Category Archives: Blog

How to Use Social Media to Generate Sales Leads

Sensational-Social-Media-Facts-Figures-and-Statistics-6-InfographicsVast numbers of prospective customers await businesses on social media, and salespeople who ignore these hugely popular sites do so at their own peril.

At the same time, simply plunging in and bombarding social media platforms with pre-fabricated sales messages will get you nowhere. Today’s sophisticated, web-savvy audiences will likely reject a hard sell wherever they encounter it.

When it comes to generating new sales leads on social media, a nuanced, user-friendly approach is more effective. Here are strategies to employ when reaching out to your desired target audience via social media.

Cultivate a vibrant social media presence. It’s not enough to sign up for Twitter and Facebook and wait for fans and followers to come to you. With social media, it’s all about cultivating a vibrant presence that facilitates a friendly give-and-take, with an emphasis on giving rather than taking.

Look closely at your target demographics. What platforms do they frequent? Establish accounts on all major social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc.), but be mindful of the risks of spreading yourself too thin. Focus your efforts on the primary channels where your target audience spends its time, while maintaining a presence on other, secondary sites.

Offer content of value to prospective customers. If you’ve researched your target audience, you should have a pretty good idea of what’s important to them and what they can do without. You’ll attract more fans and followers by catering to their needs and issues, rather than focusing on what you want (new sales leads).

Using social media to generate sales requires taking a long view—providing a steady stream of valuable (and entertaining) content, building relationships with an ever-larger group of followers in ways not directly related to internal sales objectives.

It’s OK to sprinkle your posts with occasional calls-to-action. For example, invite followers to click on a link that takes them to a special offer on your business website (like a free article or white paper). People are more inclined to explore such links if they don’t feel you’re actively selling them something.

Post often, but not too often. Social media experts differ on the ideal amount of posting to be done daily or weekly, but all agree—consistency is crucial towards achieving your sales goals. You build trust among viewers by serving as a reliable source of information, as opposed to only occasionally Tweeting or posting once in a while on Facebook or Google+.

At the same time, monitor your output so you don’t overwhelm people or come across as pushing a corporate agenda. Social media is all about customer engagement and interaction.

Join a group and/or community. Industry-specific groups can be found on LinkedIn and Facebook, with a “built-in” audience of people interested in your field. Twitter and Google+ offer communities and forums with a similar approach. All are effective ways to introduce yourself and your business, as long as you don’t come on too strong. Establishing solid relationships with prospective customers is far more important than self-promotion—while always seeking to contribute to the discussion in a meaningful way.

Be patient. As noted, social media isn’t the venue for quick sales. As you build a reputation for providing consistent value, you’ll gain more followers (and potential customers).

When the opportunity arises, reach out to individual followers on Twitter and elsewhere, offering to address their needs and offer helpful solutions. On social media, patience and respectful engagement are the best ways to capture new leads for your business.

Image by KEXINO

4 Tips to Help Avoid a Data Breach

broken_security_lockYou are now a victim of credit card theft. Your information has been hacked and you are on the phone with your bank explaining how you were out to lunch at 1pm and not racking up a $300 dollar bill in light bulbs at home depot. Credit card theft has been a fear for everyone for many years now, and is still a reason some people choose never to shop online. As a consumer, it is a great concern. As a business owner, it is a loss in revenue. With data breaches continually hitting the newsstands, business owners can’t help but to worry when they might be next.

SSL Websites Rank Higher In Google Search

HTTPSGoogle has announced that equipping your website with an SSL 2048-bit key certificate – going HTTPS – will give you a boost in search ranking. Because obtaining an SSL certificate is both uncomplicated and affordable, it’s the easiest thing site owners can do to get a leg up in the Google Game.

Security has been a top priority of Google’s this year. They feel this is a move to make the Internet a more secure place, and a more secure Internet begins with more secure websites. HTTPS is a way to encrypt the data that is transmitted between a user’s web browser and the site they are on. With an SSL certificate, a website can keep payments and other customer data secure (passwords, credit card numbers, etc.)

Sadly, We Can’t All Be Mark Zuckerberg. The Business Value Of Dressing For Success

MZUCKMonday morning can be a drag for anyone. You had a great weekend, hung out with some friends, and perhaps watched some Sunday Night Football. Now it’s back to the grind. With deadlines approaching, most people are focused on the daily tasks and work to be done for the week. But there is one aspect of work that may slip your mind. The way you present yourself! When is casual, too casual?

How to Handle BBB Complaints

bbbUnfortunately, customer complaints from the Better Business Bureau cannot be ignored. It doesn’t matter if it was you and your team who dropped the ball, or if your organization was merely a victim of an irrational customer, if not handled properly, grievances can have harmful and lasting impact on a small business.

Complaints cloud a company’s record for three years, so it’s best to avoid them whenever possible. However, if you do receive them, here’s what you can do to curtail the damage:

Outsource Your Payroll, You’ve Got Enough To Worry About

HelpLet’s shoot straight: managing payroll is an annoying obligation; an especially time consuming and detail-oriented task that can quickly consume even the sharpest business owner. Add to that the stiff penalties for a tax filing omission or a mistake on an employee paycheck and now we’re talking a full-blown pain in the rear.

Outsourcing payroll is an excellent alternative to in-house payroll processing for today’s small businesses. This practice allows business owners to streamline operations, freeing them from the liability and annoyance of payroll duties, and allowing them to focus their efforts on the tasks that impact the bottom line. While there are many reasons business owners choose to outsource payroll, here we’ve identified the top advantages:

How to Motivate Your Seasonal Employees

season employeesThe holidays are just around the corner and, if prospects look good, you’re anticipating the need to hire seasonal workers. At the same time, you may dread doing so, only because past experience has shown that motivating temporary employees to do a good job is a challenge in and of itself.

The good news is, a little advance preparation and guidance can make all the difference between seasonal workers who just take up space, and those who make a real effort to generate sales and provide quality customer service.

Here are a few tips to tilt the odds in your favor:

SEO Basics For Small Business Owners

SEO flow chart on chalkboardEvery small business should have a basic knowledge of search engine optimization. In fact, you should almost be exhausted by the term “SEO” at this point, as you’ve been undoubtedly told time and time again just how important it is. But unlike many trending industry buzzwords, SEO is here to stay. Why? In our web-facing world, the (already) dominant search engines are becoming the cornerstone of the internet. Standard procedure for individuals looking for information is to search first.

Use Technology to Improve Customer Service

Bulter with Call BellThe internet has afforded us the ability to connect with customers and clients like never before. Your business should be wielding the power of web-based resources for opportunities to connect with patrons and to improve customer service. The following internet-based practices will help create excellent service experiences, which will result in loyal and satisfied customers.

  • Be Available – If a customer is not able to get ahold of a company representative when they attempt to make contact, kiss them goodbye. We understand that many small businesses do not have the ability to man a dedicated, 24/7 chat queue or an around-the-clock call center, but free services – like Gmail, Twitter – are all you need. Create a dedicated avenue for customer contact, and commit to checking it daily (or more) to stay on top of customer interactions.

Show ‘Em You Care: PCI Compliance and Your Small Business

PCI ComplianceIf you’re a business that accepts credit card payments, you’ve become familiar with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard for protecting cardholder information, commonly referred to as “PCI”. As credit card processors, banks, and businesses get more serious about credit card data security, you owe it to your customers to choose compliance every time.

In just the past year, we’ve seen data breach, after data breach, on top of data breaches across all industry sectors. Your customers want to know that you value their security and are serious about protecting their information. Showing your customers and clients that your organization is serious about data security will not only increase the legitimacy of your business, but you will be rewarded with satisfied lifelong customers who will spread the word about your solid business practices.