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Social Styles 3 – Learning About the Expressive

Social Styles 3 – Learning About the Expressive

Social Styles are important because?

In my two previous posts ( http://ow.ly/Zfpn30bKoSK ) (http://ow.ly/1HcK30bYKwv)  we have discussed the importance of understanding social styles.  If you are engaged in business learning to successfully communicate with your employees, prospects, customers and clients is the key to your success.   Knowing your social style and the attributes of the other social styles is vital in building solid relationships.

Today, I want to discuss the Expressive style.

What is the Expressive Style?

 

Expressives are…expressive.  They are open, energetic, excited.  They love to share visions and ideas.  They love to talk about themselves. They like an audience and applause.  They love to tell people what to do.  They are people oriented rather than task.

 

They are risk-takers, competitive, creative and enthusiastic.  They love to get results through people. Relationships are very important to them. They love the exchange of ideas and want to get to know you personally.

 

Their primary motivation is recognition.  They want to stand out from the crowd

 

Expressives want to know the big picture. They want a good grasp of the situation before getting down to the details.  They want to know the essential details, but don’t care about getting too deep into them. They want to collaborate with you on things that support them.

 

Expressive have much in common with Directors and Amiables. They are diametrically opposed to Analyticals.

What is dialogue with an Expressive like?

 

Here’s what you can expect when engaging with an Expressive.

  1. You should find out about their visions and how they expect you to help.
  2. Find out what other people need to be involved in accomplishing their vision.
  3. Expressives are usually very open about sharing information they think you need.
  4. They like a fast paced, focused discussion.
  5. They are casual about their use of time.
  6. Watch for openings in the conversation where you can slide in questions.
  7. Figure out a way to show support for their ideas and decisions.

 

What is the most effective approach to an Expressive?

 

When approaching Expressives, you need to quickly establish who you are, what you offer, and what they have to gain by working with you.

 

Other things to include are:

  1. Stories about people you both know.
  2. Share “exclusive” information
  3. Reinforce their vision and enthusiasm
  4. Take time to develop a personal relationship
  5. Leave time for socializing
  6. Talk about their goals and ideas they find stimulating.

 

 

In Conclusion

 

Learning how to effectively communicate with other social styles is a simple, yet amazing way to build trusting, solid relationships with your clients. Try it.  You’ll be stunned at the results.

 

Note:  The material in this blog was developed from information featured in “The Social Styles Handbook” To find out more, please click on the link below to order Larry Wilson’s great book

(Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate)

 

The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback
Powells.com
Social Styles 2-Learning About the Director

Social Styles 2-Learning About the Director

Why are Social Styles important?

 

In my previous post ( http://ow.ly/Zfpn30bKoSK ), I discussed the 4 social styles people use to communicate with each other.  We all fall into one of these styles. People in some of these styles communicate easily with one another, yet others can’t seem to communicate at all.

 

Why is it important to know these approaches?

 

Want to build meaningful relationships with your prospects, clients, and customers? Then you need to understand these styles.  More important, you need to be flexible in the way you approach people of different styles.

One thing I want to emphasize here. This is not about being manipulative in any way.  It is about learning how others engage the world.  Remember Dr. Stephen Covey’s famous dictum, “First seek to understand and then be understood.”

Today I want to discuss the social style known as the “Director”

 

What is the Directors style?

 

Directors are take charge people.  They are very task oriented and laser-focused on results. They also tend to tell people what to do and not ask a lot of questions.

Drivers have strong opinions, they are direct and to the point.  They love challenges.  They are very likely to correct, challenge, modify or add to others ideas.

Drivers tend to be impatient.  They want results quickly or at least have a well defined time line.

Relationships are secondary to Drivers.  They want to see the task defined and the plan to achieve it first.

Details are important to Drivers, but they are not much interested in every little nuance.  They do want to make sure every possibility has been covered.

Directors have much in common with Analyticals and Expressives, but are diametrically opposed to Amiables.

 

What is dialogue with a Driver like?

 

First conversations with a person are known as the dialogue stage.  This is where you will discover a person’s Social Style.  Here is what you can expect when first engaging with a Driver:

  1. They expect you to be task oriented.
  2. They want to make efficient use of their time. Keep up the pace.
  3. Ask fact-finding questions that will help you understand their priorities.
  4. They want to learn about you and how you might fit into their business. Don’t wander off into personal discussions.
  5. They want to know how your ideas can support their agenda. Remember, they want to be in control.
  6. They will let you know they want to make the final decision. They want to know the odds of success.
  7. Follow up immediately with any requests or additional information you agreed to supply.

 

How should you approach the director?

 

Approaching the Director requires a bit of a balancing act.  You need to be direct.  Don’t wander.  Yet, you need to take time to build trust as this is very important to a Director.

Other areas to include are:

  1. Be sure include a purpose statement at the beginning. Let them know why you are meeting.
  2. Focus on the Director’s ideas, goals, and interests
  3. Present facts that apply directly to them. Focus on benefits.
  4. Be prepared to provide lots of information.
  5. Don’t engage in small talk.
  6. Include a payoff statement. Let them know what you intend to accomplish in your meeting.

 

In Conclusion

 

As a small business owner, one of your greatest challenges is building relationships with your prospects, clients, and customers.  Understanding your social style and theirs will help you accomplish this with amazing ease.  I urge you to find out as much as you can about this subject by reading Larry Wilson’s great book “The Social Styles Handbook”. 

Just click on the following link (Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate):

The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback
Powells.com

Note: This blog was developed from information presented in  “The Social Styles Handbook”.

 

Why Narrow Target Marketing Means More Sales

Why Narrow Target Marketing Means More Sales

It seems counter-intuitive, but narrow target marketing means more sales.  Here’s a great post by Tim Donnelly explaining why.

How to Narrow Your Target Market

Companies that try to be all things to all customers are sure to fail. Here’s a business guide from Inc.com on how to focus on your target market.

By Tim Donnelly

 

Inc.com Contributor@TimDonnelly

 

 

30 COMMENTS

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Huge, profitable companies like Walmart and Amazon didn’t start as the all-encompassing retailers we know today. Each debuted with a very specific focus that helped them find and nurture a strong customer base. Walmart originally catered to shoppers in rural areas where there was a dearth of options for low-cost goods; Amazon famously limited itself to just books for years before expanding into selling everything from DVDs to motorcycle gear.

The process of finding a target market and narrowing your company’s focus to appeal to it directly often trips up new businesses, who find it difficult to turn down business opportunities when they arise. But trying to be all things to all people is a sure way to fail in the marketplace. Business experts offer up these tips to narrowing your target market:

The Dangers of Being Unfocused

Whatever market you’re in, you’ve likely got a lot of competition and static standing between you and the consumer. Narrowing your focus to one specific demographic or slice of the marketplace gives potential customers a reason to notice you in the rest of the fray.

“If you’re not differentiating yourself in the marketplace, what happens is the consumer looks at price as being the motivator,” says Susan Friedmann, author of the books Riches in Niches and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Target Marketing. “And they look at the cheapest.”

If you don’t know specifically which customers you are speaking to, you are actually speaking to no one, says Tammy Lenski, a business mediation expert (https://lenski.com/) who has advised clients about successful business through target marketing.

“The big danger is that without a target market, it’s like standing in a park shouting in the wind,” she says. “When you have a target market, its like standing in a park and talking to a specific group of people.”

That means you can’t be afraid to exclude certain types of consumer from your marketing or to target your advertising at small groups. Some customers will feel left out, but those are the sacrifices necessary for a successful business, says Greg Head, founder and CEO of New Avenue, a strategic marketing firm.

“Focus requires exclusion,” he says. “If you’re selling everything, you actually mean nothing in the marketplace. Exclusion is fundamental to target markets.”‘

Dig Deeper: Why a Clear Focus is Essential to Success

Become an Expert in one Area

One way to hone in on a specific sector is to become an established resource in one area. Starbucks, for example, is able to charge premium prices for its coffee even though it also sells pastries, tea, and accessories, because it has positioned the company as an authority on good coffee.

“If you’re an expert in your field, people will pay the price tag on whatever product and service you offer,” Friedmann says.

You can build up credibility by offering information for free through your company’s website or blog: things like tips, industry information, or niche data that will help consumers think of you as a reliable expert in that area, she says.

“Your credibility comes with giving away information,” she says. “If this is the value I’m getting for free, what will I get if I pay for it?”

Entrepreneurs who do this successfully often start by following their passion, Friedmann says. She recalled a massage therapist who loved cycling and found a successful practice traveling with bike tours.

“If you can marry your passion with your profession, that’s a really strong niche market,” she says.

Dig Deeper: Taking a Niche Brand Mainstream

Do the Market Research

Experts give several methods for whittling down the vast expanse of the market to find your ideal target.

John Jantsch, creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System and Duct Tape Marketing Consulting Network, which trains and licenses small business marketing consultants, recommends a simple formula to identify who makes an ideal client: he ranks customers by profitability.

“In that step alone, they start identifying work they have taken or would take that they shouldn’t be taking,” Jantsch says.

Then he looks for clients that are already referring more business your way.

“They’re referring business to you because they’re having a great experience,” he says. “They’re happy, they’re beyond satisfied and that’s why they’re referring business.”

Friedmann says recommends looking for growth markets to identify burgeoning new areas that may not be claimed by existing businesses.

Lenski says some clients find their niche first by focusing on the areas in which they already have a strong interest, or by looking at markets that already know about you and your services. Then, look for areas of the marketplace where a gaping need exists that you can fill with your company’s services.

Dig Deeper: How to Use Internet Market Research Tools

Tweak your Marketing

As simple as it sounds, the name of your company is crucial when narrowing your market.

“I believe your name should say what you do,” Friedmann says. “Using your own personal name, unless you’re like Madonna, isn’t going to cut it. It doesn’t mean anything to anybody.”

Words such as “branding coach” or “entertainment law” in your official business title help consumers quickly understand what you’re all about.

Friedmann even created a new word to describe her focus: “nichepreneur.”

You may have to change your branding strategy or marketing efforts to clarify your mission. Once you find your target, you’ll definitely want to alter your advertising efforts to go after the places and media you use to generate new business.

“It’s not just an advertisement that you do. It actually has to become part of everything you do,” Head says.

Your marketing needs to highlight the specialization, which improves credibility, Head says.

“You’ve got to be perceived as the best at something,” he says.

Then, once you’ve identified that base, use it to improve the business through things like social media and interactive marketing to find out more about what the customers are looking for, Lenski says.

“You’ve got to essentially engage that market. It’s a two-way conversation,” she says. “That’s really where having a target market pays off.”

Dig Deeper: 10 Marketing Musts

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If you’d like to see more from Tammy Lenski, who is quoted above,  to go to her website at https://lenski.com/.  She has some great blog entries worth reading.

6 Ways to Help Convert Prospects Into Clients

6 Ways to Help Convert Prospects Into Clients

Converting prospects into clients is one of the most misunderstood processes by small business. People buy based on emotion, not logic.  Here’s a great post by Maria Tabaka from Inc. explaining how to use emotional intelligence to improve your conversion rate.

6 Ways to Convert Prospects into Clients with Emotional Intelligence

People may believe that decisions are based on logic only, but the brain doesn’t work that way. Here’s how to make your prospect’s decision easy with emotionally intelligent marketing.

 

 

@MarlaTabaka

A few weeks ago I attended an event as a guest expert with my radio co-host Kevin Harrington, one of the original Sharks from Shark Tank. During the two-day event we helped over fifty inventors with their marketing direction and to position themselves for an investor pitch.

Many of these inventors initially failed to express a compelling reason to buy their product during their presentation. This happens much of the time because of a widely spread illusion that our logical brain is in charge of everything we do, and that’s simply not true.

Indeed, up to 95% of human behavior happens at a subconscious level, leading to “gut decisions” which is the most natural way to make a decision. This is why you want to appeal to your prospect’s emotions, which are determined by the brain’s limbic system, not the logical, fact-finding cortex as many people believe. This emotional center is responsible for all human behavior including all decision-making.

When you understand what drives your audience’s decisions, your sales and marketing efforts will become highly effective . It’s the emotional connection, not the logical one,  that is the biggest factor in converting your ideal prospect to into your ideal client.

Here’s how to get your future customer’s attention and make the decision easy and natural for them.

1. Use visuals.

Some years ago, fast food chains showed only written lists of their menu offerings. The glossy images featuring over-sized combo’s did not even exist. Consumer’s made their selections based on familiarity and did not tend to add fries and a soft drink to their purchase, and they certainly ordered smaller sizes. When the industry switched to a visual representation of their food choices, bundling them as combo’s, sales soared.

Use images to support your facts. Processing imagery takes up about fifty percent of brain power and can make decision-making easy. Pictures speak volumes to the human brain.

2. Add emotion to your marketing and sales approach.

Do you remember what you had for lunch last Tuesday? Do you even remember if you had lunch last Tuesday? Probably not. That’s because it was not an emotional experience. The brain recalls emotional experiences at an amazingly rapid pace, the rest is usually forgotten.

You know the needs and desires of your perfect customers, so appeal to them. Use emotion to make you and your brand memorable and desirable.

3. Solidify the abstract.

My coaching services can be considered an abstract offering; people don’t necessarily understand what the experience will do for them. I use metaphors, emotional examples, and my personal passion to offer a more concrete visual for them. I help my prospects feel, rather than process. When they feel the synergy they will make the decision to invest in their future.

Avoid sticking with only the facts, help your prospects feel that they are making the right decision.

4. Balance your passion.

When I was at the inventors event, many of them went on and on about why their product will be a huge hit. Of course they did! They’re passionate about their creation. Passion is critical, but if you don’t express it in a concrete, succinct, and convincing way, it becomes your enemy. Rambling will agitate your audience’s brain; they will become distracted and confused.

Brainstorm all of the important pieces of your marketing and sales components on a whiteboard to create a visual for your own limbic system. Then, keeping these tips in mind, package them succinctly and convincingly for your audience. Use your passion to add the extra punch.

5. Appeal to their tribal instincts.

The amygdala, which is a part of the limbic system, cares only about safety and security. It can create a false sense of danger in a heartbeat. If you can’t imagine you or your product fitting into their life it stimulates discomfort. The commercial spots that create the most lasting, positive impressions are those that demonstrate the product within the framework of our lives. Apple commercials, for instance, hardly even mention the product; they show inviting family and friend interactions instead. Apple doesn’t sell the product, they sell a culture that we all want to fit into.

To do this best, listen to your prospects and clients. Show an emotional connection to their concerns (only if it’s genuine) and let them know that you understand–and that you have a solution.

6. Present a strong beginning and a memorable ending.

You have only seconds to grab your audience’s attention, avoid spilling facts into those precious beginning moments. Make a compelling statement; tell an engaging story.

Concluding your conversation with typical endings like, “So what do you think?” or, “What questions do you have for me?” creates discomfort and confusion. Sum it up for them in three powerful conclusions. “You can now see the impact it will have on your business when we, [list three powerful conclusions].

End the conversation with a strong question or suggestion. One of my favorite conclusions to a sales conversation is, “Now that you see what an impact that coaching with me will have on your life and business, let’s get on the schedule for your first session!”

Warning: Remember, through all of this, your prospect’s will sense insincerity. The amygdala is at work 24/7! Be authentic. If you have difficulty with authenticity it most likely means that you haven’t found your why and that you’re not passionate about what you do. Time for a life review!

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

 

PUBLISHED ON: APR 11, 2016

 

 

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Why You Can’t be Without Social Media Marketing!

Why You Can’t be Without Social Media Marketing!

Many small business owners question whether or not using social media is worth the time and effort.  Here’s a great post from The Content Factory explaining why you can’t be without it.

16 Reasons Why Your Business NEEDS Social Media Marketing

 

Did you know that social media marketing has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing? Or that 84% of B2B marketers use social media in some form? No matter what you sell and who you sell it to, using social media as a marketing tool can help you grow your brand and pad your wallet.

At this point in the game, not having an active social media presence is kind of like pulling out a flip phone at a business meeting and then not understanding why your boss keeps giving Brad all the new accounts.

But some people still own flip phones, and some people dig in their heels and say, what is social media marketing going to do for me? Do I really need it? Yes. Yes you do — and here are some of the most compelling reasons why:

The Importance of Social Media for Web Traffic

 

1. Social media posts can be used to drive targeted traffic. Creating a new page on your site is like taking a really great selfie. You want the world to see it and bask in its brilliance, but you don’t want to beg for attention (or worse, pay for it). That’s why for selfies and landing pages, well-placed social media posts can make all the difference. We’ve seen a single link on Reddit drive over 20,000 visitors in one weekend and links submitted to StumbleUpon can take a page that was consistently earning a handful of visitors a day and increase that number to hundreds. Who wouldn’t want to capitalize on that?

2. Using social media for business boosts your site’s SEO. Search engine crawlers know which pages are consistently earning traffic and which are just floating out there, forgotten and ignored. A killer content strategy for SEO is the most important part of earning top spots in search engine rankings, but driving traffic to your optimized pages will cause them to climb much faster in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Quick case study: Astroglide is one of TCF’s clients, and in less than a year we got the website to rank in the top 100 SERPs for 15,000 new keywords – as a result, traffic to the website has increased dramatically. A solid and consistent presence on Facebook, Twitter and other social channels was a BIG part of that success.

Social Media is THE BEST Tool to Connect with (and Learn from!) Consumers & Industry Leaders

 

3. If you’re doing it right, social media will lead to real relationship building. Part of what makes things like Twitter and Instagram marketing so cool is the interaction you get to have with your customer base — you can read their tweets and status updates to get insights into their daily lives (and maybe adjust your marketing strategy as a result). What products are they buying and why? What are they doing on the weekend? What kind of posts do they love to share, and from what websites?

You can also use social media as a tool for connecting with complementary, non-competing businesses, thought leaders and tastemakers in your space, as well as journalists who cover your industry. Sometimes, becoming besties starts with a simple retweet.

Of course it doesn’t hurt to go the extra mile. When we saw that our client Astroglide was mentioned on The Celebrity Name Game by Rick Fox, we quickly jumped on the opportunity to create a gif and mention both accounts on Twitter. This resulted in interaction not just from Rick Fox, but from the Celebrity Name Game account as well!

4. Users are receptive to your messages. People view Twitter and Facebook as social networks, not marketing machines. As a result, they’re less likely to see what you post as an advertisement and will be more likely to hear what you have to say. This translates to serious web traffic when you link to your site and posts that market themselves as your friends and followers share what you’ve posted.

5. Social media ads allow targeting and retargeting. One of the reasons social media is important is because of the highly customizable nature of social media ads. Facebook ads, for example, allow you to target users by things like location, education level, industry and even purchase history and the pages they’ve liked. You also have to the option to install a Facebook pixel on your site and use it to retarget the users who visit you — these people are far more likely to convert into solid leads and sales!

6. Social media can help you get noticed at events, and even generate earned media coverage. Whether your business is sponsoring a charity fundraiser or attending a major trade show, there’s no better way to leverage your presence than with the help of social media. In fact, we once sent a tweetduring CES that lead to a client getting a feature article written about them in Wired magazine (check out our guide to marketing your business at trade shows and events to learn how you can achieve similar results).

The Importance of Social Media Marketing for Brand Image

 

7. You can respond to problems immediately. If there’s a problem with your product or service, you want to know about it right away. With the feedback you get in the process of social media marketing, you’ll be the first to know when there are issues – and you can take steps to resolve them right away. Studyafter study has shown that consumers appreciate companies that respond to customer complaints (and don’t hesitate to rant online to anyone who will listen when companies don’t take the time to make things right).

8. A strong social media presence builds brand loyalty. A report published by Texas Tech University found that brands with active social media profiles have more loyal customers. It’s easy to imagine why: when you’re engaging and interacting on social media (not just tossing your posts out onto the web hoping someone will stumble upon them) you become less like a corporation and more like what you truly are — a unified group of people who share a vision.

The Right Social Media Marketing Strategy Can Help You Slay the Competition

 

9. Your competition is getting social, so you should too. Did you know that 91% of brands are using more than one social media platform? This isn’t something you want to fall behind the competition on, because it’s much harder (and more expensive) to play catch up than it is to get in on the game early. If your competitors get to your potential customers first, they’ll earn their loyalty and you’ll have a hard time winning them over. If you’re active and engaging on a variety of networks, you can gain those friends and followers first and your competition will be playing catch up instead of the other way around.

10. The social media marketing arena is a (fairly) level playing field.Some brands may have bigger ad budgets than others, but all companies start off on pretty equal footing when it comes to social media marketing. The people and brands who thrive and go viral in are those with the most clever, attention grabbing tactics (and the most ridiculous gifs) and the most useful, link worthy content. In short, they’re providing value to their target audience while also showing personality and being entertaining. If you want to get lots of traffic and really increase your sales online, you’re going to have to outwit, outnetwork and outwrite your competition while offering superior products and customer service. Isn’t that what business is all about, anyway?

11. When it comes to newsjacking, social media is king. Sometimes your brand is mentioned on a cable TV show. Sometimes it’s not, but you know just how to slide your product into the story to aim the spotlight in your direction. Facebook, Twitter and even Reddit marketing give you a front row seat to the news that’s becoming viral right as it’s happening. Jump in at just the right time and you’ll earn some major media attention — and that’s something you just can’t do with a traditional ad campaign.

The Importance of Social Media Marketing for Sales and ROI

 

12. Social media marketing will get you more sales. Did you know that 70% of business-to-consumer marketers have acquired customers through Facebook? Or that 84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions?

Not surprisingly, when you stay in front of your customer base, they’re more likely to buy from you when they need the products you sell. Social media marketing doesn’t just keep your company’s name in front of potential buyers, but it also gives you the opportunity to constantly give them incentives to buy. Try sharing coupon codes, with a unique code for each social channel – you may be surprised at which social network drives the most sales.

13. You’ll find customers you didn’t know existed. If you set up streams to follow keywords in Twitter (Hootsuite makes this simple), you can find people who are looking for the products you sell and direct them to your site. Using Twitter for marketing is great that way – telling people who want your products how to get them from your company is just an @ away.

14. Customers you didn’t know existed will find (and buy from) you. In the process of marketing with Facebook, you’ll probably join a ton of groups related to your products, industry and customer base. By posting links in these groups, you’ll help influence customers to check out your site. Answering questions on Quora is another option. Post a link today, and two weeks/months/years later you might see a sale from it.

You Can’t Beat the Price (or ROI) of Social Media

 

15. You heard that right — it’s free. How can you argue with that? If you handle your own social media management, running a social networking campaign is as cheap as it gets. If you hire a social media management or online PR agency (like us), it will cost around $3,000-$7,000 per month, but it’ll be an investment that you’ll be likely to see a return on. If you’re intimidated by interacting with people online or your writing skills leave something to be desired, hiring an online PR agency is definitely the way to go. Posting poorly written content or conveying the wrong kind of messages on social networking sites can seriously affect your digital PR presence.

16. The ROI on social media ads is unbeatable. The average cost per click on Google Adwords is between $1 and $2 and depending on the keyword targeted, you can end up paying $50 or more for a single click. Through targeted boosted post, we’ve been able to send traffic via Facebook and Pinterest for as little as $0.12 per click. Why pay ten or twenty times as much for each visit when social media ads make earning that traffic quick and easy?

Simply put, social media marketing is part of doing business in the new millennium. If your business isn’t already active on social networking sites, now is the time to start.

Why is Social Media Important?

Why is social media important to businesses? Because your brand doesn’t really exist online if you’re not represented across all social channels – and regularly interacting with your followers, journalists who cover your industry, thought leaders and tastemakers, etc.

Here’s one very important reason you may not have considered — it’s fun! Hosting a Twitter chat to celebrate a new product launch, getting your geek on while you A/B test Facebook ads, or sharing pop-culture polls for your followers to weigh in on — these are all activities that build brand awareness, boost web traffic and lead to loyal customers. But unlike many traditional marketing tactics with the same goals, these tasks are actually fun in addition to driving real value for your company.

Are you ready to rocket ahead of your competitors and take the social media world by storm? Want to see your search engine rankings climb and your traffic soar? Pull out that flip phone and give us call. We’ll get you on the path to success.

 

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3 SEO Tools Anyone Can Use

3 SEO Tools Anyone Can Use

To the average small business owner SEO is a dark, baffling, process impossible to understand.  Here is post explaining 3 SEO tools anyone can use to improve their blog performance.

3 SEO Tools For Clueless Business Bloggers

07/01/2016 09:26 am ET | Updated 5 days ago

 

  • Liesha Petrovich Unashamed non-conformist, small business advocate. Kyokushin Black Belt. Fighting the good fight at Microbusiness Essentials

SEO is like flossing.

Sure, you know you should be doing it and that it’s important. Yet the whole idea behind having a business blog is to help your site’s SEO. What’s the point if you’re not leveraging your blog to increase your sites rankings?

According to SEO expert Neil Patel, “blogs bring in more traffic. Businesses that blog regularly generate 55% more visitors to their sites than those that don’t.”

Most small business owners can’t afford to hire experts or full-time webmasters to handle their sites SEO. The good news is that even the most clueless business owner can start increasing their SEO with a tool that guide you through the process. And you don’t have to be a tech wizard to use them.

Here’re a few easy SEO tools to help your business blog get noticed:

 

Serpstat: Helps You Answer the Right Questions

 

Although Serpstat is a multi-use SEO tool, one of the best features for business blogging is the Search Suggestions feature. It helps you create helpful content for your blog that your readers will easy find and value.

With a simple keyword like “buy laptop” you can see what questions people are Googling. For example, “why buy a laptop instead of an iPad” is asked by a large number of users. You could easily create a relevant blog post answering that exact question. This tool not only helps you improve your SEO but also your brand’s overall image. You’ll be seen as helpful and valuable, and as a credible authority figure in your industry.

 

 

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Moz Toolbar: Helps You Understand the Numbers

 

The numbers behind SEO can be complex. Moz has an awesome toolbar that shows a few key stats from your website. For example, PA is your individual page authority and DA is your domain authority. Both are calculated by several website factors including follow/no-follow links and Google rankings.

There is both a free and premium version of the Moz Toolbar for both Chrome and FireFox. Moz also has great instructions and best-practice articles that will help you understand and improve your website’s statistics in a very easy way. It’s a great option for new business owners who want to try something easy that’s also useful.

 

 

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Google Trends: Helps You Know What’s Hot

 

While this isn’t a traditional SEO tool, Google Trends is the go-to place to understand exactly what’s hot right this minute. Since Google is the most popular search engine in the world, we can easily see what Google users are searching for.

You can search by country or categories including business, tech, health, entertainment and top stories. You can also see the exact keywords people are using, interest by subregion (on a handy map), the interest over time, and also related searches.

This information can help you create relevant content for your site. For example, let’s say you have a pet-related business blog. The search term World’s Ugliest Dog Contest‬‬ is trending today and this could inspire a post that relates to this topic. Of course, you still have to create valuable and relevant content, but Google Trends gives you an idea of exactly what people want to read today.

 

 

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Small Steps into SEO

 

Stop putting SEO on the back burner. There’s help for clueless business blogger – it just takes a little patience and practice.

There are lots of simple, easy and affordable tools that allow you to ease your way into SEO. You’re already creating content for your business’s blog, so why not take a little time to create better content that will help your site’s Google rankings?

Follow Liesha Petrovich on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lieshapetrovich

Here’s Why Blogging is Important for Small Business

Here’s Why Blogging is Important for Small Business

As small business owners we hear a lot about things like blogging and social media.  Our first reaction usually is “I don’t have time for that.”  I encourage you to think again.  Here’s a great post explaining why blogging is very important for small business.

September 30, 2015 // 8:00 AM

Why Blog? The Benefits of Blogging for Business and Marketing

Written by Corey Wainwright | @Corey_bos

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I had a co-worker email me the other day asking for a blog post about the benefits of business blogging.

“It’s for a friend,” she said.

Sure it was.

I told her I’d shoot over one of our up-to-date blog posts about why businesses should blog and … I couldn’t find one. Whoops. Quite the meta mistake.

Download our free guide to business blogging here for even more reasons why you should blog, and how to get started.

So I’m doing it now. If you’re trying to explain one of the core tenets of inbound — business blogging — to your boss, a coworker, your mom at Thanksgiving, whomever, then send them this post. I hope it helps.

The Benefits of Business Blogs for Marketing

First, if you don’t know what a business blog is, this post, “What Is Business Blogging? [FAQs]” should get you up-to-date.

On the same page? Cool. Let’s move on to why you should use blogging as a marketing tactic.

1) It helps drive traffic to your website.

Raise your hand if you want more website visitors. Yeah, me too.

Now think about the ways people find your website:

  • They could type your name right in to their browser, but that’s an audience you already have. They know who you are, you’re on their radar, and that doesn’t help you get more traffic on top of what you’re already getting.
  • You could pay for traffic by buying an email list (don’t you dare!), blasting them, and hoping some people open and click through on the emails. But that’s expensive and, you know, illegal.
  • You could pay for traffic by placing tons of paid ads, which isn’t illegal, but still quite expensive. And the second you run out of money, your traffic stops coming, too.

So, how can you drive any traffic? In short: bloggingsocial media, and search engines. Here’s how it works.

Think about how many pages there are on your website. Probably not a ton, right? And think about how often you update those pages. Probably not that often, right? (How often can you really update your About Us page, you know?)

Well, blogging helps solve both of those problems.

Every time you write a blog post, it’s one more indexed page on your website, which means it’s one more opportunity for you to show up in search engines and drive traffic to your website in organic search. We’ll get into more of the benefits of blogging on your SEO a bit later, but it’s also one more cue to Google and other search engines that your website is active and they should be checking in frequently to see what new content to surface.

Blogging also helps you get discovered via social media. Every time you write a blog post, you’re creating content that people can share on social networks — Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest — which helps expose your business to a new audience that may not know you yet.

Blog content also helps keep your social media presence going — instead of asking your social media manager to come up with brand new original content for social media (or creating that content yourself), your blog can serve as that repository of content. You’re strengthening your social reach with blog content and driving new website visitors to your blog via your social channels. Quite a symbiotic relationship, if I do say so myself.

So, the first benefit of blogging? It helps drive new traffic to your website and works closely with search engines and social media to do that.

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2) It helps convert that traffic into leads.

Now that you have traffic coming to your website through your blog, you have an opportunity to convert that traffic into leads.

Just like every blog post you write is another indexed page, each post is a new opportunity to generate new leads. The way this works is really simple: Just add a lead-generating call-to-action to every blog post.

Often, these calls-to-action lead to things like free ebooks, free whitepapers, free fact sheets, free webinars, free trials … basically, any content asset for which someone would be willing to exchange their information. To be super clear for anyone unfamiliar with how traffic-to-lead conversions work, it’s as simple as this:

  • Visitor comes to website
  • Visitor sees call-to-action for a free offer
  • Visitor clicks call-to-action and gets to a landing page, which contains a form for them to fill in with their information
  • Visitor fills out form, submits information, and receives the free offer

If you scroll down in this blog post, you’ll see a call-to-action button. In fact, 99.9% of the blog posts we publish have call-to-action buttons … and yours should, too. That is how you turn that traffic coming to your blog into leads for your sales team.

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Note: Not every reader of your blog will become a lead. That’s okay. No one converts 100% of the people who read their blog into leads. Just get blogging, put calls-to-action on every blog post, set a visitor-to-lead conversion rate benchmark for yourselfand strive to improve that each month.

3) It helps establish authority.

The best business blogs answer common questions their leads and customers have. If you’re consistently creating content that’s helpful for your target customer, it’ll help establish you as an authority in their eyes. This is a particularly handy tool for Sales and Service professionals.

Can you imagine the impact of sending an educational blog post you wrote to clear things up for a confused customer? Or how many more deals a salesperson could close if their leads discovered blog content written by their salesperson?

“Establishing authority” is a fluffy metric — certainly not as concrete as traffic and leads, but it’s pretty powerful stuff. And if you need to tie the impact of blogging to a less fluffy metric, consider measuring it the same way you measure sales enablement. Because at the end of the day, that’s what many of your blog posts are. Think about the sales enablement opportunities blogging presents:

  • If prospects find answers to their common questions via blog posts written by people at your company, they’re much more likely to come into the sales process trusting what you have to say because you’ve helped them in the past — even before they were interested in purchasing anything from you.
  • Prospects that have been reading your blog posts will typically enter the sales process more educated on your place in the market, your industry, and what you have to offer. That makes for a far more productive sales conversation than one held between two relative strangers.
  • Salespeople who encounter specific questions that require in-depth explanation or a documented answer can pull from an archive of blog posts. Not only do these blog posts help move the sales process along more swiftly than if a sales rep had to create the assets from scratch, but the salesperson is further positioned as a helpful resource to their prospect.

4) It drives long-term results.

You know what would be cool? If any of the following things helped you drive site traffic and generate new leads:

  • Trip to Hawaii
  • Going to the gym
  • Sleeping

Good news, though! That’s what blogging does — largely through search engines. Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say you sit down for an hour and write and publish a blog post today. Let’s say that blog post gets you 100 views and 10 leads. You get another 50 views and 5 leads tomorrow as a few more people find it on social media and some of your subscribers get caught up on their email and RSS. But after a couple days, most of the fanfare from that post dies down and you’ve netted 150 views and 15 leads.

It’s not done.

That blog post is now ranking in search engines. That means for days, weeks, months, and years to come, you can continue to get traffic and leads from that blog post. So while it may feel like day one or bust, in reality, blogging acts more like this:

blogging_compounding_returns-1-1

So while you’re hitting your snooze alarm, surfing in Hawaii, and pumping iron, you’re also driving traffic and leads. The effort you put in yesterday can turn into hundreds of thousands of views and leads in the future.

In fact, about 70% of the traffic each month on this very blog comes from posts that weren’t published in the current month. They come from old posts. Same goes for the leads generated in a current month — about 90% of the leads we generate every month come from blog posts that were published in previous months. Sometimes years ago.

We call these types of blog posts “compounding” posts. Not every blog post will fit into this category, but the more evergreen blog posts you write, the more likely it is that you’ll land on one of those compounding blog posts. In our own research, we’ve found that about 1 in every 10 blog posts end up being compounding blog posts.

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To me (and hopefully to you), this demonstrates the scalability of business blogging. While you might not see immediate results, over time, you’ll be able to count on a predictable amount of traffic and leads for your business without any additional resource investment — the work to generate that traffic and those leads is already done.

If you’d like to learn more about the long-term impact of blogging and how to reap even more benefits from the blog posts that are ranking in organic search for your business, check out this blog post, “The Blogging Tactic No One Is Talking About: Optimizing the Past”.

Secondary Benefits of Business Blogging

There are other reasons businesses might want to blog, but I think they’re smaller and stray from the core benefits of blogging.

For instance, I love to use our blog to test out big campaigns on the cheap — before we invest a lot of money and time into their creation. I also love to use our blog to help understand our persona better. And while this shouldn’t be their primary use, blogs also become great outlets through with marketers can communicate other PR-type important information — things like product releases or event information. It’s certainly easier to get attention for more company-focused initiatives if you’ve built up your own audience on your own property, as opposed to pitching your story to journalists and hoping one of them bites.

These are all great side effects or uses of a business blog, but they’re secondary benefits to me.

If you’re looking to start a business blog or get more investment for one you’ve already started, the reasons above are a great place to start arguing your case.

Are you already well underway when it comes to business blogging? Just starting out? Share your thoughts on business blogging below and what you’re looking to get out of it.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

3 SEO Realities to Be Aware of in 2016 – business.com

3 SEO Realities to Be Aware of in 2016 – business.com

 

business.com

I’ve seen numerous business owners remain skeptical about that fact that search engine optimization (SEO) can be easy. The lifeblood of any online business is not just content, but the complete strategy one puts in, with SEO being a top priority. I’ve worked with a handful of bloggers and online business owners who underestimate the power and resources required for an SEO campaign.

Here are a few things that you always need to keep up with when it comes to implementing the right SEO strategy

Via business.com

Becoming a Writer? Here’s Book 2 in the Series

Becoming a Writer? Here’s Book 2 in the Series

Today I am writing a review of the second book in Kate Johnston’s wonderful series, Writer Interrupted, A Handbook for the Emerging Writer. 

In Book One, Kate led us through the decisions one must make in deciding to become a writer.  Now in Book Two, she leads you through a strategy you can use  in implementing that decision.  I know, learning “strategy” sounds dull.  But, Kate leads us through it in her usual light hearted and informative way.

Kate starts out by reminding us the over riding reward we all gain from writing is pure, unadulterated, joy.  Writing is hard work…period.  Yet, we soldier on for the pure joy we derive in the doing.  And again, in her Mini-Journals, she outlines easy steps we can take to make sure we obtain the joy we deserve for traveling this road.

Writing is a skill.  Like any skill, learning it takes discipline.  Kate explains why setting goals is the most important thing you can do to build your skill as a writer.  But…just setting goals is not enough.  In describing her own journey of failing to set goals and the consequences that arose, she tells you the kinds of goals you should set and why.  Perhaps the most important point here is to note the only function goals have is to help you keep your quest on track.  The goal is not the quest, just as the map is not the territory.

Finding Your Groove

Next up is finding your groove.  That mystical place, where the words just seem to flow.  This is a highly personal task, which may need considerable effort.  The thrust of this is to help you determine what set of actions will allow you to show up and write every day.  I know,  writing every day sounds like drudgery.  But there are things you can do that brings joy to each session.  Recording voice memos on your smart phone, keeping a small pad with you to write down ideas,  scribble notes on paper napkins at lunch.  All writing counts.  It doesn’t have to be confined to one time or place.

Maybe for you the best thing is to have more than one project going at the same time.  I know this is what works for me.  That way if you stall on one thing, you can take a break and work on something else.  But, beware.  Managing multiple projects does take organization and the ability to shift attention.  

What’s Your Strategy? 

What’s your strategy?  Kate asks the question because you need one.  If you just sit down and write it’s called “pantsing”.  Writing by the seat of your pants. Many famous writers such as Lee Child and Harlan Coben write this way.  Other writers like J.K. Rowling create highly detailed outlines before ever writing a line of dialogue.  This is what I do.

I wrote a book using the pantsing method.  It wound up in the trash heap (where it belonged).  Now I outline down to the smallest detail.  For me, once I get the outline done, dialogue is almost like filling in the blanks.

If you don’t have a writing strategy yet,  Kate suggests you try both ways and pick the one that works for you.

Kate says she has invented a new system called “Plontsing”.  But, we’ll have to wait for Book 4 in the series to learn about it.

Word Count

And now… a word about word count (pun intended).  Kate points out the necessity of writers paying attention to word count.  First, as writers, we should be aiming for a goal of X number of words written per day.  Depending on how you write, you may want to tinker with the way the goal is structured.  It could be an average of X words per day, or X words per week, etc.  You get the idea.

Then you need to be aware of the general word counts expected for scenes, chapters, and books for the genre you are writing in. Kate cautions though, not to let word count get in the way of a good story.

Research

Next, Kate tackles three ways to do research.  Before, during, or after you write.  Determining when to do research depends on how you write.  If you have a fresh idea, you may be able to list the stuff you need to research before you start.  As a plotter, I find most of my research needs are discovered during the plotting stage. If you’re a pantser, items you need to research will turn up as you write the rough draft.  Then the actual research can be done between drafts.  Kate recommends not doing research as you write as it tends to disrupt the story flow.

There is an exception to this, however.  It occurs when the dreaded writer’s block strikes you.  The existence of writer’s block is hotly debated in the writing community.  Simply put, writer’s block just means you’re stuck.  There are several ways to overcome this.  Kate suggests just putting the project down and walking away for a while.  This gives your mind a chance to relax and allows your subconscious to come up with solutions.  And, here is where more research can turn up new ideas to get you unstuck.

As usual for Kate, she gives you plenty of ideas to try in her Mini-Journals at the end of each chapter.   These exercises will help you find the way to your groove.  That magic place where the words just flow.  Every day.  I highly recommend this book to everyone who ever even thought about becoming a writer.

Starting a Small Business? Here’s Step 2

Starting a Small Business? Here’s Step 2

Congratulations!  You’ve decided to start your own business.  You know just what you want to do.  You can’t wait to get started.  You’ve answered all the questions I posed in my previous blog. (Click here if you haven’t read it).

http://successfulcm.com/2015/12/10/want-to-start-…ness-read-this/

Hold on there, kiddo!  Before you quit your day job, there is a lot of thinking to do.  And…yes, more questions to answer.

“Oh, come on,” I hear you say.  “I answered a bazillion questions last time”

True.

But…Wait, there’s more.

Remember I said if you are going to be successful you have to know where you are going?  I want to expand on that.

There is a simple six step formula for being a success at anything.  Here it is.

  1. Know where you are
  2. Know where you want to go.
  3. Take action
  4. Evaluate the results of that action.
  5. Based on what you found out in step 4, repeat the action, modify the action, or try something different
  6. Repeat steps 3, 4, & 5 until you get what you want.

“Really,” you say.  “Huh, six simple steps.  Who knew it was that easy?”

Yes it is that easy.  But (ah yes, there’s always a but) you have to apply the six steps, with brutal efficiency.  You cannot let anything get in your way.

And…remember Murphy’s First Law, “Nothing is as easy as it looks.”

Let’s look at the six steps.

I’m assuming you have completed Step 1.  You know where you are.

Step 2 is know where you want to go.  This step actually contains two elements: A Business Plan; and an Operations Manual.

Why Do I Need an Operations Manual?

Two good reasons:

  1. Even if there’s only you, it forces you to think about how you are going to handle your customers and/or clients
  2. An operations manual standardizes policies and procedures for your employees.  They will know what to do if you’re not around.

Building an Operations Manual is easy.  Get a three ring notebook.  At the top of each page list a topic.

One topic might be customer relations.

Under customer relations you might list: “Answering Telephone Calls.  The script is: ‘Good (morning)(afternoon)This is Fred, how may I help you today?’”

Now as things occur to you, get out that notebook, creating topic sheets as you go, and adding items to them.

My point is, you don’t have to write the whole operations manual in one sitting.

The same is true for the business plan.  You do need a plan.

What? A Business Plan Too?

Here is the challenge with a business plan.  You sit down and spend a week on it.  You wind up with a 50 page document, complete with graphs, Xcel spreadsheets, and time lines.  Now you think you’re locked into it.  Every action’s evaluated by how it fits into the plan. Then something goes wrong.  Now what?  Do you sit down and rewrite the whole thing?

General George Patton, the famous WWII Tank Commander once said, “The best battle plan in the world isn’t worth a damn after the first shot is fired.”

Here’s this quote from Dwight Eisenhower: “The plan is useless, but planning is essential.”  (Berry, Tim (2008-08-01). The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan (Kindle Locations 214-216). Entrepreneur Press. Kindle Edition.)

Let me put this another way, the plan is not the battle.

You have to stay flexible.  Don’t plan too far ahead.

This is where the six steps come in.

The first page of the business plan is your success statement.  You should have this from the last blog.

This is your goal.  From now on, with everything you do, every action you take, you should be asking yourself, “How does this support my goal?”

This also is Step 2 from the list above.

Now comes Step 3.  Look at your goal.  Ask yourself, “What is the first thing I need to do in order to achieve my goal?”  Write it down. Then ask “What is the next thing?”  Keep asking until you have five or six things on your list.

Now, take action.  Do the first thing on the list.  What happened?  Was it a success?  If the answer is yes, then repeat the task.  If the answer is no, what did you learn?  Can you modify the task, and repeat?  Should you abandon that effort and try something different?

I know this sounds overly simplistic.  But here is the point.  If you just begin, one task will lead to the next.  If you stay focused on the goal, as you complete a task, the next one will appear to you.  If it doesn’t, ask yourself “How can I accomplish …?”  Be still.  The answer will come to you.  It may not be instant.  It may take an hour, a day, a week, or a month.  But…it will come.

Keep going.  No matter what happens.  Stay focused.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You will achieve your goal.    

“Oh, come on,” you say. “Nothing is that easy.  Something is bound to go wrong.”

What to do When Things go Wrong!

Yes, indeed.  Something will go wrong.  Murphy’s Third Law says: “If it can go wrong it will.  And, at the worst possible time.”

So what?  Napoleon Hill, in his Laws of Success series of books teaches that in every adversity, there is the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.

Notice I said seed.  That seed, like all seeds, needs nourishing.   Sometimes, the benefit is simply finding within yourself strengths and abilities  you never knew you had.  But, the seed is there.  If you nourish it, you will overcome whatever obstacles are in your path.

Do you know what this means?  You can’t fail. Or, the only way you can fail is by quitting.  Remember, success is never a straight line.  There will be mistakes, dead ends, blind alleys, disasters of all kinds for you to learn from.  These only make you smarter.

Thomas Edison ran over 10,000 trials before he found the right material for the filament in the electric light bulb.

Here’s the hard part.  (You knew there had to be hard part, right?).  The hard part is sticking to steps 1 through 6.  These steps seem simple and they are.  The challenge is in sticking to them, sooner or later we become bored.  Once boredom sets in, we become distracted.  Once distracted, we forget to focus on the goal.

How can you combat this?  The best way I know is to read your goal out loud to yourself at least twice a day.  Why?  Because it will keep the goal upper most in your mind.  When distractions arise, you will ask, “How will doing this move me toward the goal?”  If the answer is, “Not much,” you will drop it.

Follow these simple steps.  And…remember this quote from Winston Churchill.  “Never, Never, Never, Never, give up.”

So…there you have it.  A simple way to build the necessary plans to use as you get ready to launch your new business.

By the way, I think “The Plan as You Go Business Plan” is an absolute must read for anyone starting a new business.  You can buy it here, just by clicking on the link below.

The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan
by Tim BerryTrade Paperback
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