#marketing

EMAIL/CAN-SPAM

You may think email is a no-brainer when it comes to marketing your business but it’s important to adhere to the laws regulating email communication.

You may think email is a no-brainer when it comes to marketing your business but it’s important to adhere to the laws regulating email communication.

Having owned and operated my business for over 35 years, I’ve amassed a long list of tips and marketing tricks that I enjoy sharing with other business owners. In part one of our series, I introduced a fantastic resource that Google provides FOR FREE! If you haven’t already, here is why you should claim your free Google My Business Listing. In part two we discussed how to use video for small business marketing. Video is so important and if you aren’t already implementing its use I can show you some ways to get on the bandwagon!

You may think email is a no-brainer when it comes to marketing your business. There are nearly 4 billion active email users around the world, so it makes sense! However, improper use of email when reaching out to prospects can create major problems for your business. In the U.S., the CAN-SPAM Act includes a list of laws regulating commercial emails. The GDPR in the E.U. and Canada’s CASL laws may also apply to you if your business engages with international customers.

Resource # 3: Email (with consent)

Email for Small Business

Got consent?

The laws regulating email communication are intended to protect and violating them can result in tough penalties for your business.

Here is a summary of CAN-SPAM’s main requirements:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information.Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines.The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad.The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located.Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly.Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipients opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that sends the message may be held legally responsible.

Understanding Permission

Permission is the act of getting consent from a subscriber to send them commercial email marketing messages. There are generally two types of permission: implied permission and express permission. You have implied permission to email someone if you have an existing business relationship with them.  Think of a someone who is a current customer or an active member of a community forum that you run.

If you don’t have implied permission, then you’ll need express permission to email a person. You are granted express permission when someone enters their email in a subscribe form on your website.

Companies that build permission-based email lists usually see the fruits of their labor with high open and click through rates on their campaigns.

My advice is to collect data correctly. Covered in my book in a section titled, “Warm Calling”, be clear about why you are collecting information and how you intend to use it. Use full disclosure and ask for explicit permission to send email.

How to Grow Your Email List

Here are some creative ways to grow your email list while adhering to privacy laws:

  • – Add a subscription area to your website.
  • – Offer a lead magnet: Create a compelling piece of content that requires an email address before the download is available.
  • – Add a “Sign Up” button to your business Facebook page.
  • – Warm Calling. Covered in my book, I provide real life examples of how I collect email addresses and how you can too!

Effective email marketing converts your leads into customers, and your customers into brand advocates. When building your lists, be clear about why you are collecting information and how you intend to use it. Use full disclosure and ask for explicit permission to send email.

Video for Small Business

Using video for small business marketing will help you build trust with your audience, promote your products and services, and keep your brand relevant.

Having owned and operated my business for over 35 years, I’ve amassed a long list of tips and marketing tricks that I enjoy sharing with other business owners. Last month I introduced a fantastic resource that Google provides FOR FREE! If you haven’t already, here is why you should claim your free Google My Business Listing.

Marketing can be overwhelming, expensive and time-consuming. But I’m here to help! Next up in my blog series, let’s talk about the who, what, where, when and why of using video for small business marketing.

Resource # 2: Video

Creating a video for small businses

Why is video important?

Have you heard the saying that video content is king? Digital content experts say that video content is one of the hottest marketing tools. From Snapchat to Instagram stories to long form content on YouTube, video is here to stay.

Here are some stats to really drive home that video content is king:

  •  – 100 million hours of video are watched each day on Facebook
  •  – 80% of traffic in 2020 will be video
  •  – 90% of Americans ages 25 – 34 watch online video
  •  – One-third of online activity is spent watching video

Who are you talking to?

Video is a great way to engage with multiple audiences.  Consider creating videos to announce new products or services to your current customers. Video can also be used as a lead generation tool to demo your service, like I’ve done here: Cleanlots Business Marketing video. Think you might be hiring in the near future? Prospective employees are also another audience to consider when building your video content library.

How to use video effectively.

So now you know why video is an important tool to use when marketing your small business. You also know which audiences would benefit from seeing your videos.  Now let’s discuss some best practices when it comes to creating video content.

  • – Practice makes perfect. It may take a little while, but the more you practice, the more comfortable you will become being on camera. Seth Silvers manages a Facebook Group for entrepreneurs that encourages you to get comfortable in front of the camera with his 10 Day Live Storytelling Challenge.
  • – Tell stories. Like every good story, your video should have a beginning, middle and end. Use your voice to showcase the passion you have for your business and your unique qualities.
  • – Don’t forget your CTA. At the end of each video include a call to action. If a viewer has questions, where can they reach you? If they want to see more videos that you’ve created, have you included a way to do so?
  • – Be authentic. You could spend thousands of dollars on production of your video, but if your message lacks authenticity your videos won’t resonate with viewers. Imagine you are talking to just one person. This perspective forces you to have a very clear purpose of your video and your target audience.
  • – Get creative and have fun!

Production Options.

Depending on your budget, comfort with technology and access to equipment, you may decide to produce your video content in a few different ways.

At the higher end of marketing spend is to hire a professional videographer to record and produce your content. While this can be expensive, it can also create a high-quality end product. There are video production companies that will take on low-budget projects, so do your research in your local area and don’t be afraid to share your budget when interviewing prospective video partners.

Another option is to reach out to independent producers. There are websites dedicated to finding freelance producers/videographers and you can also check Craigslist. Ask contractors that you are considering if they shoot and edit their work. What kind of editing software do they use? What type of camera do they typically use?

Maybe you’ve decided to take a DIY approach to your video content creation. Marketing videos are no longer a luxury, they are a necessity, so don’t let a small (or non-existent?) budget prevent you from producing your own content on your smart phone.

Lights. Camera. Action!

Adding video to your marketing toolbox will help you build trust with your audience, promote your products and services, and keep your brand relevant.  Once your content is produced you can use it on your website, via social media platforms and within email campaigns. Have you already started creating video content? I’d love for you to share what you’ve created for your business below in the comments.

Next up in our series we’ll chat about Email and how to use it to effectively market your business.

Why You Should Claim Your FREE Google My Business Listing

One of the aspects I love about being a small business owner is connecting and mentoring others who are building their own business. Having owned and operated my business for over 35 years, I’ve amassed a long list of tips and marketing tricks that I am more than happy to pass along. Let’s be honest, after initial startup fees, marketing usually becomes your largest monthly expense. It’s a necessary evil – if you don’t market, people don’t know you exist. If you spend too much in the wrong place you won’t reach your target audience. Marketing can be overwhelming, expensive and time-consuming. But I’m here to help!

Why You Should Claim Your FREE Google My Business Listing

Find the freebies

What should a small business do when they are starting out or are focused on keeping to a strict budget? My recommendation? Find the freebies first. Now when I say you should start with free; I don’t mean asking your cousin’s sister’s friend who owns a print shop hook you up with some free postcards. (By the way, there is nothing wrong with snail mail as I have found it effective in some instances of my own business.) What I mean by starting with free is that there are legitimate, zero-cost resources available to small businesses- you just have to know where to find them. No favors to repay to your cousin’s sister’s friend. No expenses that will put you into debt.

In this blog series I’d like to tell you about the marketing resources that I’ve found most effective for my own business. This first one may surprise you. (And it’s absolutely FREE!)

Resource # 1: Google

I’m not recommending you go out to Google and search for “Free resources for small businesses”. Actually, that’s always a good idea, but I digress. You’ve heard of Google AdWords and may even have considered throwing a couple hundred dollars a month at it to see if it improves your site traffic. You probably used Google Maps to navigate or like me, use it to locate a new client job site. Likely you have all of your appointments scheduled and organized in Google Calendar. But have you heard of Google My Business? In my opinion, Google My Business is one of the most under the radar tools coming from one of the biggest names in the digital space. It’s shocking to me that so many businesses have websites, but so few have claimed their free Google My Business listing.

Let me help you with these common questions:

  1. What is Google My Business?
  2. What types of businesses should use Google My Business?
  3. Is it beneficial to use Google My Business?
  4. Is it easy to claim your free listing?
  5. What happens if I don’t claim my listing?

What is Google My Business?

This tool was initially launched in June 2014. It was designed as a way to give business owners more control of what shows in the search results when someone searches a given business name. What we’re seeing now is that Google is really pushing for the first page of search results to be a business’s new website. Instead of clicking through to an actual website, Google is making it easier for searchers to compile all their research (location, directions, phone number, email, product and service information, reviews, etc.) about a company without ever leaving the search result page.

“Wait! Google doesn’t want to send folks to my website?”

What we’re seeing here is just a reflection of consumer online behavior. Think about how you interact with google when searching. If Google shows you all of the information you need to make a purchase decision, why click any further?  Now put yourself back in your business’s shoes. If your local competitors all have a plethora of information on their Google Listing and you don’t, which business do you think they are going to be more attracted to?

What types of businesses should use Google My Business?

Are you an internet-based business? There is no reason why you shouldn’t claim your free listing. However, this tool is especially helpful for local businesses, those which rely on attracting local customer into their location. Brick and mortar stores, franchises with multiple locations (GMB allows you to add multiple locations that you serve), and service-based businesses benefit the most from this tool. Google reports that every month there are 5 billion searches for restaurants, 3 billion searches for hotels, and 600 million searches for hair and beauty salons.

Benefits of using Google My Business

I can’t downplay this first benefit. It is FREE! GMB also increases your visibility while giving you control over the content that appears when someone searches your business name. Because Google My Business listings appear both in Google Search and Google Maps, businesses can market their brands, products, or services to users on all devices that use these tools. With a complete and up-to-date Google My Business page, businesses can help potential customers find them and encourage them to buy their products or services.

I’m ready to claim my free listing! How do I do it?

Your free Google My Business listing can be set up in minutes. Visit this link and follow the online instructions. If you prefer a more personal interaction, you can even call Google and they will help you set it up for free over the phone: (1-844-491-9665).

Squatters

It can be alarming to find out that someone else has already claimed your business listing. Before you panic, reach out to anyone who’s had a hand in helping you market your business because it could be that they’ve already taken this step on your behalf. If this isn’t the case, Google provides instructions on how to submit a transfer of ownership request.

I hope I’ve made a compelling case for claiming your free Google My Business listing and that you’ll take advantage of this resource – today! After you’ve claimed your own listing, search for some of your friends’, colleagues or vendors’ businesses. If they haven’t yet claimed their listing I hope you will call them to let them in on this quick, easy, and free tool that will optimize your marketing efforts.

Teaser Alert! In the next part of our series, we are going to talk about video, the how and why a small business can utilize it to help market your business and (gasp!) link to it in your Google My Business listing!

How to Close: The Complete List of Sales Closing Techniques

Like any game in life there are rules to selling, particularly when it comes to how to close a sale. Since there can be so many different variable involved there isn’t one favorable closing style for every situation. It’s not surprising that most salespeople find closing a deal to be the most difficult aspect of selling.

You typically get one chance to close a sale. If you’re successful, the preparation you’ve invested in the whole sales process will pay off in spades. You have to keep in mind that when trying to make a sale, the prospective customer needs to come first. Focus on selling how your prospect will benefit from doing business with you. Don’t sell features. Learn how to close a sale with effective strategies.

No matter what industry you’re in, identifying the decision maker is crucial to closing a sale. If you’re unsuccessful in doing so, you’ll simply be wasting your time. Ask who decides on awarding service contracts or makes purchase decisions. You don’t want to waste your time and effort dealing with anyone else.

Here are some tips on how to close a sale that I’ve found to be effective:

*  Know your competition. Competing for business is tough. Make note of something that you’re doing that your competition isn’t. This can be your biggest selling point.

*  Communicate clearly. It’s important to convey to the prospect that you care about their business and not just in getting a deal done. Speak clearly and confidently. Make eye contact with your prospect. This suggests interest in them and confidence in yourself and in what you’re selling.

*  Smile. Use humor. You’ll close more deals if you can get your prospect to lighten up or even laugh. You want to be real and personable, but also remain professional. Do you have a good story to share that’s relevant?

*Stay positive. Closing a sale is a game of percentages. You won’t close every deal, but over time and experience you’ll become more successful.

Aja Frost shares a number of closing styles on how to close a sale in the post How to Close: The Complete List of Sales Closing Techniques. Check it out.

https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/how-to-closeModern buyers can spot high-pressure closing tactics from a mile away. To sell in 2017, you need a strategy that’ll help them make a decision — not manipulate them. These tactics will help you do just that. How to Close: The Complete List of Sales Closing Techniques

 

How to Raise Prices Without Losing Customers | SCORE

You want to raise prices but you’re concerned how your customers will react when they’re given the news. Sure, a price increase may cost you a client or two but you may still end up increasing your sales. Use a tactful approach to informing your customers that you’re about to raise prices. It may also transform the way you do business.

Retail businesses typically raise prices without their customers noticing too much. But if you own a service business you’ll need to notify your customers in advance of your price increase.

How long has it been since you last raised your prices? What’s your competitors doing? Are prices staying the same or going down as a result of more competitors entering the field? If you decide to raise prices then you’ll need to briefly explain to them your reasons as to why you’re increasing your prices with the focus being on how your customer will benefit.

Clients who are focused mainly on price may decide to stop doing business with you, but are they really the clients you want to keep? They often times also are very demanding with their service expectations and take up more of your time than your other customers. Many times, service business owners discover raising prices results in attracting new, more profitable customers who have no reservations paying a higher price in return for better quality work.

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? Basically, it states that 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your customers. More often than not, this 20% of your client base loves to do business with you and most likely will do more. You need to focus your sales efforts and time on these clients and weed out the undesired and unprofitable.

SCORE and Canon U.S.A., Inc., offers these 5 do’s and don’ts to raise prices without losing customers.

https://www.score.org/resource/how-raise-prices-without-losing-customersYou’ve been tracking your small business’s numbers regularly, and you know it’s time to raise prices. Follow these five do’s and don’ts to raise prices without losing customers. Read more…

 

5 Easy Steps: Create an Elevator Pitch That Will Get You Places – Discover & Learn – RBC Royal Bank

You’ve just bumped into a friend you haven’t seen in a long while. After exchanging small talk, he asks you what your new business does. You start to speak but soon become tongue tied. That’s why you need to perfect your elevator pitch (also known as an elevator speech or elevator statement). It’s a brief description you can use to explain your business to anyone that takes no longer than a short elevator ride, hence the name.

You can use an elevator pitch in a number of situations. For example, you can use one to introduce your business to prospective clients or existing customers. You could use one to tell people about the project or initiative you’re leading. You can create one to inform people what you do for a living. A good pitch explains what makes you, or your business, product, service or project unique.

How you say it is as important as what you say. Practice your pitch until your delivery sounds like a natural conversation. You don’t want to talk too fast, sputter or forget parts of your pitch. Take the time to get your pitch right. Amanda Reaume has written 5 Easy Steps: Create an Elevator Pitch That Will Get You Places. Check it out.

https://discover.rbcroyalbank.com/5-easy-steps-create-an-elevator-pitch-that-will-get-you-places/Here are the five easy steps you need to take to create an elevator pitch that will knock the socks off anyone who hears it: Read more…

 

You’re Missing Local Sales If You’re Not Listed on These 5 Sites – Manta

Once upon a time, not too long ago, a small business had only to place its name, address and telephone number in the yellow pages phone book and then wait for prospective customers to call or visit them. Yellow pages is still with us but has made the shift from hard copy directory to online listings. If you’re trying to improve your local SEO, then you need to get your business listed on YP.com and other influential online business directories.

You don’t have to be a web developer to help your small business show up in local search results. You need only to make sure that your business name, business category, information, imaging and how you want people to contact you is consistent. Start with the 5 online directories which are the most relevant with customers and in search algorithms.

Kitty French provides more details in her post, You’re Missing Sales If You’re Not Listed on These 5 Sites.

http://www.manta.com/resources/small-business-tips/youre-missing-local-sales-youre-not-listed-5-sites/?bt_alias=eyJ1c2VySWQiOiAiMCJ9Posting details about your business correctly on these listings sites is the best way to show up in local searches for your services. Read more…

 

It’s 2017. How Can You Not Have a Website Yet? | TheSelfEmployed.com

A surprising percentage of small business owners in 2017 do not have a website yet. Where do your prospective customers find your business if you don’t have a website? Do you have a social media page? Can they learn more about your business and even make a purchase there? In most cases, the answer is no. A website should be the foundation of your marketing efforts. You can’t hope to compete effectively without one.

It’s fairly easy and inexpensive to create a business website. There are a number of companies that offer DIY website templates you can use to build your own website. Many also help you register your domain name, offer hosting and help you promote your website with local search directories and SEO.

You don’t need an elaborate website if you own, for example, a commercial litter removal business based from home. All you need is 3 or 4 pages with your basic information (contact, services, FAQ’s, About Us, Contact Us page) and links to your social media. This is your “brick and mortar” storefront as you’re operating your business from home. Your website provides you with a virtual 24/7 sales representative.

Check out more from Rieva Lesonsky, including some of the ways you’re missing out if your small business doesn’t have a website.

https://www.theselfemployed.com/start_ups/2017-can-not-website-yet/In a recent Capital One study, just 56 percent of small businesses say they have a company website. Of those, only 53 percent of their websites are mobile-optimized. Read more…