MANAGING YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION

Online-ReputationAre you helping your customers or selling? When you remember what your customers’ needs are and offer a solution to those needs, you’ll stand apart from the competition. By helping through offering insights and resources you take on a more humanistic approach in how you’re assisting your customers.

As you create content, identify how you can bring in the human element. Outline a case study of how a customer benefited or highlight how a customer can benefit from using your product or services. Your content should find a way to spark friendly conversations between your business and customers.

Social media can play a role in the humanness of your business. Encourage discussion about content on social media, reply to comments, use customers and staff members in your content, and create content about the issues that are most important to your customers. They may be consuming it through a screen, but you can still make them feel something in their hearts with your content. That’s part of the connection they have with you.

When asking people to review you online, you open yourself up to bad reviews, too – and that’s okay. Just remember to respond to every review, in a calm, helpful fashion and seek to turn any poor review into a positive experience. What’s important is that you shouldn’t respond just to acknowledge negative reviews; you should respond to positive reviews, as well. Replying to your reviews will show other future customers that you’re active in your online communications.

Social media has played a role in helping to level the playing field for small business. Most consumers look at online reviews before purchasing a service or product. The Edmiston Group has recently been involved with two separate situations where online reviews were not as favorable. The companies had totally different customer situations that cause the less than favorable review. Here’s the difference in their response:

  • One company didn’t respond to any reviews – a thank you, acknowledgment that they were happy the reviewer liked the service, etc.
  • The 2nd company wrote something for each review they received. Upon receipt of a negative review, they contacted the reviewer via phone, explained the situation as to why something couldn’t happen due to regulations and wrote a response.

So, if your potential customers are coming across your small business online and running away in the opposite direction once they see your lack of endorsements or your lack of engagement, what can you do to turn that around? Online reviews are here to stay. Ask your customers to become raving fans by taking a couple minutes to write a review. Be sure you are monitoring your social media channels and engage.

Set yourself apart from the crowd. Be different by saying “please” and “thank you,” sending a personalized thank you note in their online order, giving a small discount to apologize for a customer service issue and so on. Be customer service focused. Your customers will remember your kindness and may return the favor by leaving you a positive review.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

HOW TO CREATE A MARKETING CALENDAR

Marketing-CalendarCreating a marketing calendar (editorial calendar) is critical to your success and will be the cornerstone of the activities you will do to promote your business in 2019. It is simply the act of thinking through the year and putting a plan in place. You can make the calendar as simple or as complex as you like. Additionally, we recommend taking some time to create a social media calendar as well. The Edmiston Group creates a general calendar every year, but we also customize these calendars for particular businesses allowing them to easily execute. Click here to download our 2019 calendar. Here are a few steps to get you started to customize your own plan.

  • Start with a 12-month calendar. If you need to share a calendar with staff or outside consultants, we have found online Google calendars work well for us and you can share it with others.
  • Incorporate each of your desired offerings into the calendar. Account for holidays, peak seasons, etc.
  • Next, incorporate community events, trade shows, and any other event that will affect your promotional dates.
  • Work backward from each key date with high-level promotional features. Think about press release dates, paid traditional advertising, time to develop and print promotional materials, and social media marketing. Be sure to calendar drop-dead dates for each promotion.
  • Leave flexibility for your social media promotions. You will want to be consistent, so set a pattern for each of your social media channels, and then accommodate the promotion into your posts when the time is right. For example, perhaps you will post to Facebook three times a week, Twitter twice a day, and incorporate Instagram, LinkedIn or Pinterest depending on the type of business you have.

Technology is always changing. Use it to your benefit by looking for efficiencies. Schedule a week’s worth of posts each Monday. Use one of many dashboards to manage your social media. Set Google alerts on subject matter that you can use for blogging or for your newsletters.

Are You Measuring?

Just because you think something is a good idea, your customers may not. Don’t rely only on your own intuition. Talk to your customers to see if they are struggling with anything in particular. That can help you understand what their needs are.

Before kicking off each promotion, be sure to write down your desired outcome. You may remember what the results are this month, but unless you write them down, are you really going to remember those results 9 months from now?

These measurable objectives hold you and your staff accountable for the end results. This likely includes a financial aspect, but may also include increased awareness as identified by growth in social media followings and/or expansion into a new market.

  • Capture your baseline for each promotion and compare it to the end result. Depending on your goal, your baseline may be financial or a number related to the number of customers or followers. For example, if you’re running a Facebook ad or social share campaign, know the number of fans you had when you started, measure downloads of information and increased likes for your page.
  • Track your financial expenditures and income for the promotion. This determines the actual cost of obtaining a new client.
  • Track all other related metrics (growth in customer base, number of increased leads, etc.). When using a variety of print material, code coupons to measure what worked and the type of client the coupon generated. A Valpac ad may generate a different type of client than a social media campaign or printed newspaper ad, but without coding the coupons and tracking the results, you don’t know the type of customer you’re attracting and the dollars that customer is willing to spend with you.
  • After each promotion, note what worked and what did not work. This will help you tweak promotions throughout the year and into the next year

The experts at the Edmiston Group can help you create your 2019 marketing program, an editorial calendar, or can work from it to help with content creation. Wondering how to get started in identifying business objectives and overall growth in 2019? Call 724-612-0755 or email us to get started.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

STARTING A BLOG FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

Starting-a-Blog-PostFor businesses that are serious about creating great content, having a blog is more important today than ever before. Blogs fit into your email marketing campaign and allow you to humanize your marketing with thoughts, advice, and insights. They help to establish you as an expert in your field.

If you’re serious about getting started, here are things you’ll want to consider:

  • Why are you creating a blog? How does it benefit your business and more importantly what information are you providing that is of value to your readers? These goals will guide the rest of your decisions.
  • Who are you going to be speaking to? Know your audience – is it a business to business or business to consumer.Who are the people who are going to be reading your blog? What type of knowledge can you share with them? What are the questions to be answered?

Our blog, for example, is all about providing helpful insight and practical advice for small businesses and nonprofits that are interested in marketing and growing their business. Every piece of content we create is written with that audience in mind.

  • What are you going to talk about? Every blog is built on certain “cornerstone” topics. This plays a key role in the marketing plan established for 2019. By establishing the topics you’re going to focus on, you’ll be able to make better decisions about what ends up on your blog. This will enable you to build a community around your blog and increase the chances of having readers referring other people to it. This won’t only put your content in front of a wider audience but will also be valuable for boosting your presence on search engines like Google. Google alerts on general topics are easily shareable on your social media, but also may give you ideas for upcoming blogs.
  • How frequently will you be able to post? Like with all the stuff you’re already doing to market your business online, the frequency will need to be an important consideration when starting your blog. Be careful not to go great guns at first and burn out. Commit to posting and create hard deadlines in your marketing calendar when you want the posts to go up.
  • What type of content do you want to create? One of the biggest misconceptions people have about blogs is that a certain level of writing expertise is required to create one. What questions can you answer for your audience? Write out these answers or simply record yourself answering the questions. The fact is that for a lot of people, writing isn’t something that comes easy nor is it something they particularly enjoy doing. For those people, incorporating other types of content like photos and videos may be a better alternative. Additionally, blogging can be outsourced. The Edmiston Group writes a number of blogs for different businesses.
  • By creating a Marketing Calendar first your blog can flow with other marketing efforts. For example, as trade show season approaches, the Edmiston Group talks about how to prepare for a trade show utilizing social media and email marketing to drive traffic to your booth. We also blog about the follow-up after a show and incorporating those leads into your newsletter and sales funnel.

By having a blog on your website it creates new content for the web crawlers for SEO purposes. This also establishes you as the original author. We put a standard About the Author at the end. Over time, when searching for particular topics, you will see various blogs pop up in Google search.

The good news – by answering these questions you’ll already have the bulk of that first post written. Why are you creating a blog? Who are you speaking to? What topics will you be writing about? How often will you be posting?

Okay, you know what you need to do—now it’s time to do it! Need some help? Email or call 724-612-0755.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.