Two weeks ago we sent out our first newsletter in about a year. We won’t get into the reasons why it took so long to get back into the game, but we will say that we’re happy to be back!
We were expecting unsubscribes and non-engaged readers. We had some, but for the most part, we’re happy with the results from our last two newsletters. Now for the challenge going forward: improve our open and click rates, provide information each week that readers are eager to receive, and gain new subscribers in the process.
How does one go about doing this? As I was brushing up on my email marketing skills, I came across this article from Small Business Computing. Although there are thousands of email help articles on the web, this one speaks to our—and hopefully your—small business. The full article goes into detail, but on the surface they suggest:
Integrate email marketing with social media
Make email campaigns viewable on mobile phones
Engage readers by having conversations and inviting them to participate in the discussion
Keep content brief and focused
Don’t overdo on images or design
Track campaigns to determine what’s working and what’s not
Email is essential. We’re committed to making our newsletter something people look forward to getting each week and we’d love for you to subscribe. If your small business needs help starting an email marketing campaign or implementing some of the tips listed above, we can help you build a list from the ground up and start seeing the results from this powerful tool.
After polishing off Rework by the founders of 37 signals and Linchpin by Seth Godin in the past few weeks, I have an even stronger feeling about everyone being a story teller. Your small business or non profit needs all hands on deck. It’s always been a good idea to have all your employees marketing and selling for your business. After all nothing happens until someone sells a product or service right? I love a good cliche. Well if it was remotely true in a world of factories, cogs and the #gotoschoolgetagoodjobwork40yearsandretire mantra, then it’s vital now.
There really is no time to waste. Get your team organized. Let them know that they have a story to tell. The story is the uniqueness of your business. If it’s not unique, interesting or a purple cow (hat tip: Seth Godin once again); then start over with a new vision. Get a new plan. Rework the service. Fine tune the product. Make it remarkable, at least relative to your industry, and then organize your team to be story tellers.
The tools are there now. We can all self publish videos, blogs, pictures, audio recordings and we can all build an audience. No more barriers. That used to be the hard part. Advertising is expensive, even when it’s no longer popular. Even when demand is low. Plus who has the time to interrupt enough people day in and day out. Why not assemble your fans, organize them and let them loose sharing your story with the world- or at least a couple hundred to thousand people. That’ll do.
You can do this yourself if you’re a good listener, learner and have the time. If not we’d love to help, maybe. See it depends. Just like you don’t want just any customer, we’re seeking out remarkable small businesses too. It’s hard to help someone share a boring story. It just won’t spread.
Over the last month and a half I’ve been doing a series of Social Media 101 workshops. Each workshop has been divided into 2 weeks with approximately 10 small business owners, freelancers, consultants or non profit directors. When I was initially contacted by the great folks at Oldham County Chamber they mentioned doing a hands on workshop one time for around 30 small business owners. The workshop evolved into 2 two-week sessions with different groups and it has been a great format.
The format has really worked because it allows me to give the participants the big picture in session one and get their buy in through some real life case studies. The second session allows us to introduce some tools to make businesses more efficient at managing their inbound marketing. Too many businesses are “doing” social media because someone told them they should. In my experience you can’t do it, but you can commit to it over the long haul. You can’t get better at it if the only reason you’re testing the waters is because someone told you that you should.
So if I had to give those who haven’t been able to attend the cliff notes version- here it is in bullet form.
Inbound Marketing or Digital Marketing whatever you prefer. This includes social media, blogging, playing well with search engines (Google), and content marketing.
The key players:
The books to read:
Six Pixels of Separation
Google External Adword Tool
WordPress or Hubspot CMS
Sorry no time to link all these up. Maybe in a follow up post. Just Google them all.
In the past it was a daunting task to keep track of customers. This was true especially if you let it get away from you over the years. If you’re like most small businesses and busy professionals, you probably did.
That brings me to the good news. If you’d done a bad job of keeping tabs on your contacts in the past- you’d have had an uphill battle. Your company would be in for a laborious session using Google, Yellowbook, Whitebook and online directories to find each and every contact. Not anymore.
Here is a strategy I share with all my customers. Get a legal pad and allocate a few hours in several batches throughout a week. Write down those you’ve done business with, networked with and just befriended over the years. Now take said notebook and go to Google. Type in their names one by one. If they’re on the grid, then you’re leveraging the power of six degrees of separation or six pixels if you prefer.
Many will show up in your Google search on Facebook. From there you can find most of their friends. Bet they’re on your list as well. Not on Facebook? No problem. How about LinkedIn? Found someone on LinkedIn, scan their connections. See anyone else on your list? Not on Facebook or LinkedIn, but hey there’s still Twitter. Oh yeah and Flickr, WordPress, Blogger and a million others. Maybe they show up on a contact or about page of a website. Heck maybe they even own their own business now.
Now you are connected to them and their information is fresh because they updated it themselves. No directory guessed at it. So you can connect with them where they’re at or you can bring their info in to your CRM. Now the hard work starts- building relationships and staying top of mind.
If you’re a small business, busy professional, non profit or ministry; what’s it worth to have someone tell your story for you? Is it worth $6000 – $12000 per year? I’m sure you’re spending that much per year on ads. I created a little [download id=”2″] if you have your records handy.
I know businesses that allocate this amount of their budget just to yellow page ads or business card ads in weekly papers. I know businesses who spend this on lead generation programs annually. Some put this kind of money into radio or TV.
Wouldn’t it be more effective to start blogging about what you do, how you do it and who you can help? Wouldn’t it be more effective to create online spaces to organize your fans and customers. Wouldn’t it be more effective to handle your own PR instead of begging for it, or worse yet paying for it from the old media? If you’re a mid sized firm and your getting mad right now, then realize who I’m speaking to, it’s probably not you.
I certainly agree that small businesses, busy professionals, non profits and ministries can’t afford to bring someone on staff for $50-$60 K to handle this task. I’m betting you’re already stretched thin, so delegating this to staff may be out of the question as well. So what other options are there.
We’ve created plans for those who want to outsource storytelling. We’ll be your PR department and Content Managers. We’ll update the content on your site, your Flickr photo feed or your Youtube video channel. We’ll coach you on creating compelling content. We’ll write educational marketing posts for your blog. We’ll handle blog updates on your latest endeavors, fundraisers, events or milestones. We’ll coach you to disseminate information and engage appropriately on Twitter and Facebook. We’ll organize your contacts with email newsletters. We’ll get people talking about your story and if your story isn’t worth talking about, we’ll help recreate it with you. This is what we mean by creating and sharing your story online. They used to call this marketing and advertising. If you want to delegate you or someone on your team to handle this at least check back soon for the launch of our coaching programs and webinars. If you’re interested in our services they range from $499 per month up to $999 per month. We’re only looking to do this for a select number of clients. We’re already handling this for some.
This lesson for small businesses and non profits is from Dr. Russell Conwell’s famous little book “Acres of Diamonds”. Take a few minutes and see how it applies to what you’re doing or not doing. Don’t miss this one!
It’s not your customers job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have a chance to forget you – Patricia Fripp
If you’re Johnie Marketer then you need to make sure your small business or non profit has Sally Service. If all those people you bring in the front door are going straight out the back, then what’s the point. We all know it’s easier to sell an existing customer something than it is to go and get a new customer from scratch. Well why is all the emphasis placed on marketing?
Sally Service has a big place in your business. If she’s not there then Jonhnie Marketer, can sometimes do more damage than good. Also Sarah Systems should be somewhere in the mix. If your systems and methods of operation are not consistent your competition will destroy you on price in this recessionary environment. It’s hard enough if you have good service, but if you don’t have Sarah Systems then you probably won’t have Sally Service. If you do have Sarah and Sally doing their best then you’ve gotta think Johnie Marketer’s job just got a whole lot easier.
I have an idea. Let’s shoot for remarkable service to go along with the remarkable marketing. Then eventually you can spend your time refining your business because if it’s remarkable as Seth Godin says it will spread. If it’s boring it will not. I am going to stop writing now and go work on making my blogs, marketing, systems and service more remarkable. Not enough people are talking about them yet. I’d like to help you make your company remarkable too. Interested Click here.