A Cook is to Meals as a Salesperson is to Marketing

When those in marketing create new campaigns, sales personnel are often excluded. The logic behind this silo-ed process is that sales is perceived as not understanding marketing and therefore it is prohibiitve to include the sales department. From my experience, marketing doesn’t often understand sales.

If you are a small business owner, you should keep in mind that marketing efforts are not independent of your on-the-floor operations. Your marketing spend will go further with these important premises in mind:

  • your marketing consultant/agency must understand your business mission and store culture.
  • you must understand the marketing plans presented
  • your staff must understand the execution and strategy behind the marketing plan
  • you must provide easy to use results tracking tools for your staff
  • your staff must report results and customer feedback

I’ve heard the argument – “A good marketing plan doesn’t need sales involvement.”

That is the kind of bullshit rationale that comes from owners/managers who don’t respect their salespeople. (And then wonder why turnover is so high.)

Why must sales be involved in marketing?

Let’s use an analogy. Just as a meal is based on a cook’s skills, marketing success is based on a salesperson’s skills. For example, if you bring food to a cook without information on the desired meal, the cook is forced to focus on logistics rather than skills. S/he has to prioritize a) what the resulting meal is to be, and b) how to go about preparing it. Even then, the resulting meal may not be what was desired.

But, if you were to provide the cook with not only the food, but also the cooking tools, recipe, and clear instructions as to the desired result, not only will the cook prepare exactly what is desired, but will then be better able to focus on adding his/her unique cooking skills to the process for optimal results.

And so it goes with sales…

Using the analogy above, you can see how trying to implement a new marketing campaign with an uninformed, unequipped, and unprepared salesperson will sabotage your marketing goals.

As a small business owner, you have the advantage over large chains. Their corporate offices are distanced from actual business sites and must rely on strict guidelines to achieve minimal success. In a small business environment, one has far more ability to be hands on, communicate deeply to staff, and oversee execution. If you aren’t properly communicating your marketing plans with your sales staff, you cannot reap the benefits you truly seek.

Success vs Failure

Let’s look at two scenarios to illustrate how communication and cooperation between sales and marketing can enhance or sabotage results.

Scenario 1 – Undesirable

A consumer walks into a store anxious to buy your advertised item. but the salesperson approached knows nothing about it. The search for information presents, and the consumer becomes annoyed at the delay and confusion. There is so much effort in the process of determining the sale item and pricing that any opportunity to establish a consumer relathionship is lost on the clarification process. Add-on or ad driven sales strategies and opportunities are lost. There is little room for conversation as to why the consumer wanted the item and a lost chance to determine whether the item truly fit their need. This situation increases the likelihood of a return, and for a lost chance for conversion or multiple sales per transaction since the anxiety around the confusion dominates. It is only a highly experienced salesperson who can segue such confusion into a new start with a consumer in this situation.

Scenario 2 – Desirable

A consumer walks into a store anxious to buy your advertised item. The salesperson has full knowledge of the campaign because s/he has attended a meeting (or was otherwise fully informed) as to the marketing campaign strategy for increased sales and customer relationship building from said campaign. The salesperson confidently guides the relaxed consumer to the product area while procuring information to help cement the sale, present an opportunity for a more appropriate item, or even launch an upsell. A relationship is created with the consumer enhancing repeat/referral business potential. Results are documented for future marketing efforts to build upon. Palpable information is procured for an understanding as to whether the marketing campaign was a strategic win or simply incidental.

How will you execute your next marketing campaign?

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? ;)

“My Staff Doesn’t DO Social Media” is Killing Your Social Media Potential

But my staff doesn't DO Social Media!

When I discuss how important in-house contribution is for social media marketing with (TOO MANY) small business owners, I hear:

“But, my staff doesn’t DO Social Media.”

First of all, statistics tell us that’s not true.

Not only does your staff own a smartphone, but have likely downloaded at least 2(00) social media apps to talk to friends and family, and play games. And during breaks, lunches, WHEN YOU AREN’T LOOKING, and at quitting time, they are ON social media. 

Oh, sure…, they’ll TELL you they aren’t on social media, but what that translates to is THEY ARE AFRAID you will put them in charge of your business page.

SOLUTION

At their next review, explain that in this age of digital marketing, social media marketing contribution is now a job requirement for all new hires. And for existing employees, reviews will include evaluations of their individual contribution to your social media efforts.

GUILT IS A TERRIBLE MOTIVATOR

Yeah, yeah, I know the guilt seeps in… You tell me you are a lousy example of social media business participation so you figure you can’t ask them to do what you don’t do. Wrong!

  • Since when do you know how to do everything your staff knows how to do?

Their contribution is IMAGES, anecdotes, and testimonials

They won’t use their data, add an app, or use their SmartPhone.

Starting on the most basic level, they will take candid photos of your business in action, customer testimonials, anything that reflects your business success. You should also provide a store notebook to jot down anecdotal material for your social media content.

BUY a digital camera for the store or business, and leave it readily accessible to staff.  They can virtually begin contributing to your social media marketing as soon as you brief them on camera use and care.

  • Yes, you need protocols for what is/isn’t appropriate to photograph and how often.
  • Yes, you need to set up a Dropbox, Google Photos (which is cool because of enhancement features), or other cloud account folder for your photos.
  • Yes, you will be responsible for transferring those images from the camera to your computer via the included USB cable to the Dropbox or whatever folder.
  • Yes, you or your trusty admin whom you have given shared access to your cloud folder will then have to share them to your Social Media page(s).

But, other than that, that’s IT! Any and every person on the staff should be allowed to have some fun with the camera catching some on-the-floor moments which can lead to bigger and better participation. YouTube is your next goal.

Just one candid photo per week can mean a boost to your Social Media stats.

Here’s hoping you aim higher.

Fans are more likely to follow

…if they get the feeling they know you and your business. That’s what the photos provide – an inside look.

Now go buy a darn digital camera.

You can get them for less than $200. Or, spend a little more and it will come with wi-fi for easy transfer. It’s a business deduction – a marketing expense!

Now I hope you are saying to yourself, “Why didn’t I think of all this?”

3 Reasons Facebook is for Playground Friends and Google Plus is for Grownups

I know, I know, the title is a bit of an insult … bear with me.

As I migrate to Google+, and as I learn that my Facebook friends don’t care to follow suit, I am beginning to understand why.

  1. Facebook has been in use for 10 years, Google+ for 3 years. Facebook has a huge learning curve lead over G+. This is a world of busy people and the saturation point of learning yet another app or program is nigh. Ergo, popular reluctance to venture into Google Plus, i.e., “Please don’t give me any more homework!”
  2. Google+ requires a Google Account. Although most Facebook users may have acquired a Gmail account and address, they may rarely use it. The majority of my own contact list reveals most of my contacts use company email addresses since many log on during their workday. Therefore, the less contact one has with their Google account in general, the less likely one may be to even notice Google Plus. Facebook users may also assume all their social needs are met on Facebook.
  3. Perhaps the strongest point relates to whether or not one is actively participating in social media for business. If one uses social media exclusively for personal use, there is little interest for another platform. Despite the fact that social media users deserve a better User Experience (UX) than Facebook (such as IS provided on Google Plus), most users commonly prefer a bird in the hand rather than two in the bush. But, SMB owners who ARE active on Social Media for their small businesses are far more likely to seek the superior benefits of Google+; especially for the SEO benefits to their search rankings.

But, alas, many SMB owners are often laggards in social media. And if they do participate, it is mostly via hire. Google Plus asks for genuine content from source. Fluff is not effective. Google Pus provides a superior platform for sincere engagement. Facebook falls shy.

Ergo, the analogy – Friends vs Grownups

Business Users desiring a respectful ROI from a social media platform search for maturity in a platform (both personally and professionally). Business growth does not occur randomly.

  • Facebook is a growing disappointment for brand awareness potential.
  • Facebook is exponentially squashing organic business post visibility.
  • Facebook users generally prefer comic relief from their stressful days, i.e., silly pet pictures and funny videos. (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”*)

As a result, a business owner now thinks twice about investing valuable ad dollars for increased visibility on a platform (Facebook) which primarily attracts fans seeking pedestrian relief rather than thoughtful content.

Google Plus, on the other hand, has historically attracted those who seek more from their social media platform. Hobbyists, business owners, IT “geeks,” sports enthusiasts, amateur philosophers, science fans, photographers (G+ has amazing image quality), and more.

This means, a Google Plus audience seeks useful and thought-provoking content, or, valuable information that enhances interests and activities. One does not have to be cute or funny to get attention from G+ users. G+ users are actually embarrassed to comment with only a “great post” comment. On Google Plus, complete sentences and finished thoughts are the rule. Sure, G+ users love humor, too, but it is not required as it often is on Facebook. Google Plus has no character limit and images will show exactly as intended.

So what does this mean for the SMB owner who is considering G+ for business?

Users visit their G+ account less frequently than Facebook users because Google Plus content is more about quality, not quantity. You aren’t expected to post daily or multiple times daily as on Facebook. No one forgets you if you only post once a week or once a month. Scarcity is acceptable – as long as your posts are worth a user’s time. This means if you can keep the topic on interest on Google Plus, there is no need to entertain. Lack of frequency will not discount impact.

So, what is the future of social media platforms?

Personally, I believe Facebook is sounding its own death knell through its recent “Monkey See, Monkey Do” approach for monetization. They are more worried about their stockholders than their users (and in a bass-ackwards way). Google+ will surely surpass expectations as its growth is currently exponential. People tire of sameness and don’t appreciate Facebook’s disregard for personal and business UX.

How else is Monkey See Monkey Do Screwing up Facebook?

  • They see Twitter as a popular go-to news source, so decide to add top news stories in feeds.
  • They see the attractiveness of Google+ YouTube videos auto-play, so they are promoting a “post your video straight to Facebook” campaign.
  • They see the growth of Instant Video and Messaging and create Facebook Messenger. And, of course, Messenger will soon have its own avenues for monetization.

Messenger is a lame attempt at best (imho) to duplicate the many uses of G+ Hangouts and HOAs (G+ hangouts on air) as Android use becomes more dominant. Facebook should have stuck to promoting Instagram.

The familiarity and convenience factor for which users hang on to Facebook is being slowly diluted by Facebook itself.

Stupid.

Yes, Facebook, alienate your brand and personal users by screwing with everything users like about Facebook because you have lost sight of your mission and are scrambling for profits. A shortsighted method for continued success to be sure.

If you are already on Google Plus, we invite you to join Small Business Smart Marketing Talk Google Community.

*Seinfeld: “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” http://youtu.be/Oj3VphK9AMk

SMBs: An Unhappy Staff Will Kill Your Marketing Efforts

UN HAPPYAs Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for ya?”

You spent a fortune on marketing, but you have a disgruntled staff. Yes, the hiring pool is high, but do you really want to sabotage your marketing efforts and business stability with an unhappy staff?

  • A simple thank you goes a long way.
  • An occasional perk (like a reward of free product or a healthy employee discount) never hurt in lieu of better wages you can’t pay.
  • Incentive programs boost morale, and therefore, productivity.
  • Birthday and holiday recognitions may seem trivial, but they provide a loyalty ROI.

If you are not recognizing and appreciating your employees, you are placing the health of your business at risk. Unhappy employees are less productive, more prone to error, and may begin to pilfer.

A pat on the back, a thank you for extra effort, an occasional free lunch, recognition at a staff meeting and on your social media for a job well done…these simple efforts can mean the difference for your continued success as a business.

Why is this so important for Marketing?

Your awesome marketing may bring those new customers in the door, but what if your employees don’t shower those new customers with love and loyalty for the biz?

You’re budget is tight, but your wallet will be tighter if you lose your best assets – faithful and loyal employees.

SMB Owners: Don’t Get Bogged Down in Your Bookkeeping

You Can't Afford NOTto Delegate

Franchisees and small business owners of all kinds:

Business suffering because you’re bogged down with administrative mess? You say you didn’t sign up for bookkeeping when you dreamed of your new business?

Not focusing on what you love is a BIG mistake.  And guess what? There are people out there who LOVE bookkeeping. Yes, it’s true! And, thankfully, they are ready for hire.

EVEN IF YOU KNOW HOW

You choose a business because you are following your bliss, your passion, your venue to champion your skills. My guess is you never gave a damn about bookkeeping, ordering, payroll, maintenance, or many of the duties that are so necessary to run a successful business. Just because you know how doesn’t always mean you should.

I bet you’re still mowing your own lawn, too.

Time for a wake-up call

So why aren’t you hiring people to do those tasks? Or at the very least, delegating it to the person on your staff who does enjoy and excel at that kind of work?
The excuse I hear over and over is that you can’t afford to hire another person to handle those chores. You can’t afford NOT to!

Start with part-time help

There are many people who are taking on clients like you on a part-time basis:

  • Virtual Assistants
  • College Interns
  • Stay-at-home Moms/Dads who are dying to talk to adults and keep their fingers in the work  world part-time
  • consultants who want to make their own hours, and more.

Yes, you will have to monitor their work, but do hire someone to do what you hate or is eating up quality time in your business. Get back to your business at hand. You will be less stressed without those duties hanging over your head and they will do a better job with the full focus you need. That is what THEY love to do.

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?!