Webinar: August 15 – Which Social Media Site Should I Use To Build My Business?

If you want to promote your business on Social Media, but you can’t decide where to start — this is the webinar for you!

Join me for a special FREE webinar on August 15, sponsored by Deborah Gallant of BoldBusinessWorks.com.

 

You will learn:

  • The demographics and “culture” of the top 6 social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, Pinterest & Google+
  • The keys to success on each site
  • How to determine which one might be right for your business. 
  • Time saving tips and tools
  • and more!

Register Today: http://brinx.it/GBl

Seminar At Staples: Three Simple Steps To Social Media Success

Staples, the company that is known for the “easy” button is now making your Social Media Marketing easier — with the help of yours truly! 

On August 14, 2013, I will be speaking at the Business@Breakfast Meeting hosted by Staples and the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce. 

If you’ve ever stared at your screen and wondered, “How should I promote my business on social media today?” Then this seminar is for you!

I will demystify Social Media Marketing and will share my exclusive three-step formula for successfully maintaining your company’s presence on any social media site. I will  explain exactly how to: 

  • Consistently generate ideas for great social media posts.  
  • Stand out from the crowd, even when sharing someone else’s content. 
  • Easily create engaging posts that target customers will like, comment on, and share with their friends.
  • Strategically network and use social media as a bridge to real-world relationships.
  • Turn your social media activity into leads and sales
  • Save time with insider tips and tools
  • and more!
Simplifying Social Media Marketing? That was Easy!
You can download this flyer for more information and register here: brinx.it/GfP

Twitter: The Redheaded Stepchild Of The Social Media World – And Why It Deserves Your Attention!

Everyday I work with business owners suffering from Social Media Stress Syndrome. They often feel like they need to have an active presence on every social media site — yesterday! 

The first thing I usually do is assure them that they probably do not need to be on every social network.  Then, naturally, the next question they ask is, “So which social media site(s) should I focus on?”  I usually reply, “It depends where your target market is hanging out and discussing subjects/issues related to your products and services.” 

But often, their target market can be found on any or all of the major social media sites.  Then we start discussing the pros and cons of each site.  Nine-times-out-of-ten, they will start weighing the merits of focusing on Facebook  vs. LinkedIn.  

Most of the time I hear “Forget twitter!” Followed by  “I just don’t get it!”  Or “It’s not as popular” Or “I don’t think it could help…”  

At which point I respond, “Hold on…Don’t dismiss Twitter so quickly!”

Then I explain why I often recommend that businesses – especially local businesses that need local customers – should focus on Twitter before Facebook.  

Then I explain why Twitter is worthy of their consideration.

Here are the reasons I give: 

It’s SO much more than “Here’s what I had for lunch”
Many people think that Twitter is just a bunch of people posting what they had for lunch that day, or that they’re standing in line at the bank.  I always explain “That’s where Twitter  may have started — but it has really evolved.”  Now people post really interesting, clever, and useful information on there and there are amazing conversations with brilliant people. There’s a lot of value there. 

Your following grows much faster than on Facebook or LinkedIn
Need to get in front of a lot of people quickly? Forget about Facebook, where it usually takes time to build a large, active, engaged fan base.   In my experience, you can build a targeted audience of followers much faster on Twitter.  

Need Local Customers?  Find ‘Em On Twitter!
Finding targeted people in your geographic location on Twitter is a cinch. And, as you will see below, these people are likely to be “influencers” in your market. 

What Happens On Twitter Doesn’t Stay On Twitter
While Twitter may have less users than Facebook or LinkedIn, Twitter users tend to be serious  “influencers.” According to research by Exact Target, Twitter users are the ones that are much more likely to read, write, and comment on blogs posts, customer reviews, online videos etc. In other words, if members of your target market are on Twitter, then those Twitter users are likely to be the ones that influence the rest of your market. Ignore Twitter at your own peril!

Twitter is easier to learn than Facebook or LinkedIn.
After having taught many Facebook & Twitter Step-By-Step Workshops,  I can tell you that technical part of Twitter is much easier to teach and learn. 

Seriously! Just hear me out… 

I know that many people sign up for Twitter, then look at  it, with all of it’s symbols and abbreviations, and run-for-the-hills because it just looks so confusing…But really, there are only a handful of symbols and shortcuts that you need to know before you can be comfortably tweeting up a storm.  

Ready. Set. Engage!
It’s easier for a company to engage in conversations with an individual on Twitter.  On Facebook, the page that is set up for your business cannot like, share or comment on the posts of individuals, but on Twitter, there is no such barrier.  It’s easier to engage in conversations with your target customers on Twitter.

Managing Twitter can be very convenient.
I find Twitter to be the easiest site to manage, both from Hootsuite (a social media management dashboard where you can schedule your tweets in advance) and  from my cell phone. It’s very straightforward.  It makes it very easy for the business owner to integrate the management of his Twitter account into his daily routine.

It’s great for B2B Businesses
While LinkedIn is known as “The place to be for B2B networking” — Twitter is no slouch in this area either. A recent Forbes article reported “Twitter is the strongest social media channel for generating business-to-business (B2B) leads, outperforming Facebook and LinkedIn 9-to-1 with 82 percent of social media leads coming from Twitter.”  Surprise!

You Tweeted with WHO?!?
Wanna connect with an author, thought leader, or member of the media? Twitter is THE place to be.  On Facebook or LinkedIn, you’re likely to get ignored — but NOT on Twitter.

What Do You Think? 

So, those are the reasons why I *love* Twitter and often recommend that companies start by focusing on growing their Twitter presence before focusing on other social media sites.

Do you agree? Disagree? 

Tell me by leaving a comment below.

Need To Learn How To Use Twitter To Promote Your Business?  

Come To My Twitter Step-By-Step Class On May 29, 2013  at the Vaughan Chamber Of Commerce. It’s a lot of fun! We set up your twitter account and get you tweeting right in class! 

Is it past May 29, 2013? Then check here to see my upcoming classes in the Greater Toronto Area.

 Don’t Live In The Greater Toronto Area?

No problem. I offer the same training, anywhere in the world, via screen-sharing technology.  Here’s what a client recently said after a “virtual” Twitter training:

 “We are a start up online business and were overwhelmed by social media! Sarah, The E-Marketing Maven,  did a great job walking us through Facebook and Twitter via screen sharing. Her presentation was customized for our business needs and she made it all very simple for us. We now consider ourselves social media pros! Thanks Sarah.” – Malka from Label-Land.com 

 Contact Me For More Information Today! 

 

LinkedIn Tip: The Most Efficient and Effective Way To Post A Status Update and Share It With Your LinkedIn Groups

You’ve probably heard that LinkedIn is “The place to be for business-to-business networking” — but how exactly do you network on LinkedIn? 

In the video below, I show you exactly how to network on LinkedIn in two ways, at the same time.  I demonstrate the best way to create a status update on Linkedin, and then how to share that status update with a group and start a discussion. Both of these activities will help establish you as an expert and help you create more connections. Click here to download the step-by-step instructions that go along with this video. 

See Sarah Zeldman, The E-marketing Maven On Daytime TV!

It was great to be on DayTime York Region with my gracious hosts Elaine Yim Spencer & Jeff Moore!  My very first TV appearance!  I particularly loved the question “If Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were hanging over a cliff, and you could only save one, which one would you save?”  – Way to keep me on my toes! Click the link below to watch the segement below and see my “suprise” answer to his surprising question! 

Design Your Website Right: First Understand Why People Come Online

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Most businesses have a pretty online brochure that does not help their business get new customers. If you want to create a direct response website (i.e. a website that is design to convert visitors into leads and sales) you’ve got to go beyond the technology, and understand the psychology of website design.

You have to understand the psychology of website design because it is extremely rare that people will find a website and make a purchase immediately.  Therefore, in order to create a website that will lead to a sale, you must seek to build a relationship with your visitors.

In order to build a relationship with your visitors, it is helpful to keep in mind why people go online in the first place. You’ll see why this information is so important in a minute…

First, here are six reasons why people go online:

  • Search for information – I think we can all agree that people often come online to search for information.
  • Solutions to Problems – Granted this is another kind of “information” that people are seeking, but this kind of “information seeking” is important to you because this is one major way you can position yourself online. You can (and probably should) position your product or service as a solution to a problem.
  • Connect  – People don’t just look for information and solutions, they also come online to connect with and socialize with others who share their interest and values. That’s what the rapid growth of social media is all about. So start thinking about ways that your website can connect with your customer….
  • Research purchases – It’s common knowledge (which I can back up with facts and figures) that more and more people are going online to research purchases, even when they are going to buy the items locally.
  • Order items –  Sometimes, items can’t be found locally, so people go online to order products.
  • Entertainment – People go online to be entertained — some use the internet to watch TV shows they have missed, but many also go to YouTube to be entertained.

As you can see from this list — people go online many different reasons — and only one of those reasons is to buy something.  ANd THAT is why it is so important to focus on building relationships.

If people aren’t coming online specifically to purchase from you, then you’ve got to  show them why they should buy from you. But even if you do tell them why they should buy from you, the sale usually  does not get made instantly —  because people can click away in the blink of an eye.  So in order to really succeed in selling online — you need to learn to give people what they are looking for — information, solutions to problems, connection, entertainment – and build a relationship with them that will lead to a sale.

So how do you design your website to build a relationship that will lead to a sale? I’ll answer that question in my next blog post.

But first, I’m curious, do agree that it’s important to understand why people come online when designing a website? Did I leave out any reasons that you can think of? Please let me know by leaving a comment.

The 5 Core Online Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses

As I said in my last post, for the next few weeks I’m going to be posting the “What and Why” Series.  This series will focus on explaining one internet marketing technique at a time, why it is important for your business, and give you some tips on effectively executing each tactic.  However, before I post my first “What and Why” article, I want to repost a revision version of an article that I posted a few months ago. This article will allow you to see the main strategies involved in using internet to market your business before we drill down deeper the best to accomplish each strategy in the “What and Why” series.

Many small business owners still think that to market their business online, they simply have to put up an attractive website with some information about their business, products, and services. I’m sorry to say, those days are gone.

These days, you have to do more than just put up an “online brochure” and hope that people find it, read it, and are inspired to call you to make an appointment, place an order, or visit your store.

In fact, there are so many strategies and tactics that you can use (and should be using) to market your business online; it can make a small business owners head spin!

But don’t worry, The E-marketing Maven is here to simplify your options and guide you through the process.

When I teach seminars, I always explain that there are five key internet marketing strategies that all companies should use to generate more leads and sales.  Then I list them the strategies in order that they should be accomplished. To be clear, there are many more strategies and tactics that you could use to market your business online, beyond the five steps described in this article, but I think that the steps listed below are the core elements of any successful online marketing efforts. I recommend making sure that you are doing these items correctly, in the order listed below, before you try using other techniques to promote your business online.

Do This First: Create a website that generates lead and/or sales.

These days, many businesses still have a “brochure style” website that looks nice and gives basic information about their business, but they do little to get your phone ringing and your door swinging!

While many people focus on social media marketing these days, I think that you should first ensure that your company’s website is designed to be profitable! No one knows what will happen with social networking sites in the future. It seems unlikely, but sites like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn could go down, decide to charge you an exorbitant price to keep your account, or simply pull your account for no apparent reason at any moment. While social networking is a great strategy to grow your business, I do not recommend putting all of your eggs into the social media basket.

Your website, on the other hand, is your property and it must not be ignored in favor of social media or any other strategy-du-jour.

On the contrary, you should be using all of your online marketing strategies, including social media to bring people back to your website, so that they can get to know your business better and you can capture their contact information  (with their permission, of course) so that you can continue to build a relationship with them. Therefore, it is vitally important that your first online marketing project is to ensure that your website is set up in a way that it generates sales directly, moves your prospects forward in the sales process, and/or captures leads.

Do this Next: Make your website “findable” in the Search Engines.

Simply put, if your website does not show up on Page One of the search engine results when your target customer searches for information related to your business, it might as well not exist. Search engine users rarely make it to Page Two of the search engine results.

There are three steps involved in making your website “Findable” in the search engines. First proper keyword research must performed to determine you’re the best keywords to use on your site. Then those keywords must be place properly on your site, but on the page and in the code. The process of placing the keywords in the right places on your website is known as “on-site optimization”. Ideally, these first two steps should be performed when you create your website, not after-the-fact!

Once the on-site optimization is complete, you must obtain links back to your website from legitimate websites, so that Google sees that you are a legitimate, popular website that is used and referenced frequently. This is an ongoing process. In order for your website to get on page one of the search engine results, and stay there, you must obtain high quality links back to your site on a regular basis. There are many ways to get links back to your site, which I will describe  in the upcoming “what and why series”. One of the most important methods of link- to actively use social media, which brings me to the next step…

And Then: Reach out to your customers, where they are online, and bring them back to your lead generating site.

Once your website is  ready to caputure leads and generate sales, and it is search engine friendly, it’s time get out there and drive targeted visitors to your site.  There are many ways to reach out to your target customers, but (arguably) the most critical method to use is social media.

You can’t ignore it any longer. You’ve got to establish a presence on at least one of the major Social Media sites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube) and engage your prospects there.

According to comScore’s Local Search Usage Study (as reported by Clickz),  69% of consumers today say that they are more likely to interact with and use a local business if they can find it on a social networking site, and the trend continues to grow. Your target customers want to find you on social media, so you should be there. Period. If that doesn’t convice you, consider this: if you business isn’t using social media to promote your business online – you’re competition probably is. Enough said.

In addition to the relationship-building aspects of social media, active use of social media helps your search engine rankings in two ways. First, it   creates high quality backlinks to your website, which help it rank higher in the search engines (Second, some aspects of your social media accounts (like your facebook fanpage) will show up in search engine results. If your accounts are set up properly, then these properties will also drive more traffic to your website.

There is no doubt about the time to get active on social media is NOW.  (Assuming that your website is designed and optimized properly, that is)

Keep It Going: Consistently create high-quality content for your website and social media accounts.

Marketing your business online is like driving a car, if you take your foot off of the gas pedal, you may coast for a while, but eventually the car will stop moving. Similarly, when you are marketing your business online, if you stop adding high-quality content to your website/blog or stop updating your social media accounts, your search engine rankings will slide, you’ll get less visitors to your website, and finally, the number of leads and sales that you are getting will steadily decline. Therefore, in order to effectively market your business online, you must continually add high-quality content to your website and social media accounts.

If you don’t want to regularly write blog posts or add posts to your social media accounts — don’t worry, there are several ways you can put your content creation on “Cruise Control”.  Naturally, I will discuss these methods in future blog posts.

Finally: Measure your Results, and Modify Your Plans Accordingly.

One of the greatest advantages to marketing your business online is that almost every aspect of Internet marketing can be tracked and measured. Your web designer should install Google Analytics so that you can receive monthly reports that show you important statistics such as search engine rankings, how many visitors you are getting, how people are finding your site, how long they stay on each page of your site etc. There are also ways to measure the effectiveness of your social media efforts. With this information you can determine the most (and least) effective parts of your marketing strategy so you that you can evalute your results, modify your plan and  more effectively manage your time and money.

Conclusion:

Those are what I see as the most critical online marketing strategies for small businesses. If most businesses just did those five things, and focused on doing them well, then I’d bet-my-bottom-dollar that would hardly need another form of advertising (like expensive newspaper, radio, tv, direct mail or yellow page ads).

I’d like to know what you think. Do you agree? Did I miss anything?  Please leave a comment below!

 

 

 

Introducing “The What and Why Series” — Internet Marketing & Social Media Simplified For Small Business Owners

Personal note before I tell you about the upcoming series:  I just want to say that it’s good be back!  Where did I go? Well, as you may remember, I (that is, Sarah Zeldman, the real life-person behind The E-Marketing Maven) had a health crisis with my son that required my complete attention for a while, so I stopped blogging (unfortunately just as I was really  getting started). Thank G-d my son has recovered, my creative juices are flowing again and I’m ready to blog to help you market your small business on the web so that you can increase your profits, decrease your expenses, dominate your market and grow your business.

Lately I have met many small business owners who are still confused about the basics of using the internet and social media to market their small, local business online. Therefore, I have decided to create a series of blog posts that will explain the latest, most important techniques you can use to market your business online. This series will provide the basic education that small business owners need to save their precious marketing dollars (by not spending them on expensive and ineffective traditional marketing venues such as newspaper, radio, direct mail and tv ads) and generate new leads and sales by effectively using the internet to promote their products and services.

This series will be called “The What and Why Series” because I will clearly define each tactic, tell you why each one can help you make more sales, as well as give you some tips on getting started with them.

Here are the titles of  some of the articles that I am planning on posting in the coming weeks:

  • What  is Internet Marketing and why is it better for promoting your business than Traditional Marketing?
  • What is a Direct Response Website and why is it better than a typical “online brochure” webisite?
  • What is Effective Copywriting and why is it important that your website be reviewed by a professional copwriter?
  • What is Search Engine Optimization, how does it work (in plain english!), and why is it important for your website?
  • What is Google Places and why is it that you claim your listing?
  • What is a Facebook Fanpage and why is it important for your business?
  • What is Twitter and why is it important that you “tweet” for your business?
  • What is Google Adwords and why is it not important for your business?

(Oh yeah, I put the “not” in that last one, and I meant it. This ain’t no cookie-cutter series!)
Anyway, I think you get the idea of the kinds of topics that I intend to cover, and how I intend to help small business owners learn the basic internet marketing techniques they need to know!

The ‘What and Why Series’ will be starting next week.  Later this week, I will be reposting an article that I posted before my son’s illness. (While he was in the hospital, my blog crashed and this post was lost. Hosting and backup systems has since been greatly improved.)

The article is called “The Five Key Steps to Successfully Marketing Your Business Online”  This article will allow you to see the bigger picture of the process of using the internet to market your business before we drill down deeper into the details of each tactic in the “What and Why” series.

If there are any specific topics you would like to see me cover in this series, please let me know by leaving a comment below.

 

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Why Should You Market Your Small, Local Business On The Web?

In the immortal words of Maria Von Trapp, “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start!”

Don’t worry, I’m not going to break out into song…yet…

What I mean is,  let’s get this blog rolling by discussing why we are here in the first place. As, The E-Marketing Maven, I create customized internet marketing plans for small, local businesses.  But, you may be wondering, “Why do I need an internet marketing plan at all? I have a yellow page ad, and ads in the newspaper and on the radio,  and I get street traffic to my store — or referrals to my business. I even have a website already!  Do I really need a fancy-schmancy internet marketing plan?”

Well, you probably know my answer. I think just about every business needs to be positioned properly on the web, but you can watch this brief video I made (below) to understand why I hold that opinion (No, it’s not just to make more sales…it’s because it makes sense!). Warning: This video turns into a commercial for my services at the end, but the statistics about why it’s important to market your business online are still eye-opening. I could give you lots more where those came from!

Stay tuned because in the next blog post, I’m going to go over the elements of successful online marketing for small businesses.

“Practice What You Preach,” Says The Maven…To Herself

There are times in one’s life when the only thing to do is admit you’re a hypocrite, and laugh at yourself.

Yesterday was one of those times.

I found myself in front of a packed room of entrepreneurs, at the Vaughan Business Enterprise Centre (VBEC)   explaining the massive benefits of blogging for small  business owners. Then, I had to  admit that, while I had a blog on my website, I hadn’t really started blogging yet because I had been so busy preparing my series of workshops for VBEC and working with clients…

And then my face turned the same color as my hair.

Well, It’s time to practice what I preach!  Let the blogging begin!

If you want to start marketing your business online, but you’re confused by all of the options out there and you don’t know where to start, then stay tuned because I’m here to make internet marketing for the small local business owner easy and accessible!

Since this is my second blog entry, and the first entry in a long time, I don’t know if anyone is  reading this (it often takes time to build an audience) …however, if someone out there is reading this…now’s your chance to get the Maven to answer your questions!

Make your voice heard! Tell me where you want me to start!  What do you want to know about marketing your business online?!?

And stay tuned for the answers…