Why Use Video for a Small Business Account

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Social Media is a visual medium. Yes, we fill it with words. But pictures, graphics and videos can capture your customer’s attention and drive them to your words on Facebook and website.

Don’t believe me? This is data from “31 Must Know Video Marketing Stats” article that appeared in a recent Social Media Today posting.

Video statsI think the numbers speak for themselves. You can see the entire Infographic on the linked website page.

If you’re handling social media in-house for your small business, not only is quality writing a concern as I have stated in previous blogs, but equally of value is a serious concentration on visuals that connect with where your customer “is” or “will be” when you wish to reach out.

According to the stats, 22% of US Small Biz plan to post a video in the next 12 months. Will you be watching your competition?

( 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)

Describe Customer Engagement in One Word

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Challenge presented. Challenge Accepted. A fellow social media entrepreneur put the question to me: Describe Customer engagement in one word. I thought for a few minutes.

More.

Not a social buzz word. Neither a marketing nor small biz lingo-laden insider techie phrase.

Just “more.”

Do more for the customer. Give more to the customer. And the customer will do more for you.

Cust engagementWas that a “good answer” as they say on Family Feud? (I thought I saw Richard Dawson and Steve Harvey each giving me a thumb’s up!)

And after a short search, I found validation on no less a biz site than Yahoo’s Aabaco Small Business Service, and an article by Sally Lee.

(Smallbiztrends.com described AaBaco as: “a service that offers small business owners custom websites, hosting, domains, eCommerce help, and business email plans. So, instead of helping you find businesses on the Web, Aabaco helps you get your small business on it.”)

Author Sally Lee’s opening paragraph in 5 Tips for Building Your Customer Engagement Strategy puts in perfect perspective what customer engagement is:

‘It’s getting customers to spend more time with your company and to feel more of a connection with and more value from you. In return, more engaged customers last longer, are more loyal and spend more money.This leaves you more time to focus more on making your customers happy and providing products and services they want and need, and spending less time on securing new customers.”

She gets it. Yahoo Business gets it. More, more, more.

Does your small business get it? The more you focus on customer engagement, the more you will profit from it.

( 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)

Your Blog Intro Paragraph, Setting the Correct Hook

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Introductory paragraphs are fishing trips ripe for disaster; launch yourself using the wrong hooks and lures, and you’ll lose all the fish before you get to the end paragraph.

reelingAn early blog of mine covered this topic and I thought it was time to repeat it for those of you small business owners who are piloting your own blog along the internet waters.

Noted social media influencer Jeff Bullas had recently outlined several literary devices to enhance the enticement and engagement levels of a blog’s first paragraph. I, in turn, shared insights on three of them, based upon my own over 30 years of experience as a print & broadcast writer.

Why not start with a question?

  • I’ve found asking a question to be among the most intriguing openings. By posing a question right away, you drive readers to start thinking; you challenge them to come up with an answer, an answer that lies beneath the waves of paragraphs to come.

Just the facts ma’am

  • On the other hand, years of writing experience have led me to accept statistics and percentages as the most difficult hook, because if done improperly you turn off readers and they swim away. (Bullas dressed this up by suggesting you attribute the facts to a person, thus making the numbers come alive).

To “quote or not to quote”

  • I’ve used quotes as teaser openers in my blogs, articles and columns many times over the years. Find something catchy that your interviewee recounted or advised that relates to your topic in such a way to set the mood, while at the same time “giving away” the sense of what story you are about to tell.

Metaphor.

  • This is an additional option I would suggest; in fact I employed it to kick off this blog. It is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

This option, as do all the others mentioned, set the readers off into a thinking mode, anxious to read on.

And that is the goal of the first paragraph, isn’t it?

(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging 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)

Pokemon Go – How To Lure in Customers to Your Small Biz

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Hula Hoops, pet rocks, Cabbage Patch Kids. Fads come & go. Even the big ones. But Pokemon Go has the added element crucial to your small business that none of the rest had: exterior exploration. The others were played by oneself, in a room or backyard. Pokemon Go takes the player away from home, usually with a partner, walking down the street and past your business.

This gives an entire new meaning to “foot traffic!”

Pokemon Go pixAnd that makes it more than a game. It’s a dynamic marketing opportunity for your Main Street USA brick & mortar store.

Walter Chen just days ago wrote a solid tutorial on the INC website (Pokemon Go Is Driving Insane Amounts of Sales at Small, Local Businesses. Here’s How It Works) as to understanding, and therefore controlling the madness that is Pokemon Go— with the end result being the conversion of Poke-chasers walking past your store into paying customers walking into your business.

In detail he first describes the game, so even non-player Baby Boomer owners on down to Millennial owners with no interest in Pokemon can grasp the parameters within which players operate. This is important to determine how players can be enticed (manipulated?) to alter their “programming” of chasing Pokemon exclusively and instead take a break to purchase your products or services.

Among his recommendations are:

Find Out if Your Business Is a Gym or PokeStop

First move should be to determine if you already are a PokeStop or Gym. These attract foot traffic without any effort: “Players flock to them for rewards and to battle other players- and they can be leveraged for massive sales if you know how,” states Chen.

Sit Back, Throw Down a Lure, and Enjoy the Show

What’s a lure? It is the key to increasing the rate of Pokemon generation for a half hour in the area around the PokeStop. Very important to stopping the foot traffic at your door while players wait for Pokemon to come to them. For example a local biz owner revealed “I own a pizzeria that’s a PokeStop and I literally did this all day. I had a ton of kids and adults (mostly adults) come in for a slice of pizza and a drink until the lure ran out.”

Capitalize on Your Business Being Near a Pokemon Gym

If you are neither a PokeStop nor Gym (where captured creatures do battle against other players’ creatures) then let people know through outside signs and mobile social media that you have related specials, giveaways, etc. You may not know when a group of French tourists or Vegans are coming down the street, but you will know that foot-tired, thirsty Poke players are nearby.

Or, Go Where the Pokemon Are

Chin discusses more points, including delegating to one of your staff the duty of tracking where Pokemon are being heavily found in your community and then devising a way to get your business there (for example if a local park is a hot spot, can you get a food booth or truck out there on a Saturday or Sunday if your small biz is a restaurant or bar?)

As I said, Chen’s article is a thorough primer for the uninitiated to learn and capitalize on a hot fad that may not be leading customers into your store, but at least past your door.

Chin advises “With Pokemon Go, businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to create strong emotional bonds with new customers, and for very little money.”

Gotta Catch ‘Em All? The challenges and opportunities for customer engagement await you.

(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging 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)

Turn Hashtags Into Profitable Customer Engagement

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Hashtags can be found on Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. A social media strategist on your team would have suggested any number of crossover promotions to capitalize on these events to entice customers. Each week I will give you a heads up on some hashtag phrases and some suggestions.

Customer EngagementsHashtag of the day: #NationalIceCreamDay (3rd Sunday in July) July 17, 2016

  • Car Dealer? Give away a $20 gift certificate to a local ice cream store for every test drive. $20 should cover a family of 4. (sorry no ice cream in car!)
  • Ballet School? While a steady diet of ice cream may not be advisable for a ballet student, it is a nice reward for excellence in training. Consider a picture of a student performing an Arabesque or Croisé while perfectly balancing an ice cream cone.

Hashtag of the day: #NationalGetOutoftheDogHouseDay (3rd Monday in July) July 18, 2016

  • Restaurant? Suggest a quiet dinner where customers can “talk it out” away from work or family interruptions. (when making reservations you can offer them a more secluded table for privacy)

Hashtag of the day: #NationalDaiquiriDay July 19, 2016

  • Bar? Ladies night special, which will attract women, which will attract men, which will increase overall business, no matter what they drink.

Hashtag of the day: #NationalPicnicMonth

  • Package Store? Invite picnickers to come to the store with an empty cooler, buy a 6 pack of beer or bottle of wine and you will fill cooler with ice free of charge— plus give them a voucher for twice the cost of the containers to insure they bring the recyclables back rather than abandon at the beach or park.

Hashtag of the day: #NationalGetToKnowYourCustomersDay July 21, 2016 (3rd Thursday of Each Quarter)

  • Any type of business? Get out from behind the counter or the back office and mingle with the customers. Customer engagement 1.0! Personally hand out % off sales vouchers “I’m the owner (or manager) and I want to show my appreciation for coming into the store today with these certificates. Pick one out of the box, please.” And who knows it might convince them to buy something if they had only been on the fence about a purchase.

Hashtag of the day: #NationalHotDogMonth

  • Accounting Firm? Show your appreciation for your clients and at same time reinforce your money handling skills by being financially sound enough to hold a hot dog bar-b-que in the company parking lot or in a nearby park. Invite your clients (and have them invite friends).

Information is a commodity that is bought & sold — but it is also a tool that you can use to benefit your business. In skilled hands, information— even something as simple as a constructed “National Day or Month” will make today a better business day for you & your customers.

(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging 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)

Boomers and Small Business Go Together

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Boomer lady 1Would you be surprised to learn that the numbers of older men & women are on the rise in establishing new small businesses? They are, according to a study called The Kauffman Index: Startup Activity 2015 Trends.

The Kauffman Index: Startup Activity tracks new business creation in the USA. With an interesting approach of not only amassing data on new entrepreneurs in their first month, Kauffman also pulls in factors covering new employer businesses in their first year.

And among all that swirling of facts, figures and statistics, the Kauffman Index revealed that:

Baby Boomers (approx. 55-70 years of age) make up 25.8 percent of all new entrepreneurs in the 2015 Index. That is decidedly up from the 1997 Index when they were only 14.8 percent of all new entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile Millennials, the expected rulers of the entrepreneurial roost, have lost footing. Younger entrepreneurs (20-34 years of age) have been on the decline, down to 24.7 percent in the 2015 Index from a higher 34.3 percent of all new entrepreneurs in the 1997 Index.

Why is this?

Writing for Entrepreneur magazine on line, Peter Daisyme’s wrote the following in an article last year titled “Many Baby Boomers Are Choosing Entrepreneurship Instead of Retiring.”

“If you think the largest demographic in the entrepreneurial world is millennials, think again. Baby boomers are actually the most powerful entrepreneurial group, giving up retirement for Career Number Two (or three, four and so on.) The idea of retirement isn’t what it used to be, whether by need or by choice. ”

Boomer male 1Boomers may be ready to retire from the 9 to 5 office job that they’ve toiled at for the last two or three decades, but they are not ready to retire from work. Years of experience should not be wasted, but rather be put to use in a business they now can control to better serve customers.

For many Boomers, funding isn’t as much of a problem as for a Millennial, as the Boomer has been working for years, amassing a nice set of financial nest eggs.

Or, on the other side of the spectrum, there are the Boomers who have not been able to save, and cannot afford to retire but need to make more money.

Either way, the force of Entrepreneurship is strong in all of these Boomers. And in you if you are also a Boomer. What makes you less prepared to succeed at opening a store on Main Street USA than someone 30 years younger?

What are some businesses you could open based upon your skill sets or personal interests?

Images courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging 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)

Customer Retention Does Not Always Benefit from DIY Approach of Small Businesses

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Small & medium business owners (SMB), what are you doing? A new Local Search Association study indicates that 71% of you that manage digital marketing do it internally!!! Where do you find the time to do it yourself— and do it correctly?

(The LSA is an international not-for-profit industry association of media companies, agencies and technology providers that helps businesses market to local consumers.)

I say “do it correctly” because in an accompanying Infographic for that LSA study, there are not one, not two, but three other fact-sets which indicate you most certainly do require assistance in retaining customers. Customer retention is one of your primary goals for participating in social media, correct?

SMB state of marketingThen why is it that the LSA study shows only 44% of you monitor social media feedback about your businesses? You talk to customers, but aren’t interested in hearing customer responses?

Why bother dealing so up close & personal with customers if you’re not interested in keeping them?

And you do wish to keep them. They are money in the bank.

In a Bain & Company Customer Loyalty Study it was determined that, for example, in apparel, ”the average repeat customer spent 67% more in months 31-36 of his or her shopping relationship than in months zero-to-six.”

And that is not a one market segment aberration. In groceries, “customers spent 23% more in months 31-36 than in months zero-to-six.”

Customers want, for lack of a better term, a business partnership with you. They want to feel like part of the team. To know what is going on. To be asked for opinions. And the reward is sales.

You need to optimize social media properly to engage with these customers.

That brings me to the 2nd LSA fact-set item: small businesses use 7.8 marketing channels to promote themselves. Let’s repeat that, 7.8? Not every platform is right for every business. Again, where do you find the time to properly manage 7.8 marketing channels?

This study & Infographic from the Local Search Association indicates that obviously not all SMBs “get it.” And that is distressing, given one of LSA’s key conclusions is that “marketing is a critical component to success for SMBs given consumer behavior and adoption of digital tech.”

One wonders then, why the LSA study shows only 48% of small biz websites are mobile ready? Any Social Media Manager, Strategist, Guru would advise those of you in the non-mobile remaining 52% that because a cell phone is now the preferred online searching and communication digital tech device, your social media messages are therefore not going where your customers are.

Customer retention obviously does not always benefit from the do it yourself approach of small business owners. The smarter move is to let a social media manager or consultant do what he or she does best: devise a targeted engagement package which will make customers feel like partners and drive retention levels up.

This leaves you to time to focus on core areas of your business. Considering the survey also indicates that 54% of US sales happen at a Small Business, you would want to personally make sure your company is producing the best product or service it can, in order to give consumers a reason to be your customers in the first place.

(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)