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Posts Tagged ‘GrowSmartBiz Conference’


From the GrowSmartBiz Conference: Proven Strategies to Convert Web Visitors into Customers

November 17th, 2010 ::

One of my favorite sessions at the GrowSmartBiz Conference on November 5 was a Technology Track panel discussion that offered valuable, no-nonsense ways to convert Web visitors into customers.  Thanks to Jennifer Shaheen, President of the Technology Therapy Group, Melinda Emerson, the Small Biz Lady, and Walt Rivenbank, VP of the Mobility Applications Consulting group at AT&T for such great information!

Their strategies are fairly easy to implement, but they will require some time.  Here’s what to do:

1. Check Google Analytics to find out whether your Web visitors are staying.

If you don’t have an account yet, get sign up for one today (it’s free, natch).  One of the things Google Analytics looks at is your website’s bounce rate.  If people are visiting your website but not staying long and not moving from one page to the next, it’s not good.  It means you are probably not supplying them with the information they are looking for and you are definitely not converting them into leads, let alone customers.   It also means you need to update your website.

2. Have a clear call-to-action (CTA).

Update your website by offering a consultation, white paper, how-to guide—anything that is both educational and valuable.  As Melinda Emerson, the Small Biz Lady, said, “Give away your best stuff.”  But you’re not giving away anything for free!  Before they get that free consultation or white paper, ask them for their name and e-mail address.  Your web designer/programmer can help you set this up.

3. Be sure your CTA is easy to find.

Don’t hide your CTAs!  Add them to every page in the form of a big button that is hard to miss (it need not be a garish eyesore, just prominent).  If you have a shopping cart, make it a really big button that is easy to click on.

4. You have 7 seconds to convince your Web visitors to stay.

Your website is your home base and most visible online presence.  Because you only have 7 seconds to grab the attention of your Web visitors, your home page must be especially well-written.  As you are writing—or re-writing—your website content, also keep in mind that your website is not a book—people do not read it from beginning to end.

5. No handouts.

When you give a presentation or workshop, do not hand out information that elaborates on your topic.  Instead, ask attendees to visit you online at your website, Facebook page, or Twitter account to receive some great information that they will find useful (really sell it!).  You can, however, give them a one-sheet (a one-page brochure) that acts as a CTA.  It should only include some information to pique their interest.  Your goal is to get them onto your website or connected to you via social media so you can continue to engage with them and convert them into customers.

Photo Courtesy Shashi Bellamkonda

GrowSmartBiz Conference: How to Multiply the Effects of SEO With Great Content

November 15th, 2010 ::

One of the Marketing Track sessions I attended at the GrowSmartBiz Conference had a great title–Stories, Content, and the Search Engine Sword Over Your Head–and delivered useful information in spades.  No matter how new or established your business, this session was a great way to learn exactly how to improve your search engine optimization efforts and results.

Ben Cook, the SEO Manager at Network Solutions, moderated the panel of 4 pros, including Tinu Abayomi-Paul, principal of Leveraged Promotion, Dr. Alan Glazier, founder and owner of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care, Deborah Ager, principal of ClickWisdom, LLC, and Liana Evans, CEO of LiBeck Integrated Marketing.    (You might be curious as to why there’s an optometrist on the panel.  Dr. Grazier has successfully implemented SEO at Shady Grove Eye and become a prolific blogger in the process.)

Here are their tips on using great content to boost your website’s search engine optimization:

Write for your audience! To produce great content specific to your audience, you need to understand what they search for when online.  Use Market Samurai, a keyword analysis tool, to help you figure what people are searching for.  Then you will be able to write content that addresses their needs.

Use long-tail search terms in your content. Long-tail search terms are the descriptive keywords people enter in the search box when they’re conducting research online.  For instance, “children’s navy blue cotton jacket” rather than “children’s jackets”.  The more pages your website has, the more content you’ll have, and the more chances you’ll have at being found for long-tail terms.

Content type is important. Blogs, videos, and podcasts are great for search engine optimization, thanks to plenty of chances for back linking (aka, links from other sites).  All search engines, including Google and Bing, measure how often content is linked and how many views it gets, so the more varied your content, the better.

Make it easy to share content. Twitter makes sharing content and getting links easy as your content is spread from one person to the next.  On your blog, make sure you add “tweet this” and “like” buttons.  Google rewards websites that have links back to it from both new and established websites.

Optimize video and podcasts. Because search engines cannot read videos or podcasts, add a transcript.

The importance of the URL. You can create custom URL shorteners for branding purposes (I had no idea!).  Awe.sm is the first company I found in search results that does this.  Also be sure that your blog’s URLs contain the title of the blog post rather than numbers.

Photo Courtesy Shashi Bellamkonda

From the GrowSmartBiz Conference: Customer Service as a Differentiator for Small Businesses

November 12th, 2010 ::

‘There is a general cultural of bad customer service in this country.”

Barry Moltz began his presentation, Customer Service Is the New Marketing, at the GrowSmartBusiness Conference on November 5 with the above statement.  As a prolific author and sought-after speaker on entrepreneurship (he has started three companies and founded an angel investing fund), Barry focused on the incredibly important role customer service now plays in a company’s growth and success.  (His engaging and entertaining presentation was based on his newest book, BAM! Delivering Customer Service in a Self-Service World.)

As he alluded to in his presentation, small business owners have a competitive advantage over large companies because we consistently deliver exceptional customer service to our clients.  I can only name three large companies that have built their cultures around customer service: Apple, Zappos, and Nordstrom.  (Maybe this is a trick question, but are there any others you can add to the list?)

Following are excerpts from Barry’s presentation, per my furiously scribbled notes:

“In a world with no boundaries, the only sustainable competitive advantage is excellent customer service.

‘There are a lot of myths associated with customer service.  These myths have to be busted, because the customer is not always right.  Under-promising and over-delivering is not a customer service strategy.  Unhappy customers are not part of doing business.  Customers do not only care about low price….

“Good customer service is whatever a customer says it is in a particular instant on a particular day.  Instead of asking, ‘How can I help you?’, ask ‘How can I make your day better?’

“To ensure your customer service is as good as it can be, put together a customer service manifesto to clearly explain what your customers can expect from you. It should include the following:

  • Deliver on what you promise
  • Listen to your customers
  • When things go wrong, be reachable
  • Resolve issues in a reasonable amount of time
  • Admit mistakes
  • Empower employees to resolve issues
  • Make it easy to stop doing business with you (in direct contrast to cell phone and cable companies, as Barry pointed out)
  • Don’t charge nuisance fees or surcharges
  • Treat your customers with respect and dignity
  • Don’t change the rules without prior notification (cough—credit card companies—cough)

“To get useful feedback from your customers, ask the following four questions:

  1. Why did you choose to do business with us?
  2. Did anyone do a good or bad job servicing you?
  3. Do you plan to use us in the future?
  4. Can you tell any friends, colleagues, or business partners about our business?”

10 Reasons to Attend the GrowSmartBiz Conference on November 5

October 19th, 2010 ::

If you didn’t make it to last year’s GrowSmartBiz Conference, you absolutely must make it a priority to go to this year’s conference, which will be co-hosted by the Washington Business Journal and Network Solutions on November 5.  The conference was expanded to include a trade show, and it will take place once again at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC.

Based on my experience at last year’s conference, here are 10 reasons to attend this year’s conference:

10. Great networking opportunities. Last year, I got to meet a lot of interesting people (here’s one), as this event attracts hundreds of executives from various industries throughout the region.

9. You will learn a lot from small business owners. All of the small business owners and executives who spoke last year shared their knowledge and experience on issues that affect us as we try to grow our businesses.  And some of them are very funny (especially Ramon Ray of SmallBizTechnology, who said he thought Shashi was Network Solutions for the longest time).

8. Meet the vendors you’ve been meaning to contact. The trade show aspect is a really great opportunity to meet product and service providers who can help you grow your small business.

7. Pick a conference track. Last year, all attendees heard great presentations on a handful of topics, but with only an hour for each session, the surface was barely scratched.  This year, you get to immerse yourself in one of four topics to gain a much deeper understanding of that area. Choose from Marketing & Innovation; Government, Small Business Finance, and Non-Profit; Technology as a Tool for Your Business, or Entrepreneur Bootcamp.

6. Breakfast and lunch. The food was really good last year.

5. Meet the NetSol bloggers! All of us bloggers (yes, including Shashi) will be at the event.  Because I work remotely, I loved meeting everyone last year, including some of NetSol’s marketing people. 

4. It’s not expensive. The cost to attend is only $79 per person this year, way down from last year’s rate.

3. You get out of the office for the day! Last year’s conference was on a Tuesday, and because of the simple fact that this year’s conference takes place on a Friday, it’ll be more fun.

2.  This year’s event is bigger. More vendors, more speakers, and more topics.

And the number one reason to attend this year:

1. You will leave inspired. Sounds a little too Oprah Winfrey, I know, but when I left last year, I had learned a lot, and I was honestly excited not only about being a small business owner, but confident that I could grow my small business (and I have!).

Enabling a World Class Communication Infrastructure for Your Small Business – A #GrowSmartBiz Interview with Jason Welz of Comcast Communications

November 20th, 2009 ::

Welz Jason_webMany people have heard of Comcast and many readers of this blog might be customers of its television or Internet services. What many might not be familiar with is its growing business services group that works with thousands of small businesses. Recently at the GrowSmartBiz conference I got to meet Jason Welz, VP of Business Services, Comcast Beltway Region.  In this role, Welz oversees sales and marketing operations efforts for Comcast Business Class services throughout the company’s footprint in Southern Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and parts of West Virginia. Welz joined Comcast from Knight Enterprises, where he served as president and CEO of the privately held cable and telecommunications construction and integration firm. Before Knight Enterprises, Welz spent more than 10 years in executive leadership positions throughout the cable industry, including positions at Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable where he focused his efforts on supporting the growth of high-speed data services, telephony and business services.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk about the increasing power and flexibility that small businesses have when it comes to putting in a communications infrastructure. Here is a transcript of that interview:

Steve: Jason, you have been working in the telecommunications and Internet fields for over a decade. Are we finally at a point where convergence of technologies and affordable bandwidth gives every small business the potential to compete with their larger respective competitors?

Jason: Absolutely.  If you consider the rate of broadband adoption in the SMB arena over the course of the last decade, you can clearly see the way that the adoption curve, available broadband speeds and pricing have converged to make high capacity IP (Internet Protocol) services widely available and affordable to everyone.  This availability and affordability allows small firms to do things from an IT and Communications perspective that were once limited to large firms with extensive human and technical resources.

Steve: What are the components, in your opinion, of a world-class communications infrastructure that all small business should have to compete in today’s world?

Jason: It starts with a solid and scalable physical infrastructure allowing a firm’s employee’s to communicate effectively both internally and externally.  This includes reliable hardware and physical network equipment and a stable computing environment.  From there, collaborative software applications and highly available, high capacity connectivity to the internet supported by a 24×7 service provider with feet on the street resources who can be onsite quickly should a problem arise.  Lastly, security, reliability and Business Class support layered on top of that infrastructure, provide a sustainable environment for the SMB.

Steve: Businesses would expect to get Internet connectivity services from Comcast but one area that Comcast has been expanding into is its digital voice product. How does something like that take a small business to the next level?

Jason: The convergence of voice, video and data has become a given over the last 18-24 months and there is arguably not a single firm who understands these three applications and services better than Comcast.  What Comcast has done is to take its leadership position in being a world class service provider of converged broadband services and created a Business Class offering combining these technologies into a highly affordable bundle of services while leveraging Comcast’s extensive and scalable network infrastructure to deliver them.  In the coming months, Comcast will further combine these services and features to create an end user experience that’s second to none.  These features, particularly in the voice arena, have only been available to very large enterprises with large IT and Telecom support organizations.  The rapid evolution of these converged technologies has created an environment allowing SMB’s the same experience at a fraction of the cost.

Steve: Many small business customers have some sort of connectivity to the Internet and might be surprised the Comcast Business Services is available to them. What are some of the differentiators that they might not know about?

Jason: Three things come to mind.  First, broadband and ultimately wideband over cable is one of the most cost effective and reliable methods of accessing the Internet for SMB’s.  Secondly, Comcast bundles a fantastic suite of services including Hosted Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint and McAfee Security suite into every Business Class connection we provide.  These products help our customer’s save in excess of $1200 annually in their IT expenditures and give our customer’s the advantages of a cloud computing and software as a service platform traditionally only available to larger firms.  Lastly, and most importantly, Comcast focuses on the value of our local presence in the communities we serve.  This local presence allows us to provide a level of service that’s unmatched in the industry, while making a direct and positive impact in the business community every day.

Steve: To wrap up I always like to ask a “five things” questions. So for you, when a small business owner is looking to evaluate a provider for a full services communications solution, what are the top five things they should absolutely have in a vendor?

Jason:

  1. Great value
  2. Reliability
  3. A partner relationship with a provider they can trust
  4. Products and services that will grow as their business grows and needs change.
  5. Being assured that the partner they choose is committed to the long-term and has sustainability – Their there when you need them!

Is Your Marketing Strategy Using All of the Ice on the Rink?

November 10th, 2009 ::

This past weekend, I enjoyed a Washington Capitals ice hockey game and the game got me thinking about something Jermaine Dupri said at BlogWorldExpo this year. I’m going to paraphrase, but he said that you should use social media tools in tandem with each other. Have something on Twitter that sends people to your Facebook page that references your blog and so on. Watching how they hockey players used the rounded end of the rink to pass the puck around behind the goalie to another player, or just out of the way, it made me realize that Jermaine had something there.

Now don’t get me wrong, it made perfect sense to me at BlogWorldExpo, but something about that particular game, my first hockey game in years, spun my mind into translating the puck into marketing message, the rink into your marketing plan, and the players your marketing pieces. At no point in that game was their wasted space on that ice. All parts of the rink were open and the puck flew anywhere it was needed with speed because of the actions of the players.

I have all ways believed that each marketing piece should support the one before it and the one after it. If you have to have a brochure, have it direct people to more information on a specific url on your website so you can track it. On that page let people share that message for your using something like Share This or send them directly to your companies Facebook or Twitter. Use social media to direct people to special content they can only find by following all your pucks on the ice, your marketing pieces.

Part of this is establishing how these pieces are all going to support each other, but another part of this is being comfortable, and confident, in your content so that you can let go of the message. Like a good hockey player, you have the control on how much intensity and strength is behind your marketing pieces. You will need to step back and let the natural momentum of your marketing strategy take its course. It will be up to you to make sure that the paths between your pieces are clear enough for the message to slide easily between them.

Most of us already have a few pieces in play, but as you create anything moving forward try to be conscious on how you can link the new pieces together. Or get really creative and start an off shoot campaign with new pieces and tactics that drive people to the pieces that existed before them. Sometimes scoring a win means you need to take a few extra chances with a few well placed shots, but if that shot misses it has a team behind it to give it the support it needs for a second shot at the goal.

Now here’s a question for you. Does your marketing strategy easily move your message from one piece to another? Are you using all of the ice on the rink?

I would love your thoughts on this. What other sports can you compare your marketing strategy to?

You can reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

Eight Things to Keep in Mind Before Your First Convention/Expo

October 23rd, 2009 ::

I had the opportunity, at BlogWorldExpo, this year to speak to several people who were attending their very first convention/expo. We talked about the things that were forgotten, the things that you couldn’t plan for, and the things we’ll be doing differently the next time around for the convention.

Now each convention/expo is an experience unto itself, but there are several things you can do prior to a convention that will help you out, regardless of the event. These are the eight things that I map out before I head any convention/expo and, with the exception this year due to poor planning for the red eye flight, have served me extremely well.

And now, in no particular order, I bring you, dear reader, the “Eight things to keep in mind before your first convention/expo”.

  1. Do your homework. What is the location you are going to be like? Are there going to be after parties? Have you reached out to any one you know that has previously attended? This is the best time to really get a feel of what the entire event, and experience, will be like for you. It will be fluid, because things change, but taking the time to do some research on the event, even just for yourself, will give you a greater foot in the door. I know it sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people I talked to that said things like, “If only I had asked someone before hand” or “I didn’t know that this event was convention/expo was part of a larger event going on at the same time”.
  2. Map out a plan of attack. Most conventions/expos will let you know their intended schedule weeks in advance. This will give you an opportunity to map out what panels/keynotes/seminars you want to attend, decide which luncheon/dinner you may want to skip out on, or what have you. This little bit of pre-planning, plus a good idea of the floor layout, will help you hit the ground running. Know now that, like most things you will experience at a convention/expo, things are subject to change, but at the very least you, if you have a fluid plan, you can adjust on the fly.
  3. Know what you want to get out of it before you sign up. Conventions/Expos are capable of giving you multiple opportunities all at the same time. Networking, education, and product demonstrations are just a few. If you’ve done your homework of asking previous attendees, and you have a pretty good idea of a plan, you can come to an easy assumption of what you want to get out of it. It doesn’t take much time and can be done before you purchase the ticket…say if you have to justify the event to your boss.
  4. Start the talking before you arrive. Feeling like the only person in the building who doesn’t know anyone can really do some damage early on to your experience. With the social media tools we have today, and from your research from #1, find people who are also attending for the first time or have gone and don’t mind a tag along. That way you are starting the convention with a partner in crime. Even if it’s just for a panel or two. You’ll be amazed what one or two introductions will do for your confidence.
  5. Decide now, is this a vacation or work? Some conventions/expos are held in an area that is a destination location for tourists. It can be very tempting to turn this business event into a vacation, but if your intent is to get the most out of the panels/sessions/whatever you need to fully be present. That’s not saying there isn’t time for fun, but if your company is paying for you to go, how do you think they will react if your response to “did you get some networking done” or “did you attend all the panels you told us you would” is “No, I spent a lot of time shopping and sitting by the pool”. That’s probably more of a larger-than-life answer, but you get the idea.
  6. Decide what “prepared” means to you. Will you need multiple pieces of luggage to fit all your stuff? Will you need to send things ahead to the hotel so you aren’t carrying them with you? Will you need to be packed days in advance due to a busy work schedule? Trust me, you don’t want to try to figure out how to pack seven thousand postcards into your carry on luggage. I’ve had that thought and then realized just how heavy those suckers would be. Fortunately, I had that thought weeks early and had the forethought to send 90% of them to the hotel to arrive on the day I did.
  7. Leave early and stay late…if possible. If you can afford to, both financially and time wise, my advise is to head out for your convention a day early and stay a day later. Sometimes you can only do one or the other, but this will give you a little time to collect your hearings from time changes, new locations, and work on your plan of attack. The last thing you want is to start your experience tired, grumpy, or frustrated.
  8. Be not afraid, they are human too. Every convention/expo has its own celebrity. Whether it’s a guest panelist, an actual celebrity, or even your own convention/expo cohorts, they are just human beings…like you. The best thing to do, if you want to approach them, is be respectful of their time and approach them the same way you would want to be approached. Don’t gush over their fame, don’t pitch them on your idea, and thank them for their time.

I know we all have our own tasks, preparations, and rituals before we leave for a trip. I would love to hear your pre-convention rituals. Leave a comment here.

You can also reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

Recap of the #GrowSmartBiz Conference Here and Around the Web

October 5th, 2009 ::

Last week those of you who are regular subscribers to the blog know that the first GrowSmartBiz conference was held on Sept 29 in Washington, DC. By all accounts it was a successful event full of great content and valuable lessons for small business owners. One of my favorite things was that they gave you a branded thumb drive with all the conference content as well as more that wasn’t on the agenda. That alone is a great resource plus it saved a ton on printing costs and environmental impact.

Here is a comprehensive recap for the GrowSmartBiz Conference here at Network Solutions and from all over the Internet:

Watch the Entire Conference On-Demand from Livestream (who did an amazing job):

http://www.livestream.com/networksolutions/

Twitter Coverage:

Go to SEARCH.TWITTER.COM and use THIS search string:

http://search.twitter.com/search?q=gsbiz OR growsmartbiz OR #growsmartbiz

Coverage here on the Grow Smart Business Blog (Blog Series):

GrowSmartBiz Conference

Coverage from other Network Solutions sites:

GrowSmartBiz Conference Recap: Integrating Traditional Marketing with Social Media by Ken Yeung
GrowSmartBiz Conference Recap: Raising Capital with Effective Finance Strategies by Ken Yeung
GrowSmartBiz Conference Recap: Driving Small Business Performance with Marketing & Innovation by Ken Yeung

Coverage from around the Web:

Online News Coverage:

SMBs, startups find growth support in first GrowSmartBiz Conference

Marketing Expert Bob London to Participate in Network Solutions ® GrowSmartBiz Conference, Focusing on Small Business Marketing & Innovation

Examiner.com – The DC event of the year for Small Business Owners – GrowSmartBiz Conference

GrowSmartBiz Conference

GrowSmartBiz conference provides insights into small business best practices

Tech Bisnow: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Blog Coverage:

The Cascade Effect – GrowSmartBiz Wants Your Story

Small Business Trends – GrowSmartBiz Conference and Contest – Goodies

Chris Abraham Links for 2009-08-11

Inside Out Branding: Bob London to speak at first GrowSmartBiz conference on 9/29/; keynote is Wired’s Chris Anderson

Just for Small Business: Put the GrowSmartBiz Conference on Your Radar Screen (and Enter the Contest)

A Must –Attend: Grow Smart Biz Conference

SMC:DC: Upcoming Events – Fall 2009

Free Agent Writer: Wired Editor-in-Chief to Keynote DC GrowSmartBiz Conference

Social Fish: GrowSmartBiz Conference

Small Biz Labs: GrowSmartBiz Conference DC

The Nash Chronicles: Shannon Nash will be speaking on the Raising Capital with Effective Finance Strategies panel

Blogwrite for CEOs: Q & A With Chris Anderson, Best Selling Author of FREE

InkThinker: EVENT: GrowSmartBiz Conference, September 29 in Washington, DC – Keynote Speaker Chris Anderson of Wired

The AIW Blog: Network Solutions Presents the GrowSmartBiz Conference – September 29 in Washington, DC

East Coast Blogging: GrowSmartBiz Conference

Posts about Small Business Info as of Saturday, September 5, 2009

Chris Anderson Live in DC at the GrowSmartBiz Conference

9 Reasons to Sign up for the GrowSmartBiz Conference

GrowSmartBiz Conference – Helping Small Business Owners Grow Their Business

Reston Limo Blog: GrowSmartBiz Conference

Waxing UnLyrical: DC Conference Mania

Chef Vinod: Grow Smart Business Seminar

Business in General Blog: Grow Smart Business Conference – Washington DC Area
View from 17th and Riggs: Grow Smart Business Conference in DC – with Coupon Update!

SCORE Women’s Success Blog: Small Business: Grow Your Biz Event in DC on 9/29

SCORE Ask an Expert Blog: Small Business: DC Event September 29th

Powder Room Diaries: GrowSmartBiz Conference

Chris Abraham: GrowSmartBiz in DC with Chris Anderson

Waxing UnLyrical: DC, #GrowSmartBiz Is Here

Photographic Department: Live Photoblogging GrowSmartBiz – Morning Session

Web Wahala: Rebroadcast Of The #GrowSmartBiz Conference From Network Solutions

Katie Rogers Writes: Chris Anderson of “Wired” mag speaks at GrowSmartBiz D

Hot Mommas Project: #24a Techniques for Learning to Improve Your Business – Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time

NextGenWeb: Grow Smart Business Conference Connects Experts With Entrepreneurs

Jen Consalvo: growsmartbiz & a brand for small businesses

Waxing UnLyrical: Why GrowSmartBiz Rocks

Capital Communicators Group: GrowSmartBiz Conference: Takeaway #1

Mayra Ruiz blog: 2 state lines *and* 3 metro lines to bring you my #growsmartbiz recap(s)

New Media Consults: #GrowSmartBiz Conference: Top 20 Tweet Takeaways

Small Business Blog: A Wealth of Information for Small Business Owners

#GrowSmartBiz Guest Post: Carol Scott of Skyway Air Taxi on the 10 Things She Learned

October 2nd, 2009 ::

Skyway Air Taxi (www.skywayairtaxi.com) is a new company that offers a great alternative to the hassle of traveling around the East Coast.  As a new business owner, my biggest challenge is educating my customers and capturing new clients that have never heard of an “air taxi.”   I know our online presence and the effective use of social media is key to our success.  When Network Solutions blogger Steve Fisher invited me to the GrowSmartBiz conference, I jumped at the chance once I read the agenda.

On my way to the conference, I decided I wanted to make two very solid contacts that would benefit my business and learn three new practical things I could implement right away to make a difference in my marketing efforts.  The GrowSmartBiz speakers and Network Solutions team outdid themselves and I far exceeded my goals.

So in the spirit of the conference and the person who invited me, here is my top ten list of lessons I learned at the conference.

TOP TEN LESSONS LEARNED AT THE GROWSMARTBIZ CONFERENCE
10. I must make sure my marketing focuses on how I am solving my customer’s problems and making their life better.

9. I need to mix it up and differentiate my messaging across social media platforms.  Do not post the exact same thing on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Video and Email marketing.

8. EVERY touchpoint with my brand must be unique, credible, and provide value to my customer.

7. Most people buy from the first brand they come across online, I must make sure I am number one.

6. Make a social media content plan and schedule ahead of time so I can communicate often and effectively.  The best source of content is talking to my customers and letting them communicate my value proposition.

5. Search Engine Optimization – It is important, technical and time consuming to be number one.  Hire an expert to help so I can focus on my core business and content marketing.

4. Leverage existing customers for leads and feedback to grow my business.

3. Beat competitors not search engines.  Know your competition better than anyone in the market and how you stack up to them online.

2. People do business with people, so don’t let technology stand in the way of the personal touch.

1.  Talk like a real person and write like a screen writer.  I need to make sure I do not confuse my customers with marketing jargon.  Read my marketing content out loud.  If I wouldn’t say it that way, then change it.

In addition to the great content and presentations, the networking was fantastic.  I have been focusing on a large, high profile company to gain new customers and I met someone who is going to introduce me to the owner.  I met other contacts that are intrigued by my business model and want to refer me to their contacts or use my service.  I now have a new network of people who are willing to help each other succeed.

About Carol S. Scott, President & CEO of Skyway Air Taxi
Skyway Air Taxi (www.skywayairtaxi.com) offers affordable private air travel and the freedom to fly direct on your schedule with no lines and no fuss.  Carol S. Scott is a proven leader with experience in strategic planning, marketing, sales, business development, partnership creation, and the design of “early adopter” strategies for new markets.  Ms. Scott brings over 16 years of business experience to Skyway along with a track record for innovation and driving the application of technology to new and emerging markets.

Prior to founding Skyway Air Taxi, Carol held leadership roles in forward-thinking technology companies such as Microsoft and American Management Systems.  She is an accomplished speaker and loves to fly at night in the Cirrus.  She can be reached at cscott@skywayairtaxi.com

#GrowSmartBiz Video : Thank you and What next ? Roy Dunbar Chairman & CEO Network Solutions

October 2nd, 2009 ::

Here we wrap up the conference and talk about what is next for small business.