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10 Online Marketing Mistakes That Are Damaging Your Reputation, Part 2

April 16th, 2013 ::
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series 10 Online Marketing Mistakes

Damaged!Your online reputation includes your website, blog, downloadable content, and social media accounts. Because they are always “on” and ready to make a good first impression, you want them to do you proud and accurately represent the quality of you and your work.

If you missed my first post on mistakes 1-5, you can find it here. Here are the final 5 most common online marketing mistakes that, if you’re making them, are damaging your reputation:

6 – Focusing on sales over relationships

While I am sure that you, your company, your products, and your services are all great, don’t talk about you, it, or them. That’s sales, and I have never met anyone who said, “I love to be sold to!” Instead, show how great you are by sharing your knowledge and helping others. That’s how you build relationships, and relationships drive sales.

7 – Writing vague blog posts

This is probably my biggest pet peeve. Rambling blog posts that circle around a topic and never make a point or reach a conclusion are a complete and total waste of time. Make your point up front, and then write a blog post that supports your point.

8 – Not proofing content

The is my second biggest pet peeve. Keep your spell check and grammar check turned on. In the digital age, you literally have no excuse for spelling and grammatical errors. As for punctuation errors, learn what dashes, colons, and semi-colons are for, and learn how and when to use a comma. If your content is sloppy, what will prospects think about your work?

9 – Not editing content

This is different from proofing content, which is more mechanical. Editing means checking your content for clarity and length. Is your language clear? Can you tighten up sentences or paragraphs and still get your point across? Does your content flow nicely from one point to the next?

10 – Forgetting about your mobile site

How many of you have a smartphone? How many of you read email? How many of you look up a business on Yelp before heading there? Exactly – most of us do. Just last weekend, my husband looked up a restaurant on his iPhone. Their site was not mobile-friendly and was thus impossible to navigate. We decided to dine elsewhere. So, do you have an optimized mobile site yet?

What do you do to make sure your online reputation shines?

Image courtesy of timelineimages.com

6 Easy Ways to Boost Your Revenue This Year

February 20th, 2013 ::

MoneyIf you are a typical small business owner – like me – one of your business goals this year is to boost your revenue. Below are 6 ways you can grow your business in 2013 – or any year.

1 – Use a suggestion box

Because you never really know where the next big idea is going to come from, set up a physical or digital suggestion box for employees and customers, and encourage them to use it. Sift through it regularly, and if you find a suggestion you like, set up a meeting with the person whose idea it was to brainstorm some more.

2 – Create new revenue streams

Whether you sell products or services, think about complementary items you can offer, and whether or not it makes sense to bundle offerings or add service packages. If, like me, you are a service provider, think about products you could sell – or products you could create, like a detailed, hands-on guidebook.

3- Differentiate based on value

Your products and services add value to your customers’ lives, so differentiate yourself by stressing those values – location, customer service, innovation, quality cost-savings, responsiveness, etc. If you’re not sure what customers really love about doing business with you, just ask.

4 – Hire a salesperson

While this may not be feasible for you, hiring an ace salesperson who can bring in new business and take good care of customers is one of the best investments you can make. You’ll have more time to focus on what you do best – which is good, because you’ll need to spend that time servicing your new customers.

5 – Set big, hairy, audacious goals

Try setting a goal that scares and challenges you, and then figure out how to meet it. Look at your marketing campaigns first – what has worked best, and how did you land your best customers? Then revisit your sales cycle – are there improvements you can make to turn leads into customers faster?

6 – Embrace analytics

The sooner you get comfortable analyzing your marketing efforts – especially online – the better. Sit down every week and look at your social media activity – what was shared and commented on the most? What days and times of day got you the best results? Look at your website analytics, too. What search terms are you being found for? Where are they coming from (search engines, social media, etc.)? What pages are your visitors spending the most and least time on? What are they downloading?

The better you understand your online marketing successes, the better your online presence will be.

What have you done in the past to grow your business? Share your tips below!

Image courtesy of kice.com

How to Use Psychology to Boost Sales, Part 2

January 30th, 2013 ::
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Using Psychology to Boost Sales

psychologyIf, like me, you didn’t major in psychology, then we’re in the same boat: running a small business and doing our best to understand our customers and prospects.

I always thought I should have taken at least one psych course, so I got super excited when I saw an infographic on the SocialFresh blog called “10 Ways to Convert More Customers Using Psychology.” No need to take a course, just read an infographic!

In the first blog post in this two-part series, I detailed the first 5 ways to turn a no (the problem) into a yes (the solution). Here are 5 more ways to do so:

Problem: Customers hate waiting

Solution: Provide instant gratification by pointing out how your product or service will solve their problems quickly

Example: Fast shipping, quick turnaround times, very short learning curve

Problem: Distinguishing yourself from competitors

Solution: Instead of slamming the competition, label your customers (see my previous blog post)

Example: Because you’re a Mac person, you’ll love my product; If you want to travel the world, my photography class is perfect for you

Problem: Unclear company values

Solution: People love brands who share the same values as them, so clearly state your values and weave it into your messaging.

Example: Donating a portion of every sale to a specific charity; only selling products made from sustainable or recycled materials

Problem: Customer is not completely confident in decision

Solution: Play the devil’s advocate and lay their concerns to rest with stats, information, examples, and case studies.

Example: “93% of our business is due to referrals from happy customers.”

Problem: Customers get bored

Solution: Surprise your customers when they least expect it.

Example: Handwritten thank-you note, box of samples, free product or service.

What have you learned about customer behavior over the years?

Image courtesy of psy.ed.ac.uk

How to Use Psychology to Boost Sales, Part 1

January 28th, 2013 ::
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Using Psychology to Boost Sales

psychologyI majored in business administration, and looking back, it amazes me that at least one psychology class wasn’t a required course for business majors – especially those of us focusing on marketing. So much of marketing and sales is based on what people respond to – which of course has its roots in psychology.

So I was delighted to stumble across a great infographic on the SocialFresh blog called “10 Ways to Convert More Customers Using Psychology.” If you have a chance to check it out, do, but if you don’t, you can rest easy knowing I did the work for you.

Here are the first 5 ways to turn a no (the problem) into a yes (the solution):

Problem: Action paralysis, in which we avoid making a decision for no good reason

Solution: Set minimums that are easy to attain.

Example: Purchase 2, get 1 free; First month free

Problem: Not feeling special; just feeling like a number

Solution: Label your customers so they feel like part of a special group.

Example: VIP; platinum, gold, silver levels

Problem: Convincing tightwads to open their wallets

Solution: Since tightwads (yes, that is an actual psychology-based term) make up 24% of buyers, you need to appeal to them by reframing the value of your product or service.

Example: Bundle products for a better price, reframe value ($2 per week instead of $110/year), roll fees into the price

Problem: Not admitting to fault

Solution: Because buyers trust companies who admit a problem is their fault, take the blame, even if it’s not your fault (really!).

Example: If a product is not available temporarily because shipment from a vendor is delayed due to a manufacturing problem, apologize and explain what you’re doing to fix the situation.

Problem: Incomplete calls-to-action (CTA)

Solution: Sales messages that convey urgency and scarcity work, but only if buyers are told how to make the purchase.

Example: Add a phone number, email address, or link to a landing page in your CTAs.

Look for my next blog post, in which I share the final 5 ways to turn no’s into yes’s.

What are your favorite tricks and tips to boost sales?

Image courtesy of psy.ed.ac.uk

5 Types of Marketing Content That Will Fuel Your Sales

January 23rd, 2013 ::

MoneyWhether your company offers a product or a service, having content on hand that you or your sales team can share with prospective customers is incredibly important. You’ll be able to showcase your capabilities and the value and benefits of working with you over someone else.

Here are 5 types of marketing content you should keep at the ready:

Explainer videos

An explainer video tells a visual story of how your product or service works. While these are especially handy for physical products you can see, they can also be used for virtual products/services, like an app or cloud-based service (check out Dropbox’s video).

If you are a professional service provider, like a real estate agent, consultant or attorney, you can use a video to quickly explain the value you bring to your clients while letting them get to know you a little bit.

Blog posts

Yes, it is OK to mention your products and services in your blog posts – on occasion. You could write about how you use your own product or service in your company, how-to guides, or a list of quick tips. You can also publish news, in which you announce important new partnerships, new products or services, or new features or updates, just like Modus Create did here.

Case studies

These are one of the best ways to market your company and convert prospective clients into new clients. Case studies give you the chance to show the value of your products and services. When I write them, I keep them pretty structured, like these that I wrote for Brighter Strategies. The first paragraph explains the problem, the second paragraph talks about the solution and how it was implemented, and the third paragraph concludes with the outcome or results.


If you ever give presentations on your products, services, or company, whether it’s a seminar or at a conference, save them in Slideshare so you can easily share them later – and others can easily find them with a quick search. If you have a sales team, definitely create presentations for them to ensure your products and services are discussed the way you think is best.

Data sheets

Data sheets are full of information – they’re not sexy, but they are important if you sell a product. You can list product features, hardware, software, or other types of  requirements, competitive comparisons, charts and graphs that demonstrate product value, and even return on investment data.  Here’s a really comprehensive one for the Audi A3 (my car!).

What marketing content do you share with prospective clients?

Image courtesy of gurusoftware.com

How to Sell to Top Executives

January 22nd, 2013 ::

Rolls Royce in ItalyI recently ran across an excerpt from a new book called Influencing Up by Allan R. Cohen and David L. Bradford, which details how to partner with senior management and other powerful people, persuade key decision makers, and turn a difficult boss into an ally.

Chapter 11, the chapter I downloaded, focuses on what the powerful people care about. If top executives are part of your target market, here’s what you need to know about successfully selling to them:

Just like any other group you sell to, you have to know what pain points the group has. Powerful people – whether it’s a CEO, movie studio head, or public figure – can be a little harder to understand, as their assumptions and values – sometime their entire world – can be very different from your own.

First things first: understand what top executives care about. In general, it is:

  • Keeping the organization’s costs, growth/innovation, and building future capacities in balance
  • Major economic forces, especially during a downturn, like inflation, deflation, interest rates, and demand
  • Innovation, products, and processes
  • Competition, especially from overseas
  • Outsourcing to contain costs
  • Searching for new markets
  • Talent acquisition and retention
  • Supply sources
  • Integrity, ethics and company reputation
  • Their relationship to stakeholders, the media, and peers
  • Government regulations

Do your research beforehand so you can link your proposal to current strategic efforts or preoccupations. The best information to look for includes:

  • Their public statements
  • What the press says about them and the company
  • Company strategy, vision, and values, which you can find on the company’s website
  • Educational and professional backgrounds
  • Whether they care more about risks or results (this might be trickier to uncover)

Now that you’ve done your homework, it’s time to put together a proposal, which might be structured quite differently than others you normally create. It should be:

  • Concise
  • Start with the conclusions and implications to grab attention right away
  • Include major assumptions
  • Explain all benefits

If you sell to top executives, how do you build relationships and gain credibility? Share your tips below!

Image courtesy of bmwblog.com

How to Increase Sales With Your Blog

August 7th, 2012 ::


While blogs are often used to share industry or company information, build credibility, and create a community, they aren’t often thought of as a sales tool, when, in fact, they are a great way to generate leads and increase sales. Marcus Sheridan recently shared 4 clever ideas for using your blog as a sales tool in a fantastic article on Social Media Examiner.  Here are the takeaways from that article:

Success Stories

When you blog about your successful projects with clients or within your own business, don’t just toot your own horn. Share the important lessons you learned or tips on products, services, or trade secrets you used to achieve success.  By doing so, you will demonstrate your expertise in two ways – and inspire others to work with you.


Yes, a video is a great way to engage your audience and share information – and you know why?  Because people like to interact with other people, and video is the best way to do that virtually.  A short video in your blog is an effective way for your potential customers to get to know you and for you to build trust with them.

Call to Action

If a major change occurs within your industry – for example, a new law or regulation or revolutionary product – don’t just blog about it; offer to help your customers learn more about that impending change and successfully integrate it into their business operations.  You could offer a free consultation, webinar, or new service or product with a temporary discount.


People love to comparison shop, whether it’s for a car, an airline ticket or a plumber.  Take advantage of that natural tendency by writing blog posts that compare your product or service to others’.  When someone types in a search term comparing the two, your blog post should pop up in the search results.

Have you successfully used your blog to sell your product or service?  What works best for you?  Share your story below!

Image courtesy of ScientificAmerican.com

Want to Increase Sales? Target Your Current Customers

July 6th, 2012 ::

Customer service

Social Media Examiner recently published an interview with Becky Carroll, author of The Hidden Power Of Your Customers, a book about growing your business by tapping into your current customers.

Yes, your current customers.  As small business owners, we often focus on acquiring customers.  The easiest sale, however, is to the ones we already acquired.  Think about it: you have already spent time and money acquiring them, they know you, they know your products and business, and they can generate new sales for you via word of mouth.

In her book, Carroll suggests employing a ROCK strategy to reach your current customers:

R – relevant marketing
O – orchestrated customer experience
C – customer-focused culture
K – killer customer service

While a customer-focused culture doesn’t need explanation, let’s look at the other 3 terms.  Relevant marketing means tailoring your marketing messages so they are relevant to your existing customers.  While you might hook new customers by offering them a discount, free consultation or sample, your current customers would be more likely interested in buying a complimentary service or add-on product.

An orchestrated customer experience means making every touch point, whether it’s directly with you, online, an ad, or walking into your store, meaningful.  You want to constantly make a positive impression to build brand loyalty.  If you have a bricks and mortar location, how is it laid out, what does it look like, how clean is it, what does it smell like?  When the customer uses your product or service, how is their experience?

Killer customer service mean providing such great customer service that your customers want to shout (in a positive way, of course!) from the rooftops.  If you treat them well, they will be happy to be customer advocates for you.

For any business, typically 80% of your business come from 20% of your customers.  Your advocates are about 5-10% of your customers, and by advocates, Carroll refers to your best customers, who can become a great source of referrals for you.  Figuring out who they are is not that hard.

Every day advocates are the people who sell your product or service based on compliments they receive.  “I love your website, who designed it for you?”  Mentions in tweets or blogs are also examples of every day advocacy.

Your best advocates are hand raisers.  A hand raiser is a customer who is always on your Facebook page leaving comments; the person who takes time out of their day to fill out a survey; the people talking about your product or service online and to friends; and the people shopping in your store all the time.

Of course, one company who really pays attention to their customers is Zappos. Another great example is FreshBooks, which focuses on social media to take care of customers.  Here’s on example: If a FreshBooks executive is traveling, they will send a message to all local customers and invite them to breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  There is no pitching, just building a community and network.  FreshBooks customers love this concept, and they tweet and post status updates on Facebook about their experience.


Have you used any particular strategies to effectively target your current customers?  Leave a comment below!

Image courtesy of dkidiscussion.blogspot.com

Closed-Loop Marketing, Part 2: How to Close the Loop and Fix a Broken One

June 15th, 2012 ::
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Closed-Loop Marketing

Closed loop marketing

In the first article of this two-part series, I told you all about closed-loop marketing and how the pieces of a closed-loop marketing system fit together. Part two will provide tactics for closing the loop in your own marketing efforts and fixing the loop if it gets broken.

Closing the Loop

Closed-loop marketing can help you, quite literally, take your marketing efforts full circle. Here are four ways to use this system to improve your own marketing tactics.

1.  Concentrate on the right channels and offers with informed marketing decisions.

Closed-loop marketing can help you hone in on those events and channels that consistently convert visitors into successful leads. Armed with this information, you can identify the behavior you need to push potential customers down the sales funnel. Basically, the information you gather can help you compare different offers in respect to customer acquisition.

2.  Prove yourself by delivering clear results to your manager.

Nothing helps you to prove your worth to your boss more than demonstrating clearly how your efforts led to increased revenue for the company. The information you collect, as part of your closed-loop marketing system, will build your authority and support the decisions you make. It will show your boss that you use evidence to support your strategies and aren’t just guessing as to which tactics to try.

3.  Learn about your target audience with insights gleaned from your closed-marketing system.

This system provides you with a thorough look at users’ experience on your website. You can follow their journeys throughout your site, taking note of which activities led them to take action. Using this information, you can create a target persona, which can help you understand – and market to – your ideal customers.

Another benefit of learning about your target audience is that it can help to shorten your sales cycle. You can use information gathered about your visitors to communicate more effectively with them and, hopefully, decrease the amount of time it takes to convert them to customers.

4.  Create realistic goals and expectations for your marketing efforts.

When you know exactly what your conversion rates have been historically, you are equipped to set the right goals today. And, you can use this information to set realistic expectations for your team and in meetings with colleagues.

Realistic goals can also help keep your cost per lead low. Coupled with the insights gained from closed-loop marketing, your realistic goals will help you determine how to spend your marketing budget and ensure your dollars go to the most impactful channels.

Fixing a Broken Loop

Just because you have set up closed-loop analytics carefully, don’t be surprised if the loop breaks now and then. No need to worry, though – just follow these four tips.

1.  Set tracking code on each page of your website, as well as on sub-domains.

If just one of your pages is missing the tracking code, your loop will be broken. Recall in part one of this series that tracking tokens must be added to the end of your links so your analytics can associate them with particular campaigns. Double-check that every page and sub-domain (like blog.yoursite.com) contains this tracking token.

2.  Create tracking URLs for everything, including ads, emails, and offline events.

Although this is tedious – and maybe a bit annoying – it will be well worth the effort. Make it a habit to create a URL for every marketing event or campaign you launch. Then, you will have an accurate picture of how well your campaigns are performing.

3.  Connect a visitors’ web sessions with their lead information.

The step between a visitor first landing on your website and when they fill out a lead form on a landing page is a vulnerable place for your closed-loop marketing system. Don’t let your loop get broken just because it is technically difficult to decipher this key period of browsing. As I mentioned in part one of this series, Hubspot and other companies offer software to help you navigate this tough terrain. Check out all of your options to find a solution that is right for you.

4.  Be sure your sales team is closing leads properly.

After all your hard work tracking visitors, it would be a shame if you and your sales team were not on the same page. Create a system both of you can agree on, and develop a service-level agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing. This contract will help you set expectations for the quality and quantity of leads that marketing will deliver to sales. It will also outline the steps sales will take to follow up on those leads. Collaborating in this way will ensure that the loop continues, unbroken, between the sales and marketing teams.


Hopefully by now you have gained an understanding of what closed-loop marketing is and how it can benefit your marketing program. With so many tools at our disposal, for tracking customer behavior online, marketers can create realistic, measurable plans simply by tracking how visitors engage with their website.

Have you employed a closed-loop marketing system yet? What tips and insights have I left out that helped you create and maintain loops?

Image courtesy of magnetism.co.nz

Closed-Loop Marketing, Part 1: 4 Ways to Improve Sales

June 14th, 2012 ::
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Closed-Loop Marketing

Closed loop marketing

Marketers spend a lot of time on digital campaigns, not really knowing whether their efforts are having a real impact. When you engage potential customers in conversation on Facebook or Twitter, do you know exactly which sale or lead resulted from that effort?

In today’s measurable, digital world, we have no excuse for not tracing every single bit of revenue back to the action that created it. Drawing these connections closes the loop in your marketing campaigns, helping you to focus energy on those actions that really pay off – not to mention demonstrate your value to your company.

In this two-part series, I will share everything you need to know about closed-loop marketing, from what this tricky-sounding tactic is, to how to make it work for you.

Closed-Loop Marketing 101

To create a closed-loop marketing system, you should make your website the central hub of all your marketing efforts. Everything you do – from social media and email marketing, to referral links and paid search – should drive potential customers and clients to your website.

Think of your website as the entry point of your closed-loop system. Once potential leads arrive at your site, you can cookie them and track their activity. Careful study will reveal exactly how they found your business, what they did on your website, and what converted them once they arrived.

Tracking Your Visitors

You’re probably used to tracking sources of traffic, like search term or referring website, through your web analytics systems. However, closed-loop marketing requires you to go a bit further to be sure you’re assigning leads to the right marketing initiative. Using a tracking URL can help you do that.

Creating a tracking URL is as simple as adding a parameter to the end of your website’s link so your analytics system can associate that link with a particular campaign. Called a “tracking token,” this special link might look something like this:


When visitors click on the link, your analytics tool will automatically know that the traffic is coming from Twitter. Tracking tokens can be applied to other channels, such as paid media, email, and referral traffic. Check out your analytics software to see if you have the right tracking tokens in place.

Monitoring Behavior

Once you start identifying where your traffic is coming from, you’ll need to track visitors’ behavior. Note which pages they view and the path they take throughout your site. Understanding this path can help you optimize for faster conversions in the future.

This step is an important one to get right. The last thing you need is one database with anonymous visitor history and another one with lead information. Making the connection between a visitor’s time spent on your site and their lead information will help you close the loop. Then, you will know exactly which marketing source produces successful leads.

Unless you are really adept at the technical back end of your analytics platform, you may want to consider software that can help you link the above information. HubSpot, for example, offers software that can give you the information you need without all the extra work.

Converting Visitors into Leads

To monetize your traffic and generate qualified prospects for your sales team, you’ll need to convert your website visitors into leads. Sending incoming traffic to landing pages will help you collect information from your visitors and qualify them as leads.

I wrote about creating landing pages back in January, so take a moment to go over the steps to building an effective page. Basically, a landing page includes a lead capture form where visitors provide their name, email, and other information you ask for. Building separate landing pages for your marketing initiatives will help you learn where qualified leads are coming from.

Attributing Sales Back to Leads

Understanding which tactics actually lead to sales can improve your marketing efforts tremendously. Closed-loop marketing helps you identify which activities are bringing in the most – and the least – revenue.

If you have taken all the previous steps mentioned, attributing the leads that your sales team has closed back to their original marketing initiative should be relatively simple. Most SMBs can use their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to do this, or you can do this manually using a spreadsheet.


In the second part of this series on closed-loop marketing, I will show you how to close the loop – or fix a broken loop – in your marketing strategies.

Image courtesy of magnetism.co.nz