New Business Shows Power of Having a Really Specific Target Market (Watch)

When starting a business, it’s important to have a specific target market in mind. Some businesses target large groups like millennials or women. But others get even more specific.

The Value of a Specific Target Market

Take the case of ExpressionMed. The company, founded by 19-year-old Meghan Sharkus, makes only one type of product — colorful stickers that hold insulin delivery devices in place. The market for this product is small but clear. She’s aiming to help kids with diabetes change the perception around the disease.

Right now, Sharkus makes all of the stickers by hand. But she recently started a Kickstarter campaign in order to get started with machine manufacturing.

So even though her business only offers one type of product targeted at a very specific group of people, it’s doing well enough for her to consider expanding. And since about 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, many of them kids, there’s still a sizeable market for her products.

Other businesses can potentially learn a thing or two from Sharkus. Even though she’s young, she was able to create a product with a very clear purpose and market it to a very specific audience. Whether you sell one product or a hundred, that’s an essential building block of any successful business.

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5 Great Tips on Successful Small Business Branding

5 Small Business Branding Tips

We all understand how important brands can be.  There are brands that signify all over the world.  Nike.  Harley Davidson.  Starbucks.  These are companies that are more than just the products they sell.  They’re lifestyles.  They’re statements, both about the company and the consumers who choose them.

If you think bold, memorable branding is only available to big companies with massive marketing budgets, think again!  No matter your industry, you can cultivate a unique brand that resonates with your clients.  Want to know how to do it?

Small Business Branding Tips

1. Clarify Your Company’s Purpose

For a brand to be meaningful, it must connect to your company’s reason for being (which, incidentally, assumes you have a reason for being above and beyond simply earning an income.)  Why did you start your company?  How do you think you’re making the world a better place?  Without a firm grasp of your purpose, you’ll never be able to communicate what’s unique and important about your company.

2. Enlist Your Employees

Along with clarifying your purpose, you must also ensure that every single member of your staff understands that purpose and knows how and why to communicate that purpose with every customer.  In a perfect world, your purpose isn’t something that’s pounded into your staff.  It’s something you hire for.  When you hire an employee who shares your values, then you’re on the right track.  Effective branding isn’t an afterthought.  It infuses everything you do!

3. Create a Rallying Cry

So for my company, Profit First, our purpose, our rallying cry is “We want to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty!”  We say it, and we mean it.  Every morning huddle (our quickie standing meeting) reiterates our purpose and the steps we’re going to take that day to accomplish it.  Our rallying cry lets us communicate our purpose and values quickly … to anyone and everyone.  That’s our brand.

4. Enlist Your Customers

You know your purpose.  Your staff knows your purpose.  But do your customers know your purpose?  Letting your clients know that they’re buying more than just your goods or services is key to enlisting them in your brand building efforts.  Consider the Life is Good brand.  When people don a t-shirt, they’re making a statement about a lifestyle, rather than just getting dressed.  Folding in what makes you unique and worthwhile is a big part of successful branding.

5. Hire a Pro

Sometimes we think we should be able to do it all, but no matter how talented you are, you need help in the areas that aren’t your strength.  If marketing isn’t your thing, consider hiring a consultant or agency to help you crystallize and evangelize your brand.  Professionals can help you avoid spinning your wheels and wasting money on ineffective tactics.

Your brand is more than just your company name and a slogan.  It’s the expression of your values, your quality, and your unique vision.  Branding done right cements you in the minds of your customers.  It makes it easy for people to understand who you are and what you do.  Branding differentiates you from your competitors, and it speaks to your ideal customer, resonating with the people who will most appreciate your work.

Dollar Brand Photo via Shutterstock

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10 Digital Advertising Trends Important to Small Business

10 Digital Advertising Trends Important to Small Business

We are now nearing the end of Q1 for 2017, and it’s safe to say that numerous advancements have occurred within the digital media world, both good and bad. The accelerated prominence of video has continued, and the mobile phone is still continuing to dominate our lives.

Anyway, it’s a new year which means we can start to develop new digital marketing strategies to propel brands forward in the coming months.

Below are the top 10 trends that will define this year in digital marketing, according to Sean Mulrooney, CEO of NW3 Media:

Digital Advertising Trends

Mobile

Last year was a big one for mobile, and there’s no doubt that we will see the same in 2017. In fact, Zenith predicts that in 2017, mobile advertising will finally reach the critical inflection point and surpass that of desktop.

The prevalence of handheld devices and the fact that desktop traffic is passing into oblivion clearly indicates that mobile is, in fact, the future. If you are not catering your content, ads, and website towards mobile users, then you are missing out on a massive opportunity. Don’t make a few technical tweaks here and there, but honestly examine your online experience to ensure that it’s integrated with a user’s lifestyle that is “on-the-go.”

Native

Business Insider reports that spending on native advertising reached $7.9 billion in 2016, with projections skyrocketing to $21 billion in 2018, and expected to expand across numerous platforms. Digital savvy consumers are now wary of extremely overt advertising, and the increased ability to skip ads or remove banners on browsers means that a more integrated ad experience is more likely to reach its target audience. If it’s done well, native advertising is unobtrusive and seamlessly integrated into the regular content on a platform, providing value to the audience in addition to reaching them with your advertising.

Video

If you’ve checked in on any of the popular social media sites lately, you’ll notice that most are dominated by video content. Facebook Live, Snapchat stories, not to mention the already ubiquitous videos shared on Twitter and Youtube. (Video is quickly on its way to becoming the king of content.) Fail to incorporate video content in your advertising, and you may be left in the dust.

The trend goes hand in hand with the growth of mobile. Invodo reports that video viewership on mobile surpassed that of desktop since Q4 of 2015. What makes YouTube such an advertising powerhouse is its ability to reach the Millennial audience, with YouTube reaching more 18-49 years olds during primetime than the top 10 TV shows combined.

Interactive Content

Remember those classic magazine quizzes like “What Lipstick Color Are You” or “What Superhero Are You Most Like?” They are here in the digital space too, and they can also be leveraged for their advertising potential.

Content that users interact with leaves a greater impression than those they only read. It takes the audience from a passive to an active role. Interactive content in ads or on the advertiser’s site, from quizzes, polls and infographics is essential in an age when mere visual and written ads are likely to be lost in a sea of content.

Personalized Content

Consumers are now constantly bombarded with ads every day. This dilutes the effect of most advertising campaigns. Yankelovich President Jay Walker-Smith says the average user is now exposed to over 5,000 ads per day, making it difficult to capture the attention of a distracted audience.

In order to cut through the clog, advertisers must hone in on exactly what specific consumers care about — in other words, personalize the ad experience. Fortunately, with increasing data and the ability to track consumer habits, interests and activity, advertisers have the capacity to segment ads to target specific types of users. While it may mean a bit more work initially, the benefits are certainly worth it.

Influencers

Influencers are like word of mouth on steroids. Few tactics are more effective in the digital advertising age than having a well-followed influencer touting your product. Trust is built in, and reach is instant across multiple platforms.

Influencer advertising is on the rise because people tend to trust recommendations from their favorite social media personality much more than any traditional campaign telling them a product is great. Influencers have a vested interest in maintaining a halo of honesty, which then transfers to their recommendations. With the right influencer partners, advertisers can build rapid followings in little time.

The familiar channels of Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Twitter are of course the prime targets. But also consider niche forums such as Reddit. You can even target B2B industry influencers who blog.

Chatbots

Chatbots have come a long way since the days of Microsoft Clippy.

Google’s Allo was launched in September 2016 and hailed as “the most significant chatbot messaging platform ever” with its ability to read and interpret messages, while recommending appropriate responses in turn. Advertisers quickly jumped on the trend, providing the ease of hands-free, voice-activated and concierge-like service right in the consumer’s home.

Chatbots allow for real-time, 24-hour engagement with customers. AIs provide a personalized experience for customers, without the actual need for a person for every customer. A personal sales associate for anyone that wants to chat is the type of positive consumer experience of many companies’ fever dreams; chatbots are making that happen, with AI and big data providing update and market strategy in real-time that will improve the advertising potential the more chatbots are used.

Live Video

Live video is the new “it girl” to the scene, made evident by Snapchat’s meteoric rise. When Facebook announced Live, the company was so confident in the potential of this content distribution channel that it made multi-million dollar deals with publishers like Buzzfeed to keep the content coming in. The deal is working out wonderfully for all parties. Facebook reported that users watched live videos three times longer that those that weren’t live.

Following in the tradition of vlogs and popular reaction videos, the content is more spontaneous, more intimate and able to visually and emotionally reach viewers immediately, creating a more impactful experience that advertisers continually strive for.

Data, Data, Data!

It’s no longer viable to invest in advertising and content if you don’t pay attention to the data and metrics that go with it. Not only can it be used to determine the success or failure of a campaign, but it also gives valuable insight into the minds of customers. This can help advertisers continually perfect and correct what they are putting out.

Every major platform — from email to Facebook, Google and Instagram — provides metrics and data to advertisers. More content interaction means more ways to source data, and cloud storage and machine learning provide a more accurate and faster way to process this data than ever before. Ignore these assets, and your ads will be left in the dust.

Ad Blocking

More than 400 million mobile web users and 200 million desktop web users are using ad-blocking technology to restrict the banner ads displayed on their devices. However, marketers should stop worrying about it. Yes, you read right, stop worrying about it. It’s a reality, and as frustrating as it is, ad blocking is here to stay. There will be a constant cat and mouse game between advertisers and platforms against developers of ad blockers.

It is better for advertisers to focus their energy on diversifying their media and seeking outlets like native advertising and useful content embedded with advertising that circumvents ad blockers. Traditional online advertising is not well received by consumers, blocked or not, so advertisers should focus on creating content consumers want to see, rather than content they consider to be a nuisance.

Final Thoughts

Growing your business isn’t easy, is it? Increasing your influence and earning more customers is a challenge every company deals with. The key to your marketing success is staying on top of the trends. The last thing that you want is to be left behind. Pay close attention to the development of the trends listed in this article, and you will stay ahead of your competition.

Business Photo via Shutterstock

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5 Small Business Marketing Schemes That Will Waste Your Money

5 Small Business Marketing Schemes That Waste Money

Marketing is no easy task. Whole businesses exist devoted to marketing other businesses. Some companies have their own marketing departments. Small businesses often rely on the DIY approach to marketing. When developing your own marketing strategy, take care to avoid wasting your time and money.

Marketing Schemes That Waste Money

Mistake 1: Too Many Social Channels

Judging by some of the marketing advice you’ll come across on the web, you may think you need to be everywhere, all the time.

What a colossal waste.

When it comes to marketing via social networks, the most important thing is for you to be where your target audience is already spending their time. Do your customers spend lots of time on Instagram? Then don’t waste your time Tweeting.

Focus your marketing and engagement efforts on Instagram. This frees up your time to engage directly with your customers even more on their favorite channels. You can find out which social networks your customers prefer by simply asking, or by using a CRM with social media integration built in.

Mistake 2: Creating New Content

You’ve heard you need fresh content all the time. New blog post every day, right? Nope.

Your customers want a relationship with your business. They want to know you value them. They don’t want to get buried in your posts. Trying to create new content about your business or related to your business gets old fast — for you and your customers.

Try a better approach. Use some of your marketing budget to hire a content developer to create high quality content optimized for your business. Remember quality over quantity.

An interesting, professionally crafted infographic will get you much more customer engagement than a rambling post on your biz blog about industry minutiae.

Sharing content is important for engagement and variety. Choose carefully. Share only things that your audience will find value in. Save those 50 cat memes for your personal accounts.

Mistake 3: Casting a Wide Net

Your marketing efforts will work better if you target your audience effectively. Casting a wide net may seem like a simpler method, especially for DIYers, but you’ll end up wasting time and money marketing to the wrong people in the wrong places.

Ask current customers where they spend time online, what encourages them to make a purchase, and how they found you.

Create a Buyer Persona, this is a sort of bio of your ideal customer. Use the persona and any data you collect from customers to identify where best to apply your marketing efforts.

Mistake 4: Influencer Marketing

Everywhere you look, someone is advising you to find influencers to promote your business. This trend in marketing is taking off.

First, decide whether it’s right for your business. If you’re in an obscure industry or create products for a small niche market, influencers are probably not going to be much help to you.

If you decide this is the right path for you, be sure you have compelling things for an influencer to share about you in the first place. An interesting narrative can make all the difference. It’s imperative you identify key influencers in your industry with whom to build relationships.

Avoid wasting your time and money on a low impact influencer or one in the wrong industry.

Mistake 5: Video Marketing

Before you shell out beaucoup bucks hiring a video production company to create the perfect marketing video, consider a few important things. Chances are very good that your customers are watching video online, but where?

It’s important to know what platform your videos would be viewed on before you create one. Marketing videos on Instagram will be consumed a bit differently than on Facebook, for example. What kind of value will video give your customers?

A boring product demo is probably not going to inspire much engagement. A sneak peek of a new product that leaves some features to the imagination can be exciting. Video that makes an emotional impact inspires engagement well.

Before hitching your wagon to a new marketing technique, be sure it’s right for your business. It must be a way to provide your customers something of value. It must be shared where they are most likely to engage. Develop a detailed strategy with clear goals. Always measure your results, so you can make adjustments as necessary.

Throwing Money in Trash Photo via Shutterstock

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How to Run an Email Marketing Campaign That Doesn’t Annoy Recipients

How to Avoid Annoying Your Email List

Email marketing is a core facet of online marketing. No matter how a customer or potential customer landed on your email list, it is important to use the opportunity to build a deeper relationship while avoiding falling into the “annoying” or “spam” categories.

If you want to retain email followers and turn them into customers, follow these basic guidelines to ensure they remain a happy subscriber for years to come.

How to Avoid Annoying Your Email List

Don’t Start with a Hard Sell

People sign up for your email list for a variety of reasons. The most popular methods to build lists today revolve around giveaways and freebies. If someone signs up for your list to get a free eBook, the first thing you do shouldn’t be asking for money.

It is okay to sell to your email list. In fact, that is the biggest reason to have an email list for most brands, but it takes time to build the trust for someone to want to spend money on your product or service. Instead of starting with a sale, start by thanking them for being a part of your list and giving them the free giveaway they asked for.

Focus on Being Helpful

If you are helpful, users will start to trust and enjoy hearing from you. Always try to be as helpful as possible each time you send a message to a subscriber. Either include something useful for your target audience in the email text or point readers to another resource on the web, maybe something new on your blog, that will help them succeed.

If you help your subscribers regularly, they are sure to come back for more. The more helpful you are, the more loyal they will be. If you really change the game for someone, they might even become an online evangelist helping spread the word about your business.

Mix Up Your Emails to Stay Interesting

If you use the same template again and again and again and again and again and again and again, you will see more and more readers clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of your emails. Don’t be repetitive and boring, be useful and fun.

In my email series for new subscribers at Personal Profitability, I have some short emails and some long emails. Some focus on a specific tool that can help people save time and money, while others focus on “homework” readers can participate in to level up their finances. By mixing things up and keeping it interesting, I have seen my email open rates increase and my list size grow.

Be Genuine and Honest

My email subscribers trust me because I am honest, transparent and genuine. In fact, I go so far as to publish how much money I earn each month on my website. While that may seem crazy in a world where money talk is still a faux pas, by sharing my successes and failures, I am showing readers my true colors, further building trust.

Sharing my online income reports each month also gives subscribers a reason to come back to my site each month. I give a unique, personal update via email and share the details on the blog.

Make Your Emails Something People Look Forward To

I have unsubscribed from hundreds of newsletters, but there are a few that I have stuck with over time. One example is Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income email list. Pat is an online entrepreneurship rock star, and his emails and blog posts give amazing, free information that helps me and thousands of others improve their online business.

I always look forward to Pat’s emails because he is genuine, friendly and incredibly helpful. His free guides are packed with actionable steps and tips that anyone with a business can use to improve online performance. While I know an email from Pat will likely lead to me doing more work, I look forward to it because his advice almost always comes with a great payoff.

Be Clear About Your Goals

Passive aggressiveness is horribly annoying in real life, subtle hints online are not even tolerable to most people. When you are trying to be helpful, be clear that your goal with that email is being helpful. If you are trying to get affiliate signups, be clear and present your readers with one thing to do in that email, signing up for the affiliate.

When it comes to product sales, you shouldn’t sell with every single email, but it is okay to make a direct sale every once in a while. In my old website development business, emails one to four were solely designed to be helpful. Number five was a soft sell. Six through eight were also freebies packed with useful information. The final email in the signup series, email nine, was a hard sell. In the selling emails, I made it very clear that my goals were to sell a service.

Put Yourself in the Subscriber’s Position

How do you feel when you signup for email lists? Why do you choose to signup and what keeps you on the list with so many demands for your attention? Learn from your favorite email lists and mimic, without directly copying, what your favorite email lists provide.

If you can synthesize what you enjoy and put your own original twist on it, you are sure to retain subscribers for the long-term. And long-term subscribers are the most likely to become fans and customers. If you can avoid being annoying and always focus on providing great value, you will be on track for great success with your list.

Email Marketing Photo via Shutterstock

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How to Acquire Higher Quality Backlinks

How to Acquire Higher Quality Backlinks

Google stated that there are three top factors that go into their search ranking algorithm: RankBrain, their artificial intelligence system, content and links. They also then clarified that the top two factors were content and links. Not trying to put words in Google’s mouth, but I would venture to say that links are the most important and powerful part of SEO.

Links are how search engines determine what a site is, how relevant the site is, how pages are related, etc. They show search engines how to rank your page, so you want to make sure that you have a strong link building strategy as part of your SEO plan. Links are one of your most powerful assets, and they take time and dedication. Below are four tips to help you acquire higher quality backlinks for your site.

Sources of Higher Quality Backlinks

Trustworthy Sites

Not all links are created equal. Some sites provide better SEO juice than others. Think about it this way. Lets say that you are up for a promotion at work. You would rather have your manager or direct supervisor tell your boss how good of an employee you are instead of the intern who has been there two days. Why? Because a manager or supervisor has more authority than the intern. That’s not to say that the intern is useless or unwanted. It’s just their opinion is probably going to hold less weight in the eyes of your boss.

Same goes for SEO. A link from a site that has been deemed authoritative on its topic, like the Wall Street Journal, is going to give you better results than a link from a newspaper source that has been around for two months. These high-quality sites are more trust worthy to search engines and will give you more of an increase in the SERPs. Reach out to newspaper sites, education sites, .gov sites and .org sites to see if they would take your content, which will give you a backlink.

Guest Posting

Guest posting or guest blogging is when you offer to write content for another site in order to get yourself in front of their audience and then get a link back to your site. Guest posting is perhaps the best way to generate high-quality, lasting inbound links. You get more control over the links and URLs and over the content in general. However, this takes a little more effort than some other techniques.

Make sure you find well-known and trusted blogs to send your content to. Write a relevant, and quality piece of content and send it to these publishing sites. If it works for their audience, they will post it and you get your name in front of people you never otherwise would have and you get a backlink pointed at your own site. Also, guest posting helps you to build relationships with other sites and their readers. 

Competitor’s Links

One great way to increase your link building strategy is to analyze your competitor’s links. This will give you ideas of sources that you should be using for links for your own site. You can use Monitor Backlinks to examine their links.

After seeing what links your competitors have, make a list of those sites and try to get links from those sites or similar ones. Maybe take a piece of content they have on another site and rewrite it to make it better, and then send it out and try to get a link back.

Social Media

Even though many social media sites use no follow tags, I still believe that social media can definitely help you acquire better links for your overall strategy. Social media links might not increase your placement in the SERPs, but they are still links that are pointed to you that search engines can crawl, and as search engines continue to get better about using social sites to rank websites, it is something you want to use to your advantage.

However, one piece of advice. Make sure that you use the links on your social profile wisely. You want to send your viewers back to your website. That’s the end game.

Conclusion

Links are one of the top three factors that Google considers when deciding ranking, therefore, it is imperative that you have quality backlinks pointing to your site. If you work hard on your links, you should see real improvement to your rankings and your overall SEO.

Link Photo via Shutterstock

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Mobile Minutes: Internet culture; Amazon automation; WhatsApp patches flaws; Twitter hack

Today in mobile marketing – How the Internet is saving culture, not killing it; Amazon: Automation doesn’t have to kill jobs; WhatsApp, Telegram patch flaws in instant messaging applications; Twitter swastika hack comes at fragile time for company.

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Veuve Clicquot’s pay-to-play social strategy yields category’s best returns: L2 – Luxury Daily

Luxury Daily today – Veuve Clicquot’s pay-to-play social strategy yields category’s best returns: L2; Luxury brands falter with young millennials: report.

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Mobile Minutes: Germany fines hate speech; Alphabet jargon; Netflix takes aim at studios; Sound wave phone hacks

Today in mobile minutes – Germany plans to fine social media sites over hate speech; Alphabet’s Jigsaw wants to explain tech jargon to you; Netflix tries to outdo theaters with films a studio can envy; It’s possible to hack a phone with sound waves, researchers show.

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Tag Heuer embraces “luxury codes of tomorrow” via smartwatch and see-now, buy-now – Luxury Daily

Luxury Daily today – Tag Heuer embraces “luxury codes of tomorrow” via smartwatch and see-now, buy-now; Personalized ecommerce engagement drives in-store sales.

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