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Black Friday Marketing Ideas for Small Business

Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving that’s become the busiest (and craziest) day of the year for retailers and businesses. Yet when most people think of Black Friday, giant retailers like Target, Walmart and Best Buy come to mind. So what can you do as a small business owner to get into the heads of Black Friday shoppers? Here are some Black Friday marketing ideas:

  1. Let people know about the promotions you have on Black Friday (or Cyber Monday). It might sound obvious, but if your business is out of sight, it’s also out of shoppers’ minds. Besides advertising, you can let people know via your website/blog, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and any other social media tools you might use.

  3. Have good offers. You have to give customers what they want. Offering a discount on an item customers rarely purchase won’t do you any good. Why else are TVs, console games and computers so popular on Black Friday?

  5. Make it easy for people to share your promotions with friends and family. Add a “share this” or “tell a friend” button at the end of your e-mail and on your website. Ask people to refer a friend or share your promotions; and surprise them with something as simple as a discount or coupon for doing so. And find your top customers who are true fans of your business and have them promote your business for you.

  7. Be remarkable. Black Friday is synonymous with long lines and “limited supplies.” What if your brick-and-mortar business didn’t have lines that ran all the way to the back of the store? What if your business had more than just one of the “door buster” in stock? Treat your customers as special even on the busiest day of the year. Customers will remember you and come back again after Black Friday if you provide them with a surprisingly pleasant shopping experience.

  9. Have a good return policy – and let people know about that too. Any time someone spends money on your product or service, they are taking a risk with their money. Assuming you have a good product or service, having a good return policy will provide some peace of mind to shoppers, which in turn makes it easier for shoppers to decide to buy from you.

  11. Hold contests and giveaways. Not only do they get people to visit your store, they get people talking too.

  13. Be mobile and online. Many people don’t visit a brick-and-mortar store during Black Friday because they either don’t want to wait in long lines or prefer to sleep in. Having an online and mobile version of your store allows for you to reach a group of people you wouldn’t have otherwise.

  15. Start early, but not too early. You can run a few promotions during the days (or week) leading up to Black Friday. Amazon does a good job at this – not only do shoppers get good deals before Black Friday even hits but you can create hype and excitement for the big day.

Preparation for Black Friday really starts weeks and months before Thanksgiving even arrives. These eight tips are a few things you, as a small business owner, can implement for Black Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Christmas Social Media Campaigns… Do you have a plan?

Is your business ready for the upcoming holiday shopping? As one of the busiest holiday shopping seasons approaches, business owners should ask themselves, “what is my plan this year to boost my sales?” Every business owner should start creating sales and marketing plans in order to stand out among their competition; and using Social Media tools is by far the most promising method.. Here are 3 reasons why:

1. Traditional Marketing is outdated – Newspaper advertising is very limited in audience and has a lower chance of being passed along to others, which is critical for marketing and awareness. According to the Washington Post, there has been a continuous 20 year decline in newspaper circulation.

2. Everyone uses Social Media! – Facebook recently announced that they have reached over 800 million worldwide users, and they were only founded 8 years ago. what does this mean? People everywhere  are starting to use social media, let’s face it, it’s the cool new thing!

3. Able to target ads appropriately – Ever wonder why local store ads are starting to pop up more and more on the side of your Facebook account homepage? With social media, you have the ability to take advantage of the users demographics info more easily (because it is more accessible) and can then target your ads appropriately.

4. Able to Receive Feedback – Online social media campaigns provide immediate feedback to market strategists. That is, you have the ability to instantly read client reviews or monitor how much traffic your announcement receives.

Don’t fall behind in the competition; establish your marketing plan the best way you know how, through Social Media!

Local Online Marketing Checklist

Marketing for local businesses has come a long way. Just 20 years ago, "marketing" meant buying newspaper ads, Yellowpage ads or perhaps billboard or radio advertisements. Marketing was costly and often ineffective.

Today, the game has changed. There are literally dozens of tools available to the smart business owner for local online marketing. Many of these tools and techniques can drive hundreds of paying customers to your business, without costing you a single dime.

This local online marketing checklist will help you get the most out of all the tools, technologies and techniques available today.

Step 1: Get on Facebook Places

Facebook places allows users to find you through their friends' check-ins. People who like your business can "like" your page or comment on your page and their friends can see that on their walls.

It's a powerful way of spreading a great business virally. It uses the inter-connectivity of Facebook to a local business' advantage.

Make sure you claim your business so you have the ability to change its information, as well as merge the Facebook Place with the Facebook Page.

Step 2: Get on Google Places

There are many great reasons to get on Google Places.

First, your business will show up ahead of other non-local businesses in the search engines.

Second, people will be able to leave reviews for your physical business.

Third, people will be able to find your place on Google Maps. For example, a user with an iPhone might type in "chiropractor" into Google Maps to find all the chiropractors near them. If you're listed on Google Places, your restaurant will show up.

Step 3: Get on Yelp

Yelp is a user-driven review site with a very active community. People who visit local businesses use Yelp to leave reviews of their experience. Other people who are thinking of going there can use Yelp to see previous reviews.

Yelp is extremely popular in some cities, like San Francisco and New York, while virtually unnoticed in others.

If you're in a city with a strong Yelp user base, getting to the first 3 or 5 results in Yelp can bring you a huge influx of customers. Many small businesses are packed every day purely from Yelp traffic.

Step 4: Give Incentive to Review

You're much more likely to get a lot of reviews if you help the process along by providing a few incentives. That's especially true if your business is relatively new.

Keep in mind that you can't incentivize others to post a good or positive review. You can only incentivize them to post a review. What they say is up to them. They should get the reward either way.

Naturally, if you provide a great service, most reviews you get will be positive.

What are some examples of ways to incentivize reviews?

• First 10 Yelp reviews gets 50% off their next meal.
• First 10 Google reviews gets a free coffee.
• People who have posted a review for our service get 10% off all purchases.
• Etc

Step 5: Host a Meetup is designed to help bring people with similar interests together. It's an online site with an offline focus.

One great way to bring more people to your venue is to host an event. The event can be related to what you do, or it can be one or two steps removed. Here are a few examples:

• A co-working space – Monthly talks on marketing for small business.
• Classy café – Monthly philosophy discussion group.
• Dance studio – A free monthly "open floor" dance event.
• Rock climbing gym – Free "intro to rock climbing" event.
• Bookstore – Monthly book signings.

The list goes on and on. Talk to your customers and find out what they're interested in. Then create a meetup to cater to that interest.

Step 6: Open Your Space to Other Organizers

If you browse through Craigslist events, Meetup events or other events sites, you'll find that 5 to 10 event venues tend to be used over and over again in any given city.

You can bring in a lot of business by opening your space to other organizers.

For example, let's say a restaurant makes its back room available to a Toastmasters meeting (a public speaking group.) They use the back room free of charge, and most members end up ordering food and drink anyway.

The restaurant profits from the food and drink and gets the benefit of being exposed to a whole new audience. The back room probably wouldn't have been regularly booked out anyway, so there's no real cost to the restaurant.

Another example might be a shared co-working office. It allows its members to use the conference space for educational events free of charge, provided that all its members can also attend free of charge.

The organizer gets the benefit of having a professional space for free. The shared office space gets the benefit of having more to offer its members. Furthermore, every person who attends that event is a potential customer.

It's much more efficient to open your space up to many event organizers rather than try to organize many events yourself. Doing so can bring in a lot of new people to your business, as well as build general goodwill in your community.

Step 7: Market on Local Mailing Lists

In any moderate to large city, there will be dozens of mailing lists on a variety of different topics.

For example, in San Francisco, there are lists for hikers and runners to meetup, lists for announcements of art events, lists specifically for the yoga & meditation communities, lists specifically for the startup business community, and so on.

Make an effort to ask the people in your target audience what kind of email lists they subscribe to. Write these down and do some research.

Some lists will have "open announcement" policies, meaning anyone can post to the list. Others are curated lists, where events are sent to a single curator who posts approved events all to the lists.

Some lists will have very stringent requirements on what it's okay to post and what it's not. Others will be rather lax.

Try to find as many large, active lists in your community as you can. Market to the lists anytime you have something significant to announce. Avoid burning out the list by over-emailing; but use the power of pre-existing communities to your advantage whenever you're doing a special promotion or event.

Step 8: Get a Booth at Events

In-person events allow you to market your products directly to your ideal audience, while building connection and rapport through face-to-face interactions.

An "event" can be as sophisticated as a trade show, conference or seminar. Or it could be as simple as a college fair or farmer's market.

The specific events you choose depends on what market you're in. If you run a temp agency, you'll probably want a booth at college job fairs and at trade shows (to find employers.)

If you run a small, organic restaurant, you might want to get a booth at your local farmer's market and appear at all the "for fun" fairs around. (E.g. The local renaissance fair.)

Step 9: "Flyering" and Other Local Marketing

Leaving flyers at local businesses, putting flyers on walls, putting door hangers and perhaps even mailing postcards all still work. Just because a tactic is old doesn’t mean it's no longer effective.

When using these tactics, the most important thing is to make sure you're reaching the right people. If you're promoting a nightlife event, flyer outside nightlife venues. Don't leave your flyers in restaurants.

Step 10: Negotiate with Groupon or LivingSocial

Groupon, LivingSocial and other group-buying organizations can bring you a lot of business. In fact, it can bring you hundreds of orders in a 48 hour period.

Generally these sites will want to only work with established businesses. They need to know that you can handle the sudden volume that they'll send you.

They also need to know that you'll be able to give their users a significant discount, while still paying them a percentage.

Let's say you run a health and massage spa center. The standard price for a massage is $90, but for Groupon members you're offering it for $55. In addition, you need to pay Groupon $5 per sale.

If you're hiring your masseuses' for $60 an hour, you're essentially breaking even. If you're paying them $65 an hour, you're losing money. You need to know that even if you spend $5 to get someone through the door, you'll still make money in the long run.

In other words, Groupon is such a high volume business that it takes experience, knowledge of your customer behavior and strong financial muscle before you can work with them.

All that said though, if you can get your business to meet their standards and criteria, the amount of sales you can get from Groupon or LivingSocial is simply astounding.

These are some of the most powerful methods available for marketing an offline business today. Try to apply as many of these tactics as possible, identity the ones that work best for your business, then rinse and repeat.

Reputation Management Seminar

This free one hour seminar will arm you with real life procedures and tools to manage your image and brand online.

65% of consumers cite the Internet as being important in buying decisions and 78% of consumers trust social network review and endorsements. Managing your reputation online is critical for everyone, whether you are an individual or a company. Prospective employers, potential customers and business partners are increasingly making decisions based on what they discover about you on the Internet. Do you know what’s being said about you?

Topics Covered

  • Why Should You Care About Online Brand and Reputation Management
  • Reputation Management Examples – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
  • How to Monitor Your Profile
  • How to Set Facebook Privacy Filters
  • Building Your Professional Image Using LinkedIn
  • Raising Your Visibility and Image

Facebook Business Page vs. Facebook Profile Page

Facebook Pages are the most straightforward way for businesses to have a presence on the Facebook social networking website. A Facebook business page is similar in its appearance to a standard Facebook profile – used by individuals who join Facebook, except that it’s designed to be the Facebook profile of a business.

People are becoming comfortable with conducting an increasing amount of their online activities exclusively on Facebook. Rather than using a search engine to find a product or service they need, some people are simply asking their Facebook friends for recommendations, or doing a search on Facebook itself. If you don’t have a Page set up for your business, you’ll be limited in how many of these potential customers can find you.

Begin the sign-up process by visiting the Facebook Pages area. Choose “Official Page.” When you create a new account, try to choose a Page name that is as close to your real business name as possible. This will make it easier for people who you already do business with you to find you on Facebook.

facebook business page

Once you’ve set up your Page, you can begin to build a following for your business. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that social networking tools such as Facebook are generally not very effective sales tools – at least in the traditional sense of the term “sales.” Facebook users that receive sales pitches on their Facebook walls tend to view the companies making them rather negatively. In fact, companies that try to use Facebook as a direct sales tool are quite often viewed– rightly or wrongly –as “spammers.”

Instead, you would be better served by viewing your Facebook business page as an opportunity to build a following or community around your business. For example, whenever someone follows or becomes a “fan” of your company’s Facebook Page, any time you post a status update or link or other item to your Page, your followers will get a notification in their main news feed. You can use your Page to announce new product offerings, sales or special offers that you may be conducting, or other interesting news about your business.

Resist the temptation to try to sell to these people by posting multiple status updates or notes every day. If your followers feel overwhelmed by the volume of updates from you (especially if it seems to them like some of the updates are “forced”, or not noteworthy information), there’s a good chance that they’ll simply un-follow you, and you’ll lose Facebook as a means of reaching that customer.

You should also consider how your business’ Facebook Page provides a new way to engage in a dialogue with your customers and potential customers. Ask customers what kind of new products and services they’d like to see from you, or how they might want you to refine your existing offerings. Once the conversation is underway, you may find that a greater number of people participate.

Sometimes the “business intelligence” you’ll gain from your Facebook business page is something you’d never be able to get any other way. For a free guide on how to correctly use Facebook marketing for your business, visit:


Develop a Magnetic Brand in 5-Steps

A magnetic brand is a brand that attracts people. Think about the brands you are familiar with and attracted to. What makes them magnetic? Chances are they portray a certain image that you like to associate with. But is a developing a brand practical and doable if you are a small business owner? The answer is “yes.”

As a small business, you can and should develop a brand in order to increase your marketing ROI. In fact, in this age of the internet and attention deficit disorder amongst consumers, it is more important than ever to do branding marketing.

Here is How to Develop a Magnetic Brand in 5-Steps:

  1. What is your personality? Most small businesses would do well to brand their business to their personality. For example, if you’re a straight shooter then brand your business that way. If you’re fun loving, then develop a brand around that. And if you’re a serious sort, then use that. Branding your business around your personality makes it much easier to send a consistent and solid brand message. And you’ll be working with people you can easily communicate with and relate to. It’s much easier than trying to build a brand that isn’t you.
  2. Build your brand around your customer’s needs and wants too. For example, if your business is about cancer insurance and you’re a sarcastic individual, the two many not go hand-in-hand. Consider the feeling and brand image your customers need to trust you and connect with you.
  3. Embrace colors and images that support your personality and the brand voice your customers need. Then be consistent when presenting them. Use your logo, colors and graphics consistently throughout your web content, marketing materials and communications. Create a theme and an image you want to portray and stick to it so prospects and customers can begin to recognize you. We recommend creating a logo and a style-guide.
  4. Interact. Launch your browser and find places to participate online. The more your audience sees you the more powerful your brand becomes. Experts say that people need at least three exposures to a brand before they remember it, which means you need to be out interacting online with your prospects and customers to make sure they know you. Use social media to facilitate the process. This is what makes social media such a powerful tool. Three positive interactions with a prospect create brand recognition and social media opens you and your company up to thousands of potential prospects.
  5. Focus on what your brand does best. If you try to be all things to all people, you’ll end up being nothing to everyone. Be unique and focus on your Unique Selling Proposition or USP. Differentiate your brand around your strengths and your personality. Determine what your brand stands for, and deliver on your promise.
  6. Building a magnetic brand takes time, focus and consistency. Decide what your message and your brand is going to be. Make sure it fits with your personality and your target audience and cultivate your brand in everything you do. Be active online, participate in social networking and media, communicate your brand in your messages and activities and focus on giving your audience what they need and want.

Music Business Plan 2.0

Wait! Before you commit to your music business plan, consider this… Like so many markets, the music industry is in need of serious change. In fact, any industry that has gone digital: news publishing, videos, print, etc. will need to be overhauled if they plan to survive in this Internet world and networked social communities.

I recently read an article on the topic of music business investments. The authors and contributors do a great job of describing how money was traditionally made in the music industry, as well as how the model could be changed for the better. It also goes on to describe the various costs associated with writing, producing, distributing and ultimately marketing one’s music.

It’s a simple fact … make more than you spend and you will make money. The premise behind this statement is certainly sound, but both sides of the equation should be evaluated a little more closely. Make more money. What are some of the ways an artist can make more money? And, on the other side, spend less. What are the ways an artist can spend less in production, marketing, etc.

Let’s face reality. The traditional music labels do not yet understand (or have ignored) how to leverage the power of the Internet and mobile marketing to a) reduce production costs b) increase fans and subscribers and c) sell more “stuff.” The “stuff” refers to complementary products associated with a particular brand or genre of artist. More on this …

Musicians are in a unique position to take control of their own destiny … the music entrepreneur, so to speak. Technology is so pervasive, easy and cheap these days. In addition, the tools to produce, distribute and market one’s music are literally on one’s desktop or Internet browser.

A musician can literally produce a production quality song mixed with multiple tracks (keyboards, strings, saxophone and vocals) literally without leaving one’s hometown or even home. This was the case for Kenny G and Skyler Jett when they produced Eternally, a song dedicated to celebration of life. The vocals were mixed in LA, saxophone in Manhattan Beach and keyboards in Seattle. The final mix and master were done in LA. This was all completed by sending bits back and forth over the Internet.

Distribution? Yes, there’s the arcane way of working with the music publishers to make sure every penny of your music sales is accounted for. But, guess what? It will take you MONTHS after you’ve finalized your music before they’re even ready to “track” your sales. Oh, and that doesn’t even include whether they decide to take on your album sales in the first place.

There are a number of new online music distribution companies. One of which, of course, is iTunes, but they do extract a hefty fee from your sales. Do a Google search of music distribution companies and you likely find many charge one half of the fees that iTunes do, such as Nimbit.

Finally, tools to promote your music are at your fingertips and they’re FREE. The astute musician should already be familiar with Internet sites such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and MySpace. These and others are the marketing tools of today. Some are better than others, while still others can be very laser focused on your target market. For example, MySpace is bit too crowded for my taste. But, you do need to be there. People LOVE videos, why not have a simple YouTube video of the “production” of your song?

On a final note … selling mo’ “stuff.” No, I’m not necessarily just talking about T-shirts and caps. After all, how many of those things can one buy? Once you’ve established your market, there are thousands of opportunities to sell products, such as supplements, pet products, gift cards and more, WHILE you are driving sales to your own music downloads.

THIS is the new American musician’s dream … doing what you love while making multiple streams of income. Now go finish that music business plan and make it version 2.0.

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