Marketing

How to Succeed

by Christi on August 10, 2011

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great! Don’t know who originally said that, but it is very true. We help businesses get found on the web and convert visitors into qualified leads for their business. We use proven methods that absolutely work. But, nothing works if you never start! Proven methods also don’t work well if you get started and then quit because you think they aren’t working fast enough.

It seems that some businesses are too busy looking for a magic bullet that will miraculously save them, while they should just get down to doing the real work that will yield results. Will you get results overnight? No, you won’t. Is there something that is a magic bullet, that will make you rich overnight and solve all of your problems instantly? No, there isn’t.

Technology is wonderful. It has provided us with ways to communicate and connect with our target market that was simply not ever possible before. But it has also made us impatient. We want guaranteed, fast results and we want them yesterday! Unfortunately, our impatience can cause us to give up too soon. Although we have a virtual persona, we still live in the real world where consistent, hard work still pays off.

Part of the methodology we use that is most effective and rewarding is blogging. It is also one of the most difficult because it is time consuming to do the research and then sit down and actually do the writing. However, sharing knowledge is not only helpful to other businesses (hopefully), it is also good for helping them find us online. We actually love helping businesses succeed whether they use our services or not. We write this blog to share business and marketing ideas that we know work. Successful businesses help all of us!

Last year, we were blogging occasionally. In December of 2010, we started using HubSpot software and in February of this year, we completely moved our site to the HubSpot CMS and started consistently using their methodology which includes regular blogging. Here is what has happened since February:

Marketing StatsThe darker green at the top of the graph is organic traffic that has found us through search engines. Did our traffic grow overnight? No! Have we felt discouraged at times? Yes! However, we remained committed and have consistently put in the time and work to keep pushing through. HubSpot is both a tool and a process. Just like any tool, if it is just sitting in the drawer, unused, it is useless. And like any process, if you don’t follow the steps, it doesn’t work.

If you are looking for a magic bullet, just stop! There is no magic bullet. Start making a plan for success with realistic goals and methods that will work. As my daddy used to say, “Plan your work, then work your plan.”




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How To Be Remarkable?

by Christi on August 4, 2011

Be RemarkableI was reading Joe B.’s post yesterday that talked about website design and being remarkable and easy to use. It got me to thinking. What does it mean to be remarkable. What does it mean to be creative? That brought me full circle back to being useful and making things easy. Making things easy is what is remarkable. It is what drives innovation.

Think about how many innovations have occurred to make things easier. The light bulb makes it easier for us to read and live after the sun goes down. Ever had your electricity go out after dark? Those candles and flashlights just don’t get the job done quite as well. How about the microwave. Microwaves make it easy and fast to heat up/cook food.

The telephone made it easier for us to connect with our neighbors and friends and family and even easier to contact help in case of emergencies. Now, we have cell phones that help us stay connected all the time. We used to have to dial numbers on rotary phones. Think about how long that took compared to today when you just look at your contact list and tap a button or speak a name and it calls them automatically.

When the internet was invented, it wasn’t intended to be used as it is today, but innovation took over and has driven us to where we are now. We can now connect so easily! Ease of use is what drive innovation!

How can you be remarkable? Make things easy! Can you streamline your product? Can you make it faster, smaller, easier to use? Maybe you provide a service. What can you do to make things easier for your customers? Can you provide better, faster service with more attention to detail? How many times have you stood in a checkout line and thought, “There must be a better way?” How many times have you needed information and had a difficult time finding it? How many times have you started a project and discovered you didn’t have all the tools you needed?

Sometimes, don’t you just think, “There must be and easier way!” Do your customers think that about your products and services? Okay, here is your chance to be remarkable – just figure out a way to make things easier!




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Lessons from Steve Jobs

by Christi on August 1, 2011

Steve JobsMy husband, Joe B.,  is a what people call a Mac addict. His first computer was an Apple /// in 1979 and he has stuck with Apple since then. This past week, there was a story about Apple having more money than the U. S. Government. It seems that every few weeks or so, there is more news of Apple’s latest success. I asked Joe B. what he thought was the reason for Apple’s success. He summed it up quickly . . . Steve Jobs and innovation. Here are a couple of take-aways that your business (and mine) can ponder from Steve Jobs:

  • Think different – That used to be the Apple slogan and it is exactly what they have done. Some of their industry changing products include the iPod, the iPhone, iTunes and the app exchange. Users of these products are always amazed by their capabilities and the thought that has been put into them. One of Joe B.’s examples was when they gave you the ability to listen to a specific message in y0ur voice mail without having to go through all of them. It is a little thing but it made a big difference to him that they thought of it.
  • Build great products – In an interview of Steve Jobs that I read, this is one of things that he and his partner, Steve Wasniak learned when they worked at Hewlett Packard that they brought with them to Apple. It is all about making a product great. Some have criticized Steve Jobs as being a control freak. His dislike of Adobe Flash is an example of how passionate he is about doing it right. He feels so strongly about Flash being a security risk, memory and resource drain and is not touch-based that he does not allow it on his hand held devices (of course their are apps to get around that). He has moved past PC, desktop based computers and is focusing on the future and what that will bring.
  • Think ahead – Steve Jobs and his team at Apple are always thinking ahead and being innovative. It seems that everyone else is just trying to keep up. As soon as they catch up, Apple announces a new innovation.

How can you apply any of these lessons from Steve Jobs to your own business? Are you doing anything innovative? It may true that, right now, most of the innovation is in the fields of technology. How are you utilizing that? Something to think about. I know, I am.

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outbound vs inbound marketingInbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing. We talk about it here often. Inbound Marketing, a phrase coined by the folks at HubSpot, is permission based marketing. It is based upon the premise that a potential customer has a need for your product/service, is searching for someone to fulfill that need, finds you and gives you permission to tell him/her about what you have to offer.

Outbound Marketing is also known as interruption marketing. It is where a business interrupts a potential customer from what they are doing to try and convince them to buy something. A lot of outbound marketing is based upon conventional advertising- ads in and on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc. We have become so immune to conventional advertising that advertisers keep upping the ante to grab our attention.

When I got my MBA in Marketing some thirty plus years ago, outbound marketing was about all there was. And that was pretty much the case until the dawn of the internet and search engines. So I can understand why traditional advertising and marketing firms have a tough time “getting it”. Inbound marketing is a mind set and a process.

You can always tell when someone with a traditional outbound marketing background or mind set creates a website. They will continue to try to gain your attention, usually with flashy elements, after you’re already there. Their old style marketing had so much to do with getting your attention and having your remember their name, that they’ve forgot what to do when you said, “here I am, sell me.” And while all that flashy stuff may be cool to look at, it actually gets in the way. Studies show that people actually prefer a blander, but easier to navigate website to the flashier, or even more pleasing to the eye, website.

Inbound marketers, on the other hand, understand that they already have the potential customer’s attention. So they proceed to show the potential customer how they can satisfy his need or solve his problem. They do this through a series of calls to action, moving the potential customer from the top of the sales funnel to the bottom. And the beauty of this process is that it can be measured for its effectiveness.

If you are interested in learning how inbound marketing can help your business, email us at [email protected] or call 870.404.1985.

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Facebook Marketing – Are You Human?

by Christi on June 20, 2011

not humanSocial media has given us ways to connect and network in ways that are just incredible. Social media marketing is on the rise, and more and more people are connecting with businesses through social media. However, sometimes with social media, you can lose your human element. The human element is what makes people want to do business with you in the first place. People don’t do business with businesses, they do business with people! Let’s look at a few examples of not having the human element.

I am reminded of a lady at a Facebook seminar I attended telling us that she didn’t want a personal profile – she just wanted a business page where she could post her specials. She didn’t want to have to interact with anyone, and she didn’t want anyone to get to know her personally. She really misses the whole point of social media. She actually saw the value of Facebook and it’s potential for reaching a lot of people, she just didn’t want them to know who she was.

Recently, I commented to a business owner about something that I had posted on my Facebook wall that he might find interesting. He told me that he never looks at anyone else’s profile or even his own news feed – he just looks at his own profile and his own business page. He will interact if someone interacts with him first, but he doesn’t actively go out and show interest in them. He is also missing the point of social media. It’s all about him.

One business man uses his Facebook profile and page to broadcast all about his business. When you look at his profile, you don’t see anything about him just his business. Everything revolves around business. I happen to know this man personally and know that he is an avid gardener and loves cooking. Even though I understand that he is a business owner, adding a little bit of personal information would really help people connect to him as a person.

All of the people in the examples are very nice people who are friendly people to do business with. They actually are interested in other people and care about their customers. I know that about them because I know them personally. They don’t show what great people they are on Facebook. They just haven’t transferred their human element to social media.

Facebook is a great marketing tool because it gives you the opportunity to reach more people. The important thing to keep in mind is not that you just reach them but that you actively interact as someone who is interested them. You have to interact as someone who is human.

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Inbound Marketing Is Like Gardening

by Christi on June 17, 2011

inbound marketing gardenInbound Marketing grows your business. Gardening grows plants that are useful as food as well as plants that are pleasing to the eye. My friends kid me about seeing marketing lessons in everything. However, as I was tending my garden the other day, some similarities occurred to me.

Inbound Marketing, or any marketing for that matter, begins with a good product or service- one that will be the foundation for your growth. The same is true of the soil you use in a garden. If the soil is not fertile enough or doesn’t meet the conditions necessary for the plants you will grow, your plants will not thrive. Start with the right kind of soil, and you will be much more successful. Start with the right kind of product or service, and you will be much more successful.

Inbound Marketing requires you to promote a product or service that is needed by the market and that will suit your target market. When you are planting a garden, you should choose the types of plants that will grow well in your climate. Trying to grow long season crops in the far North is not a good idea because the climate will not sustain them. Trying to promote a product or service that is not a good fit for your market is not a good idea either. However, when the product and the market are a good fit, it greatly increases your chances for success!

Once you have an appropriate product/service and you have the right market for that product/service, you need to present your product/service well. Inbound Marketing uses the internet to help you reach your target market through your online presence. If done well, you will thrive. That means you must have good content on a search engine friendly site that includes compelling offers and calls to action.

In the garden, you have to plant seeds and plants properly for them to thrive. Some seeds need to be nicked or soaked overnight or even refrigerated before planting for the best results. Some seeds need to be planted deeper than others. Planting plants requires the same attention to detail. Some should be planted in little mounds, while others should be stripped of lower leaves and planted deep. Planting properly and presenting properly is another step towards success.

Once your online presence is established, you need to constantly be adding to it and improving it. You can do this by adding search engine friendly content on a regular basis through a blog. You should also continually be adding value by adding more compelling offers and calls to action. In a garden this is the same. You must water and fertilize your garden for the best results.

When you are using Inbound Marketing to grow your business, you must be on the lookout for problems. You need to make sure your navigation remains easy. You must make sure that you are keeping your marketing goals in mind. You don’t want to lose focus. You have to be committed to regularly adding content and improving your offers. A gardener should always be on the lookout for pests and disease so she can stop them before they do damage. Not paying attention to potential problems is not good for the inbound marketer or the gardener.

inbound marketing gardenThis analogy could go on and on, but I’ll get to the end- the harvest. If you tend to your marketing or your garden properly, it will produce a bountiful harvest that is a wonderful reward for your hard work. I’m reminded of the Little Red Hen who grew the grain, harvested the grain, ground the grain into flour and made bread from the grain while all her barnyard friends lazed away the summer days. Don’t be the barnyard friends who are hungry at harvest time because they didn’t do any work. Be like the Little Red Hen and do the work and enjoy the harvest!



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How to Sell? Talk to People You Can Help!

by Christi on June 16, 2011

Need Sales?We have recently been participating in a great sales course by Frank Belzer and Rick Roberge for Kurlan and Associates. This program was offered to Certified HubSpot Partners. It has been quite a learning process for us. We have lots of experience with marketing, but not so much with sales. This 12 week course has taught us a lot about how we can do a better job defining what problems we can solve for our customers.

Rick Roberge recently wrote a blog article that struck home with me. He was talking about how often we tend to like to stick with people with whom we are familiar and comfortable. We want to talk to people who have the same problems as we do.

I’ve seen this many times at networking events where everyone from the same company sits at the same table and talks only to each other instead of talking to people that they might actually be able to help. I bet you have seen that too.

I’ve also seen that same problem online. Every industry seems to have its own jargon and special ways of communicating. Sometimes we use that same language on our websites, forgetting that people in our target market may not understand what we are saying.

Rick has five ideas that might help:

  • Quit some of your industry groups and associations. Join some of the groups and associations that your customers join.
  • Quit hanging around with people in your industry all the time. Go where your customers hang out.
  • Quit talking to people that have the same problems and issues that you do. Start talking to people that have problems and issues that you can fix.
  • Quit talking to people that have the same problems and issues that you do. Start talking to people that can help you fix problems and issues that you have. Read that again. It’s not a duplicate.
  • Quit stalling and procrastinating. Module #3 addresses identifying, finding and attracting PEOPLE THAT WANT TO BUY WHAT YOU HAVE.

Good advice from Rick for any business. As he said, “It’s not rocket science, it’s sales.”

Frank and Rick are offering this same 12 week course as an on demand webinar series. The course is designed for Value Added Resellers  /  Individual Salespeople  /  Entrepreneurs / Owners  /  Channel Sales  /  Distributors / Dealers  /  Independent Reps.

The 12 week course costs $199. However, if you say that you were referred by Christi Wharton, they will give you the partner price of $149.  Email me [email protected] if you want to take advantage of this great opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business, and I’ll send you the link to sign up!

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Why Your Business Needs A Target Market?

by Joe B on June 14, 2011

target market?“Who is your target market?” That’s usually one of the first questions we ask a new client. And the two most common answers are: “Everyone” and “I don’t know.” Neither answer is acceptable if you plan to have an effective marketing strategy.

Wikipedia defines a target market as “a group of customers that a business has decided to aim its marketing efforts and ultimately its merchandise (service). A well defined target market is the first element to a marketing strategy.”

Without a target market, your marketing efforts will be unfocused. You will likely use the spray and pray marketing model, where you spend money on disconnected marketing efforts and pray for results.

By having a target market, you are able to focus your marketing resources. You can determine what makes this market segment buy (price, quality, professionalism, etc.) and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.

Some market segments prefer quality or expertise to price. If your target market is willing to pay for expertise, become an expert. Start a blog, give away great information in the form of eBook, white papers and blog posts. Your potential customers will say, “if she gives that great information away for free, how good must her paid expertise be?”

By definition, a target market means exclusion. You will be excluding customers in other market segments from your target market. This does not necessarily mean you won’t sell to them. It just means that you will not be spending your marketing resources to capture their business. And, by the way, you can have more than one target market, although you should always have a primary target market.

Having a target market is like having a predetermined destination and a map on a trip. Without a predetermined destination and a map, you don’t know where you are, where you’re going or where you’ll end up. While that may be okay for a trip, it’s not okay for your business.

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Local Search – Are You Invisible?

by Christi on June 13, 2011

Local ListingsWhen someone searches for your local business, can they find you or do you feel invisible? We help businesses all the time increase their visibility on the web so they can be found by people who are searching for them online. There are a lot of things you can do to help people find you online. One of the things that is often overlooked is claiming your local listings.

Each month over 10 BILLION online searches are done by potential customers and 40% are for LOCAL businesses! You can easily see how you are listed and add yourself to local listings through a great little website called getlisted.org. You just enter the name of your business and the zip code, and this website will check your listings in the major search engines as well as Yelp, Best of the Web and HotFrog. It provides you with links that will direct you to the pages where you can add or update your listings.

When you are looking at your listings, make sure you provide complete information. When people find you in local listings, give them as much information as possible. And, by the way, don’t forget to include your keywords in your information! Some of the local listing services will also allow you to post coupons and specials as well. That may be something you will want to consider adding to enhance your local listings.

As I mentioned, there are a lot of things you can do to help people find you online. Claiming your local listings is an easy step that every business can and should do!

If you are in the North Arkansas area, check out the Get Listed Locally seminar that is being held by the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center.

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Marketing Strategy – Something Extra

by Christi on June 6, 2011

Marketing Strategy - LagniappeDoes your marketing strategy include a little something extra? I was talking with friends this weekend about where we shop. Our favorite places all seemed to have one thing in common. We liked businesses that offered a little something extra. It could be that we liked the people who worked there because they were always friendly and knowledgeable. We liked others because they offered a great product that no one else had. In many parts of the South we even have a word for “a little something extra”. We call it a lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap).

Online there are several little extras that can set you apart. A blog is one of them. It is hard for people to get to know you from your business website, but a blog let’s you put a personality to your business. It gives you an opportunity to express your unique opinion in your own voice. Not to mention, it helps you get found by search engines so people can find you more easily as well! A blog could be your online lagniappe.

Your online lagniappe could be your great Facebook page where you offer great information and interact with people. It could be the Facebook specials that you offer to the people who “like” your page.

In a world where every business has to work hard and compete for every dollar, a lagniappe could be your secret marketing strategy weapon.



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