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Summer is the season for family vacations, backyard barbecues and days at the beach. For a small business, it can also be a profitable season. With summer underway, how is your business doing at capturing customers’ summer dollars? Here are some creative midsummer marketing ideas to boost your business’s sales.

 

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  • On a scorching hot day, attract passersby into your business by promoting your air conditioning. Put up a sign saying, “Come in and cool off!”
  • Give away ice-cold lemonade or bottled water outside your business, along with a coupon for 10

 

Get Outdoors

  • Have a company picnic for your customers at a local park, lake or beach.
  • Put up a tent in the parking lot; grill hot dogs and hamburgers and scoop ice cream for customers.
  • Have employees wear sandwich boards, twirl signs or hand out coupons on busy street corners.

 

Hit the Road

  • Choose a tradeshow or conference relevant to your business. Make it a mini-vacation by building in a bit of sightseeing before or after the event.
  • Take a road trip to visit key clients. Many B2B companies’ schedules slow down in the summer, so your customers will be less frazzled and your meetings more productive.

 

Team Up

  • Get together with your Chamber of Commerce or other local business owners to plan a sidewalk sale you can all participate in. Put tables outside the stores selling small items, and keep your door open to attract customers inside.
  • Put together a monthly “First Fridays” or “Second Saturdays” event featuring musicians, face painting, and refreshments in your business district to attract customers one evening a month.

 

Join the Crowd

  • Find a local community event your target customers attend, like a fun run, classic car show or music festival. Sell products at a booth there or give away free samples, along with a coupon to get recipients into your business later.
  • If you don’t have the bandwidth to have a physical presence at the event, become a sponsor to get your businesses’ name in front of the crowds.
  • Farmers markets are especially popular in the summertime, and can be a great place to sell products or promote your services to locals.

 

Be a Good Sport

  • Take your best customers out to a baseball game, surf competition, volleyball tournament or whatever summer sport is hot in your area.
  • Put on a golf or tennis tournament for clients at the local links or country club.

 

Get Social

  • Get customers to engage with your business on social media. Have employees share their vacation photos and ask customers to do the same.
  • Give away company T-shirts or baseball caps with your logo and offer a prize for the customer who posts a picture of them wearing it in the most exotic vacation locale.
  • Hold a contest or drawing to give away summer-related products or services, like beach toys from your toy store or a summer spruce up at your hair salon.

 

Share Summer Content

  • Summer-ize your content marketing with seasonal information relevant to your customers. That could be serious stuff like pool safety tips for children, or fun stuff like 10 top nail polish colors for summer pedicures.

 

Heat Up Your Promo Products

  • Invest in fun summer promotional products, like beach towels, sunglasses, Koozies®, coolers or beach balls.
  • At an outdoor event, give away promo products to cool customers down, like fans, visors or spray bottles with your logo.

 

Help Customers Enjoy the Summer

  • If you own a service business, put together packages that help your customers get the most out of summer. An auto repair shop could offer a “pre-road trip inspection” special to get cars vacation-ready. A yoga studio could hold special “Mommy and me” classes.

 

Summer is short. Don’t waste your chance to make the most of this special season.

 

Related Content:

8 Stops to Prepare Your Business for Summer Tourists

5 Simple Steps for Giving Your Team Time Off This Summer

Top Hacks to Make your Store Profit from Summer Tourists

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Facebook-owned Instagram launched Stories in August 2016 as a direct copy of an already popular Snapchat feature. Today, Instagram Stories has 300 million daily active users. As a result, Snapchat growth slowed 82 percent.)

 

But what, exactly, is a "Story?" And are there benefits for business use?

 

Stories Demystified

 

A Story is a piece of micro-content that disappears after 24 hours.

 

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Stories can be photos/images, recorded videos, text with a colorful background, live video or 'boomerangs' (short, looping video content like an animated GIF).

 

Photos or videos can be uploaded from your camera roll, or you can record within the app. You can add effects, filters, stickers, text, interactive polls, animated GIFs and all manner of fun stuff to your Stories.

 

You can also add a clickable hashtag, @ mentions and locations to your Stories. This all helps with gaining extra visibility. Both hashtags and locations have Story feeds users can follow.

 

In 2017, Facebook also introduced the Story feature to both Messenger and the main Facebook app after Stories had already gained quite a foothold on Instagram.

 

“The way people share and connect is changing; it’s quickly becoming more real-time and visual.” ~Facebook [Source: TechCrunch]

 

Should you include Stories in your marketing mix?

 

The short answer is a resounding yes! For several reasons, to name a few:

 

  1. Micro-content is extremely easy to create.
  2. Both Instagram and Facebook position the Stories feature at the very top of their respective mobile apps. This provides tremendous visibility for your followers. Stories on Facebook are also very easy to create on desktop and are visible on desktop.
  3. People have very short attention spans these days and Stories are incredibly easy and fun to consume.
  4. For Instagram business accounts with over 10,000 followers and/or verified accounts, you can also add a URL to your Stories where your followers swipe up to go to your designated web page. (Now, with the launch of Instagram’s IGTV, you can choose to direct your followers to one of your IGTV videos or an external URL).
  5. Stories are growing 15X faster than feed sharing.
  6. Instagram boasts over 300 million daily active users and Facebook has over 150 million DAU’s.

 

“The Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.” ~Chris Cox, Facebook Chief Product Officer

 

Regularly publishing Stories for your business is a great way of producing micro-content for top of mind and top of feed awareness.

 

5 Story ideas for your business

 

  1. Do live broadcasts. Live Stories get the most prominent positioning at the top with a red “LIVE” icon. You can also do a “Live with” where you invite a guest on and Instagram splits the screen in half. Both your followers and your guest’s followers will see the telltale Live icon at the top. Your Live Story could be a product sneak peek, behind-the-scenes, meet the staff, customer spotlight, Q&A session, special offer, exclusive discounts and more.
  2. Conduct polls. I’ve found interactive polls to be an excellent method for sparking increased engagement. Instagram makes it super easy to add a simple and fun voting button as a slider, or a simple two word or emoji choice. You can even share the poll results later as another Story.
  3. Highlight user generated content. If you gather user generated content across your social channels, you could share screenshots with the relevant user @tag and an appropriate hashtag. These could be simple shout outs, or testimonials and reviews. Instagram auto-suggests hashtags when you start to type. Be sure to first search and settle on the best hashtag for your Story, as this can really help others discover you.
  4. Announce new content. If you publish blog posts/articles, podcast episodes, vlogs (video blogs), and/or live streaming videos, be sure to use Stories to let your Instagram followers know. Always include the related URL in the Swipe Up feature, if you have it.
  5. Share exclusive deals. Entice your followers to keep coming back to consume your Stories by regularly sharing special offers, codes, or unexpected bonuses.

 

Embrace micro-engagement, too

 

Whether you choose to include Stories in your marketing mix or not, I highly recommend starting to at least view and engage with Stories. This is a great way to create what I call micro-engagement.

 

When you view Stories on Instagram, the person/business will see that you've seen their content in their Insights. Granted, not everyone necessarily views their Insights for each Story, but many do, including myself.

 

When possible, try sending a quick reply or even an emoji response to a Story. This goes to the account holder’s private inbox. (Depending on user settings, the ability to reply may not be available on all Stories).


In closing, it is worth noting here that at YouTube’s 2018 VidCon video conference, the company announced that it, too, will be launching a Stories feature.

 

Clearly, Stories are here to stay and businesses would do well to map out a powerful micro-content strategy.

 

Related Content:

The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Social Media

Facebook Privacy: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

Facebook Messenger Chatbots Give Small Business Owners an Edge

 

About Mari Smith

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Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Since the first photo with the hashtag #selfie posted to Instagram in 2011, selfies have taken over the world.

 

According to one survey, 30 percent of photos taken by people between ages 18 and 24 are selfies. Why not celebrate—and market your business at the same time—by launching a grassroots social media selfie campaign for National Selfie Day on June 21?

 

For a small business owner, sharing selfies can be a way of promoting your business’s authenticity. Showing customers and prospective customers the faces behind the business demonstrates you’re not a faceless corporation—you’re a real person.

 

Social Selfie Suggestions

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A social media selfie campaign works best if you have a lot of customers on Facebook or Instagram, the two social platforms where selfies are popular. You can either focus on the platform where your target customers spend the most time, or create one campaign for each platform.

 

Have a specific goal in mind for your National Selfie Day campaign. Do you want to build awareness of a new product or service? Do you want to get people to visit your location? Do you want to promote a sale and spark purchases? Set a measurable goal and figure out how National Selfie Day can help you reach it.

 

    Related Content: The Social Media Time Suck: How to Pick Your Platforms

 

You don’t need a physical location to market National Selfie Day, but if you do have one, make it “selfie-worthy.” Paint a wall inside your store, restaurant, salon, etc. with a backdrop that inspires customers to take selfies. Set up a selfie station: If you own a toy store, paint a wall with a circus theme and put out props like clown noses, crazy wigs or top hats for kids to pose in. Want to really go crazy? Make your entire location selfie-worthy (look up images of the Museum of Ice Cream for inspiration).

 

To promote your social campaign, create your own hashtag and make sure customers use it (along with #NationalSelfieDay) when submitting selfies. This way, their selfies show up not only on their Facebook or Instagram pages, but also on yours.

 

Here are some ideas:

  • Ask customers to post a selfie holding/wearing/using something they bought from your business.
  • National Selfie Day falls on the first day of summer, so ask for selfies doing something summery, like grilling, sunning or camping.
  • Do you own a hair salon or other beauty business? Ask customers to post a selfie showing why they need a new haircut or a makeover.
  • Own a bar or restaurant? Ask customers to post selfies digging into their favorite menu item or toasting with their favorite beverage.

 

Related Content: The Small Business Owner's Guide to Social Media

 

What's My Motivation?

 

Some customers will post selfies just for the fun of it, but others need incentive. Here are some rewards to offer:

  • Something free: If hair salon clients post selfies of their new ‘do, give them a free sample-size hair-care product. If diners post selfies eating at your restaurant, provide a free appetizer.
  • Contest prize: Contests can exponentially increase your selfie campaign’s reach. Ask your social media followers to vote for the winner, and watch the entrants spread the word to their friends in an attempt to win. Make the contest prize something that gets the winner back to your business, like a $100 store gift card, a day of pampering at your spa, or a catered event from your restaurant.
  • Giving to a cause: Tie your social selfie campaign into a charitable cause that your business supports. Own a pet grooming business? Ask for selfies of people with their pups and donate $1 per selfie to an organization that helps abused animals.

 

     Related Content: A First Step for Small Businesses Wanting to Support a Social Cause

 

For more ideas for using selfies in your marketing, search for posts with the hashtags #selfie or #NationalSelfieDay, or search for “selfie booth” or “selfie station” online. With a bit of creativity, you can make your National Selfie Day social media campaign a success—and get to know your customers a little better in the bargain.

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

The popularity of Facebook groups has exploded in the past year. The good news is Facebook really wants users to embrace the ‘groups’ feature more, including small businesses.

 

Groups can now be created and administrated by business pages, and posts by groups are getting more priority in the news feed. All the more reason for you to create a companion group linked from your Facebook business page.

 

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There are a variety of reasons why Facebook is pushing groups more. One of the main reasons is to enhance user well-being.  In a status update on Facebook in January 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated:

 

We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people's well-being. So we've studied this trend carefully by looking at the academic research and doing our own research with leading experts at universities.

 

And, in Zuckerberg’s epic manifesto published in February 2017, the word “group” is mentioned 30 times!

 

Facebook has also hosted invitation-only live event called Facebook Communities Summit. Facebook’s intention with these live events is to help recognize and empower community leaders, and to equip them with better tools to be able to manage their groups.

 

Facebook has released a slew of new features for groups, including:

 

  • Group insights
  • Member request filtering
  • Scheduled posts
  • Linking other groups
  • Welcome posts
  • Badges
  • Member profiles
  • Watch Parties

 

Watch Parties is one of my favorites. This allows any group admin or moderator to create a playlist of any public video on Facebook for group members to watch together. Facebook is giving significant priority to these Watch Parties on the new Watch Platform.

 

Facebook page vs. group?

 

This is a common question among the small business community. It takes effort to manage your page, including creating original content that resonates with your audience, responding and engaging with your community, and ensuring your message gets to the right audience with paid campaigns.

 

Adding a Facebook group into your marketing mix can make a big difference in building a very loyal, engaged following. It may not initially be about growing huge numbers. You might look to have a group of ‘super fans.’ This is what author Kevin Kelly refers to as 1,000 True Fans.

 

Setting up your group

 

Facebook offers three types of groups: Public, Closed or Secret. Refer to this guide to determine which privacy setting will meet your needs.

 

To first create a group as your personal profile, navigate to https://www.facebook.com/groups and click on the green Create group button. You’ll need to add at least one person to be able to proceed further. I usually add my partner or a team member. You can easily add your business page as an admin of this group once set up.

 

Alternatively, to create a group with your business page as the owner/admin, navigate to the Groups tab on the left and follow the directions.

 

Growing group members

 

Link your group to your page and reorder your tabs so the Groups tab is towards the top.

 

Publish a post about your new group, what it’s about, who it’s for and what content you’ll be sharing. Pin this post to the top of your page.

 

Send an email broadcast out to your subscribers encouraging them to join your new group and why they should. Share on all other social channels about your new group with a link to join.

 

Don’t be shy about regularly promoting your group. Be sure to reiterate the benefits of being a member.

 

Building your loyal community

 

Finally, you’ll want to ensure your group has plenty of ‘stickiness.’ What will you do to encourage participation? How can you mobilize group members to contribute even during times when you’re not personally active in the group?

 

I recommend assigning additional moderators to help engage with members.

 

Also, consider doing regular live video broadcasts with exclusive content for your group members. My friend Joey Vitale, attorney at Indie Law, does a terrific job with this strategy. His group Friends of Indie Law has over 7,400 members who are highly engaged with Joey’s weekly live video broadcasts to the group.

 

I love to use Facebook groups as a powerful support community for my various programs and masterminds. One of my longest running groups is my Inner Circle, where I lead bi-monthly live trainings using third-party Facebook Live video conferencing apps. This allows for so much more connection and loyalty when group members also come on camera and share and contribute.

 

Related Content:

     New European Law Impacts U.S. Small Business Owners – Are you Prepared?

     Facebook Privacy: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

     Facebook Messenger Chatbots Give Small Business Owners an Edge

 

 

About Mari Smith

 

mari_0362xFACE_preview.jpg

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Has your business’s social media presence become ho-hum?  Are you fresh out of ideas for creative photos or inspiring images? Then try going live with a digital event.

 

There are a wide variety of online events you can take part in, from Tweet Chats (or Twitter Chats) to Facebook Live or Instagram Live streaming videos. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of digital events for a small business, give you an overview of digital event options, and share some ideas for digital events you can host.

 

What are Digital Events?

 

A digital event is any online broadcast usually on social media—that takes place live. Among the most popular formats are Facebook Live videos, Twitter live videos and Instagram live videos.  You can also participate in or host Tweet Chats or Reddit forums, which are real-time online chats on a specific topic.

Live digital events are becoming more and more popular. According to TechCrunch, one-fifth of videos shared on Facebook are now live.

 

Why Should a Business Participate in Digital Events?66061204_s.jpg

 

Live digital events have many benefits for a small business. Like all kinds of social media marketing, they help promote products or services, build awareness of your business and gain a reputation for thought leadership. However, a live digital event has unique advantages:

 

  • It can generate a sense of excitement and anticipation
  • It helps to foster a community with your customers and followers
  • It enables real-time interaction with customers
  • It offers a sense of authenticity because it’s live
  • You get instant responses and feedback from viewers

 

Ideas for Digital Events

 

A Tweet Chat or Reddit forum is essentially a Q&A session. For example, you could invite an industry expert to answer questions, or answer questions yourself about your business, product or service. You’ll need a moderator for the event to field questions and manage the flow of interactions (if you’re the one answering the questions, you won’t be able to pay attention to incoming questions at the same time).

 

Here are some ideas for live videos:

 

  • Go behind the scenes at your business. Give viewers a tour of your brewery or introduce them to your team.
  • Hold a demonstration showing viewers how to use one of your products.
  • Interview an industry expert on a topic of interest to your customers.
  • Live stream an event at your business, like a grand opening for a new location or a fundraiser for a local charity.
  • Live stream an event, conference or tradeshow you’re attending. If you’re speaking at an event or moderating a panel, live stream it.
  • Promote a sale at your business. Take viewers through your store showing off the hottest selling items or biggest promotional discounts.

 

Tips for Digital Event Success

 

  • Promote your event in advance. Use email marketing, social media and your business website to spread the word and create anticipation.
  • Create a hashtag for your event so people can find it. If you’re hosting a Tweet Chat, you’ll need a unique hashtag to tweet or respond to tweets in the chat.
  • Plan ahead. Your event is live, but don’t try to wing it. Facebook recommends Facebook Live videos be a minimum of 10 minutes long—a long time to talk if you don’t have some idea what you’re going to say. Plan a few topics to bring up or questions to get the ball rolling.
  • Create a series. For example, hold a Tweet Chat with an industry expert once a month, or live stream a demo of the best-selling products from your store every week. (If you plan to do a series, remind viewers at the end of your video to “follow” you for notifications of future live videos.)
  • Engage with viewers. Digital events let you can see exactly how customers are responding in real time. Learn from their questions and comments, and ask some questions of your own.

 

Once your digital event is over, assess its success, (measure participation, use of hashtags, etc.) and use what you learned to make your next digital event even more effective.

 

Related Content:

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Video is one of the best types of content marketing across the social web. In a recent eye-tracking study, Facebook discovered that people gaze five times longer at video than static content on both Facebook and Instagram. And, in a mobile-first world, shorter video ads drive results.

 

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Facebook gives priority visibility to video content in the news feed. Here’s a hot tip for you: instead of posting links to your blog posts on Facebook, take a few moments to create a short, compelling video to catch attention and increase reach. Be sure to include the URL to your blog post in the description of the video. And, by boosting the video post, you can also add a call-to-action  button to drive traffic to your blog post. See this example on my own Facebook Page.

 

With Facebook and Instagram’s video autoplay feature, the movement catches the eye. Be sure to design your videos for sound-off by adding text overlay.

 

To create stunning, professional video posts and ads on Facebook and Instagram, check out three of my favorite tools:

 

1. Wave.video

 

Wave.video is an easy-to-use online video maker for creating marketing and social videos in minutes.

 

Two excellent features that make this tool stand out are:

1. Access to 200 million high-quality, royalty-free stock video clips and images (500,000 of which are included in the plans, and the rest available for purchase)

2. Simultaneously create multiple formats optimized for Facebook and Instagram, such as square, landscape, story, Facebook cover and more

 

When you want to showcase a blog post on Facebook with a short, simple video, Wave.video makes it easy to search their vast library and quickly find the perfect eye-catching assets. Add text overlay, a call to action, music track and you are good to go. Plus, Wave.video allows you to add watermarks, upload your own logo, choose fonts and colors, and select from a large library of great royalty-free music.

 

Try producing both landscape and square formats for the same 5-15 second video and split test in two different Facebook ads. Or, with the click of a button, reformat the same video into an Instagram Story ad.

 

Wave.video is currently only available as a web-based tool.

 

2. Animoto

 

If you have your own library of photos and videos, Animoto is a great choice. This tool allows you to create videos in three easy steps. First, pick a style for your video. Second, upload your own photos and/or video clips, add text elements and choose a music track. Finally, produce the video and share it on your website or social channels.

 

One of the features that makes Animoto stand out is their wonderful array of pre-built storyboards or templates for marketing videos. Simply replace the placeholder photos and videos with your own assets. And, Animoto’s “Memories” slideshow themes are stunning for showcasing your own photos and video clips into stylized videos.

 

Plus, Animoto has a format called Quote Blocks for quickly creating short, inspirational videos or showcasing customer testimonials.

 

Animoto is a web-based tool, and has apps for Android and iOS devices.

 

3: Adobe Spark

 

Spark is a fabulous three-in-one tool by Adobe that easily creates graphics, videos and web pages.

 

To create videos, simply follow the online prompts, pick a story template or build your own. Upload your assets or choose from royalty-free sources. Because Spark is part of the Adobe suite of products, you can access your Adobe Stock account, Creative Cloud and Lightroom.

 

Adobe Spark is a free tool, both web-based and as a mobile app. To remove the Adobe Spark branding on your videos, you will need to upgrade to a paid account.

 

Including more videos in your Facebook and Instagram content marketing and ad campaigns can help to dramatically improve your visibility, reach and conversions.

 

Related Content:

How Video and Data Can Help Small Business Owners Better Target Customers

Reaching Customers With Live Streaming Video

Facebook Privacy: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

 

About Mari Smith

mari_0362xFACE_preview.jpg

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

You don't need to be a natural salesperson to grow sales for your small business, you just need the right strategies. In my experience working with small business owners, video has led to positive results attracting new clients.

 

The goal with video content marketing is to start the conversation with an interested prospect. It's not to make the sale on the first introduction.

 

The key to success is following the right steps even if you are camera shy. It’s important to note, however, that before you turn on the camera, you must first define your audience, identify how they consume information and set the stage for your on-camera entrance as the expert.

 

Here are 5 steps to using video to increase sales.

 

1. Identify Your Ideal Client

 

This may sound obvious but identifying your ideal client makes it easier to also identify their needs, wants and problems. You can also acquire information about your ideal client's key business stats, including  revenue, business size,  industry profile, or the type of product or service offered, among other details. This information is important because you have a better ability for targeting in your advertising and social media marketing efforts.

 

2. Identify Where Your Ideal Client Resides

 

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It's important to identify where your ideal client resides online. In other words, what type of information do they consume and where do they consume it? Thus, the job title of your ideal client matters. For example, if you're the owner of a software company that sells services to chief information officers of consulting companies, there are certain publications, trade organizations, Facebook and LinkedIn groups they spend time with. Additionally, the CIOs may read or study certain information for their industry. Knowing this helps you create valuable content for your prospective client.

 

 

    Related Content: 3 Social Video Marketing Tools to Grow Your Business

 

3. Make a List of Frequently Asked Questions

 

After identifying the ideal client,  craft a list of frequently asked questions. People buy goods and services for two reasons: to get a desired result and/or to solve a problem. The CIO you sell goods and services to is always looking for answers and solutions to his or her company's problems. Creating a list of FAQs highlights you as the expert to solve that problem. More importantly, answering a question your prospect is concerned with before they ask shows you're aware of their challenges. It makes it easier to show your expertise.

 

    Related Content: The Small Business Owner's Guide to Social Media

 

4. Understand the 3 Keys to Video

 

This is the most important part of using video for your marketing and client attraction strategies. I shoot my own videos for LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook and in my experience, lighting, sound and backdrop are overlooked considerations when shooting a video. . Many business owners struggle with video because their lighting is bad, audio is terrible and the backdrop isn't framed correctly. You can quickly and easily shoot your own video with your mobile phone, a tie clip microphone (easily found online)  and use your office or backyard for the backdrop. If you're not skilled with video, you should consider hiring a videographer to help.

 

    Related Content: Q & A: Growing a Social Media Following

 

5. Make Sure Your Video Has Important "Calls to Action"

 

Adding a call to action is one of the easiest, yet most overlooked strategies to selling with video. A call to action is a direct instruction to the viewer to do something you want them to do. For example, on radio or TV ads, a call to action would be "visit our website" or call this 800 number to buy this product.

The difference with your video is that you're not asking your viewers to buy anything, instead you're asking your viewers to contact you, post a comment with a question and/or share your video with a colleague.

 

If you provided important content to a prospective client, your next step is to encourage them to make contact. The call to action guides your viewers to your next steps.

 

A Word of Caution with Video

 

Don't fall in love with the vanity metrics of your videos. Vanity metrics are likes, shares and comments. Vanity metrics don't lead to new clients because if a viewer is interested in your services, they'll call or email you directly based on your call to action. The goal is to present yourself as the expert with the right experience to solve your prospective client's problem. Think of it this way: who you connect with is more important than how many. Wouldn't you be happier if you connected with the CIO of a major company, even though you only had 10 views on your video?

 

About Ebong Eka

 

Ebong+Eka+Headshot.png

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Ebong is also the founder of The $250 Tax Pro, which provides tax preparation and consulting services in the Washington, DC area.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Conversations have always been a core part of commerce. What is emerging now at a rapid rate is the automated part of a customer’s journey from pre- to post-sales. This automation is birthing a new paradigm often referred to as “Conversational Commerce” and it’s forecast to be a multi-billion-dollar industry in less than ten years, according to an April report from MobileMonkey.

 

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“A sale isn’t made until a conversation is started. Marketers need to focus on creating conversations, not leads. Conversations create revenue.” —David Cancel, CEO Drift

 

More and more people are using online chatbots to start conversations with businesses. That includes people who work at companies of every size, sector and industry.

 

To help shed light on how chatbots are reshaping online experiences today, the teams at Drift, SurveyMonkey Audience, Salesforce, and myclever came together to create The 2018 State of Chatbots Report. The report is based on a survey of 1,000+ U.S. adults.

 

Key findings include:

 

  • The top perceived benefit of chatbots is the ability to get 24-hour service, according to 64 percent of respondents
  • The second most popular benefit is getting an instant response to inquiries, said 55 percent of participants
  • Key decision-makers are using online chatbots: 41 percent of people starting online chat conversations with businesses are executives

 

A Messenger chatbot is a third-party software system that integrates with your Facebook business page and helps to automate responses when people send a private message to your Facebook page, via Messenger. Plus, within the Messenger terms, you can send broadcasts to those people who have begun a conversation with you. In an era when email open rates are declining, Messenger open rates can be as high as 90 percent, according to Chatbots Life.

 

There are numerous Messenger chatbot platforms on the market today. The one that I’m favoring and recommending is MobileMonkey. The Boston-based company is free to get started and they provide excellent customer care – including a toll-free phone number.

 

Installing a Messenger chatbot on your Facebook business page is quick and easy and can instantly give you a significant advantage over your competitors.

 

Various messages that you might want to automate include:

 

  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • Common customer support or technical help questions
  • Directions to your store/business
  • Support navigating various product choices
  • Order confirmation and shipment tracking
  • Follow up once a parcel has arrived and ask for a product review
  • Make product recommendations

 

     Related Content: How to Increase Authentic Business Reviews on Facebook

 

“Businesses are turning to Messenger to help their customers find the perfect gift, book appointments, get personalized deals, receive shipping updates and so much more.” —Andrew Kritzer, Product Manager, Messenger Platform.

 

Chatbots can help you to guarantee a great user experience by providing instant replies with pertinent information.

 

Here’s the key, though: don’t think online chatbots should ever be “set and forget.” One of my favorite options to include in a chatbot sequence is, “Talk to a human.”

 

A couple more notable stats from the 2018 State of Chatbots Report include:

 

  • 43 percent of consumers said they prefer dealing with an actual person (this was the No. 1 potential barrier to using chatbots, which makes sense)
  • 34 percent of respondents say they would use a chatbot to find a human customer service assistant

 

     Related Content: How Good Is Your Customer Service? Here Are 6 Steps to Find Out

 

So, look for ways to use a Messenger chatbot that can partially automate the customer experience. Your chatbot should augment and supplement your community managers and online customer support teams, not replace them.

 

For a comprehensive resource, check out The Complete Guide to Conversational Commerce by Matt Schlicht, founder of Chatbots Magazine.

And, if you’re looking for some helpful ideas to get started, here are 20 Examples of Facebook Messenger Chatbots to Inspire You in 2018.

 

     Related Content: Facebook Privacy: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

 

About Mari Smith

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Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Online ratings and reviews are a powerful form of user-generated content to help grow your business. In fact, reviews are a form of word of mouth, which is the most trusted source consumers consult before buying.

 

According to a study by TurnTo Networks, 90 percent of shoppers’ purchasing decisions is influenced by user-generated content. The primary conclusion of TurnTo’s study is ratings, reviews and other user-generated content are more influential than advertising.

 

Plus, a survey by earned content platform Olapic showed that 76 percent of consumers believe the content everyday people share is more honest than advertising from brands.

 

This surely presents a tremendous opportunity to invest further in your customers’ experience.

 

Enabling Facebook Star Ratings and Reviews

 

The Reviews feature on Facebook is incredibly easy to set up if you already have a Facebook business page. Why not encourage your happy customers to leave a review to help attract more customers?

 

Facebook first established the star rating feature in November 2013 as a way to encourage more customers to review local businesses. Any visitor to your Facebook business page can rate your store on a scale from one to five stars. Your average Facebook page star rating is displayed on your page by default. The page rating is an average of all public star ratings.

 

Once a customer has chosen her star rating, she can also add a written review.

 

Facebook allows your customers to choose the level of privacy they prefer on their review. Ideally, you want to encourage your customers to select public. However, just like publishing content on our personal Facebook profiles, reviewers can choose a setting such as specific friends, all friends, friends and their friends, or public.

 

Related content:  Facebook Privacy: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

 

First, make sure you have the Reviews tab enabled on your Facebook business page. Go to Settings, Edit Page, Add a Tab. If you don’t see Reviews as a choice, you may need to switch templates.

 

Next, you can drag and drop the order of your tabs to feature the Reviews tab more prominently – perhaps at the very top of your page.

 

How to Get Customers to Leave Reviews

 

So, how do you encourage more customer reviews? Here are a few suggestions:

 

1. If you’re shipping a product, include a postcard inside the box with a clear and simple invitation to leave a review on your Facebook page. Tell your customer exactly what to do. For example, “We’d love to hear from you! Please share your experience on our Facebook page. Go to fb.com/pageusername > tap on the Reviews tab > select your star rating and write your rave review! We’d love it if you shared your review publicly.” startup-3373320_640.png

 

2. Send your customers follow-up emails asking about their experience with your company. Invite them to leave a star rating and write a review for you on Facebook so that their experience might benefit others. Be sure to include a direct link to your Facebook Reviews tab: https://www.facebook.com/pageusername/reviews

 

3. Include your Facebook Reviews URL with an eye-catching button on your website. Invite your customers to share their experience of your company, product or service on your Facebook Reviews tab.

 

4. Set up a Messenger chat bot to communicate with customers. Integrate the Messenger button on your purchase confirmation page, or other relevant web page(s), asking customers if they’d like to receive updates from you via Messenger. Follow up with an invitation to leave a star rating and write a review. Include a button that links directly to your Reviews tab.

 

5. Regularly monitor the comments and posts by visitors on your Facebook page. Look for potential customer reviews. Comment publically and/or private message these customers asking if they’d be willing to share the same feedback on your Reviews tab so that future customers can benefit from their experience.

 

 

How to Deal with Negative Reviews

 

Many businesses may fear enabling Reviews on Facebook in case they get some low stars or negative reviews. However, understanding Facebook’s guidelines can help you to increase positive reviews and report any negative reviews that don’t follow Facebook’s rules.

 

Reviews must follow the Facebook Community Standards. Reviews must also be based on personal experience and focus on the product or service offered by your page. If a review doesn’t follow Facebook’s rules, you can report it to Facebook and request its removal.

 

Keep in mind that most people simply want to be heard, understood and valued. When your company responds promptly and courteously to an upset customer along with proactive steps to rectify the situation, the negativity can often be quickly diffused and turned around.

 

It’s important to get into the habit of checking your Reviews on Facebook regularly and responding to every single one. Negative and less than optimal reviewers could be turned into your best advocates with the right approach. And, your positive reviewers are most likely your absolute best customers. You’ll want to really nurture the relationship you have with them.

 

Related Content: The Small Business Owner's Guide to Social Media [Ebook]

How to Boost Positive Online Reviews for Your Business – And Deal with Those Pesky Bad Ones

 

About Mari Smith

mari_0362xFACE_preview.jpg

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

The Small Business Owners Guide to Social Media 65% of American adults use a social networking site, according to the Pew Research Center

 

This collection of articles seeks to help entrepreneurs understand social media and capture the attention of their target audiences. Whether you're curious about which platform is best for you, how social advertising works, or how to better engage and grow your audience, our small business experts provide specific insights that are applicable to nearly every industry.

 

Whether you’re new to social media or you’re an expert, download this guide (PDF) to help you grow your business.

 

Online reviews have become a guiding force in how consumers and B2B buyers alike decide where to buy. A whopping 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and consumers spend an average of 31 percent more with companies that have excellent online reviews.

 

The number of online reviews your business has even factors into your business’s search engine results position on Google. With so much importance attached to reviews, how can you get more good ones? Here are some tips for boosting your star rating—and for dealing with negative reviews.

 

Do’s and Don’ts to Get More Good Reviews

  • Do provide great service. Yes, it’s obvious, but too often forgotten: The only sustainable way to get more positive reviews is to offer outstanding products and services.
  • Don’t bribe customers for reviews. Incentivizing reviews by offering a discount or reward in return violates many review sites’ terms of service, including Yelp’s. (Check the terms of service on each review site to be sure what their rules are.) 26497034_s.jpg
  • Do ask customers to review your business. The best way to do that is in person. When you know a customer is happy with your business, say something like, “We'd love it if you’d review us on Yelp.” Here are some other ideas to encourage reviews:
      • If you have a brick-and-mortar location, post signage indicating which review site/s you’re on.
      • Print “Review us on [SITE]” on your receipts or invoices.
      • Include requests for reviews in your email newsletters and other email marketing materials.
      • Link to your review listing at the end of your email signature.
  • Don’t assume you’re “done.” Consumers read an average of seven reviews before they feel confident trusting a business. That doesn’t mean you can get seven reviews and then stop. Keep a steady stream of new reviews coming to keep your listing fresh.
  • Do make it easy for customers to review your business. Don’t make customers search all over the internet for your review listings. Start by directing them to your review site of choice, whether that’s HomeAdvisor, Yelp or Google.  (Of course, you want reviews on more than one site, but if you have 50 reviews on Yelp and only two on Google, you’ll want to focus on Google reviews for a while.) Put clickable icons on your website and in any digital communication with customers, so all they have to do is click to go directly to your review listing and start writing.

 

Handling Negative Reviews: Do’s and Don’ts

There’s good and bad news about negative online reviews.

  • The bad news: Consumers are 21 percent more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one.
  • The good news: A few negative reviews can actually make customers trust your reviews more. If a business has no negative reviews, 95 percent of consumers suspect the good reviews are fake or the bad ones have been censored.

 

Consumers have become more sophisticated about reviews, and most can recognize when a reviewer is being irrational. It’s the negative reviews founded in reality that give you a chance to learn from criticism and improve your business.

 

Here's how to deal with bad reviews:

  • Don't ignore them. Reply to a negative review as soon you see it. Reputation management software for small businesses can help you monitor and manage reviews.

  • Do be understanding. Express empathy for the customer’s unhappiness.

  • Don’t discuss it in public. Ask the customer to contact you privately to discuss their concerns. It’s best to talk by phone or in person, as texts and emails are subject to misinterpretation.

  • Do share the happy solution. Once you resolve the matter, ask the customer if they’d be willing to add an update to their original review.

 

Most customers who complain simply want to be heard. Listen, respond, and who knows? You could turn that negative reviewer into a raving fan of your business.

 

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Finding new customers and consistently driving sales are invaluable goals for every business owner. In this post, I’ll provide small business owners with advice for developing a predictable client attraction process to prospect more clients and close more sales. Here are five tips to help you on your way:

 

1. Identify your target audience and leverage their contact details

You can identify your target audience by first understanding your market and its challenges. This makes it easier to also identify key decision makers and influencers, who might produce relevant content online. Use sites like LinkedIn to find the contact information for those key decision makers. The more information you have about your audience, the better off you’ll be in building a process that leads to closing more sales.

 

2. Make warm calls63662271_s.jpg

Your initial contact with prospects should always be “warm” – or, preceded by some sort of contact with the potential customer or prospect. One easy path to building a relationship is following your prospects on social media and engaging with select content. In doing so, you can begin to familiarize your target with your company affiliation, your name, or other things you think would interest the prospect.

 

Ensure your communication is professional and not pitchy. Potential clients are often turned off by a direct selling approach. It makes them feel that you only care about selling them your services and products instead of solving their problems. Warm calls build trust.

 

3. Use social proof to establish yourself as an expert in your industry

People listen to experts when deciding who to do business with. Imagine what your closing rate would look like if you were the most sought-after expert in your industry. One of the ways to become a thought leader is to share content illustrating your expertise. For example, establish a blog to showcase your expertise, post articles on other people’s blogs and create content for YouTube and Facebook.

 

There are many free social media platforms to make your ‘voice’ heard in the marketplace. Use them to share your solutions to prospects' problems. Social proof is an exceptional way of inviting leads. Once people identify with you in solving a certain or some problems, they will look for you and buy your services or goods.

 

4. Build trust with clients

Remember the old saying “People do business with those they know, like and trust”? Building trust with your prospect increases the likelihood of closing the sale. One way to build trust is to use a referral. A referral from a source your prospect always trusts transfers a level of that trust to you. 

 

Another way to build trust is to keep your promises to your prospects and clients on the little things. Ensure that you offer value to your clients and you are a person of integrity. Keep your word and deliver beyond customer expectations. When you win the hearts of your clients, they will refer others to you. It also helps to ask for referrals from friends, current clients and family.

 

One of the primary rules in selling is to promise what you can deliver. When prospecting, think of repeat business. No client will come back if their buying experience is bad.

 

5. Sell

Once there is a relationship between you and your prospects, sell yourself well. At this crucial point, introduce your products or services. Ensure the client gets more value than they’ve paid for.

 

When selling, don’t be in a hurry to close the sale. Instead, educate the client with as much information as possible about the product and how that product will solve their most painful problem.

 

Creating a repeatable sales process is the key to increasing your sales. Even if the prospect says “no,” it’s important to understand the real reasons why they are saying “no.” For example, I recently helped a small business owner create a simple sales prospecting process and overcome sales objections that led to them closing a high five-figure sale in less than a week.

 

The wrong sales campaigns can demoralize your sales staff as well as reduce your businesses’ revenue. Having a well-trained and motivated sales team is paramount to growing your business. With the five prospecting and sales tips above, you can steadily increase your sales and grow your business.

 

Related Content:

The Art of the Sale: Tips for closing the deal from master salespeople

5 Tips for How Not to Feel Salesy When Selling

9 Ways to Discover What Your Customers Really Think of Your Business

 

About Ebong EkaEbong+Eka+Headshot.png

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Ebong is also the founder of The $250 Tax Pro, which provides tax preparation and consulting services in the Washington, DC area.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

This series explores some of the most common and difficult challenges faced by small business owners. Part 1 explored how to effectively manage cash flow, and Part 2 laid out steps to find and retain employees.

 

Marketing has always been a challenge for small business owners, but in the “olden days,” marketing methods such as print ads, direct mail and public relations stayed fairly stable. Digital marketing changes constantly, and with so many options for marketing online, many entrepreneurs are overwhelmed.

If this is you, take a deep breath, keep reading, and incorporate these online marketing “essentials” into your marketing plan.

 

Build a Website

It's hard to believe, but as recently as 2017, 29 percent of small businesses did not have a website. If you’re one of them, get moving! There are many providers that offer one-stop services including everything from registering your website domain name and hosting your site to designing, building and maintaining it.

Do you already have a website? Great! Now, make sure it’s:35338495_s.jpg

    • Mobile optimized. The percentage of online searches on mobile devices surpassed the number of searches on desktops back in in 2016, and by 2021, the number of mobile search users is expected to grow to 221 million people.  Make sure your site looks great and works great on all types of smartphones and tablets—not just on computers.
    • Fast. Your customers are impatient folks, and speed is especially important on mobile devices. According to data from DoubleClick, 53 percent of mobile website visits are abandoned because it takes longer than three seconds for the site to load.
    • Optimized for search. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps your website appear higher in search results. You can optimize your website for search by researching keywords that prospects are likely to use when searching for your business. Use those keywords throughout the site in text, headlines, product descriptions and “tags” on images and pages.

 

Get the Local Edge

If your business relies on local customers, use these local digital marketing strategies to get more business.

    • Get listed in local search directories.BrightLocal reports 97 percent of consumers searched online for local businesses last year. Google My Business is the most important local search directory (since more than 59 percent of all online searches start on Google), but there are many others, such as Bing, Local.com, Citysearch and Yellow Pages. It’s free to get listed, and having a presence in online directories makes a huge difference in whether prospects find you when they search online.
    • Take advantage of online reviews. Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth. According to BrightLocal, 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. Get listed on review sites such as Yelp or Angie's List. Then monitor reviews and quickly respond to any critical ones.
    • Related content: Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever (and 4 Steps to Success)

 

Social Presence

Whether you own a B2B or B2C business, whether you sell products or services, and especially if your target customers who are millennials or younger, you need a presence on social media. More than half of small businesses say social media is somewhat or very important to attracting new customers, communicating with existing customers, and marketing to both new and existing customers.

 

Use social media posts to drive customers to take action, such as visiting your website, filling out a form or making a purchase. Want to get attention? According to HubSpot, photos and videos are over 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than text-based content.

 

Related Articles: Social Media Primer: When to Post, How Often and What About, Is Your Website Driving Millennials Away? Here are 6 Warning Signs

 

Don’t Forget About…

Email marketing has a median return on investment (ROI )of 122 percent—more than four times the ROI of social media, direct mail or paid search, according to DMA and Demand Metric. Use email to send special offers, newsletters, or updates about your business. Make sure your emails are optimized for mobile devices. If they aren’t, over 80 percent of recipients will delete them.

 

Get Help

Digital marketing is a huge landscape, and I’ve only touched on the basics here. The good news is, there are plenty of places to get expert help with everything from website design to email marketing and local search listings – with plenty of digital tips right here on the Bank of America Small Business Community.

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Have you ever thought to yourself, I want to sell more products and services, but I don't want to be too salesy? If you're a small business owner, selling your products and services is necessary – especially if you’re the face of the company.

 

The challenge some business owners have is being comfortable selling “on stage” – meaning speaking to potential new clients – without feeling salesy or scammy. Here are five important tips to sell your products and services on stage, in live presentations or online without being overly salesy.

 

1. Identify the problems your ideal client wants to solve

Ask your audience what their greatest challenges are. Why? People buy for one of two reasons: to get a desired result or to solve a problem. If the needs your product or service fulfills are not great enough, your product or service won’t sell. Your customers won’t spend their money with you if they can't see how you will solve their problem.

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2. Give your audience a level of certainty

From the stage, provide the audience with certainty that your product, services or expertise will solve their problem. You can provide certainty by sharing positive experiences with clients, compelling testimonials and favorable results from clients who have benefitted from your products and services.

More on this: 9 Ways to Discover What Your Customers Really Think of Your Business

 

3. What is your unique solution?

What’s your unique solution that can meet your audience’s needs or solve its problems? Explain how your process works to the audience. Show them how easy it is to implement your process with your help. You're walking customers through what working with you will look like and highlighting the results they could get. Remember, you're not selling them anything. You're presenting a problem and showing them a unique solution.

 

4. Why you are the one to solve their problem

Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. There are many individuals, small businesses, products and services vying for attention online and off. What makes you the right person with the right business and the right solution for your clients? While “on stage,” leverage your background, your clients’ success stories, and your unique value proposition to appeal to a prospective client.

 

5. Tell the audience how to get started

Finally, explain to your audience how to get started with you – after your presentation. In my presentations I show prospects the process of what it’s like to work with me – and how to get started. After my presentation, I want a yes or a no. If the answer is yes, then I want to sign that person up right there. If it's on a webinar, I want them to click the link and complete the transaction.

 

You don’t have to use slick sales techniques to sell your products and services. As a business owner, your responsibility is to make sure your audience gets what it needs. If you provide quality solutions that can help enrich and improve their lives, you can ethically sell your products and services on stage – whether in a conference room, webinar or showroom – without feeling too salesy.

 

More helpful articles:

Public Speaking Made Easier

How to Improve Your PowerPoint Presentations

 

About Ebong EkaEbong+Eka+Headshot.png

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Ebong is also the founder of The $250 Tax Pro, which provides tax preparation and consulting services in the Washington, DC area.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Have a question about your business? Let’s see if I can help; write your question here.

 

Hi Steve – I am really enjoying all of the new content here on the Small Business Community. So, I have a question for you:  A piece of advice I read here a lot is that we, as small business owners, need to engage with and utilize social media as much as possible. My problem is that I don’t really have a lot of followers either on Twitter or Facebook. Do you have any suggestions on how to grow my following?

 

I do indeed, and I will get to those in a moment, but let’s first consider all of the things social media does for your business:

 

  • It builds the brand
  • It allows you to talk directly to your audience
  • It allows you to create a bigger audience
  • It provides you with the opportunity to become a thought leader
  • It helps you sell

 

While all of that happens with or without a big following, let’s be frank – it’s better with a bigger following, right? Of course, having a lot eyeballs on you is good on social media. However, a purchased audience (see below) is usually much less effective than an organic one.

 

So, how do you build that ever-elusive big following? Let’s look at Facebook and Twitter (for the record, I have used these strategies myself to create roughly 100,000 followers combined on Facebook and Twitter).

 

Facebook

 

Let’s start with what you don’t want to do, on both Facebook and Twitter:

 

  1. Do. Not. Buy. Likes. Or. Followers.

 

Did you see the New York Times story, exposing all of the celebrities with fake followers? The list includes people like Paul Ryan, football star Ray Lewis, and Kathy Ireland (who reportedly bought 300,000 fake Twitter followers).

 

Not only are these followers phony, thereby doing you little good, many are also disreputable. I have a social media influencer associate who bought 5,000 Twitter followers, and almost all were from adult entertainment accounts. Let’s just say, those were not the sorts of followers she wanted media executives to see when they perused her social channels.

 

Here’s what you do instead:

 

1. Create great content. Great content gets people to want to share posts and follow pages. So, what kind of content is that?

 

        • It’s emotional.
        • Posts that are short, sweet, topical, and visual.
        • Content that is real, authentic. Authenticity works. If your genuine voice is funny, even better. Either way, being honest and transparent is what plays in a cynical world.

 

2. Engage: The more you engage with the audience that you do have, the more likely they are to become, not just followers, not just fans, but fanatics. They’ll share your content and refer you to others. And in the end, that’s what we really want – word of mouth advertising. Social media begins to grow exponentially when people start sharing your stuff and talking about you, and they may start talking about you when you start talking with them.

 

3. Advertise: Yes, organic reach is great, but so is paid reach. Personally, I have had great success advertising on Facebook and converting those eyeballs to likes. Just look at the options Facebook gives you when you launch an ad campaign:

It can be very affordable, which is all the better.

 

Twitter

 

Everything said above about Facebook applies here, with some tweaks. Here’s what you do on Twitter to grow a following:

 

1. Tweet quality: This is Rule # 1 for a reason. The best, organic, and most authentic way to get real followers is to tweet with real value and substance. Do NOT just tweet about you, your business, your lunch. Instead, tweet what will be of value to others:

        • Articles
        • Videos
        • URLs
        • Specials
        • Quotes

 

If you tweet things that add to people’s day, they will follow you, retweet you, and therein lay the Twitter magic. That’s when you go viral.

 

2. Follow the right people: There is an unwritten rule, a Twittequette if you will, that says that you are supposed to follow people who follow you. So, by following the leaders in your field, you will see that many will follow you back – then watch when some of their followers begin to follow you.

3. Follow the right hashtag people (#): As you likely know, hashtags signify Twitter conversations. People who join in on hashtag conversations relevant to you and your business are people who will likely be interested in your quality tweets.

4. Advertise: Again, this is different than buying followers. As with Facebook, look at what you can do with ads on Twitter:

So there really is no reason not to have a robust social media following. All it takes is time, maybe a bit of money, and some great posts.

 

Get more great guidance on social media from our Small Business Experts

 

Related Content:

Social Media Primer: When to Post, How Often and What About by Shama Hyder

 

The Top Social Media Sites You Should Consider for Advertising by Shama Hyder

 

The Social Media Time Suck: How to Pick Your Platforms by Carol Roth

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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