Newsflash: Relevent Social Media News and Resources for Entrepreneurs

Yesterday, we took a look at ‘social media’ sites from 30,000 feet. The intention was to give entrepreneurs a bit of a ‘heads-up’ that Robert and I intend to tackle some of the better known of these sites/businesses over the next few months – in upcoming BusinessCast podcasts and in this blog. 

Well, wouldn’t you know it?! Sure enough, a whole bunch of ‘social media’ news hit the Internet over the last 24 hours. So, below find a quick round-up of some of the most interesting social media-related news stories that have found their way in to the general media over the last few days.  I’ve also included three links that along with yesterday’s post  provide a nice introduction to social media.

Headline News

Chances are you and/or one of your colleagues has signed up to LinkedIn - a service that connects people around the ‘six degrees of separation‘ premise (i.e. you are probably somehow connected to someone that someone else wants to connect with). Having been a round for a few years, LinkedIn has made some significant in-roads with people from across industries and at all organizational levels. It turns out that the potential of matching news to connected professionals has not escaped one of the more traditional media - the New York TimesNew York Times and LinkedIn Enter Partnership

Digg. A very cool idea. Imagine you’re surfing the web and you find a site or story that you’re genuinely interested in. How exciting would it be to be able to ‘flag it’ so that other people could see it and get excited about it too? Now, imagine that functionality promoting your product, service, newsflash or cause. There’s the potential power of Digg. The potential is so vast in fact that Google almost invested $200 million dollars to purchase Digg. But, according to a recent article, Digg – a ‘poster child’ for social media may be less social than most everyone thought: Digg – One Third of the Most Successful Social Media Site is Actually Dictated by Only 10 People.

Resources

A Great Video (under 4 minutes) That Explains Social Media – Simply and Succinctly

A Brief Written Overview/History of Social Media

A Great Introduction to Popular (and Niche) Social Media Businesses/Websites

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Social Media: In-site and In Perspective

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a Forrester Research webinar recently that explored how ‘social media’ (i.e. web 2.0) sites and services are being used for the purpose of generating new business leads. 

But, as much as some entrepreneurs have embraced the emerging capacity of the Internet — i.e. Early Adopters —  the vast majority are yet to really tip their toes in to ‘social media’. And, Its easy to understand why: business owners like you want to understand how these sites, functionalities and businesses will help you achieve your goals. At the same time, you want to make sure that you’re investing in the genuine article rather than just plain ‘hype’.

Over the next few months, Robert and I dig into some of the more robust social media tools – on the BusinessCast podcast and in this blog. But, rest assured that we will only do it with you in mind. In other words, we’ll delve into their business usefulness and tackle them with the same type of discipline (and good humour) that we address all subjects. After all, our focus is your success.

Let’s quickly take a look at ‘social media’ from 30,000 feet. First, keep in-mind that these business’ raison d’etre is to allow for or encourage the sharing of information/content online. Having said that, let’s make sense of the vastly ‘disorganized’ and seemingly haphazard selection of popular social media sites by placing them into a framework that puts them into perspective. To that end, click on the accompanying ‘starfish’ thumbnail image which organizes the most popular social media sites by the purposes they serve.

Social Media Sites

Social Media Sites

 

 

 

 

Ensure Your Next Sale: Understand Your Buyer

At one time or an other, every entrepreneur asks him/herself the following question: “What incentive should we use to increase sales?

In the upcoming episode of the BusinessCast podcast (show #68 – Incentives that Sell), Robert and I provide some practical guidelines for developing and offering incentives that leverage your buyers’ state-of-mind.

Some of the issues we cover include:

  • When to use incentives (from the business’ perspective)
  • When to take advantage of incentives (from the buyer’s perspective)
  • The core elements of incentives
  • Issues to work through during incentive planning
  • The risks of offering incentives

BusinessCast podcast episode #68 – Incentives that Sell - will be posted this week. Listen and get inspired!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

The Most Well-Known and Under-Used Secret to Business Success

If I told you that you could save significant money in the short- and long-term when it comes to your next product launch would you be interested? How about, if I suggested a way that you could increase the likelihood that customers would purchase more of your services? How about, if I could point to a sure-fire method of making sure that your brand message actually “sticks” with the right audience?

Well, the truth is, most entrepreneurs have the capacity to achieve such savings and ensure their success. In BusinessCast podcast show #55 – Feedback – Or Is It Just Noise? we tackle the most well-known and under-used secret to business…smart, deliberate, focused research! At the same time, we know asking for feedback and conduct research is the least glamorous part of marketing. But, think of it this way: because your competitors are most likely not doing it or not doing it well, it can yield a significant source of insight that can actually see you leapfrog you ahead of them!

The challenge for many entrepreneurs is the feeling that they know precisely:

  • Who their market is;
  • Where the market is;
  • How the market is evolving;
  • What the market wants now/in the future;
  • What the market feels it needs now;
  • What priority their products/services have in the mind of their market;
  • How each market segment behaves;
  • What the market is prepared to pay;
  • What obstacles their customers have to overcome; and
  • How competitors are better/different from them.

That typically means that entrepreneurs rarely solicit feedback.

In fact, the reality is that markets, competitors and your own business evolves so quickly that it is impractical and unlikely that all those insights are captured, organized, analyzed, updated and applied on an on-going basis in your company. The prospect of research then becomes so daunting that many just ignore it completely or discount it. But, you don’t have to do everything at once. That’s why in BusinessCast podcast show #55 – Feedback – Or Is It Just Noise?, we review some of the key elements of gathering feedback from customers and the market-at-large.

And, while we know that you’ve got to run a business, we just want you to think about those questions posed in the first paragraph. You can achieve those benefits and savings. To that end, here’s a very useful summary chart to help you put into perspective the different methods for pulling insights from the market – along with their benefits and limitations.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Brochure vs. Website – Making the Right Choice

At several times during the growth of your business, you’re going to be confronted with this question: “How do we best spend our marketing dollars – should we launch/update our website OR our brochure?” 

In BusinessCast Podcast show #56 Brochure vs. Web Site - Robert and I tackle this question so that you can act with confidence when you are confronted with this choice – whether its the first time or the fiftieth time.  

We cover the ‘pros and cons’ of both brochures and web sites – evaluating each in the areas of: image, features, distribution, feedback and generating revenue. 

Make sure that you listen to show #56 before you make that next investment in online/offline marketing collateral – whether your materials are focused on launching a new product/service or building your brand.

Finally, keep in-mind that there are some useful guidelines that you should always apply regardless of whether you choose to spend your time and resources on a brochure or a website. These guidelines include the following:

  • Target a specific audience (i.e. your choice of content, wording, design, layout).
  • Involve your audience in the process of developing your marketing collateral. It will save you time/money, it often reveals new opportunities and strengthens bonds with your audience.
  • Design for a specific purpose (e.g. If you’re looking for your collateral to assist in shortening your ‘sales cycle’ make sure that it provides the right information based on what is required at one particular stage.)
  • When you’re planning out your costs, make sure you budget for content, layout, design, photos, proof-reading, storage and distribution.

Show #56 Brochure vs. Web Site is our first “smackdown” episode where we dig into two tools that compete for your hard-working marketing dollar. In a few weeks, we’ll be pitting two other rivals for your marketing resources against each other: The Newsletter vs. The Blog. You’ll be surprised about who comes out on top – and why!

This just in: Check out http://smallbusiness.alltop.com. This is an outstanding resource for small business entrepreneurs. It is a well-organized portal that is updated very frequently (i.e. several times per hour). As a result, you’ll find timely insights that will help your business grow. Bookmark it along with www.BusinessCast.ca.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Building Your Public Profile – Part 1 – A Media Kit That Works

Do you want press coverage? Do you need it? Do you know how to get it?….Slow down for a minute!!

Let’s put some things in place first so that when you are contacted by members of the media, you will get the most out of the coverage.

One of the very first steps – and one that can be easily forgotten – is preparing a media kit.

In show #67 – Building Your Public Profile, Robert and I present our first in a series of “Business Appetizers”. These rapid-fire podcasts give you a quick taste for a key topic, issue or challenge. The goals of these appetizers: Save you time, money and effort by providing you with enough practical know-how that your hunger for growth doesn’t cause you to rush into swallowing some advice or products that leave you with a sense of indigestion.

So, in show #67 – Building Your Public Profile we help you address when, why, and how to pull together a cost-effective media  kit - which is an essential piece of any effective profile-building initiative.

Bon Apetite!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs

When Robert and I had Matthew Vernhout from Email Karma (www.emailkarma.net) on the BusinessCast, we tackled the very “hot” topic of Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs.

We wanted to better understand how email can help entrepreneurs establish and build strong business relationships online.

With Matt’s help, we unearthed some of the key issues and misperceptions about email and email marketing. Moreover, we got a handle on just how complex effective email marketing can be along with plenty of practical tips and advice from an email marketing guru.

So, here are a handful of some critical lessons in a Q&A format:

Q: Why should an entrepreneur consider/use email as part of their marketing efforts?

A: Email, when developed and delivered responsibly, is: 

  • Efficient (i.e. it can deliver marketing results)
  • Cost-effective
  • Immediate
  • Measurable
  • Easy to use

Q: What are some of the critical issues that entrepreneurs should be aware of so that they can hone their email marketing efforts?

A: Entrepreneurs need to address ways of:

  • Ensuring email actually lands in the intended email box
  • Building and sustaining a database of people who look forward to receiving email
  • Setting and maintaining a deployment schedule that provides the best results
  • Periodically testing elements of email to achieve the best results

Q: What are some of the greatest misperceptions about email marketing that can potentially damage an entrepreneur’s relationship building efforts?

A: Just because you send out email, you can not assume that your email:

  • Always gets delivered to the email boxes you are targeting
  • Always arrives when you need it to arrive
  • Recipients see the email the way you designed it
  • Recipients will always actively engage with your email

Matthew strongly recommends using the services of responsible email marketing services – which allow you to delegate the tasks of developing and delivering email to companies that can do it most cost-effectively. Find a list of email marketing services (organized by county) at a useful resource developed by the email marketer’s club.

In the next few weeks, we’re going to have Matt back in the BusinessCast bagel shop and we’re going to run through a very practical ‘soup to nuts’ scenario – whereby we cover the main points of an effective campaign in case-study format. So, if you’re planning an email marketing campaign, looking to hone your existing campaign or if you’ve been looking for an excuse to launch your first campaign, let us know. We could use your campaign as the focus for our discussion. Make sure you also listen to the show, Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Fine Tuning Your Business – Part 1

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Who’s got time to develop a business plan?!? 

 

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you can certainly support the idea…but, when push comes to shove, you’re focusing on the day-to-day activities more than planning where your business should be going.

 

When we tackle the need for Fine Tuning Your Business – show #58 we are sensitive to that reality. At the same time, we know there are so many conventional resources available for developing business plans that it is often very hard to get excited about pulling a plan together – one that you’ll want to update during critical stages of your business such as expansions, increased competitiveness and/or calamities.

 

Rather than suggesting you adopt a traditional business plan, we recommend you create a “Passion Plan” - a plan that tells the inspiring and unique story about your business – within a business plan structure.

 

Why? Because, only plans that effectively capture your energy and enthusiasm will really take root in the hearts and minds of those who have to live the plan each and everyday – i.e. your employees, your investors and of course…you!

 

Listen to Fine Tuning Your Business – show #58 and you’ll get other real-life practical suggestions that will help your business plan – and therefore your business – achieve new heights!

 

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

 

Building Your Public Profile — Heads-Up!

 

For many entrepreneurs – across industries and regardless of years of experience and type of business – Public Relations remains a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma!

 

While there is both an art and a science to cost-effective PR, entrepreneurs can do several things to enhance their public profile without needing to make huge investments.

 

So, here’s a heads-up: This coming weekend, Robert and I are going to tackle one of the fundamental tools of PR. Specifically, we’re going to take on the “media kit” head-on!

 

That means, we’ll be providing practical and actionable advice to answer entrepreneurs’ most commonly asked questions, including:

  • Do we really need a media kit?
  • What should we have in place before developing a media kit?
  • What goes in our media kit?
  • What should stay out of our media kit?
  • How do we know our media kit is really working?
  • What other tools support our media kit?
  • Should our media kit be online or offline?
  • Who should write and/or contribute to our media kit?
  • How are we going to distribute our media kit?
  • What does having a media kit say about our business?
  • When should we update our media kit?

After listening to the show, you’ll know if, when and how a media kit can help your business. Stay tuned – the show will be posted soon!

 

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

 

Get New Employees Up and Running – Part 3 – Secrets for Your Success

In BusinessCast podcast show #59 Get New Employees Up and Running, we tackle employee orientation. Why should you care? If you want to achieve any of the following objectives, listen to the show:

  • Give the impression that your company is a good place to work
  • Give an accurate sense of what it is like to work at your company
  • Reduce new employees’ ‘ramp up’ time for getting familiar with your company’s culture, required skills and technologies
  • Reduce employee turnover rates – and associated costs
  • Inspire new employees to become ambassadors for your company

Chances are that you want to achieve several of these objectives. So, here are some of the key secrets you need to include in your employee orientation initiatives:

  • Identify those meetings that new employees need to attend, or participate in, so that they feel as if they’re part of the culture. 
  • Keep in mind that how a new employee thinks about your company begins prior to the first day on-the-job (i.e. during your recruitment and interviews).
  • Make sure that employees feel like they are part of the team. A great way of doing this is by assigning a ‘buddy’ during the first six-to-eight weeks of a new employee starting work.
  • Spend some time with your new employee to learn about their skills and career aspirations.
  • Think of your potential new employees as your most important prospect. So, make sure that every interaction your company has with them is professional, respectful and reinforces your company’s core values.
  • Ask your current employees to provide input in developing, monitoring and updating your employee orientation program.

Developing a successful employee orientation will save you time, energy and money. And, now, you’ve got some of the essentials tools to get underway! Remember, let us know about the innovative ways you orient your new employees.

 

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

 

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