1. Disappearing Act
Ever get exposed to a new business and do some research before you book or shop with them? We've all come across Facebook Business Pages that haven't been updated since 2014. I don't know about you, but when I see that, it screams to me "I don't care about you or my business!"
You don't have to post on every available social media platform. You don't even have to post the industry suggested 1-3x per day. Just post regularly and consistently! One quality post that is customized for the audience of the one platform you are posting on daily is an outstanding start. Better than many!
2. Its Not All About You
This could be airing political opinions, making it the family page, or making it a personal blog.
First, I have seen businesses close over standing by political opinions. Just don't. Even when you think you are making a decision about what is right...its just not right to everybody and if family and friends will avoid you so they don't have to hear it, trust me when I tell you everyone else will too (even if they agree with you).
Second, this is a bit of a gray area, so let me try to do my best to explain: your customers want to know about you and your life. I promise you they do. This is part of trust building in relationships. That said, you have a personal Facebook page. Posting your daily pic of your kid, spouse, dog, car, vacation, etc. is NOT for your business social media. Specifically written, relative, applicable content that highlights your life, but is professionally put together as a business would, is another story. Here are a couple good rules of thumb to help you think about your posts:
3. Fluff City
Sometimes this is the cause for the mistake above, and an effort to avoid the mistake above that. In an effort to be consistent when we don't have time to commit to our social media causes that "oh, crap" effect of posting a-little-too personal opinions, turning our business page into our personal page, or overly focusing on unoriginal, inspirational quotes and random pictures of cats, views, etc.
There is an acronym for posting engaging content on social media:
A - Authentic
I - Inspirational
R - Relatable
4. The Salesman
It is so very easy to fall into the habit of thinking of just the here-and-now when creating content. Keep in mind that what you are posting will be on your page for quite awhile, unless you remove it.
We see so many businesses start posting about an event that same week or the week before and post nothing but that. Sales, events, free estimates, quotes, sales, sales, sales, Sales, SALES! This isn't teaching your audience anything. It doesn't build trust. Its the social media version of cold calling. Its like wearing a t-shirt that says "Trust me, I'm a doctor." It's icky. Stop it. Here are some ways to step up your game:
5. Lacking the Goods
What is a Branding Consultant and why on earth would I need one? Oh honey, let's talk. In the past, only big business has been concerned about branding. They utilize entire marketing teams to focus on their branding to ensure their name is chosen before the competitor. Pepsi versus Coke, chances are you have a giant opinion on which is better. A branding consultant of sorts probably assisted in that opinion yours without you knowing it. In this age of mass entrepreneurship, branding is more prevalent to establish market advantage and is also likely why you hear the title Branding Consultant more often.
Here's what they do:
This is why you need one:
Advice on selecting the right Branding Consultant for you:
Feeling like you might want to try it out? You can set up a Free 30-minute Initial Consultation with J. Fre Consulting HERE!
Speaking of Branding, are you still using YourBusiness@gmail.com? Knock that off. It's cheap and easy to look professional by having YourName@YourBusiness.com as well as Info, Social, Billing, SuperHero, etc. @YourBusiness.com. Click the button below for a Free Trial, then use this Promo Code for 20% your already affordable paid plan: 9AJ6YRX9LH43AW4
Poor employee experience rears its ugly head in many forms. The most common is, arguably, high attrition. It can also show itself in the form of attendance issues, lack of interest in advancement, negative attitudes and drama, or consistently mediocre performance. If your company culture has tanked, here are 3 tips to getting it back in gear:
Talk to the team you have now. Ask them where the company has opportunity for improvement. Give them several avenues to share their opinions and ideas. Make your leadership team and HR team available in time slots for employees to sign up and chat. Put out several ways to share anonymous feedback for those who don’t feel comfortable talking about their opinions, or fear retaliation. Make it easy for them to make suggestions. Then, wait. It will take time for some to feel comfortable enough to share. But, eventually, if you show this is ongoing and not a fly-by-night attempt, you will earn the trust and engagement of many of the game players.
If you are super committed to gaining the feedback of your employees, incentivize it! Put guidelines around it and make it easy, but the most process improvements or thoughtful suggestions made might earn a gift card or another small incentive. You’ll be astounded at the culture that builds around encouraged collaborative improvement!
Make it Personal
Be intentional about your purpose in change. Create a mission, make a plan and stick with it. This will encourage consistency in the message which, in turn, will build trust in a shorter time frame then an ever-changing ideal. It may take serious time, especially for those cultures that are particularly tainted, to turn around and become a positive flow of engagement. Do not give up!
A true commitment to creating a positive employee experience will involve every employee at every stage of their employment. It will look very similar to and be as intense as creating a business plan. In fact, it is a business plan. It is not a bunch of fluff to try to make people happy. It will take the true and authentic vision for the company and embody that mission through unified focus on a complimentary culture. It will not be for the faint of heart. You cannot make changes by throwing a few pizza parties or handing out bonuses. Be prepared for the long haul. The results will amaze you!
Give it Time
This is not a project or an initiative. This is a commitment to lifelong change for a positive work environment and company of growth. A commitment like this will be an investment and a struggle at times, but the results will only be as long-term as you commit to them. If you make a short-term effort, that effort will likely backslide, and things might end up worse off due to lost trust.
You will not become Amazon or Zappos overnight. You might not even ever come close, but you will set your own path and see definite results. Lowered attrition saves on recruiting, on-boarding, and training expenses. Positive cultures breed productivity. If you take those savings and increases, reinvest them back into your team; suddenly you have a long-term, sustainable culture to be proud of.
Taking employee experience from not so desirable to a positive company culture is a long, hard road with abundant destinations. The keys to setting forth on this journey is to work with your current employees, designing a set plan to reach goals, and being patient with the process.
For a plan of action to improve the opportunities in your current culture and processes, please visit J. Fre Consulting HERE to book your Free Initial Consultation. Join the conversation at facebook.com/JFreConsulting!
Remember to nurture those Customer REAL-ationships too! Check out this eBook on shifting to a Customer Focus: Click Here!
Gone are the days where you could take your time and find the ideal candidate without wasting considerable money. No longer is it likely for you to receive an abundance of applicants with one generic job posting. Unemployment is at an all-time low and the worker demand is slim. Below are 5 tips for gaining your ideal candidate:
It’s All in The Details!
Take the time to thoroughly review your job posting. Be sure it fully and honestly includes every skill and experience you require and prefer in the ideal candidate. To be generic may get you more applicants, but they will be applicants that do not necessarily have those skills needed. More unqualified candidates equals unnecessarily long interview processes and wasted time. That doesn’t benefit anyone and has a negative ripple effect.
Identify things about your company that make your employees excited to work there. Identify unique perks you currently offer or might consider offering. (There is a company near me that manufactures boats. That company, with specific guidelines, offers the ability to take out one of their boats for free several times per year. That is unique!) Highlight those unique perks in your Job Posting and when speaking with candidates. Sell your company without begging for help!
People not Numbers
Review your hiring and onboarding process. (If you don’t have a process, create one!) Realize that the interviewing and onboarding process has a large impact on the lives on your candidates and their families as well as their opinion of your company. Dragging your potential hires through a 6-week intensive interview process where they must drive to your location repeatedly and potentially go without income awaiting your decision, just plain isn’t nice. It’s also not a very good initial impression on your new employee(s). Condense your process, maximize your resources, and give options. If you do have a large candidate pool, start your interviews over the phone and go thru several in-person steps in one day. Start your employees off on the right foot, loving their new company. You’ll be glad you did.
What’s it Worth?
Minimum wage has risen drastically over recent years, and many are trying to pay as close to that wage as possible as a result. Pay your positions what they are worth to the company. If you cannot offer a compensation package that is worth what you are asking from people (this includes the stress or drama that may come with your department) then maybe it is not the time for you to hire. Maybe, instead, you need to invest that low salary into assessing and revamping your company culture, so it is a better place to work. Think about it.
Outsourcing and Staffing Agencies
If you don’t have the time or commitment to perform everything above, or you simply would prefer someone else do it right. Instead, spend some time interviewing companies that can staff your position for you from an already established, large candidate pool with qualifications that fit your needs or who can take on a department or section of one and train, operate, and mange it for you. This can be a giant cost savings to you if you choose the right company.
Old practices will no longer get you the same old results. Generational differences and supply and demand shifts have all but eliminated the “I’m just lucky to have a job” mentality. To truly build a successful and efficient team, an environment now must be cultivated for satisfied employees. The true secret in workforce strategy, is asking questions of your current team and potential candidates!
For assistance in evaluating your current processes and a plan of action to improve, please visit J. Fre Consulting HERE to book your Free Initial Consultation. Join the conversation at facebook.com/JFreConsulting!
Don't forget about the customers! Check out this eBook on shifting to a Customer Focus: Click Here!
Have I peaked your interest?
You can drop big money on advertisements that will get your name out there so millions "see" you. You will likely even see this reflected in the amount of Facebook followers you have or website users who visit. The old-school way of thinking is that interrupting as many people as possible with a clever advertisement will be the best way to build a following. Well, let me tell you something, a million "followers" who don't buy anything or pay attention to your business, are not helping you much. And, there goes your money down the toilet. Think about it, how many things do you "follow" online but never look at?
Let's take that a step further. How many of you have a DVR? Do you watch/listen to the commercials? How many of you pay a monthly fee on services like Spotify and Pandora so you don't have to hear advertisements in between your favorite music? Do you have a pop-up blocker on your internet browser? Mic drop. Point made. But seriously, do you have any questions?
Authenticity is everything in relationships. You can't build trust through a mask.
We hope you find the following information useful and helpful as you embark on the digital marketing for your small business. If you have any questions on the following content, you can contact us anytime via the method you choose HERE..
1. Critique your Website
Your website is your online location. It's your store front (whether you have eCommerce or not). It should look professional and appealing on computers, tablets, and mobile. When your potential customers are cruising around virtual Southern Minnesota, this is where you want them to stop.
There are several different options to build a basic template website of your own or you can have someone do it for you. Wordpress and Weebly are options for building a website on your own. If you truly want it to look good, you will likely need a bit of HTML understanding, but you can create a decent website of your own for free. If you are technically inclined, there are several popular freelancer websites where you can find someone to design a website for you at a reasonable price or you can keep it local to Southern Minnesota and check out MankatoWebsites.com
Your brand is also very important here. It should be transparent to your vision as a company. I am a giant advocate for placing as much of your prices online as possible. If you have set prices, there is no reason you shouldn't be able to put your prices out there unless you are embarrassed of them, unsure of them, or they are ridiculously inflated. I recently found a fitness facility nearby run by a giant brand that I will not mention. They did not list their membership rates on their website. Using the contact us page, I asked what they were. 2 days later I had not received an answer, so I sent them a Facebook message from their very active Facebook page. They had integrated a Chat that gave sample questions including "What is the cost of your services?" 24 hours later I had not received a response. Normally, at this point I would give up. I was pretty determined being finding a place in that town was necessary, and their website and social media "looked" great and they were operated by that big brand. I called, the gal had the information I wanted, but she had to put me on hold to go get it and wasn't super friendly, then advised me they would be closing in a few months. Was I surprised after the experience I had so far? Not one bit.
Most consumers want to do a majority of their assessment of a company and its products/services online. Making them call you for information in a poor attempt to negotiate a better price or simply because it may need updated once in awhile is lazy and shady. Your potential customers will see thru that and run. If they "need" you, they will reluctantly deal with you, but only until something better comes along.
2. Get Found
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is going to become your favorite acronym. Or, possibly one you love to hate. Either way, there are a few basic best practices you can use to help your case in terms of where on the results page you land when others search Google for your services.
Go to Google.com right now and search whatever you want. There may be text ads that pop-up on the top or bottom of the page that are notated with "Ad". There are also possibly small ads with pictures that show up in the right-hand column notated with "Sponsored". These cost money. (That's another article.) Let's stick to what's essentially free.
There are 10 results that show up on that first page (and every page after that, for that matter) outside the paid ads. When was the last time you went to the second page of your search results? I'd feel pretty confident betting on it being awhile, if not never, unless you are in a line of work or school requiring some serious research. The goal, obviously then, is to fall in the top 10. (Most research shows that even falling below the top three makes it much harder to be clicked, but let's start with a goal of top 10.)
Who are your customers? What's your target market? What do you solve for them? These are questions answered within your full marketing plan (also another article). What are your customers searching to, hopefully, find you? These words are your keywords and your best friends. If you need some help with this, go HERE. Tons of free tools to use to identify your current common keywords and phrases as well as suggestions. Once you've identified them, use them on your website, especially within Titles and Headers (also handy to know a bit of HTML here to really embrace this). We could write an entire book on SEO and there are already many books, websites, and YouTube videos devoted to it. Take a look HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
3. Embrace SMM
Depending on your industry, the ideal platforms to be on may vary a bit, but really, everyone should be on Facebook. And based on the way the trends are moving in the way of video, YouTube is a good choice for everyone as well. If you're specifically B2B or in a recruiting industry, LinkedIn is a good choice. Twitter is also a popular choice. Other popular options include Google+, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest round out the Big 8.
If you are starting from scratch on Social Media, start with one of two and research and test the best times to post in order to get the most engagement. Be sure to align your website with your social pages and vice versa. They should have a similar "feel" to them, but address their own audiences. This will come in time or with the help of a professional, but the key to using these is coming up.
4. Build Value
Based on those questions in #2, is where you should be focusing when building the content for your website and social media. This should be information that provides some of the answers to the problems that your customers have. My favorite example of this is a mechanic shop. A mechanic providing valuable content for their customers online might show a video tutorial on how to change your oil, an infographic for changing your tire, or take a poll and share finding for the safest car for your new driver. Most customers would still go to that mechanic for bigger projects like part replacement and maybe even their oil changes, but will build trust and show their expertise thru providing that valuable information for free.
Here's an important point: so many new small businesses are afraid of "giving away the goods" for fear they are missing out on money. However, in place of money, you are receiving gaining trust, building a following, and even possibly gaining recommendations and testimonials. This is far more valuable than one purchase.
Did you know that the average person has 350 friends on Facebook and when 1 person follows your company, you then have access to their friends? Did you also know that Facebook is the 2nd most visited website in the world, second only to Google? Facebook is a special search engine. Many users use Facebook as their search engine because they can see if their friends "Liked" the results. Wouldn't you rather try out something you already know your friend used and had a good experience with then ratings from strangers or none at all? Don't you think the long-term ROI on the efforts you put in to the valuable content you "giveaway" far exceeds that one potential "buy" you gave up? Think about it. It's kind of like the difference between companies that send you a note before a free trail ends or before a renewal is due versus those that bank on your forgetting about it to make a buck.
Find out what your customers need from you and give it to them! Do what you do best and spread it over the internet, strategically. You may not see immediate results, but if you don't see a change in sales in 3-6 months, you're doing it wrong.
This is something you can miss that will count as "doing it wrong." If you're not being consistent with your communication and valuable content sharing, you're not staying relevant. Being from small town southern Minnesota, I can personally testify that there have been several times I didn't try a local small business because they either didn't have a website, didn't have a Facebook page, or they had a Facebook page but hadn't posted anything since 2014. This is like telling the world "We are not listening!" "Call us to find out the times we are open and then drive to us to find out what we offer!" "You do the work!" "Our business is not important to us!" If your "location" online doesn't look clean and interesting, I don't want to imagine what your physical location looks like. You cannot convince potential customers to pay attention to you by interrupting them screaming "Buy this now!" or "Call us today!" Attracting consumers by building trust through an open conversation is the key to your efforts. This will return for you several times over in benefit over time.
Remember that fitness center story from #1? You can be consistent in content, but fail at consistency in communication. Nowhere on that website did it mention they were going to be closing. Obviously, nobody is consistently checking their email or facebook messages. Marketing is no longer a "talk at them" process. Its not "selling." You are starting a conversation about your industry. You are attracting consumers to your knowledge. You are maintaining conversations over time and building trust. From that, you have a lifelong relationship if you continue to nurture it.
The other piece of consistency is the posting on your social media. There are automation systems that can help you post across your pages. This allows you to sit down for a day and work hard creating and researching valuable content for your customers and scheduling them over the following weeks to post so you don't have to go on each page everyday. Note: Check the email that your website's contact us page directs to and all messengers everyday. If you choose to use these automation systems, it is vital for you to push all messenger communications to your phone so you see them real-time. The more consistent and timely you are in your responses, the more trust you will build with your followers.
6. Build Your List
Email marketing is the most important thing you can do for your business. There are several systems available for email automation. These are user-friendly systems that help you to create landing pages to solicit email addresses from your customers, help you create professional emails to send to your customers on a regular basis, and keep track of the success of the calls to action you placed in those emails.
MailChimp and Constant Contact are just a few and have very different abilities. These can also integrate with the social media marketing automation system you choose from above. So do your research on what will achieve what you desire and take advantage of any free trails and free versions you can so you can get used to what you like and works well for you.
Get started by having an official email address for your company. Pay for one and direct several aliases to your main email. For instance, with G Suite you can create firstname.lastname@example.org and aliases of social, billing, bill, mary, and so on, and direct them all to go to your primary email of email@example.com to respond from. This is perfect for the new small business that wants to look like a Pro. Go to https://goo.gl/Q2jYYd and use Promo Code 9AJ6YRX9LH43AW4 for 20% of a Business Plan thanks to our affiliate relationship!
I always struggle with whether to start or end here. Nobody wants to talk about statistics and analytics right off the bat, so I end with it. That being said, this is not really a step-by-step list, but rather a cycle. Without being aware of the traffic to your website and social media pages, it is hard to set goals or understand progress. There is also an abundance of free information to pinpoint and market to specific people who would love you before they even know you, if you know what tools to use, how to extract them, understand them, and use them.
Each social platform has its own way of assessing and tracking analytics or "insights." Get used to them. Google Analytics is a free tool you can use to track your website traffic and who is visiting. There are plugins for this on Wordpress and its pretty easy to add to Weebly websites. If you have your website designed, have your designer add it. The code is added to the back-end of your website in order to read the data.
Google Analytics has its own academy you can go thru for free in order to learn how to run your own reports to pull out the information you want. You can also consult with someone like us or possibly your designer in order to set up reports for you, if necessary.
A few times, I mentioned the order of these tips. The truth is, this is a cycle. A circular, never-ending list to revisit and reassess. The most popular social media platforms change. SEO algorithms change. It is a cycle to continue in order to stay a successful small business in southern Minnesota, or anywhere you might be.
If you found value in this information, join the conversation with us on Facebook!
*Information pulled from the April 30th, 2018 blog at https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-statistics-for-social-media-managers