Reading: I’m Doing it Wrong… Confessions of An Online Junkie.

I’m learning how to read all over again.

Yes, that sounds ridiculous, but we online junkies need to rethink how to read online content.

How did I reach this conclusion? This morning I realized (and I wish I had realized this a looooonnngg time ago), I overuse the “subscribe” button and still miss out on a lot of great content.

How? Because when a subscription or discussion notification appears in my inbox, I’m usually in business mode with no time to read. Eventually, there are far too many notifications, and I painfully, with fully Polish Catholic-raised guilt, delete them, unread. God, that hurts everytime I do it!

A New Tool to Help?

So, I tried moving my subscriptions to unroll.me. Which is a really great app, mind you. An absolutely phenomemal app that culls all your subscriptions and asks you if you want them all to go into a neat and tidy daily “roll-up” email.

It does help since it reveals all your subscriptions above the fold (take note of how important above the fold is!) all in one email.

BUT – isn’t there always a but? –

I am still not reading the great material I want to read. I tried changing my blog and discussion notification options to a weekly digest, but then I became overwhelmed and still deleted them instead of reading them.

What is wrong with me? I know I have time to read somewhere in my days! In fact, I crave it! Even in a waiting line, I hope for an excuse to read, but I open my inbox and the business side of me kicks in as priority. Every blog writer and discussion master I follow is unjustly disrespected with my lack of real time enthusiasm and interest.

Bottom line? I was doing it wrong.

And I realized all this with one change. Today, Sunday morning, instead of my SmartPhone automode of opening my email first, I instead opened my wordpress app with my phone app and there, in all its glory, was a stream of all the bloggers I follow.

I gave full attention to the words. It was lovely.

There was nothing extraneous on my screen to distract me. No notifications popping up, no inbox with guilt inducing little numbers superscripted on my folder list, no extra tabs open for peripheral distraction, … just pure content.

I truly felt ridiculous, an avid reader such as me, admittedly in a poor reader mode for so long.

I had ignored why I subscribe to all these wonderful avenues of content. Because I ALWAYS learn something from them. It doesn’t matter if it’s about leadership or poetry. I am a psychology grad, and I always hunger for others’ perspectives. I thrill in how frequently a totally obtuse comment can trigger fresh perspective on my life and my business. Look at all I was missing. What a schmuck!

No more. I have committed to using my blog and social apps to ensure I focus full attention on what others have worked so hard to convey in their posts. I am turning off my email notifications and turning on my apps!

Whew! Glad I figured that one out!

Now, what app can help me end my OCD revisions of my book and get it published?

Bad Emails Are Worse Than None At All

I run across some bad emails in my inbox, but I have to give people an A for effort, so I have avoided using SMB emails as examples of WHAT NOT TO DO. In this case, the example below was so bad it borders on the “I really don’t care” level, so I decided they wouldn’t really care if I used them as an example (I’m not a complete idiot, so I blurred the logo and name throughout).

I just had to show how 10-15 minutes of some simple layout changes and editing make a HUGE difference in your business image.

See below how even with the same content, simple attention to eye-friendly tools can make all the difference in the chance your email will actually be read AND leave a good impression on your subscribers. At the bottom of this image are tips on what went wrong here…Email Before and After

Please, Please use these guidelines in your emails:

(Note how these guidelines were ignored in the example above)

  • Get AT LEAST ONE other person to proof for spelling and grammar.
  • Headings – A title should look like a title – create space around your title line and use appropriate font/size.
  • Image padding and placement – Use image alignment tools to allow text to wrap to the left or right or simply center your image. Add padding to ensure the image allows white space between the image and text for better viewing and reading.
  • WHITE SPACE in your body of text is imperative. NEVER have more than 2-3 lines in a paragraph. Remember, most people nowadays are reading their inbox on a mobile device. If they have trouble reading, they’ll exit out in a heartbeat.
  • If you use an Image URL instead of a jpg, png, gif, etc., the source for that image might move or be deleted (and you’ll never know when that happens), and as a result, it will also be deleted on your emails since that image lives at that URL. If you prefer using a URL because of storage limitations, use your own web page as a source or a photo storage site like Photobucket to give you complete control.
  • AND if you must copy and paste from a Word or other document, it MUST BE FREE OF FORMATTING. Your email service providers usually have a tool button in the Toolbar to paste from Word format free. You can also use your computer tools like Notepad to paste into first, then copy and paste from Notepad. This will remove all formatting to provide a clean paste.

These are just the basics, but look at the difference when applied…

What type of email would you rather your customers receive?

If you are ready to try email marketing – please click here for a free trial with Constant Contact.

How to Acquire Real Fans for Your Social Media Marketing Spend

…buy Twitter Followers in our website, starting at $29 USD / 5k Followers…

DON’T DO IT

If you don’t get at least 1 spam solicitation a week for purchased followers via your social media accounts or via email, consider yourself lucky. Scam artists are always looking for the inexperienced social media marketer to make their money. You already know that “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” and profile scammers would be extinct, but, as long as there are buyers, there will be takers. Inexperienced social media clients often ask if they should buy followers because their established competitor has thousands.

Insights tell all

You may not have access to your competitors insights and analytics, but you can judge a book by its cover in this instance. Start following your competitors and note whether their posts, tweets, and photos garner engagement. Isn’t it interesting how an account with thousands of followers often gets disproportionately few likes, retweets, reposts, shares, or comments?

There are 2 main reasons for that; 1) they are lousy at posting, but more likely, 2) they have a base of artifically acquired followers irrelevant to their business. Those so-called followers are not responding or even noticing the posts – that is, if they even exist in real life! So while the competitor may tout a huge fan base, their success is shallowly based only in that number, not in results.

Quantity vs. Quality

Gone are the days when quantity was critical to the perception of a successful social media account. Landing pages (no longer permitted) were created as tools requiring a “like” before entry for contests, deals, yadayada, to acquire new followers – and lots of them. Slowly, it became very evident that many new followers became fans just for the freebie or perk – the attraction being the giveaway and not your goods and services. Unlikes followed or your business simply ignored.

Marketing is marketing whether on or offline. Ever had an event for your brick and mortar focused on giveaways and contests? The results? You probably got enough warm leads with real sales to cover the cost of the event and little more. If you aren’t attracting the right prospects with any method of marketing, you lose.

That’s not to say a big marketing campaign can’t be fruitful, but new and inexperienced small business owners often do not use proven tracking methods for an accurate ROI of their market spend. Year after year they spend on repeat “perceived” successful events without knowing the reality to make revisions for real success. Again, they can talk about how many people attended the event, but inquire about results and you may get an ambiguous reply.

Retention or Acquisition?

Social media business account holders are becoming savvy to the reach of a quality following because they learn that retention, more than acquisition, is the best way to keep and grow business. If you follow a successful formula in your business, you will get referrals.

Customers with needs/desires that match your goods/services

+    Excellence in Customer Service
————————————————

= PROFIT

Bottom Line?

Remember: Buying followers and contacts is as effective as inviting a whole community of strangers to your party – most come for the free food and leave without even remembering your name. Invite specifically those to your “marketing party” who can benefit from your products and services, then wow them with your service. They’ll not only remember your name, they’ll refer you to others.

Will Followers Be Content with Content in 2015?

As I had my morning coffee browsing others’ posts and cruising articles, I was struck by a sense of content productivity obsession. This is what we have taught ourselves must be done for successful marketing of our businesses.

But is it really true?

  • Yes, Google is constantly on the hunt for fresh content.
  • Yes, social media users are forever curating material to catch followers’ eyes.
  • Yes, business owners scramble daily for improved SEO.

But, are we truly capturing our target audience? Or instead perhaps overwhelming or, worse yet, losing them?

I can’t help but believe that quality will always rank over quantity. And, I am seeing more evidence that those who post less frequently with better and more relevant content to their desired target are winning.

Think. Are you posting content for the sake of content… or are you providing the right content for your efforts to be worthy of your audience’s precious time?

2015 – Let’s be more judicious in our marketing efforts. Agreed?

Every Santa Needs a Break! Put a Bench in Your Store

Every Santa Needs a Break!

Have you considered available seating as an integral part of customer service?

The weary, bag laden, and soon impatient non-shopper leaves to shop elsewhere or coaxes the rest of the groups to leave. It’s a lose-lose for you and your shoppers. So, why encourage the non-shopper to become grumpy and negatively influence your happy shoppers?

The most overlooked fixture for your store could be a simple bench.

A bench (or seating of any type) is an important facet of good customer service and therefore, an item with a deceptively good ROI. For mostly unjustified reasons, small shop owners often have a negative mindset toward extra seating in a store.

Rethink. During the holidays, gift shoppers are often in groups – family, visiting relatives, vacationing couples. And they get weary. And since not every member of the group wants to shop in your particular store, there is that awkward, and often uncomfortable, situation of waiting for others to shop. Big deal, you say? You’re not in the business of providing seating?

Everyone stays!

Small business brick and mortar is typically limited in floor space, but there is always place for a strategically positioned chair or bench. Isn’t it better if no one leaves until the active shoppers are done shopping your establishment? You may even leave a positive visual imprint for the next shopping visit. They’ll remember, “They have a place where I can sit.”

And because of certain health issues, seating may be a requirement during long shopping days. Do you want anyone to avoid your establishment due to lack of seating for Aunt Sally with her arthritic knees?

Do be mindful of positioning seating in a positive manner. Find a spot that creates a sense of belonging rather than of being placed in a cramped corner. And if you are a clothing store, place seating near the dressing room to enable “show and tell.” Shoppers are more likely to buy when they can get that “second opinion.”

Seating means comfort

Ask other shop owners who DO have seating in their store. What benefits are they reaping?

They’ll likely tell you potentially grumpy and impatient non-shoppers are relieved to find a place to sit. Their mood shifts more positively and the begin to observe the surroundings. They soon notice the inviting displays and consider shopping with you, too (because you have invested time and good marketing principles in your merchandising and displays, right?).

Create a sense of welcome

You absolutely must train your staff to take a moment to engage with the seated! The power of interaction is immeasurable for positive reinforcement. Keep bottles of water and snacks on hand. It all goes together.

QR codes – a Marketing Opportunity not to be ignored

You can easily create QR code and signage to enable seated visitors (and everyone else):

  • to go to your website
  • to read your blog
  • to subscribe to your newsletter
  • to become a follower on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and all your other Social Media sites
  • to leave a review on sites like Yelp and more!

Give the seated an excuse to post or tweet about their experience waiting for their friends!

No money in the budget for a sturdy bench or chairs?

Buy used. Craigslist, Ebay, your local consignment store, used office furniture stores (very sturdy furniture), garage sales, … even your house!

Seating really is so simple and yet frequently dismissed. Don’t overlook it – especially through the holidays.

14 Reasons Social Media Marketing Beats Traditional Marketing

Traditional Marketing vs Social Media MarketingHe who refuses to learn deserves extinction. Rabbi Hillel

The conversation with those not engaged in Social Media is often limited to their perceptions… I’ve tried to condense the most common misperceptions through these comparisons.

  1. Traditional Marketing tells us how we should feel about product.
    Social Media Marketing tells others how we really do feel about product.
  2. Traditional Marketing interrupts our leisure time by forcing product messages upon us.
    Social Media Marketing leads us to company pages we can invite into our streams to browse at our leisure.
  3. Traditional Marketing deals with the familiar to spread the word generically.
    Social Media Marketing looks for the unfamiliar to spread the word virally.
  4. Traditional Marketing spreads a message to the masses in hopes of attracting a few loyal followers.
    Social Media Marketing spreads a message to a few loyal followers to attract the masses. 
  5. Traditional Marketing tells consumers what they may want.
    Social Media Marketing gives access to what we do want.
  6. Traditional Marketing messages have no direct accountability.
    Social Media Marketing publicizes accountability through viral messaging.
  7. Traditional Marketing uses long-term strategies developed through a fixed schedule of exposure.
    Social Media Marketing follows direct emotion, passion, and curiosities of the moment.
  8. Traditional Marketing messaging is for short-term profit.
    Social Media Marketing messaging is for long-term connection.
  9. Traditional Marketing asks questions and uses research to determine reaction.
    Social Media Marketing answers questions and uses instinct to create reaction.
  10. Traditional Marketing creates artificial messaging based on external research.
    Social Media Marketing spreads authentic messaging from internal reaction.
  11. Traditional Marketing helps products become successful regardless of quality.
    Social Media Marketing helps quality products get discovered and expose poor products.
  12. Traditional Marketing messaging can be stagnant or ineffective by the time they surface.
    Social Media Marketing messaging is ever evolving and always present.
  13. Traditional Marketing follows a predetermined path on a predetermined schedule.
    Social Media Marketing explores a multitude of highways on an ongoing basis.
  14. Traditional Marketing controls response to product via marketing professionals and accountants.
    Social Media Marketing controls product response via actual consumer word of mouth.

Agree? Disagree?

Google Plus – Hot or Not for Small Business?

Google Plus Hot or Not

More frequently, small business owners ask why I am a Google Plus proponent. They ask “…of everyone I ask – no one is on Google+ so why should I bother with it?”

I have previously blogged about this, but it bears repeating. Google Plus is GOLDEN for SMBs!

Don’t take too much stock in articles written by Google+ crapehangers. The majority naysayers are non-participants and/or superficially informed – or just copycat blogging.

If you are a small business owner, it is more important for you to consider the BENEFITS of using Google Plus rather than concern yourself with its popularity.

Get over the social media stereotype

Take note of the lack of pu$h for boo$ting or promoting your po$ts on Google Plus. Why? Because Google Plus wants your content, not your money. By having Google+, Google has a social media platform providing data they can’t get glean from website content.They want pure, unadulterated, and accessible source content.

Google Plus will grow.

Consider the beauty of a platform that showcases and integrates your content so well you WANT to participate. The more you use Google Plus, the more you’ll also want to use many Google apps and tools because of the convenience created by the integration.

As a business, remaining active on Facebook is essential because it is like the old yellow pages. In pre-social media days, your business had to be listed in the yellow pages or you “didn’t exist.”  And as long as Facebook is still the go-to for users looking up a business, you must remain there.

Google Plus and YouTube

Have you noticed how anxious Facebook now is to get you to upload your video shares directly to Facebook? They have promised a 30% higher visibility if you do. They realize that VIDEO is the new mode for social media – especially for business. Who currently OWNS video? YouTube. Who owns YouTube? Google. What is the #2 Search Engine in the world? YouTube. What’s the easiest way to share, repurpose, embed your videos? YouTube.

So, help me with this. You should want to upload directly to Facebook for the chance at a 30% boost in visibility in a follower limited Facebook news feed (which you could pay pennies to boost anyway)? In exchange, it will cost you dearly in search capability. And what about your YouTube Channel and subscribers, not to mention the limitations on repurposing that video!

And Google+ has made it exceptionally easy to repurpose YouTube videos on their platform. The more you use Google, the more content and use information they have to improve their search engine algorithms. Therefore, they want to keep you and make you happy.

Take advantage of this opportunity

  • Claim your business on Google Local Business and complete your Google+ Profile!
  • Add a cover photo reflecting your business personality and logo.
  • Complete your About Page
  • Upload photos of your storefront, your business in action, your products, your events, your staff, etc.,

And hey, while you’re there, why not take a shot at engaging with some of those supposedly non-existent G+ users? ;)