Every year, you begin the holiday season believing that it truly is “the most wonderful time of the year.” It doesn’t take long, however, to realize that sometimes work is anything but wonderful thanks to an office full of co-workers and a job to do.

Fortunately, there are ways to make the season bright while still getting your job done. What follows are some tried and true tips to help you do just that:

  1. Don’t go crazy when it comes to decorating. Whether you are chasing sales leads, seeing patients, answering phones, or updating mailing lists, it is important that your surroundings reflect your professionalism. Sure, a few decorations are fine, but leave the blinking lights, scented candles, and musical figurines at home.
  2. Try not to overindulge in office goodies. Putting on a few pounds over the holidays is normal but if you overindulge all day, every day you are going to end up feeling sluggish and unable to concentrate. Bring some healthy snacks and keep them at your desk if necessary to keep yourself from being tempted.
  3. It may be better to give than to receive but don’t go overboard. Giving gifts to all or even a few of your co-workers or boss can get tricky. Most people are stretched thin this time of year and if you are giving out gifts, they may feel like they must reciprocate. If you do feel the need to hand out gifts, be sure to keep them very inexpensive. Expensive gifts are rarely – if ever – appropriate in the workplace.
  4. Get some fresh air. Although the weather outside may be frightful, if at all possible try to get outdoors during the workday and take a short, brisk walk. This will do wonders for your energy level and help to reduce stress.
  5. Remember the Golden Rule. Take your cue from your co-workers. If a fellow employee doesn’t share your exuberance for the holidays, don’t try to force him or her into the holiday spirit. There is nothing worse than an overbearing co-worker. Likewise, try to be patient if you are the one who thinks holiday cheer has no place in the office. Don’t be Scrooge, and as much as possible, try to go with the flow this time of year. After all, it won’t last forever.

 

 

 

 

One of the best way to connect with your customers is to thank them for their business. While there are tried and true methods – a handwritten note or a box of candy, for example – it is important to mix things up.

If you are struggling to come up with unique ways to thank your clients, we’ve compiled a list of ideas that will help to set you apart from the competition.

  1. Ask clients what their favorite charity is and make a donation to that charity. Along the same lines, if a client has lost a loved one to a particular disease or has a child with a chronic disease, consider making a donation to a relevant charity.
  2. Give your best client a shout-out on social media. Not only does this acknowledge their business, it gives them some free advertising and potential sales leads.
  3. Invite them to come speak to your employees about their area of expertise. Do you have a financial planner for a client? Let them speak to your employees about investing or saving for retirement.
  4. Send them referrals. Nothing says thank you like sending business their way.
  5. Throw a customer-appreciation party. Summer barbeques or football tailgates are just two fun ideas.
  6. Acknowledge significant business anniversaries. Opened their doors five years ago? Just grew their staff to 100? These are all great reasons to congratulate them.
  7. Offer them a deep discount on your product or service. Imagine sending your monthly invoice with a zero balance and a note that says, “This month is on us – thanks for your business.” Talk about making an impression.
  8. Send them a book that you think they would be interested in or that is related to their business. Remember, it’s the thought that counts and this type of gift shows you put a lot of thought into it.
  9. Send a client two gift cards. Ask them to keep one and use the other one to make someone else’s day.
  10. Take them out to lunch at a nice restaurant and talk everything but business. This tells your client that you are willing to spend time and money on them – no strings attached.

Customer loyalty goes a long way. Competitors are always going to try to steal your clients. When your customers know how much you value them, it will make them much harder to lure away.

If you own your own business, a strong social media presence is a must. Too often, however, small business owners find themselves spending so much time managing their social media sites, they begin to wonder if it is really worth the effort.

Shawn Hessinger writes in his article, 26 Tips for Saving Time on Social Media, that the reason most business owners waste so much time on social media is that they operate without a concrete plan or focus.

Hessinger goes on to say that while there are hundreds of ways to use social media for business, not all of those ways will work for every business.

Target and master a couple of platforms, rather than dabbling in many. Social media has become complex. Each social platform has more features and the learning curve is steeper.

Focus on the platforms your customers spend the most time on or that fit your industry. The 80/20 rule applies here. By focusing on just two or three, you use your time efficiently and you’ll have a bigger impact on the platforms because you can learn more about how to use them.

Even if you only manage two or three social media sites, however, it still can be time-consuming. Hessinger has more advice for business owners trying to navigate social media. These include things like measuring results – but only those that count.

Pick a few metrics that directly impact your business. For example, track which types of posts get the most click-throughs to your product pages or lead capture form. When deciding which metrics to track, ask yourself: how does this benefit my business?

Hessinger suggests scheduling posts, setting up brand alerts, and continuing to try out new approaches. He also tells business owners to consider outsourcing their social media management.

At GoLeads, we help businesses manage their social media sites every day. This allows our clients to concentrate on their core businesses while we make sure their business has an active and engaging presence on social media.

While many business owners are leery of handing off their social media management, it is important to remember that they still have ultimate control. The key is, according to Hessinger, to pick an experienced contractor or firm that will be able to quickly get up to speed on your business and will require the least amount of hand-holding.

 

Now, more than ever, the key to getting your website noticed by the search engines is high quality content. And this content must be so engaging that people want to comment on it and share it with others.

If you are a small business owner, chances are that even if you could write such quality content, it is unlikely that you could find the time to produce the amount necessary to gain significant traction. The kind of traction that results in things like increased sales leads.

Many business owners, however, have a difficult time turning over the reins of their content writing tasks. If you fall into that category, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Professional writers have a keen understanding of grammar and style. Therefore, they are able to produce copy at a much faster clip than someone who does not write full time.
  2. Professional writers know how to write. It may seem obvious but well-written content that flows well and speaks to readers will help to establish you as a thought leader in your industry. Poorly written content will do just the opposite. It can take years to become a great writer and chances are you have spent your time building a business, not perfecting your writing skills.
  3. Professional writers know when to say when. When it comes to writing their own content, small business owners can struggle with wanting to document every detail about their product or service. This is almost never a good idea, however, and such writing turns readers off (if it doesn’t bore them to death first). A professional writer is able to look at the message you are trying to convey and make sure that you don’t overload your readers with minutia that won’t matter to them.
  4. Professional writers get to know their audience. It can be tough for an engineering firm, for example, to write in a way that a layperson will understand. Often times, business owners use too much industry lingo that is hard for its customers to decipher.
  5. Professional writers are trained to meet deadlines. When you hire a reputable writer to complete your content writing tasks, you can be sure it will get done on time. That’s because they won’t get sidetracked by the many responsibilities of running a business.

Many business owners see hiring a professional writer or content curation firm as an unnecessary expense. The truth is, not hiring one can cost a business a great deal more.

Big data allows businesses to do some amazing things. One of these things is to retarget customers. Research tells us that retargeting helps turn shoppers who are just looking into buyers. Approximately two percent of shoppers will convert on their first visit to an online store and retargeting brings back the remaining 98 percent.

Through the use of retargeting, visitors to a website or online store are tracked and ads are then placed for that website or online store on other online sites they visit.

Retargeting can be achieved in a variety of ways. Here are some of the most common:

  • Email retargeting allows a customer to be targeted based on how they have responded to one of your emails.
  • Site retargeting allows you to show ads to visitors to your website.
  • Facebook retargeting displays banners on Facebook to visitors to your Facebook page.
  • Search retargeting involves pursuing consumer leads who have searched for particular keywords or phrases.

Another advantage of retargeting is that you are able to tell when to stop pursuing customers who are unlikely to purchase from you. The best marketers are able to analyze how many times a consumer needs to be exposed to your product or service before they make a purchase. If a prospect has received that specific number of ads or touches and still is not interested, it’s time to stop pursuing that prospect.

It is no secret, however, that when consumers are retargeted by a company, some of them have a tough time shaking the feeling that they are somehow being spied on. Therefore, it is important that you retarget in a way that doesn’t make prospects uncomfortable. Here are some ways to do just that:

  1. Don’t place your ad on so many of the websites a prospect visits that it becomes annoying. When customers get annoyed with a company, even if they need its product or service, they most likely won’t buy it.
  2. Always offer an opt-out. There is no reason to make a customer who doesn’t want to see your ad see it.
  3. Avoid static banners. The best banner ads are animated ones. It also is a good idea to change up your ad on a regular basis.

Retargeting is an effective tool for increasing your sales. However, if not done correctly, retargeting can definitely backfire.

 

Content marketing and social media are the hottest trends in marketing these days. This is no surprise given the success businesses have found using these channels to market their products and services as well as to promote their brand.

What may come as a surprise, however, is that most marketing experts will advise against relying solely on content marketing and social media. That is because adding other forms of marketing to the mix – especially tried and true methods – can help businesses reach new customers while retaining current ones.

So what marketing strategies are still worth your time and marketing dollars?

  1. Pay per click (PPC). Perhaps due to a change in how Google is now displaying ads, PPC spending is on the rise after a period of decline. Display ads are now more difficult to distinguish from organic results so PPC is worth exploring again.
  2. Link building. It was in 2011 that link building’s popularity began to decline as more businesses started to focus on content marketing. But link building is still an important part of luring search engine traffic. What is important to keep in mind is that today’s link building should encourage people to click on links from relevant sites. Links should not be used merely to compile clicks for the sake of getting a higher ranking on search engines.
  3. Telemarketing. Recent studies show that when it comes to leads, telemarketing leads rank in the top 10 for return on investment. The personal connection of telemarketing is what experts say keeps it so relevant.
  4. Postcards. Postcard marketing has taken a hit because of rising postage costs and less expensive online advertising techniques. What many people are not aware of, though, is that direct mail still has a lower cost per lead than even most online methods of advertising. And of all the direct mail options, postcards remain the most affordable.
  5. Tradeshows. While tradeshows can be expensive due to cost, they are still a very popular and effective marketing channel for new business and sales leads. That’s because tradeshows, like telemarketing, offer a type of personal interaction that online marketing cannot achieve. While the popularity of tradeshows has been on the decline, it is still one of the top five marketing channels.

Content marketing and social media are great ways to market your business. However, that doesn’t mean that you should rely exclusively on those two methods in your quest to attract new customers and retain current ones.

No matter how big or small the business, marketing is essential to its success. And no matter how large its marketing budget, no business wants to waste its time or money on pursuing dead-end leads.

In his article, 7 Ways to Avoid Marketing to the Wrong People, AJ Agrawal tells us that if you are marketing to the wrong people, your business is unlikely to succeed. Of course, figuring out who exactly you should be marketing to can be a difficult task. Especially when you are just getting your business up and running.

Thankfully, Agrawal has some helpful tips to help. His first tip is to avoid casting your marketing net too wide.

 It’s tempting to go for the biggest audience, but working in a niche is more effective. Defining your target market will provide a solid foundation, as well as strict parameters that will focus your efforts. Try not to think of it as exclusion, but a way to simplify and streamline campaigns.

He also encourages businesses to – among other things – align content strictly to personas, segment marketing databases, and look at reconverting existing customers.

Agrawal cites ProOpinion, a professional network that promotes success in business, which says that 39 percent of small business owners don’t invest in any type of marketing.

That’s despite the fact that effective marketing is their main profit driver. These businesses need to look at ways to allocate a small budget to marketing, and use that budget with laser-guided precision to achieve high ROI.

At GoLeads, we help businesses of all sizes get the most out of every one of their marketing dollars. We do this by helping these businesses identify their target audience and develop the strategies to get noticed by that audience. We’d love to do the same for you.

Small businesses with tight budgets are understandably cautious about where they invest their limited marketing dollars. This leaves many business owners wondering if they are better off skipping the costs of investing in a website and instead concentrating only on social media.

What many business owners do not realize is that a website can be as simple or as sophisticated as their budget dictates. And even if you start with a very basic design, you can build on that design as needed or when more marketing dollars become available.

Many people believe that they can make up for not having a website by increasing their social media presence. While the best case scenario would be to have a website and a social media presence, if you must make a decision between the two, a website is in almost all cases the best way to go.

Social media is appealing to businesses with very little money to spend on marketing because social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are simple to set up and are free. Further, they allow businesses to engage with their customers without worrying about the overhead of a website.

The problem with diving into social media with no website to link it to is that you are at the mercy of the social media provider’s terms and conditions. You also have few options when it comes to layout. Further, the fact that social media sites encourage back and forth means that you may have people posting things on your social media accounts that you do not want posted.

While developing a website costs more to create and maintain than social media, it is well worth the effort. Here are some other advantages of a website for your business:

  1. In today’s digital world, savvy consumers are leery of businesses that don’t have a website. Such businesses are seen as behind the times.
  2. You own your website. Unlike social media sites, you can personalize even the simplest website to make it uniquely yours.
  3. You have space to market your business and obtain sales leads. You can include videos, customer reviews, testimonials, and promotional offers on your website without worrying about meeting your social media provider’s terms and conditions.
  4. While a website requires an upfront investment, it can actually save money in the long run. Many customer service tasks can be taken care of on the website, reducing your overall operating costs.
  5. Your business will be open 24/7.
  6. You can expand your customer base – exponentially. Billions of people are on the Internet every single day. Without a website, you have little chance of connecting with them.

It is always difficult to decide where your marketing dollars would be best spent. Creating and maintaining a website is one decision that is almost always in the best interest of your business.

 

Producing quality content is becoming more and more important for companies looking to market their products and services, generate sales leads, and get noticed by the search engines. Unfortunately, producing such content is proving increasingly difficult as the marketplace becomes more crowded and the competition gets tougher.

So how can you make sure that your content stands out from the crowd? What follows are some helpful tips and small changes you can make to ensure that your content doesn’t get overlooked.

1. Make sure that all the images attached to your content are relevant.

While experts have told us for years that images make a huge difference in attracting readers, slapping up just any picture won’t reflect well on your copy. Also, make sure that all photos are formatted and optimized to avoid slowing load times.

2. Make your posts as reader-friendly as possible by including bullets and lists.

More than the look of your content, however, it’s important that your content uses clear, simple language. Unless a sentence adds real value to your post – get rid of it!

3. Include influencers.

Readers respond to industry leaders. Quotes from authorities on a subject matter always add credibility to posts.

4. Tell secrets.

Let’s face it, readers want to learn something they won’t hear anywhere else. Make sure when readers finish reading one of your posts, they learn something new – an insider tip. This type of information is what will keep them coming back for more.

5. Don’t always play it safe.

Got a controversial point of view on a particular topic? Don’t avoid it, embrace it. Even if readers disagree with what you have to say, they will respect you for having the guts to say it.

6. Get emotional.

There may be no crying in baseball, but when it comes to writing content it’s OK to get a little emotional once in a while. When readers feel that they can relate to your struggles and even failures, you will gain their trust. Open yourself up a little and you will be surprised at what happens next.

Many businesses believe that getting their content noticed involves making huge, sweeping changes to their posts. The fact is, sometimes just a small amount of tweaking can make a big difference. After all, when it comes to content, the way you are saying things can be just as important as what you are saying.

 

 

Changes in the world of search engine optimization (SEO) mean that quality content is more important than ever. While keywords were once the major factor in getting high search engine rankings, today it is engaging, shareable content that is the name of the game.

If you have spent a great deal of time and resources creating content that contained as many keywords as possible, these changes may seem daunting. In truth, the shift to writing quality content is good news for businesses. Why? Because now you can focus on giving your customers what they really need instead of just trying to get noticed through the use of keywords.

So what is considered good content? It is content that communicates with customers and prospects. It brings people the information and advice that they need to succeed in their industry. It solves problems.

It connects, educates and inspires.

One thing good content is not is a sales pitch or an effort to get sales leads. Instead, it is valuable information that people and businesses need. When you consistently provide your target audience high-quality content you will come to be recognized as a thought leader – and ultimately someone who they will want to do business with. In other words, you will increase sales without selling.

Another benefit of great content is that it will encourage people to share your content and engage with you. And when this happens, your audience will grow even more.

Remember, good content:

Solves a problem.

  • Every business faces problems. Your content helps to solve these problems. That helps you to become the go-to person or Thought Leader when people need answers.

Engages.

  • When people read your content, they want to weigh in. They may agree or disagree with you and want you to know why. They may have a follow-up question. You get the idea. And remember, the search engines love this type of back and forth.

Provides value.

  • If a person is looking for information on a particular topic, he or she isn’t going to waste time on fluff pieces. Instead, your content will always be filled with credible and substantial information that isn’t available anywhere else.

Is consistent.

  • Once your target audience sees you as a thought leader, they will come back again and again so make sure you always have fresh content available. If you don’t, they will look for it somewhere else.

Finally, no matter how important the topic, no one is going to read your content if it puts them to sleep. A great story must keep a reader’s attention. And while it is admittedly tough to make certain products and services sound like great literature, you should try your best to make your content as interesting as possible.