Not Just About the “Like”

“Social media are not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be…”

 
Gallup Inc. summed up their recent report on social media and its influence on buyers’ decisions with those words. The report shows that 62% of consumers say social media has no effect at all on their purchasing decisions. That is staggering considering the amount of time and resources many companies, especially startups, are investing into social-media marketing campaigns. So what does this mean for companies going forward? Let’s dig into Gallup’s report a little further.
 

Social Media Marketing Shouldn’t Be Just About the Numbers

 
“Of the consumers who reported “liking” or following a company, 34% still said that social media had no influence on their purchasing behavior, while 53% said they had only some influence.”
 
Many of us are probably guilty of simply seeking a substantial social media following by simply focusing on quantity. But just because somebody “likes” a Facebook page does not mean that they are more likely to purchase from that company. In fact, polls find that people are still more likely to seek advice from family, friends, and experts before they seek advice from a Facebook page. This isn’t all that shocking, but by simply focusing on the number of “likes” companies are missing the greatest potential social media has to becoming a force within marketing strategies.
 

People Talk

 
The old-fashioned tune still rings true, people talk. Conversations among friends and family are still the driving force in customer persuasion. Social media facilitates these types of conversations and provide an opportunity for companies to take part in the conversation. As Gallup says, “Yet, many companies continue to treat social media as a one-way communication vehicle and are largely focused on how they can use these sites to push their marketing agendas.”
 
Social-media marketing should be a conversation that companies appear honest and informational without pushing an agenda too rigorously.
 

The Need for More than Social Media

 
One last interesting idea presented by Gallup is obvious, yet very important. Customer engagement needs to take place online and offline. Gallup states that time and time again that the success of customer engagement is determined by how well they “align all their touch points.” Customer purchases are still driven more by in-store displays and interactions than social media and will probably remain this way.
 
A large part of marketing is creating an experience for the customer through your product and service. It still remains difficult to do so through social-media channels. As we shape our social-media strategies, we must understand that social media is only a small portion of an overall strategy that must include the creation of a customer experience. The priority must be quality over quantity so that our online and offline interactions match to create a single, memorable experience that users will share with their family, friends, and acquaintances. Possibly through social media outlets.

Entrepreneurship: A Game of First Impressions

Last month NPR published a story reporting on a recent experiment carried that showed people make split-second decisions on people’s personality based upon their voice. Quoting the article,
 

“From the first word you hear a person speak, you start to form this impression of the person’s personality, says Phil McAleer, a psychologist at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, who led the study.
 
In his experiment, McAleer recorded 64 people, men and women, from Glasgow, reading a paragraph that included the word “hello.” He then extracted all the hellos and got 320 participants to listen to the different voices and rate them on 10 different personality traits, such as trustworthiness, aggressiveness, confidence, dominance and warmth.”

 
Interestingly, it was found the most participants agreed on which voice matched which personality trait; concluding that people begin making snap judgments of others from the very first second they are speaking with them. This study exemplifies the power one word as simple as “hello” can have on perception.
 
Although it would be difficult to be in constant control of the pitch or tone of our voice, this study exemplifies the importance of a good first impression and how much of a lasting impact it can have on others.
 
When building your new start-up you face such situations every day. It is a constant game of branching out, looking for new partners, investors, suppliers, buyers, and customers. Their perception of you matters and ultimately factors in their decision concerning you. Trust is built from the very first contact you have with them whether it comes by email, phone, or in person.
 
Across the internet you can find loads of information about how to make the best first impression possible. Here are a few tips from us;
 

  • Present Yourself Appropriately: Appearance does matter, I once was told by a manager that one factor of why they strongly considered me for a position over others was simply because I was the only who showed up to the interview process in a suit. It shows that the meeting was important to you.
  •  

  • Smile: A smile says a lot about attitude and your attitude is often what sells you more than any other characteristic.
  •  

  • Take the Time to Small-talk: Get to know the person and find out what their interests are. It may seem absurd but small talk is a skill that can be learned. Practice it.
  •  

  • Listen and Contribute Accordingly: Acknowledgement is crucial. Everyone wants to know that what they have to offer is important. Make sure they can feel that from you. Strive to offer something to the conversation but don’t dominate it. Nobody likes someone who talks the whole time.
  •  

  • Remember Names: It is amazing how far it goes when you can recall names from a previous meeting. Whatever strategy helps you accomplish this, go for it.
  •  

  • Be Informed: This can really fit into any of the above suggestions but it never hurts to know a little bit about everything. Use it wisely.
  •  

  • Be Confident: Confidence is huge when meeting new people. Be yourself and be comfortable. People love genuine confidence.
  •  
    These are only a few of many suggestions of how to make a strong first impression but will be helpful for anyone looking to branch out and build a strong network. As shown, first impressions are made within seconds of meeting Do your best to make the most of each one, because you never know which might lead to incredible future opportunities.

    It Still Pays to Be Human in Today’s Start-up World


     

    Set Yourself Apart by Giving People What They Want: The People Behind the Product

     
    Every week more and more tech start-ups are launching all over the world. Supply chains have become global and businesses are pieced together with customers, partners, suppliers, and manufacturers based all over the planet. This even includes company employees being located all over the globe serving out their functions from separate locations miles and miles away.
     
    Today’s technology allows for business to thrive in such an interesting environment but can also complicate how business is carried out. As probably all of us have experienced, most business is carried out via email, text, etc. without any kind of face-to-face contact.
     
    On top of all of this, it can be costly and difficult to arrange physical meetings, conference calls, or even phone calls. In terms of cutting costs, all these alternatives are much cheaper.
     
    This recent trend has made it even more important for us to find new ways of humanizing ourselves with our contacts, customers, and partners. Attempts are made through blogs, social media, vibrant websites, and some innovative marketing strategies.
     
    In an unprecedented fashion, consumers have so much information at their disposal, making it vital that they get to know us. Easily-accessible information has suddenly put every business on a level playing field, making it harder and harder to gain competitive advantage. That battle can still be won by providing a personal touch to business and expanding beyond online selling and communication only.
     
    We just need get out there. Attend events, trade shows, and other gatherings where your individual consumers, suppliers, partners, and contacts may be. It is time to step out of the office and give them a face to put with a name.
     
    Even as times change people still love one thing more than the product itself: The people behind it.

    Why Retaining Customers Is Important for Any Start-up

    Customer Retention Creates Recurring Revenue

     
    As a manager there are predominately two sources of business; new customers and returning customers. Both are needed to succeed and generate growth. New customers often require greater external efforts and tend to be more expensive than retaining new customers. Retaining customers is an important revenue source that can be controlled almost exclusively by internal forces. If a company is successful at retaining customers it can create a recurring revenue source month to month or year to year.
     
    A recurring revenue source from retained customers will be a source of constant revenue, providing the backbone a business needs to begin planning new growth strategies for the future. The constant revenue source helps a business go from focusing on surviving to focusing on growth.
    Thinking of retained customers in this sense provides a great incentive for businesses to focus on retaining customers. It will ultimately build a stronger foundation for future growth.
     

    Plan for Retention

     
    A vital inclusion to any business plan is a marketing plan. Unfortunately, an error commonly made by many entrepreneurs is to only plan how to obtain new customers but fail to plan on how to retain those customers.
    A common assumption is that the only way to grow a new business is through new customers. While every business must start with new customers, truly growth cannot take place till at least some of those customers come back for future business or a constant pool of customers must be created. With this in mind, retention must be included in any solid marketing plan.
     
    As stated before, retention can be controlled predominately by internal action. Within your marketing plan and in implementation, actions must be taken to heighten the customer experience within the purchasing or service process. This can be done through customer service, great products, great prices, speed, or by meeting any customer need specific to your industry. Remember than any interaction or engagement with the customer is a marketing opportunity. Within these interactions find the customer’s touch points for immediate and future reference. As these are better understood the marketing plan can be adjusted to meet these needs.
     
    Retained customers provide the backbone and life every business needs to begin creating strong growth going forward. It provides a recurring revenue source which allows for deeper resources and enhanced strategies for generating new customer bases. Customer retention is not simply done without any effort though. Like anything else it must be planned for and carried out by constant action by management and employees. As you plan for growth within your own company, look at your own customer retention rates and ways in which you can improve them going forward.

    Improve Online Marketing Skills for Cost Effective Marketing

    Marketing Your Small Business

     
    The business environment has changed drastically over the last decade especially in terms of marketing. Social media, search engines, and other outlets such as Youtube have made information easier to publish and access. Nearly all companies across the board have integrated these new resources into their marketing strategies. But these resources are even more advantageous for start-ups and small business and really even the marketing playing field. Learn to utilize search engines, social media, and other online outlets to market your brand in a cost effective manner.
     

    Enhance Your Website Searchability

     
    It is important to increase traffic to your website and this is done by boosting the ability to search for your site through search engines. Search engines use complex algorithms to index content online and feed the most relevant information to the searcher. Understanding how this search engines work is a complicated task and basically all search engines keep their algorithms secret in order to keep companies from manipulating their pages solely to increase searchability.
     
    But each website owner/maintainer can increase online traffic through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies and techniques. In fact, many firms have people dedicated to SEO tasks and website development as their daily job but you can do it for your business rather simply with a few basic strategies. Such as,
     

    • • Use short, descriptive titles for content that includes keywords.
    • • Use basic HTML tags for sections and subsections, bolded or italicized font, bulleted lists.
    • • Use some sort of WordPress site for other optimization features.
    • • Share your information through social media outlets.

     

    Quality over Quantity

     
    Another important thing to remember is that online marketing is indeed strategical for your company and you are trying to create a following. This is done best by providing first a great website and content. A better website and content will keep users coming back time and time again while also making it more likely they will share your website with friends, family, and colleagues. There is still something old fashioned about the internet and word of mouth marketing still goes a long way (even if it is done through shares, likes, +1’s, etc.).
     

    Engage Consumers

     
    The online world is an excellent place to engage consumers, get to know them better, and establish yourself as a real market player. Social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Youtube allow businesses to directly engage consumers in real time; answering their questions, getting to know them, and them getting to know you. Social media is a great place to build brand awareness, trust, and loyalty. Keep up on trending topics and place yourself among key market players in these online conversations.
     
    Online marketing is a low-cost option for all start-ups and small businesses. It provides the perfect landscape for small players to compete for market share with big industry players and really levels the marketing playing field. As you master online tools and resources you enhance your ability to build market share through, all while keeping marketing costs down.