SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

5 Digital Marketing Mistakes That Will Doom Your Business

Success for modern small businesses depends on the effective use of digital marketing channels. Unfortunately, many companies have failed, despite their effort to engage their online audience.

To help your company gain the most from online opportunities, learn about the following five digital marketing mistakes and use the tips that follow to help you avoid them.

1. Lack of Planning

Before you do any marketing, you should thoroughly understand your business and its mission. Afterward, you can plan your digital marketing strategy in a way that is consistent with the other parts of your operation.

By spending time understanding your goals, you can stay focused and avoid wasting resources on unnecessary and counterproductive activities. So, before moving forward take some basic steps:

  • Identify and understand your operational environment. This includes your customers, competitors, industry, and logistics.

  • Write down what you want to accomplish via digital marketing.
  • Break down your objectives so you know what you need to do with each of your marketing channels.

As soon as you have a plan, you can start promoting your brand.

2. Irrelevant Content

Companies that lose their focus face all-but-certain doom. Avoid that mistake by sticking with your marketing plan. As part of that focus, make sure that everything you either publish or post has relevance to your business.

Both poorly defining your market and creating low-quality content can contribute to a loss of focus. You can avoid these problems by first understanding your audience and then send the right messages.

As part of your effort, remember that relevance has much to do with channel selection and timing. Even the most valuable content will fall flat if you fail to get it to the right people when they most need it.

3. Focusing on Social Media Alone

Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter attract millions of daily users. For this reason, many companies make the mistake of focusing on social media and ignoring their website.

Without a website, your prospects and customers have no way to expand their knowledge of your brand and products. So, after reading your social media posts, people have nowhere else to go.

Rather than using social networks to replace your website, use them to funnel qualified traffic to your website. That way, people who want to learn more about your brand can click links that lead to your website.

4. Missing Out On Automation

Many growing companies fail to capitalize on their opportunities because the needs of customers exceed their support capabilities. Businesses in this predicament are doomed unless they embrace automation. Many never do.

When you use technology to perform repetitive tasks and distribute information, you expand the capabilities of your staff. As a result, you can control expenses while improving service. In other words, automation is a win-win option, so never ignore it.

In addition to reducing the number of manual actions required in your daily operation, automation can improve accuracy. After all, every time either you or your team manually enters data, you can make a mistake. Meanwhile, automated tools can without error repeatedly enter the same data all day, every day.

5. No Genuine Email Personalization

Email is a powerful weapon in your digital marketing arsenal, so make sure you use it properly. However, successful email marketing involves much more than sending out promotional notices.

Personalization can make a big difference with your email campaigns by tailoring your messages to individual recipients and audience segments. For starters, you should use an email tool that can insert first names into the text and mention the last products that recipients have bought.

In the end, email personalization gives you a chance to make your customer relationship data work for you. As you include more data points in your messages, you can expect to see more conversions. Additionally, every message you send should include new content.

Final Thoughts

Many companies before you have met their doom because of the above five marketing mistakes. Act now to plan your digital strategy and follow that action with relevant content and an effective website.

Furthermore, by using automation, you can boost your ability to support customers and create personalized email messages. Ultimately, these tips can lead to operational stability and long-term growth.

Author bio: Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. Connect with Ashley via Twitter.

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3 Mistakes People Make with Their Company Blog

While there are as many mistakes to make with your blog as there are bloggers out there, company blogs face a unique set of challenges. If you’re too technical, you lose your audience, while if you are too personal makes you compete with every other generic blogger. Here are three mistakes people make with their company blog.


“Press Releases Go Here, Too”
Posting press releases on the company blog is a mistake for several reasons. First, it gets hit with a duplicate content penalty. Second, no one wants toBlog Mistakes read a blog that consists of generic press releases. Third, you should have marketing channels to distribute press releases better suited to that type of content than posting it on your blog.


“I Posted Six Months Ago”
More than half of all blogs are started and essentially finished because they haven’t seen a new post in six months or more. No one will follow you on social media or follow your blog if you don’t post regularly. This is why many people who run out of ideas tap into guest bloggers, though you need to ensure that the content they post fits your intended brand image and doesn’t leak information you consider confidential. That said, you could let someone in another department share a story of life behind the scenes, do interviews with key personnel and essentially drum up content from other work groups to keep the content flowing.

Don’t forget the opportunity recycling old content creates, such as posting an old interview and then adding a follow-up section on what the person is doing now. Throwback Thursday and Wayback Wednesday are opportunities to post old advertisements and then talk about when you discontinued that product or service and the benefits of the later generation offerings available now.

“Oh, This Generic Post Is Good Enough”
Generic content fails for several reasons. First, it is boring. Second, it won’t stand out in a search for any key term. Third, no one is going to see any reason to share it, and you will lose high-quality backlinks to your site. Instead, look for tailored blog posts focused on a key search phrase or question. It is actually to your benefit to have different blog posts for each product model since you can post a different blog post each day. It is better to post several half-page blogs, each with a unique focus, rather than try to craft one long blog that addresses multiple topics.

If you don’t know what topics would work well for your audience, you can always work with a firm like Click Intelligence to identify the key search terms your customers are using but don’t find enough good content on, then create search engine optimized blog posts for those search terms. However, trying to optimize the blog for search engines too hard risks having it penalized as spam: that’s why it’s important to ask the experts.

Conclusion
Making simple mistakes like not blogging often enough or going too heavy on the marketing on the company blog loses your audience while insufficient hard information costs you your credibility. Try to stand out as much as you can - don't be afraid to rely on internal resources to diversify your blog posts and keep your content fresh.

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The 20 Most Searched-for Business Types (Infographic)

The graphic also contains a breakdown of the most popular business type by state.

By: Emily Conklin

Ever use Google to search for your latest business idea? You're not the only one.

Most of these aspiring entrepreneurs inquired about clothing lines, restaurants and food trucks, according to an analysis by machinery seller Bid on Equipment.

The most predictably successful small businesses fall into two categories: trade skills that keep other businesses running and specialized services for personalized care. Bookkeeping, website design and computer services make up roughly 40 percent of all small businesses, indicating a broad market where many can succeed. Specialized services such as dentistry, real estate and legal services make up the majority of the top small businesses, as they can be managed at scale and have the advantage of securing a niche.

Wherever your dreams may take you, entrepreneurship requires passion, commitment and the ability to balance both the glamorous and menial tasks of being the boss. For more insights into the most searched about business types as well as the most profitable, check out BOE’s infographic below.

1507142265 small business dreams

 

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What Did You Do For Small Business Saturday? Harry and Jenny's Report

Think of it as Harry and Jenny’s Day Off – ala Ferris Bueller – we painted the town red on Small Business Saturday (November 25, 2017). First for proper context, read about Small Business Saturday here and here (we’ll wait for your return).

Welcome back! This adventure is presented chronologically so you can follow our footprints. All on November 25th – Small Business Saturday. And I was joined by Jennifer Hallmark, president of SMB Nation.

8:00AM: Harry checks his mail at the local “The UPS Store” that is locally owned and operated (Figure 1). Then it’s off for coffee to wait for stores to open!

Fig1 sbs

Figure 1: Checking the SMB Nation mailbox.

9:00AM: Harry purchases a JBL Charge3 Bluetooth Speaker to extend his mission of living life out loud! This is from the local Verizon store in the same center and is considered a “shop local” purchase as it impacts local employees (even though Verizon itself is an enterprise). The local cost was $149.95 plus tax (it could have been purchased for $124.95 online but the decision was made to purchase locally).

10:00AM: Harry uses the new JBL Charge3 as a boom box on his winter bike to play holiday music while out for a ride (Figure 2).

Fig2 SBS

 

Figure 2: Getting our music groove on!

1:00PM: Jonsing for pizza, Harry snags a slice at “That’s a Some a Pizza” (Figure 3) that is a locally owned small business on Bainbridge Island.

Fig3 SBS

Figure 3: Gotta eat!

1:30PM: Harry and Jenny meetup at the Town and Country grocery store in downtown Winslow (on Winslow Way aka “Main Street) to conspire for Small Business Saturday fun and hijinks. Jenny films the Small Business Saturday welcome vid you can watch by clicking Figure 4).

Fig4 SBS

Figure 4: Preaching at the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce office.

2:00PM: Harry and Jenny cake walk (march) down Winslow Way to Eagle Harbor Books, a local independent bookstore that embraced Small Business Saturday formally with a Facebook event. As you can see in the video below, it worked as the store was busy! Watch it here (Figure 5).

 

Fig5 SBS

 

Figure 5: This small business actively embraced Small Business Saturday!

5:00PM: Jenny is long gone to spend time with her family and Harry is snuggled in for the Apple Cup – the NCAA football rivalry between the University of Washington Huskies and the Washington State University Cougars on “rival Saturday” and enjoy a locally brewed beer (no pics due to editorial standards LOL).

Learnings

Both myself and Jenny are already conspiring about Small Business Saturday 2018. We discovered that Small Business Saturday still has relatively low awareness and local mindshare on Main Street. And there are now competing/complimentary last Saturday in November designations. In the video interview above (Figure 5) at Eagle Harbor Books, two authors divulge it’s also the 5th annual Indies First Day. According to the Portland Mercury in Oregon “Indies First Day celebrates independent booksellers, which in a world where we’re all under the control of Amazon Prime, are more critical than ever.”

Then there was long-time community advocate Jeff Shuey who highlighted a similar movement called “Shop Local” that has different branding but a similar message as Small Business Saturday. My research indicates this alternative movement has grass roots tied to *not* using your American Express card on November 25th (American Express is a founding partner of Small Business Saturday).

Finally one interesting variation on Small Business Saturday 2017 concerns Etsy-sponsored pop-up stores. Catch the CNBC coverage here. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/24/etsy-sellers-prep-for-small-business-saturday-2017.html

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BizDev 101: Living Life OUT LOUD!

Over a year ago, longtime SMB Nation member and SBSer Kimberly (“The Brain”) West complimented me for living life out loud. Recently I touched base with “The Brain” and she told me “LOUDER” so ergo this blog!

In reality, it’s all about business development all day, every day for me. While
naysayers might snide this reeks of narcissism, I disagree by asserting I’m just an extrovert with childhood attention deficit disorder (A.D.D) trying to provide for my family, make my mark and have fun along the way. So forgive me if my best business development practices appear to be bragging and boasting. That’s not my intent and I’m driven to give back more than I take in the long run.

Everything Helps Everything!
With that confession out there, let’s talk business development tactics. I attend, on average, one event gathering per week ranging from well-known technology conferences, technology trade association monthly mixers, monthly user group meetings and IAMCP lunches. I never met a workshop I didn’t like (and as an added bonus, many of these events have free food and beverages – which helps the subsistence budget). In Figure 1, I met Lawyer Milloy (former Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriot NFL pro football player – Super Bowl Champion!) at the FootBOTathon coder camp in Seattle at the CenturyLink field events center.

gameon2

Figure 1: A recent coder camp hosted by Microsoft and GameOn where developer attendees built “bots” in team exercises.

And as you can see in Figure 2, I’m not opposed to a post-5pm Happy Hour to talk good business.

happyhour

Figure 2: Talkin’ business with Jonathan Spouse from DecisiveData where he is an engagement manager. He made the long trek to Bainbridge Island from Redmond.

I also write at least two blogs a week, make a daily social post to Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. If you are my friend (even frenemy), I’m gonna wish you Happy Birthday on Facebook and often comment affirmatively on your posts.

I am committed to reaching out to *at least* one new (potential) client per day via a telephone call, email and LinkedIn message. My aforementioned all day, every day motion of business development includes multiple extensive daily existing client touches. I host a weekly webinar and give one to two speeches per month as seen in Figure 3. End to end I execute over over 500 separate business development motions annually (divide that into 365-days to see how you have to do at least one thing per day in this new, transformative business world to make it).

 

phillIAMCP

Figure 3: Presenting “MSP Analytics” remotely to the Philadelphia chapter of the IAMCP technology partner group.

So how does everything help everything in business development? It just works if you work it. Consistently. I can tell you that, by analogy, your odds of winning Lotto are greatly enhanced if you buy a Lotto ticket! Seriously, I try to lead by example so hopefully my self-promotion is a form of encouragement for you to get out, market and increase your sales. I’m right there in the trenches with you.

I’ve seen the opposite in some well-intentioned firms in my orbit. Putting themselves out there just isn’t in their DNA. Some are shy and perhaps introverted. But I’ve found many firms that want to do tomorrow what they did yesterday. Good luck with that.

PS – My A.D.D is my secret weapon allowing for multitasking. Read more about that here in "The A.D.D. Entrepruener" by Matt Curry.

 

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