Saturday, August 20, 2011

How To: LinkedIn Connections

Three Ways to Personalize Your Request to Connect

What is LinkedIn?  LinkedIn is the social networking site for professionals looking to connect with other professionals.  LinkedIn defines itself this way, "LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 120 million members and growing rapidly. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals."

LinkedIn prefers these professionals connect with people they know and trust.  Many of us find that keeping an open mind and connecting with professionals we haven't met, but would like to connect with is of benefit too.  Count me among those.  Because we share and exchange information, as well as contacts, I prefer not to limit myself to those I have met in person.  To me that seems very restrictive.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Curious What #FF Means In Twitter?


Social media is changing and evolving constantly.  One problem participants have is the new trends that are always popping up.  It can be difficult to keep track of what everything means. 
This one has been around for a while, but if you are new to twitter it may be confusing.  Are you wondering what the #FF is you see used on Twitter? 
FF or #FF (with the hashtag) means Follow Friday. Follow Friday is a tradition where Twitter users help their followers find new followers each Friday. By tweeting their @name out to your list, they get a little exposure with your followers as well as their own followers.  Usually they will do the same for you.
All you need to do is tweet #FF and the @names of the followers you want to feature. Help out a friend this Friday by giving them a shout out. If you send me your @name (through a direct message through twitter or an email) I will send out a #FF this Friday for you to all of my followers.

What are other terms or slang you see that are confusing or you can share their meaning with us?

Follow me: @twitter.com/MktgPathways or @MktgPathways

Cindy Neky
MarketingPathways.com
Email Cindy

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Who is My Target Market? (And Why I Should Care)

One of the most common marketing mistakes I see small business owners make is not determining who their target market is.  Or perhaps, more often, they don’t use this information when determining a marketing plan or when it comes time to make essential marketing choices. 

Chances are you know who your target market is, but how often do you use that powerful information to make important marketing decisions?  And how often do you remember to structure your strategic marketing plan around this critical target market?  The answer should be-always.

Simply put, your target market is the most likely buyer of your product or service.  There may be many possible buyers of your product or service, but there is always one type of buyer that stands out.  This is true whether you sell to consumers or to other businesses.

Look at the demographics and characteristics of your buyers.  Do they all fall within a certain age group?  Are they primarily from a certain area of town or the country?  Do more men than women purchase your product?  Do most of them exercise regularly?  Are they avid sports enthusiasts?  List all the distinct qualities your best customers have.

Once you have drilled down to the most specific attributes of your best customers, you know who your target market is.  When you know that, marketing for a small business becomes much simpler.  Why?  Because then the decisions you make in regards to marketing strategy become clearer.  This is where you spend your money in marketing.

One marketing tip you should know is how to use target market knowledge to keep you focused.  If a sales person from a magazine or radio station approaches you about advertising, you will know whether they are a good fit by who their target market is.  If the radio station targets 20-35 year old males and your customers are 35-50 year old females, it isn’t a good fit, no matter what type of a deal they offer.  See how much easier your decision became?

Don’t forget who your target market is and you will be making the right marketing decisions for your small business.  Small business marketing isn’t so tough if you remember who you are trying to please-your target market.

What do you think?  Do you use target market data to make your marketing decisions?  Any other thoughts on this topic?

Cindy Neky

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ten Social Media Mistakes That Will Sabotage Your Results

It seems there are people involved in social media that don't understand how to use it, at least effectively.  When I say social media, of course, I am referring to sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. How hard can it be to chat with other people online?  More difficult than you might imagine.  Below you will see a list of the ten social media mistakes I see most often. 

1. It's all about me. This is probably the mistake I see most often from social media newbies. They think you have to sell every time they make a comment or update. What they don't realize is how annoying that comes across. 

Give me information that shows me you are an expert in what you do.  Convince me (in an indirect way) that I would want to do business with you.  Then you can tell me how you should be the person I want to do business with.  Don't sell at me all the time or I will shut you out.

2. No personality.  Ok, I know it isn't easy to write with a personality if you aren't a writer.  And putting smiley faces after all your sentences doesn't make it any better. :)  If you can bring your personality through in your writing then the reader is going to feel more connected to you.  Do the best you can.

3. No consistency.  Be consistent in your message and tone so the reader and follower know it is you. You want them to look forward to your contribution on social sites.  The other part of consistency is doing it often.  While not always an easy task, try to be involved in social media every day.

4. Not interacting with others.  Always remember this is social media and therefore, it should be a more social way of reaching out to others.  Do your best to network and relate to others in the site.  Try to respond to comments made by those you are connected with or that post on your blog.

5. Not being open to connecting.  My philosophy on connecting with business professionals on social sites is that I will connect with anyone within reason.  I say within reason because I have had a few shady characters try to connect with me.  Overall though, whether I know you personally or not, I will connect. 

On more than one occasion I have met someone in person at a meeting who I was connected to on LinkedIn or Facebook, but had never met in person.  It is always a fun and exciting moment. 

By connecting with people I haven't yet met, I allow them to get to know me through my postings, comments and updates. 

6. Auto following.  Most of us know that there are sites you can sign up for that will allow you to find and follow people automatically.  There are sites especially designed to do this with Twitter.  You can have thousands of followers if you want, just by using an automated following.  This is particularly bothersome and selfish.  I can't think of one good reason that isn't selfish for having thousands of followers.  And I don't mean a few thousand, I'm talking 5 figures and up.

7. Posting too frequently.  It is possible to post things so often it not only irritates readers, but also numbs them to what you are saying.  There are several people in groups on LinkedIn with me that post so often I automatically delete the emails coming in with their discussions.  There is a balance between often enough and too often.  Find it for you and your business.

8. Improper spelling and grammar.  You probably think this is a no brainer, but it is important to spell words correctly and say it properly.  Do you have to be perfect?  No.  You do need to meet minimum standards of grammar though.  Check your typing before you post.  First impressions are lasting, even in social media.

9. Using textspeak.  Dnt write like u txt.  U mite find not evryone cn rd it.  Plus, it just doesn't look professional.  Admittedly, Twitter is based on short messages of 140 characters or less.  If you are using it for business stick to real words.  Be more creative in how you say it in a short span. 

10.  No social media strategy.  Have a strategy with your social media. Are you going to supply people with information which helps you develop a strong presence? Whatever your goal for social media, stick to that strategy in every writing and in every site.

Are there others that I missed?  What do you see on social sites that you believe are mistakes?  Please respond in the comment section below.  I want to hear from you.

Cindy Neky

Cindy is a Certified Social Media Strategist, Marketing and PR Consultant, Small Business Specialist and Speaker with Marketing Pathways.  Located in Pittsburgh, PA, Marketing Pathways helps small businesses achieve sales success through strategic thinking and creative ideas.  

Email Cindy
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Three 2011 Marketing Trends for Small Businesses

What are businesses really doing to succeed in today’s economy?  What does every business owner really want?  More leads? Of course.  More sales? Without question.  More money?  Absolutely.  But what do they REALLY want to KNOW


They want to know what everyone else is doing.  You know I’m right.  Just like we all want to know how our neighbor was able to afford that new big boat, we also want to know how other small business owners are succeeding.  What is the key to their success?  

Lots of elements go into a successful business, but let’s focus on what your neighbor businesses are doing with their marketing.  Using these ideas you can determine if you are on the right track with your own business.

The information compiled here is primarily from surveys of small business owners.  This would consist of businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Trend one- Print advertising is decreasing every year.  Newspapers in print are losing ground in readership and advertising dollars.  National print Magazines, however, are on the upswing.  For the first time, more people have indicated they get their news online than in newspapers.  Twenty-three percent of consumers are also saying they would pay for online news.  Good news for the publishing industry.

How does this affect advertising?  If you have an older demographic as your target market, then print is still viable.  If your target market consists of individuals less than 50 years old, print probably isn’t an option for you. 

The top three news Web sites?  New York Times, People Magazine and USA Today.

The question I am asked more than any other is- how much should I spend on marketing my business?  It’s always a good question too.  The best answer is always as much as you can afford.  But what is everyone really spending? 

The Second Trend in small business marketing is the stabilization of the percentage of gross revenue for marketing.  For both 2009 and 2010, the percentage of sales small businesses put toward marketing is steady and it is…drum roll, please…- stated in % of revenue…it is 11%.  Now YOU know the answer.  When broken down by industry it is:

  • Service Industries spend 11%
  • Business Technology spends 8%
  • Industrial and Manufacturing spend 5%

Successful companies spend money on marketing.  Not necessarily the same marketing you do, because their business is different than yours…but they do spend money.  And in a questionable economy it should not be the first thing you cut.  This is a mistake many businesses are never able to bounce back from. 

Think about it this way, have you ever noticed a company that advertises constantly for a year or two and then one day you notice you haven’t heard or seen their commercials in a while?  What is your first thought?  They have gone out of business.  That is the first thing that occurs to most people.  For a business that really didn’t go bankrupt, it could be a real problem for sales.

What happens to your customers if they stop hearing about you?  They stop thinking about you.  They find other sources for the product or service you provide.  Any small business owner that thinks it wouldn’t happen to them will be surprised to know it happens more often than not.

Is it enough just to say, I can afford x$ for marketing?  No it isn’t.  You need to plan and budget.  If you track your sales based on what you are doing, you will have a much better idea how much to spend and where to spend it in the future.

Third Trend-  Where were your neighbor businesses spending their money?  It’s all about new media.  The top three places businesses are using to market their business are on Web sites 88%, email 84% and social media 66%. 

In today’s fast paced world, most businesses have a Web site.  Either because they think they should or out of necessity due to customer request.  It has become the one marketing tool used by businesses more than any other.

What are the other marketing tools small business owners are using in 2011?  These are the specifics.

Top 3 B2B (Business to Business) Marketing Tactics for 2011

  • ·          Email (still the best ROI)
  • ·          Social Media
  • ·          Events and Tradeshows

Top 3 B2C (Business to Consumer) Marketing Tactics for 2011

  • ·          Social Media (Considered the highest priority to businesses)
  • ·          Email
  • ·          Lead Generation Programs

As you can see, Social Media is hot, hot, hot and trending up in 2011.

Let’s look at email marketing since it is the #1 trend for all size businesses’ marketing.  Some of the trends you are seeing in email marketing are ways to beef up your email.  Taking advantage of what is out there. 


·          Video is the new thing.  75% of people in the world are visuals.  This is one of the reasons video is so powerful.  If you haven’t tried video, give it a shot.

·          Social Media- integrating social media sites, information about joining, and links, included in the email.  And adding share buttons in the email is important now too.

·          New subscribers via Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, and other sites with the signup integrated into the page. There is an app for that!

The trends for social media are constantly changing because social media is changing so rapidly.  These are the current trends for social media:

·        I have been saying for quite a while now that in social media, content is king.  Creating content that interests people and brings them to your sites and causes them to buy from you is important.  Now Content Curation is the trend.  What is that?  It is supplying relevant content to your followers-that are on topic, but you haven’t necessarily written.  Links to good articles, blogs, and other helpful sources.  Be an informational source for your followers.

Marketing Pathways'
QR code
·          QR codes.  Know what those are?  They are the little black boxes with the squiggly lines in them.  If you capture the box on your phone (that has the right application-app) it will automatically take you to a website or other landing page with info about the product, 
company or service.

·          The last of these is Social Commerce.  This would include both Groupon and companies like Groupon and Facebook Commerce.  Yes, there are sites within Facebook that are selling their wares.  The NBA is one of the first.  Check out the NBA Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/NBA.  During basketball season the store has many different shirts and other paraphernalia to choose from that can be purchased in the Facebook store.  You don't navigate outside Facebook to make your purchase.  Facebook users love that.

Now you know the secret of your business competitor and your business neighbor’s success.  Clearly social media and email, plus the web, are the hot places to spend your time.  As always, make sure any marketing strategy or tactic is a fit for your target market. 


What do you think?  Any trends you see for 2011?  Comment below, please.

Cindy Neky
Email Cindy
Follow Cindy on twitter
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Are you a Small Business Owner in the Pittsburgh area? Join our LinkedIn group.


Focus Research Study, Hubspot’s Marketing Data Box, Marketing Sherpa Special Report and 2010 GetResponse Email Marketing Trends Report used as basis for statistical numbers. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

How Do I Delete a Comment I Don't Like From My Facebook Page?

Have you had comments on your Facebook Page (or profile) you didn't want? Were you unsure what to do with them?

The easiest way to handle a comment made on your Facebook Page wall that you would like to have removed is to go to the specific comment itself.   If you go to the far right of the comment and hover your cursor, you will see a little star burst appear.  Click on the star burst and it will give you choices on what you can do with the comment and the person commenting.  Facebook allows you to either remove the post, remove the post and ban user (which you would probably want to do if the person is trying to sell something or is annoying), hide post or report as abuse. 

You can also delete the offender from your list of “likes”, by going in to the list of people that like your page and clicking on the “x” by his/her name to delete them.  Do this by clicking into the profile for your page at the top right corner.  Then on the left you will see a number with "people like this" beside it.  Click on the "people like this" and you will see the people that like your page.  Find the offender in this list and click the "x" beside their name to delete them.  They will no longer be able to comment on your page.

It is also possible to change your settings; by clicking on the edit page box in the top right corner and then into manage permissions.  If you uncheck the box for "users can write or post comments on your wall" no one will be able to make comments or otherwise post information, good or bad.  Think a significant change like this through before implementing.  Do you want people that "like" your page to be able to ask you questions and provide input?  If so, do not change the "posting ability" setting.  A change like this takes away from the Facebook experience.  In many cases, at least for small businesses, it is better to delete comments you don’t like and allow the interaction that comes from your followers comments.  It's always great to see a happy customer comment on how terrific you are.  Plus, it is great PR for your other followers to see a good comment as well!

Facebook is giving you several ways to handle umwanted comments.  It's your decision as to what to do with them.  Always consider your total strategy for using Facebook before making significant changes to your Page.

Have you had problems with people posting unwanted sales offers on your Page?  What do you prefer to do with unwanted or derogatory comments?  Please post comments below.

Cindy
Marketing Pathways Web site
Cindy on LinkedIn

Friday, May 13, 2011

Marketing Tidbit #2

Ever wonder what would happen if your list of connections in LinkedIn were lost?

Other LinkedIn members have lost their connections to glitches in the system. What if you have hundreds of connections? How would you reconstruct all of the connections you've worked hard to accumulate? 

Every so often you should download your connections to an Excel spreadsheet. Go to the Contacts tab in your account. At the bottom of that page in very small print are the words Export Connections. Click on those words, choose Microsoft Outlook .CSV, fill in the security letters and it will allow you to download the list (including emails) to a spreadsheet. 



If something happens to your list of contacts in LinkedIn-you're prepared! 


Have you had a problem with LinkedIn you couldn't solve?  Let's discuss here.


Cindy Neky
http://www.MarketingPathways.com

Monday, April 11, 2011

Facebook is the Third Largest Country

Have you joined the Facebook revolution yet? If not, you better jump on board because the train is leaving the station, so to speak. 

Did you know that Facebook has over 700 million users world-wide? If Facebook was a country it would be the third largest country in the world. Can you afford NOT to be on Facebook? 

Who can use Facebook effectively?

Usually I suggest that clients who sell to other businesses not spend too much time on Facebook because business people don't use it as much for networking. However, that is changing. If you want to get to know some of these same business people better, you should get your own personal Facebook account. If you do use a personal account for business, make sure everyone knows you are using it for business. Otherwise you might have personal or inapporiate remarks posted, which is never good. 

If you are selling your services or products to consumers, Facebook is a MUST, not an option. Those 700 million people are all consumers. 

How can a business be involved in Facebook? 


What can happen if you make a mistake with setting up different accounts?

Several years ago I started a "business page" (different than a Fan Page-strictly for users that do not use Facebook personally) for Marketing Pathways. I wasn't using Facebook personally at the time. 

Once my son got old enough and just had to have a Facebook page, I decided to also open a personal page to monitor his conversations (so far so good, by the way.) I used my personal email address for this personal page. 

Recently Facebook figured out that I was the owner of both a business page and a personal page and shut down my Marketing Pathways Business Page! (I started up a NEW Fan Page a few weeks ago and would love for you to"like" my page.) Fortunately, I hadn't been using the old business page much. Now you are forewarned what can happen. 

Last month there were some changes made to Facebook. Overall, most have worked out. It has limited design customization capabilities now, by anyone but an expert, but functionality has improved.

If you want to keep in touch with more people than you could ever imagine, you need to be on Facebook. Use it for prospecting, connecting and getting new business. Why miss out on 700 million people?

Become a fan of Marketing Pathways on Facebook. And now I use my personal Facebook page for business too (as well as keeping an eye out on my son), connect with me on my personal page- Cindy on Facebook.

What do you think of the changes that Facebook has gone through?  Do you use Facebook much for business?
Cindy Neky
Marketing Pathways Web site
Marketing Pathways Facebook Page



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Do People Still Listen to the Radio?

Or should I spend my money advertising on it?  That's really the question you are probably asking yourself.

Recently my teenage son and I were in the car traveling to one of his many activities.  The radio station we were listening to was one a client of mine was advertising on.  Every time the commercials came on he wanted to change the station.  The commercials were what I wanted to hear!  He politely said, "Mom, no one listens to the commercials."  Ouch.  Considering what I do, that was painful.  (Fortunately for my client, teenage boys are not their target market.) 

Yes, people do still listen to the radio, even the commercials.  You probably won't find as many teenagers with a radio blaring in their rooms as you once would have. They are all listening to their ipods now.  As long as we aren't legally or physically able to watch TV while we drive, radio will still be around.

Radio is an interesting medium for advertising.  There are no more voracious salespeople than radio reps. They can convince even the least likely of advertisers that they can give them the deal of a lifetime.  Radio isn't right for everyone though.  

If you are in a business-to-business selling environment (you sell your product or service only to other businesses) then radio probably isn't a good option for you.  The number of decision-makers in businesses that listen is small.

If you do sell to consumers, but only within a very small geographic area, then radio probably isn't for you either. Radio covers a large area. 

Radio is best for businesses that can draw from a fairly large geographic area.  Otherwise, much of your advertising dollar is wasted.  True, the customers in your neighborhood will hear the commercial, but you are wasting dollars advertising to consumers miles away that have no interest in traveling to purchase your product or service or may even find the same type of business just down the street from them.

Statistics show that radio advertising has increased over the last year.  Why is that?  It could be for several reasons.  

1. People still listen while they are in the car.  There aren't too many other options for entertainment in a vehicle.  At least not too many legal ones.  So you have a captive audience.  Advertisers recognize this. 

2.  Listening to the radio is still something you can do while performing other tasks.  So consumers are still listening even if it is while they are doing other things. There are stations that cater to people that listen at work.  Most of them are called "Easy Listening."  

3.  Costs were low.  I say "were" because they have increased over the last 6 months with the resurgence in radio advertising interest.  Some of it started with the recent election, but the phenomenon continues.  Relative to other forms of advertising, it can still be a good "buy."  

4. Radio results are quantifiable.  If you place an ad and more people buy from you it is trackable. 

5.  Advertising on the radio works well with other forms of advertising.  The reinforcement of your message is strong.  It works especially well with print forms of advertising so that your prospects get both the visual and auditory senses stimulated by your advertising.  

6.  You can place a large number of "spots" on radio, which increases the number of times your prospects and customers will hear your message.  Repetition is important in marketing.  

7.  It is still a relatively inexpensive way to advertise.  Radio advertising can still pay for itself.
  
Radio isn't for everyone.  And you have to be careful you choose a station that caters to your target audience.  If your business serves a large geographic area and provides consumer products or services, it may just be for you.  As always, it should be part of a total strategic marketing plan.  

What do you think?  Is radio advertising dead?  Does it pale compared to social media?  Let me know what you think.  Comment below.

Cindy Neky

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Five Step Success Cycle in Social Media

Social media success is easy, right? You register on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn or whatever site and start sending messages or particpating in discussions. How hard can it be?

You may be right. If all you want to do is talk to other people about what you had for lunch, what your kids are doing today or those big plans for the weekend then there isn't anything left to do but enjoy. 

If your desire is to make serious connections for your business, then you really need to take notice, because there is a lot more to it than just participation. Without a plan, a real plan, you will be spinning your wheels. Social media can be time consuming if you don't have a plan and some structure. 

There are five must-have's for every business or business person using social media as a tool for building their business.

1. Set a social media strategy. What you say and do in the offline world doesn't necessarily work as well in social media. Attention spans are shorter and people don't like the hard sell. Who do you want to do business with? Target them.

2. Establish a presence. Make sure all profiles and descriptions make full use of keywords and the important details people should know about you or your business. Be consistent across all sites. 

3. Make a commitment to continually expand your reach. This is done by selectively finding your best customers, not just anyone that happens to come along. It doesn't mean you screen people out if they want to connect, but you will only search for those people that would be a good customer or contact for you. Remember, target marketing. 

4. Nurture relationships with your target audience. Join in conversations. Offer free advice. Help them get to know you...as a person. 

5. Maintain communications with your network. This means you consistently need to be active in the social media sites you choose to participate in. It doesn't mean you spend every waking moment on your sites, but it does mean each day you put some time into it. This is probably the toughest of the five. Scheduling and limiting your time is the best solution for not going overboard. 

If your company has the funds to hire someone to handle your social media, this is a possible answer to the time crunch. If not, organization and scheduling will be imperative to success in social media. 

If you want to connect with me, please send me an invitation on LinkedIn-see below. Please mention this article and where you saw it. I love to expand my connections. 

What do you think?  Are there more ways to be a success in social media?  Please make your comments below.  Questions about these five steps? Contact me at the email below.

Cindy Neky 
Cindy on LinkedIn
Email
Marketing Pathways website
twitter

Friday, January 14, 2011

7 Ways to Better Customer Service

Many business executives believe customer service is part of operations. In reality, it plays a significant role in marketing your company. If the service you provide your customers is poor, word will travel fast. More so today than at any other time in the past.

Much of the reason bad news about customer service travels so quickly now is because of the internet and social media. Within minutes of a bad experience an irate customer can post a negative review. This review can be seen by thousands of people almost before you close the doors for the day.

Twenty years ago, statistics showed that for every unhappy customer you had, they would tell ten people. Think of all the places that a disgruntled customer can post a less-than-favorable review now. Facebook, twitter, Angies List, City Search, and a multitude of other online sites.

It only takes one employee having a bad day to create a bad situation for a customer. Have you ever had a client ask you for something that you didn't feel you should give them or couldn't? It could cost you money and possibly create an untenable precedent.

It's important to handle every customer service situation carefully. Each should be considered as important to your marketing as the advertisements you place.

Consider these ideas for powerful customer service:

1. Don't argue with a customer. The customer will always win in the end. They may not get what they want from you, but they will tell enough people that you will lose.
 
2. Consider how much you can lose in the long run. If a customer asks you to honor an expired coupon because they didn't know it had an expiration, consider doing it and saying "In the future we are unable to honor these past their expiration, but today we are happy to honor this because we appreciate your business." If you don't honor it, how much could you lose by the spreading of the story to thousands of potential and current customers?

3. Always err on the side of giving the customer more than you think they deserve. When you do, it probably still isn't as much as the customer thinks they deserve.

4. Decide how you would like to be treated if it were you on the other side of the counter or desk. What would make you feel as if you had been treated fairly?
 
5. Remember that whatever you decide to do in a tense customer service situation affects your brand and how people see your company. Thinking about this may help you make the right decision.

6. Make customer service from your company a joyful experience. Create an atmosphere of helpfulness that your customers will remember.

7. Go above and beyond every day. 'Nuff said.

There is no amount of advertising that can overcome lousy word of mouth. If you start with great customer service, your advertising will be more effective and create new sales for your business.

Cindy Neky

Cindy on LinkedIn
http://www.marketingpathways.com/

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