technology

Innovative Small Business Uses Drone Technology

Innovative Business Uses Drone Technology To Service Customers.

Technology and Small Business.

This legitimately blew our minds! We had heard about Amazon delivering via drone, but to witness such a concept in action – and for a small business no less!

The clip above shows the basics behind it. This ice fishing resort takes the call from the customers out on the frozen lake. The fisherman give him their coordinates, he punches them in and then loads up the case of beer on the drone. The drone then delivers the beer to the door of their shack.

Out of the box and incredible really. It begs the question of all of us: “Are we harnessing today’s tech to our advantage? and if not, how can we?”.

We aren’t saying that a drone is the right fit for everyone (and we would be interested to know the upfront and long-term maintenance costs) but this clip does demonstrate the potential behind tech, innovation and imagination.

Tech is moving more quickly than ever how can we use it to our benefit?

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Small Business Sales: Equipping Customers to Find Your Business

Finding-Customers-Small-Business

Finding Small Business Customers.

You finally did it, struck out on your own. You went from “wantrepreneur” to small business owner. You have the products and services, the passion and maybe even some sort of budget!

Now what?  Time to succeed!

Time to impress consumers, make sales and create a sustainable income. Ok! sooooo…how does one do that? How does one equip their small business for long-term success?

Let’s face it, the key to succeeding in small business is the same as big business.

Sales.

Without sales, there is no revenue and without revenue it can be difficult to pay the bills, much less grow.

There are many differences that separate big business from small. For example how those sales are made, who they are made to and the approach behind them. However the same truth applies: “to make a sale, you must have customers.” So how do you get customers?

Let’s break this down to elementary school basics.

Making a Sale for Dummies:

  1. To make SALES you require CUSTOMERS.
  2. CUSTOMERS are simply CONSUMERS (people shopping) until the sale is made, ergo to start you must find CONSUMERS (people shopping).
  3. To find CONSUMERS, you must make your business accessible, easy to find and easy to connect with.
  4. Once you have connected with a consumer base, you can work on making the sale.

For many small businesses, making the sale is only half the problem, first they need to find and connect with the consumers (potential customers), because “Without someone to sell to, sales can be a little tough.”

The first thing any small business must consider, is HOW to make it easier for consumers to find them. If your business is not easy to find, then that must change immediately.

There are many resources available with which to connect your business to consumers, however the most commonly overlooked (and feared) are the online tools.

Creating A Visible, Accessible Small Business, Online:Small-Business-Website

When determining how to connect and market to a specific body of consumers, we always attempt to place ourselves in the shoes of the people we are attempting to reach. Doing so can give you great insight into who they are, what they are looking for, where they are looking and how they are doing it.

Recently Todd Ebert, CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) for the online marketing firm ReachLocal, was quoted as stating the same thing: Put yourselves in the mindset of the average consumer. Think about how you buy things – and how people might find your products or services. (Source)

There is value in utilizing offline resources like the YellowPages, business directories and print medium, however small businesses must also dedicate resources to building their online presence. It is the era of online research. By default almost every consumer begins their search for products and services with Google.

Online searches provide consumers with all of the results, reviews, recommendations and refusals they could possibly need.

You typically start with a Google search. You look for reviews, informative videos, comments on social media sites and recommendations from friends and family. You visit relevant message boards and online communities to learn about the experiences of other consumers. You try free samples and trials when you can.

How your business places in these results – or whether it even places at all – is directly determined by the amount of effort you put in to your online presence. Yes this effort represents a cost and a sacrifice to you, however it is a necessary one. Newly established small businesses cannot afford to shun the online world.

Knowing where your consumers are looking, and what search results are most prominent, can provide you with the insight as to where to concentrate your efforts.

Okanagan Marketing1. Website:

First and foremost get a GOOD website. If you cannot build one yourself (most cannot) then pay for one. It will be the best investment you ever make.

This is your online home base, the centre of your online presence. All of your other online resources should link back to this. If you have ever heard the term “landing page”, that is what this is referring to. You websites homepage is where the consumer will land with the click of a mouse.

  1. Use this landing page to control the consumers first impression of you.
  2. An effective landing page is built to be clear and easy to navigate.
  3. Ensure it is professional looking.
  4. Avoid clutter and avoid too much immediate information.
  5. Instead create a website with the intention of immediately equipping the consumer base with what they need then and there.
  6. Use your homepage to engage and draw the consumer in (they can get more info on your websites additional pages).
  7. Populate the homepage with clean, easy to understand and aesthetically pleasing content.
  8. Provide easy navigation. When laying out the website, consider WHERE consumers will want to go to from each page.
  9. Ensure tabs to other pages on the website as clearly labelled. When a consumer lands on your homepage, they will quickly need to know where to go next.

2. Social Media:Small-Business-Social-Media

Yes, social media is necessary. Some still struggle with the concept, yet it has become an essential part of any online presence.

  1. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and the vast array of other social sites, play a huge role in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Web Traffic, Page Ranking and Page Results.
  2. Think of it this way. Your website is a dot, a Facebook profile is another dot, a Twitter profile is a third dot. The dot’s alone are tiny, however if you connect each dot with a line, you have a larger triangle. This is how social media effects online presence.
  3. Beyond simple page ranking, these sites offer an unprecedented opportunity to directly engage consumers, giving small business owners one more avenue to find and convert to customers.
  4. Social Media is just that, social. It is an endless conversation between people spanning ages, cultures, societies, demographics and target markets. With 180 million users on Facebook alone, a small business owner would be rather silly not to put the effort in.

For more on the ins and outs of Social Media, consider visiting our following posts, or Google it and see what others are saying.

 

Online Advertising.

Online advertising can be surprisingly cost-effective, however one must take care to ensure they are doing it correctly. Remember that the world wide web is a very VERY big place, and any advertising efforts on the part of small business need to be highly targeted.

The good news is that most avenues for online advertising provide for this. Google Adwords is a great example of intuitive and price competitive online advertising. Other options such as Facebook Ad’s, AdRoll and YellowPages360 also warrant investigation.

It only takes one or two sales and these ad’s are quickly paid for. What is more, they are very easy to set up. Google Adwords will take you by the hand and walk you through the entire process.

Conclusion.

Remember to monitor the results of your online presence. Search online regularly and see what showing up, is it what you want? if not, then take the time to adjust.

Check up and see what people are saying about your business. Read reviews, watch the social media channels. Take all of this information and use it. Use it to adjust, to react and to plan your future strategies.

Will you make some mistakes along the way? YES! It is a process, with a learning curve. Stick with it, take your lumps and learn the process, it will take your business to the next level, instigate business growth and save your business on overhead.

Create an online presence, provide your consumers with a place and the tools to connect with you and you will be on your way to converting consumers to customers, thereby driving sales.

Transition-Marketing-Services

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.

 

Facebook Finesse! Part2: Tabs & How To Customize Them

Facebook, whether you like it or not, is a prominent tool in the Social Marketing business (stock prices notwithstanding). It matters not whether you are Walmart or Waddy’s Burger shack, you likely have a Facebook page for your brand.

In the first part of our “Facebook Finesse” series we discussed “Cover photos” – those lovely banners available with the Facebook timeline platform. We explored how they can be utilized for highest impact, regardless of your brand’s size.

This week, in part two we will discuss Facebook Tab’s and how you can customize them for greater success.

Understanding Facebook Tabs:

This post operates under the assumption that the reader has a basic functioning knowledge of Facebook and its primary settings.

Facebook tabs are those little boxes underneath your Cover photo and to the right of your description (Hint: the first one is always labelled “Photos”).

Facebook tabs are the next in our Facebook Finesse series. Knowing what they are and how to customize them is the next in the series of early profile setup steps.

These tabs are used as a tool of engagement with viewers. The default tabs are typically:

  1. “Photos”
  2. “Likes”
  3. “Map”
  4. “Other”

However this does not need to be the case. These tabs are adjustable and can be customized based on the needs of the brand or business.

In the example above we have customized our tabs to show links which provide a view our Twitter and Pinterest profiles. This  is just a small example of what can be done with these tabs. They can be customized according to each individual client or brands needs.

Displayed VS Hidden Facebook Tabs:

Facebook allows for four main tabs to be displayed prominently below your Cover photo. If you notice, there is a small downward pointing arrow at the right of the row of tabs. Clicking this arrow will drop down a menu to display all other tabs you may have (a total of twelve per page).

The truth is that most viewers will never click this arrow and the four main tabs are the ones which will see the highest traffic. None the less, the tabs are there and can be exploited. Below is an example from Sprite’s fantastic Facebook page:

In the above example, we can see that Sprite has several other tabs available, but that one must click the drop down menu to view them.

For most brands, it will make sense to focus time and effort on the four main tabs. Once those are completely utilized, then start tackling additional tabs.

Important to note is that the first and furthest left tab, labelled “Photos”, is static and must be left as is. There is currently no option to move, change or otherwise do away with this tab. Instead the reader should concentrate on adjusting the next three tabs.

The first tab, labelled “Photos” must remain as is, however it is open season on the rest of the tabs.

In our case we have chosen to display our “Likes“, our “Twitter” link and our “Pinterest” link. As with the Photos tab, the “Likes” tab must be used, however unlike the Photos tab, it does not need to be displayed and can be moved to the drop down menu if desired.

Choosing The Right Facebook Tabs:

We encourage readers to explore some of the free tabs available on Facebook. For instance we are utilizing the  Woobox Twitter tab a free tab that provides viewers a look at our Twitter feed, without leaving Facebook:

By clicking the Woobox tab on our page, viewers are automatically transferred to a mock-up of our Twitter feed. This tab is completely free to download.

Another great tab we utilized is the Pinterest tab again by Woobox. This tab works in the same way as their Twitter tab, in that it transports viewers to a mock-up of our Pinterest page:

As with their Twitter tab. Woobox’s free Pinterest tab allows viewers to see your Pinterest profile without leaving Facebook

For us it made sense to use these tabs. We are establishing a connection and shared presence across these platforms. For the reader, it may make more sense to utilize an Instagram tab, or TabSite’s Contest tab or Google+ tab. There are video tabs, sweepstakes tabs, slide show tabs and more. Explore and see for yourself.

Customizing Facebook Tabs:

On our page we ran with the default images for our chosen tabs, however you can upload your own images for use as the tab picture. In other words, in the example below, the areas where the little Twitter bird and the Pinterest “P” are displayed can be altered to show any image you like. Not only that, you can also change the name of the tab!

To alter what image and text is shown for the tab follow these quick and easy steps:

1. Click the downward arrow at the end of the row of tabs. This will display the drop down menu that includes all of your other tabs.

2. Hover the cursor over the desired tab until the wee pencil icon appears in the top right hand corner, click it to open up the drop down menu and options.

3. Now choose the edit settings option from the drop down menu. To display the tab settings menu.

4. In the pop-up menu that appears, choose to: Remove the tab, change the image, or change the name. When done, click *save*.

When changing the tab display there are a few things to keep in mind to maximize the display quality:

  1. When Changing Tab Name: Keep in mind that when changing the tab name, one should keep it short to avoid it spilling into a second line when displayed.
  2. When Changing Tab Image: The image should not be larger than 111 x 74 pixels and of course, in CMYK.

That sums up part two of our look at Facebook. We hope the information is found useful and encourage our readers to set aside some time to dabble with their page. Have fun!

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

WordPress Finesse! Part 1: Taglines

WordPress is a terrific tool for businesses of all sizes, shapes and colours. Whether you are simply hosting a blog, or utilizing it as a website, the profiles available on WP are highly versatile.

We ourselves enjoy parousing the wide variety of articles, writing styles and perspectives available. In our WordPress travels, however, we have noticed that many users are not utilizing all of the tools and resources available.

For instance, did you know that the little bit of text below your blog title that says “just another WordPress site”  can be adjusted to say whatever you wish (in our case we chose “Our Place For Discussing Small Business Marketing & Branding”).

Here is how to do it:

1. Starting at the home screen when you first log in.

2. In the top right hand corner, hover over your NAME  (in our case “Ben”) until the drop down menu appears.

3. On the FIRST drop down menu, click the BOTTOM OPTION, which should also be your blog title (in our case “Transition Marketing”).

4. You should now be on the MAIN READER screen for your blog. Now go to the top left hand corner and hover over your BLOG NAME (in our case Transition Marketing).

5. On the drop down menu click on “CUSTOMIZE”.

6. This will bring you to your “PROFILE OPTIONS” menu.

7. Click on the “SITE TITLE & TAGLINE” option.

8. On the second line you can now adjust your “TAGLINE” from “Just another wordpress site” to something far spiffier.

Very easy to do, while you are here experiment with some of the other options. Adjust your colours, your profile format and even your navigation. Play with it until you find something you like and that you feel will appeal to readers.

Above all else remember to have fun, and blog with care.

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

Small Business: Partnering For Success

Partnering For Success.

One key concept we attempt to convey, both to our clients, and to the public: “Small Business Relationships are Key to Success”. Relationships with your consumer base and relationships with the local small business community. Both are intrinsic to business growth and brand development.

Developing Business to Business partnerships can make the difference in overcoming obstacles.

Business to Business (B2B) Partnerships

Developing partnerships with local suppliers, retailers and even competitors can be profitable for the small business owner. Relationships help us to overcome hiccups. They create goodwill and understanding. By taking the time to create these relationships, one positions their business and brand more positively in the eyes of the surrounding market.

By developing mutually beneficial relationships with surrounding local businesses, the small business owner creates a community in which he or she can thrive.

Relationships help foster partnerships. Partnerships take your business and brand to the next level. For example, partnering with suppliers can help a business to develop programs for more accurate inventory management (FIFO, reduced inventory, faster turn-around). These programs can reduce costs for both parties, thereby increasing profitability.

Partnerships can take on a myriad of different forms based on your business and your partners. As an example, we recently teamed up with a local web-host to offer a special promotion to our local small business community: A contest with a free customized website awarded as top prize.The contest is based solely on meeting the local business owners and it offers an ideal segway into further conversations, a relational stepping stone.

The website is in itself, a great prize, however we took it one step further. By partnering with this web-host, we were able to also offer free registration, and a year of free hosting. This partnership wins on three levels:

  • For any small business on a budget, this is high value prize. A little good will spread into the community.
  • This creates a deeper partnership with our web-host. Providing them with the opportunity to grow and promote their business at minimal risk.
  • Most importantly (to us) a dialogue is developed with the local business community.

The areas for partnership are there for any small business, they just need to be explored.

Business to Consumer (or Customer). Developing relationships gains repeat business. Image source: designzzz.com

Business To Customer (B2C) Relationships.

In many aspects the marketplace is changing. In order to communicate the social necessities for brand success, terms like B2C are making a come back . B2C is all about business to customer communications – relationships essentially. It is the means by which a business supplies goods, services and brand information directly to its consumers.

This term became far more frequent with the advent of online business – during the height of the .com period. It fell into obsolescence when that bubble burst, but has been making a comeback recently – more specifically since the initiation of what we now know as Web 2.0 – which encompasses such phenomena as Social Media. Some have even said that the B2C policy of the .com period is what helped usher in the new era of Web 2.0.

It could be said that business to customer relationships, is the primary purpose of Social Media Marketing. B2C is all about engaging your customers directly, supplying them directly and building your brand association and business with them directly.

Developing relationships with your consumer base is invaluable. Engage a customer, provide them with a memorable experience, create an association between a brand and a quality, and you will have them for life. Apple understands this – in fact their credo states “we are at our best when we deliver enriching experiences”.

Big Brands will spend tens of thousands of dollars attempting to “humanize” their brands – to make them accessible, to provide their consumers with a relational experience. The attempt to humanize a brand, is to do away with “cold corporate” image and create a brand that comes across as understanding to the individual customer. What is ironic is that many of these brands will spend money on advertising and marketing – when the money would be better spent on hiring and training support and after sales staff.

Small businesses however, are already perfectly positioned to take advantage of this brand aspect, to develop relationships one on one and create a brand image that cares about its products, services, people and end users.

Brand Power is built not directly on sales – but on quality products, services and relationships. Relationships create a powerful consumer bases, they create an atmosphere that is conducive to sales, thereby achieving the sale WITHOUT souring the consumers mind. Put another way, by giving the customer a positive experience, they will COME TO YOU to make the sale and they will return for subsequent sales.

To paraphrase “Build relationships and they will come”.

Build it and they will come so get active and build your business relationships.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing ServicesContact us for a free consultation.

Is What You Are Saying, Really What They Are Hearing?

The Art Of Communication

When I was younger I did some studies in the area of Hermeneutics.

No that is not a biological study and it has little to do with Hermits.

It is in fact the science of accurately interpreting communications that have crossed social & cultural borders, often over prolonged periods of time.

My studies mostly pertained to literature – the written word. For example, what was Cervantes actually communicating, given the period and the culture of his time.

However a large portion of it dealt with the overall concept of communication. One key point that has always stuck with me, was the truth that for every communication, whether it is a spoken sentence, a text message, an email…the accuracy of it is at the mercy of the medium and the receiver.

Put more clearly, for basic communication to occur there are three parts:

  1. The Sender.
  2. The Message (including the medium: as Marshall McLuhan proved, the medium relates symbiotically with the message, influencing how the message is perceived).
  3. The Receiver.

The sender has a set communication and thought that is being put forward. That communication is influenced by the medium in which it is sent. Spoken communication is far more accurate than written communication, thanks to tone, intonations and body language (if their hands are around your throat it likely means anger). “Emoticons” 🙂 notwithstanding, the written word can be far more difficult to qualify. We have all enjoyed mis-communications related to texts or emails.

Is what you are saying actually what is being heard?
Image Source: Churchleaders.com

So the sender has put forth a thought and done their best to communicate it thoroughly within the chosen medium. Now the receiver is going to take in that message based on their pre-conceptions, background, relationship with the sender and the medium (including their own perception OF that medium). Each of these aspects plays a roll in how the communication is interpreted, and can be altered by things such as their culture or age.

The effectiveness of the communication will rely on the sender’s abilities and skills, as well as their knowledge of the recipient (or their audience). It will also rely on the restrictions of the medium in which it was sent and finally, on the dynamics of the receiver.

You cannot control the background of your recipient, their pre-conceived notions or ideas. However you can work with their background and preconceptions – and that is where the relationship between you becomes so important.

Accurate communication becomes easier as relationships develop (which is why literature spanning centuries can be a puzzle)

For example: If I receive a message saying “what were you thinking” from my wife, I will take it a certain way, based on my relationship with her. If I receive the same message from my employer…I am going to take it another way (and probably update my resume).

What does this mean and why is it on our blog? Because as simple as the concept here may be, it is often overlooked when developing emails, social media blasts and publications. It is also one of the single biggest challenges to the cold call.

Communication gets easier as relationships develop. Image Source: Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson

When developing your communications, whether mass, niche or personal and whether to customers, professionals, family or friends – acknowledging the personality of the receivers can save you.

Small Business especially can thrive by being more personable with their communications.

  1. Don’t email or text clients who don’t like email and texts, unless absolutely necessary.
  2. Don’t force your customers to meet you on the medium you are comfortable with – go to them.
  3. Test your communications. If you are emailing, make sure it shows up properly when opened. If Social Media blasting – check how it is viewed across platforms. If publicly speaking, run the message by some test subjects.
  4. Make phone calls, visit locations, shake hands and try to establish a more personal presence. As one fellow blogger put it: “be their white knight”. It is an error to rely only on emails and tweets.
  5. When putting together your campaigns, consider your audience and look at separating them into groups based on the most relevant medium. Email distro lists, Social Media lists, Phone lists…. whatever makes the most sense.
  6. Consider who you are sending to when developing content. Don’t joke about sending a case of beer if they are on the wagon. Hit them up with content that you know they can relate to. Remember that episode of the office where Michael and Andy do their cold call together? Michael meets the client on the common ground of fishing, while Andy blitzes on by with an obviously false story about shooting a shark from the rigging of his dad’s boat.
  7. Provide examples. Link to content or provide images and references. There is often content already out there that can reinforce your idea, look for relevant materials and share them to help present your point.
  8. Develop that relationship. Touch base consistently. Listen to them and build your relationship based what they tell you. Customers will tell you what it takes to get them on board – if you are willing to listen.
  9. Be fun, give the customers a reason to want to talk to you, make the communication and enjoyable experience. Camaraderie anyone?

Communication – Effective Communication – Requires effort, it requires time and it requires diligence, however there is no greater means of securing client faith.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services Contact us for a free consultation.