How can you set your business apart during the holidays?

How To Set Your Business Apart During the Hollidays

Ready, set go! Friday began the foot race leading to Christmas Day. Businesses vie for customers’s dollars in order to turn their bottom line from red to black.

Although consumers are ready to spend, they are also inundated with marketing: commercials, postcard, catalogs, social media posts and ads, emails, texts, phone calls. It’s overwhelming to the consumer and to a business owner with shallow pockets, it may seems as though their is no way to compete.

So what can a small business do?

1. Reach out to your best customers. The people who already know your business and love your products will want to share them with their friends. Or maybe they will ask friends and family to purchase gifts or gift cards for services from your store. Reach out to them with direct, targeted marketing just for them. Let them know what special products you have available and invite the. To any special events you may have.

2. Use emotion to tell your story. What pictures will people react to? Make sure that your visuals will not easily be ignored in the visual clutter that is the holiday season. There’s a reason Xfinity is using ET commercials this time of year.

3. Make them laugh, if appropriate. People are stressed trying to produce the perfect holiday or purchase the perfect gift. Everyone needs a good chuckle. This is a great time for businesses to infuse some G-rated fun into advertising. Sarcasm may not translate so be very careful. Still, a little chuckle may bring customers into your store or to your online site.

What’s most important this holiday season is to make your customers feel the spirit of the season. Stay positive and smiling no matter how challenging your day. Keeping the spirit in your heat may be just what you need to put dollars in your pockets.

If you need more marketing advice, contact me at kparis@itsallgeek2me.org.

Do you have a social media policy for your company?

Every day the headlines are full of companies damaged by something their employees posted on social media. It may have been something they put on the company page, but sometimes it’s on their personal page.

For example, one company had customer service representatives posting about conversations they had during the day. They talked about the stupidity of people calling in with enough information to identify who that person might be. This information was on their personal page, but the employee identified themselves as working for that organization. Because there was no social media policy in place, the employee given a verbal warning, but no real action could be taken.

Every company, no matter the size, should have a policy in place with expectations related to social media posting.

Are political postings allowed? One business owner told me he would never impose restrictions on employees with regard to political postings. Other companies may ask their employees to refrain from defamatory comments about famous individuals or politicians.

Some companies want to restrict information about what is happening in the company and what happens in meetings. Other companies encourage their employees to share information.

It’s important to include policies with regard to clients and their policies. For example, an intern posted a picture of a celebrity receiving treatment at a hospital. The intern was at the hospital as an outside contractor and was not aware the photo was a privacy violation.

Start the conversation. Set up expectations. Work to ensure that if your company goes viral, it’s for a positive reason.

If you need assistance writing a policy, contact me: kparis@itsallgeek2me.org.

 

 

The Importance of Marketing Offline

For Mother’s Day ,my daughter bought me hiking poles. I was going on a walking tour of Italy and have been known to have issues with balance so I asked my daughter to get me the poles.

Last week, this note came in the mail to her. Since she lives in Australia, I opened it and found this note. It was a follow up six months later from the company that sold her the poles. If it had been an email, I would have deleted it. But instead, I opened it, read it and am now sharing it with you. It’s not hand written, but it appears to be at first glance.

In addition, there was a card asking for a review if I liked the product and used it. The poles saved by life as I trekked down a mountain in the rain, so yes I liked them

Note from companyAs a Social Media Marketing Specialist, I help businesses get noticed online. But what you do offline is just as important. What could you do to connect with your customers on a personal level? Send a note. Remember their birthday, if you know when it is.

Everyone wants to feel special and important. Making customers feel this way will create customer loyalty and trust and help with your bottom line. But what’s more important is how people feel about your company and you can’t buy a good reputation.

This week, take steps to reach out to customers on the personal level, especially your best customers. Let them know they are important through a note, call or personal email. It can make a difference.

If you need help with your online or offline marketing, email me at kparis@itsallgeek2me.org and don’t forget to follow me on social media at @itsallgeek2me.

Why does Instagram Make Marketing So Difficult?

Yes, I put it out there. Marketers whisper about it in our Facebook groups, but really I’m putting it out in the world. Instagram makes life difficult for businesses.

Problems with Instagram

1. It’s so damn mobile-friendly, you can’t access it on your lap top.

I had a huge fight with my IT department about this issue. Instagram posts and interactions are only accessible on mobile devices. I tried to explain this to IT and they said yes I could access it on a lap top and did not need to be issued a phone. That is not true. To post or interact you need a mobile device.

2. There is no scheduling mechanism built into Instagram.

With a Facebook business page, you can schedule posts right in Facebook. With Instagram, you must post to Instagram or your story immediately. That means all posting is done in the moment, which doesn’t work for most marketers. Instagram has implemented Creator, but it is glitchy and not imbedded in the platform.

3. It’s Difficult to Share Posts

On Facebook, you can easily share another post if it is marked public. On Instagram you have to get a 3rd party app in order to share your posts. It’s challenging.

3. There is a bug that is that is now identifying users as breaking Instagram policy and threatening to shut down Your page if you use a third party app.

Really! Just really! I found out about that through Hootsuite, not Instagram after they threaten to shut down two of my accounts.

So Why Use It?

1. Instagram is beautiful.

I am constantly amazed by the images that I see on Instagram and how creative companies are and that’s why…

2. People are using it.

Everyday more and more people are finding Instagram. They also spend a lot of time on Instagram especially if you include stories and videos. You have to go where your customers are.

3. Reaches the under 35 demographic.

Although Instagram is growing with an older demographic, it is the place to be if you are looking for a younger demographic. Millennials having money. They are growing up and want to spend money.

Solutions

So what to companies do?

Be aware of the issues you may face when using Instagram. Get someone who knows what they are doing to set you up on Instagram and then be selective in your images. Think about what that audience would like and cater to them. STRONG VISUALS. HASHTAGS. STORIES.

Realize when your marketer tells you Instagram takes more time than other platforms, believe them. If you need additional help, email me at kparis@itsallgeek2me.org.

Is Organic Reach on Facebook No Longer an Option?

As a social media strategist, I often hear that organic reach is dead. That if you do not advertise or boost a post on Facebook that you will never reach anyone, not even your most loyal fans.

I would agree with that statement to a certain extent; however, there are exceptions. I am fortunate enough to work with one of those exceptions, Narcissus Salon, and would like to share why they have great organic numbers on Facebook and what you can do to increase your reach.

A Partnership

One of the reasons that Narcissus Salon is so successful on Facebook is that as their social media strategist I work with them as a partner. They are business owners who take social media seriously. We work together on campaigns and exchange ideas. We don’t always agree, but we talk about the best way to move forward and keep in close communication.

Super fans

They have Superfans. In Pat Flynn’s new book, Superfans, he talks about creating a community of people who help promote your business. Narcissus has Superfans in the community and on their staff. These are people who comment, like and share Narcissus content just because they love the owners and the business.

How did Narcissus get Superfans? One way has been to constantly offer a premium product. They have trained stylist who know their craft. Their salon is a comfortable, positive atmosphere with friendly staff who know their customers. But that’s not enough.

People to People

Kathy and Kristen, the owners, have always made a point of being part of the community. They support nonprofits, participate in the Chamber and donate to Silent Auctions.

In addition, they have an amazing story of two young women with a vision to grow their passion for salon services into a business. I have actually known Kristen since she was 19. Anyone who has known them over the years is not surprised by their success.

Lessons Learned

Some people think social media is about likes, comments and follows. But like every other part of life, it’s about relationships. Their customers are important to them. Often they have liked or commented on a customer’s post before I get a chance to comment. They understand that taking care of people and making them feel special is truly the key to a successful business.

Recently, they were so busy, they missed an important moment in one of their customer’s lives. They were so upset with themselves. Because to them, every customer is family.

True success on social media starts offline with caring about your customer.

For more information about helping you become more successful on social media, email me at kparis@itsallgeek2me.org or message me on Facebook @itsallgeek2me.

Leveraging LinkedIn

When was the last time you checked your LinkedIn profile. Take a few minutes a review your profile. Better yet. Start by Googling yourself. Come on, we all do it.

I bet that your LinkedIn profile is one of the top hits when you Google you. Which means, yes, people are looking at your profile, and so should you. Here are the critical points you want to review.

Profile Picture

Try looking at your profile picture with a critical eye. Could someone actually identify you from your picture? Is the picture so old that you’ve donated the suit you are wearing to Goodwill? Or is it a selfie you snapped just so you would have something, but had always planned to replace it? Either way, change it today or make an appointment to have a professional photo taken. Yes, today.

Cover Photo

Most people don’t even have a cover photo so having one sets you apart. Use the same one that you are using on your Facebook business page. Don’t have a Facebook business page or don’t have a Cover photo? That’s for another time. Just know that you should have one. You can easily create a LinkedIn cover photo at Canva.com.  This is a free tool that is very easy to use and is available as a mobile app.

Job History

Is your LinkedIn profile still showing your last job or have you not filled out your job history at all? Don’t just input the information. Make sure to put in some of your duties, responsibilities and of course, accomplishments. This may take some time, but it is important to review. I also think it’s important to annotate the new name of a company if it has changed since you have been there. Remember people are reading it to find out more about you. They may have never heard of a company you worked for, but may be familiar with the company’s new name. If you haven’t updated this change, it makes you look out of touch.

Education and the Rest

Make sure all your education is included in this section. You never know when an alumni may be looking to reach out. It is also important to include any certifications, awards or accomplishments you have received. This profile is where people can find out about your skills set so don’t be shy.

Take 15 minutes today to look at your LinkedIn profile. If you need assistance getting your profile updated, email me at kparis@itsallgeek2me.org or Direct Message me on Facebook or LinkedIn.

 

Spiritual social media, where should religious institutions draw the line?

Is everything fair game for Facebook? Some people post every waking moment of their day on social media — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. But what about organizations, particularly religious organizations? Should every activity be fair game?

The dilemma occurs because religious organizations need to raise their presence in the community to increase membership and stay viable. However, many organizations would agree that it’s important to maintain the spirituality of their institution.

So it’s important that the leadership of the organization set forth guidelines that can be adhered to when designing a policy.

1. Where can pictures be taken?

While many religious organizations have begun broadcasting services, does that mean anyone can take pictures anywhere? Some individuals who come to worship may have volatile situations they are trying to escape. Broadcasting their image may not just be a violation of their right to privacy, but may actually put their life in danger.

If a religious organization chooses to allow photography and social media postings in the sanctuary, then signs should be posted notifying individuals that by entering, they are giving consent to have their image used on the organization’s social media site. Of course, that may cause people to feel uncomfortable and choose a different location for their worship.

2. Whose picture can be shared on social media?

Sharing images of children on the organization’s social media sites without the express consent of a parent or guardian can create a legal issue for religious organizations. Technically, when individuals are in a public setting, pictures can be taken without permission, but any time you post a photo of a child, it is important to get the parent’s consent.

Again, there may be an issue with the non-custodial parent that could be made worse by a posting a child’s picture on a social media site.

3. Who can post pictures?

Even if the organization does everything right, when an individual who is part of the organization posts photos directly on their personal sites, they are not covered by any release agreements the organization may have. Posting directly to a personal page leaves the individual open to legal concerns. Instead, all photos should be posted on the organization’s sites and shared to personal sites.

In today’s social media driven world, it is important to be cautious when posting for any organization, but religious organizations, in particular, need to ensure the rights of those coming to worship.

If you need help with your social media sites, email me at kparis@itsallgeek2me.org.

Customer Service Goof: Communication is Critical

Have you ever been surprised when you received your bill at a restaurant? That’s what happened to me.

Friday night I went out to dinner with my husband and a friend at a local restaurant. It was crowded and we had a 20 minute wait for an outside table, so we sat at the bar and ordered drinks.

We ordered a round of drinks and before leaving for our table, I ordered a second glass of wine. When I checked the bill, I had been charged $2 more for the second glass of wine. When I questioned the bartender, he said they had run out of the original wine and had replaced it with a different one.

My response, “So I have to pay $2 extra because you ran out of my wine?” His response, “We run out of stuff all the time so we have to do it, sorry.”

I paid the bill and tipped him. It wasn’t his fault That is what we had been told by his manager.

For you business consultants or customers, what’s wrong with this picture?

1. They run out of items all the time. Perhaps a better inventory system needs to be put in place.

2. They didn’t ask me before making a more expensive substitution.

3. I had to look at the check to find the difference. Looking at a check and realizing you have been charged more than you thought you were going to be charged is never a good thing.

Had the bartender taken one moment to tell me about the $2 difference before pouring the wine, I would have been fine. I would not be writing this blog and I would not have a slightly negative feeling about an overall very pleasant evening.

What is something you can do in one minute that could change a customer’s experience for the better? Communication can make all the difference.

If you need help with your business’ marketing, contact me at kparis@itsallgeek2me.org

What Can a Small Business Owner Learn From an Ice Skater?

When my daughter was young, we used to watch ice skating all the time. She liked the beautiful costumes, pretty music and young girls, not much older than herself, who were in the spotlight.

Of course I liked all those things, but what I really loved was the lessons that ice skating teaches.ice skater

Sometimes a performance would be perfect and would go off without a flaw, but more often than not, there was a mistake. It might be a little mistake that no one else but the judges would notice, sometimes it was a huge face plant.

A beautiful, graceful ice skater would go up for a jump, come down on their rear end and slide across the ice. The music was still playing as they picked themselves up, caught up with the music and kept on skating and smiling. Sometimes at the end of the performance you could see their facade crack, but rarely did anyone cry, at least not in public.

I see this as a metaphor for life and business. I have been a business woman for more years than I care to admit. Sometimes, my mistakes have been a little bobble. A missed meeting or deadline, a misspelling on a social media post or forgetting someone’s name during a networking event. The little things that you can cover up from everyone except the judges.

Other times, I have a had huge face plant right on the ice. You know what I mean. The kind of mistake that makes you want to go home and hide or cry or give up.

As a business owner, these falls can happen at anytime. No business is immune. Especially with social media. A small error can be videoed and played over and over. In the past it would have gone unnoticed, but now it’s gone viral.

So think like an ice skater.

1. Prepare like crazy. Ice skaters always know their next step because of all their practice. Check out social media and see what types of things have tripped up other businesses especially your competitors. A bad review or a negative comment on social media. See how that business handled the situation. What did you think about the way they handled it? How would you have handled it differently/

2. Stand up and catch up with the music. Most times you can’t simply ignore the issue. You need to deal with it. Many times owners simply want to delete negative comments, but I encourage them not to do that. My advice is to give the person making the negative comment a way to discuss their concern offline through a company email address. (I draw the line if comments use foul language, disparage an individual or a group of individuals. Those comments always get deleted.

3.  After you recover from your fall, move forward. Don’t dwell on the situation, concentrate on the future. When a reporter asks the skater, “How did you feel when you fell on your face and lost any chance of winning,” the skater always has an answer with a positive spin. “I’ll do better next time.” “I need to practice that spin more.” For a business owner, it might be, “We apologize and will do better to provide better service in the future.”

So the next time someone in your house turns on an ice skating competition, don’t immediately turn it off. Watch how the skaters handle setbacks. How quickly do they get up when they fall? You’ll be amazed how truly tough they are.

If you need help with your social media. contact me. kparis@itsallgeek2me.org.

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