Saturday, March 19, 2011

Does Good Old Fashion Networking Still Work?

Networking has always been the number one way for businesses to grow and increase revenue. Whether you are a B2B or B2C company, networking has never been more important than it is today for business growth. You are in one of two camps in what you view as networking – 1) face to face, shaking hands, group networking or 2) social media networking.

The first, face to face, shaking hands, group networking is the way it has been done for a long time. It works great for local businesses and B2B business owners will tell you this is still the strongest way to network. There are groups of professionals being formed in all areas that are networking to help each other in generating leads. Some groups are open and allow as many people as can attend and some groups are closed to just one individual per industry. The open groups allow you to meet a lot of people. The closed groups have more success generating leads. Typically you are not allowed to remain in the closed group unless you are providing leads to others in the group.  Both have their pros and cons and you must choose which is the best for you and your business.

The second, social media networking is taking the previous view of networking and multiplying it times 1,000,000. LinkedIn is the social media network for professionals that has done the best job in creating a place and environment for business networking. On LinkedIn I have a connection (individuals that you have a contact in common) to almost 2,000,000 individuals. All of my contacts (contacts are like friends on Facebook) are people I know and so I had these connections prior to LinkedIn. The big difference now is that I can see those connections. You can identify an individual you would like to meet for business, determine if you have a common contact, send a message to the contact in common and ask to be introduced. This is an incredible database that shows you how to meet other business leaders that will help your business grow.

B2B businesses have more success on LinkedIn than B2C companies. B2C companies have more success on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and others. These social sites are for the general population and are where individuals communicate about where they are and what they are doing. The numbers are larger on these sites for B2C companies to network with their potential customers. It works the same way as it did many years ago; you just have access to a much larger number of people. Communicate information and interact on your social media pages just like you would if networking face to face.

So, things have really not changed in how we do business, just where we do business.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Is Website Optimization Necessary for Local Internet Marketing Success?

The answer is……Let’s talk about what are the components of a successful local internet marketing plan. As I have mentioned in the previous blog, there are certain components that are part of a successful local marketing plan. However, after attending a very good webinar on How to become a Local Marketing Expert presented by Hubspot, I have added a few new techniques.

Prior to this informative event, I would not have considered these ideas as being necessary or even effective in local internet marketing. However, when you integrate all of the different tools, you have a very successful local internet marketing plan that will allow a small businesses to compete with big business!!

Here is the list from the previous blog. If you want more information on these, see Local Marketing – Are You Sure?

1. Local Opportunities
2. Email Marketing
3. Long Tail Keywords
4. On-line Directories
5. Google and Bing Places
6. Social Media
7. Blog

Here are the additions:

1. Add Yahoo Places – this is another search engine I inadvertently omitted. Also in places, some businesses will want to consider tags and advertising. It will make your places listing stand out with a special tag on Google and get you placed higher in Yahoo. You are also able to offer special deals through the tags and upgrades. Monitoring is key with places and all other online directories.

2. Facebook Places – You still need the business page, however, every business should have a places page. The page allows you to show up in certain location searches on Facebook and allows customers to check-in to your business on Facebook, sharing it with all their friends. FREE advertising.

3. Foursquare – I have not been a fan of Foursquare up until now. I still do not think it is for all businesses. Businesses that have a lot of walk-in traffic and potential repeat customers, should use Foursquare. There are 6 million users on Foursquare. It reaches out to mobile users, makes visiting your business fun and builds brand loyalty.

4. Online group buying – Here is another marketing tool that I was not a fan until now. I still don’t think it is wise for a local small business to partner with a national company such as Groupon. However, if there is a local online group buying company that fits your demographics, then I encourage you to consider this tool. Be sure you offer a great deal, but don’t offer a deal that has the potential to harm your business.

You take all of the components listed above and any local small business can compete with big business.

So my answer is – NO – website optimization is not necessary to have a successful local internet marketing plan.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Local Marketing - Are You Sure?

Most locally owned small businesses think they are focusing on local marketing. Here are 7 things you must do to have a successful local marketing plan.

1. Local opportunities – Every community is different in what marketing opportunities are available for small businesses. Most communities have a Chamber of Commerce, local newspaper, local radio, billboards, etc. Business owners should research each local opportunity and gather the demographic information for each, before making a decision on where to spend their money. Remember - inbound marketing is more successful than outbound marketing. Make choices wisely.

2. Email Marketing – Every local business can be successful with email marketing. The type of email marketing will depend on the industry. A properly planned email marketing program will grow the business and build a loyal customer base.

3. Long Tail Keywords – One of the most effective ways to target locally when performing SEO, is to use long tail keyword phrases with the name of the location targeting. Some examples – ‘seafood Destin FL’ or ‘residential painter in Atlanta’.

4. On-line directories – This is another way for your business to be seen in internet searches. These directories are also used for customer comments. Not only should you be listed in these directories, you should be monitoring the directories for positive and negative comments. Respond to all comments in public. Some of the top online directories are Merchant Circle, Yelp, Manta and There are others you may need to consider depending on your industry.

5. Google and Bing Places – Reserve your name and place on the major search engines. When someone types in a city to search for a specific business, the search engines will give you a map with the locations highlighted for your search results. A must for all businesses!!

6. Social Media – This has become known as “Word of Mouth on Steroids” and the foundation for most locally owned businesses marketing is word of mouth. Facebook has become the most powerful social media tool on the internet today. Start a business page and begin connecting and communicating with your customers and others. Offering deals, posting interesting information, commenting on local events, etc. will have people to ‘Like’ your page to see what you have to offer.

7. Blog – The latest statistic I heard about blogging was – businesses with an active blog receive 55% more traffic to their website than those that do not blog – this coming from Hubspot. Blogging adds new content to your website, pages to your website, increases traffic to your website and increases links to your website – all of these will increase your ranking with search engines.

Do you have anything to add to the list?