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22 Simple Actions You Can Take Today To Position Your Business For Breakthrough Growth

There are over 11,000 business books published each year. In all of them there’s one thing missing: ACTION! Without action all the knowledge in the world is useless.

As a business owner you don’t need more ideas, you need focus. Today, I’ve made it easy for you…I’ve listed 22 actions you can take today to position your business for breakthrough growth. Implement them all or implement just one…but implement something!

Each of these actions compounds on the others so you’ll get better results the more you implement.

Action #1: Create a Customer List (60 minutes)

If you do nothing else do this! Your customer list is the only real asset in your business. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. You may own equipment and real estate and according to your accountant they are assets…but in reality, the only assets you have are the relationships you have with the people who are willing to give you money in return for service. Without that one primary asset, you don’t have a business. So start paying close attention to your customer list…it’s the most valuable thing you own.

If your list is in Quickbooks…get it out. Quickbooks is for accounting. You need a marketing list. I recommend using Highrise if you’re just getting started with your list, or Infusionsoft if you’re ready to leap to the next level. Infusionsoft will automate all of your marketing and fulfillment processes…it’s what I use to power my business.

Action #2: Create a Written Process for Getting Contact Information From Every Customer (20 minutes)

What good’s a list if you don’t have a way to grow it. In my experience businesses divide into two categories—1) The businesses that bill their customers after the fact; 2) Transactional businesses that deliver the goods and get paid at the same time. Businesses that bill customers almost always have a decent customer list…if not, they don’t get paid. Transactional businesses mostly ignore the value of a customer list.

If you’re not collecting customer contact information come up with a reason for needing it (it makes it less creepy when you ask). Here’s a hint…you don’t need a good reason, just a reason. At a minimum collect name and email. Ideally you’ll collect name, email, mailing address, phone (and maybe their Twitter handle).

With your list in hand, and a process for growing it you now have the keys to instant sales…just send a message to the list when you need some extra cash.

Action #3: Make a List of Everything You Can Guarantee (15 minutes)

Most small businesses fear guarantees. Afraid that they’ll be taken advantage of. The reality is that only a very small number of customers ever claim a guarantee. Your risk is small in offering a guarantee…but the perceived risk reduction in the client’s eyes can make selling much easier.

You don’t have to guarantee your product or service or it’s results. It’s best if you can, but you can guarantee anything. Here are a few examples:

  • Guarantee that your phone will be answered by a real, live human.
  • Guarantee that you’ll return customer calls on the same day.
  • Guarantee that you’re service people will arrive when promised.
  • Guarantee that your quoted price will be the final price.
  • Guarantee that a particular item is always in stock.

If you stop to think about it the list is endless. Guarantee satisfaction, and offer money back if possible. But if you’re not comfortable with that, guarantee as many pieces as you can.

Action #4: Sign-up for an Email Marketing Service With an Autoresponder (15 minutes)

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways you can market your business. National studies have shown year after year that email marketing delivers more than a 40:1 return on investment. That’s more than double the next best marketing method. If you’ve completed Actions 1 and 2 and are growing your list, you’re crazy if you don’t have a way to do email marketing.

If you’re thinking, e-newsletter, you’re only half right. I do think e-newsletters, sent weekly or bi-weekly, are an essential part of your marketing mix, but the real power in email marketing is automation. With automation, you can capture a new lead and send them a series of educational messages over time…automatically (even while you sit on the beach sipping a margarita).

If you’re looking for a solid email marketing service, I recommend iContact, Aweber or Infusionsoft.

Action #5: Make a List of Your Clients’ Pains and Your Cures (30 minutes)

Forget about what you do for clients and how you do it for a moment. Think about the biggest complaints and challenges your clients face. Even if it’s outside your domain…those are the things they’d pay to have solved. Then make a list of your cures to each pain. Your clients don’t want your service or product…they want the cure for the pain they feel.

You may find that your current offering doesn’t cure the pain…it only goes halfway. How can you be the whole cure? What would you have to add? What would it be worth to your clients?

Action #6: Start Tracking Lifetime Client Value (20 minutes)

In your client list, start tracking the value of each transaction that your client completes. Keep a running total for each client. Over time you’ll be able to calculate an average value of a client over the life of their interaction with you. Knowing this one number can drive your entire business. If you know what a new client is worth in total it changes how you look at every investment in your business…especially your marketing.

Knowing Lifetime Client Value will give you clear insight into the value of your list. Think about how you can use this knowledge…Let’s say that you know each client is worth, on average, $10,000 over 5 years. And you know that for every 20 leads you get, one becomes a client. That means each lead is worth $500. That’s pretty good motivation for filling the pipeline with leads don’t you think?

Action #7: Stop Worrying About the Cost of Marketing and Focus on ROI (5 minutes)

I understand that marketing can be expensive…especially in a tough economy. But marketing is an investment, meant to grow your most valuable asset (your client list). The appropriate number to watch is ROI—Return on Investment. Focusing on ROI is a decision more than an action, so just do it, make the decision.

When you do, you’ll find that your marketing will move from being a fuzzy part of your business to a highly tracked and measurable area of focus for you. To get maximum ROI from your marketing, place small bets, keep the winners, cut the losers and let your winning marketing campaigns compound.

Action #8: Signup for a Press Notification Service (5 minutes)

Getting free publicity can be a huge boon to your business. And there’s a little secret most business owners don’t understand…the press needs your story. Yes, it’s true…there’s a reporter out there right now on deadline and she needs you. The trick is finding the reporter.

Here are two services that bring those hungry reporters right to your inbox:

  1. Help A Reporter Out HARO, as it’s called is a free service that reporters use to post requests for experts to interview for their stories. All you’ve got to do is go to the HARO website and create your free account. You’ll get three short emails each day with listings of press opportunities and the contact information for the reporter.
  2. Reporter Connection Reporter Connection works much like HARO. It too is free and will send you one email per day with listings.

Just scan these emails when they come in and when you see an opportunity to provide great information, click and respond.

Action #9: Make a List of E-newsletters, Blogs and Podcasts in Your Niche (30 minutes)

Your search for free publicity shouldn’t end with traditional media. There are millions of websites that publish information on a daily basis. I guarantee there are some publishing in your industry (or in your prospect’s industries). These sites usually have highly targeted audiences. And the owners of these sites need content to keep their readers satisfied. Take a look at the site and the types of articles they publish. Write up your idea for an article and call the owner and pitch the idea. To find blogs use Google Blog Search.

And be sure to look for podcasts on iTunes. These are great places to land an interview. Just remember to provide high quality, educational content and keep the sales pitch subtle.

Don’t think it’ll help…listen to how E-Letter Subscriber and business broker John Kraft leveraged niche media to drive real business…

John said all it took was a short conversation with the marketing manager at TravelHost, a company that sells business opportunities. TravelHost sends a daily video to about 2500 business brokers (they’ve created their own media outlet…more about that in a moment). John is working with laid off mid-level and senior state employees to find them businesses to buy…that’s unique and newsworthy. It’s also the kind of information that other brokers want to know. He made it easy for TravelHost to talk about him…he gave them what they needed.

As a result John says he got 5 calls within a week, landed one new listing and three additional leads in under a month (in case you don’t know, that’s big results in John’s business).

One reason for the big results from a relatively small press opportunity is that niche press is targeted. If John had the same information published in the local paper I’d guess his results wouldn’t be as good…even though the audience is 50 times larger. And it would have been harder to land that newspaper article.

So being observant and understanding the audience + a couple of phone calls = profitable new business (and the side benefit of lots of exposure). Do you think you could spare an hour a month to get some great niche press?

Action #10: Create a 5 Step Follow-up Campaign For New Prospects (90 minutes)

Never let a new prospect fall through the cracks…write 5 short emails to educate and help your prospects move to a buying decision.

  1. Email Day 1: Thanks for dropping in…did we answer all your questions
  2. Email Day 3: Answers to questions (answer 5 frequently asked questions)
  3. Email Day 5: Client testimonials
  4. Email Day 7: Special Offer (I like adding bonuses that expire on Day 10, rather than discounting)
  5. Email Day 10: Last chance…

Action #11: Write a 5 Step New Client Welcome Campaign (90 minutes)

Don’t make the mistake of stopping your marketing when the client buys. Use an automatic welcome campaign to give the client confidence that they made the right choice.

  1. Email Day 1: Congratulations on your purchase (confirm in their minds that they made the right decision…fights buyer’s remorse)
  2. Email Day 3: Important resources – Tell ’em how to best interact with your business and how to get help if they ever need it
  3. Email Day 5: Client success stories – send stories of happy clients who got great results and reassure them that their results are around the corner
  4. Email Day 10: Ask for referrals (introductions to friends, family, co-workers)
  5. Email Day 21: Ask for a testimonial

This sequence does a lot…it helps avert buyer’s remorse, automatically asks for referrals and gathers testimonials.

Action #12: Setup a Google Place Page for Your Business (30 minutes)

Google has created millions of free webpages for local businesses all across the country. If you haven’t claimed yours yet you need to, pronto! Google’s Place Pages are one page listings for local businesses hosted by Google. If you’ve ever searched for a local business and seen the map showing business locations, then you’ve seen a local search. If you’re a local business this is your listing in the new phone book.

To claim your Place Page go to Google Local Business Center. You’ll need a free Google account (your Gmail account will work) to log in. Then you can search to see if Google has created a page for you. If not, you can easily create one.

Be sure to add complete information. Your page will serve you better if you’re thorough. Remember to add photos and videos from YouTube, too.

When you’re done, send an email with a link to your shiny new Place Page to your best clients and ask them to write a review for you.

Action #13: Search for Online Reviews of Your Business (20 Minutes)

Your online reputation is more important than ever…and it’s spread all over the web. Go to Google and search for “Your business name reviews” and you’ll get a picture of what’s out there. You’ll also want to go to Yelp.com, Angie’s List (requires a small fee) and your Google Place Page (see Action #12).

I’ve had two clients do this and find some really damaging reviews posted about them (in both cases we suspect the reviews were posted by competitors). Once we found them we were able to combat them by asking happy clients to post their own positive reviews.

A word of caution…as with all things in life, honesty is the best policy. Don’t post fake reviews. Get real reviews from satisfied clients…you’ll get better long-term results.

Action #14: Schedule 1 Day A Week For Client Attraction (30 minutes)

This is a practice I learned from top marketer Fabienne Frederickson and it’s paid dividends ever since. Now, I know what you’re thinking…“I can’t possibly devote a day a week to marketing.” I thought that too..and then I did it. Just make the decision to do it, start blocking off your marketing day (I prefer Monday) two or three weeks out on your calendar. Chances are that you don’t have much scheduled that far out. Once you block it off be sure to defend that time. It’s essential to consistently growing your business.

Can’t do an entire day? No problem. Block off 90-120 minutes first thing every morning. Then fill that time with actions that get more clients.

Action #15: Create a Facebook Page for Your Business (30 minutes)

If you don’t already have a fan page, go ahead, make one. Just login to Facebook under your personal profile. Then go to Facebook’s Pages guide. You’ll need a graphic designer to create a profile photo for your business (if you need a good one, send me an email and I’ll introduce you to mine). Before you invite your friends to “Like” your page, put 3-5 informational posts on the page. You don’t want guests coming to an empty page…they won’t stick around.

Be sure to add 5 photos (in addition to your profile image). These show across the top and give you an opportunity to brand your page or create images that promote a specific product or service.

Now invite all of your friends to “Like” your page. Now the real work begins…creating content so good it’ll spread.

Action #16: Start a Facebook Ad Campaign (25 minutes)

Facebook has one of the easiest advertising platforms around. In just a few minutes you can have an ad campaign up and running driving leads to your Facebook Page or your website. You can target based on a number of demographics, but the most valuable feature is targeting based on what a person “Likes” on Facebook. Using this targeting you can drill down by interest to find people who have already said they are interested in your topic.

With a Facebook ad campaign you can pay-per-click (you pay a small amount each time someone clicks on your ad) or you can pay per 1000 impressions. I recommend starting with pay-per-click.You bid on ad space and I’ve seen bids range from a dime a click to several dollar a click depending on the interests you’re trying to target. You can set your maximum daily spend. Once your campaign hits this amount each day your ads stop running…this is a failsafe to make sure you don’t go broke. I typically set the limit at $10 or $20 dollars to start (during testing).

You create your ad copy…you’ve got a 25 character headline and a 135 character ad body to work with. Keep it right to the point…and make sure to include a call to action. You’ll also want to include a photo. Please, do not use your logo! Use a photo of a human face. My testing shows that photos of people (smiling women to be specific) get a greater response than any other type of picture.

Action #17: Get One Powerful Testimonial (45 minutes)

Great testimonials can do all of the selling for you. Take out a piece of paper and write down the name of your best, happiest client. Get ‘em on the phone and tell them you’re collecting client stories and you’d like to feature theirs on your website (they’ll be flattered). There are two types of testimonials…the first: Feel Good Testimonials do just that, they make you feel good because the client is telling how nice you are and what a pleasure you are to work with. Feel good testimonials may make you feel good, but they leave your bank account empty.

The type of testimonial you want is a Results Testimonial. In a Results Testimonial you want your client to cover 4 things:

  1. The situation they were in before they started working with you.
  2. How they came to find you (what other options did they try, without result first).
  3. The great results they now enjoy after working with you or using your product.
  4. Would they recommend you to others facing the same situation.

If you can get the testimonial on video, those are always the best, most credible. If you get a written testimonial be sure to include the client’s full name, city they live in, telephone or email (with their permission) and photo. Avoid anonymous testimonials, they’re not credible.

Action #18: Develop One New Idea Your Competitors Wouldn’t Dare Do (90 minutes)

If you sit and think for a little while you’ll stumble upon one (or more) ideas that are considered taboo in your industry. Those ideas are the perfect place to go to separate yourself from your customers. In my last business, we guaranteed response time for our crews…and offered to pay the client 1-hour of our fee if we were late. Guarantees in that industry were unheard of…and we had a number of competitors ask us if we were nuts for offering it. (By the way, if your competitors think one of your marketing ideas is crazy that’s a clue that you’re headed in the right direction.)

That one idea lead to $50,000 in business and we never needed to pay out a dime on the guarantee…not a bad ROI on an idea our competitors wouldn’t dare try.

Action #19: Make a Top 10 List (30 Minutes)

I’m a big believer in the power of networking to grow your business…and to grow personally. But most people go about it haphazardly. If you’re systematic about networking you can get amazing results in no time at all. My secret weapon for getting more clients by networking is my Top 10 List.

I keep the names of the 10 businesses or individuals I’m trying to meet and gain as clients on this list. When I meet with a networking contact I share it and ask if they know anyone on the list. If they do I ask for an introduction…and I almost always get at least one. It is without a doubt the fastest way to expand your network.

Action #20: Read (60 minutes, repeat daily)

A 2007 Washington Post article reports that half of Americans read less than four books a year and an astonishing 27% didn’t read even one book during the study period in 2006. Look around at the successful people you know. If you compare the size of their personal library to the size of their TV, you’ll see the library is (much) bigger. There is a direct correlation between your income and how much and what you read.

Reading four romance novels a week won’t get you any further along, but reading a great business or success book each week (or even just one a month) will get your mind focused on the principles of business and life that lead to success. The value in these books are the principles that they reveal. If you can take the principles and apply them, you’ll move forward.

Dr. Tom Hill taught me a system to read a book a day (I don’t usually hit that number, but I’m probably in the top 5% or 10% of readers based on the Washington Post story)…here’s how it goes:

  1. Read the back cover and the inside of the jacket. Look for the other authors who are recommending the book. They may be authors you’ll want to check out later.
  1. Read the table of contents.
  1. Read the front matter.
  1. Read the first and last chapter in their entirety.
  1. Read the first few pages and last few pages of each chapter in between.
  1. Make notes about the principles revealed in the book.

Here’s Dr. Hill’s thoughts on why this approach is effective:

  • When you read a non-fiction book you usually want to learn the principles the author is using to get some result. That’s the focus.
  • The principles of most books are outlined in the table of contents, the first and last chapters and the beginning and end of each chapter.
  • The middle of most chapters is fluff and stories…you only want the principles.
  • The testimonials and front matter give you a clue into who has influenced the author’s writing and points you to other resources. You will generally get a glimpse of the author’s background and learn how they came to the knowledge they’re sharing.

As Dr. Hill correctly notes: The winners in business and in life are the people who learn and apply the most number of proven principles. Reading is your path to acquiring them.

Here’s my short list of must reads for entrepreneurs:

  1. The Bible (I don’t care what you believe in, but the principles outlined throughout the Bible have proven to be effective in life and business.)
  2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (I’m currently reading his recently published Outwitting the Devil and it’s worthy of your time as well).
  3. No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs and No B.S. Ruthless Management of People and Profits by Dan Kennedy
  4. Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch
  5. Blue Ocean Strategy by Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
  6. Influence by Robert Cialdini
  7. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

Action 21: Send a Card (10 minutes)

Send someone who you’ve interacted with this week a card or personal note. It shows gratitude and it sets you sets you apart from 99% of business people, who, if they do anything, send an email. I send cards on a regular basis to thank people, to say “nice to meet you” and to generate leads and open doors when I can’t find any other way in.

President George H.W. Bush credits sending a “nice to meet you” card to everyone he ever met as being one of the keys to his success. President Ronald Reagan was known to sit up at night and write “Thank You Grams” every night. I figure if it’s good enough for two men who’ve held the highest office in the land…it’s good enough for me.

Action #22: Take Massive Action (all day, every day)

I admit this isn’t a quick action, but it’s the difference between being wildly successful in your business and being mediocre. So don’t read this article and set it aside. Don’t read and do one thing. Figure out how to do 10 or 15 or all of these things. That’s taking massive action and it works. It’s getting the odds in your favor. Not everything you try will give you all of the results that you want, but in total, by acting on many fronts and at many levels you’ll get everything you want and more.

So go get after it!

What would you add to the list? I’d like you to share just one quick action in the comments that you do that make a big difference in your business.

Thanks to Corbett Barr of Think Traffic for the inspiration for this article.

Tips-N-Tricks: How to Delete Extra Profiles on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn

Do you have multiple profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? I am often asked how to delete the extra profile, so this post will walk you through how to get rid of the extra/unwanted profiles you may have. LinkedIn - Log in to your unwanted account. First make note of any connections that you will want to re-establish with the profile you are keeping. Yes, you will have to re-connect with each one, but it is a small price to pay to delete the extra profile.

Next, click on Accounts & Settings (top right of your screen). Under personal information (right hand column), click on close account. Then, select the reason you want to close your account and click continue. Continue to follow the prompts to close the extra account.

Facebook - Log in to the facebook profile you would like to delete. Make sure you keep track of friends you want to invite to your permanent profile, you will need to send new friend requests to move them over.  Next, click on settings and then scroll to the bottom of the page. The last option is deactivate account, click. Select the reason why you are deactivating your account, then click deactivate my account. You may have to enter a security check, enter the letters on the screen and click continue. Your account is now deleted.

You may also want to delete a page you created, to delete a page, look for the following icon at the bottom of your profile.  Click on the "f" to the right of applications, and you will see a list of pages you have created.

Once you have the list of pages, look to the right of the name and click on delete page and follow the prompts.

Twitter - Log into the Twitter account you want to delete. Just with the previous two sites, make note of any people you want follow. You can also send a tweet letting your followers know where to find you. Once you are within the account you want to delete, click on settings. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click delete account. Continue through the process until your account is deleted.

Tips-n-Tricks: How to Seperate Business and Personal Posts, Pictures and Friends' Comments on Facebook

What if you don't want your business friends to see the pictures from your family Bar-B-Q, or you have a crazy friend that posts to your wall?  What can you do?  In the past people have setup two profiles, one for business and one for personal.  Personally, I just think that is too much work.  Also, it is inevitable that one of your business contacts will find your personal profile or visa-versa.  Why complicate your online presence? Now, you don't have to worry about mixing business and pleasure.  Within Facebook, there are settings that will allow you to utilize Facebook for both worlds without concern for who sees what.  Isn't that exciting!  So let's show you how to control who sees what.

First, you will have to log into Facebook. Next,  you will create friend lists.  To group your friends, click "friends" at the top of your screen.  From there, you will see a menu on the left side of the screen, look for "lists" and then click on friends.  You will know you have found the right option when a screen opens and you see a list of all your friends with their profile pictures.  At the very top of the list, there is a button that says, "Create New List," click that that.

You are almost there!  Now think of the first name you want to group your friends by.  You could use work, family, relatives, best friends or distant relatives.  Type the name in the box at the top.  Then click on each person that fits within your new description.  Once you have selected the friends that fit within your new "list", click create list.  You will know your list was  created successfully when it appears under "List" on the left hand menu.  Create as many list as you like, but simplicity is best.

Keep in mind, you will be selecting settings based on the lists.  That means if you want to limit your business contacts from viewing your pictures, you have to make sure all your business contacts are within your "work" list.

Now that you have your lists, you can start locking and hiding things from certain lists.  Now, click on "settings."  This option is in the top right of the screen, the wording is white within the blue Facebook box at the top of the screen.  Then, click "manage" on the privacy settings line (second from the bottom).  Once you click manage, you will have four choices (Profile, Search, News Wall & Feed and Applications), click on Profile.

The good news is you can limit certain friends from seeing certain things on Facebook.  The bad news is not all of the settings allow you to limit certain groups of friends.  The following Facebook features can be limited by "lists" of friends: photos tagged of you, videos tagged of you, wall posts, education info and work info.  So how do you lock down things like pictures?

Within the privacy settings above, such as videos tagged of you, select customize from the drop down menu.  Next, select "some friends" within the screen that opens.  I box will appear, this is where you indicate which "list" of friends can view the information.  Enter the name of the list that you want to be able to see your videos.  You can also select individual names (maybe from your business contacts).  Once you save these settings, only the lists indicated will be able to view your videos.

Continue to go through each setting designating what lists can see different items within your profile.  Now you have a profile suitable for business and personal use.

My Customers are Not Online...

If I had a dollar for each time I heard this from one of my clients or students, I would be taking a nice long beach vacation!  The truth is everyone is online.  Each time someone has tried to convince me that their target market is not online, I usually find a reason the customer is online.  Heck, even my "behind-the-times" Father has an iPhone.  He can now find a restaurant or get directions on the go....what is the world coming to? The reason I bring up my Father is that he is a non-typical iPhone user.  Some people might say he is "older", I would NEVER say that.  His generation did not grow up with computers, nor did they use them in school.  His generation had to learn computers in the workplace and many people within his generation are still hesistant to go to the digital world.

So why are so many people hesitant about going online or marketing online?

More and more people are online...more than you probably think.  Just because you are not online, does not mean your customers are not online.  Remember, we are not exactly like our customers.  Just remember this simple little question my baby-boomer mother-in-law poised to me one evening...

Before Google, where did people go to have questions answered?

If that does not give you evidence that more and more people are online, maybe some of the numbers below will help

  • Facebook has over 250,000,000 users and is growing daily
  • LinkedIn has the largest collection of Business Owners
  • July 2009, Google had over 76.7 billion searches (Just Google)

So, don't be left in the dark.  Take advantage of the tools at your fingertips.

Why You'll Never Succeed at Social Media Marketing

Dear Business Owner, I write to you today with great sadness. I've come to see that you will never achieve the success that you, frankly, deserve. You've looked at all of the 'new media' and 'social networking' tools as fad. It's not your fault. In the beginning you were right to be skeptical.

As you sit back, continuing to promote your business using the old 'tried and true' methods you've used for years, your business is slowly disappearing from the world.

Your yellow pages ad that worked so well doesn't pull anymore. The 15 second TV spots you've been running for years, aren't working. In a few months new telemarketing rules will render the phone useless as a sales tool. Your print ads look good and make you feel proud, but you silently wonder are they still sending out those magazines...because your phone isn't ringing.

Hey, like I said, it's not your fault. Your customers just decided to spend their time using this new thing called the Internet. They decided that it's better to TiVO their favorite shows...and hit the fast forward button when your commercial comes on...that's not your fault.

Those crazy customers decided to join Facebook and Twitter and spend more time having a virtual party with their friends instead of reading the newspaper with your ad in it.

So you decided to get a Facebook account (I know, you're not sure about Twitter yet, after all, what self respecting business person 'tweets'). You've connected with an old high school flame or two...but you're not sure how to turn that into the millions you've heard you'll make with social media.

You read that every business needs a blog, but damn, you've got enough to do. And who the hell wants to read what you'd write anyway.

So you'll never be successful at social media marketing. And your business is slowly disappearing. I can't find you in Google and my Twitter followers referred me to your competitor. I love his YouTube videos...

But it's just a fad. And you don't have time this week anyway.

With Regrets,

steve-web-sig

How to Use Social Media in Your Business

It feels like you can’t turn on the TV without hearing someone talking about Facebook, Twitter or blogging. If that all sounds foreign to you, don’t worry, we will catch you up. But how can all these fads help your business? Believe it or not, social media marketing can help your business. BUT, it is possible to waste a lot of time, so make sure you have a plan.

Social media is no longer for teenagers talking about what party they will attend this weekend. Social media has evolved into a new way to talk about you, your company and what you do. The catch is, you have to first establish yourself. If you enter the social media world without first earning the trust of your followers…you just become another “sales” person in cyberspace.

In all honesty, the rules of the game are not all that different from regular business. Think back to networking, isn’t it always better to give a referral before you receive? The more you give the more you receive. The same is true in cyberspace.

To get started, the first site you should setup a profile on is www.LinkedIn.com. The site is completely geared towards business and if you are not on it, sign up as soon as you finish reading this article.

LinkedIn is a great tool for business because you can use it to make new connections (make new friends), learn about people (it is a mini resume), learn who your friends know and show off your expertise.

My favorite experience with LinkedIn is when I used it to find a new connection. I was once introduced to a friend of a friend. Before talking to her on the phone, I went to LinkedIn to see if she had a profile. I found her profile and realized we had a common friend. Once we started the conversation, I broke the ice to ask her if she knew Sara. We spoke about how we knew Sara and we had a warm friendly conversation - a GREAT ice breaker. No longer was the call a “cold call” but a friendly warm conversation. We ended up not being able to do business, but many referrals were sent back and forth.

LinkedIn also has question and answer sections on the site. This is a great way to help others and be able to showcase your expertise on a subject.

Finally, you can use LinkedIn as a tool to introduce friends, you do not have to do anything other than send an email and you get TONS of credit for your efforts.

So get started with social media and join LinkedIn. If you want to get your connections list started, send me a request to connect. You can reach me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/kimalbritton.

Another great tool for business is blogging. Blogging has become the most cost effective and easiest way to stay in front of your clients. In the end, social media is cool, but if it does not do anything to help your business, it is worthless. So, let’s tie blogging to your business.

The most important part of your marketing plan should be consistent interaction with your customers. Blogging is just that! An easy way to stay in front of your clients. It also serves as a way to help keep your website fresh and updated. Since you have all the great content for your blog, find more uses for it. Use your blog articles in your company newsletter, submit to article sites like ezinearticles.com or even submit them to the local paper. Make the most of your content and do not be afraid to reuse material.

Hopefully, you are excited and want to setup your blog. I already know your next question…yes I am psychic. How much is this going to cost?

Well, here is the good news, you can get started for free! Below are some sites to get started:

www.blogger.com

www.wordpress.com

Once you get your site up (or if you have one already), send me a link – kim@blackbeltbusinessprofits.com.

LinkedIn and blogging are the two places most businesses should make sure they have a presence. Other social networking sites include the popular Facebook and Twitter, but not every business should be on every social site. Believe it or not, there are over 15 different categories of social media, such as photo sharing, podcasts, RSS, video sharing, social networking, micro-blogging, event sharing, article submission, bookmarking, music sharing, document sharing, wikis and more. The possibilities with social media are endless, which is why you must have a plan - or you will end up wasting a lot of time.

I recommend that each business examine the different types of social media and decide on 2-3 different types (or sites) to get started on. Focus on 2-3 types and decide how much time you will dedicate to keeping them updated each week. Go in with a plan and you will be successful.