Tag Archive for 'Business'

5 Location-Based Mobile Marketing Tools for Small Businesses

file5041278531097With location-based marketing, you can do double duty, promoting your brand while helping potential customers find you. And those customers will want to find you, especially when they’re on the go. In fact, more than 40 percent of mobile Web searches are for local businesses, according to Google. If you haven’t fine-tuned your small business’ Web presence for location-based marketing, you’re likely missing out.

Location-based marketing works because smartphones make it easy for consumers to search for the best nearby businesses — and the best nearby deals. But location-based marketing is a new frontier, and it’s hard to know where to begin. Here are five simple ways you can take advantage of smartphones and GPS technology to engage and entice potential customers.

1. Directories

First things first: make sure your business is listed in the places where mobile customers are looking.  That means large search engine directories such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, which have built-in map services that consumers can use to find local businesses when they’re on the go. Almost as important as being listed is keeping the online profiles for your business up to date, with accurate street addresses, phone numbers and other relevant information. Consumers who can’t find or contact you via the Web are less likely to become customers.

Try: Google, Bing, Yahoo

2. Location-based coupons

Coupons and offers can drive foot traffic into your store. This works particularly well when you target deals to customers who are searching nearby from their smartphones. The proliferation of mobile GPS technology has opened up new ways to get your latest promotions to the closest potential customers. With services such as Groupon and LivingSocial, consumers can search for deals in their area, then redeem the coupons after arriving at your business. Others services, such as MobSav, use GPS data to push your small business’ promotion straight to consumers’ smartphones.

Try: Groupon, LivingSocial, MobSav

3. SMS marketing

Most mobile phone users have programmed their phones to alert them whenever a new SMS, or text, message arrives, and users read the majority of such messages within a few minutes of receiving them. Services such as AT&T Alerts and Thumbvista take advantage of these consumer habits by using GPS technology to push deals straight to consumers via text messaging. Customers can opt-in to receive text message notifications whenever physically approaching a business that is currently hosting a sale or promotion. Customers can also pick which brands or product categories they want to hear about, so anyone who receives your message is more likely to be interested.

Try: AT&T Alerts, Thumbvista

4. Check-ins

Using social media sites such as FourSquare and Facebook, you can leverage the social media accounts of your customers to promote your brand. It works like this: when customers arrive at your business, they can use their smartphone to “check in.” This shares the customer’s location with their social media contacts. In effect, a check-in acts as a recommendation, and that recommendation could convince others to give your business a try. Small business owners can’t control which customers choose to check in at their businesses, but they can provide incentives. For example, consider offering a small discount for any customer who checks in at your business via a social media profile. And make sure to remind customers of those rewards.

Try: Foursquare, Facebook

5. Online Reviews

Consumers want to know which locations are nearby, but they also want to know which ones are worth using. When a potential customer uses a smartphone to find local businesses, they’re likely to browse reviews on platforms such as Google+ Local or Yelp before deciding where to go. A few positive ratings can go a long way toward turning a potential customer into a real one. Unfortunately, small business owners have limited control over how others represent their brand online — but there are steps you can take to manage online perception. If your business receives a negative review, consider a polite, professional response. You might also encourage satisfied customers to log on and leave reviews. Of course, providing an excellent product or service will always be the best path to a glowing consumer review.

Try: Google+ Local, Yelp, Truelocal

 

By Brett Nuckles

When To Act As If You Only Have One Customer

The chances of any one person getting hit by lightning are something like 0.01 percent, but as they say, if you happen to be the one who gets struck, those odds just went up to 100 percent. There’s a business parallel to that bit of fun-with-numbers: One person may represent 0.01 percent of your customer base (or 5 percent or 20 percent), but when she’s dealing with you she is 100 percent of that population.

Of course, good people working for good customer service organisations always laser-focus on the individual with whom they’re dealing at any given time (at least we hope so). But in the broader thinking of a company, it’s typical to consider customers in the aggregate — whether through policies and mottos like “we give our customers our best every day,” or internal company policies like “all customers who claim they got defective units should be offered a refund or exchange.”

In the normal course of business planning, marketing and operations, it’s usually fine to think of customers collectively. But there are situations when it’s better to think and behave as if you have only one.

The one-customer mindset will serve you especially well when there’s a large-scale problem. Sooner or later, every business has an issue that affects a large portion — if not all — of its customers. Could be a service interruption, a defect or recall, extended stock outage, website glitch or a promotion that backfires. When that happens, the natural reaction of some people and organisations is to run around in a panic, like the sky is falling. I’ve fallen into that trap and found that this disaster-scenario mentality almost always leads to unnecessary (often extreme and disproportionate) stress and distraction, which in turn leads to muddled thinking, bad decisions and bad actions.

Now, when we have an issue that affects a significant number of customers (fortunately those problems are rare) I remind my team, and myself, that if we dwell on the theoretical number of people who might be affected — that is, thinking of our customers communally and the problem globally — we’ll just be freaking out until the issue is resolved. Imagining a room full of phones ringing, emails pinging and torch-carrying mobs at the gate isn’t constructive. But if we remember that each customer only knows and cares about his or her own situation (the “100 percent” anecdote I began with), we’re able to calm down and deal with manageable bites.

Instead of worrying that “everyone” is going to be upset, as if all of your customers are in a room together comparing notes, worry about that one customer being upset, because — unless you’re a high-visibility company in the middle of a class action or other PR nightmare — that’s usually the way your customers are thinking. Figuring out, whether philosophically or literally, how you’ll handle that one customer will bring clarity and likely lead to the best, fastest and least stressful resolution for all involved.

To be clear, this may not change the inevitable scope or cost of a problem. But again, the individual customer neither knows nor cares about that. One-customer thinking averts panic, converts emotional energy to productive energy and creates the right mindset for coming up with the best solution. Figure out the best way to help your one customer, take care of the her, repeat. You’ll find that most of these things don’t wind up being as bad as you think they will, and the sky usually won’t fall.

By Michael Hess

A Good Marketing Plan is Many Faceted

A good marketing plan has many facets to it – or at least it should. When a company focuses their marketing on just one avenue of promotion, they are limiting themselves and the effectiveness of their promotional efforts. An effective marketing program should have some or all of the following:

• Website – A website is no longer a nice option. With the advancement of technology, a good portion of the world’s population uses a computer – from desktop to laptop to handheld – and the best way to reach them or let them know about your company and your products or services is to have a website that tells a prospective customer who you are, where you are located, and what you do. A company without a website is immediately eliminating their access to a large part of their market.

• Blog – Blogging has become a way to “send a note” to millions of people. By using blogging as a marketing tool, companies are able to give the marketplace an opportunity to get to know more about who they are, what they do, and what they stand for. Blogging can bring a personal element into what can be an impersonal world of Internet marketing.

 • Facebook and/or other social media – While social media is typically not effective for “selling,” it is extremely helpful for getting your business name in front of millions of people. If your business is a service business that is looking for customers in your local area, social media is a very efficient tool for getting neighbours to tell neighbours. In fact, Facebook is “word of mouth” marketing at its best and strongest.

 • Twitter – This marketing medium is simply a series of short messages sent out each day to people who “opt in” to follow you on Twitter. Messages are short, informative, or entertaining and can be useful for businesses in keeping their customers informed or getting potential customers interested.

• Postcard Mailings – While technology is a strong part of marketing in today’s world, postcard mailings are still an important piece of a well-rounded marketing plan. These mailings give your customers, or potential customers, information about your business in a retainable form that can be placed on their desk, hung on the refrigerator, or kept in their purse or wallet to remind them of an event, inform them of a new product, or keep your company’s name in front of them.

• Article writing – There are millions of sites on the Internet that are constantly looking for information on a variety of topics. Article writing can get your information into the hands of millions of people and help create credibility for you and your business as “experts” in your field. If you or someone in your company does not have the talent, experience, or expertise for writing articles, there are companies who can provide that service for you.

• Monthly or Quarterly Newsletter – Many businesses forget about marketing to their already established customers, and that’s a large mistake. Customers need to feel valued and informed, and a monthly or quarterly newsletter provides businesses a way to do just that. Newsletters can be mailed or they can be delivered through email. They should not be used as a “sales piece” but instead as a way to provide your customers with important and useful information about your field of expertise.

• Press Releases – All media, from local newspapers, magazines, radio programs or television stations to Internet sites and blog programs, need people and stories to fill their slots and their spaces. A press release is the generally accepted method for providing information to those outlets.

• Direct Marketing – There are times that the best form of marketing is to get physical materials into the hands of your customers or prospective customers, and that’s where direct marketing comes in. Direct marketing materials include mailers, flyers and even catalogs, and are generally mailed directly to your target market.

Marketing is an important and essential part of any business and one that should be approached with forethought and planning and have many different facets and approaches contained within it. If your business does not have the knowledge or expertise to develop a good, thorough, many faceted marketing plan, it will be money well spent to find an business that can provide that service for you.
Published At: Isnare.com