Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

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Effective Social Media Marketing Starts With A Clear Message

Before social media, timelines, and news feeds, companies of all sizes could generate clear messages through email marketing, newspapers, and radio ads. The message was simple and direct, with the objective to get customers to visit an online store to purchase a company’s products, or promote a physical location to shop or visit. Today with social media marketing, many small businesses lack a consistent message because they either don’t post enough, or they post so often on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that each status or tweet has absolutely nothing to do with the previous posting. Coherency and staying on point is a lost art in marketing, especially on social media, and the businesses that do stay consistent with their message, get engagement.

There are businesses among all sectors that struggle with sticking to one message. The companies that are succeeding have done an excellent job with defining who they are, whether that be the solo entrepreneur who knows his or her business and market completely, or leaders within a larger company that have instilled in the marketing department the culture and brand the business is expressing to their customers through social media. With that being said, what about the businesses that don’t have a clear message, and often deviate from being consistent by posting too many updates that don’t stay on point? Why are they struggling and can it be fixed?

The best examples of companies in major business sectors that are brutally awful at social media is automotive and real estate. Both industries have put so much effort into sales that they’ve completely forgotten that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter aren’t necessarily selling platforms, but in fact marketing avenues that attract customers by enticing them, rather than pushing them into buying. Most notably in the automotive world, once you get to the dealership level, any semblance of good marketing is rare at best, and as a result, you get incoherent messages or posts that make no sense for the car selling business.

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A local Volvo dealership who usually posts sporadically throughout the year, must have gotten the urge to start posting around the holidays. But instead of actually promoting sales offers or cars on the new and used lots, the social media manager decides that sharing a YouTube video of two non street legal Volvos racing around a track in Sweden is relevant to customers interested in purchasing a Volvo. What is the message that the dealership wants to portray to past, present, and future buyers? If posting Car & Driver or MotorTrend articles are the basis of their social media strategy, they’ve failed at using Facebook as a viable platform to sell cars on.

These dealerships have vehicles that they know inside and out as they’ve been trained to sell them to people who walk in the doors. They know the specifications and price tags, but more importantly, they’ll be the first ones to receive new models. The message should be quite clear and if I was the social media manager, this would be my statement to the department. “Our mission is to sell cars, with that being said, we should create our own content surrounding the cars on our lots, and the service department that maintains customers’ vehicles and this should be the focus of our message”. Once the message is in place, then you can effectively market your business and products.

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Real estate, much like the car industry, is a very sales driven market. However, with social media now entering the picture, it appears that once hard selling companies have been forced to become friendly and informative, but they’re going about it the wrong way. In the picture above, Century 21 shared a link to an article about wall painting. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being informal, but what’s the message that they want to portray?

If selling property and houses are the main goal, why is painting walls relevant to potential buyers if they can get that information from Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Sherwin Williams? More importantly, renovation and updating the interior is the step after purchasing, which realtors wouldn’t be a part of. Technically, that’s not their role in real estate and it’s the contractors who would benefit most by sharing that article as it would be a message they’d want to promote on their Facebook page.

With the same mindset as the dealership, the social media manager has to come up with a clear message and build content around that message. “The goal is to sell houses, therefor creating content that’s beneficial to the buyer, whether that be through digital media or pictures, would be an immensely powerful tool to attract potential buyers to our realtor firm.” When it comes to social media, it’s all about the message. Once the message is set in place, then a strategy on content creating can be put in place.

Social media marketing is essentially the basis of your business’ mission statement. Why was your business created, who are your customers, and why would they choose you? The same questions can be applied to you social media marketing strategy. Once you get the answers, your message will be clear and effective. Until that point, you’ll never get the most out of your social media efforts.

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Unless Your Employee Is A Social Media Guru, Never Go In-House

One of the biggest mistakes a small business can do is go in-house on their social media marketing. Unless that employee or you, the business owner, knows the ins and outs of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you should always hire either a contractor or a recent college graduate who majored in marketing and has extensive knowledge in SMM. Too often, employees who are sales representatives are at the helm of Facebook accounts, and as a result you get hard selling content that’s annoying and doesn’t get much engagement. With the lack of engagement and growing number of followers, you’ll inevitably give up on social media like so many other small businesses.

The reason many companies go in-house is because they feel that their expertise in the industry is enough to get sales. However, you’re just one voice of millions, and without proper promotions and advertising, your words will fall on deaf ears. Do you know the best time to post content, how often, and who you’re targeting? Are you using hashtags, following, and reaching out to potential customers who will be interested in the products or services you sell? These are the questions you have to ask yourself and the person you have running your social media accounts.

There are small businesses who have 5 star satisfaction ratings with many customers posting long and in-depth reviews on Yelp and Google. These small businesses need to leverage that. Clearly they’re doing something right, and without social media marketing, there are many potential customers out there who don’t know of their existence. What’s more interesting is that some of these small businesses are still advertising on Angie’s List and Yellow Pages, which in 2016, might as well be considered the telegraph as those have become old-school methods in reaching out to customers.

You have to ask yourself, “Where do my customers spend the most time”? Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are the primary platforms where people post and view content, so why aren’t you taking part and being a member of the conversation? Most small businesses could easily find ways to post content three to five times a week, and by combining your knowledge with the social media marketer’s ability to effectively reach customers, your business could see a massive growth in likes and followers, which will eventually result in an increase of sales.

Social media is a dedication of time and effort, so why divert your employees’ attention from what they do best, to try marketing which is out of their skill set? Your job as a manager or business owner is to put your employees in a position to succeed, and you also have an obligation to yourself, to put all your energy in running the business instead of fretting over weeks of no engagement on social media platforms. That’s why hiring a social media manager is very important. You know your business and industry, but not so much marketing, and that is what’s holding your company back.

Your business’ success in 2016 is dependent upon a strong social media marketing strategy and presence. By not being there when a potential customer is searching for someone like you who can provide them with the best service or products, you open the door to a mediocre company taking that customer away from you because they just happened to post an Instagram photo or Facebook post that enticed the individual. Not being on social media is a very dangerous game to play, and with growing numbers of small businesses joining social media everyday, you will be at a disadvantage when customers search for businesses who can solve their problems, provide great products, or the best value and customer service in your area.

Value Unused = Waste

Your Specialty Is What Creates Value For Others

Value Unused = Waste
Kevin Krejci / Foter / CC BY

It’s safe to say that one point in your life you’ve asked yourself “Where do I fit in?” This question can pertain to a sports team, group project, or the business strategy you put in place before acquiring clients. It might also be safe to say that you’ve tried mirroring either a peer or other business to try fitting in and replicating what they do because they’re successful in that particular area. Usually the results weren’t what you had hoped, and that’s because you weren’t utilizing your own strengths, skills, or that one intangible asset your friend or business across town didn’t have.

By not using your strengths, you’re not only hurting yourself, but others around you who could have benefitted from your skills and specialty. Your strengths are what creates value for your clients, co-workers, and friends around you.

Having been in the sports journalism industry, it can be very hard to outshine other writers and get noticed by a wide range of viewers. By trying to be like other writers, posting the same type of content, writing a post-game article that fans could read from a number of different writers, and not putting your own informative input out on the web, will surely make your content invisible. You must find your specialty or niche that not many, if any are writing about, but you know there is a target audience that will benefit and enjoy reading your unique content that they can’t get anywhere else. Whether it’s discussing player performance, what different sets of plays a team runs throughout the game, what worked or didn’t work for the team, are just a few ways to enter into what appears as a saturated sports journalism market.

In business, you’ll find yourself dealing with the same scenario. What can you do that gets you noticed, acquire clients, and provide value to your customers? Is there a market in the industry that your business is a part of that rival companies aren’t serving to a target group that you can be successful in? With laptops and iPads making home computers and desktops obsolete, there are still many small businesses that use desktop computers in the office. If you have a computer repair business, you have a niche market that still needs servicing but is slowly being forgotten about. Or, if your a software and technology consultant, you have a market where your can help these small businesses move to a more efficient way of getting work done.

Your specialty is what brings value, and that can’t be emphasized enough. Don’t ever feel that you’re inferior, or question your skills because no one else is doing what you’re trying to do. The truth is, businesses need people who can provide value in some way, shape, or form. If your skills can save businesses time, money, and resources, go out there and market your business and the services you provide. Thinking outside the box is sometimes frowned upon throughout our lives, but the reality is, the world we see around us was created by those who didn’t think like everyone else.

This can be applied in every aspect of life, whether it’s school, starting a blog or business, to even friendships and relationships. Providing value through your skills, experience, and knowledge is how you’ll become successful in anything you attempt to do. Don’t be conventional when there is a more efficient way of doing things. By being an individual and honing your skills, you’ll outshine everyone and they’ll see just how much you’re worth.

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With A New Economy, Is It Time To Have A New Attitude Towards Internships?

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nicwn / Foter / CC BY-SA

Seven years after the beginning of the recession, the economy still isn’t where was pre 2008. Close to 33% of eligible adults have dropped out of the labor force, another third is either freelancing or starting businesses, and the final third are active in the labor force, whether that be full-time or part-time work. For Millennials, we are now going to be a part of this new economy, and the decisions we make could put us in one of the above groups. Internships have always been a way to gain experience and skills during, or shortly after college before applying for full-time jobs. But in 2014, is it time to have a new approach and attitude towards internships and the opportunities that they bring?

Some former interns have come out accusing companies of not paying them well, or paying them at all. While I’m no lawyer and not an interpreter of the law, I’m not going to discuss whether it’s legal or not. However, when you decide to be an intern you’re not an employee and the company doesn’t have to treat, or pay you like one. There is another form of compensation that internships provide, and that’s in experience, confidence, and learning how to navigate through an office setting. Seeing as though many young people are turning to starting their own business because of limited job opportunities, maybe it’s time to look at internships as a preparation and confidence booster towards starting businesses.

Some interns have proclaimed that they had multiple roles in the company, learning multiple aspects and performing an array of tasks. For small business owners overseeing, and at least having a hand in different departments and aspects of the business is necessary. These interns now have the experience of multi-tasking, and grasping the magnitude of being a part of multiple roles within a company.

Now rest assured there will be a majority of interns who won’t start a business or freelance, but for the small group who will, internships can be that confidence booster that they need to get over the initial fear of starting a business. Fear is what stops people from doing anything; all they need is self-confidence and a business mindset that tells them that they can succeed and be their own boss. Internships bring a lot to the table, but money should never be the top priority when seeking a summer intern job.

Get the experience and confidence that you need to be successful. Take advantage of the opportunity that internships bring. If you still decide to become an employee and not run a business, you’ll still walk away from an internship with self-confidence, business skills, and the ability adapt to different situations. Employers have a growing fear that Millennials aren’t ready to join the workforce because they’re not being taught the skills to succeed in an office environment. Get an internship and learn. That’s the best way to get real world experience before fully submerging yourself into the labor force.