When considering marketing options for new business, owners often ask about websites.
Questions like Do I really need a website? or How much will I have to spend? are frequently on their minds. There is a good reason for this – a website is a major investment of time and resources.
So if this is something that you've been thinking about, keep reading! We've compiled the following considerations, recommendations, and cost estimates to help you.
Question 1 -- Do you need a website?
Yes. A website is a recommended investment in the success of your business.
A well-developed website:
Note: There are a very few small businesses that can survive totally on word of mouth or by having a great location. But for the vast majority of businesses, prospective customers will use the website as a verification that you are a real business.
Question 2 – how much should you expect to spend?
The answer depends on your business situation - the type of business, the profile of preferred customers and the marketing strategy to attract them.
Effectively launching or reinvigorating a business goes beyond creating a website and includes developing a marketing strategy with more than one way to attract customers. So how much you should spend depends on several factors -- look for options that fit your business goals and budget.
Thanks for reading! For questions on websites or marketing strategies to grow your business, contact us.
If you're opening a new practice or want patients to find you more easily, put your practice on the map! Registering to be found is one of the key building blocks to an effective local marketing strategy.
Start by creating a profile that accurately describes your mission, services, and contact information.
Then claim your profile at these sites:
1) Google. When you open a new practice, sign up at Google My Business. This is one of the first actions you should take because listing with Google can literally “put you on the map” (Google Maps) and get your practice hours, phone number and location shown on the map results. Once you're in their system, you can add photos and videos to enhance your information. In addition, Google offers the option to add posts to your listing, noting any specials, new services, or events. You can even feature your latest blog. These posts can help your practice stand out -- and you don’t have to pay for this feature.
2) Bing Though Google is the dominant search engine, 1 in 5 people use Bing, to complete and verify your profile on this search engine as well.
3) Yahoo comes in third for search engine usage. Now Yahoo has partnered with Yext on their listings and they try to confuse you into paying for the Yext service, but if you look closely and scroll down past the paid options, you can still obtain a free listing.
4) Yelp – a surprising number of people look at Yelp reviews for healthcare practices and providers.
To claim your listing, first check here to see if your practice is already listed.
Then if your practice is not yet listed, click ‘add your business to Yelp’, enter your information and submit.
Please note that you will need to confirm the email address you provide to complete your business submission.
If your practice is already listed, here's how you can claim it.
5) Patient review and rating sites are also important – Check your profiles at sites like HealthGrades.com, ZocDocs, Vitals.com and RateMDs.com
In addition, depending on your practice type and situation, there are other sites and organizations that may be worthwhile to consider. If you are willing to pay a fee, local groups may also offer listing opportunities -- for example, listing with your local Chamber of Commerce is usually worthwhile.
Remember to verify and maintain accurate information on search sites. This is important whether you're in a new practice or one that's well established.
Once you are registered, set up a schedule to review your listings on a regular basis to make sure they reflect the current state of your practice. Be sure to reflect changes in practice hours or services and check for new reviews. Four Tips on maintaining your online reputation.
For help with creating or maintaining your online presence, call Broad Reach Marketing for more information.
Thanks for reading!
Social Media - it's everywhere!
Both large and small organizations use social media. Large companies are most visible and usually use multiple channels, but small businesses are active as well – in fact, over 41% of small businesses use Facebook to support their marketing efforts.
And no wonder -- social media can be used for both outgoing and inbound communications. Organizations can listen and monitor for customer service and public relations feedback as well as communicate and engage their target market.
But you may have noticed that some organizations get more out of their efforts than others. Their audience likes, shares and comments more often, resulting in greater awareness and better connections.
What are the keys to these successful social media programs?
1) Specific Goals
First, these organizations are not just "doing" social media. They start with objectives that are aligned with organizational goals and values. Social media is often used to support specific objectives, like growing awareness for a new offering, communicating brand and organizational values, or supporting recruitment.
2) Audience Knowledge
The program is built on knowledge of the target customer and what interests them.
3) Offers Value
Social media should include information and topics of interest to engage. Posting information that is entertaining, or that customers might not find elsewhere (like exclusive notices of sales or coupons), and encouraging interaction is key. These organizations think of social media as a conversation with their followers rather than a sales announcement tool. With social media, you have to earn your following, so any sales messages have to be subtle and sprinkled through the other messages – less than 20% of the content.
4) Prioritized Tactics
Successful social media programs take time and consistent effort to build a following. To maximize resources, efforts are focused on channels that appeal most to the target market and fit the organization’s content. They try to be where the potential market is, but don’t try to be everywhere! Better to excel at two channels than have a scattered presence on five.
5) Team Effort and Coordination
Coordination helps get the best out of social media. For small business as well as larger ones, a designated team and coordinated calendar are essential. Planning consistent messaging across platforms, knowing in advance of events and other initiatives, leveraging the following on one channel to point to content on another, and having a reliable source of fresh content are benefits of a well-coordinated team.
6) Clear Guidelines
Many industries have regulations and restrictions on what can be made public. In addition, it is a good idea to have ground rules that employees may refer to when posting or re-posting/retweeting information about the organization.
7) Measurements, Analysis and Adjustments
Success social media efforts are tracked and measured so they can be continually improved. Simple measures like shares, likes, retweets and comments can indicate engagement. A growing number of followers can indicate awareness. Depending on the goals, there are other measures as well:
Great social media programs have their finger on the pulse of the audience and stakeholders. Feedback collected from customers and employees is used to refine the content and can be valuable to marketing and business growth decisions.
Thanks for reading! How does your organization run their social media programs? What have you found that works best?
If you have questions or would like to explore team-based social media marketing, please contact us.
Image credit: John Atkinson's Cartoons
Broad Reach Marketing helps professional practices and local businesses engage and retain customers with practical, effective branding, strategy and promotions.
We love to help good ideas and organizations grow!
Other articles you may find interesting:
How to Make it Easier for Patients to Find Your Practice
4 Tips for Protecting your Online Reputation
Would you like your business to be the subject of positive conversation?
Many Business success stories start just that way -- by word of mouth – or as it is referred to now -- WOMM (word of mouth marketing).
Today, along with traditional verbal interchange, social media is also a prevalent means for communication. So when discussing WOMM from a marketing perspective – lets look at what we are trying to achieve:
But what actually is considered word-of-mouth marketing? Traditionally, it was a verbal exchange of positive information about your business between people on the phone, face to face, or maybe in a letter. Now with the rise of social media, word of mouth marketing has more tools to amplify it. But the principles stay the same:
Someone is motivated to say something nice about a product, brand or business.
Statistics show that person-to-person WOMM is by far the most effective form of marketing you can create:
So can everyone use WOMM ? What are the keys?
Have a WOW factor
The best WOMM features a “WOW” factor -- something that provides customers with such an wonderful story, product or service that they can’t help but share their experience with friends, family, co-workers (and maybe even the person behind them in the check out line).
Keys to the WOW factor:
Be Relevant and Authentic
Coconut Bliss This little company seized on a need that was not being filled for a distinct consumer segment – an organic dairy-free alternative dessert. They developed this unique product and started by encouraging WOM - they held tasting parties and demonstrations to generate awareness and interest, and encouraged their fans to petition stores to carry their products.
Do something exceptionally well
A prime example of this is a focus on delighting customers. When consumers have an exceptional experience with an organization, they tend to talk about it – just like they like to complain when they’ve been frustrated. Companies like Zappos, Amazon and others have grown successfully through making customer satisfaction a priority ingrained in their culture.
Alternatively, offer an unexpected extra gift with an order, or are willing to go the extra mile .
Have a mission beyond profit:
The first thing I heard about Tom’s shoes or Warby Parker was about the non-profit work they support – not comfort, fit or product performance! These, and other B corporations have stories people feel good about sharing.
Make it easy and rewarding for your customers to talk about you:
Even where there’s a great story for word of mouth sharing, people are busy, so make it easy to refer or share. The rewards don’t have to be large, but should be relevant to your target market.
Thanks for reading,
For help in leveraging word of mouth marketing, give us a call.
If you’re not sure if you have a WOW factor, you may be interested in next week's post.
Put your business on the map!
If you're opening a new business or serve local customers, one of the first things you do is to make it easy for customers to find you.
Start by creating a profile that accurately describes your brand and services, then claim your profile at these sites:
1) Google. If you are a small business targeting local customers, signing up at Google My Business is one of the first actions you should take. Listing with Google can literally “put you on the map” and get your business hours, phone number and location shown on the map results of the leading search engine. Once you're in their system, you can add posts to your listing, noting your specials, new products or other offers. This can help your business stand out -- and this service is free.
2) Bing Though Google is the dominant search engine, 1 in 5 people use Bing.
3) Yahoo comes in third for search engine usage, Yahoo has partnered with Yext on their listings and they try to confuse you into paying for the Yext service, but if you look closely and scroll down past the paid options, you can obtain a free listing.
4) Super pages – this site can come up in a search -- blank or inaccurate profiles could turn off a prospective customer.
5) Manta – Manta is another frequently used listing that can be helpful for both business and personal professional profiles.
In addition, depending on your business type and situation, there are other sites and organizations that may be worthwhile to consider, such as Citysearch, Business Journal, or Hotfrog. If you are willing to pay a fee, local groups and industry specific sites may also offer listing opportunities -- for example, your local Chamber of Commerce, The Better Business Bureau or Angie's List.
Registering to be found is key building block of a local marketing strategy.
Whether you’re a new business or one that’s been around a while, remember to claim, verify and maintain accurate information on search sites. Review them periodically to make sure they reflect the current state of your business – especially if you move, change business hours or expand your services or product line.
For help with creating or maintaining your online presence, call Broad Reach Marketing for more information.
Thanks for reading!
Please share if you find this helpful.
Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com
Ready to share your zeal for your idea? If you've read our previous posts, you have an idea of the essential material to include. Now we'll talk about the actual presentation.
Tips for Engaging an Audience
1) See if you can tell a story. You will most likely be competing with many other groups for funding -- and stories are more memorable than facts. For instance, a good way to begin your presentation is by exploring what motivates you. Is the “Why” of building the business compelling or inspiring? Will what you are doing make a “dent in the universe”? Does the founder or team have unusual histories or characteristics? Has your progress or testing so far exceeded expectations? You get the idea.
2) Use visuals – graphics, diagrams, and pictures. Short videos can also be effective to explain part of the presentation.
3) Apply analogies, anecdotes, similes and metaphors when possible.
4) Present as a team. If you have a team member who is confident in their presentation skills, have them explain the ideas and slides that apply to their area of expertise. At minimum, have them available for questions. This can demonstrate a depth of resources and commitment that ensures investors there is an intellectual critical mass behind your venture.
Helpful General Presentation Tips:
It helps to remember the LSO Rule (Legible, Simple, Obvious):
Use text that is large and in charge! If they can’t read it, they won’t be able to understand it
Use a simple, readable font
Have a good contrast on the slides -- Dark letters on white or very light backgrounds is best. Colors are great for accents, but think carefully before using reverse slides (dark or red with light color lettering) as these can be hard on the audience’s eyes.
Simple – use short sentences and one idea per slide. Make sure you know the point of the slide.
Obvious – Don’t make the audience guess at what you mean.
Explain acronyms and technical words
Label your graphs and charts clearly
Use graphics that can be understood at a glance. You can test if a slide is obvious by showing it to someone uninvolved with your idea. Ask them to tell you what it means. If they don’t immediately say your idea, try explaining and redesigning until it works.
Overall -- Be succinct and to the point. There may be 100 reasons why your idea and company is great, but people will only remember 3 – 5 them. So evaluate and list the critical ones and then limit your presentation to slides that express or support them. Maintain eye contact and keep your momentum going; be aware of time limits. Have a good close -- practice a short summary that emphasizes the key strengths of your team, market opportunity and product fit.
In closing, I have attached some presentation tips that will help you connect with most audiences.
A final note about the Q&A that follows your presentation:
In some audiences, you may encounter challenging questions and some might seem like criticism. You’ve worked hard and poured a great deal of yourself into the idea, so you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel at least a bit defensive. Take a deep breath and stay calm! Listen and try to explain using their words or building on their thoughts rather than defending in a point / counter point style. (This is easier said than done – but by applying good listening skills, disipline and practice it is a winning tactic to use!)
This blog post is based on many resources as well as experience and observation. If you are working with a business coach or incubator, be sure to check their resources. Additional resources are noted below.
Some helpful links:
Kauffman videos on creating a strong presentation:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/270420 (Good short article on stories)
Best pitch deck examples: http://onboardly.com/startup-pr/best-startup-pitch-decks-of-all-time/
You’ve got a great business idea, put together a team, created a business plan and are furiously working. Bootstrapping has worked so far, but now you're at the point where you need capital to expand on your idea. That's a new ballgame, so to speak, and it involves...
Pitching to investors
To gain the needed cash, you’ll have to convince investors your idea is extraordinary and worth risking their time and money. A key tool you'll need is a pitch deck.
So what do you need to build a pitch deck? What is the best way to get started?
Like any presentation, begin by thinking of your audience -- Investors. Your job is to convince them that you, and your idea, will potentially give them a good return on their money.
The basic areas you'll want to cover in your pitch are: Market, Team, and Technology.
Market - Who will buy and why:
What is the problem you’re solving and how big is the market? What segment of this market can you reach, and what is your go-to-market strategy?
How is your solution better than alternatives currently available? What facts or research support this?
Founder / Team – Who are you and your team:
What unique background, education, experiences and talents show you are qualified and driven to succeed.
Technology - How your unique and competitive idea will work:
Do you have a business model that can generate an ROI?
Is it sustainable?
Do you have defensible Intellectual property or other barriers to entry?
What are your goals and plan to get there?
Once you have the essentials of your pitch deck pulled together, it’s helpful to think about the logical order of the presentation and what to include on each slide.
We'll give you more information on the slides in the next post: “Eight slides for a perfect pitch”.
Thanks for reading -- have a good week!
You’ve got big dreams ...
and a great idea for a business.
But striking out on your own seems incredibly risky.
In fact, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), over 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years.
But then again, if you never try you’ll never know -- and that can be a huge regret as well.
So go for it! Just do it in a way that gives you the best odds for success. One of the first things you can do to even out those odds is start with a solid value proposition.
If you haven't created a value proposition before, don't worry. There's more than one way to do it, and two of them are listed below to help guide your thinking.
Option One -- Two simple sentences
The first sentence has four parts:
The second sentence clarifies:
Option 2 - Just three questions
Creating a value proposition is helpful not only as a guide for your thinking, but to refer to later in your marketing.
Have you used either of these? Which do you prefer, or have you used something better?
We always welcome your questions and comments!
*The example is only for illustration. As far as I know, it's not a real idea.
About our Blog:
Marketing Tips is dedicated to providing busy professionals and local businesses with information on marketing trends, strategy and tactics in a way that is both accurate and easy to read.