Where You Grow From Here

Archive for the ‘SMB’s’ Category

Are Social Media Fans Better Customers?

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Any time a new medium bursts onto the scene, it seems that big brands and tech companies jump in and experiment, but it takes a few years before SMBs wade in. Understandably so, as SMBs typically have fewer marketing dollars and tend to spend them safely. They don’t have the time or money to experiment with untested, unproven tactics.

So I’m happy to report that social media’s been around long enough that we’re starting to see real results that SMBs can use to develop their social media marketing plans. This survey demonstrates that social media fans are more likely to buy from the brands that they support (on Facebook and Twitter, for example).

It seems like common sense, doesn’t it? Some of my favorite brands on Facebook are small ones. There’s a woman who started a company making necklaces for breastfeeding babies to fiddle with while nursing called “Mommy Necklaces.”  She has nearly 3,500 fans on Facebook (including me) and does an outstanding job of interacting with them. She runs random Facebook-only promotions and giveaways – and I realize I’m only a test case of one – but I’ve bought several more necklaces than I would have as a result.

When someone “likes” you (or “fans” you, as it used to be called) on Facebook, they are essentially giving you permission to market to them. Your updates will appear in their Facebook stream (think of it as their Facebook home page). So while they’re checking out what their friends are up to, they’re also reading your posts. It’s a great way to promote discounts, contests, and ideas. If you’re a B-to-B company, use it to show off your smarts. Post articles or information that might interest your clients.

And when your followers post on your Facebook page, write them back! Thank them, respond to their comments, engage in a dialogue with them. You are forming a relationship online and more and more, these online relationships are becoming BIG drivers of word-of-mouth and new business.

Need help? Let me know. In the meantime, come follow us on Facebook!

The Value of the Perfect Pastry

Friday, May 7th, 2010

promotional marketing

Author: Kemba Johnson

What you would give to a client, you should always give to yourself first.

I’m standing in a Mexican supermarket choosing pastries called besos, empanadas de crema and tabasqueños. No, I wasn’t grocery shopping (well, maybe a little), I was working.

New Thought Marketing was putting together a Cinco de Mayo gift box for clients. And we wanted to include some delicious Mexican pastries. If the boxes were long enough I’d just include the churros from my favorite stand and call it a day… after I tested them one more time of course.

But the box wasn’t long enough. So there I was on my grand pastry expedition. The first sweets I tried were frankly just okay. If I got these in a box, I’d think the idea was cool, but I wouldn’t be excited.

Off to the next place where the empanadas were soft, fresh and delicious, with a light dusting of sugar on top. Perfect. Two bakeries and six pastry tastings: It was a difficult job, but someone had to do it.

So the moral of the story (and yes there is one) is test your marketing promotions in order to give away value. It may be just a 10-cent pen. But if it has your name on it, it represents your brand. So it had better be a good pen, one that you’d like someone to give to you, not one that you have to shake to get to work (don’t you hate that).

At New Thought Marketing, we will often take a client to a promotional items showroom. Not only does this allow our clients to discover new promotional ideas, it allows them to test the quality. As much as you can, try to think about what a customer would be excited to receive, instead of what you are willing to give away.

Sometimes the answer will surprise you… and can actually be cheaper. For example, a major long distance company (I leave which one to your imagination) was offering 30 free minutes, 60 free minutes or a free long distance call of any length to new calling card customers.

Not only did the free long distance call win more new customers, it was also the cheapest, costing about $2.95 on average vs $11.50 for the 60 free minutes and $5.75 for the 30 free minutes. Without testing or putting themselves in the customers’ shoes, the company would have lost potential new customers.

Which one would you have chosen? Think about it: What is 30 minutes or even 60 minutes worth to you? It’s a little too nebulous to wrap your mind around. But a free long distance call…well, that’s a free call to your mother to say everything you need to say. And it doesn’t matter how long it takes. A conversion is ultimately more valuable than free minutes.

In the end, I hope our clients found the pasties delicious…I know I did. Too bad I didn’t have the pleasure of searching for the perfect margarita mix!

Sigg is Stupid

Monday, August 31st, 2009

My husband and I have Sigg water bottles. Have you heard of the brand? It’s what all the cool kids use to cart around their water. Better for the environment than plastic bottles and better than a lot of sports bottles because they’re BPA-free. BPA, or Bisphenol-A, is considered toxic by some countries (Canada has banned it) and is a source of controversy here in the States. Nevertheless, the environmentally conscious, and certainly Sigg’s consumers, are all about BPA-free bottles. So Sigg promoted themselves as BPA-free and they basically lied. It turns out their liners do contain small amounts of BPA. They did a little verbal sleight-of-hand by saying that their bottles didn’t “leach” BPA in tests.

They knew what they were saying. They knew it was dishonest. That they didn’t know they’d get caught is shocking and stupid.

I honestly don’t think there’s enough BPA in the bottles for it to be a problem. But I’m pissed that they lied and I, like millions others, will never buy another Sigg bottle again. This is a bummer. I liked them so much I’ve blogged about them on my personal blog. Even bought a cute custom wrap for my husband’s bottle.

And the CEO of Sigg does not seem to know a lick about damage control. Sure, he claims to be reading and responding to emails personally. But then he goes and says stupid things like, “if retailers keep our old bottles on the shelf, there’s nothing we can do about that.” (I’m paraphrasing slightly.) Dude! You should be out front, apologizing, replacing bottles like crazy, getting independent testing to verify that your bottles and liners are now 100% BPA-free, etc. Actually, you should resign and let someone else clean up your mess. Because you lied. You double downed on your lie when questioned about it, and you’ve broken the consumer’s trust. That’s hard to win back. And since nobody will trust a word you say, you should step aside and let someone else try to mend the fences.

I would not want to be this guy’s PR firm.

I once worked for a guy who asked me to lie to the media. I looked at him like he had two heads and refused. He told me that I was his Vice President, that I was playing in the big leagues, and that I needed to do what was expected of me. Regrettably, I didn’t tell him to go f-himself. Fortunately, the magazine did not pick up the story and none of us had to decide whether we were going to do as we were told or risk losing our jobs.

If Sigg’s CEO had really come clean and reached out as I described above, his customers might be forgiving. As it is, he just handed his competitors several market share points. Kleen Kanteen, here I come!

Footnote: I tried to link to Sigg’s Facebook page but it’s disappeared. Is some ticked off fan messing with them? Or are they shutting down their community to avoid letting people have a place to post negative messages? Do they actually think the conversation will stop? No, it’ll just move on to someplace else where they won’t get to insert their voice . . . like Twitter or blogs. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

More Focus on SMB’s in New Administration

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Do you all ever read Kiplinger’s? I remember reading his newsletter 20+ years ago when I worked at my 2nd job out of college. I check out the online articles now and then. This caught my eye today: the Obama administration seems to be paying more attention to SMB’s than the previous administration.

I also read on Kiplinger’s why a recession is a good time to start a business. But I’m betting some of you already know that, right? I started my business during the last recession and it worked out pretty well for me. Lean times make us more creative, and more accountable.

Cross posted at SMB Hub.

SMB’s are the Job Creators

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

I just read this blog entry on the Washington Post that linked me to this fabulous site with small business stats. You can look up your site and find out how many jobs SMB’s created and other small business facts. For example, small businesses were responsible for ALL of the net job gains in GA from 2004-2005.

I’ve read various statistics about job creation, but the one I see most often is that SMB’s employ 80% of the nation’s workforce. 80%! We need a larger voice in Washington — or at least one that’s commensurate with our awesome responsibility. We make up a huge part of the economy. We see the faces of our workers and go to sleep at night worrying about how we’ll keep sales up so they can keep their jobs. Our employees are not nameless, faceless numbers that get cut when times are tough. (I’m not saying that Fortune 500 companies shouldn’t make those cuts; just that it’s more personal when we do.)

Cross Posted on the SMB Hub

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