Boomer SMB Owners Tell Me S/He Can’t Do Social Media…

MS-DOS Command line
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS-DOS

Nothing, and I mean nothing, including social media, is as hard to master as MS-DOS was. . .

Since my business demographic is primarily boomers, I know better. I’m a boomer, too. And I know full well that we boomers had to conquer and endure the pioneering stages of modern technology. Nothing, and I mean nothing, today is as hard to master as MS-DOS was. Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials don’t have a clue what a nightmare it was to work on a black screen with green letters and no graphics, no mouse. They never had to learn commands or have ever seen “A:” , or had to save content on multiple floppy disks, and most never sat in front of a v e r y  s l o w CRT that emitted unhealthy rays!

So, Back to the Boomers

So when these boomers who cut their computer teeth on difficult, dinosaur technology are telling me that social media is just too hard to take the time to learn  – –  sorry, but I’m not biting!

What I think happened to these otherwise savvy entrepreneurs, is when they began their businesses, technology was in an ever-changing mode. Obsolescence was the norm, and many were hesitant to invest in expensive technology that would most likely be outdated before it collected dust. Starting a new business means watching every nickel; technology avoidance and frugality became almost a badge of honor.

Culture Shock

Then, before these entrepreneurs knew what hit them, all of a sudden they were far, far behind others who had the time to keep up. In addition, any technology to be learned had to center around POS and bookkeeping. The learning curve on those was a bit time-consuming for owners, not to mention the time required to train staff. Who had time to jump into the social media craze while trying to run a business?

But now – da-da-DUM – there is no escaping social media for small business marketing. While it, too, experienced its versions of continuous obsolescence, social media has settled in as the most viable and affordable marketing vehicle for SMBs.

What I am finding is the biggest obstacle to success in social media, is that most successful entrepreneurs are classic introverts, even hermits. They live, eat, drink, and breathe their business to the point of no social life, but they like that! So of course they feel awkward trying to enter a SOCIAL medium that expects casual interaction.

So, yes, it is good to hire help, but it is also good to use that help to learn social media. WHY? Because social media is not successful unless the fans get to see what goes on behind the front doors. And if you don’t provide behind the scenes material (content, images, customer testimonials, etc.), then you are simply keeping a social media account alive with memes, quotes, product images – yawn……..

My best social media analogy?

Think of how many times you have driven by a small business and felt a tinge of apprehension about pulling in and checking it out. Why?

Because we don’t like to explore the unknown, especially when it has potential to waste our valuable time or money. Your social media fans are no different. They want some behind the scenes peeks at who you are, what you do, why you sell what you sell, what makes you different, and how will it FEEL to shop or do business with you!

Damn, you don’t have to marry these fans! Just like your customers, people just need to get to know each other! And that’s why social media works for those who do make the effort to put themselves out there for fans! Does that make sense?!

14 Signs You Might be a Small Business Owner

Small Business Owner overworkingYou might be a small business owner if*:

  1. you’re on a first name basis with the drive-thru coffee shop baristas.
  2. your inbox has 100+ unopened emails, and over 10,000 undeleted.
  3. out-of-town vacations include a trade show
  4. stay-at home vacations involve organizing files, deleting emails, re-habbing your website and re-merchandising your store.
  5. if you’re on ET, you get irked mornings when you want to call a west coast vendor and you get irked evenings when a west coast vendor calls you (just swap irks if you are on PT).
  6. Super Bowl Sunday is your annual visit with friends and family and you watched the World Cup from your office (only because the U.S. might win).
  7. you’ve never met the businesses more than 1 storefront away from your location.
  8. you don’t want anything to do with social media.
  9. your home office extends into the living and/or dining room.
  10. family visits occur at your place of business.
  11. your friends and relatives don’t want any more of your product for birthday and Christmas presents.
  12. bartering is your first choice of payment.
  13. you are never without a SmartPhone or tablet, and…
  14. dressing up means a freshly cleaned and ironed, branded polo (your brand).

Laughing Smiley Face

*Credit and thanks to Jeff Foxworthy – “You Might Be a Redneck If”

“Miss ya, Jeff – take off that camouflage so we can see ya ;)” – Hania

Shopping Small is Shopping Wise for Busy Entrepreneurs

Shopping Small is Shopping Wise for Busy Entrepreneurs

Are you guilty of lost time picking through discount racks to NOT find what you need?

It is a far more enjoyable shopping experience to “Shop Small.” Since Entrepreneurs are always short on time, small business shops and services can be a huge time saver once you establish a relationship with the staff. And since you entrepreneurs are always watching every dime,  shopping small keeps you out of hot water when you need your needs met. For example, your small business will educate you on extending the life of your purchases, and proper use. In addition, with your sales history, they can make suggestions for wiser future purchases to supplement what you already own.

You will get additional value if you ASK your small business:

  • Do you keep my purchases on file?
  • Will I be notified of sales or specials?
  • Will you let me know if something I expressed an interest in goes on sale or is running out?
  • Can I work with the same salesperson each time if I find a good match for me?
  • Do you have a loyalty program?
  • Is there a maintenance alert program (for home and office machines, appliances, landscapers, etc) perhaps via email or texting?

ASK, ASK, ASK! You’d be surprised what they might offer for your customer service experience if you only ask.

I know our clients are very happy when we notice items of concern or mistakes FOR them before a consumer does. And by the same token, we are very happy to have small businesses who help US with their specific goods or services so we can keep our minds focused on our clients.

Generally, small business owners LOVE what they do. Give them a chance to treat you special and you’ll save a lot of time and money – and stress!

:) Take 5 minutes to post a good review on social media or review sites (like Yelp or Google Places for Business) for the small businesses who make your daily life easier! They work hard to keep you coming back.

Productivity Tips: How Do You Get Busy Doing Nothing?

I'm busy doing nothing
everydaypeoplecartoons.com

LinkedIn just sent me an email with this subject line:

“Hania, see 60+ productivity tips from LinkedIn Influencers”

First thought I had: If I stop and read these 60+ ways, productivity will not be a stongpoint today…

That said, of course they had my attention a little, so, I had to sample one or two. I won’t mention names, but one of the Productivity EXPERTS suggested we spend much more time in good old-fashioned conversation because talking generates ideas. I’m betting the good old-fashioned conversation is a way to escape confessing: “I’m a lousy typist and not too tech savvy and can’t keep up online.” For the rest of us – don’t you talk more with people via various social media platforms and IM tools then ever before?

Another productivity EXPERT to remain nameless (lest I get sued for embarrassing s/he), suggested you should work while others sleep. Getting up at 4 am was the miracle cure given for lack of productivity.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (I’m obviously NOT a morning person)

Oh, wait, they were serious?

Yes, they admit you are zonked by 8 pm, but the point in the article is that work is less productive in the evening anyway, so might as well relax a little, then go to bed.

Guess dinner and a movie is never an option.

There seem to be a rash of articles and posts on “what the successful people do in the morning,” and other such content fillers. Here’s my TIP: Stop reading these! You’ll be more productive.

Or – you could always watch some TED talks on YouTube. . .

;-)

Middle Age and Furrowed Brow Lines – Ugh.

Furrowed brows

I’ve got to stop furrowing my brow when I work!

The lines are getting deeper and more permanent! Yikes! I’m even starting to get a secondary set of lines – a bit scary! Not to mention an unattractive billboard for aging!

Next time I sweat, there’ll probably be waterfalls going down my nose! On the upside, at least I have proof I don’t get Botox treatments! Hmmm… why is that an upside? I’ll probably HAVE to get Botox treatments if I can’t become more conscious about my brow while I work.

This is serious stuff for Boomers!

I’m already in my mid 50s and don’t need to add to the creases nature is already providing. Of course, I could just flaunt the furrows by assimilating the professorial look of over-thoughtful academia. Nah, that only works for male professors with leather elbow patches on their ugly plaid jackets. Never understood why anyone would want to EXTEND the life of a jacket that ugly by protecting the elbows.

Why is it so bad to have deep furrows in your brow?

Ok, so, worst case scenario if I continue to unconsciously and furiously furrow my brow while I work intensely at my desktop:

  • Mom might have been right:  “If you keep making that face it will stick!”
  • I’ll need Spackle instead of foundation makeup to fill in the furrows.
  • People might think I am in a permanent state of confusion or concern – or worse – anger…?

Did you know that if you search Google images for deep furrows between eyes, you don’t see much of that. Instead, you see a bunch of images of Botox being injected. Hmmmm…. no superficial messaging there.

Maybe I could invent a removable pressure device on the top of my prescription glasses to rest against the area between the brows to prohibit furrowing while working. Nah. Don’t think it would sell enough to cover my costs.

One last idea – a mirror at the top of my monitor! Nah, that won’t work either. I’ll start noticing other defects like the furrows that are showing up between my cheeks and nose.

Jeez. Gravity – another enemy of aging!

40 Years since the 1st Cell Phone Call – a Retrospective

Picturephone
Picturephones never made it…

Mashable posted this morning about today making 40 years since the first cell phone call. I had to stop and calculate how young I was at the time…

Ok – so I was in high school

…and we were happy enough having a phone extension in the bedroom (for you Gen x & Yers, an extension was the teen’s only way to get out of the hall to have a private conversation!) Back then, our parents were panicking that they couldn’t hear all of our conversations anymore. We teens were always worried someone would pick up the other line and listen. Nothing compared to today’s worries over teens and the internet!

So who cared?

I don’t recall knowing anything about this new cellular technology. But then, that is how it was with most inventions in that era. New inventions splashed on the evening news and then disappeared. You learned it was best to not to get too excited because many of these earth changing discoveries tended never to get to the masses due to the huge expense of production.

A great example was Jetson’s style visual communication that featured in the Ma Bell “Future” section of the State Fair (above image) year after year. It was a big flop. Of course, now, the internet has taken over that function with Skype and other internet options. Oddly, visual communication finally surfaced without the use of telephones.

Marketing Potential?

So in light of the simplistic perception we all had about the power of visual communication back then, the only advantage we saw to Picturephones was the ability to see who was on the other end of the line. And we weren’t always sure that we wanted to BE seen! The first concern was whether there was an OFF button!

Never was there any discussion as to the marketing possibilities that would come with portable visual capabilities. After all, this was the era of newspapers, magazines, billboards and only 3 TV networks.

Similar to the beginnings of Social Media, it was just about communication and that’s all. Now, the primary discussion is all in Market-speak.

As with all inventions, you never really know what ultimate usage will evolve, but one thing you can be sure of, someone in marketing will always be asking:

How can we use this to reach our consumer? ;)

2012: Email Marketing is Dead; Now Email Marketing is King – HUH?

Keep Calm and Keep Emailing

All through 2012, the buzz was “E-Mail Marketing is Dead!”

Now, most articles are about why Email Marketing is Supreme for Small Business!

HUH?

Actually, Email marketing is perfect for small business.

But let’s discuss the why of the mixed messaging and why you, as a small business owner, need to pay attention.

1. Social Media platforms grew exponentially over the last few years.

Soooo, “they” assumed, that because the growth was so rapid, social media platforms would soon replace email and all other traditional forms of marketing and communications.

While that might be true in major metropolitan areas and college campuses, there is still a huge population out there that doesn’t own a SmartPhone or that  only accesses internet through a desktop.

But, email is universal.

Everyone sits down at home and work and checks their email…

Another assumption was that because Social Media platforms are “Free,” that it would be nonsense for anyone to ignore it as a marketing avenue. Again, you can pick up a hammer, but that ain’t gonna make ya a carpenter!

Sure you can create an account for free, but time is money, and it takes time to maintain a social media business page, not to mention at least basic marketing skills. Nothing wrong with that, – all marketing comes with a cost – but that has to be considered.

Then, when it comes to attracting fans, many of those fans are laggers in social media who only use it for sharing funny cat pictures and playing application games. So, getting fans to pursue your page is another form of investment – a good offer to like a page, the giveaway, someone to manage the comments and likes, someone to engage to grow fans… And don’t believe those hucksters claiming to bring you from 0 to 40,000 fans! Fake profiles = fake fans = no rise in insights or revenue.

Now, why was email getting badmouthed:

2. “Free” Email services were springing up all over the place.

Why pay for email service when you can get it for free? Again, because FREE is never really free! You pay a price eventually – think of the hidden cost to you when your email goes to a spam folder and never reaches your intended recipient?

So, if you were judging the effectiveness of free email vs free social media… neither one will bring results so that comparison is probably moot.

They are both an investment in Time and time costs money.

OK, so now what should you invest your time in? Social Media or Email Marketing?

If you are asking this question, it tells me you don’t know your customers or clients. Face it, most of you small business owners have poo-poo-ed SoMe and Email.

Why don’t you let your customers tell you where you should invest your time?

  • Have you noted whether your customer is tapping away on a mobile while they are waiting in line?
  • Have you asked them what platforms they use?
  • Have you invited them to join your email subscriber list?

Stop being an employee of your own business and market your business. How?

  • Find out which Social Media platforms are appropriate for your business and demographic – Start with one and do well, then move on to others.
  • Invest in an email service that fulfills your needs for marketing and has integrated social media tools for efficiency and broader distribution that will attract new subscribers. (want to play around with one for free for 60 days? Click here!
  • And pay Freaking attention to where your customers live online! ASK THEM. SURVEY THEM. TALK TO THEM.