t assume that your consumer wants a social relationship with you. They may just want to transact with your brand and nothing else. Don’t waste time, effort and investment on creating a social relationship when there isn’t a genuine consumer need for one.

2) If you find that your consumers do want a social relationship with you, find out what kind of relationship they want. Not all consumers, brands and categories want the same kind of social interaction with brands. Some want very superficial relationships, i.e. “tell me when your new product comes out” and some want very deep relationships i.e. “let me work with you to develop new products that really meet my needs”. Knowing where your consumer fits along this scale is important, because otherwise you potentially over invest in an experience that the consumer ultimately doesn’t want or under invest in an experience that fails to meet the consumer’s needs or expectations. read the full post here

I’m now coming to the realisation that there is so much to the social media stuff that I am unable to devote enough time, energy and brain cells to it, I have a business to run! At some point I can see myself having to employ someone to help me.

I hope this has been a help with starting to get you on the right track on  how to use social media for business. How are you coping  with social media in your business? Leave a comment so that we can help each  other.

 

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Social Media Content Strategy – Video

Ok, I’ll admit it, my social marketing efforts have been and are, haphazard and lacking definition. I do not have a social media content strategy. So I was pleased to find the following video by  on Entrepreneur.com which details the steps to consider before starting any social media  program.

And the steps are:

1. Set your positioning. Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter? Why are you better?

2. Identify your target audience.

3. Create personas for your customers so you have a better idea of what they do and what they need.

4. Determine which social networks are the best platforms for your business.

 

UPDATE: Click here to view new post How to use social media for business

Social Media Content Strategy – Video

I hope you have found this as helpful as I have. Now I will sit down & think about my social media content strategy.  Have you done this or are you like me, just trying to keep up with all the so called ‘must haves’ in the social media world.

It’s all about working on your business, not in your business. Enjoy!

 

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Business Growth Strategies – If at first you don’t succeed – learning from business failure

As business owners there are many opportunities to learn from others, whether it be from successes or  failures, and in the dot com age there have been

Max Delivery a case study for business growth strategies

Max Delivery a case study for business growth strategies

many failures to learn from.  Kozmo was a high flying company that had grand dreams of   delivery of nearly any product you could want, sent to your home in one hour or less, the result, no delivery charge and small orders meant millions of dollars lost by growing the business too quickly and then unable to change the pricing structure. Chris Siragusa who was the former Kozmo Chief Technology Officer still held onto the dream and has now built up MaxDelivery.com and is succeeding in the same market that Kozmo failed, with a major difference. Chris is building his model with less speed and haste. This  is where the business growth strategies between the two companies has varied, calculated and steady (Max) or fast and uncontrolled (Kozmo).

 

 Business Growth Strategies – If at first you don’t succeed – learning from business failure [Read more...]

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Customer Retention Strategies – ROCK your Customers – Book Review – customer loyalty and retention

Customer retention strategies are high on the list of what small business owners want and need to grow their businesses.  Customers can sometimes be a necessary evil, over time we can be worn down in the day to day grind trying to be calm, patient, listening and advising. So at times we  need a ‘pick me up’ or ‘recharge’ ourselves to regain our focus on customer service, and I have come to the conclusion that I need to change my mindset.  I have now re-found my The Hidden Power of Your Customerspassion for my customers. The source of this passion has steamed from a book I have started reading called The Hidden Power of Your Customers  by Becky Carroll. You and I know that existing customers should not be overlooked. You and I  know that  are know the it’s cheaper and more effective to sell to existing customers than to try and source new ones.  The customer retention strategies by Becky help to get us to a point we can move forward, and if you have been in business a while, renewed. Also this book will help those just starting out to learn great skills from the start and maybe avoid  some of the mistakes that are so easily to made when dealing with the public.

Beckys stategy uses a ROCK metaphore

  • Relevant marketing
  • Orchestrated customer experience
  • Customer focused
  • Killer customer service
to provide  a boost to your business by focusing on the current customer base.  As it’s the existing customers that can become champions for our businesses, even without them be aware they can spread the word on what sets our businesses apart from the others.

At the current price of $13.72 on Kindle or from & $18.00 hardcover this is a no brainer investment to make in your business.

 

Click this link to go to order in Amazon The Hidden Power of Your Customers: 4 Keys to Growing Your Business Through Existing Customers

 

Read more below:

 

Customer Retention Strategies – ROCK your Customers

 

From the Inside Flap

This book will change the way you think about your customers. Some companies are ahead of the game when it comes to customer retention. They’re doing so much right for their existing customers that they have a loyal following of brand evangelists. These are “Customers Rock!” companies that have built their businesses by unleashing the potential that’s hidden within their current customers.

But many other companies have a long way to go. Loyal customers get very little in return for their business. New customers get the sales and marketing attention, the cool social media outreach, and the best deals. Feeling unrecognized and neglected, once-loyal buyers seek better treatment elsewhere. Additionally, the onset of social media is driving a major change in customers’ behaviors, making it highly risky not to focus on existing customers. It’s time to get back to the basics. It’s time to return to the customer.

Through practical tips and real-world case studies, The Hidden Power of Your Customers offers four key strategies for retaining and achieving growth from existing customers.

 

Customer loyalty and retention book review

The following are reviews on the book from Amazon.com

 

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
 A must read for marketers February 23, 2012
Format:Hardcover
“The Hidden Power of Your Customers” is a revolutionary text for marketers. I use Becky’s book in my graduate level customer-focused marketing class at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, because it is a perfect example of the current state of marketing. The dynamics of marketing have dramatically shifted and Becky’s blueprint on what it takes to engage and establish loyal relationship strategies are gracefully put into context with sound examples. This book is a must for evolving marketers.
A MUST READ!!, March 26, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: The Hidden Power of Your Customers: 4 Keys to Growing Your Business Through Existing Customers (Hardcover)
Bravo! I finished reading “The Hidden Power of Your Customers” the other night and I have to say that is it one of the best business books I have ever read. I really enjoyed Becky Carroll’s writing style and think that she was able to take a series of complex ideas and make them exceptionally easy to understand. Moreover, she provided highly relevant examples that reinforced her points. This is a must read book for all executives that want to remain competitive, and excel, in the age of social media and customer empowerment.Chuck Lisinski
Managing Director
OptiStrat Consulting

 Lots of yellow ink August 8, 2011

Format:Hardcover
In the introduction to “The Hidden Power of Your Customers”, Becky Carroll encourages readers to use a highlighter as they read. By the end of the book, I had more yellow highlighter throughout than untouched pages. The book is full of practical advice about unleashing the power of existing customers to: go from satisfied customers to ones with deep affinity, increase their LTV, spread word of mouth and drive referals. The book contains case studies, checklists, metrics and more. I particularly liked the core consept that brands spend the bulk of their marketing dollars on finding new customers and fail to unlock the value of existing customers. In this age when companies confuse followers or fans with true brand asdvocates, it is refreshing to read about a process that makes customers the focus. Not only do “Customers Rock” but so does this book.
Note the links on this page are affilate links to amazon.com and this site may receive renumeration

The Hidden Power of Your Customers: 4 Keys to Growing Your Business Through Existing Customers

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Use demographic data to keep your small business one step ahead

A chance reading of an article in the Sydney Morning Herald got me thinking about changing demographics. While the article was specifically looking at the expected large numbers of seniors who will require aged care, it resonated with me how important it is for business owners to consider using demographic data.

What has happened in my children’s shoe market in the past couple of years is a case in point.

Firstly about 2 years ago we had a shortage size 9 shoes. Purchasing levels were in line with expectations but they were selling faster

use demographic data

use demographic data

than usual. Talking to customers they also said that it was hard to buy clothes in the correct size.  It turns out there was a birthing bubble about 3 years prior which meant a greater demand at that time.  The lag in supply is over 6 months to a year until we can adjust our ordering levels.  My store is in New Zealand which has a population of a little over 4 million as as with most consumer products, large stocks are not held in the present economic conditions. For a few  shoe brands there were stocks available in Australia which we could draw on, but only small quantities.

While we can now make allowances for this and order based on the expected sizes required as the children grow, but there are also external factors which could also affect us. This was highlighted in a big way the last couple of months. Suddenly our draw down stocks based in Australia are NIL. It appears that Australia has had their own little boom & wiped out the current winter supply.

Use demographic data to keep your small business one step ahead

Here’s an extract from the article to get you thinking:

The demographic shift has implications for small businesses’ marketing strategies and staffing, as well as bringing potential opportunities for providing services to a mature population.

The proportion of Australia’s population 65 years of age or older has grown from 8 per cent in 1970-71 to 13 per cent in 2001-02. In 40 years’ time, a quarter of the population will be aged over 65. The number of working-age people to support each retiree will fall from five people today to 2.7 in 2049-50.Read more click here

 

So the lesson to be learnt?

Keep up with the demographic and other data  for the buyers of your products or services. Are you expecting changes due to an aging population, new technology,  changes in the income levels of your customers, growth from new residential subdivisions in your local market,  a new supermarket in the area that will bring in more customers, a new school being built.

Also, consider the supply chain lag. How long will it take for your suppliers to be able to provide stock? What about staffing?

Consider using demographic data that is up to date to keep you one step of changes to your customer base.

 

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