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.

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)

The Front Porch of Life- Living and Doing Business in Small Towns

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“Too often we forget about the 120-million Americans building their homes, their businesses, and their lives in small towns far from the limelight” — not my words but those of successful entrepreneur and Shark Tank investor Robert Herjavic reflecting on the plight of small towns and small businesses decaying away.

And that is unfortunate because statistics indicate more than 50% of the employed population works at a small business.

A nationwide contest was held among small towns to find the one that could best improve upon itself by the community.

Small towns like Wabash, Indiana.

And that is how the Small Business Revolution project and web series came to be, and I have the first episode here.

As explained and described on their website:

“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. The entire Wabash journey is captured in this eight-part web series. The opening episode provides a glimpse into the community, the businesses and the town leaders.”

Whether you are a small business in a small town such as Belfast ME where I have lived or in a big city like Boston where I have also resided, you will view the series seeing familiar problems, then hopefully say “aha there is a solution.”

( 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)

How Your Small Biz Can Benefit from This Week’s National Hashtags

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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.

Hashtag of the day: #NationalHotFudgeSundaeDay 7/25/16

  • Car Dealership? “We know it’s hot outside. But we’ve got some really cool deals on the lot and to make it worth your while, just for coming out and speaking with one of our experienced auto specialists, we’ll give you 2 coupons for a Hot Fudge Sundae today”

Hashtag of the day: #NationalBagelfestDay 7/26/16Bagel

  • Custom tire accessory store? “Bagels and tires have a lot in common. They are roundish. They come in several different styles. They can be purchased individually or in a group. And just as you can put anything on a bagel, you can put an assortment of covers on a tire. Check us out today and get a free bagel while they last.”

Hashtag of the day: #NationalScotchDay 7/27/16

  • Investment firm? “Today is National Scotch Day. Did you know that all Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years? That is quite an investment of time & money. You can’t take it our early. Here at A & Z Investments we can advise you on short term investments with high yield…”

Hashtag of the day: #NationalChiliDogDay 7/28/16 (Last Thursday in July)

  • Dry Cleaner? “Today is National Chili Dog Day and someone in the office will push the idea to celebrate— at the office. But as careful as you try to be, somehow when lunch is over, there may well be stains on you shirt, pants, blouse or skirt. Not to worry. Bring in the tell-tale stain today or tomorrow and we’ll give you a 10% discount on cleaning.”

Hashtag of the day: #NationalLipstickDay 7/29/16lipstick1

  • Hairdresser? “Ladies we know that just as there is a lipstick shade to address our every mood, there is also a hairstyle to present our mood. In honor of National Lipstick Day, bring in a receipt for a lipstick you purchased this week, and we will give you 10% off a …”

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 will make today a better business day for you & your customers.

( 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)

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)