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Archive for March, 2010

Do your friends on Facebook post where they have checked in about town? You see when they are at Starbucks or when they’ve checked into their gym.

If your business has a retail store, you can set your business up to be geolocation-ready. Check out this article on Open Forum.

Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2010 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

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Understanding how your customers found out about you can help you improve your marketing efforts. If for example you find that most of your customers are coming from word-of-mouth on Facebook and none come from the print ad you pay for in your local paper, then you’ve learned something that can save you money. And you can focus more of your efforts on what does work to increase your sales.

Tracking this is as simple as asking your customers how they found out about you. Keep a tally of what you find out. Keep it in a notebook or use an excel spreadsheet.

You can make it even easier by using a software program like CustomerCradle that allows you to record what your customers tell you in seconds.

I am currently offering three free licenses for the CustomerCradle software. To find out how you can win one of these licenses, click here.

Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2010 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

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When I started my business, the idea of a mentor meant to me a single person who would take me under their wing and tell me how to run my business. Someone who was in the same industry as me but had at least another decade of experience above me. What a great thought to have a sort of savior that would show me the way.

At the same time, something about that ideal didn’t exactly feel right. In reality, I’m not sure I really like the idea of a single person telling me how they think I should do things.

But then I realized something recently. Through my local entreprenuer groups and my online entrepreneur groups, I am surrounded by multiple mentors these days. This network of people whether they are in the town next door or on one of the multitude of online groups I belong to–collectively they serve as mentors–each with their own expertise.

We answer questions, we cheer each other on, we even form business partnerships. Some of us have more experience than others, some of us have a particular expertise we lack, some of us are just great at helping us remember the bigger picture.

What network have you formed for your business? Check out the list below for connecting with other businesses online. But also look locally for groups through your Chamber of Commerce, through meetup.com or bni.com. There are also numerous groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

  • Bank of America® Small Business Online Community.
  • Biznick
  • Entrepreneur® Connect™
  • Intuit Small Business Community
  • Microsoft® Office Live Small Business
  • Sta.rtup
  • And a special shout out to my local mompreneur groups. Your support, direction and advice have been invaluable!

    Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2010 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

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    Trying to figure out which social media to focus on to market your business? Check out the CMO’s Guide to The Social Landscape–an easy to scan chart of the good, the ok and the bad. (via Daily Bloggr)

    Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2010 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

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    The Importance of Tracking
    Understanding how customers come to find out about your business is one of the numerous marketing tactics I talk about in my Low Cost Advertising tutorial. Information is power and this information can help make your marketing more effective and cost-efficient.

    Do people find out about you more from the newspaper ads you run, or word-of-mouth or your Facebook fan page? Once you know, you can decide if you should stop running ads or pump up your word-of-mouth campaigns or make your fan page more interactive…just to name a few.

    How to Track
    There are countless options on how to track this information from simple spreadsheets to full-blown customer relationship management (CRM) software programs. Act! by Sage, InfusionSoft and NetSuite(R) are among several options I mention in my Low Cost Advertising tutorial.

    But what if you don’t need a full-blown CRM software program? Maybe you only want to track where customers come from. And you want something that’s easier then having to set up a spreadsheet and provides instant reports. Oh and don’t forget who has time for this anyways?

    Well Customer Cradle has developed a software program that takes literally seconds to use. It’s a tool that allows small businesses to easily record and report on where their customers come from.

    But don’t let it’s simplicity fool you. You can add your own marketing campaigns to track. And you can track not just volume of customers but the quality of them.

    In the spirit of full disclosure (and now a requirement…see my prior post on testimonials), Customer Cradle sent me my own free license to try out their software. I’ve given it a whirl and it’s just as easy as their web site says. I think it’s worth your time to check out as well. Costs start at $95.

    Learn more about them at: http://www.customercradle.com.

    Win FREE Customer Tracking Software
    Customer Cradle has also kindly given me three licenses to give out. So here’s your chance to increase your marketing effectiveness…and do it for free.

    Submit a comment to this post describing your business’s top low cost, or free, marketing tactic.

    Details count! I will be judging the winners based upon three things:

  • You submit a quality marketing idea that have proven to be successful for your business. Bonus points for information on your costs to implement and how much it has increased business for you (for instance how many sales you get out).
  • The marketing idea you provide should include enough information so that others can understand the idea and try it themselves.
  • You include your contact email. Otherwise, I can’t make sure I send the license key to the proper winners.
  • I’ll announce the winners on my blog at the end of the month (March 31).

    Even if you don’t win, you’ll still benefit from all the comments posted…so be sure to check back often. And tell your other business friends too!

    Happy marketing!

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    When designing, or updating, your business’s web site, choose colors that your target audience is attracted to and will draw them in to spend some time on your site. Georgia O’Keeffe once said: “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way–things I had no words for.”

    To help you make great color choices, you can look online to various web sites that track color trends. Do a search for “color trends 2010.”

    Fashion Color Trends pulls together color choices from numerous sources. Click here to check them out.

    Kate Smith maintains a collection of 2010 color trends. Click here to view.

    Pantone is the world-renowned authority on color. Their 2010 color of the year is turquoise. But not just any turquoise: specifically, Pantone 15-5519. Click here to learn more.

    Even if your site is has a more traditional focus, that doesn’t mean you should hold on to outdated colors. Look for traditional color combinations that are current.

    Even subtle color changes can make the difference between looking like a common, boring web site and one that is fresh, new and inviting.

    How well do the colors on your site speak to your target audience?

    Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2010 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

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    Take a tip from the luxury market to improve your small business marketing.

    In the luxury market, consumers have become increasingly value-driven. They are willing to spend well but in return they expect superior service, intelligent communication and sophisticated, one-to-one marketing. They are paying for individual attention.

    We all know that individual attention to our customers is beneficial for business. We’ve heard the stories, and some of us have done it ourselves, to provide handwritten thank you notes to customers or gone the extra mile to get them that order on time. But it will become increasingly more important to make these attempts part of everyday business life in order to hold onto our clients and stay ahead of the competition.

    When was the last time you reviewed your marketing plan? Or is it time to get one started? Check out my downloadable tutorial called Low Cost Advertising to get quality advice you can put into action.

    Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2010 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

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