Mother’s Day, What’s an Entrepreneur to Do?

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Americans will be spending more than $23 billion on Mother’s Day! That’s 10% more than was reportedly spent in 2016! This data is from MoneyTips.com. Speaking to the Social Media Manager entrepreneurs in my target market, that dollar figure lends itself to a significant number of options for your clients to market services and products to customers with a vested interest in spending.

By no means am I trying to put a dollar figure on mom’s value.

From her kids she will take an “I love you,” a weird looking birdhouse made in school shop class, a brightly colored blouse with parakeets that you wouldn’t wear to bed, a car, and anything between. But for most people, the spirit of the day is expressed with a gift. Why shouldn’t your clients not only participate, but also excel in these business transactions?

Check out this infographic for ideas and data to convince your small business client to run a few more directed Facebook ads or Instagram pictures. There is ROI. For example, $2.1 billion dollars is expected to be spent on clothing alone. And $1.6 billion will be spent on spa days and other services (sunless spray tans, nails, etc).

Does your client want to miss out for lack of trying?

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(Infographic courtesy of MoneyTips.com)

17 Visions of Tomorrow’s Social Media Landscape

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How can we possibly predict what the future will look like, so we can better prepare today for the realities of tomorrow? That is the question asked by Peter Kozodoy in a recent piece for Inc. Magazine. But it is an every day question posed by Social Media Managers, what with regular Facebook adjustments being constantly added or the constant one-upsmanship battle escalating between Instagram & Snapchat.

Kozodoy asked 17 of the world’s most prolific super-influencers for sage advice and prognostications; though varied there was one recurring theme. Catering to the consumer’s needs in the places that he or she expresses them will be the key to your client’s success in converting them into customers.

When I started this blog my message was that small businesses had to be on social media, because if they weren’t they could not hear the comments & complaints being transmitted by customers. Now just being “on” is not enough. You need to actively find where your customers are and engage them there on Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Don’t expect them to come to your website or store on their own.

Point in fact:

Mobile phones, search, and social media have changed shopper paradigms forever. Today, shopper’s have unique paths to purchase tailored to their lifestyle. This has had a profound impact on how, when and where consumers engage with brands.” — Ted Rubin, Social Marketing Strategist, Acting CMO of Brand Innovators, and Co-Founder of Prevailing Path

Location, location, location:

Brands that will thrive in the future are those that are able to hyper-target their messaging based on identifiable social and geo-locational triggers using immersive marketing campaigns and augmented reality scenarios to engage and influence buying decisions.” — Douglas Idugboe, Co-Founder, Smedemy

Very interesting to see what “big names” like Mari Smith, Jeff Bullas and Jay Baer had to say. Their comments and Peter Kozodoy’s wrap-up conclusions are a good read for all Social Media Managers that want to put their clients ahead of the competition by already being today where the customers will be tomorrow.

Beyond the Front Door, Working with Competitors to Benefit Community

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Dynamic partnerships await small business merchants (and their Social Media Managers) who venture beyond their front door and reach out to fellow merchants, be they competitors or not. Usually the driving force is not profit but to do something beneficial for the community. For in displaying a genuine give a damn attitude about their customers, so do these businesses develop a loyalty from those shoppers.

Take Salem, Ma for example. During October, everybody is knee deep in Halloween-based customers; but come January, they live or die on local patronage.

So, it comes as no surprise that when the call was issued for participants in the upcoming annual Salem Arts Festival Fashion Show, which in itself is a fundraiser for our Salem Arts Festival, the response from local biz was not “I can’t afford the time, or the money, or the merchandise.” It was more so “What do you need?”

I am lifting a paragraph from the Salem Main Streets blog (which I write, so I won’t have to worry about plagiarism…)

The Fashion Show annually highlights a growing number of local boutiques – including Avalanche, Beach Bride Baubles, The Boutique, Curtsy, Emporium 32, J. Mode, Lifebridge’s Second Chance Thrift Shop, Modern Millie Vintage & Consignments, Ocean Chic Boutique & Waterbar, the Peabody Essex Museum Shop, re-find and re-find men’s, and RJ Coins & Jewelry, with professional stylist Lisa Ann Schraffa Santin on hand. Make up will be provided by the fabulous artists from Laura Lanes Skin Care, Rouge Cosmetics, Radiance Aveda, Arbonne by Roz, and Victoria Crisp, with hair styling by Bella Hair Studios and My Barber Shop.”

Those are a lot of stores, giving a lot of time, products, services, and employee hours for a fashion show where they aren’t making a dime. That day.

Take a look at the posted picture again. Where do you think those audience members will go when they need an outfit or accessories, a hair-do or makeup? The mall in another town? I think not.

Modern consumers are no longer blind sheep to be swayed by a clever TV ad. Savvy shoppers are adept at surfing the internet to look at small business Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to see what’s hot and what’s not— and where they want to spend their loyalty to buy it.

By developing partnerships with “competitors” and other local biz, merchants can do more for the community— and themselves — than they could do alone.

I challenge your business, or clients (if you are a social media manager) to seek out or even initiate opportunities with fellow merchants to invest in your community’s social environment. The rewards are sufficient to be shared among many partners.

(Photo credit to Creative Salem)

Social Media By the Numbers at Enterprise Center

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One of the major problems that Social Media Managers have when dealing with their clients is the distorted levels of expectations about ROI (return on investment… of time and money) by the clients. Social Media is not an over night wonder pill. If only the merchants of Main Street USA could understand the statistics, or as we call them the analytics, by which SMM gauge progress, engagement, results, and forecast “their next move.”

We on the North Shore are fortunate to have an organization such as the Enterprise Center at Salem State University which plays a pivotal role in helping foster the growth of small business by offering an interactive speaker series, not by teachers but by individuals who are in the trenches living the subject matter everyday. Case in point, this Tuesday I attended a session driven by Justin Miller on Understanding Social Media Analytics.

Miller, the guiding force behind the dynamic InnoNorth community start up, brought his expertise to a packed room of the curious and functioning business owners who want to understand social media from the numbers angle.

Miller was ready from the start to give everyone pause:

“Understanding your social media analytics is essential for businesses today, but it isn’t easy when no two platforms are measured in the same way.

There’s a difference between knowing what metrics mean and knowing which metrics are meaningful.”

I won’t go into the class particulars; Miller did it a lot better than I could explaining where to find data and how to understand it before applying it. Another class will be given in the fall. You can sign up for it then.

My point is whether you handle the social media campaign for your small biz or you hand it over to a “big” firm or local boutique social media manager (those are the ones I write blogs, posts and tweets for), it’s in your best interests to understand that the numbers by themselves don’t represent the picture of your business.

You may not have the time or skill to do A/B testing, or know the difference between impressions and likes, but taking a class or two at an educational presence such as the Enterprise Center which brings in top notch lecturers like Justin Miller is a way to understand and be able to work with the SMM to help your small business better engage with your target market community.

(And a personal P.S.to Abby Grant at the Enterprise Center, thanks for the excellent customer service in squeezing me into the class at the last minute!)

What Do You Write? What Is Your Passion?

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“If I don’t dance one day, I notice it. If I don’t dance two days in a row, my audience notices it. If I don’t dance three days in a row, I should get another job.”

Famous dancer Fred Astaire lived by that motto. Now replace where you see dance with write. And by no means do I equate myself with Mr. Astaire’s singular achievements in his chosen profession, but that is something I have tried to live by. Writing something every day.

Problem is, of late, I’ve been writing for my clients but not me, or you.

I was in my favorite breakfast place this morning (Brothers Taverna, nicely spaced out seating and the breakfast arrives mad fast!!!). My waitress Tara asked if I was going to use my computer (they have WiFi) and when I said yes, she directed me to a corner booth. Then I opened my bag to find I had left my tablet at home.

But I told her that I do most of my work on the cell anyway. She asked what I did. I said social media. And then Tara asked the leading question:

Oh, what do you write?”

I started giving her a list of my clients but she said “no what do you write, what is your passion?” It was then and there that I realized that the recent, modest success I have had writing blogs, tweets and Facebook posts for clients had edged out my own writing. I hadn’t written anything here for quite awhile. Even though I was sticking to the motto of writing every day, I wasn’t writing for me, or for you. I wasn’t covering the news I wanted to share.

So Tara, I’m back in the saddle, so to speak, thanks and let’s see what the week ahead brings for topics.

Survey Seeks to Help Small Biz Owners Help Themselves

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What do you need? Poof!  Remember that scene from Disney’s Aladdin movie? Yamarie Grullon, the creative force behind the soon-to-be launched NYC-based SocialSeedia, wants to pick your small business owner brain with a survey, for your own benefit (and hers too). She is asking “what do you need” to succeed. Poof!

whatdoyouneed“The purpose of this survey,” she explains, “is to help me understand if small business owners and entrepreneurs are interested in ‘do-it-yourself’ programs that offer limited support via email or social networking groups, as well as what social media platforms they are most interested in learning about.”

As I’ve detailed in previous blogs, many of you small business owners struggle with time constraints, with understanding which & how many social channels you need to be on, and how to engage / convert followers into customers. Your options are to turn over social media to an employee or relative with some semblance of social skills— usually based upon experience as an amateur consumer not as a professional marketer. Or you can outsource social media services which, depending upon what needs to be done, can get expensive.

Grullon offers an intriguing third option:

“My goal is to understand what these small business owners are looking for so that I can create a simple, do it yourself, plug-it-in program that doesn’t require too much time & effort on their behalf and is cost-effective.”

She adds, “I’ve realized from my experience that they don’t need to know it all. They don’t need to be experts in Facebook Ads and all these different social networking sites. If they have a simple step by step plan and know the basics, they can get started and make immediate changes to help them impact sales.”

It is an interesting question and solution she poses. If you want this result, you need to do A, B, C. Unless you have this kind of business, then do D, E, C.

While, for example, she can’t relieve you of actual writing burdens (thus, you still may need my services), her project could help you organize where & when writing promotions should be placed vs pictures and videos.

Why not take the time? In responding to the questions and contemplating answers, you might even learn a thing or two about your own social media perceptions & realities that affect customer engagement.

(Anthony M. Scialis is an experienced print & broadcast writer who coordinates blog, Twitter & Facebook social media content to create a focused & powerful customer engagement effort which will bridge the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)

Small Biz Growth– With a Little Help from Friends in the Marketplace

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Small businesses in small towns across America are fighting for survival.

But, getting to know the people and small businesses of Wabash Indiana, winner of the Small Business Revolution’s Main Street $500,000 Makeover has been a heartwarming journey, filled with hope and promise when all players in the marketplace come together.

wabashcityFor this makeover, Amanda Brinkman, chief brand and communications officer at Deluxe, along with Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec, employed their marketing and business expertise to help six small businesses learn more about what it takes to compete in their local and regional markets.

What is additionally important is that you look at the website that accompanies this series. There is a breakdown of each store’s problems and solutions, complete with actionable advice that could be applied to your business. In other words: Free social media marketing advice!!!

The full details of the project are in my previous blog. Here are the eight episodes so you can binge watch. Do you see any similarities to you, your business, your neighborhood, or town? Learn from the Wabash journey; take from it what you can. Then make your story something worth sharing with others.

(Anthony M. Scialis is an experienced print & broadcast writer who coordinates blog, Twitter & Facebook social media content to create a focused & powerful customer engagement effort which will bridge the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)