November 16, 2010
As a small business owner, you recognize the importance of making people aware of your organization’s credibility. For nearly 100 years the Better Business Bureau (BBB) helped you work towards that goal by rating reputable small businesses. However, a recent controversy related to the BBB’s current rating system exposed the need for improved trust-building mechanisms.
While the BBB will remain an important player in this landscape, small business owners should take the time to build credibility for their companies independently of other parties. With emerging new media technologies and online tools, building reputation as a small business and communicating with customers has never been easier. Lets look at a few ways small business owners can build their credibility on their own.
6 Steps to Building Small Business Credibility
1. Start a Blog – Starting a blog for your small business is a way to not only improve credibility for your business, but to also bolster your search engine optimization and social media marketing. Having a blog can build credibility quickly by posting regular updates for your customers and prospects and giving them the opportunity to leave comments on your articles. This demonstrates that you are transparent about your business and expertise.
2. Encourage Customer Reviews – You likely have access to one or many online sites focused on providing reviews and insights to businesses in your industry. If you are a restaurant, for example, you can accumulate reviews about your business on sites like Yelp and Urban Spoon. Take an hour or two and research the most important review sites to your customers and then encourage your customers to post reviews about their experience with your business. This can be done by adding links to these sites on your website and putting up signage in your business. Not all of the reviews will be 5 stars but that is ok – this trust-building process will take time to yield the results you want to see.
3. Post Testimonials and Endorsements – Just as you should encourage customers to write reviews for other sites, you should also capture positive customer experiences and put them on your own site. For example, if you are a general contractor and just finished a kitchen remodel, use a flip cam or some other type of camcorder and record a quick video with the homeowner about how much they like their new kitchen. This video could then be posted on your website or blog for potential customers to watch.
4. Demonstrate Subject Matter Expertise – To be credible, it is critical that you demonstrate expertise for your craft. This type of expertise could be writing a blog article about an important industry issue or winning industry awards for the quality of your work. Ask some of your past customers why they hired you and use their reasons as subjects of content or awards to bolster the profile and credibility of your business
5. Be Easy to Reach – Nothing causes a potential customer to be wary of a business more than not being able to quickly and easily get in touch with someone from the organization. As a business owner, you should offer several communication channels on EVERY page of your website. This is more than just a 1-800 number. Make sure to have phone, email, address and social media profiles also present on your pages. Twitter and Facebook can be important tools for setting customers expectations.
6. Reward Referrals – Small business owners have long leveraged referrals and word-of-mouth marketing – it is now time to leverage these avenues online. Today a referral can mean many things – it could be a person they know that is in need of your product or services, but it could also be as simple as a customer sharing their positive experience with you business on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You should encourage this either verbally or with a follow-up email after their work is completed, asking them to share their experience with their online networks.
Building credibility for your small business is about taking the time to do some of the little things correctly and leveraging existing supports of your business.
What are other ways you have built credibility for your business?
Photo Credit: vagawi
Join our free webinar to learn how to create a thriving inbound marketing blog.
Posted by Kipp Bodnar on Tue, Nov 16, 2010 @ 07:00 AM
November 16, 2010
This guest post was writen by Stephen Denny (@Note_to_CMO) of Decision Triggers, a marketing consultancy that works with corporate clients to improve their sales and marketing performance by applying the social psychology of influence to critical customer-facing initiatives.
Marketers have two choices when theyre standing at their customers virtual gates. We can either beat against the door even harder or we can tap the right decision triggers and be invited inside.
If youre like most marketers and youre being honest with yourself you probably fall into this first camp. Beating on the gates takes persistence, money and a thick skin. The by-invitation-only option takes an understanding of the psychology of how we make decisions specifically, it means we have to learn something about how we can tap our targets decision triggers, those psychologically hard-wired rules that route requests to the inbox or the mental spam filter. Tap the right decision triggers and you move your customer to yes faster.
Before we start, understand that were not email marketing mavens or social media consultants were influence strategists. The work well describe here is based on over 30 years of research in the social sciences. It transcends cultures, demographics and marketing budgets. In other words its solid stuff. But what youll get out of understanding how decision triggers work is the difference between knocking yourself out for a 3% return and making those subtle changes that boost your returns up to 33%.
How can subtle changes help you overcome the noise in the market place today? Lets focus on three primary blocks you face to getting your message heard and then illustrate how one specific decision trigger helps overcome each.
Block #1: Grab Their Brain. Decision Trigger: Contrast.
Brains love contrast. Before and after, faster or slower, easier or harder, engaging or boring, simple or complex, black and white, up and down, expensive and cheap, inside and outside, hot or cold. Your brain instantly takes notice. Setting up a comparison a just noticeable difference between your targets frame of reference and your alternative does two important things. First, it sets up tension and tension needs resolution. We hate it when we dont know the rest of the story, dont we? This is the heart and soul of storytelling. Second, it gives you the meaningful separation you need to show how different your difference is.
Always ask yourself, compared to what?
Block #2: Disbelief. Decision Trigger: The Strategic Retreat.
Were bombarded with hyperbole, fluff and bombast, day and night. Believable statements are unique in their rarity. So do something unique. Argue against your own self-interests.
We told you at the top of this post what we werent. This wasnt an accident. Saying were not social media consultants probably caused a very real physiological reaction in many of you. Go back and read it again and see if you notice. Give a little concession and retreat early on. When you make a careful strategic retreat, your listener acknowledges that you are being honest because youve just proven it and then you can win the game on ground of your own choosing. Whatever request you make next will be coming from a credible, unbiased source and youll be in a better position to get the yes you want.
Block #3: Closing the Sale. Decision trigger: The Rule of the Rare.
Act now, because scarcity is going fast! Actually, theres more to it than just shouting, Supplies are limited! The Rule of the Rare says that things are perceived as having more value when they are perceived to be in short (and diminishing) supply, when they arent commonly known or when there is real exclusivity to owning them. When things get scarce, people get motivated. When there are only 2 Sony Playstations left in the store and your promised your kid you would get one for their birthday you, act immediately.
Interestingly, competition is more powerful a motivator than time your prospects dont have control when its them against someone else, do they? Supplies could evaporate in seconds! We can control our actions if we know how much time is left. Uncertainty is stickier than control. So be honest and let them know about this one of a kind opportunity or you may be inadvertently sabotaging your efforts by telling them that its OK to procrastinate. However, you must guard against phony offers to maintain your believability (and your ability to sleep at night, too).
What does all this mean?
When you tap your targets decision triggers, you get them to yes faster. We made brief mention above to the difference between getting 3% and getting 33% – when used this framework in a program aimed at Fortune 500 CIOs that should have garnered a 3% response, we were able to deliver a 33% return. Thats a powerful response. Get the whole white paper here, if youd like to learn more.
No matter whether youre an email marketer, a social media consultant, a brand manager or a CMO with a billion to spend on demand generation you still need to engineer your message correctly. Spend doesnt equal conversion. You can either have a message or a mess. You choose.
Download the free kit for tips and tricks to drive more leads and business to your site.
Posted by Peter Caputa on Tue, Nov 16, 2010 @ 01:00 PM
November 16, 2010
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/qp1iGGKP_k0/
November 16, 2010
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/3RL9f3V6dpA/
November 16, 2010
Samantha Taylor is the Community Mentor of MortgageFit and has been contributing her suggestions to the Community since 2005. Not just that, she has also made notable contributions through the various articles written on different subjects related to the mortgage industry. Few of her popular articles would include names like Mortgage that you can afford, Mobile Home Loan with Bad Credit, and How much mortgage can I borrow?
Are you a real estate agent? Are you aware of the tech tools that can help you in managing your business? Becoming tech savvy can help a real estate agent/professional to manage business in a better way. Go through this article and know about 5 top tech tools that can help a real estate agent to manage his/her business in a better way.
1. Tracking leads in CRM
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is quite a popular tech tool for managing as well as developing a companys interactions with its clients and increasing sales prospects. A real estate agent can use Highrise CRM for better management of customer relationships. Apart from helping you in tracking leads and deals, Highrise CRM can also help you in managing e-mails, reviewing conversations along with importing and exporting data easily. Highrise CRM also sends instant reminders through SMS or e-mails.
2. Getting help from social networking websites
With the help of social networking sites, a real estate agent can build contacts that in turn may help in managing business. You can also create a unique business group so as to keep in touch with business networking contacts. Such a popular social networking website is Facebook with the help of which you can increase your client base.
3. Electronic/digital signature services for secure transactions
The electronic or Digital Signature Services (DSS) comprises of two protocols a signing protocol and a verifying protocol through which a client sends documents to a server and receives bank signature on them. DocuSign is a prominent name in the world of electronic/digital signature services. It is a market leader as well as a global standard for digital signature. Real estate agents can take advantage of such a platform to complete transactions in a safe and secured manner. DocuSign also helps in reducing processing costs to some extent. It is such an electronic signature platform that replaces paper transactions completely.
4. Using Flowtown to know about social media profiles
With the help of Flowtown, you can import all your existing contacts either manually or by using various importing methods such as, GMail, MailChimp, CSV, etc. It can be said that Flowtown helps in creating a rich social profile and the real estate agents can use this tool for customer development. With the help of Flowtown, you can know about the social media profiles attached to the e-mail addresses of the clients. By doing so, you can easily find out whether or not a prospective customer is on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. that in turn helps in promoting a business to the target individuals.
5. Employing Evernote for automated updation
One of the most valuable tech tools for real estate agents is Evernote. Through Evernote, you can set up automated updation in order to save valuable information. Evernote also helps you in organizing data that are available online. You can locate a specific piece of information and also share it with your selective business contacts. One of the greatest advantages of Evernote is that it can search within PDF (Portable Document Format) files and also uses OCR to search text in the messages. In short, it can be said that Evernote helps in storing as well as locating specific data.
By taking help of these tech tools, a real estate agent/professional can manage his/her business in a better way, thus increasing the chances of maximizing his/her profit.
Whats on your list of top tech tools?
November 16, 2010
December 1 is the date for the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation’s hearing for a proposal that’s been drawn up by a Beacon Hill parents’ group to build a privately financed playground to the tune of $1.5 million to be located near the Hatch Memorial Shell on the Charles River Esplanade.
The parents’ group, also known as the Friends of Esplanade Playspace, claims that the current playgrounds around the river are geared more for children under the age of 5, and the large amount of neighborhood grade-school aged children need something more suited to their age, the Boston Globe reported this morning.
The plan calls for a 10,000 square foot space that will be designed for children ages 5 to 12, featuring climbing “rocks”, nets, a jungle gym, slides and swings. The location is slated to be riverside very near to the Esplanade Cafe, and not far from the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge that crosses Storrow Drive.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owns and maintains the Esplanade, is backing the project as is Mayor Thomas M Menino. The hope is that it’s completed by the Summer of 2011.
November 16, 2010
In an inbound marketing culture where there is a strong emphasis on the regular creation of fresh, original content, it’s easy to overlook the potential of evergreen content.
Taking advantage of evergreen content, or content you previously published, can have a number of benefits. Due to the fact that you put a lot of thought, time, and effort into your content, it only makes sense to re-purpose it.
Evergreen content may not be fresh, but it can still attract visitors to your website and generate leads for your business. We’ve discussed the basics of promoting evergreen content in social media before, so here are some tips for using landing pages and marketing analytics to derive more value from your evergreen content.
Create Landing Pages
When we talk about evergreen content, we’re referring to anything from blog articles to webinars to ebooks and whitepapers. In terms of the latter three, hopefully you created unique landing pages for each of the webinars/ebooks/whitepapers you initially produced to collect sign-ups and generate leads.
To continue generating leads from past webinars, create new landing pages so people can sign up to receive an archived webinar recording if they missed the live presentation. Creating new landing pages will also enable you to track leads generated from the archive separately from leads generated from the live webinar. While some marketers have historically paid agencies and waited for their IT departments to create their landing pages, using a tool like HubSpots inbound marketing software can help make creating new landing pages simple and cost-effective, allowing even non-technical marketers and website owners to easily create as many landing pages as needed to convert more visitors into leads.
Use Marketing Analytics
When promoting evergreen content in social media or when linking to it in other content (e.g. new blog articles), you want to make sure you’re promoting the best of your older content. It’s likely content that performed well when it was first published will also perform well when promoted again.
Monitoring and tracking analytics is a great way to help you to strategically and intelligently pinpoint which of your evergreen content should be used in promotion. For evergreen blog articles, the metric that is the best indicator of an article’s success is page views. Tools such as HubSpot’s Blog Analytics Dashboard, which indicates page views per article and allows you to sort articles by the most page views, comments, inbound links, and by date published or author, can offer helpful data about past articles’ success.
In a similar fashion, to ensure you’re promoting your best offer content (e.g. ebooks, webinars, whitepapers), analytics can also help you identify which of your evergreen content offers generated the most leads in the past, indicating the likelihood they will perform well when promoted again. HubSpot’s Landing Page Dashboard provides analytics and lets you sort by such metrics as conversion rate to help identify which of your offers were most successful. Analytics can also be helpful to measure the success of your evergreen content promotion by tracking how well the new landing pages you’ve created for such offers like archived webinars are performing.
Analyze Traffic Sources
Want to know if your evergreen content promotion efforts are generating results? Track the amount of social media traffic coming to your blog since you started promoting evergreen content in social media. HubSpot’s Sources tool allows you to segment traffic based on its sources like social media or direct traffic. Do you notice a spike in social media traffic sources since you started incorporating evergreen promotion?
Download the free webinar to learn how to create a thriving blog.
Posted by Pamela Seiple on Mon, Nov 15, 2010 @ 07:00 AM
November 16, 2010
The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.
Quick Pitch: Lot18 is a membership-by-invitation website for wine and epicurean products from coveted producers at attractive discounts.
Genius Idea: Online private sales are big business these days. It all began with fashion sites, like Gilt Groupe, Rue La La and ideeli, quickly followed by sites that specialized in home products, like One Kings Lane, SnappyTuna and Bulx. You can find even more specialized private sale sites for travel, restaurants, and now, with the introduction of Lot18, wine.
For wine enthusiasts, this is an obvious win, as Lot18 members have access to fine wines (and eventually, specialty foods) made in small quantities and sold at great prices.
For wine producers, its also a win, though. Wineries often struggle to generate brand awareness among potential customers who have not heard of or tasted their wines. An online presence, via a website or social platforms, can help, but even then, engagement is difficult. The Lot18 team personally sources and reviews each wine that is presented as a deal, and the wineries manage the sales and shipping processes. This model ensures quality wines, as the Lot18 team is well-versed in viticulture and enology, and enables wineries to reach new markets.
Founded by Philip James, founder of the worlds largest wine site, Snooth.com, and Kevin Fortuna, a veteran technology entrepreneur, Lot18 completed a $3 million Series A round of funding last week, led by FirstMark Capital, a New York City-based venture capital firm. The round also included returning investors and angels from top companies such as Quigo, Time Inc., AOL, Ziff Davis, Bankrate and Experian, and follows a $500,000 seed round closed earlier this year.
Founder Philip James said of the startup:
We want to fix the way wine is sold in the U.S. The winemaker is the rockstar, but few people are lucky enough to go visit the winery and experience that. Instead wine is sold like its a commodity. We want to change that, to bring the story behind the wine to the consumer, at the time of purchase.
If youre itching to test out the service, weve got 500 invites to dish out, courtesy of Lot18 sign up here.
Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark
The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/rUBGMR1swc8/
November 16, 2010
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/pq2tgP-Elp4/