Kim visits some amazing Vermont entrepreneurs with incredible products at the Made in Vermont Marketplace in Essex Junction, VT. Here are just some of the highlights.
People may say that conferences are boring… but not with this crowd! In our line of work, we get to meet many amazing business owners, and these camping folks were no exception. Check out Kim’s adventure at the 53rd Annual Northeast Conference on Camping.
Kim is teaching a Free Constant Contact Next Generation Email Training on Tuesday, Feb 28 from 1-2:30 in Middlebury, VT.
Susan Solovic, known as the small business expert, has done it again, bringing us a list of strategies and actions you can take on a shoestring budget. See what she has to say:
When budgets are tight, marketing might be the first expense you look to cut.
But instead of just slashing expenses and hunkering down until the hard times pass, how about trying new approaches? Here are ten marketing strategies that can help you market your small business no matter what type of budget you have.
1. Craft an elevator pitch
You should be marketing all the time — wherever you are. Therefore, you need a compelling elevator pitch.
Research shows the average attention span of an adult is about six to eight seconds. That’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention.
If you successfully engage them, then you only have a little over a minute to really sell them on your product or service. Invest the time to craft a killer elevator pitch. The return on your investment will pay huge dividends in terms of creating business opportunities.
2. Leverage your community
You don’t have to think big when it comes to your marketing efforts. Think locally. What’s going on in your community?
Sponsor a Little League team or a 5k charity walk/run. Print bookmarks and leave them at the local library. Get to know your ideal customer and think about how and where they spend their time.
Then search for opportunities to get in front of your customer with your marketing message.
Put together a group of synergistic, non-competitive businesses in your area and agree to cross-promote.
You can use coupons, fliers, reciprocal website links, bundled promotions or social media platforms. By collaborating with each other, you can expand your customer base because you’ll be reaching new people.
I’m a huge fan of networking. I don’t think there is any better way to build a business than to get out there, shake some hands, and get to know people.
Networking requires a time commitment and it doesn’t provide instant gratification, but a strong network is one of the greatest assets any businessperson can have.
5. Give a speech
A lot of people hate public speaking. However, there are many organizations looking for qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their groups.
Take a deep breath and volunteer. You don’t have to be a pro as long as the information you share is helpful to the audience. And the upside — the more you do it the easier it gets. Plus, it positions you as a credible authority in your field.
6. Create buzz
I started my corporate career in the field of public relations and the business has changed significantly because of technology.
Today, a small business owner can accomplish a lot without hiring a professional firm. Subscribe to Help a Reporter Out. You can respond to reporters’ queries that are looking for story ideas and resources. Some are small media opportunities, but others are major media outlets that use this service too.
7. Ask for referrals
Don’t be shy about asking for customer referrals. The majority of people say they are willing to provide a referral if asked, but very few take the initiative to do it on their own.
Referrals make it easier to get in the door with new customers. If you aren’t asking for them, you are missing opportunities.
8. Build relationships
It is a lot less expensive to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. That’s why establishing strong relationships with your customer base is crucial. One of the ways you can do that is by keeping in touch with people through email marketing.
Ask customers for their email address when they visit your store or website. Then, make your communications informative, helpful and professional — something your customers will look forward to receiving.
9. Offer coupons
Coupons are a good way for many businesses to attract new customers. Research shows that people will go out of their way to use a coupon, proving that this method is successful in expanding your customer base.
Coupons can also generate return visits. For example, if you give a customer a coupon for a discount to use on future business, there’s a high probability they’ll be back.
*Insights note* We caution clients against getting too caught up in the coupon game. A special deal every so often is great, but if you continually have a coupon or deal floating around, you are conditioning your customers to value your products only at a discounted price. If your margins are able to handle this, great! But you may find a pushback if/when you stop offering deal after deal. We also advise caution when looking into third-party coupon companies, but that’s another story.
10. Give a bit away
If someone has the opportunity to experience your product or service, chances are they will want to purchase more.
Don’t be afraid to give someone a free trial or a sample. In today’s economy, people are more comfortable purchasing something they have been able to experience first.
These ten, inexpensive marketing strategies will help you engage customers, build relationships, and ultimately keep your brand top-of-mind. It’s not always about the money you have to spend on marketing, it’s about the time and effort you put into it and above all, the relevance it has for your customers
To read the original article click here.
This article, by Joe Waters, is tailored specifically for nonprofits who might not think they have the time or resources to invest in a good social media presence. Water’s lists some good insights on why social media should be higher on your priority list:
With so much work to do, and limited staff and resources, social media often takes a back seat for nonprofits that are too busy planning board meetings, drafting annual appeals, and raising enough money to keep the lights on.
I get it. I used to work in the nonprofit world myself and know the demands firsthand.
But whenever I meet with harried nonprofit workers, I still make the case that social media is critical to their success and should be a higher priority.
The good news is that giving social media more time doesn’t mean it has to be a time suck.
Why Social Media Should be at (or Near) the Top of Your To-Do List
- Your website isn’t where the action is.
Unless you have a blog on your site (which you should have!) your site probably isn’t updated very often. To find out what’s really happening with your nonprofit, people will quickly bounce from your static website to your social media sites.
Social media is dynamic and fresh. If you don’t have a vibrant social media presence, people will think that your organization is boring and stale.
- You need a magnet for millennials.
Men and women between the ages of 17 and 36 are the world’s largest generation.
Let me be clear: Millennials are the generation your organization cannot afford to live without. The best way to attract and engage this group is through digital marketing channels like email marketing and social media.
For millennials, sites like Facebook are news sites from which they get the majority of their information. That includes what they know about your organization.
- Doing great work isn’t enough.
Sorry, making the world a better place isn’t enough anymore. If you’re as old as I am, you remember the days when there were only a handful of television stations to watch and a few major newspapers to read.
These days, thanks to technology and social media, we all have the same tools to tell our stories and promote our nonprofits. Publishing interesting and relevant content via social media is the rising tide that will help you raise more money from individuals, businesses, and foundations.
How to Get the Most Out of Social Media Without Killing Yourself
- Focus on one site at a time.
Your nonprofit doesn’t need to be on every social media site. A better strategy is to focus on one site, and only add another once you’ve mastered the first.
So if you start with Facebook, you should stick with it until you know all the ins and outs of the site and have a growing and engaged community.
- Schedule most of your updates.
Editorial calendars aren’t just for blog posts. Plan out your social posts in advance and then use a service like MySocialSuite to schedule your posts.
On busy days at the office, your social media posts will be on autopilot. However, don’t leave your social media on autopilot for too long. You’ll want to regularly check for any questions or comments from readers.
- Accept that you must pay for play.
The reality with most social media sites these days is that they are pay for play. This means if you’re expecting fans to see your update immediately after you post it on Facebook, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
For example, organic reach of Facebook posts is currently hovering around one percent! To ensure that your post is reaching your fans, and has the potential to recruit new ones, you need to budget for Facebook ads.
- Combine social media with your email marketing.
Social media is most effective when you combine it with your existing marketing strategy.
Make it easy for your email subscribers to find you on social media by adding buttons to all your active social media channels in your email newsletter.
You can also use Constant Contact’s Social Share feature to promote your emails on your social channels. Increasing the visibility of your newsletter is one of the best ways to build your email list.
See what social media can do for your nonprofit.
Telling your story and building an audience is one of the most important things your organization can do.
Your nonprofit needs a strong communication strategy to match the powerful impact it’s having in the world. And a strategy that doesn’t include social media isn’t a winning formula for success.
Use these tips to start your organization’s social media strategy and let us know if you need help along the way.
To read the original article click here.
This article, by Miranda Paquet, Content Manager at Constant Contact, highlights some ways you can really cash in on the people visiting your website. Just because someone clicks on your link doesn’t mean they’re going to buy your service or product. As a partner of Constant Contact, we can help you with these ideas. Check out these three steps to give your business a boost.
Your website is picking up steam.
You’re finally getting some good traffic.
But how many of those visits are translating into actual business?
Because if you’re not collecting contact information and following up with quality email marketing, you’re wasting every click.
Use these three steps to generate more business from your website:
1. Add a sign-up form to your website.
Use a sign-up form to collect contact information from your website visitors, so you can stay in touch with them.
Make your sign-up form visible on every page of your website. Whether someone visits your homepage directly or enters a separate page through search or social media, your sign-up form should be easily accessible.
Here are some sign-up forms worth exploring:
- Constant Contact Forms for WordPress: This free WordPress plugin lets you build a professional, mobile-optimized sign-up form in minutes. Customize the form with your branding and select which fields are relevant to your business. This plugin works with all WordPress.org sites, no Constant Contact account required.
- Embeddable sign-up form: Embeddable sign-up forms allow visitors to enter their contact information without ever leaving your site — resulting in 25 percent more email signups. You just need to embed the HTML form code to your site.
- MailMunch and Privy: For more advanced sign-up forms, check out MailMunch and Privy. With free and paid versions, these apps provide you with a variety of interactive forms, from popups to banners to email bars.
2. Give people a good reason to sign-up.
I hate to break it to you, but “Join Our Email List” probably isn’t going to cut it. Instead, look for opportunities to highlight the benefits of joining your email list.
What can people expect to receive? How often will they hear from you? What benefits are exclusive to email subscribers?
Use this information to craft a 1-3 sentence elevator pitch for your email list.
Here’s a great example from CPA for Freelancers®:
3. Deliver on your promise with professional email marketing.
Once someone signs up for your email list, keep the momentum going by providing an incentive to buy. An automated Welcome Email can drive action right away.
By Paige sends new subscribers a 10 percent off coupon to entice people to make an immediate purchase.
Email marketing helps you reach potential customers directly and nurture them toward a sale. According to a Smith-Harmon survey, 76 percent of subscribers have made purchases from an email marketing message.
Email is also cited as the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention. Stay fresh in your customers’ minds by sending a monthly email, reminding them of the great products or services your business has to offer.
Is email marketing the missing piece in your website strategy?
Put this three-step strategy into action to transform your website from a hit-and-run site to a business-generating machine.
By consistently communicating with your website visitors, you’ll spend less time searching for new customers and more time nurturing people who have already shown interest in you.
To read the original article click here.