Category Archives: Small Business Tips

Will Social Media and Pay Per Click Ads Signal The End of Print Advertising?

The cost of a 1/8 page ad in a local business paper is $765 (give or take a hundred bucks).

That’s $765 for a 5”x2” splash of ink, buried deeply inside the bowels of a newspaper.

How many times can you run this tiny print ad before you go broke? How can you measure the ad’s effectiveness? You don’t even know where the ad will appear until it’s printed!

Print advertising is expensive and difficult to track. Yet so many companies rely on it because it’s “the way we’ve always done it” (and they have the money to spend). Yet they’re probably not getting the most bang for their buck.

After reading this article, you’ll know how to outsmart the “big guys” when it comes to pre-testing and tracking your advertising’s effectiveness.

The secret method to both testing print ads before they run and deploying a successful marketing campaign spending about one-sixteenth (or less) of what you’d have spent if you went with print alone is to…

Test your ad copy and artwork before it prints with Google AdWords and Facebook ads!

Google AdWords

Have you ever heard of Google AdWords? If not, Google it! Or go to http://adwords.google.com. If you need to create an account with Google, do it. When you perform a search using Google, those ads you see off to the right of your results – and sometimes above them – are all Google AdWords Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising . Check out Google’s support site for detailed how-to information.

By spending some time writing headlines and copy in their AdWords space, you can see EXACTLY how effective certain words are by how many times someone has “clicked through.” It’s completely measurable from within Google’s interface. And instead of paying $700, you can start with as much (or as little) money in your AdWords account as you feel comfortable with. A click generally costs anywhere between $.05 and $20 depending on how popular your keyword is. Create a few campaigns using different keyword combinations and see which perform best.

Think your keyword is expensive? Check out Google’s Top 20 Most Expensive Keywords. Insurance ranks #1 at $54.91 per click!

Google AdWords accounts for 65% of the PPC industry. However, you can’t effectively test IMAGES in these ads. Images won’t show up on the Google search page, only on partner “display network” sites, and setting those up is a whole separate article.

Facebook Ads

The other way to affordably test copy and artwork pre-print is to do exactly the same thing using Facebook PPC advertising. Their platform allows you to write a headline, ad copy AND upload an image. Try out different pictures, colors, calls-to-action and see what works best. Keep in mind the image is VERY small, so be sure to pick a clear, clean image. Use images with people’s faces – they yield more clicks than those without.

A caveat with advertising on Facebook is that unless your content is “share worthy,” it’s not likely to be very effective. Your ad has got to get someone’s attention and drive them to click or “like” your ad. This takes some trial and error before you find the perfect mix.

B2B advertising on Facebook is difficult because the bulk of Facebook folks are on the site for personal use. Still, testing your ad on the mega social media site is a great way to test copy and design for a fraction of the price.

So is print advertising going the way of the Dodo?
As long as printed magazines and newspapers remain in circulation, advertising in those mediums will remain an important tool in every marketer’s arsenal. However, smart businesses will TEST their message’s effectiveness using the methods I’ve outlined above before spending big money. I predict this shift in advertising will result in smarter advertising: fewer bad ads, more creative, engaging headlines and better targeted ads overall.

So be smart, save money, see better results.

To get weekly tips on how to better manage your business’s social media presence along with helpful SMB marketing advice and payments industry news, “LIKE” Velocity Merchant Services on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/getvms

 

5 Easy Ways to Get Started With Social Media for Your Business

With 350+ social media sites available to you today, it’s really a lot to wrap your head around. You’re probably asking yourself a lot of questions, like:

  • What sites should my business have a presence on?
  • How do I get my page set up?
  • How much time should I spend each day on social media?
  • Is it really worth my time?

Depending on your industry and your customers, investing your time into a social media strategy will reward you with a big payoff – in time.

Before we get started, one of the keys to understanding the effectiveness of building and maintaining your social media strategy is that it’s not some magical button you just push. You can’t set up your company’s Facebook page and then all of a sudden customers start calling you.

The purpose of social media is to BUILD RELATIONSHIPS over time, where you become a trusted, fun, informative voice in your industry for them to “tune into,” almost like setting a preset station on your car radio. Keep that golden rule in mind as you work on executing your social media strategy.

TIP #1: Pick 1 Site and FOCUS Your Efforts

You’re just one person – you can’t adequately maintain Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yelp, YouTube, and Google+ all at once. Sure, if you’re a Fortune 500, you have a team of social media strategists updating all those sites for you full-time! But in reality, if you try to stay on top of every social media site at once, THAT would become your full-time job…and you’ve got a business to run!

Create either a Facebook business page or a LinkedIn profile page linked to your LinkedIn company page. Twitter is popular, but it requires a lot more constant daily content in order to keep fresh. Whichever you choose, make that page your business’s one-stop shop.

TIP #2: Post Something Fresh Each Day

There’s nothing worse than arriving on a business’s Facebook page and seeing it hasn’t been updated for 4 months. It gives the impression that you either aren’t active, are inept at this whole “new-fangled technology thing” or that you might have gone out of business. If you can’t dedicate yourself to updating your page frequently – at least once a week – it’s better not to have a page at all. Having fresh content really helps you connect with your followers. Posting frequently gets your name in front of the eyes of your customers every day. Even if they’re not looking to buy your stuff today, they might be ready tomorrow. You’ve got to be there to remind them.

Take 15 minutes each day to get things moving on your page. Start taking pictures of your office or store. Introduce new members of your team. Start a “customer of the week” program. Ask for feedback from your followers. Engagement opportunities are endless, which brings us to…

TIP #3: Share Engaging, Relevant Content

Content is king. One mistake I made when getting started updating the ole company Facebook page was thinking I needed to create brand new content every time I wanted to share information with our followers. THAT was overwhelming! Until I realized that I was already spending a lot of time reading articles and news about things that affect small businesses.

Now when I read something cool, I share it on our page! Consider your primary customers: what would help them? What would they be interested in reading? Whatever it is, share it on your page. Over time, you become a great resource to them for interesting, helpful stuff!

For example, a local dog obedience business I follow shares news about dog training best practices, top dog foods, overcoming behavioral issues and dogs available at the local shelter. Because I’m interested in those things (and I’m a customer of hers), I follow and read those updates and it positions her as someone who’s really involved in her industry. You can engage your customers in this way, as long as you can figure out what they want to see.

TIP #4: Social Networking – Offline

I JUST learned this one, and it’s really effective for B2B relationships. In order for this to be really easy, you’ve got to join your local chamber of commerce. They have all these networking events where you meet TONS of prospects, and get OODLES of leads. Once you’ve got their cards, go find them on LinkedIn or Facebook. Write them a quick note so they remember you, then FRIEND or FOLLOW them. They’ll be happy to build their own networks, and they’ll especially appreciate the “Like” on their business page. Plus it makes you look like you “get it” – you know, this whole social media thing.

TIP #5: Ask Questions. Post Offers.

What you really want to do is find ways to get your followers to ENGAGE with you. Ask their opinion of something, or ask them what they think of the ProBowl coming before the SuperBowl. You’re able to start a CONVERSATION this way, and it helps you appear more human than just “some company online.” Posting offers does this, too, but it elicits a direct response from your reader. Try posting a $10 Off coupon as your status message and see what kind of traffic it drives to your business.

To get weekly tips on how to better manage your business’s social media presence along with helpful SMB marketing advice and payments industry news, “LIKE” Velocity Merchant Services on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/getvms

As Illinois’ leading credit card payments processor for small to medium-sized businesses, Velocity Merchant Services is dedicated to providing business owners with all the tools they need to run their company better. By the way…find out how you can save 30% or more on your credit card payments processing THIS MONTH by visiting Velocity Merchant Services ASAP!

 

Time Management – 3 Tips for Increased Productivity

Hello everybody! My name is Lorraine and this is my first “official” attempt at blogging. If you’d like to learn more about me, check out my profile.

I’m trying to figure out a good way to introduce myself here and share with you why I’m starting this blog and what I hope any readers will get from it. I’ve been doing a lot of article marketing for the company I work for full time during the day (VMS – I know, shameless plug), and over time, I’ve generated a lot of valuable (I suppose valuable is a subjective term, eh?) content that directly speaks to the small business community. Our web developer is crazy busy and doesn’t have time to upload all my written work to our official corporate site, plus a lot of my content doesn’t directly deal with credit card processing so it wouldn’t be displayed anywhere except in our newsletters. So as I complete an article, I’ll post it here.

I’m looking forward to providing valuable content to my readers and hearing feedback from any visitors that happen across this site, so please, let me know what you think! Is my take on a subject right on, or do you see things a different way? Argue with me – I love to write  🙂  I’ll also take topic suggestions and write about them, so if you want me to look into something for you and write about it, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Anyhow, without further adieu, here’s an article I just finished up today discussing Time Management. Hope you like it, and thanks for reading!

Time Management – 3 Tips for Increased Productivity

To Do List for Time Management

Create a daily to-do list for effective time management

As a busy small business owner, following these three time management tips will help you take control of your valuable time, get more done, be more effective and make more money.

1. Make a To-Do List
Making a to-do list at the start of each day will help you de-stress, increase your productivity and feel better about putting in a full day’s work.

  • Creating the list will give you a bird’s-eye view of what you’ve got to accomplish that day, helping you put things in perspective. Do you find yourself working on a dozen different things every day and not making much progress on any of them? A to-do list can help you immensely with your time management. It also prevents you from contracting the dreaded “at-work ADD (attention deficit disorder).”
  • Estimate the time needed to complete each task on your list so that you are able to complete your tasks for that day. Be realistic when setting your day’s goals. Don’t give yourself an unattainable workload as it’s discouraging to be unable to complete your assigned tasks for that day.
  • Aside from these benefits, you’ll also be less likely to forget tasks that were requested of you throughout the day. If someone comes to you for help, you’ll be able to look at your list and give them a good estimate about when the work will be completed. Don’t promise people you’ll get something done in one day when that timeline is clearly unrealistic.

Making a to-do list needs to become a daily habit. It might take some getting used to at first, but keep at it and soon you’ll realize how beneficial it is for effective time management to create one first thing each morning.

2. Delegate Tasks
Some control freaks have an issue with this tip. If you find yourself completing mundane activities that don’t really NEED your involvement, delegate the task to someone else who can accomplish the task. In order to achieve your desired outcome from a delegated task, you must convey the following to the delegate:

  • Expected Results – Let the person know what needs to be accomplished and by what time.
  • Resources – If the delegate needs to access resources, whether they be specific information, subject matter experts, financial or anything else, inform them that they are able to (and should) use such resources.
  • Accountability and Consequences – Give them the authority to complete the task, but inform them that with this authority comes accountability. Once they accept the task, if the task isn’t completed on time, the fault is on their shoulders as long as you’ve clearly outlined the above criteria. Tell them what consequences there will be for either not completing the task or completing the task incorrectly. Positive consequences should be outlined as well.

Task delegation is an integral step in time management and, if you delegate correctly, you’ll feel as if you’ve got more hours in your day. If you’d like to read more about stewardship delegation, check out The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. 

3. Get plenty of sleep – be well rested. Eat balanced meals.
You know those days when you get out of bed and feel like it’s going to be a great day? That initial mood, right when you wake up, affects the rest of your day. Most people aren’t morning people, and I’m not saying you have to become Little Miss Sunshine and jump out of bed every morning singing a song. What I am saying, though, is that your sleep quality directly impacts your productivity potential. If you’re half asleep, you’re going to get less done, make more mistakes, and display poor time management skills.

  • Go to bed! Get off of Facebook, stop playing Angry Birds and Solitaire, and close your eyes. It would be interesting to see a study done on the amount of sleep people got before smart phones and social networking sites versus our current constant connectivity addiction.
  • If you wake up a lot during the night, consider investing in earplugs. Maybe you live in a noisy area or have a partner that snores. You can pick a set of earplugs up at your local convenience store for about $2. Same goes for bright areas: consider blackout curtains and/or a comfy sleep mask.
  • Avoid eating heavy or greasy meals. Eating too much can make you feel sleepy. Eating a deep dish pizza for lunch can decrease your focus because your body’s energy is being used up trying to digest that lump of cheese you just ate.

Do you have any tips that keep you on track, either during your workday or at home? Let me know by posting a comment below.