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2019

Running a small business means you have a thousand roles split between (often) just a few people. Very few small companies have a formal “IT Department” taking care of their technical needs and, as a result, resort to either a third-party support company or occasionally, the boss’s niece, who’s “good with computers.”

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It’s not like you need to follow every gee whiz technology trend that comes along, but there are a few changes you should make over the next twelve months if you haven’t already. None of these are especially expensive, and all of these have a hidden benefit of improving your business all the way around.

 

Switch to Cloud Storage and Backup

 

If you’ve seen commercials or read articles talking about “the cloud” when it comes to business and tech, they basically use the term to mean that some or all of the information you’re accessing doesn’t exist on your laptop or desktop computer. For small businesses, companies like Dropbox and Box are great starting points for doing this upgrade. Look to move any important computer files off the hard drive of your laptop and copy them into a secure service like Dropbox or Box, so you can access them on your computer without worrying about what happens when your cousin comes to visit the office and spills coffee on the company’s most important computer.

 

Once you get the hang of that, look for an automated backup solution that pairs with either of those services to do automatic backups of your most important computers. These are usually sold as a subscription service and are very much worth it. The point here is to eliminate any misery from the accidental destruction of any particular computer or laptop.

 

Switch to an Email Service Provider

 

When you go to send out mail to your entire customer database, if you’re not using a professional email service provider (ESP) like Mailchimp or Constant Contact or Aweber or the other big names in the space, it’s very unlikely that your mail is going through to the people you hope to receive it. The other huge benefit to using an email service provider (and using it better) is that you can learn to segment your big newsletter list.

 

Not every customer wants the news about every product. Not every customer uses your product the same way (or in the same amount). It’s important to segment your email list so that you can write to schools differently than you write to manufacturing plants, so that you can talk to house cleaners in one way and to building contractors another way. Be sure to check out various pricing plans for the different providers. Some are more cost effective depending on what size your customer base is at the moment.

 

Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Compliant

 

According to this study from Perficient, mobile traffic accounted for 58% of website visits in 2018 (it’s up in 2019). 42% of all time spent online is via mobile devices in 2018 (higher now). Your website has to run beautifully on mobile, plus it has to be fast. Google has a free tool that lets you test how fast your site runs on mobile devices. It’s worth seeing how well your site holds up.

 

Look to upgrade your site design to run better and faster by seeking to remove unnecessary code. Your overall design might need to be modified to accommodate mobile devices better. Everything needs to be checked for brevity. The cost of a full website redesign is a lot less than it ever has been, even though the need for a verymobile-friendly site is at its highest. (And if you don’t have a website, get one. It’s silly to let other people control your visibility in the modern workforce.)

 

Update Your Training Methods

 

Attracting and retaining well-trained talent is a priority at most companies right now. Companies all over are starting to report feeling the impact of a massive experience gap due to a significant uptick in retirement from one segment and a huge need to attract new talent on the other. But formal knowledge transfer still lags at most small (and plenty of the large) businesses, with most anonymous surveys rating company training efforts as too brief, too infrequent and relying on poor materials.

 

There are formal learning management systems (LMS) out there ranging in price from a few hundred dollars for a mostly DIY solution to a few hundred thousand for something intricate with a lot of bells and whistles. Consider your current training technology. If it’s a few three-ring binders and a bad DVD copy of a VHS video, plus a little hands-on time at the end, you’ll want to rethink this. Look for mobile-drive training solutions with video-friendly modules, as well as the ability to incorporate new training tools like AR (augmented reality) and the like.

 

Get Visual

 

You already have the basic technology for this. Take more pictures. Shoot more video. For reasons unknown, companies shy away from visual communications, even though most humans favor visual consumption as their means of acquiring information. (Not all. Some prefer test. Others learn from audio. Still others can’t use any of these methods and need hands on training only.)

 

 

Any small business that isn’t managing a growing media library of employee-created assets at this point might be behind. Sure, you can spring for the occasional expensive photo shoot and the like from the PR or corporate communications budget. But everyone has a cell phone that shoots photos and videos. Start encouraging the creation and sharing of this media (with a few simple guidelines for brand safety) and start collecting a company-wide media library so that everyone has access to this material for their own needs. This can vastly change the landscape of your business communications internally as well as externally.

 

 

Start Anywhere

 

You don’t have to do all five of these upgrades at once. You can start with the email work and then tackle the website refresh. Pick whichever you prefer, though I’d make the cloud storage and backup stuff happen earlier than later because it will facilitate some of the other projects. You might not have the immediate know-how within the company to do these tasks, so it’s always okay to find a local consultant. But ask around first. You’d be amazed what kinds of technical geniuses you might have on staff already.

 

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

Aside from meeting someone in real life, video is the best way for small business owners to connect with prospects, clients and fans. There’s nothing like a real or virtual face-to-face encounter to develop that know, like and trust factor.

 

Whether you want to do a live video broadcast to educate, create your own show, be a guest expert for someone else, or both, there are plenty of opportunities for Facebook Live video in your small business marketing.

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Related: How to Identify Facebook Live Opportunities for Your Small Business

 

Facebook Live in Groups

 

Facebook has made Groups a priority, giving admins new features, such as welcome posts, member profiles, and badges to foster community among their members.

 

Related: How to Use Facebook Groups to Build a Loyal Community

 

Posting regular updates in your group, as well as starting threads that encourage conversation, is a must. Broadcasting live video inside your Facebook Group is a great way to share information, while bringing your group members together.

 

    • Joey Vitale is a lawyer with an Indie Law Facebook page that helps entrepreneurs through the trademark process. Vitale used regular Facebook Lives to build the law firm’s connected group to 7,000 members. Note: His firm recently re-niched their focus to Trademark Law for Online Entrepreneurs, and the new Facebook group is already rapidly growing using the same strategy.

 

    • The Market Like a Nerd Facebook group, aimed at female coaches and service providers, has a schedule of fun and informative posts, where the team “goes LIVE in the group to provide you NO-PITCH, VALUE ONLY content so you can turn up your marketing game in your business.”

 

No matter what your expertise, if you run a Facebook Group you can easily visit with your members regularly through Facebook live.

 

Facebook Live with a Sponsor

 

Branded content is an excellent way to earn money, while exposing your audience to complementary tools, products, or services. Many of my Facebook lives are monetized this way.

 

Here are examples of branded content I created for:

 

 

Target potential collaborators (brands, SaaS companies), and learn about their brands. Once you develop relationships with the companies you want to evangelize, invite them to be a Facebook Live sponsor. Remember, creators and publishers are responsible for tagging a business partner's Page when posting branded content.

 

Do an educational Facebook Live video broadcast and make a soft offer. Sponsored content works best when you choose the items you love to share with your audience. You want to seek out the most mutually beneficial situations.

 

As an influencer or brand ambassador, you may be eligible to sign up for Facebook’s Brand Collabs Manager feature. This will enable you to build a portfolio to showcase your content and potentially attract more deals.

 

Facebook Live Regular Show

 

As a small business owner, you ideally want to be the go-to-expert in your industry. To share your knowledge, tips, and trends in your industry, create a regular Facebook Live show. Broadcast on your Facebook business page and encourage your viewers to engage with your content by asking relevant questions.

 

    • Multiple New York Times best-selling author, wellness activist, and cancer thriver Kris Carr goes live on Facebook every week for Wellness Wednesday. Her lives are fairly informal, personal and highly engaging. Plus, she does a nice mix of uploaded videos in-between.

 

    • Live Streaming Pros David Foster and Luria Petrucci practice what they preach. They build professional studios for clients, and their regular broadcasts - every Tuesday and Friday at 1pm PT - are very educational. Their lives span multiple pages, and are also shared on YouTube, Twitch.tv and now Microsoft’s Mixer.

 

Keep in mind, many of your fans and followers may watch your Facebook Live videos after the fact, which is fine. However, if you broadcast consistently, discuss relevant topics, share actionable advice, and interact with your loyal following, it may turn your show into appointment TV.

 

Facebook Live Guest Expert

 

If you prefer not to produce your own show, seek out opportunities to be a guest expert on “talk shows” in your industry.

 

    • Ecamm Live is a professional Facebook Live streaming software (for Macs). The founders recently launched a live series called Meet the Pros, where they bring on regular users to talk about how they are using the software.
    • Agorapulse is a top social media management tool. They just launched a new weekly social media news show called Social Pulse Weekly, hosted by Jennifer Watson, formerly of The Weather Channel. 

 

Look for Facebook live shows either in your field or industry-adjacent. For instance, if you have a CPA or a website design firm, you can adapt your topic to a variety of niches. Once you find Facebook Live shows that may be a fit, watch them, figure out how you can add value to their audience, and send a pitch.

 

Final Thoughts

 

Since its rollout in August 2015, Facebook Live has continued to grow in popularity. Especially over the last year, as people have become more comfortable recording live video, there’s really nothing stopping small business owners from truly utilizing the platform.


Give it a try. There are plenty of opportunities for your business to shine on Facebook live. You just need to look for opportunities to go live … or create them yourself.

 

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.

Pinterest is a social network enabling individuals and businesses to post and find content through boards (groupings) of pins (content) with a common theme.

 

Like Instagram, Pinterest is visually based, so businesses can use it to give clients and prospects a window into their world. Businesses can share insights and experiences related to their company and industry, as well as to promote products and services.

 

However, there is also a planning component to Pinterest. Many of Pinterest’s more than 250 million monthly users go on the platform to discover new interests, skills, or information regarding a future event or activity. And,  Pinterest is also one of the largest search engines. This makes it the perfect platform for service-based businesses to highlight their value and expertise, so potential clients and customers can discover who they are and what they have to offer.

 

Creating Pins on Pinterest

 

Before you start selling on Pinterest, take the time to explore the platform. Visit similar or complementary businesses to see how they are using the Pinterest - types of content (photos, infographics, videos) - and put your own spin on it. Then, create boards relevant to your business with pins that educate, but also highlight your services and expertise. Remember, you want content that’s visually appealing, on-brand, and has relevant keywords (hashtags) in the description.

 

Here are some great examples of what small businesses are doing with Pinterest:

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  • TheYogaNomads offer education (online courses and consultations) and information for current and future yogaeachers. They have boards on “Business of Yoga,” “Yoga Poses,” “Blogging for Yoga Teachers” and more. Their pins link to articles on their website, such as “How to Theme a Yoga Class.” TheYogaNomads use Pinterest to drive traffic to their website, where they offer more free content, newsletter signup, and paid offerings.

 

 

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  • Chef Todd Mohr’s business is web-based cooking classes. His boards and pins, which range from recipes to cooking techniques, link to a free webinar sign up or a video replay. He then uses the webinars - an example of his teaching style and knowledge-base - to promote his online cooking education.

 

Pinterest is not just for shops, crafters, and restaurants. Marketers, writers, editors, virtual assistants, teachers, web developers, and other professionals are using Pinterest to reach new audiences and sell their services.

 

When you are ready to start selling on Pinterest, switch over to a business account.

 

How to Use Promoted Pins

 

To bring more attention to your pins, advertise. Ideally you want to select your pins that are already doing well (getting impressions) to capitalize on their engagement. Check analytics to find out which ones these are. Before promoting, edit the name of your pin, so it’s easy to find. Also, make sure the pin links to your website; you may want to update the url to one you can track through UTM codes or bitly.

 

There are two ways to create promoted pins.

 

Promote from the pin:

  • Pick a pin to promote
  • Choose your targeting
  • Set the budget and ad duration
  • Publish

 

Create a promoted pin in Ads Manager:

  • Select Create Ad
  • Choose a campaign goal: build awareness, drive traffic, grow sales
  • Enter ad group details
  • Choose your targeting
  • Set the budget and schedule the ad
  • Select a pin
  • Submit for review

 

If you want your ad approved, Pinterest suggests avoiding the following:

  • Images with promotions and prices
  • False sense of urgency
  • Excessive symbology or hashtags
  • No content on destination landing page
  • Images with calls to action
  • Images with confusing design elements
  • Images or descriptions with shocking content or profanity

 

You can also create and promote video ads.

 

Handling your Pinterest Traffic

 

Connect each pin to its relevant link destination. And use a multi-channel approach to give users a variety of content, as well as a better picture of what you have to offer. For instance:

 

  • Article links direct to the blog post
  • Video links go to YouTube or Facebook
  • Quotes, inspiration, or general information may go to a newsletter sign-up
  • Pins that promote a specific service direct to that landing page

 

You may also want to create pins that direct to an introductory deal on your services or a freebie (content, video, course) to get prospects invested in you and your business

 

Note: Make sure your website has the Facebook pixel for retargeting set up, so you can follow-up with the users who found you through your pins.

 

Final Thoughts

 

Just like Instagram, Pinterest is as much about showcasing your business as it is selling from it. While Pinterest is widely used to sell products with buyable pins, you can still use this wonderful, searchable platform to showcase and sell your services. You just need to get creative about it.

 

Read next:

Pinterest is a Search Engine for Small Businesses by Joel Comm

 

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.

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