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I wrote a post in May for Balihoo’s blog  providing suggestions for how busy national marketers can quickly implement simple marketing measurements to improve their business. The concept also applies for small business  as a bit of measurement and related action is certainly better than none!

Marketing measurement ensures you are paying attention to what is working and what is not working related to your marketing investments. And, it  enables you to improve some efforts with simple tweaks. Here are the first steps I suggest for small businesses (This will take you less than 15 minutes).

1) Identify all marketing efforts you have in place and marketing campaigns you have run  in the past 6 months. Get these on paper! (This includes Yellow Page listings, Facebook pages and posts, your website, direct mail, advertising, etc)

2) Now indicate which of these marketing tactics you currently track results and/or have marketing metrics

3) Finally, identify if you have the ability or tools to track results from the remaining tactics.

That’s it for now…we will start to look at the various tactics in the next week and see what tracking metrics you can quickly put in place, and how you can  use the resulting information.

Here’s to smart marketing,

Susan

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As many of you know,  I have lately blogged at Balihoo, where I work, and have not been doing as much on rootbeermarketing.com. BUT…I think many of the Balihoo posts are relevant and useful to small business. Below is one that will be on the Balihoo site early next week. Let me know what you think…are you ready to do a Google Ad Word test? Maybe Beyoncé or The White House will be your next new customer!

I just read a great article, at the NYTimes.com, outlining a small business’ success using Google Ad Word. Definitely check it out!

My key take-aways from the article:

1. Be creative and specific with your keywords
2. Test, learn, repeat
3. Have a plan for how to continue the conversation with the customer–such as, a compelling website or microsite.
(FYI: This small business has done business with Beyoncé and The White House…and, in both cases, the company was found via online search!)

Have you tested any keywords lately? What have you learned? How have you improved your results?

I was traveling this weekend and while I was on the plane I came across an informative article in PC Today magazine, “Web Basics–A business guide to getting started.” The article provides an overview on how to get started with your website development and provides a listing of website creation software and web hosting services.

Definitely worth a quick read if you are about to embark on building a website for your small business.

A few weeks ago, I attended Idaho Startup Weekend. Startup weekend is a 54-hour adventure where teams of technical and non-technical people get together to concept and build new businesses. These weekends are held in over 100 cities throughout the world. Although most of the business concepts are web and technology-focused, it occurred to me, many existing small businesses could benefit from a similar exercise. 

Two key Startup Weekend “learnings” for already-formed small businesses:  

1)      You can do a LOT in 54 hours (or even 24 hours). Take one weekend, gather the best and brightest people you know from various fields, and focus on your business and business growth.  When a smart group of people focus on one problem/challenge (food and beverages add to the fun) for a defined set of time, amazing things can be accomplished.

2)      Don’t be afraid to QUICKLY reach out (and I mean “real time” quickly) to more experts. For our start-up weekend team, we needed a mobile application developer and a graphic artist. We sent out requests via twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, plus made a few phone calls. Within minutes (no exaggeration) we had resources available. If you get to a point in your weekend work session where you have a legal, financial, technical, marketing, or other question…have everyone tap their networks. Resources are out there, and they are actually quite willing to help. There is a camaraderie and community built within these types of exercises. 

Lastly, this is somewhat obvious, but worth stating– remember to end your weekend session with an action plan or at a minimum “next steps.” It’s easy to be excited and motivated after a focused period of planning and teamwork; it’s harder to maintain the momentum when everyone goes back to their day-to-day routines. 

10 minute action

Obviously, a weekend session (dare I call it a retreat?) requires more than 10 minutes. But, take 10 minutes to think if this type of exercise would help you in growing your business or overcoming a current business challenge.

Large companies spend a considerable amount of time and resources developing their strategic positioning and the corresponding “positioning statement.” The process includes competitive analysis, long-term vision development, audience segmentation…and so on.

For most small companies, a simple positioning statement is a good starting point, and sometimes it is all that is needed to stay on track and keep your marketing moving in the right direction. The positioning statement is a concise sentence (or two sentences, at most) describing what your company/product does and what distinguishes you from your competition.

Here is the formula for a simple positioning statement (this is a fill in the blank exercise):

Company/Product: _________
Provides/Offers/Delivers: (explain what the company/product is or does)
To: (target customer)
Uniquely: (competitive differentiation/customer benefit)

I performed this exercise for rootbeermarketing.com in about 10 minutes. Below are the steps I used to get to the simple positioning statement. This is an iterative process…in 10 minutes, you should be able to get to a usable statement. But, after using it awhile, reflect on if it is on-target. If not, spend a little more time with it. Also, run it by a few of your customers; see if it resonates with them. You also want to evaluate your positioning statement on a regular basis, especially as your company adds new products and/or expands in to new markets or customers segments.

Step 1: Quickly fill in the blanks…don’t spend too much time thinking about it. I will use my rootbeermarketing.com exercise as the example.

Company Product: Rootbeermarketing.com
Provides/Offers/Delivers: big company marketing ideas
To: small businesses
Uniquely: In a way that is easy and quick to use

Step 2: Use it in your 30 second introduction.  A 30 second introduction is how you quickly explain verbally what your company/product does. It’s also how you introduce yourself at networking functions or answer the infamous “what do you do?” question.

“Hi. I’m Susan Tormollen. I host rootbeermarketing.com, providing small businesses with easy-to-use and quick-to-execute marketing actions based on big company marketing concepts.

Step 3: Evaluate if this is the best way to present your company/product. Does it clearly and concisely explain the company, name the target customer, and communicate your unique attribute as a benefit to your customer? In the rootbeermarketing example, I pondered…

Is rootbeermarketing.com a company, a blog, a website, a resource?
Do I offer “smart” marketing concepts (like my blog states)? Is that what the customer wants? Is it really unique?
Am I providing marketing insights to small businesses or to small business owners? What type of small business owners?
Are the “10 minute actions” the “product” I am providing, or the unique differentiator?

Step 4: Tighten the positioning statement.
Here, I try it again, and admittedly, this takes a couple attempts before I get to the version I feel is most accurate.

Company/Product: rootbeermarketing.com, a blog
Provides: actionable marketing ideas based on big company marketing concepts
To: busy, small business owners
Uniquely: in easy-to-use and quick-to-execute “10 minute actions”

“Hi. I’m Susan Tormollen. I host rootbeermarketing.com, a blog providing busy, small business owners with actionable, easy-to-use and quick-to-execute “10 minute marketing actions” based on big company marketing concepts.

Step 5: Practice your 30 second introduction. Make sure  it rolls off your tongue every time you introduce your company and what you do. Feel free to add a benefit-oriented sentence, or elaborate a little more to in order to provide a  personalized message.

“Hi. I’m Susan Tormollen. I host rootbeermarketing.com, a blog providing busy, small business owners with easy-to-use and quick-to-execute “10 minutes marketing actions” based on big company marketing concepts. The 10 minute actions help busy business owners, like yourself, do smart marketing quickly.

Step 6: Run in by your customers, get feedback. So, for the rootbeermarketing.com example…let me know what you think.

10 minute action x 2:

    First 10 minutes: Fill in the simple positioning statement. (Steps 1-4)
    Second 10 minutes: Practice your 30 second introduction (Step 5).
    Lastly, run it by a few customers. Sidenote…as I worked on this exercise, I realized I have been inconsistent in how I refer to the blog/company. I’ll need to decide (quickly) on a consistent name and capital letter structure. Do I refer to this “business” as rootbeermarketing.com, rootbeermarketing.com blog, or Root Beer Marketing? I’ll keep you posted, as this actually opens up a small can of worms, and a lot of thinking…

The first step for promoting your small business blog and website is self-promotion/cross-promotion. These steps are simple and quick, and it’s a great way to keep you top-of-mind for all the people who already know you and your business.

1)      Put your URLs on all your social media pages.

  • If you have a Facebook page, list your URLs and do an entry talking about your newest post, web update, or even a quick “If you know someone who needs X, make sure to send them to my website http://www.yourcompanyhere.com
  • If you use LinkedIn, add it to your profile under the blog and websites section, and talk about it in your “post an update” area.

2)      If you have a blog independent of your website, link to it from your website, and vice versa.

3)      Include your website and blog URL on your business cards, brochures and promotional materials (and while we are at it, consider putting your BUSINESS phone number on all your online promotional spaces—of course, be careful about including home, personal or combination phone numbers online).

Here’s a little case study: I did #1 above and put my blog on both my Facebook page and my LinkedIn page. Within 24 hours, over 10% of my Facebook and LinkedIn contacts had clicked on my blog.

Simple and efficient–that’s smart marketing!

10 minute action:

  • Do the first 2 actions listed above. It will take 10-20 minutes depending on how familiar you are with content updates on your social media sites and website.
  • Next time you reprint your printed marketing materials, add your website and blog URLs
  • Let me know what type of spike you see in clicks following your self-promotion/cross-promotion.

 

 

I was just checking my email at the GoDaddy.com site and came across Bob Parson’s “16 rules for success in business and life in general” (Bob is CEO and Founder of GoDaddy.com, and has also founded many successful software companies).  Check it out…I think it’s a good reminder, plus I always like being encouraged by other entrepreneurs.

Here are the 2 things that resonated with me during my 5 minutes on the site:

1) Rule #8 Be Quick to Decide — “A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow” (General George S. Patton). 

Do you agree?

2) The GoDaddy.com site brings to life the company’s brand personality;  I recall when I set up my account with them, the customer service representative and tech support folks, also had the same sense of entrepreneurial spirit, urgency, and fun, all without taking themselves too seriously. It’s a good example of a company embracing their brand. (per our last blog post)

Have a great day. Happy Selling!