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When it comes to social media, there is never a shortage of new platforms, trends and tools to measure your efforts. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon only to later realize you spent a lot of effort and got very low ROI.

 

So, I’d like to suggest three social media trends you can leave behind in 2019 to focus on activities that matter in 2020.

 

1. Jumping on the Hottest Social Media Platformssara-kurfess-6lcT2kRPvnI-unsplash.jpg

 

Every year, dozens of new social media sites try to make their way onto your radar. Whether they are based on video, graphics, gaming, community, or communication; a theme like music or sports; or a combination, they all want to be the next big thing.

 

Sure, you want to test new platforms to see if that’s where you’ll find new customers. However, give a new site time to find its footing before going all-in. There’s something to be said for being an early adopter … and you could discover the next big thing. But not every website becomes a Facebook, a WhatsApp, or a LinkedIn.

 

And even when an awesome new social media site bursts onto the scene, it may not be right for you, your customers or your business. For instance, TikTok (founded in 2016, launched in 2017, and one to watch in 2019) ended up being the No. 1 most downloaded app globally this year, but it was not necessarily a big platform for marketers.

 

Primarily adopted by users under 30, TikTok is like a mix of Vine (short-form videos on a loop) and Musical.ly or Snapchat (where you can add fun special effects).

 

Personally, I deleted my TikTok account and removed the app from my phone once I saw the growing buzz about U.S. investigations into data, privacy etc. Also, user growth finally plateaued.

 

Takeaway: Beware of flashy, trendy sites. Test them but spend your time sparingly until it’s been fully vetted, you find it has a proven track record with your demographic, and/or it serves a business purpose.

 

2. Obsessing Over “Likes”

 

It’s no secret in the social media marketing space: likes on posts are the least-relevant way to gauge audience engagement. Double-tapping or clicking to heart/like a post is the laziest way to interact with a post. When someone is willing to take the extra effort to write a comment or share a post, it indicates your content connected with them. That’s much more relevant.

 

To test this theory, Instagram is expanding its test of hiding like counts. Facebook is jumping on the bandwagon by testing hiding like and reaction counts (and video views too). Note: Publishers/account admins can still see this data, but the information will no longer be public-facing.

 

These tests are designed to shake out fake followers, encourage meaningful engagement, and, as a bonus, promote mental health and well-being. A quantifiable metric, such as like counts, leads to competition, which is stressful. Social media should be “social,” interactive and fun, not something that invites stress.

 

Takeaway: Embrace the change. You shouldn’t be focusing on like counts regardless. Instead, get to know your audience. Create content that speaks to your clients, prospects, and followers in a way that encourages them to meaningfully engage with your posts.

 

3. Doing Influencer Marketing … Without Proper Research

 

Influencer marketing happens when people who have an expert level of knowledge, lead a community and/or possess social influence in a certain area endorse a business, service or product. Although influencer marketing has been around for a while, in many ways, it’s still in its early stages.

 

Legitimacy is key when it comes to influence, and there’s a big industry-wide shakeout going on. Too many businesses and brands jumped in too quick and got blindsided with dismal results.

 

Now, businesses are tired of investing in posers - so-called influencers with fake followers and no real platform. Influencers who overcharge for little or no results will soon be a thing of the past, paving the way for influencers who have actual influence.

 

For influencer marketing to truly work, brands and businesses need to find better ways of identifying and collaborating with influencers. Remember, even a big-named expert will not get results when paired with an incompatible product or service.

 

When identifying influencers, search databases, but also get referrals and introductions from peers. Then, check their social media platforms, watch videos, and review posts to ensure their values and personal agenda align with your company.

 

Most importantly, make sure your influencer’s audience is a match for your audience. Don’t be shy to ask for case studies, examples, metrics, etc. The right influencer will be happy to accommodate you, since they are looking for amiable partnerships too.

 

Takeaway: The right influencer can make a huge difference for any company. It’s up to the businesses to get referrals and do the legwork to find the right match, and ultimately create a mutually beneficial situation.

 

Recommended reading: How to Vet Influencers for Your Small Business

 

Final Thoughts

 

Enter 2020 thinking forward. Leave flashy platforms, likes, and amateur, fake or over-priced influencers behind. Spend your time on the best social media sites for your business, creating content that encourages real interaction and is bolstered by the right influencers for your company or brand.

 

Happy New Year!

 

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

 

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 new year is coming up, a year filled with new opportunities, fresh hope and exciting prospects. It’s a time to look ahead and not be held back by what you’ve done. So, before the year ends, take the time to examine your digital presence and clean up your old connections and your dusty, old content.

Here are 5 things you should do: shallow-focus-photo-of-man-holding-floor-brush-ceramic-434163.jpg

 

Dump Toxic Followers

 

Over the years, you’ve probably picked up plenty of followers and connections across your various social media platforms. They won’t all have been positive. You might have added people you barely know to your personal Facebook page, engaged with trolls on Twitter, or attracted unpleasant comments next to your Instagram posts.

Social media shouldn’t work that way. You should have a personal Facebook page that keeps you in touch with the people you really know, and you should have a separate business page that lets you connect with people who support your business.

The people who follow you on Twitter and who you follow on the platform should be people who make your life better, not angrier. And the images and stories you see on Instagram should enrich your life, not inject it with envy.

This step is simple. Write a post on Facebook stating that your contact list has become too long to be useful. You can blame Facebook’s algorithm if you want. Tell people that you’re deleting everyone who isn’t a close friend or relative, and tell everyone else that they can follow your business page if they want. Then review your contact list and cut out anyone you don’t need.

 

On Twitter, you can also mute people if you think they might be offended by an unfollow, but block anyone who brings negativity to your page. Social media should push you forward. If anyone there holds you back, let them go.

 

Delete Old Posts

 

The same goes for content. If you’ve posted something on social media that you’ve regretted, you’re not alone. The press is filled now with reports exposing public officials who wrote something 20 years ago that people now find offensive. Any angry, old posts you made back at the start of social media are still online. You might have forgotten all about them but they’re available to anyone to find if motivated.

This is the time to make sure that you find them first. This will take a little longer than cleaning up your connections, especially if you’re a regular online contributor. Scroll down to the start of your social media posts, and delete anything that could give you problems.

 

Secure Your Email

 

If the media isn’t reporting about old social media posts, it’s announcing data breaches. Just recently, hackers stole the personal information of 218 million Zynga players and 4.6 million DoorDash customers. Companies should inform customers when their details have been compromised but if you missed the announcement—or ignored it—now is a good time to make sure that all your passwords are secure.

 

  • HaveIBeenPwned.com is run by Troy Hunt, a Microsoft Regional Director. It keeps track of breached accounts. Type in your email address, and it will tell you whether it appears in any hacked database. You can then delete your email address from that account or change the password. And if you’ve used the same password on other accounts, change those passwords too.

 

Delete Your Unused Accounts

 

When you check whether your email address has been compromised, you might find that you didn’t even know your details were in that database. You’ve probably registered for all sorts of services over the years, most of which you’ve now forgotten. Those companies still have your email address, your password, and a host of other details about you, including permission to send you messages.

 

If you’re no longer using those accounts, delete them.

 

Registering at Deseat.me will give you an opportunity to unregister at lots of different sites at the same time. It will give you a list all the accounts associated with your email address. You’ll be able to delete or request removal at the click of a button.

 

Be Forgotten

 

A bigger challenge is changing how you appear in Google search results. When someone tosses your name into Google, they’ll see events from your life in an order generated by Google’s algorithm. That could mean that incidents in your past that are no longer relevant and which you might not want publicized could be at the top of the search results while your current activities are buried at the bottom.

 

People in the EU can apply to Google to have those old links removed by completing a form. Google doesn’t have to comply, but it must at least consider removing links to information that might be inaccurate or irrelevant.

 

Since 2014, the company has removed 1.3 million links from its search results, fulfilling about 45 percent of applications. Examples described in the company’s Transparency Report have included links to reports of criminal convictions, legal disputes, and the private addresses of politicians. But the law only applies in the EU.

People outside the EU should consider reputation management services. These are companies that fill the Web with rival content to push unwanted search results down the page. It’s a big move and not always worthwhile. You can always produce your own fresh content but above all, you can do your own forgetting: stop thinking about any mistakes you’ve made in the past and look forward to the opportunities coming up in the new year.

 

About Joel Comm

 

As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products, and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has Screen+Shot+2019-02-08+at+9.16.44+AM.pngbeen at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

Ever since Facebook introduced advertising, it has been met with a mixture of enthusiasm and a hint of annoyance from those bothered by interruptions in their feed. pexels-photo-744464.jpgRegardless, the advertising potential of Facebook and its entire family of apps – including Instagram – remains huge for business. The opportunities and options for ads continue to grow, as do the millions of advertisers.

 

In fact, on the Facebook Q3 2019 Earnings Call, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said 140 million businesses use its social platforms every month. And, of Facebook’s 7 million advertisers, 3 million already advertise across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger Stories.

 

This transition to expand advertising across its platforms has been developing for a while.  And as it evolved, Instagram and then Facebook, copied the horizontal-scroll tap-and-swipe format of Stories from Snapchat. This short-form, ephemeral micro-content is what advertisers would do well to focus on in 2020.

 

Stories

 

There are two fantastic aspects of using Stories. First, creators can publish an abundance of content and not worry about ‘jamming up’ the feeds of their followers. Second, followers can consume as much or as little Story content as they wish. In essence, both parties are in control.

 

Plus, with Facebook and Instagram adding more and more fun, interactive, highly engaging features to Stories, such as polling stickers, advertisers can also capitalize on this super popular feature that has a prominent top-of-feed placement.

 

To create an interactive Stories ad, choose Instagram Stories as your only ad placement in Ads Manager. Then, check the “Add an interactive poll” box. It’s in the same place where you upload your creative and edit the text. Spark a conversation, run a contest, get insights from your community, and more.

 

If you haven’t already done so, start testing what gets the most clicks and engagement now.

 

The other fastest-growing areas on Facebook and Instagram for users and advertisers are Messaging, Videos, Facebook Marketplace, and Augmented Reality.

 

Messaging

 

In August, Facebook started rolling out Lead Generation in Facebook Messenger. This new template within Ads Manager enables businesses to create automated experiences to help them qualify leads. With this feature, your business can ask custom questions - and remind people to answer them a way to nurture leads - and close the loop on the unqualified leads and integrate the information with your CRM. Businesses, such as the UK-based professional services firm RIFT Tax, have already seen meaningful results. In their case, RIFT increased qualified leads by 42%.

 

Videos

 

Facebook’s continued investment in video and the Watch platform is a major indicator of what will also be important in 2020 and beyond. Not only is it valuable to create more 15-second in-stream video ads, but marketers should also be publishing more long-form video, which is over three minutes.

 

IGTV (Instagram Television) could also be a big player in the coming year. As the platform is still under-utilized, explore how your business can use IGTV to engage and develop your audience of consumers.

 

Facebook Marketplace

 

While Facebook Marketplace is where customers can discover and purchase items, creating a paid ad to appear when people shop is much more effective than listing an item for sale. Create ads through the Ads Manager tool. Set your budget and select your ad placement. Choose Automatic Placements for your ad to appear on Marketplace, as well as other compatible placements on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network.

 

New Advertising Options

 

With the new year comes new ads and ad placement options.

  • Facebook Search. Reach people who are shopping - and therefore in the discovery mindset - with ads in Facebook Search Results. The ads, which look very similar to news feed ads and have the same control and transparency including a “Sponsored” label, appear in Marketplace or general search. If your ad is eligible, Search will appear in placement options.
  • Facebook Groups. Last fall, Facebook started trying out ad placements in the Groups tab in order to evaluate whether they would be beneficial for people and businesses. It is one more option Facebook found to increase ad inventory. Given how much Facebook has been prioritizing Groups, the test ads will most likely get results.

 

Also of note, in Mid-2020 Facebook is expected to limit the number ads pages can run simultaneously. However, this only impacts a small percentage of businesses. Stay up to date with what’s new in Facebook Ads Manager here.

Final Thoughts

As you create your Facebook and Instagram ad strategy for the new year, go with what has been working for your business and then slowly introduce new ad features into the mix. Experiment to see what features best impact your business in a positive way.

About Mari Smith

 

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social mari_0362xFACE_preview.jpgmedia. 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

 

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.

While your audience may not be active on all social media platforms, these days it’s become easier to cover more of your social media bases.

 

With a simple selection, you can share your Instagram Television (IGTV) videos to Facebook. And, since IGTV gives you the option to include a preview of the beginning of your video, you may also share these clips on your Instagram feed, in Instagram stories and in Facebook stories.black-smartphone-2733675.jpg

 

That’s one video with elements cross-posted in five places. What could be better?

 

IGTV videos, which run between 15 seconds and 10 minutes, are the perfect way to share the faces and history behind your company, as well as your products and services. It enables prospects and customers to get to know you better, making your company the most likely buying-option when they need what you have to offer.

 

Note: for larger Instagram accounts, you’ll have the ability to upload IGTV videos of up to one hour in length. However, for now, I recommend sticking with shorter videos for more viewer retention.

 

Whether you create videos that educate, inform, entertain, or all of the above, memorable, shareable, thumb-stopping content is key to developing a relationship with your audience that inspires loyalty and advocacy.

 

Suggested reading: Tips and Tricks for Fast, Easy Video Content

 

IGTV Supports Both Vertical and Landscape Video Formats

 

Although Instagram initially launched IGTV with full-screen vertical (9:16) videos, the company later released support for landscape video (16:9) since most platforms - such as YouTube - favor the landscape format.

 

As well as more ways to connect with your existing fans, IGTV gives you more opportunities to be discovered by new ones. When people open IGTV, they'll see multiple channels including “For You,” “Following,” and “Popular,” filled with videos from creators they already follow on Instagram and others they might like based on their interests.

 

Check out this handy infographic by Later.com: Instagram Image Size & Dimensions for 2019

 

How to Share Your IGTV Videos to Your Facebook Business Page

 

If you have an Instagram account, you have an IGTV account. Install the IGTV mobile app or go to your account on the website Instagram.com to upload your IGTV videos.

 

Note: you need to be a Facebook page admin to cross-post from IGTV.

 

To share your IGTV Video to your Facebook page, go to the IGTV app or Instagram.com on the web. Upload your video. Then, add a cover photo (thumbnail), title, and description. A preview will appear unless you decide to turn it off once you post.

 

If you are posting from one of the apps, select to Make Visible on Facebook. (You need to connect the app first by authorizing it to have access to your Facebook page.)

 

Posting from a web browser? Below ‘Where Your Video Will Appear,’ connect your Instagram account to a Facebook page, if you have not already done so. Then, you may select IGTV and Facebook Page as where you want your video to appear.

 

Click "Post" and your video will post to your IGTV channel and your page.

 

Why Cross Promote?

 

Cross-posting your content on social media is a must for a variety of reasons.

 

First, different segments of your audience favor Instagram over Facebook, and vice versa so they will not see duplicates.

 

Keep in mind, people around the country - and even in your hometown - are online at different times during the day. Therefore, it’s unlikely people who follow you on multiple platforms will see the same post on Instagram, IGTV, and Facebook. And, if they do, that’s okay too.

 

This tiny portion of your audience that may see duplicate content is likely made up of your super fans, who are more than happy to see, share, and engage with your posts anywhere - and everywhere - they find them.

 

One more thing: When you cross-post from IGTV to Facebook, you can amplify the reach of that video with paid placements using Ads Manager. Depending on the length of your video, with automatic placements turned on, your ad will show up across a variety of platforms. This includes the Facebook feed, Instagram feed, Facebook and Instagram stories, and the Audience network.

 

Suggested reading: How to Create Irresistible, Thumb-Stopping Facebook Ads

 

Facebook to IGTV and Back Again

 

For your IGTV channel, you can either produce fresh content; download, edit, and upload your YouTube videos, or repurpose content from your Facebook lives.

 

Facebook recently released a Video Clipping option. Go to your Facebook Live, enter edit mode, and select video clipping. Then, use the scrubbers to select the segment you want to create as a standalone video, and click Add Clip.

 

Head over to your Creator Studio to edit and download your clips. Try using Wave.video to add effects, such as text overlay, animated GIFs, a watermark and more. Then, upload to IGTV, share to Facebook, and the cycle starts again.

 

When you take the same content, create multiple versions, and repurpose it on multiple platforms, it’s social media time-management at its best!

 

The latest updates to IGTV include sending notifications to fans and creating your own original IGTV series so our fans can binge watch!

 

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

 

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.

 

It’s the dream of every social media marketer. Create a video ad that strikes a nerve, then watch it spread across the Internet. Followers share it with their friends. Friends share it with their relatives. Influencers pick up on it and share it with their followers. In no time at all, a piece of marketing that would normally be seen by a few thousand people is seen by millions around the world.

person-holding-midnight-black-samsung-galaxy-s8-turn-on-near-1092671.jpg

Those millions don’t just see the video. They also see the company’s name, its logo, its offer, and its marketing message. The company lands the kind of exposure that would have cost millions had it tried to buy that reach through advertising. It’s like winning the lottery with a single ticket.

 

But while viral marketing can bring benefits, even a viral hit doesn’t beat a solid social marketing strategy.

 

First, virality is unpredictable. Although marketing companies might sell the promise of a viral hit, no one really knows what makes one piece of content go viral while another is ignored. Hollywood still churns out more duds than classics and it’s been making movies for a century. If studios can’t figure out the hit formula, businesses can’t be expected to do any better, even dedicated marketing firms.

 

But even if you could guarantee an ad will go viral and spread around the world, it still wouldn’t beat a social media marketing strategy because virality is also untargeted. You don’t know who’s going to see a viral ad. Most of the people who watch it will be interested in the content but they might never have been interested in the product. You might have giant viewing figures and enormous general awareness, but you could still only have reached a small part of your potential market.

 

At a time when advertising platforms let you target ads by demographic as tight as “single people aged 21 to 40 living within thirty miles of Duluth who like strawberry ice cream,” viral advertising’s shotgun approach can look very old fashioned. Billboard ads can be seen by thousands of people too, but they rarely result in direct, trackable sales.

Because you don’t know who saw that ad, you can’t turn to that audience again to follow up. Social media marketing’s big advantage might be its fine targeting, but today’s advertising also allows for re-targeting. No business can expect to make a large number of sales on their first contact with a lead. They need to repeat that contact and continue pushing their message. They need to build a relationship with leads that create trust.

 

Once a lead trusts a brand, they’ll come to like the brand. And once they like the brand, they start to buy from the brand.

From there, as long as the product has done its job, they also tell their friends about the brand, starting a new kind of virality but one powered by personal recommendation rather than funny cats

 

Social media marketing enables continued contact. It lets you reach an audience with a targeted ad. It then lets you continue the conversation with that audience, turning curiosity into interest and interest into intent.

 

Viral hits burn bright, but they burn fast and leave few traces behind.

 

Target your content by demographic and interest on social media. Build a following. Plan your content so that you maintain the curiosity of that first contact. Track the results of your content so that you know what interests your followers. Build trust and loyalty. Guide your followers through a funnel that leads to an attractive offer.

And don’t feel envious when a rival goes viral. They might have a hit video but you’re making a long-term impact on your market.

 

About Joel Comm

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 9.16.44 AM.png

As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products, and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

Very few people take a formal class in how to send and receive emails. And that means that you essentially “wing it” with one of your primary forms of business communication.

business-communication-computer-connection-261706.jpg

 

So, let’s talk about some tune-ups to get more of your email answered, and to improve the experience all the way around.

 

Get Your Email Answered

 

Everyone is busy. No one gives you their full attention. Think about you. Are you only reading this article, or do you have several browser tabs open? Are you answering texts in between paragraphs? Let’s start there: everyone is busy and attention is fragmented, and to that end, it means you must do the following:

 

  • Make your subject line solid - The first two lines are everything - Right after your salutation (Dear Chris), the line or lines that follow are the most important. “I need your decision on two very important points.” Or “Will you sponsor our next ‘Concert in the Park’ event for $5000?” For the love of Buddha, skip anything like “How are you?” or “I hope you are well.” We all hope the other person is well. It’s wasted. And worse, when our brains see what we expect, we turn off some amount of our attention automatically.
  • Be as brief as possible - People write as if they’re composing an essay for a college professor. Be crisp and to the point. “Hi Deb! Richard’s performance is down for the third quarter in a row so I’m going to promote Aiesha instead. Any reservations?” Brevity is vital in today’s world. Our gut tells us to write out the entire backstory, but in most cases, it’s not necessary.
  • Seek a next action - Once you’ve said what needs saying, be clear about what you want the recipient of the email to do. “Please let me know when you receive this message. I’ll follow up a few days after I hear that you have.” Or “No action necessary. Just keeping you posted.” Or whatever it is.
  • Short circuit the back-and-forth - The absolute second worst kind of email is a back-and-forth. “What do you want for lunch?” “I dunno. What about you?” “Oh, I don’t know. Anything come to mind?” (You probably just felt your anxiety raise just reading that.) The best way to do this is by making a suggestion, right or wrong and never ever sending an open-ended message to someone. “Want to get Thai for lunch?” “I think 3% is too little for the annual raise.” And if the message comes back to you more than twice, get on the phone.

 

Email signatures aren’t movie credits - Shorten your email signature. Somewhere back in the late 90s, it became cool to sign your email as if you’re a general on an aircraft carrier, with seven to ten lines of information, including 45 ways to reply back. Make your signature your name, your title, an email address, and a phone number. For the most part, that’s all anyone wants.

 

And before I let you go, I have a little drilling down to do.

 

Subject Lines are Your Secret Weapon

 

I’ve already told you that everyone is busy, everyone is skimming their email inbox and attention is minimal. Think about your own inbox. Look at the subjects there. Do some make you want to open? Do others make you want to delete without reading? Which ones get that worst distinction of being opened but not read, and not responded to forever until you guiltily delete it?

 

Your subject lines matter immensely. I want to give you a few samples to steal and adapt for your own uses:

 

  • I need 8 minutes of your time to get your perspective - one trick of this subject line is that I chose “8” instead of 5 or 10. Everyone says 5 or 10. The other benefit is that it’s clear what I’m asking for: someone’s opinion, not a sale.
  • Want to get Italian on Thursday? - This is obviously a lunch offer, a specific cuisine, and a day on the calendar. It gives the recipient three response options: no, not that cuisine, or not that date. (Or some combo.) This kind of concise email is a godsend. You can do it with work issues, too.
  • I want to sell you something, but I’m 87% sure you want to buy it. - Here I go picking a weird number again. In this case, the straightforward honesty is the “gimmick.” People hate feeling “tricked” by emails. This one is right across the plate.
  • This might make a better phone call - Here’s a play. You *know* what you want to cover can’t be handled briefly in an email, but you want to give the other person the right to refuse the call. Here’s a way to throw one extra “stop” in the way, in case the information is sensitive, or you’re not as certain about the outcome.
  • How would you solve this conflict? - This subject line is great because it gets right to the point of what you need to cover. It has a lot of variants if you think of it.

 

Turn This into a Checklist

 

If I were telling you what to do, I’d take a sticky note and put the details of this on it:

 

  • Solid subject line
  • Tight first two lines
  • Be brief
  • Seek a next action
  • Prevent back-and-forth exchanges
  • Simple email signature

 

There. All in one tight little package for you. What do you think? If you want to practice on someone, send me an email: chris@chrisbrogan.com. I’m always open to hearing what you think of what I write!

 

About Chris Brogan

 

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Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. 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. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Call a major company, and you’d be surprised if a real person answered the phone. It’s more likely that you’ll first be told which button to press based on your question. Pressing that button opens a new menu of options, which leads to another branch, and so on.

 

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For customers, the process can be frustrating but as you’re pushing your keypad, the company’s computer system is collecting information about you. By the time you finally get to speak to a customer service rep, you’ve already answered most of the questions that she would have needed to ask. She can read your selections then focus on the task that the computer can’t accomplish: identifying the details of the issue and solving your problem.

 

This process describes customer service automation in one of its most common and simple forms, and the benefit to the company is clear: the less time staff spend asking routine questions, the more time they’ll have for the more difficult problems. The company will become more efficient.

 

Call automation is just one part of a growing trend in both sales and customer service. That trend includes asking customers to select answers from a website FAQ instead of sending an email. It includes autoresponders whose content and sales recommendations are based on contact lists segmented by purchase, demographics or registration. It includes algorithms that make special offers based on previous choices. It even includes chatbots that turn up in the corners of websites and use text and natural language processing to create the illusion that the customer is talking to a real customer service rep.

 

All this artificial intelligence can be very effective.

 

When Smyths Toys, a toy company in the U.K. and Ireland, increased its online marketing, it found that it also generated significant volumes of abandoned shopping carts and customer service tickets. The company turned to an automation software firm to solve these problems. According to the software firm’s case study, the toy company focused first on tracking the customer journey on the website, and in particular on the checkout form. When customers contacted a customer care representative, that rep could see where the customer had been and precisely where they had got stuck. That quickly improved the response rate. When a customer used a promo code that expired before the transaction was complete, for example, the rep was able to quickly identify the problem and honor the discount.

 

The software was then able to use the data it collected to reach out to customers using chat, SMS, or voice based on their on-site experience. Because it was able to predict customer needs, a simple form of artificial intelligence, nearly two-thirds of the customers offered live chat messaging responded positively, reducing the number of support tickets.

 

It’s no wonder that a 2018 survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit found that 90 percent of respondents expected AI to improve growth, and 27 percent had already incorporated AI into key processes and services. Nearly half had at least one AI pilot project already under way.

 

Many of the automation systems made by firms like HubSpot, Salesforce and Genesys (which powered Smyth’s Toys’ software) are aimed at medium to large businesses. Service organizations generally use them to gather information, to automate routine customer issues such as resetting passwords and tracking orders, to route cases to the right agents, and to pre-fill fields for both agents and customers.

 

But complete systems aren’t cheap and their implementation requires re-training staff and making new technical demands.

 

Even small firms though can begin automating their processes themselves:

 

  • A FAQ page that predicts and answers common questions can be bought off the shelf.
  • Phone call branching software might irritate customers but its automated data collection improves efficiency and is easily available.
  • Customer tracking through website cookies can reveal bottlenecks, allowing the business to deliver better options and build a smoother path from recommendation through selection to checkout.
  • Contact list segmentation is a staple of email marketing and doesn’t require powerful, state-of-the-art technology to use. It just demands an understanding of customer demographics and a marketing team that can produce targeted content and track the results.

 

Even small firms have plenty of options to implement simple automation and AI-powered sales and customer service processes. But small firms also have an advantage: they can talk to customers directly. Automation works best when it improves a personal connection, not when it replaces it.

 

There still needs to be a friendly voice at the end of the phone.

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

Holiday spending in 2019 is projected to increase 4.9% from 2018, according to The Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey, with the average U.S. adult spending $683 on holiday-related purchases.

 

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A whopping 90% of those shoppers plan to visit physical stores to make purchases. How can you ensure they visit your store? Experiential marketing is the key.

 

What Is Experiential Marketing?

 

Unlike traditional advertising, such as print ads or TV commercials customers simply look at, experiential marketing invites them to experience and engage with your business in a memorable way. The goal is to make the customer feel part of your brand so they promote it to others and keep coming back to your store.

 

Experiential marketing has become a buzzword, with some retailers believing it requires immersive experiences like virtual reality technology. But that’s not true. In fact, in today’s increasingly tech-obsessed world, the way to stand out can be to offer a more hands-on experience.

 

The good news for small retailers: That means experiential marketing is something you can do, too.

 

Holiday Experiential Marketing Ideas

 

The easiest way to create experiential marketing during the holidays is the way retailers have always done it: Appeal to your customers’ five senses. Play holiday music, go crazy with holiday décor, use evocative scents and serve tasty treats like cookies or apple cider. Use touchable displays and fabrics to encourage customers to explore the merchandise.

 

Make your holiday experience unique and relevant to your brand; if you own a surf shop, play holiday surf music instead of classic carols, or plant a Christmas tree in the middle of a sand dune.

 

Here are some other experiential marketing ideas to get you started.

 

  • Give away samples: Nothing gets customers to engage with your products like letting them try the merchandise. You can hand out samples outside your store to attract a crowd. Include special offers for discounts if they buy the product.
  • Do a popup shop: A short-term or popup shop generates lots of excitement at any time of year and is a great experiential marketing tactic for the holidays. You could host a popup shop inside a complementary retail store or have a complementary business do the same in your store. Get more tips on how to run a popup shop.
  • Hold in-store events: When customers take the trouble to visit a physical store instead of doing their holiday shopping online, they want to have fun. In-store events such as live music, author book signings, art openings or fashion shows are memorable experiences that will get customers talking.
  • Offer educational classes: Give customers new ideas on how to use your products or make the most of your offerings. Art supply stores can hold painting classes, pet stores can teach customers dog grooming tips, housewares stores can host cooking classes—the ideas are endless.
  • Make it shareable: Unique and memorable events will spark social sharing. You can help it along by creating Instagrammable settings for customers to take pictures or fun moments they’ll want to remember.
  • Give it local flavor: Drawing on the local environment is one way to design an experience. For example, a camping supply store in the Pacific Northwest could use a rough-hewn, cabin-like interior, pine scents and cozy furnishings to craft a fitting setting for its wares.
  • Mix it up: Consumers are hungry for new experiences, so be sure to change your store’s experiential marketing on a regular basis. You can tie these changes to the season, to new product lines or to current events.

 

Whatever experiential marketing tactic you choose, be sure to promote it in advance, both in-store and online. Create a hashtag for your store and for any special event you’re holding. Use social media posts, email marketing and your website to build excitement about what’s going on at your store.

 

By making your in-store experience memorable and fun, you’ll boost your holiday sales, too.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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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. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

The mobile revolution has radically transformed shopping and selling. The statistics are staggering:

 

  • During the 2018 holiday season, almost 40% of all sales were made on a smartphone.
  • Eighty percent of all shoppers use their smartphone inside a store to comparison shop, get reviews or price items.
  • Mobile shoppers browse 61% more, making 106% more orders, and spending 121% more money.

 

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Several trends are affecting this sea-change and it would behoove you to know them so you can use them to your advantage this holiday season.

 

1. Delivery times are getting much shorter: Amazon Prime has made next day delivery a standard in the industry and as such, given Amazon’s deep reach, this has become what consumers expect.

 

Your delivery must be free and quick if you are to compete. Indeed, for the small business that wants to sell more this holiday season, offering mobile shoppers same-day delivery (in the store) or at least next day delivery, is essential.

 

Option: UPS’ new program Ware2Go offers small business the chance to have UPS store and ship orders directly, and practically immediately.

 

2. Last minute shopping is booming: With the rise of overnight and same-day delivery, consumers feel safe shopping at the last minute. The key then is to cater to these procrastinators.

 

Remember, the two most powerful words in all of marketing are:

 

    • Sale! and Free!

 

Use that.

 

Strategy: Have a sale. Offer free shipping. Give a discount to last-minute shoppers. Here where I live, every year, a local outdoor marketplace has a “Festival of the Last-Minute.” That’s the ticket.

 

3. Delayed products sell. Last year, “We saw electronics purchases spike at midnight on both Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, and toy purchases spike on Cyber Monday. Consumers clearly began browsing and shopping for toys after getting those electronics deals and continued throughout the holiday season.”

 

Idea: Put expensive grown-up items on sale early and offer less expensive kid items on sale later.

 

“The on-the-go nature of mobile purchasing enables these spur-of-the-moment decisions,” According to TotalRetail.

 

4. Power users are your magic 20%: The 80-20 Rule says that 80% of your sales come from your top 20% of customers.

 

Something similar is occurring in online and mobile shopping. One-third of new cyber shoppers last year came back to shop again after Cyber Monday ended. Moreover, they:

 

    • Accounted for 22% of sales generated over the holiday period, and
    • Completed purchases twice as often as average shoppers

 

Secret: Incentivize power users so that they make your online store their desired spot for late-in-the-game shopping. Market to them, give them deals, make them feel special.

 

Because they are special.

 

5. Hop on board early: Last year, top retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Kohl’s started offering holiday deals as early as November 1, according to PYMNTS.com.

 

Learn from the pros. Do what they do. No need to reinvent the wheel.

 

Bottom line: Work to capture and convert those late-buying, procrastinating, power shoppers and you will have a very Merry Christmas indeed.

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven 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.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Some business owners live for the sale. They spend months designing sales funnels, testing offers, and reviewing conversion rates to maximize their efforts and ensure that every dollar they pour into advertising comes back with friends.

 

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For other business owners, time spent marketing is time they would rather spend developing their product line or handcrafting their goods. They know marketing is a vital part of building a business but they see it as a chore. They would rather do anything—even clean the office—than chase those conversions.

 

But there is a solution. Marketing doesn’t have to be about spreadsheets and copywriting and sales software. It can be about customer engagement.

 

Or to put it another way, sales can happen when you talk to people with the same interests and tastes as you. That doesn’t feel like work. It certainly doesn’t feel like marketing. It feels like fun!

 

There are three ways to engage with leads and customers.

 

1. Let Your Fingers Do the Talking

 

The simplest way is to join online groups and forums where people discuss products like yours. Every interest is represented online from beauty tips to garden gnomes so whatever you’re selling, you can find your community. Look for them in forums and discussion threads. Follow people discussing your topics on Twitter, and collecting images on Pinterest. Search for Facebook groups that are filled with people who might love your goods.

 

Join those groups but don’t sell in those groups. Instead of marketing, just take part in the conversations. Talk about a subject you love, and do it regularly. Mention that your expertise comes from making or selling related products but don’t push for the sales. Trust the sales to come to you as people get to know you, and see your expertise and passion for an interest that they share. As they recognize your knowledge, they’ll come to trust you. Once they trust you, they’ll want to buy from you. You won’t have to persuade them. The sales will come naturally.

 

2. Create Your Own Shopping Channel

 

You can also broadcast live videos.

 

While forum and Facebook group discussions will let you take part in discussions about your industry, a live video will let you show people how to use your products. Sellers of beauty products, for example, have used live videos on Facebook to demonstrate make-up techniques—and offered ways for viewers to buy the products they’re demonstrating.

 

Promote the broadcast details before it takes place so that people know when to watch, and make use of the ability to see comments as they come in. Live video is interactive. You’ll be able to answer your viewers’ questions on the fly and you’ll be able to talk with audience members while you’re demonstrating.

 

The aim should be to make sales, but it should also be to enjoy yourself. When you’re demonstrating the benefits of a product you love, you should be having fun. That pleasure will be infectious. Your audience will feel it and they’ll want more of it. They’ll sense that by buying the products you’re demonstrating in your live video, they’ll have access to that fun whenever they want.

 

 

3. Set up Your Booth

 

A live video will put you in front of lots of people at the same time but there will still be a distance. There will always be a screen between you and them.

 

That’s why another great way to market (without feeling like you’re marketing) is to take part in your industry’s fairs and conferences. These are opportunities to meet your most dedicated customers and leads in person. Again, you won’t be pitching here. Your booth might be decorated with all sorts of marketing material but the aim will be to talk to people like you, to listen to their preferences, and hear their needs. Those conversations will bring sales too. The discussions will open new networks. The knowledge you share and receive will deepen customer loyalty and make you the first choice when those people want the products you sell.

 

None of this feels like marketing. Why?

 

    • Joining discussions on Facebook groups will feel like procrastination. It’s the sort of thing you do when you don’t feel like working.
    • A live video will feel like showing friends something really cool—and being appreciated when you do.
    • A fair or a conference is a chance to meet old friends and have a coffee with the people you’ve met online.

 

It’s fun—and that’s when the marketing magic really happens.

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

Authenticity is key in marketing to women. Look at how your brand or product can genuinely help and/or empower women while tapping into what they find valuable. And, what women value is pretty much everything from work and growth, to autonomy and family.

 

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Gloria Moss, author of Gender, Design and Marketing: How Gender Drives our Perception of Design and Marketing, points out that not only do women make up 80% of consumers’ buying decisions, women shop differently from men. Whereas men look at a product’s usefulness, women want to know what that product will do. Men want an overview, but women will not make a buying decision until they have all the information and are completely satisfied.

 

The other element of the equation is emotion. Women are different from men, so marketing to them the same way will not work. Years of history in advertising is proof of that.

 

Keep in mind, it’s not always about the product. If your brand stands for positive, life-affirming, or empowering attributes- if your brand is inclusive and diverse - that emotional connection may also help in aligning a consumer with your business.

 

Marketing to Women

While businesses are getting better at listening to consumers, there is still work to be done. So, how can your business better market to women?

 

  1. Study your ideal client. Who is your buyer and how can your product or service help them? Create buyer personas to help with your targeting.
  2. Ask what they want. Post on social media, asking your customers about their needs and wants. This can be features for product development or values-based content. You can also ask family members to chime in.
  3. Stand for what your customers value. If there is a cause that is near and dear to your ideal customers - or to you - shine a light on it to amplify awareness. Showing that you care triggers an emotional connection.
  4. Elevate your customer service. Women consumers want to know everything they can about a product or service before they consent to buy. Make sure you have customer service available on multiple platforms (phone, email, social media), and let prospects know how to reach you in your marketing.
  5. Hire real women. To get the voice and needs of your women customers, especially if you have products directly related to that demographic, have women on your team. Inside information on your client or customer is always an asset.

 

Messaging to Women

There are several tenets to embrace when cultivating your business’ marketing message, as it relates to women.

 

  1. Don’t stereotype. You want to find that balance of truth in advertising without going overboard - too feminine or too masculine - in either direction. Stereotyping is a sure-fire way to alienate your customers.
  2. Follow the leaders. If there are brands you admire, keep an eye on what they are doing. For instance, Microsoft, HBO, and Nike regularly do women-focused campaigns. Then see how you can use their examples as a barometer for your own unique marketing.
  3. Use real people. Women like to see themselves using and embracing your products. Whatever the medium - social media, TV, video - use people your prospects and customers can relate to. User-generated content is another option for this strategy.
  4. Create great content. No matter what you put out in your messaging, it should be high quality. Use all the senses, education, and humor whenever possible.
  5. Jump on trends. #InternationalWomensDay, #STEM, #LeanIn. Look at the events and research the hashtags that empower women. Then see how your business can support and promote them, as appropriate.

 

No matter how you approach marketing to women, keep one thing in mind. Be true to your brand. Your company’s mission and values are what humanizes you. And it’s that human, authentic touch that is most important when presenting and marketing your brand.

 

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

 

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.

In marketing and business, we get quite caught up in all that’s come before, where we are, all our history.  Yet there’s no greater enemy to small business than “that’s how we’ve always done it.”

 

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Sometimes, it’s important to reset, to tear it all down. If we were starting today, then what? If we lost everything, what would this look like? How did we get here in the first place?

 

Start at Zero

 

I’m a big fan of comic books. I started reading them when I was five and my grandfather bought them for me on his candy sales route. They helped me learn to read, and they gave me a bigger perspective on the world than I otherwise would’ve had. In that comics industry, there’s a kind of necessary cliché that’s said when a new team takes over a title, especially something like Spider-Man or Batman.

 

“We’re going back to the basics.”

 

And that means they strip away all the weird stories currently running in the comics, like Spider-Man having clones or Batman with a team of other people pretending to be him, and so on.

 

This is something we can do with our businesses, only without capes and tights.

 

What Does Zero Look Like?

 

If you launched your company today, what would be the cleanest, simplest representation of it? What is the bare bones version of what you sell? How do you talk about it? How do you sell? Who is your best customer?

 

Volkswagen recently showed off its “new” logo. It pretty much looks like the old one, only now it’s “flat” so that it can be used in lots more ways, like on applications or charging units, and so on. If you’re not a designer, you’ll look at it and say, “Looks pretty much the same.” But it’s new. And that “new” is a zero from where they can race towards an intentional path forward.

 

But anything can be a zero point for your business.

 

    1. Logo. Pricing. Offering. Customer base. Locations. Hours. Any aspect of the business can and should be reconsidered.

 

Dunkin Donuts rebranded as Dunkin. Why? Because people like the coffee and there’s a mixed feeling about their donuts when it comes to health. Ditto KFC instead of Kentucky FriedChicken. Both restaurants still have bloated menus and could really get even closer to zero, but there’s a caution.

 

Less Than Zero

 

There’s one catch, one warning. You canaccidentally throw away the wrong part.

 

    • Kodak had digital camera technology patents and prototypes long before that market came and crushed the company.
    • Coca-Cola fumbled by launching New Coke in the 80s.
    • When the Internet came around, many print media companies gave away content online  and it took them years to reclaim even a fraction of the revenue lost.

 

You can throw away the wrong part of your business. Will Dunkin be wrong for dialing back donuts? I can’t see it, but we’ll all know if that happens.

 

Can It Fit on an Index Card?

 

One easy way to know if you’ve brought your company back to zero in one way or another is by answering the question, “Can it fit on an index card?” If you can explain the entire concept with one 3” x 5” card, chances are, it’s a really simple business.

 

This is one area where small businesses have a chance to thrive. Something big like Disney can’t ever do the index card test. They might be able to sum up various divisions that way, but not the entire enterprise.

 

Your company, however? The answer had best be yes.

 

Try It

 

You don’t have to take my word for it. Try it. Start with an index card and write/draw out what your business looks like at zero. What’s the smallest “menu” of offerings you could make? What’s the simplest way to describe your business? What’s the easiest way to handle the customer experience journey? And so on.

 

It’s okay if you need a few cards to get started. Crumple up all you want until you find the right zero for your business.

 

It’s an exciting exercise every time

 

About Chris Brogan

 

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Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. 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. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

As I wrote this, the “chicken sandwich wars” were raging. Let me quickly catch you up:

 

Fast food restaurant Popeyes released a chicken sandwich (they didn’t have one already?) and rival Chick-Fil-A got a bit lippy about it on social media (and then Wendy’s chimed in because that’s what they do) and it all kind of backfired. Everyone (and this is nuts) suddenly wanted to try this chicken sandwich at Popeyes, a place few folks ate at before this all started. Long lines. Traffic jams. Employees quitting because overtime has become insane.

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This is about a chicken sandwich. And while I’ve not yet put one in my belly, everyone seems to say the same thing: it’s okay. Not “it’s amazing.” But just “okay.”

 

McDonalds sells one or two different types of chicken sandwiches. KFC has one. Wendys. Chick-Fil-A. Sonic. I haven’t checked with too many more fast food chains, but they probably sell chicken sandwiches.

 

What Happens When We Can Buy from Everybody

 

My point: What you sell isn’t all that unique. Very few businesses sell anything unique. I write articles like this but so do several thousand other people. Everyone really wants to point out what makes them different, but they all say the same things: we treat you like a person, or we value you, or we take your business seriously. Yada, yada, yada.

 

In a world where people can buy from anyone, why should they buy from you?

 

I’ve posed this question several times to many corporations over the years. It’s my go-to starter for companies that feel threatened by a competitor. A large auto parts company brought me in because they were feeling the pressure of their customers suddenly being able to Google something, go on Amazon, and buy it themselves.

 

My advice was: get amazing at in-store service. Make people feel well tended and cared about in your stores. Treat everyone who walks in as if they own the business and you want nothing more than to please them.

 

Let me ask you three questions:

 

      • What can you do at your business that would separate you from the competition?
      • What value can you bring to your customer differently than anyone else?
      • How can you deliver something that goes beyond the borders of a buyer’s expectations?

 

These questions apply to any kind of business. No matter if you run a chiropractic practice, a pizza shop, a bridal store, or an accounting group, you can craft a better experience for your customers.

 

True story: my plumber is the best in town because he calls you back within a few hours of you leaving him a message. This beats out the five other competitors (in my small town) because they don’t get back to me in a timely fashion. That’s it. Returning calls. That’s his massive advantage.

 

Make that Advantage Clear

 

The worst kind of marketing small business owners do is generic or vague. “Our difference is that we care.” That’s the worst possible thing to say. Everyone cares, and most customers don’t believe it when they see something like that.

 

But if you say, “We work on your schedule, not ours,” now that’s something very specific.

 

Sometimes, you don’t even have to sayanything. Maybe it’s clear from your very simple menu that you sell two types of burgers, fries, shakes, and that’s about it. Maybe you run the most pet-friendly tax preparation business in town. Or maybe it’s that you prompt your customers when it’s time to repurchase so that they don’t have to remember. That idea alone could really separate you from the competition.

 

We Can Buy from Anyone. Now What?

 

I used to work part-time at a little bookstore in northern Massachusetts. The place was very small, independent, and in a quaint little tourist town. When Carolyn ran the store, her big advantage over buying from Amazon or driving another 20 minutes to Barnes and Noble wasn’t that she had every book you could ever want on the shelves. It was that she always had great recommendations for what to read next. That and the ability to remember everyone’s name – so that she greeted you personally when you walked into the shop – was what kept her business alive.

 

There are so many ways to stay important to your customers, if you want to sustain a strong business relationship. It’s up to you to treat that part of your business as if it matters, and to align your efforts accordingly. So, how do you answer this? 

 

 

 

About Chris Brogan

 

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Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

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Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. 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. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Josiah Wedgwood started the ball rolling. Back in the 1760s he added royal endorsements to his pottery to show customers they could trust his tea sets. In the early 1900s, Mark Twain put his name to pens. Later, Ty Cobb would beat Michael Jordan to athletic endorsements by marketing tobacco.

 

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From Doris Day pitching Harvester road rollers to George Clooney selling coffee pods, we’re accustomed to seeing celebrities offering products they think their audiences will enjoy—and earning money from it.

 

What’s changed in the last few years is the nature of celebrity. People no longer need to write classic books, hit home runs, star in movies or wear a crown to build an audience whose buying decisions they can influence. They can publish their content on platforms like Instagram and YouTube, and build those audiences themselves.

 

For businesses, the result has been a huge expansion in both the range of possible endorsements and depth of those endorsements. Companies don’t need to approach movie stars with requests to use their names. They can just contact someone with a big Instagram account, and ask them to influence their followers to buy the products they make. This year the value of the influencer marketing industry is expected to reach $6.5 billion.

 

Much of that money has flowed from consumer-facing businesses, and in particular cosmetics firms, food companies, and the hospitality industry. These are businesses with photogenic products whose images are easily shared on Instagram or shown on YouTube. They also have the kind of young markets found on those social media platforms. It’s a good match.

 

But other industries are also looking to benefit from influencer marketing, and at the same time businesses that have used influencer marketing are showing concern. They’re worried that they might be paying for fake followers and inflated figures. In one recent study, nearly two-thirds of respondents who had used influencers said that they had direct experience of influencer marketing fraud.

 

Together, those pressures have created a new opportunity for non-traditional influencers. These are people who may have small followings or who have built an audience in a particular niche market. Instead of aiming to attract millions of young people who love pranks or new lipstick ideas, they may have audiences of just a few thousand who like making cushions or who need carpentry advice. Those audiences might not be a direct match for a product but they do overlap.

 

Chief Marketer, a marketing publication, recently described how drinks company Sparkling Ice turned to Margaret Scrinkl, a papercraft artist, to market their new product.

“Having seen her work we knew she would be a good brand fit given the fun and color,” Sarah Gustat, vice president of  marketing at the brand’s parent company, told the website. “It felt like a reflection of the Sparkling Ice brand and really brought the campaign to life.”

 

The content didn’t match on its face. Scrinkl creates videos about art; Sparkling Ice makes cocktails. But Scrinkl did bring a number of features to the brand that made buying her influence worthwhile: the demographics overlapped; the style of the brands were in sync; and Scrinkl’s engagement levels were high, a sign that her audience is genuine and that she has the ability to move them. Sparkling Ice was very happy with the result, and didn’t have to turn to an expensive drinks influencer to achieve them.

 

Finding non-traditional influencers who can help your business takes a little time—but it can also be fun.

 

Skip Google and head straight to a social media platform, especially Instagram. Search for the keywords or hashtags related to your product then do a deep dive. Instead of stopping at the biggest influencers, look through their followers and see who else they follow. Those additional accounts represent a new entryway into your market. Identify a handful of influencers with interesting content and high levels of engagement, then approach them with an offer.

 

Because they’re still small, that offer won’t need to be huge. Some influencers have been known to take free samples as payment for promoting a product. (If you’re trying to create a long-term relationship, you might want to go bigger than that though!)

 

And make sure that you know what your call to action will be, whether it’s clicking a link, following your own account, or taking up a special offer. You want to be able to measure the effectiveness of the influencers you use.

 

You might not be able to land a royal endorsement, but you should find that you’re able to move an audience and influence sales.

 

READ NEXT:

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

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

Just when you think you have a grip on demographic marketing along comes Generation C.

 

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Actually Gen C is not new—Brian Solis first introduced businesses to the “Connected Customer” in 2012, but many small businesses haven’t yet embraced Gen C, which says Solis, “is not limited to one group or demographic. Demographic marketing is based on age, income, etc.” But Solis’s research on the rise of social media and mobile found that psychographics mattered more. Gen C is more defined by interests, behaviors, and the resources they demand. “It’s not an age group; it’s a lifestyle,” explains Solis, adding “Generation C is anyone relying on tech.”

 

Solis is a principal analyst at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet. He’s an award-winning author, writer, and keynote speaker.  His latest book Lifescale talks about how our devices distract us. I talked to Solis about Generation C and why small business owners need to reach out to them

 

Rieva Lesonsky: What changes have you seen in Generation C since you first defined it?

 

Brian Solis: Mobile and social media have become even more profound—and consumers are much more connected. But many [businesses] haven’t embraced the concept yet.

 

Rieva Lesonsky: You say businesses aren’t in control of the touchpoints anymore—that consumers are “more empowered and creative and resourceful.” How do you get business es to recognize this?

 

Solis: [Businesses] need to think differently about catering to this group. Open-minded ones understand they’re dealing with a different, more connected type of customer.

 

And there’s a new generation of businesses—the innovators and disrupters coming into play. Companies like Uber, Postmates and DoorDash. They operate with speed and sophistication and have introduced new dynamics built around providing convenience, speed, value and personalization. Those are the pillars of experience for Gen C.

 

These innovators are disrupting all industries. They broke the mold, raised the bar and set new standards. Once customers experience these standards, they don’t want to go back. The new experience becomes the new standard.

 

And that’s the hardest part [for businesses]. Consumers base their next moves on their past experiences. Take Amazon and two-day shipping. Once customers experience it, they’re not going back. Their expectations have changed. Now, they consider two-day shipping the new standard.

 

Lesonsky: What are the common characteristics of Generation C?

 

Solis: Generation C is demanding, impatient and accidentally narcissistic. The world revolves around them and their devices. It’s all about speed. They consider impatience a virtue. [These] are their touchpoints, and we need to meet their expectations.

 

Lesonsky: Yet many businesses haven’t embraced the concept?

 

Solis: Most small businesses still operate from that traditional mindset. They’re trying to be the best chai latte place. That’s not good enough. They need to be the best chia latte place consumers find and love.

 

When Yelp first started there was a natural resistance to it among local business owners—they didn’t want people talking [negatively] about their businesses. They saw Yelp as a threat, not an opportunity to see what people think about their businesses.

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When companies like DoorDash came along many restaurants wanted to pull away. They didn’t see the growth [possibilities]. They thought their job was to put butts in seats. They didn’t realize their job was also to put food in the bellies of people not sitting in their restaurants. They need to reset and ask ‘Do we need a bigger kitchen. Should we open another kitchen to serve these new customers?’

 

Lesonsky: How can a small business reach Generation C?

 

Solis: Mobile has made consumers even more self-centered. They’re searching for the ‘best…for me’. Many go on Facebook and Twitter and ask, ‘what’s the best…’ and let the lazy web solve it for them. Businesses need to cater to customers who have different needs. Small business owners need to find Generation C. Go where they go.

 

The internet has changed how consumers buy. This online decision-making is what Google calls the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). [This is “the moment in the buying process when the consumer researches a product prior to purchase.”]

For Generation C it’s about the ultimate moment of truth, about sharing their experiences. Consumers will make different [buying] decisions based on others’ connecting the dots back to their [ZMOT].

 

Lesonsky: How can small businesses adapt?

 

Solis: It can be a challenge to [change their] mindset. But they need to be part of the discovery process. They have to become a new type of business owner. Become an innovator. And many aren’t ready for that.

 

We live in a time when it’s not good enough to have just a good business; you need to have an exceptional business where people connect and share their experiences, whether good or bad. It’s not about offering great service. You need to offer exceptional service people want to talk about.

 

Experiences are going to be shared whether good or bad. That share is the ultimate moment of truth, which becomes the next person’s zero moment of truth.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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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

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