Archive for the ‘Sales Techniques’ Category

To Tweet or Not to Tweet: Expert Tips about Using Social Media

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
Gary Vaynerchuk and other experts offer primers on using Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

Lisette Hilton John H. Ostdick February 1, 2010

The tools being trumpeted as paving the new road to riches—Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogging—depend on fundamentals common to most good business plans: People buy things from companies they like, trust, remember or that provide them with value. All this is happening in a new way as social media transforms how people make connections and do business. “We can be more intimate with our marketplace, customers and peers,” explains Mari Smith, president of the International Social Media Association. “Consumers are developing the expectation that companies are going to be more available and respond more quickly, that people are listening.”

But social media comprises just one piece of an overall marketing pie, say practitioners, who stress that it must be planned and executed well to be successful.

If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s fourth most populous, between the United States and Indonesia.
Source: Socialnomics.net

With social media now part of the mainstream, many businesspeople feel peer and media pressure to dive in—especially with Twitter, which is essentially a global chat room of influencers—without knowing why or what they’re doing there.

“You have to know what your objective is,” Smith says. “A lot of people come to me and ask how they can make money on Facebook or Twitter. They are looking at it as sort of an ATM. But these are mediums, platforms or vehicles we can use to get our message out there, not a whole lot different than using traditional tools—buying an ad in a magazine or on TV, and radio spots, public speaking or press releases.”

Getting started with social media means getting educated, which can begin with a simple Internet search. “The online community has all the answers; all you have to do is type in the question, and the answer is there,” says Gary Vaynerchuk, who used social media to build his family’s retail wine business and promote his own video blog called Wine Library TV.

An entrepreneur or small-business owner can also learn a great deal studying how corporate trendsetters—Kodak, Dell Computers, Ford Motor Company and Starbucks, for example—use blogs, Facebook fan pages, Twitter and YouTube to promote their companies. (Kodak also offers a useful Social Media Tips guide in PDF at blogs.Kodak.com.)

Hiring a coach or expert in the field is another possible approach, but doing due diligence is essential (a glut of candidates is clamoring to help—a recent Google search of social media experts offered 92.4 million hits).

Smith advises any businessperson just getting started with social media to get out there on Google Search or sign up for TweetBeep alerts, and listen to the conversations going on about the company or the company’s specific market. Doing so can help gauge how people feel about your products, company and competitors.

Vaynerchuk suggests going to different forums and blogs, using Twitter and Facebook, searching keywords related to your business, then engaging in virtual handshakes and leaving comments. He shares an example of his own experience: “I videotaped the Wine Library TV show for 20 minutes, put it up on the WordPress blogging site, and spent the next 18 hours going to every wine forum and blog and leaving comments about everybody else’s comments. Essentially, I went to the places where other bloggers were blogging and started conversing. They became my initial fan base. That was it. It was not overly complicated. It’s about putting out content that’s relevant and good, then spending all the time possible in different places where your subject matter is discussed and becoming part of those communities.”

Experts agree that success with social media requires a commitment. “Understand that once you write the blog post or leave a comment on a wall, that’s when your work begins, not when it ends,” says Vaynerchuk, who estimates it takes six to 24 months of using social media before seeing results.

In addition to the time commitment, Smith stresses the importance of posting consistently and offering relevant content. “In a really beautiful way, it’s about leadership: When you have people following you, whether that’s hundreds or hundreds of thousands or a million, you have a great responsibility to provide them with quality content and lead them with integrity.”

Jeffrey Hayzlett, Kodak chief marketing officer and vice president, says using social media needs to be a core part of what and who you are. “Don’t just step into it with a splash and fade away—step into it, own it and continue to do it,” he says.

Experts offer these additional tips to effectively using social media:

Be passionate.
“Passion always beats skill. Realize that it’s the passion in your subject matter that will engage,” Vaynerchuk says.

“It’s hard to convey passion in 140 characters on Twitter,” Hayzlett says, “but if you are consistent, people begin to see that you are deep, not shallow. That’s what small businesses have to do as well.”

Be real.
“Authenticity and transparency are critical in social media,” Smith says. For example, she says the robust culture that successful online entrepreneur Tony Hsieh has developed at Zappos.com includes the following Twitter training message for employees, who each have their own Twitter accounts: Be authentic and use your best judgment.

Forget the old hard sales pitch.
“Nobody on the Web wants to hear it, and people will tune you out,” Vaynerchuk says. “Listen; don’t pitch. If you’re selling flowers and are chatting about them to a potential client, instead of saying, ‘Hey, buy my flowers,’ listen to one of those looking for advice about a specific flower and help her out. Your knowledge and honesty is what will give you an audience.”

Don’t overthink.
“People just want you to communicate with them. They’re not necessarily obsessed with grammar or sentence structure,” Vaynerchuk says.

Always be marketing.
“Every single thing I do markets myself, whether I’m chitchatting with a friend or working with a client,” Smith says. “Oprah could be reading my tweets and trying to decide whether to have me on her show right now. I’m always cognizant of that.”

As with any tool, social media needs to be studied, evaluated and put to use as part of a broader business plan. But veterans say the time for developing that process is now. by www.successmagazine.com

Social Media Marketing 101

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

When people hear about social media marketing, many tend to think about popular social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and YouTube. YouTube has about 258 million users, and more than 50 percent of them log in weekly. Facebook has about 101 million users with more than 50 percent who log in daily.

If you haven’t spent any time on these sites, I highly recommend setting up an account and jumping into a conversation or community. It’s one thing to talk about social media marketing and another to experience it firsthand. You’ll be a more effective social media marketer if you’re already a participant.

What is Social Media?

Social media essentially is a category of online media where people are talking, participating, sharing, networking, and bookmarking online. Most social media services encourage discussion, feedback, voting, comments, and sharing of information from all interested parties.

It’s more of a two-way conversation, rather than a one-way broadcast like traditional media. Another unique aspect of social media is the idea of staying connected or linked to other sites, resources, and people.

Kinds of Social Media

Many social media sites come in the form of a blog, microblog, podcast, videocast, forum, wiki, or some kind of content community. To help you understand social media better, let’s break them down into basic forms or groups.

  • Social news: Sites like Digg, Sphinn, Newsvine, and BallHype let you read about news topics and then vote and/or comment on the articles. Articles with more votes get promoted to a more prominent position.
  • Social sharing: Sites like Flickr, Snapfish, YouTube, and Jumpcut let you create, upload, and share videos or photos with others.
  • Social networks: Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter allow you to find and link to other people. Once linked or connected, you can keep up to date with that person’s contact info, interests, posts, etc. Many people are connecting to friends and business associates with whom they had fallen out of touch. It’s bringing the world together like nothing else has.
  • Social bookmarking: Sites like Delicious, Faves, StumbleUpon, BlogMarks and Diigo allow you to find and bookmark sites and information of interest. You can save your bookmarks online and access them from anywhere or share them with others.

This is just a sampling of social media sites. More are added daily. Breaking them down into these categories or groups will help you understand their focus and to consider which avenue is right for your approach to social media marketing.

Social Media Benefits

Let’s look at the general scope of social media universe. Did you know:

  • Five of the top 10 fastest-growing Web brands are user-generated content sites?
  • Sixty-seven percent of businesses say that the best source for advice on products and services are their consumers?
  • Forty-five percent of adult Internet users have created content online?
  • There are about 1.2 million blog posts per day?

So do you think it would benefit you to tap into this ever-growing universe of social media? Absolutely! Many companies are trying to figure out how to get involved. They’re shifting money from traditional marketing budgets to social media marketing because it:

  • Helps manage your company’s or brand’s reputation.
  • Builds brand awareness and helps improve how people view your brand.
  • Gets you closer to your customers. Learn about their needs then respond. Discuss converse, debate.
  • Offers creative and effective ways to learn insights not previously available.
  • Features new and inexpensive ways to support your clients.
  • Is typically less expensive than traditional advertising.
  • Offers various ways to measure and track performance.

A good corporate example to illustrate many of these principles is from Dell. They started Ideastorm, where people can post ideas and have them voted on. Can you say free market research? Who better to tell you how to create or improve your products and services than your customers? Cool, huh?

Now that we have a basic understanding of what social media marketing is and its benefits, the next step is to learn more about how to build your own social media strategy.

In the meantime, take a look at some of the Social Media Marketing columns here at Search Engine Watch to learn more on this topic.

Ten Tips to the Top of Google

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Having a Web site that gets found in Google isn’t hard to do, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are ten tips to get you started.

1. Start out slowly. If possible, begin with a new site that has never been submitted to the search engines or directories. Choose an appropriate domain name, and start out by optimizing just the home page.

2. Learn basic HTML. Many search engine optimization techniques involve editing the behind the scenes HTML code. Your high rankings can depend on knowing which codes are necessary, and which aren’t.

3. Choose keywords wisely. The keywords you think might be perfect for your site may not be what people are actually searching for. To find the optimal keywords for your site, use tools such as WordTracker. Choose two or three highly targeted phrases for each page of your site. Never shoot for general keywords such as “travel” or “vacation.”

4. Write at least 200 – 250 words of visible text copy based on your chosen keywords. This is a crucial component to high rankings and a successful Web site. The search engines need to “read” keyword rich copy on your pages so they can successfully classify your site. Use each keyword phrase numerous times within your copy for best results.

5. Create a killer Title tag. HTML title tags are critical because they’re given a lot of weight with all of the search engines. You must put your keywords into this tag and not waste space with extra words. Do not use the Title tag to display your company name or to say “Home Page.” Think of it more as a “Title Keyword Tag” and create it accordingly. Add your company name to the end of this tag, if you must use it.

6. Create Meaty Meta tags. Meta tags can be valuable, but they are not a magic bullet. Create a Meta Description tag that uses your keywords and also describes your site. The information in this tag often appears under your Title in the search engine results pages.

The Meta Keyword tag isn’t quite as important as the Meta Description tag. Contrary to popular belief, what you place in the keyword tag will have very little bearing on what keywords your site is actually found under, and it’s not given any consideration whatsoever by Google. Use this tag, but do not obsess over.

7. Use extra “goodies” to boost rankings. Things like headlines, image alt tags, header tags <H1><H2>, etc.), links from other pages, keywords in file names, and keywords in hyperlinks can cumulatively boost search engine rankings. Use any or all of these where they make sense for your site.

8. Be careful when submitting to directories such as Yahoo and the Open Directory Project (DMOZ). Having directory listings are a key component to getting your site spidered and listed by Google. Making mistakes in the submission process could cost you dearly as directory listings are difficult to change later in the game. Therefore, it’s important to read Yahoo’s How to Suggest Your Site and How to add a site to the Open Directory before submitting.

9. Don’t expect quick results. Getting high rankings takes time; there’s no getting around that fact. Once your site is added to a search engine or directory, its ranking may start out low and then slowly work its way up the ladder. Some search engines measure “click-through popularity,” i.e., the more people that click on a particular site, the higher its ranking will go. Be patient and give your site time to mature.

10. Don’t constantly “tweak” your site for better results. It’s best not to make changes to your optimization for at least three-to-six months after submission. It often takes the engines at least that long to add your optimized pages to their databases. Submit it, and then forget about it for a while!

If you’ve followed these tips and still can’t find your site in the engines, the first place to “tweak” would be your page copy. If you added less than 250 words of visible text on your pages, this is probably your culprit. Also, double check your keyword density, and make sure that you only targeted two or three phrases per page. Eventually, you’ll see the fruits of your labor with many top ten rankings in Google and the rest of the search engines!

Jill Whalen is an internationally recognized search engine optimization expert, a frequent speaker and workshop presenter, and the owner of HighRankings.com.

Become a Business Broker with ABBA Business Broker Training

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Become a business broker with training from the non-profit American Business Brokers Association. ABBA business broker training also includes unlimited support and follow-up as you establish your business brokerage career.

Don’t make an expensive mistake. Get all the information you need from an unbiased source to make an informed decision on business broker training and career options.

We are America’s only non-profit organization conducting live, personalized, hands-on business broker training seminars with unlimited on-going support afterwards for those individuals who want to become business brokers.

Business Broker Training Covers Many Subjects. To become a business broker, you learn to bring together the buyers and sellers of privately held businesses. The professional business broker uses his expertise to assist in valuing a business and identifying likely buyers. He knows how and where to market the business for maximum exposure while maintaining confidentiality.

He is trained in identifying and qualifying business buyers and assisting each in focusing his or her search. He knows how to recast financial statements to determine the cash flow stream of the business. He is an expert as an intermediary in handling the delicate phase of negotiations and the structuring of a successful transaction. He is knowledgeable in acquisition financing and assists buyers in obtaining the necessary financing.

And for all these things, the professional business broker is handsomely compensated. In addition to the high earnings, business brokerage is an exciting, dynamic and enjoyable profession.

If you think that you might want to join the profession and become a respected business broker with 6-figure income potential:

The ABBA offers a two day comprehensive training seminar held periodically at various locations around the country. After this intensive two day seminar and hands-on workshop, you will be able to confidently take your place among the most respected financial professionals in America with six figure incomes. Enrollment is limited to 10 persons per seminar, so please reserve your space early to insure availability.

Attendance at the seminar also entitles students to unlimited support and consultation afterwards as your new brokerage practice is established.

The seminar is personally taught by William Bruce, President of the ABBA and an experienced, full time business broker. Click here to visit the LinkedIn profile of William Bruce, and the business brokerage website of William Bruce

Where to Find Investors for your Business

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Investors are defined as “someone who commits capital in order to gain financial returns”. This is very important to understand, why? If you don’t look at an investor from their point of view, you are unlikely to ever have anyone invest in you and your business.

An investor is looking to “gain financial returns” from their investment. They aren’t going to invest money in a business just because the business owner says: “it’s a good idea”, “no one else is doing it”, “I know what I’m going”, or a slough of other commonly heard phrases.

An investor is going to look at several business deals (potentially hundreds or even thousands) before they make an investment. I personally have 5-10 deals come across my desk every week. Everyone has the next greatest business idea that is going to make millions. So if you are looking for an investor you need to set yourself apart from all the other business deals.

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Love your Family, Work Super Hard, Live your Passion

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

I recently read Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, Why Now is the Time to CRUSH IT! The author built a $60 Million business by reinventing an industry by using new technology and good old fashioned hard work. He distills his formula for success into 3 simple rules to live by:

Love your Family  - Work Super Hard  - Live your Passion

As we bring 2009 to a close, it is always important to review our priorities and the balance in our lives. For many of us, 2009 will not be a banner year for transactions. It is worth remembering, however, all the reasons we got into business brokerage in the first place. What other career gives you the opportunity to help people achieve a dream of owning their own business or business owners to achieve one of the most significant milestones in their business life. We are entrepreneurs at heart and self-starters that enjoy sharing our business and ownership experience. We are counselors, educators, facilitators, negotiators and deal-makers. We enjoy freedom, flexibility, independence, control of our own destiny and unlimited income potential. Our co-workers are other professionals and our customers are CEO’s and business owners or wannabe’s.

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