Monday, August 31, 2015

How To Create A Killer Marketing Strategy In One Page

 

marketing--business


Let’s be honest: if you’re a business owner and you don’t have a marketing plan, you’re basically flying blind with your marketing efforts. Quite often, this results in businesses that:
  • Waste a lot of time and money on marketing efforts that don’t work;
  • Aren’t sure why they are doing their marketing;
  • Have a very disjointed approach to their marketing platforms (and this reflects badly on their branding);
  • Are inconsistent in their marketing;
  • Find their growth stagnating.

Clearly, a marketing plan is not optional. However, just having a marketing plan isn’t enough. You have to actually put it into practice.

The problem with most marketing plans is that they are long, complicated, and boring – you’d probably never want to look at them again. That’s why for most small or medium businesses, a one-page marketing plan tends to work best. If you keep it simple, readable, and achievable, you might actually follow it.

Here are some pretty clear benefits of putting together a one-page marketing plan:
  • You’ll be able to put it up on your wall and see it everyday;
  • It’s simple enough for all of your employees to understand;
  • It’s easy to make changes as you go;
  • It’s visually engaging;
  • It keeps you focused on the most important things (no chasing shiny objects);
  • It’s the KISS principle in action.
Because you’re limited to one page, you can only put the most important elements on your marketing plan. Each of these elements are explained in detail below.

Company Statement
You can’t market yourself if you don’t know who you are. This is about more than just the products or services that you sell, it’s also about what makes you different in the market.

Once you know why people should buy from you (as opposed to your competitors), you will find it much easier to decide on an approach with your marketing. This company statement is also a great piece of branding that you can put on your website, print marketing and social media pages.

Example Company Statement: “We are Australia’s largest and most trusted manufacturers of red underwear. We focus on quality, fashion, and are proud to keep our products ahead of current trends.”

Goals
There’s no point doing any marketing until you have some concrete goals written down. Sure, it would be great to “attract more customers”, and “make more sales”, but until you write down exactly how many customers, what you want to sell, and how much you want to sell, and when you want to achieve all of this, it’s all too easy to drift along in your business without really achieving anything.
Example Goals: “We would like to increase our customer base by 10 percent within one year, and have 50 percent of our previous customers purchase from us again during this period.”

Target Audience
Your audience is not “everyone.” Sure, there’s a chance that anyone could need your product or service, and you don’t want to alienate any particular group of people, but when it comes to your marketing, if you can focus on one or two specific audiences, your efforts will be much more effective. Think of your ideal customers – who are the most pleasant to deal with, and who is likely to spend the most?

Example Target Audience: “First-time mothers aged 20-40, living in Australian capital cities.”

Key Competitors
Spend time researching your key competitors. Know what their strengths and weaknesses are, what marketing is working for them, and who their audiences are. Being aware of your competitors ensures that you work hard to make your products, services, and marketing at least as good, if not better.

Tactics/Channels
How will your audience find out about your business, your products, and your services? You could have a presence on every social media channel, every advertising network, and spend hours per day creating content. But chances are, you don’t have the time or budget for this. Know what channels your target audience is likely to access most often, and focus your efforts on these.

Content
There’s not much point in signing up for social media channels, a blog, and a variety of other platforms if you’re not going to share content on them. Businesses with no content give potential customers the impression that they’re either closed or very behind the times. Avoid giving this impression by planning ahead with appropriate content that you can schedule or post regularly. Ask yourself what kind of content your audience might relate to, what information you could share that is relevant to your business, and how you can use it to engage your audience and grow the relationship.

Conversion Funnel
Remember – the point of your marketing is to attract an audience, convert them into leads, nurture them, and then hopefully provide an environment where they feel comfortable to buy from you.
Putting this process into a conversion funnel visually lays out the path a customer might take from first point of contact with you, through to the final sale. This is where all of your marketing efforts come together and actually make sense! Put into a diagram your key channels, the offers you are going to promote on those channels, the content you will share to nurture your audience, and the products and services you hope to sell. See the diagram below for an example of what a simple conversion funnel might look like.

Metrics
An important part of marketing that is often neglected is measuring for results. You should know which marketing tactics are working to achieve your goals, how much they are costing you, and where to invest more time and money in the future. Take note of which metrics are likely to be important to your business and ensure that you look at them regularly. Use your metrics to adjust your marketing plan as you go.

Adapt it to Your Needs
Let’s be clear on something here… every business has different areas it needs to focus on. This marketing plan template is generic in nature, with a focus on digital marketing, so you may need to adapt it to your business’ requirements. Use it as a starting point and add or remove sections as you see fit. There are other articles out there with different approaches to a one-page marketing plan, so it might be worth looking at some alternatives.

Over to you now…

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

9 Traits That Make Introverts More Productive than Extroverts

To be clear, introvert doesn’t equal shy like a lot of people think. Introverts are people who just appreciate time inside their head more than the gregarious extroverts of the world do. While the two labels are often lumped together, you don’t have to fear human interaction to fall into this very “productive” personality type.
 

Introverts may not have the wild and crazy, high-energy social graces of their more gregarious counterparts, but get a load of this: At least 3/4 of all people with IQ’s over 160 are introverts! That’s not junk science either, but a fact that’s been proven over and over again. As the IQ scale to intelligence scores above 170 and 180, so too does the likelihood that person will have a proclivity for solitude (learn more about introversion and intelligence).

Of course, this post is all about how being an introvert usually leads to a more productive work and personal life, so let’s move on after giving yourself a good long pat on the back for being so darned-tootin smart!


Let’s see what makes introverts so efficient at getting things done:


1. Introverts are born creative

Most introverts have lived a life filled with introspection into their own thoughts and feelings. This translates into an improved ability to conceptualize and come up with new ideas, to put those ideas to paper, and the ability to predict potential road-blocks to those ideas before they show themselves.

2. Introverts are purposeful and often direct

And less afraid to say no, since they value their personal time so much. Being an introvert does come with its challenges when it comes to just spontaneously diving in to things when it comes to having fun. However, when it comes to work, if they bring their flavor of approaching tasks with purposeful thought and care, they can use this asset to make a better plan of attack than the more impulsive extroverts around them, thus getting more done in less time.

3. Introverts are more efficient communicators

Introverts tend to plan their communication with others with more care. They’ll spend time considering what they’ll say, how they’ll say it, and will consider several different ways to get their message across before settling on one. They take how they’re perceived very seriously too, meaning they care more about the type of impression they’re making when sending an email, talking to a coworker or client, even speaking in front of a crowd. Introverts almost always strive for clarity in everything they say, and expect the same of those around them.

4. Introverts overlook less of the important details

Introverts don’t like playing catch-up or damage control. They’d rather hash out all the details before they start and go over everything thoroughly before calling a project “completed”. Because of this, they miss less details and have less of their work sent back for revisions.

5. Introverts don’t need to rely on others

While introverts are less likely to jump into a life-changing move or adventure than the more impulsive extrovert, they do love to jump into projects that don’t require them to wait on other people to get done. They relish in the fact that it’s up to them to take care of all the details, and can put everything together faster than others who tend to rely on having a team around them for task completion.

6. Introverts understand how to recharge before they crash

Introverts realize that you can’t go 100 miles an hour all day long. They like to step back away from what’s going on to let their brain and body get back in sync, typically using a sort of meditative introspection to review their day (or life in general) or by taking a total step back to enjoy a hobby. They’ll take a quick mental siesta and come back ready to tackle almost anything while the extroverts around them are still scurrying around trying to catch up with what they need to get done.

7. Introverts tend to have less misunderstandings with people

They’re so meticulous about their communication with others, that they tend to have less understandings with people. Be it a conference with an important client or a meeting with coworkers, they tend to see what’s going on with everyone around them and just have a way of earning everyone’s respect.

8. Introverts maintain focus when needed

They like to see everything through and check things off the to-do list, before taking a break or calling it a day. They’re the ship Captain that stays the course and strive to be always making headway in their goals. Some) Extroverts fill their time with chit-chat and playing Angry Birds on their smartphone (kidding — well, sort of!)

9. Introverts are consummate planners

To the point it can drive everyone in their life crazy! From planning every last detail of a camping trip, to figuring out every lane and street change to be taken during a road trip. They drive people in their personal lives crazy, but once everything’s all said and done, friends, family and coworkers all appreciate the forethought they put into everything they do; people that spend time around introverts value the lost hours, mistakes and aggravation they often save because of this trait.


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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

5 Facebook Tips for Marketing on a Zero Budget

 

Image courtesy of (jscreationzs)/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 
As we all know, Facebook is a great place to advertise and promote a brand. With 1.49 billion monthly active users, Facebook can launch a company to success in no time flat.

Facebook ads are a great way for businesses to raise brand awareness, social presence, and ultimately conversions. Many smaller companies. however, just don’t have the funds to launch a successful ad campaign. But ads are not the only solution to boosting awareness and social following.

With all sorts of great information and tools available online, marketers and business owners are capable of building a meaningful digital existence without having to break the bank.
Here are 5 tips and tricks to getting your posts seen by a larger audience while never spending a dime.

1. Analyze Your Top Ten
Facebook’s page insights is an invaluable tool for gaining intimate knowledge about how certain posts are received by your audience. By utilizing this tool you can rank your posted content by likes, comments, and shares to understand how successful the post actually was.

Once you have established a post ranking, seek out patterns and trends of those that were most successful. Is subject matter similar among top ranking publications? Were these posts accompanied by images? What kind? What can be learned from the comments section of the updates? When all of this information has been harvested, you can then use that knowledge to influence upcoming updates. And this leads up to our next tip:

2. Post Awesome Content
While this is obvious to most, many still commit the marketing sin of posting sub-par content that is riddled with keywords in hopes of ranking well. This simply doesn’t work.

Once you understand what posts have been working well for you and your audience, you can replicate this formula to develop more highly shareable posts. But you don’t simply want to match previous successes, you want to surpass them. In order to do so, take the success blueprint that you have already established and ask yourself a few key questions:
  • What gets people talking and excited?
  • What is currently trending in your niche?
  • How can your post be useful and valuable to your community?
In answering these questions, combined with the insights you have already harvested, you are sure to create one mega-hit of a post.

3. Target with Intent
One of the beautiful things about Facebook is the ability to target posts. Administrators of pages that have over 100 fans can target updates to specific audiences based on various different categories; gender, age, relationship status, educational status, location, and more.

For posts to be targeted organically, be sure to select the “Allow targeting and privacy options when I create posts on my Page” option within your page settings. Once selected, a targeting icon will show at the bottom left of the publisher. This essentially means that posts that pertain to fans in a specific location or whatever else won’t be hidden by fans outside of that segment. In turn this allows for a higher percentage of folks targeted by these posts to like, comment, and share them.

4. Timing Is Everything
There has been a massive amount of research conducted around this topic. IT doesn’t matter if you are simply trying to create more local hype around your brand or establish a global social media presence, the timing of your Facebook posts is a critical element.

Typically, early mornings and nighttime (around 8PM in the time zone you are targeting) are the best times to post since this is when most people are not working and have time to browse their newsfeeds.

But generalizations just won’t do here; what time is best for your fans? To find out when the optimum time to post is for your audience, check out the Posts report within Facebook Insights.
Additionally, your brand should be frequently posting on the weekends as well. Generally speaking, most people have much more free time on the weekends to surf Facebook and other social media sites, so this is a great time to post. Plus, most brands don’t post as heavily on the weekends so this will give you an edge as well.

5. Email Marketing Tie-In
Many brands have a substantial email list that blasts are regularly sent out to. This is a great opportunity to tie-in and help promote one of your top ranking posts by linking to it in the email. Since this content is already “fan approved” your email subscribers are more apt to like, comment on, or share it with their Facebook friends as well.

As you can see, there are many ways to leverage Facebook’s marketing muscle without spending tons of cash. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. The key is knowing how to utilize and optimize their existing tools.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

How To Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Brand

 

LinkedIn Pen
 

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional social network with over 350 million members. But the platform is not just for business professionals or job seekers. Much like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, the social platform can be utilized to help grow brand awareness and businesses. The rules to the game, however, are a bit different than the other social networks.

With other community portals, businesses have direct access to market to consumers through status updates or various posts where products or services can be easily promoted. On LinkedIn this type of advertising is frowned upon, which makes things a bit more challenging. But despite this fact, LinkedIn is without a doubt just as valuable for expanding a business’s reach and overall awareness. It’s all in how you leverage its tools and features.

To you help get the most out of your LinkedIn profile and bolster your company’s recognition, here are 4 tips for making LinkedIn a powerful promotion tool:

1. Complete Your Profile

No matter what social network is being discussed, it is highly imperative that you have a complete and professional profile. A profile that has fields missing, no profile picture, or less than articulate language will not gain much traction. Not only that, but each time you log onto LinkedIn the site will automatically prompt you to complete your incomplete profile, so there is no excuse for an incomplete page.

Also, the “professional headline” section should not simply list your job title. This section should be utilized to describe the types of problems you or your company are capable of solving; this allows anyone who is searching for a person or business with said skills to be led directly to you.

It is also highly advisable to customize your profile’s URL. The default URL is simply a mix of numbers and letters which is not exactly memorable or easy to find. By customizing the URL, your page will appear more professional and will be easier for others to remember and share. Yes, SEO still matters, even on LinkedIn.

2. Target High Profile Connections

Adding connections to your network should be your first priority in developing business relationships on the site. Start by creating your base, which should be comprised of individuals you already know (such as classmates, colleagues, friends, and clients). Once your foundation has been established, start connecting with relevant professionals within your niche. Seek out high profile figures in your field and begin to build relationships with those folks. You will also want to connect with individuals that are not only within your target audience but who are also ideal clients for your business.

There are a few different ways that these connections can be established. First, LinkedIn’s free service plan allows for generic connection requests to be sent, however, these should be always be personalized. Do not rely on the standard LinkedIn language; people will assume you’re just trolling for connections unless you make it personal.

It could be fruitful to introduce yourself and mention something that you both have in common such as a group that you each subscribe to, but do not make any sort of pitch. Doing so will most likely end in rejection.

Second, LinkedIn offers a paid premium service that provides information about individuals who have viewed your profile, advanced search filters, as well as an InMail system that authorizes targeted and personalized messages to be sent directly to LinkedIn inboxes. This can be quite valuable for anyone who is serious about taking your connection strategy up to the next level.

3. Generate and Post Valuable Content

This should go without saying. No matter what corner of the internet you may find yourself in, content is king, and LinkedIn is no different. By posting truly exciting and useful content, you will begin to establish yourself as an expert on certain subjects. As you continue to provide value and insight to your network and community, your content will gain momentum, increased visibility, and your brand will ultimately grow. Key features of great content on LinkedIn are no different than anywhere else; working headlines, original and useful, includes visuals, and relevant to your audience. There are a myriad of great content creation tools available online so it shouldn’t be too difficult to meet that criteria.

4. Join In on the Conversation

According to Forbes, 35.5 percent of users are in 1-9 groups. By joining various groups and posting the valuable content you create to these collectives, you can establish yourself as a thought leader on certain subjects and grow your brand exponentially.

Research various groups that would be within your target audience and designate a specific amount of time each week to post, participate, and engage with these groups. Offer advice and insights, and connect with those that ask questions directly through their inbox. The more personable you get, the larger and tighter your network will become.

As one of the largest social networks on the planet today, LinkedIn provides businesses massive opportunities for increasing brand awareness, loyalty, and providing value to communities. By embracing these 4 pieces of advice, your network is sure to grow and in no time flat, you can establish yourself as a thought leader within your industry.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

How to Retain Your Medical Group Staff

The U.S. economy is gaining traction. The overall unemployment rate is 5.3% — about half what it was in 2009/2010. But with the job outlook brighter than it’s been in years, you might worry about losing staff.

And you could be right to be concerned.

Employee Turnover Can Be Costly

Although the estimates vary by position and pay level, each lost employee costs a business about 6 to 9 months of salary. That means if you’re paying an employee $40,000 per year, it could cost $20,000 to $30,000 to replace them.

Another estimate is 150% of their base salary, the Society for Human Resource Management says, when you consider extra administrative work, loss of time and money invested in training, and the costs to find and train a new hire.

You should expect an occasional employee voluntary exit, but what happens when you start to notice a trend? This happened to an internal medicine practice faced with “sudden, mass employee turnover.” According to the MGMA, they lost 12 employees – about half their clinical staff – in just 4 months. First they had to figure out why. Then they asked remaining staff what they like about the practice, developed an employee retention plan, and aggressively began recruiting.

Employee Satisfaction Remains Critical

Offering competitive pay is one obvious way to keep staff. But there are many other ways to keep medical group employees happy.

Working to create ‘superstar’ employees is worthwhile, especially in this era of value-based care and online patient reviews. “Your employees can reach superstar status only if their lower-order needs are met: The paycheck is good and working conditions are fair,” Judy Bee, practice management consultant with Performance Practice Group in La Jolla, California, told Medical Economics.
 
She suggests rewarding staff in creative ways, including:
  • Extra paid time off
  • Gas and other gift cards
  • Tuition assistance for dependent children

Another tip – don’t discuss financial challenges facing your practice in front of office staff. It could lead to worries and distraction over their job security, Bee says.

Morale and More

Whether a practice intentionally reduces staff size to offset declining revenue or experiences voluntary turnover, it’s important to acknowledge and reward staff who stay. It’s more than a morale issue. When employees leave, it usually means more work for everyone else, especially in the short-term. An increased workload can also impact employee satisfaction.

“Faced with this challenge, some staff go about their day racing from one task to another, feeling increasing stress as they try to accomplish multiple, often competing demands,” says Deborah Walker Keegan, PhD, a healthcare consultant for Medical Practice Dimensions and Woodcock & Walker Consulting.

“They feel they cannot get out from under the weight of the work and are not able to do their very best work. As a consequence, some staff members are seeking jobs that are more defined [and less chaotic].”

For this and other reasons, employee retention made the Medical Economic list of top 15 challenges facing physicians in 2015.