10 Easy Small Business Marketing Tips for Increased Visibility

Social-media-image-for-blogMarketing your small business can seem like a daunting task, and sometimes we just need a little guidance to set things in motion. Here are some tips that you can easily implement into your monthly routine to ensure that your brand is communicating properly with your target audience.  Follow these steps and you will be on your way to better engaging your audience and achieving better success!

1) Be personal and authentic in your communication – With social media at the forefront of marketing and communications today, it is imperative that you communicate on a personal level. People are more inclined to participate with your brand if they know there is a real live person behind the brand identity who cares about them. Newsletters are more appreciated if they’re written from a personal perspective, addressing the individual with expert advice that can help the audience reach their goals.

2) Leverage your Network – your friends, colleagues and social network are your biggest asset. Ask for referrals and testimonials from people you know or have done great work for. We are more likely to purchase a product if our friends have had a great experience with it. Create a “Friend Referral Program” or provide other incentives — like deals, discounts and rewards on your services – when people say good things about your company. Doing this consistently will greatly expand your network reach to a genuinely interested audience.

3) Google rankings – As we all know, getting to the top of Google can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. Have no fear: there are lots of ways to build your search engine rankings without blowing your budget. Our number one recommendations? Put your business on Google maps: this is a great way to get to the top of the list! Generate quality content that your target audience can learn from or be entertained by. Being consistently active on Twitter and Google Plus are fun, easy ways to increase your Google ranking, while adding shareable links to your Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest posts drive traffic to your website or blog. Today, the best way to rise to the top in search is to consistently produce content that is relevant (use your keywords here) and shareable.

4) Create your own TIPS – People like tips! A quick, fun list is a great way to provide useful information to your audience. If you want to kick it up a notch, create a video for them! Video is a great way to show the face behind the brand, creating an indelible personal connection.

5) Photos are king – People love to share inspirational, sarcastic and funny photos. Join the trend by putting together some current text and quotes that appeal to your crowd and the type of people you think would appreciate it. This is a great way to access your fans’ network without being “markety.” People will see who created the image and share it via the original source (you), creating brand visibility and adding a few likes along the way. Plus, you’ll probably make someone’s day!

6) Collaborate with the competition – Working with other like-minded business owners can help promote new ideas and products. Because your audience already exists on social media – and so does theirs – collaborating is a natural and friendly way to seek out social media users who are interested in learning more about the products or lifestyle you offer.

7) Create contest giveaways – People love to win things! Especially if those things are highly valuable, unusual or difficult to acquire. Make sure what you’re giving away is a conversation starter, something that people want to tell others about. Use Facebook ads to further promote your contest, as the ads employ a targeted tagging system to ensure you’re reaching the right people.

8) Knowledge is power – Know your audience and your competition. Follow the old corporate adage: don’t try to be something for everyone, aim to be everything to someone. Before you jump in the deep end, learn to understand whom it is you’re communicating to and what value your product or service can add to their lives.
To do: create online polls using Survey Monkey, pay attention to Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, and most importantly, listen carefully to responses. Offer an incentive for participating, like a free coffee or a gift card from Tim Horton’s. Speaking of listening, keep your ears open to what the competition is doing. Be bold and willing to stand out and strategize over the long-term!

9) Partner with a charitable organization – Choose a cause you love and partner up with an organization whose mission is similar to yours. Get your staff and team out there helping out with a soup kitchen, throw an event and split the proceeds, or host an auction. You’re already a good Samaritan, so why not share your social consciousness with others? This alone helps your brand stand out and become a valued part of your community.

10) Capture information – Almost every message you put out there should come with a call to action. Add a newsletter sign-up form to your website, make a database of loyal clientele, and reach out to them on a regular basis. Offering incentives – “Sign up to our newsletter and receive 10 tips to…” or “Share this contest for more chances to WIN..” – is the strongest way to get your audience to participate, and it lets you find out what works for different segments of your market niche. Show them that you are grateful: a simple reward goes a long way.


The above article is a guest post by Sari Gabbay, founder, president and visionary at U2R1, a branding, design and marketing agency. To submit your own blog post or article for consideration, learn more here.

Tips for Growing Your Small Business with Digital Marketing and Social Media

Wrapping up another great year, AnyMeeting closed out its popular “Small Business Toolkit” webinar series for 2012 with its last guest webinar from Chris Bechtel, director of marketing for AnyMeeting.  A 15 year digital marketing veteran, we would like to thank Chris for presenting “Tips for Growing Your Small Business with Digital Marketing and Social Media.”

We’d also like to thank the more than 400 registrants and attendees who participated with great questions and comments. Chris’s webinar provided a fast-paced, interactive webinar that introduced smart and effective strategies for growing a small business through digital marketing and social media. If you were not able to attend live and would like to view the recording, just click: Recorded Webinar to Grow your Small Business.

UpComing Webinar: Tips for Growing Your Small Business with Digital Marketing and Social Media

How valuable would it be to learn about the latest, smartest and most effective strategies for growing your small business through digital marketing and social media?  Small businesses have more ways to communicate and engage with customers than ever before.  Everything including mobile, Facebook and blogging is “fair game” for businesses to use to reach their customers – and customers can talk back!

Join us Wednesday, December 5th at 11 am PT for the next free webinar of our “Small Business Toolkit webinar series, and get answers to these and many other problematic and promising issues in small business marketing.  Our own Chris Bechtel, Director of Marketing for AnyMeeting, will lead a fast-paced, interactive webinar that will address a wide range of critical small business marketing issues and help bring your strategy up-to-date.  Chris is a 15 year digital marketing veteran, consultant and growth hacker.

Only 200 spots are available – so sign up today.  Make sure you log into the webinar early – attendance is on a first-come, first-served basis.  A recording of the webinar will also be made available for all those who register.

5 Visual Ways to Increase Lead Generation Effectiveness

 Image source: Redbrand Media

It can be difficult to get your company to break through the clutter of content that invades social media every day and boost lead generation.  Social media is becoming increasingly visual, requiring you to go beyond text in order to get your message across.  With this in mind, here are five visual ways to help generate leads for your business and increase the effectiveness of your social media efforts.

  1. Pictures – A picture is worth a thousand words.  We’ve heard this phrase over and over again, but there’s no denying its validity.  Pictures provide a lot of information immediately and have become a big part of social media.  A recent article in Fast Company by Intel’s social media strategist Ekaterina Walter, points to a 2012 study by ROI Research, which found that “44 percent of respondents were more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than with any other media.”
  2. Infographics – Visual graphs provide immediate information that is easy to interpret.  Social media experts like Jeff Bullas and lead generation experts like Matt Ford often use such graphs in their blogs to clearly illustrate their point.  In the past, it was hard to create infographics unless you had a graphic designer on staff.  Today it’s much easier.  In a PC World article earlier this year, Angela West describes how to get started and the tools you will need to create effective infographics that get the attention of your perspective leads. “By combining images with data, infographics get much more mileage than text or graphics alone.”
  3. Company Website – Your website is perhaps the most important aspect of your company’s social media outreach.  The website is the first place people go to when looking for information about your company, so it must grab the attention of your target audience and encourage engagement immediately upon entry.  With this in mind, choosing the right images is essential when building your website.  Designer and writer Andrew Beck sums it up nicely in The ROI Factor, “A well-constructed image will be infinitely more effective than any description a copywriter can add.”
  4. YouTube – Where do the masses go when they want to watch the latest video?  That’s right, YouTube.  A YouTube video is a great way to not only capture the attention of your target audience it can capture the attention of everyone. YouTube videos can get played over and over again, and even go viral, bringing that much more exposure to your company’s story.  According to an article by Melanie Perk on ViralAdNetwork.com, “YouTube can be one of the most effective and inexpensive ways of generating traffic for to your website.”
  5. Webinar – A webinar is a great way to get your message out to the masses, and there are a variety of ways to use a webinar platform (like AnyMeeting) to increase your company’s visibility.  Webinars provide a forum for you to show and discuss your product or service to a large audience (in multiple geographic locations), live, in real-time.  Attendees can also participate with questions and comments.  Webinars can also be recorded, so those who are not able to attend your presentation can still see and hear your story.  Also, “webinars get linked to more often,” according to Matt Anderson, a marketing expert who contributes to MojoMediaLabs, “the more backlinks you have, the more authoritative your site is.”

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so use visual components to your advantage.  Social media provides a terrific outlet to get the word out about your company and its innovative product.  Using visual components as part of your company’s social media strategy can help you rise above the clutter and quickly grab your target audience.

How to Host a Social Media Contest to Build Links to Your Site

Social Media
Social Media

By Jamie Highland, MyBabyShowerFavors.com

A contest taking place in social media can be the perfect way to increase the popularity of your website and to bring up the number of high quality links that you have.

Social media provides so many marketing opportunities that it is difficult to list everything in detail. A contest may be the perfect way to increase your traffic and to get quality links to your website.

Holding a fun and successful social media contest is an easy task, as long as you do your homework in advance. Getting prepared and knowing how to carry out the campaign is essential for its success.

Determine Your Goals

Before you plan anything else, you should have an idea about the goal of your social media campaign.

Do you want to get high quality links to your website only? Are you also looking forward to increased brand recognition and a bigger loyal audience? Your goals will show you which strategy will be the most efficient.

Deciding on the goals will also give you an idea about the best social network for the needs of your campaign. A video contest on YouTube may be a good option but you will probably see better results from hosting a competition on another social network. Take the time to come up with a strategy to make the entire process easier.

Stimulate Game Participants to Link

A YouTube video contest is the perfect way to get links to your website. Still, many other options are possible.

A Facebook photo contest or a game that makes people share content with their friends may be even better. It has to be catchy, it has to be fun and it needs to provide the right kind of stimulus for people to take part in the game.

If it looks like a mere promotional attempt that is 100 percent product or company targeted, you will be losing some of the potential participants before the game even starts. Internet users today are very used to marketing methods and they will ignore you if you try to fool them.

Here is an example of a good campaign. You can have a quiz carried out in a popular social network of your preference. Once the quiz is completed, you can provide participants with additional information for each question that is coming from your website.

This strategy works because people will be learning something new and interesting. At the same time, you will be increasing brand awareness and creating high quality links to your own content.

Provide Game Participants with the Right Award

People will be stimulated to participate in your game only if you provide them with the right kind of stimulus. There needs to be an award of some kind. If you are asking people to help you, you definitely need to be giving something in return.

Choose an award that is somehow connected to your business. It does not have to be something overly expensive but try to refrain from being cheap. The campaign is carried out a single time and you can afford several nice and fun gifts.

While the game is taking place, you should be monitoring and analyzing results. If anything appears to be inefficient, you need to be ready to do changes on the spot. This is one of the biggest advantages of internet – you can change a campaign element, as soon as you notice that it is producing mediocre results.

Let User Votes Influence the Winner

Create a page for each contest finalist and share the pages through social media. Mention that users can vote for their favorite entry and the entry with the most votes wins. If voting is only one of the criteria, then mention other factors that will determine the winner.

Allowing voting will generate natural links to those pages on your site as participants will be spreading the link around so that they get more votes. Other sites like contest blogs will also link to your site on their own.


Editor’s Note: This article is brought to you by AnyMeeting, the completely free web conferencing and webinar service. Use AnyMeeting for your next online meeting.


Top 6 Social Media Platforms for Entrepreneurs

Social Media
Social Media

By Anna Brown, Vendio Free Online Store

‘Social Media’ has been the hot buzz-word of the past couple of years, and it shows no sign of slowing down. The truth of the matter is, in a fast-paced world full of electronic communication, a blog or Facebook page is the new second storefront. You have to make yourself known, draw customers in, and create relationships all in a virtual world. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the old adage of ‘Location, location, location!’ Being in the right place in the right way is essential to attracting customers and growing your business.

Below we’ve listed some resources you should be sure to take advantage of – including some you’ve likely never heard of. There are ways to connect with customers, but also ways to network and connect with other business owners so you can network, ask questions, and get engagement.

To connect with customers:

1. Facebook This is the mega-mall of the internet. Almost everyone is here; customers and businesses alike, and you can easily put up a brand page for free and begin communicating with potential customers. The key to leveraging Facebook properly is communication. This isn’t a TV advertisement; it’s a virtual relationship and that makes a big difference in your strategy. If done correctly, you can build a huge and loyal following here.
2. Google+ The newborn competitor to Facebook, Google+ is growing rapidly and now allows brand pages. To make a splash here, get in early and set up an authentic, clearly branded page that allows Google+ users to see who you are and what your product is. The advantage is that Google+ isn’t yet as saturated as Facebook, so it’s much easier to get noticed.
3. HootSuite You may not have heard of this one, but it’s a gem of a resource. As you manage your social media presence, it’s important to know what’s happening across multiple platforms. HootSuite allows you manage your profiles, schedule tweets and messages, analyze your traffic, and track mentions of your brand. An all-in-one dashboard, it will make managing social media much less hectic.

To connect with fellow entrepreneurs:

1. Dreamstake A networking site with over 4,000 members, Dreamstake describes itself as “a business accelerator” and helps small business owners build strategy, business plans, and find funding. There are many groups, forums, and events that you can participate in to connect, learn, and grow your business.
2. LinkedIn A well-known professional networking site, LinkedIn has an extensive profile page and is a great resource for connecting with others in your industry or area of interest. You can join groups that fit your business or needs, which will allow you to get to know others, provide suggestions, and work out resources or referrals.
3. Twitter No list is complete without mentioning Twitter. Although the message length is small, this actually benefits you because you have to get down to the basics of your message. You can track your industry, find out what others are doing, find potential clients, and even follow your competition! This one is often a cross breed of building relationships with fellow entrepreneurs and customers. Depending on your industry, your customers could be spending time on this social network as well.

The social media world can be very overwhelming. The key is to focus on just a few platforms to start with, and then build and branch out from there. No business starts by opening 100 stores, so don’t feel like you need to be on every platform right away. Like all good businesses, you will grow and gain followers over time. Just relax and have fun with it!


Editor’s Note: This article is brought to you by AnyMeeting, the completely free web conferencing and webinar service. Use AnyMeeting for your next online meeting.


3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Autopost Your Tweets to Facebook

Social Media
Social Media







By Anita Hovey, Twirp Communications


In every workshop or presentation I give around Halifax I always tell people NOT to auto-post their tweets to Facebook or vice versa. It’s a great time-saver, of course, so people are always miffed to learn that they are sacrificing engagement for time. Here are three quick reasons why you shouldn’t auto-post your tweets to Facebook.

Twitter and Facebook audiences are very different
While there may be some cross over between your fans on each platform, for the most part they are probably two very different audiences. People tend to gravitate to one platform or the other (except those absurd social media geeks like yours truly who use every platform available). On Facebook your readers are looking for more detail, not just witty little one-liners. Tweets post with much greater frequency as well and that might just turn off your Fans to the point of un-liking your page.

Hashtags don’t tranlate into Facebook
People will choose to follow you on their social network of choice. If they follow you on Facebook, they don’t want to feel like Facebook is second fiddle to Twitter. If Twitter is your main social network you probably use a lot of TwitSpeak and hashtags. Your fans and friends on Facebook don’t want to see that. If they did, they would join you on Twitter. Along with hashtags, tagging profiles doesn’t translate into Facebook. So, when you tag another Twitter user in your tweet, that link won’t come through and magically link to their Facebook page. Instead it’s a big, honking red flag that says “I’m not really here and I don’t really care about my fans on Facebook.”

Your tweets cannot be shared
The other day I read a post about an event happening here in Halifax that I wanted to share with my friends & fans on Facebook, but because it was auto-posted from Twitter, there was no “share” option. I could copy and paste the post into my status, but I would have lost the attribution that way and I would have to tag the company page that originally posted. It is possible to do, but certainly not efficient or easy for your friends and fans.

If you want to save time, try using Hootsuite to cross-post. It will provide a “share” button so your links and comments can be shared easily on Facebook. But you still need to be careful that you don’t “share” Twitspeak and that you treat each audience appropriately.

Editor’s Note:  This article is brought to you by AnyMeeting, the completely free web conferencing and webinar service.  Use AnyMeeting for your next online meeting.

7 Mistakes to Avoid in Social Media

Social Media

By Dawn Papandrea

You’ve probably heard all of the success stories by now. Their message? You need to get on board with social media to grow your business. But for every company that achieves success, there are thousands that aren’t leveraging the power of social media in quite the right way. Here are the top seven things they’re doing wrong, that you want to do right.

1. Boycotting social media

If you’ve avoided setting up a Facebook page or a Twitter profile for your small business, using the excuse that social media is a passing fad, it’s time to join the crowd. These platforms, and others such as Google+, are here to stay (or at least they’re here until the next big thing comes along), and they’re where your customers and clients are spending a lot of time.

2. Expecting immediate results

Sorry, but you can’t assume that once you announce to the world that you’re on Facebook, you’ll triple your sales. Social media is all about brand awareness, engaging your customers, and building a community–and that takes time!

3. Sounding like a commercial

People will lose interest in your stream pretty quickly if you use your pages to promote, promote, promote. Instead, think of what value you can give to your audience. Perhaps it’s a special discount code for your fans or followers, or a tip of the day that’s related to your product or service. Once you become a trusted authority, people will stay connected, and you’ll be top of mind when they’re ready to purchase.

4. Not engaging or responding

If you aren’t actively conversing with your network, you’re wasting your time. Make it a point to answer questions about your business, or address customer service issues, in a timely manner. Even something as simple as sending out a happy birthday message to your users will let them know you care about them.

5. Letting an intern run your social media

Don’t pass the responsibility of your social media efforts off to someone else, unless you’re sure that person is a good representative of your business. While it’s true that social media can take up time, it’s vital that it’s done properly.

6. Being all business, all the time

As relationships develop, it’s great to let your hair down. Let your clients get to know the person behind the brand. For example, many companies on Twitter make it a point to use an employee’s photo, instead of the company logo.

7. Not targeting the right people

When you’re starting up your pages, it’s great to add your friends and family, to get your numbers up. Ultimately, though, you want to attract your target market. Do this by letting your customers and clients know that you’re on social sites. Add the links to your email signature and to your business cards. Put up a poster in your storefront. And give people an incentive to connect, by offering something of value, like a contest or coupon.

By avoiding these social media mistakes, you’ll reach more new people, and strengthen relationships with your existing customers. And those are results that you’re sure to “like.”

What My First Social Media Webinar Taught Me

Computer Girl
Your first webinar can be scary, but you'll get the hang of it

By Anita Hovey, Twirp Communications


My first webinar on anymeeting.com was interesting for so many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that I was having a conversation with people I had known in cyber space for years. I offered a free webinar about Facebook features and tactics to my e-friends from the papercrafting community as a means for me to test out the anymeeting.com platform. I was scared to schedule a “real” webinar until I had done a test run and the papercrafting community has given me so much, this seemed like perfect way for me to give back a little something. Here are some observations from my first webinar.

Talking to Yourself
It’s really hard to concentrate on what you’re saying when you’re staring yourself in the face…and that face is time-lapsed just a tiny bit. Once you get moving and get on to the slidehow or screen-sharing portion of the webinar it’s much easier. At first I put the screen share up, but I quickly realized that sometimes the screen share just isn’t that interesting. You have to remember to come back to your face when there’s really nothing happening on the screen. I tried to switch back to my “talking head” during long explanations so at least the audience would have something dynamic to look at. After a little while the switching back and forth became intuitive and I learned to look at other parts of the screen when my face was on-screen.

Talking to an Invisible Audience
It’s really hard to talk to yourself for two whole hours when there are no faces looking back at you. Because this was a free webinar I opted for chat only and I didn’t enable any voice inputs. I missed the instant interaction I was used to with in-person workshops because:

  1. You can’t tell if they’re awake.
  2. You can’t tell if they’re listening.
  3. You can’t even tell if they’re still in the room!

To overcome this, when I asked a question I would simply wait for the answers to pop up in chat–it didn’t take very long–and then I would continue. At this point I would always make sure the screen was showing me reading or waiting, so the audience knew I was still there and not “timed out” or something like that.

Ummm, Errr, Ahhhh
I still say “um” a LOT. I don’t know if the participants noticed it, but I sure did. Years ago when I was on the public speaking team in high school my English teacher worked really hard to get me to the point where I didn’t do that. Now it’s back and I’m disgusted by it. I always notice it in other people, so it really bugs me when I catch myself doing it. Better preparation will prevent that next time.

Doing the Necessary
Sometimes you just have to do something…it can’t wait! I was scared to death to touch my nose when it got itchy because I didn’t want anyone thinking I was doing anything gross. You can always pull up a screen shot at that point, I guess, but I didn’t think of that in time.

Overall, my first webinar went very well. The participants learned a lot and so did I. Another win-win.

Have you given a webinar? What was your experience like? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Five Apps to Help You Manage Twitter

Tame the bird

By Anita Hovey, Twirp Communications



Twitter…you either love it…or you’re indifferent. I have yet to hear of someone who is actually using it a decent amount and hates it. Businesses of all sizes and across all industries are using Twitter to reach new customers, build relationships with loyal customers, create new customer experiences and increase brand awareness. As far as social media goes, Twitter has a lot to offer. It can be a lot of work to get a handle on it though. Here are my five favorite Twitter helpers.

1Mr. Unfollower is a great little Twitter account. All you have to do is follow @unfollowr from your Twitter account and follow the directions you receive. Each week you will get a digest of all the accounts that have unfollowed you. I like it as a means to see if I’m still interesting to people. I check to see that nobody I am REALLY connected to has unfollowed me becuase that would mean I did something really wrong probably. Most of the time it is businesses who are looking for a follow-back and are out of my area. A lot of the accounts are suspended users, meaning they were probably bots or spammers. I don’t worry about who’s in the list too much, but it’s nice to know I hardly ever lose a real friend.

2. Tweriod will analyse your Twitter account and tell you the best times to tweet based on when most of your followers are online. You can get a free Tweriod analysis once a month and there are paid upgrades available. This is useful for everyone, but especially for businesses who want to tweet out today’s specials. You want to hit as many followers as possible to spread the word. Once you’ve got your Tweriod analysis, you’ll want to check out my next tool.

3. Buffer helps you spread out your content-based tweets so they are posted at optimal times. A quick set up tells Buffer when you prefer to tweet (perhaps based on your Tweriod analysis) and then you simply add your tweets and RTs to your Buffer queue from a button in your browser bar. I don’t use this nearly as much as I could, but it is a great program. They are unveiling Buffer for Facebook soon, too.

4. Twilert is like Google Alerts for Twitter. Get e-mail digests about what is happening on Twitter for keywords, competitor accounts, events, or anything else you can search for on Twitter.

5. Manage Flitter is my most recent discovery, ironically thanks to Facebook guru Mari Smith. This app helps you organize and clean up your Twitter account by looking at who is not following you back. Let me be clear…I do not follow everyone back and I do not expect everyone to follow me back. Manage Flitter is easy to use to find inactive accounts. You can simply unfollow everyone, but that’s not how I use the program. I find Manage Flitter much more user friendly than some of its competitors and everything I need from it is free.

Are there other fabulous Twitter apps out there? Let us know in the comments.