Vesta Digital Blog

Posts Tagged ‘networking

LinkedInAs social media marketing grows into a tool that is almost mandatory for businesses to use, certain social media sites are getting weeded out and deemed unhelpful. Many people believe that LinkedIn is not that efficient in attracting customers or clients. This isn’t the case; in fact LinkedIn can be a great tool to attract customers as long as you use it the right way.

With over 80 million influential professionals from over 200 countries on LinkedIn, your potential reach is outstanding. Use LinkedIn properly to find anyone from experienced professionals to small business owners to aspiring entrepreneurs.

According to Kristina Jaramillo, a LinkedIn expert who wrote a brief on Focus.com, there are a few reasons why you are not connecting with the amount of people you want on LinkedIn:

Reason #1 – You are waiting for prospects to come to you

Clients who are willing to pay for your products and services will not just fall into your lap. As an entrepreneur you have to make it part of your job to go out and find them. You have to be the one to take charge and find your prospects.

Here are a few ways to easily engage with others on LinkedIn:

  • Update your status message daily.
  • Start a vigorous discussion in various groups that you belong to. This will enable you to prove your expertise in your given area.
  • Answer questions on the Q & A Boards. This will show your experience and help you become a thought leader

Reason #2 -You fail to take advantage of LinkedIn groups

LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups – where you can network, join conversations and show prospects that you have the answers to their problems. Yet, most small business owners and Internet marketers do not actively seek groups that they should belong to.

If they do join groups they make these two mistakes:

  1. They become a member of a group – but they sit there like a lump on the log. How can you expect prospects to come to you if you do not take the time to make yourself heard?
  2. They join groups where there are like members. Let me put it to you this way, do you want to be a member of a group that is full of your competition or do you want to belong to a group that is full of people who could turn out to be your prospects. It sounds pretty obvious to me that you would want to be where your prospects are. But many entrepreneurs fail to think outside the box and strictly join groups based on their field of expertise.

Another way, to take advantage of LinkedIn groups is to create your own group. This is the absolute best way to create your own community of followers. You are the one who is in charge of the type of content that is posted. You can make sure what you have to say is heard and you have the power to control your own group. From my experience, many group members religiously check out what is being discussed in the groups they find the most useful. Why can’t your group be one of them?

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business leaderAs a small business owner, it is important to know everything you can about your business and your industry. So how do you stay informed and up to date about your business in order for it to thrive? You must learn new information constantly in order to keep up with developments in your field.

An article on SBA.gov discusses the importance of staying informed. The following is a list of 10 ways to stay informed so you can learn to expand your network of information resources in order to help your small business succeed.

Ten Ways to Stay Informed

  • Subscribe to industry or trade publications that focus on your business or the business of your clients and customers.
  • Join a professional association, chamber of commerce, or network with other entrepreneurs in similar industries.
  •  Look for information on the Internet. Watch for opportunities to interact with business or industry experts in chat room interviews. Put the interviews on your appointment calendar and be sure to show up.
  • Subscribe to Internet newsgroups that focus on your industry.
  • Read newspapers – local and national – to track business trends.
  • Talk to your customers and clients. What issues are troubling them? What is their mission? What factors do they think will affect their business in the future? Ask yourself, “How might this affect my business?”
  • Invest in training: attend a conference or seminar on a subject that affects your business. Once there, don’t be a wallflower. Strike up conversations with other participants. If a session is particularly helpful, go up to the speaker to thank him/her or add a comment of your own. Ask for his/her business card. If he/she agrees, you’ll have a resource who’s just a phone call away when you need a fast reality check. Most people are flattered to be consulted – but remember, their time is valuable, so don’t waste it. Ideally, information exchange should be a two-way street. Do you have information that might benefit your source? Share it with him/her.
  • Visit or call your city library or check out the library at a nearby college. Find out what resources – periodicals, newspapers, reference materials – they offer for someone interested in a business like yours.
  • Recognize that at some point you may not be able to know everything about your business. Learn to use consultants or hire employees who can compensate for the gaps in your knowledge.
  • Cultivate your curiosity. Don’t be afraid to try new things. The most important skill you can develop is not the ability to remember information, but the ability to seek out and find the information you need, when you need it and then use it for the benefit of your business.

word of mouth marketingThe answer is simple. Referrals. Are you getting referrals from your customers? If you are missing out, you could be losing valuable business. The key to building a strong customer base is to gain the attention of customers that are already interested in you.

Why referrals?

If you learn from other websites that you yourself have personally visited, they generally give you an incentive to tell your friends, family, and others who might be interested in what they offer. This can be done in a “share” method, encouraging you to participate in conversation through social media networking, or maybe an email subscription.

Any marketing expert will tell you the most important customers you receive are those who have been referred by people you have already done business with. Generally people trust word of mouth marketing over any other type of marketing strategy. People are becoming more and more aware of advertising strategies and thus, a friend’s suggestion is the most welcomed form of advertising in the world of consumer products.

How to ask for referrals

Simply put, people are not usually going to write you and tell you how happy and satisfied they are with your product or services. So you need to ask them how they felt, and if they would refer what you offer to others they know. This is appropriate for everyone in the marketing world, including big businesses, small businesses, sales representatives, etc.

Give them some sort of incentive. For every referral, offer a discount on their next purchase. Or you could give a small gift, like an accessory that supplements your product. In terms of choosing what kind of incentive to give your customer, think about what they want, would they want cash? Discounts? Gifts? It all depends on your industry. If you are an apartment complex owner asking tenants for referrals, cash is more appropriate than a gift.

Your credibility relies on consumers’ opinions of you. By offering incentives to return (with friends), you will be seen as a reliable, dependable, and trustworthy small business. This marketing strategy may be your most profitable one yet.

small businessIsabel Isidoro, an editor for PowerHomeBiz, wrote a great article on what it takes to be an entrepreneur. There are only a few things that separate successful business owners and business owners who fail.

Below are key points for any small business owner to follow in order to succeed and stand out amongst competition. Be a small company that competes with big businesses.

1. Find a Niche.

For small businesses, it is best to find a niche. A small company with limited resources can efficiently serve niche markets. Concentrate your efforts on a fairly narrow market offering. This entails sticking to what you do best, and becoming an expert in that field.

2. Be small, yet think big.

The most common question of small business
start-ups is “How can I compete with my big competitors?“ Small businesses have inherent advantages over big businesses, including flexibility, ability to respond quickly, able to provide a more personalized service. Make sure that your business takes maximum advantage of those areas that represent the strengths of small companies.

3. Differentiate your products.

Present the benefits of your products and services to your customers, highlighting the unique solutions it offers to their problems. Avoid being a copycat; rarely do imitators succeed in the market. Study, but do not copy your competitors, and package your products distinctly.

4. First impression counts.

Strive for accuracy and quality the first time around. You often do not have a second chance to make a good first impression. This entails a well-laid out store, courteous staff, and personable voice over the phone, etc. However, if you are a one-person business working in a home office, remember that you are the center of your business and marketing efforts

5. Good reputation.

Your business hinges on its reputation. It is imperative that you build a good reputation for the quality of your products and support services. Remember that two things guarantee success: high quality goods and superior service. Always aim for quality. If you are a tax consultant, strive to prepare a totally accurate, perfectly done tax returns for your clients.

6. Constant improvement.

Entrepreneurs know that they should not be rigid in their ways of thinking in their quest to improve their best products and services. You risk being left behind by the fast-paced competition if you cling to the “this is how we’ve always done it” kind of thinking. The business environment today demands that you need to come up with new solutions fast!

7. Listen to your customers.

Be market driven: listen and react to your customer’s needs. Customers need to feel that they are important to you ¬ because they are! When you focus on your customers and gain their trust, they will not only recommend you but they will also remain loyal to you. Remember, personal recommendation and word-of-mouth are the least costly yet most effective marketing strategy for your business.

8. Plan for success.

An entrepreneur should understand the power of planning. A good plan helps you increase your chances of succeeding and can help you define your business concepts, estimate costs, predict sales and control your risks. It tells you where you are going and how to get there. Going into business without a plan is like driving into a foreign land without a road map.

generosityI recently read a great post on Copyblogger by Dean Rick, a very popular freelance writer. The post is called Give and Grow Rich: The Power of Focused Generosity.

The idea is that being generous, as an online business will bring you more customer loyalty and brand awareness that your business can’t help but succeed. It is these little practices of generosity that will make your small business stand out among your competition.

Here are a few key points from the post by Dean Rick:

Offer something free.

It can be an ebook, a blog tool, a product sample, a subscription to a genuinely terrific newsletter, or any form of valuable information. It can be anything really, as long as it’s free and relates to your core product or service.

One newsletter I subscribe to used to barrage me with products to buy. I was just about to unsubscribe when suddenly the publisher started being generous, sending occasional emails with valuable information and tips with no hard sales pitch. That made the other more product-focused emails a lot easier to swallow, and I remain a loyal subscriber to this day.

Give something beneficial.

Of course you have reasons for being generous, but don’t make people feel manipulated. Do something for the recipient’s benefit. No conditions. No self-serving verbiage.

Allow the “payback,” if and when it happens, to come naturally. Not only does this make you more likable, it can actually change the way you think about people. They stop being “marks” or even “prospects,” and start being real people you honestly care about. And that will come through in your content.

Give something of value.

What you give should have real value for the person on the receiving end. If you run a blog on financial planning and want to “upsell” your readers to a paid online seminar, don’t just give them a self-serving “tease” that piles on the sales patter . Offer an informative sample of the course with solid value even for those who don’t sign up.

Put a personal face on your gift.

Take off the corporate suit and tie. Don’t have the gift coming from your “business.” It should come from you personally. It is much easier to feel indebted to a person than to a faceless, formal company. And people are more likely to be loyal to you as a person than to your business empire.

loveIt’s great to bring traffic to your online business website. The question is: how do you turn traffic into loyal, returning, and referring customers? The trick is networking and interaction. By using your marketing skills as a business owner, you can attract certain people and get them to stick to your brand, because you have better people skills than your competitors and people want a company they can trust and rely on.

Here are 5 tips to make that happen.

1. Check out what people are saying about you

The most important thing you can do is thank people when you hear them saying positive things about you. If you hear negative things, ask why, and thank them for their suggestions and comments.

2. Have a blog and use it to solve your customers’ problems

Use your blog to address questions your customers have posed. By writing how-to articles, or articles about additional information on the usage of your product, you can get people who are already loyal to your brand even more connected. You can also attract people who don’t know much about your company, because you offer support and additional information through your blogs that competitors don’t.

3. Have little surprises

It can be anything from a small gift to thank a reader for commenting, or birthday gifts to loyal subscribers, you’ll instill positive emotions related to your business. Your customer experience will simply increase in positivity.

4. Start relevant conversations

According to Lisa Barone, Chief Operating Officer of Outspoken media Inc., it’s important to use your blog, a social media site like Facebook, or a competitor’s forums, to start conversations with qualified experts about topics relevant to your customers. Don’t use these conversations to sell; just share your advice and act as a helpful member of society. If your customers want to know more about how you can help them, they’ll know how to get in touch with you.

5. Be honest if you don’t have an answer

Offer to do your research, but avoid making up answers to questions you don’t know the answer to. You can even ask your customers questions about your product, start a poll, or ask for customer feedback. Use the information to make your product better suit the people who buy it.

competitionFor every product or service out there, there are numerous companies that offer each one. How does a consumer choose between so many competitors for a single product? There are a few ways for your brand and your business to stand out in the marketplace.

Choose the Right Product

Be sure to choose a product that is as unique as possible. It is difficult to gain entry into an industry that is already popular and in demand. Or, can you extend a product and offer a valuable service to make the product more useful to the customer.

Provide Service 

The service of a company is a serious concern for consumers. Because consumers have the power in today’s market, your company should be known above all else for excellent service. Retaining a strong customer base comes solely from your networking strategies and service methods.

Target a Niche

Choose an industry or two and become a dominant company. When you specialize in a single industry you can eventually raise your prices.

Make an Offer

Make an offer that is the substance of your reputation. Offer a lifetime warranty. Offer a 100% refund if your customer is dissatisfied.

Solve a Problem

Your consumers have a problem. Your job as a company is to solve them. Turn obstacles into advantages by solving problems consumers approach you with about the product.

Message of Value

Many times there are things that you do that don’t get communicated. Extras that you provide or services you think should be included. Your positioning might just rest in more effectively communicating what you do. Have a message that makes your business. If you are an office supply store, your message is to make businesses valuable and efficient.

Customer Service

Everyone knows the story of over the top customer service provided by Nordstrom’s Create your own over the top customer response system and word of mouth advertising will flow liberally. One of the greatest ways to kick this off is to over deliver on your first customer contact. Give them something more than you promised, give them a gift, give them a related service for free.

Against the competition

Many times you can create your category niche by looking for holes in the offerings of your competitors. If every one in industry fails to address a certain problem, boldly grab on to solving that problem and use your competition as the point of difference.

Once you find your chosen strategy or combination of strategies to differentiate your business, all of your advertising and promotion should be focused on communicating about that difference.