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Marketing Eye blog topic: Small Business Marketing - page 9

Small Business Marketing

As an ex-journalist, interviewing people of all backgrounds and walks of life is second nature to me. I've interviewed police officers, politicians and met the Prime Minister, but have never been asked to have a sit-down interview with my former news organisation's owner (who would be Rupert Murdoch himself - eep!).

Today, I'm on day two in the marketing industry and have been given the chance to pick the brain of Marketing Eye founder, Mellissah Smith – it’s a slightly daunting ask, especially when you consider that she was little older than I was when she first branched out and went solo in her first agency.


“I’ve been in marketing for 20-odd years and was 25 when I started my first agency – what inspired me to start was an account opportunity falling in my lap,” Mellissah said.
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Every day I meet with male and female entrepreneurs. In some ways, I would love to use these meetings in a study about human gender based entrepreneurial behaviour because it continues to fascinate me the inherent differences between men and women entrepreneurs.

As a woman entrepreneur, there has been many advantages:

1. If you are half decent looking, people of both sexes want to do business with you. After all, how many people really want an unattractive PR chick or marketer?
2. If you are young and female, better still. Everyone wants to help you. Men over 40 want to father you and help you be successful. Men your own age want to assist because they are proud that you are having a go.
3. When things are not going your way, it's easy to put on the female charm.
4. You can dress to impress or dress down when need be.
5. You can see the human side in every situation.
6. You know why people are making decisions like they do because you are interested in how people think and feel.
7. You have more compassion and empathy for those around you.
8. You don't necessarily have to be the richest. Instead, being the best will do.
9. It's very easy to blame irrational decisions or behaviour that was momentary on PMT.
10. There is no such thing as failure. Worse case, you can get married and have children.

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There are many disadvantages in being a woman entrepreneur but they are often two-fold. For instance, being a mother; if your child is sick, your husband usually expects you to leave work first and what mother wouldn't want to do that anyway? Back at the office, your male colleagues who may not have children, nor understand this predicament may then think that you are unreliable or not focused enough on the job at hand.

With only 12% of women owned companies seeking angel capital, it is easy to generalize that perhaps women should take a leaf out of their male counterparts books. Why is it that women don't seek capital upfront for their businesses? Why do women put the hand brake on at $1million turnover, with most failing to be more than a one-man-band or go over the million dollar mark? Are women afraid of success? Is there too many influencers that affect their ability to succeed? Are women too emotional?

Women are 50% more likely to start a business than men yet men are deemed more successful all round in business. When a woman hits the top of a big corporation, even men label them as being more like them than a normal woman. And it's true. Seriously, women that hit the top of many businesses often are strong willed, dominant, fearless women who will do anything to succeed. A bit like their successful male counterparts, don't you think? Men are far more willing to focus on the end goal of making money while women entrepreneurs often spend more time thinking about the process.

Downsides on how people view successful women aren't too favourable either. Women's assertiveness is considered bitchy and they are considered to self-limit their ambitions. Even if I look at myself, I am aware that many people think that I am single, mildly successful and financially independent at the expense of being a woman. "You're more male, than woman" said a man at a recent conference. How do you think that makes me feel? I want to be a woman and I want to be successful but being likened to being more like a man is not the most flattering comment of the week.

Another interesting fact is that women turn away from satisfying and meaningful work, but less glamorous businesses can make a contribution to society and also make you rich. For instance, Marketing Eye has a majority of clients in the "unsexy" space like mining, logistics, supply chain, stevedoring, transport, sustainability and technology while many of my marketing friends who are women focus on fashion, food and restaurants.

Women are also their worse enemies - against each other. You would not believe the amount of times I have heard other women entrepreneurs put each other down both in areas of business and then taking it personal to the point of what they look like or what they perceive one would do to be successul. ie. sleep with anyone including clients. While there are many groups out there celebrating women in business, often women can feel insecure about another woman's success or failure for that matter.

So, I took it out to Twitter and asked "what can women entrepreneurs learn from their male counterparts" and this is what came up:

@JeremyScrivens nice one Mellissah - I would add 'and how are we contributing to theirs?' cheers
@Jenna_Goudreau Confidence. Willingness to go after funding.
@feraldogstudio Generally women tend to be less agressive in biz than men. Don't know if it's good or bad, but aggressiveness has its place
@zahrasays in 140 characters? We both have a lot to learn from one another....
@mattygeorge change is good, people are people and relationships are everything
@twilli2861 Nothing and everything! It depends on the starting point
@gemichelle Saying no isn't the end of the world & could be the most important word you say all day
@tartancat Simply that they're not different. An entrepreneur is an entrepreneur, not dependent on boobs or balls!
@gemichelle That understanding basic accounting and cashflow is important to keep control and make correct strategic decisions
@jasongreenhalgh Be confident and network, network, network (old school style)
@mwiings I reckon harnessing aggression, turning into a positive force without coming across as a whiner/nagger.
@irish_in_la identify, commit to and protect your corporate culture. Breath it in and live it! Your biz will ultimately fail if you don't.
@sarahsside Admit/apologize - without explaining yourself. Give credit to others and take a compliment with gratitude
@irish_in_la negotiate from a place of strength, not emotion and surround yourself w/ppl that share the same system of values as you do
@sarahsside Realize - best solutions/processes/results are a combination of diverse perspectives. Lead with head and heart
@theamandarose - Support each other literally not in names sake. Team work. Take the lead! Network.
@duckduckjoey "Don't be too naive when talking to people. Most people want their two cents out of you"
@theamandarose No emotions stay focused all about ROI no bitching confident take risks
@Meredithmobley I think women #entrepreneurs can stand to learn how to remove emotion from business
@polentamcphee stand by your decision, own it even if it fails
@polentamcphee Don't lose your femininity - we are are not men, we function diff cont.
@beckysueolofin hmm that's really something to ponder on. Responding and not reacting
@heidimyers Eckes comparison of gender body language applies to women in business
@_debrasinclair Taking risks in business
@summerboag choosing battles wisely and not as an immediate reaction. calculating various ways to get results
@heidimyers what about gender specific communication (body language when presenting or negotiating)
@fleurbrown an old male boss taught me that. Had no idea I was doing that. Being nice gets in the way of being effective
@fleurbrown don't make apologetic opening statements in meetings and keep things simple
@johnkelly1 Word entrepreneur never had male or female attached. Individual believing in their idea
@debbiethompson being ok with talking about your success rather than playing down your own success, for starters...
@launch_group don't make apologetic opening statements in meetings and keep things simple
@mickfromvic drive your enemies before you and hear the lamentation of their men
@irish_from_la my advice is to negotiate from a place of strength, not emotion and to always build a culture around you  based on values
@davidbassanese start small with a nub of an idea that makes money and expand from there. Don't try to get it right first. Dave
@digital_sydney persistence. men are persistent w/out apology. Women are more aware of stepping on toes and hesitant to ask and ask again
@sarahsside compliment others for their gifts - it creates great synergy. criticize only if it improves the results/outcomes
@sarahsside if something is said - ask what the person meant without assumptions then draw conclusions (communicate)

Men's successes come after their disappointments. Henry Ward Beecher.
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1 Billion Users. Now that is a really big number. HUGE!

If you think about the fact that there are only 7 billion people reportedly on the planet, Facebook has a staggering 14% as friends.

In July 2010, they had half that. 500 million registered users to be precise. So, how in 26 months have they increased to double that size excluding China, because its banned there?
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We've all heard about 'why companies fail to grow' with literally thousands of books, blogs, articles and shows talking about why businesses have failed to grow or have had a sudden death.

When you ask someone who has had a business fail, why, they usually give you one reason. We all know that there is never one singular reason why a business fails, it usually is combination of things; market size, competition and demand all feature highly on external factors while operations, leadership, complacency, technology, marketing and lack of investment feature highly as internal reasons.

But the real story that we all should be following is 'why businesses grow and succeed' because in that, there are lessons and patterns we all can follow.
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By Christopher Niesche - smh.com.au

EVERY small business should have a prospect list - a database of existing and potential customers where the business can focus its marketing efforts.

But it needs to be more than just a list of names and email addresses. It has to contain people who are in the target market for your products.

Here are tips on how to build up a prospect list.
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If you have ever marketed even one of your products or services, you’d know what they say about Direct Marketing (DM). There are so many different views about DM amongst the marketers today that it’s difficult to understand whether it’s worth all the time and effort at all. It’s confused, abused and misused by several marketers.

That’s right: there are the haters and then there are the DM lovers. Some are the in-betweeners (no reference to the teen TV show). Whatever it is, as a small business you need to know where DM stands in the digital age of 2011.

In his book, The Complete Guide to Direct Marketing, Chet Meisner refers to an Orlando newspaper which ran a hateful story about direct marketers. The headline was “Spammers, Telemarketers Share Secrets in Orlando”. According to the story, direct marketers were “making way too much money to stop the suppertime phone calls and endless emails.”
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It's time for celebration, or is it? It's Google's 14th Birthday and while one part of me wants to celebrate how much Google has made my life easier, the other part wants to pull back the curtain and see how I can control this addiction.

And addiction it is. Think about how long you can go without 'Googling' something or saying the world "Google". Try going a week. I have. It's impossible!

It's hard to imagine what life was like without Google?
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If you are finding it hard to keep up to the latest in marketing techniques, you are not alone.

Most marketers, let alone small business owners, are struggling to keep abreast of the new developments in technology, buzz words, Google algorithm changes, content trends and more. Why? Innovation has been put on steriods and every technology guru is hoping to become the next Mark Zuckerberg and bank a few billion or at the very least, get their faces on the cover of Forbes.
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There is good news though for those who feel the pressure to keep up. Sometimes staying one step behind allows you to better focus on what is important to your business and gives you time to evaluate a particular marketing mediums worth. Always ensure that you sign up for new marketing mediums that mean cementing your brand's name on that platform (otherwise, your competitor will grab it or some smug 14 year old sitting in the attic, laughing all the way to the bank).

Capturing what is best for your small business is often just trial and error.

For instance, is Google setting your marketing strategy alight? Maybe in the US it is, but in Australia, there are 10 more meaningful mediums to invest time and money into to achieve a better result.

In the US, trends in technology and marketing as a whole, tend to be far more faster on the uptake. There is a reason for this. Americans want everything now, not yesterday and they don't want to be the last cab off the rank.

Instead, they feverishly sign up for new social media platforms that tend to be driven by media and/or their friends uptake of that medium. Word of mouth is very powerful and can alluminate the whole process and if you couple this with "sharing" tools, you may hit a jackpot.

Marketing strategies are an imperative part of any business. Without it, small businesses are setting themselves up to fail. When 1 in 5 businesses fail in the first 5 years, it always comes down to a few reasons and marketing is one of them.

The problem with marketers is that they spend so much time doing their jobs, they forget why they are there in the first place. Keeping abreast of marketing trends is the only way to determine the best strategy to connect with customers. If you look at what seems like old fashion "direct mail" and the power of intergrating social media, emarketing, monitoring tools and advertising - its plain to see how much more effective a campaign can now be.

Marketers who fail to use social media tools that combine all social media platforms to build, engage and measure the impact and results from social media is now a must-have in any marketing department - yet, I took the liberty of ringing 20 people yesterday about what system they use and all of them said "none". Scary when you think of it. Shoutlet is our preferred medium, but there is so many to choose from and most have their individual merits. For the record; Shoutlet allows you to include multiple accounts and provides platform support, social CRM and ecommerce for facebook, email marketing and mobile.

If you are a small business owner and your marketing strategy looks a lot like the one you did 3 years ago, throw it in the bin. Start again. Not only will you save money, you will improve efficiencies and sales results.

Ensure that every marketing strategy centralizes around "content" and how social media in both B2B and B2C environments drives search engine optimization and client engagement.
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Social media has hit a new high. It no longer is something that businesses can think about including as part of their marketing strategy. It now is something NO BUSINESS can afford to not include.

During the week, I had a conversation with another provider for one of our clients. They are basically graphic designers who have done the odd website development. From my conversations with them, I am almost certain that the website developer is either a freelancer or a graphic designer who has learned to use Wordpress. There are some things that are really obvious in the work they have just completed.


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The website is terrible. It does have pretty pictures, but that it! No real strategy has gone into the websites development. The home page is as long as any scroll you have ever seen - literally, right down to the floor. It is full of blank space and menu buttons that should not be on the home page let alone part of the main section of the website.

They seem to be capable graphic designers althought their understanding of brand is reasonably limited - but that is not the end of the world. A marketer can always fix this problem.

But the website is a deal breaker. Worse than that, they now proclaim to be experts in online "communications" strategies to the point whereby they think that our mutual client should not be engaging in any meaningful social media communications. "No-one is going to buy their services because they are on social media".

Is this company sitting under a rock! I know they are in a regional area of Australia - but seriously, where have they been hiding?

Every marketing strategy needs to first look at who the target audience is and understand what makes them tick and how they can integrate areas of marketing to enhance direct communication in a meaningful way.

In today's environment, no marketing strategy can survive without being fully integrated and no matter what business you have, it needs to be online and visible to your target audience and influencers in some shape or form - otherwise, you won't survive.

When I look at an online strategy, the first thing I do is look at the customer.

Then I take a look at where our clients will find them and how they will find our clients.

From a tactical perspective, many clients want things like 100,000 people clicking onto their site every month or more Twitter followers, more fans on facebook and so on. The reality is that the numbers mean nothing and any marketer knows this.

You can BUY followers on any of these platforms and have 50k people following you on Twitter in a matter of weeks, but none of them are going to buy from you or go to your website and spend time viewing what you have to offer.

They are fake. Not real. Worthless. Cost money with no real return on investment other than some short term ego feeding.

Meaningful engagement with followers, fans and people coming to your website may mean fewer numbers on your marketing strategy, but more sales and bigger profits.



Specific goals for your social media plan need to be actionable, and achievable.

Focus on:
  • Creating a buzz around your brand: product or service
  • Walk people through what you have to offer, so should they need your product or service, they know where to find it
  • Engage your social media followers in meaningful conversations that lead to inquiries, sales, referrals and word of mouth conversation
  • Gain market share through providing a better customer experience and interaction via social media networks
  • Generate leads

For those who are still not keen on social media in the business to business environment, consider the facts:

  • Facebook has more than 955 million users with a majority between 18-25; 60 percent of which are female.
  • Twitter has more than 555 million users with a majority between 26-34; 57 percent female. Communicate in real time and get the news faster than any other medium.
  • LinkedIn is the number one social media tool for business to business marketing with more than 150 million users. Majority between 26-34, directly followed by 35-44.
The hardest task of all is to know how much is enough and how much is too much on social media. If you are tweeting "how good you are" every other hour, people with tune off and probably unfollow you quick smart. However, if you tweet content with frequency that is relevant to your followers, fans etc, and respond in a timely fashion, without tardiness, then you are more likely to gain loyal followers and fans who remember your brand, what you do and what you can offer them.

Creating meaningful content is key. At Marketing Eye, we find a good mixture of blogs that relate to business, marketing and life, ensure that our followers and fans are engaged and want to communicate with us through our many social media mediums.

Remember: Each business is different. You do not need to be like the business next door to you. You should do what works for you and the people you are engaging with. Don't focus on the numbers. Keep track of how much interaction you are having with people on social media and where they are landing on your website or what type of interaction you are having with them.
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In light of the past week whereby a person who is on television on occasion has been admitted to hospital after reportedly trying to take her life, the question of managing social media profiles is now on everyone's lips.

Cyber bullying exists but often its the ones that cry that they have been bullied, that have infact in some shape or form contributed to the situation. There is a social media protocol and simple solution to most things. "Block" exists and if you ever want to not read something being said, it simply takes you a few seconds. Secondly, never feed the situation - and that goes online or offline.

In the case of Charlotte Dawson, it was her blatant put down of New Zealand, her place of birth, that started the ball rolling.
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Yesterday at a breakfast hosted by Business Chicks, hundreds of women tweeted quotes from guest speaker Ita Buttrose.

The hashtag was #businesschicks and #itabuttrose. It's impact was for all to see, as the event was trending somewhere in the social media sphere and people who had never heard of Ita Buttrose from all over the world, were joining the 'trend' and retweeting tweets related to her speech. Such is the power of a #hashtag and of course, my favourite social media platform, Twitter.

What is a hashtag?

A #hashtag is a symbol or a metadata tag used on microblogging social networking sites Twitter, identi.ca and Google that is followed by a keyword phrase without spaces. It ties the conversations of different users into one stream, which you can find by searching the hashtag in Twitter search or by using a third-party monitoring tool like HootSuite.

All tags are case insensitive and can become trending topics if enough people start using it and virally spending the 'word'.

When trending goes viral

A hashtag can go viral very fast. Take for instance the re-launch of Big Brother. The tweeting went ballistic on Twitter and many popular tweets were displayed during the show. The hashtag #BB trended through the entire episode. Just like when #thevoiceau was on. It trended as did all of the judges. Who didn't tweet something about #joelmadden #keithurban #seal ?

What can small businesses do to get their messages across on Twitter with hashtags

It's hard to judge, but popular hashtags for small businesses are: #smallbusiness #entrepreneur #inspiration #success - make up your own one but make sure it is clever and you never know where it may go.

The reality is that on Twitter or any other medium it is not critical to 'trend' on a topic. What is important is the information that communicate and the story that those 160 characters tell.





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Daunted by the prospect of another year clicking over, yet excited by the adventures ahead of me and what presents itself as opportunities and fulfilment of lifelong dreams. A birthday they say is to be celebrated, yet I am not sure that many feel the same way year after year once we pass our age-old milestones.

Yes, I will be considered a year older in a matter of days and it is reason for reflection.
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There is absolutely no rest for the wicked!

An action packed weekend, filled with laughter, good friends, great food and a few bottles of french Bordeaux, it is fair to say, I am ready to get my teeth sunk in to the week ahead.

While it may seem all fun and games, it isn't always and is definately dependent on how you look at it.
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Figures released last showed the worst retail growth in fifty years as consumers deserted shops again in the end of financial year sales.

The 1.6 per cent annual rise in spending is the worst result since 1961-62 - an era when there were no credit cards and shoppers used pounds, shillings and pence.

The Bureau of Statistics revealed sales for the normally strong month of June had fallen by 0.1 per cent, following an 0.6 per cent drop in May.

Here's my take...
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It may appear on the outset that Marketing Eye doesn't need a business turnaround specialist, and to some degree we don't. We make money, we continue to grow and enter new markets and we provide a service that small business owners need.

In fact, things are going so good, that this week alone, we achieved $79,480 worth of sales through our use of social media networks linkedin, twitter and the company marketing blog which you are reading right now. Not bad for a 3-hour a week investment!
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