Using Social Media to Increase Sales and Brand Awareness

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Companies are continuously launching marketing campaigns in an effort to promote their brand and boost their sales. Some of these are highly successful – Carlsberg’s slogan and advertising of ‘probably the best lager in the world’ generates excellent brand awareness and reputation. This then contributes to increased sales and ultimately increased profits. However, many of these companies have large marketing and advertising budgets. What if your company can not afford these marketing initiatives? This is where Social media marketing comes in. Most social media marketing ‘tools’ are free to use and can provide the same amount of marketing exposure whether you are just starting out or are a giant conglomerate. This article explains how you can use social media marketing to increase sales at a relatively low cost.

Firstly, let’s just dispel the myth that social media marketing does not lead to a direct increase in sales. Here are some examples to prove this: Sony announced in February that through Twitter they had earned an extra £1million in sales, Dell announced in June last year that their presence on Twitter accounted for $3 million dollars increase in sales. You might argue that these are two big companies and they already have a brand reputation. However, other smaller companies have also experienced increased sales through this form of marketing. John Fluevog Boots & Shoes Ltd, a small shoe making company in Canada, reported a 40% increase in sales in 2009, the same year it started social media marketing, this was not by chance.

So how can social media marketing contribute to increased sales for your company? Social media tools allow you access to millions of people. A television advert will reach the people watching at that time and allows for no interaction with the consumer. One tweet can reach millions of people. Sainsbury’s for example regularly tweet their latest offers. Anyone wanting to keep up with these can simply follow Sainsbury’s on Twitter. This gives a much bigger potential customer base and allows for sales to increase, whilst also creating brand awareness. Furthermore, people can respond to these tweets, which provides a forum for customer interaction and thus customer insight. Your business can emulate this, tweeting your promotions provides free advertising. If this is done creatively, it really can boost sales and get your company noticed.

Social media marketing works in a similar way to other forms of marketing; it is viral. A small company initially works on a word of mouth basis, people tell their friends. This type of marketing, especially Twitter and Facebook, work with the ‘friend’ concept. People can give you positive reviews, recommend your product and tweet about your company. This whole social community allows your company’s name and brand to be viewed by a significant amount of people. Continuous use of social media over time creates brand awareness and thus helps to increase sales. One of our clients, PeachorLemon, a car review website, gained over one hundred followers on Twitter within a week. This is a hundred more people who know about promotions and offers, may tell their friends, visit the website or use other social media outlets to mention PeachorLemon. All this creates brand awareness and over time increased use of the website, thus increasing its value.

The effect social media can have on brand awareness is critical in the future of small businesses marketing strategy. Brand awareness is only one way in which sales are increased, there are many other important contributing factors. However, as this article has demonstrated, creating brand awareness through this new exiting variation of marketing can have a huge impact on your business and revenues.

Anthony O’Flynn

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Source by Anthony O’Flynn

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Defining Business Ethics

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It is easy to come up with a definition for business ethics based on your company’s goals and priorities, and independent of how books and resources would define it. The most widely accepted definition for business ethics says that it is a set of corporate values and codes of principles, which may be written or unwritten, by which a company evaluates its actions and business-related decisions. As the definition goes, business ethics can be written or unwritten. This is because most of the time, ethics business and the criteria for what is good and what is bad is shaped by a company’s best practices and long-standing culture.

In simplest terms, ethics business refers to the propensity to differentiate right from wrong, and the resiliency to choose to do what’s right in terms of actions and decisions. It applies to the employees both rank-and-file and managers as well as the company as a whole.

There are two ways that companies can approach and implement the concept business ethics. These two approaches are based on two schools of thought, each providing a different definition for ethics business.

The first school of thought is shareholder-focused. It maintains that ethical business decisions can be made when individuals within the organization and the company as a whole always keep the best interest of the owners in mind. For those who see business ethics from the shareholders’ perspective, actions and decisions should be geared towards generating more profit.

On the other hand, the stakeholder-focused approach puts premium on corporate social responsibility. Under this concept, ethical companies are those that act and decide with the interest of all stakeholders not just the owners in mind. ethics business means striking a balance to service all groups that have an impact on, or are impacted by the company’s decisions and actions. These stakeholder groups can include the employees, the supply chain, the end consumers, relevant government and non-government organizations, and the community where the company operates, among others. Given this, the stakeholder perspective emphasizes the need to make business decisions that will work well for all the stakeholder groups.

The definition for business ethics varies in every company. The challenge in defining the term lies in the fact that there is no clear definition of right and wrong. It is true that we have laws to punish offenses that are necessarily wrong. Unfortunately, these laws do not define and punish what is morally right and what is morally wrong. As a result, it is left to individuals and corporate persons to make their own classifications, and act and decide by these classifications.

Companies arrive at these right-wrong classifications based on many different factors. These factors include: the culture within the company, the presence of a formal professional code of business ethics, the internal system of rewards and recognition, recruitment and human resources practices, the values system, the way management treats its employees, and the flow of the decision-making process.

In terms of business ethics, the trend now rapidly favors companies that operate from a stakeholder perspective. The theory is that communicating a socially responsible image compels end-consumers to support the company and its product because of the moral benefit that it gives them. To be sustainable, it is thus important for decision makers that set the standards for business ethics to expand their horizons beyond the quest for profit.

Companies and businesspeople who wish to thrive long-term must adopt sound ethical decision-making practices. Companies and people who behave in a socially responsible manner are much more likely to enjoy ultimate success than those whose actions are motivated solely by profits. Knowing the difference between right and wrong and choosing what is right is the foundation for ethical decision making. In many cases, doing the right thing often leads to the greatest financial, social, and personal rewards in the long run.

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Source by Christina Gruble

Business Online Advantages and Disadvantages

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Increasingly, more people own or are growing their businesses online with varying degrees of success. It is important for internet entrepreneurs to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of doing business online as this knowledge will empower them to make the right decisions and implement the correct strategies if they do go ahead and start a business on the internet. Below are the main advantages and disadvantages of running an online business.  

 Advantages

Start-up costs are relatively cheaper than bricks and mortar businesses. Some business-in-a-box programs cost as little as $400, some even cheaper. If you are setting up your own website with your business plan you may only need to pay for a domain name and web hosting which would cost you less than $100. Even for the most expensive opportunities, they are still way cheaper than other businesses. The top scale start up costs for internet business could be $20k, which might seem expensive but when compared with businesses like the MacDonald’s franchise which cost over a quarter of a million dollars, then it puts things into better perspective.   Operational costs and administrative expenses are also relatively lower than other businesses with little or no staff required. Many internet entrepreneurs work from home which means that expenses like lighting and heating and office expenses which would normally be incurred in an office block, are saved.   Running a business online gives great flexibility. This is because the business can be run from anywhere. An entrepreneur could be on the beach on holiday with her family and still be running her business normally. This flexibility helps the entrepreneur does as she pleases with her time. She may decide to work between 12 midnight and 6 am if that is her most productive hours.   Online businesses can reap the rewards of free and cheap advertising, through videos, article marketing and social marketing. Even with more expensive advertising options like pay per click, due to the number of Internet users, to potential to grow your business is very high especially if you can effectively drive traffic to your website.  

Disadvantages

Competition is high as increasingly people are becoming switched on to the advantages of running an online business and also more technology savvy and are growing their businesses. The number of people starting a business online is increasing at high levels and they are all competing for traffic which makes it harder to break through.   The Internet is a very dynamic marketplace. Consumer tastes vary widely and change frequently. Therefore, by focusing on one business idea or income stream, the entrepreneur risks being left behind by new products and services as consumers chase the next best product or service.   Even when the entrepreneur has a winning business model, competitors can easily copy it and therefore impact negatively on profits.   Getting to grips with technology to sustain competitive advantage can be a limiting factor especially if the entrepreneur depends on himself and hires no staff. This disadvantage can be overcome by either outsourcing or employing staff full time or on contract basis.   It may take time for the business to get off the ground as the entrepreneur builds his online presence and if the business is not run properly cash flow problems may hinder the success of the business. It is important that the marketing and other costs are very carefully budgeted for over a period to take into account the possibility that profits may take a while to materialise.   Running an online business is empowering and can be profitable. A lot of these businesses fail because entrepreneurs are not mindful of the advantages and disadvantages and have not planned accordingly. While it is relatively easier and cheaper to start and grow an online business than a traditional bricks and mortar business, that advantage can also be an advantage as competitors enjoy the same benefits. 

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Source by Festus Sowah

Top 10 Marketing Concepts For Small Business Marketing

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Over the past decade more and more people are getting fired, getting downsized, or getting fed up with their corporate jobs and embark on the journey as a small business owner. Unfortunately, most of the new small business owners fail to consider their marketing plans or strategy. There are many marketing concepts for small business marketing to consider and plan for, but here is our list of Top 10 Marketing Concepts For Small Business Marketing.

Marketing Concept # 1: Consistency

Consistency is the number one marketing concept for small business marketing only because it is left out of marketing concepts for so many businesses. I have worked with a long list of clients, big and small, that are extremely inconsistent in all areas of their marketing. Consistency helps lower the cost of marketing and increase the effectiveness of branding.

Marketing Concept # 2: Planning

Once small business owners decide to be consistent with their marketing, planning is the next major concept to engage. Planning is the most vital part of small business marketing or any level of marketing, for that matter, and so many owners, marketing managers, and even CMOs plan poorly. Put the time into planning your marketing strategy, budget, and other concepts presented here to ensure success.

Marketing Concept # 3: Strategy

Strategy immediately follows planning because your strategy is the foundation for the rest of your marketing activities. In the process of planning, you must develop your strategy: who you will target, how you will target them, and how will you keep them as a customer.

Marketing Concept # 4: Target Market

Target market is also another key concept for small business marketing. Defining exactly who you are targeting allows small business owners to focus on specific customers and reduce marketing waste. A well-defined target market will make every other marketing concept so much easier to implement successfully.

Marketing Concept # 5: Budget

Although it is listed at number 5, budgeting is important throughout the entire process. Creating a marketing budget is usually the hardest and most inaccurate part of small business marketing. Most small businesses owners lack a great deal of experience in marketing, so their budgets usually end up skewed. The most important part of this marketing concept is to actually establish a marketing budget. From there, you can worry about how to distribute your available funds.

Marketing Concept # 6: Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is usually defined as product, pricing, place, and promotion. As a small business owner, you must specifically decide on your products (or services), the appropriate pricing, where and how you will distribute your products, and how will you let everyone know about you and your products.

Marketing Concept # 7: Website

In today’s market, a business of any size must have a website. I hate when I see businesses that have a one page website with out-dated information. Customers, be it businesses or consumers, will search the web over 60% of the time before making any purchasing decisions. This marketing concept contains a slew of additional components, but you must at least develop a small web presence of some kind and keep it updated.

Marketing Concept # 8: Branding

Many small businesses owners also neglect this concept. Small business marketing must focus on this marketing concept just as much as large corporations do. Branding consists of the pictures, logo, design scheme, layout, make up, and image of your products and even your company. Branding is how your customers perceive (please place a lot of emphasis on that word!) your products and company. Make sure to pay special attention to what kind of brand you are building through each step of your planning and implementation.

Marketing Concept # 9: Promotion and Advertising

Promotion and advertising is a very complex marketing concept, but must be considered for any type of business and its products and services. Once you engage the previous 8 marketing concepts, you must finally let your target market know about you and your products. Proper promotion and advertising will result in effective brand recognition, and, ultimately, increased sales.

Marketing Concept # 10: Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

The concept of customer relationship management has become a huge industry in the marketing world. There are many types of software and services offered to help businesses of any size handle their customer relationship management. Since there is so much available, usually for a large sum of money, small business owners usually look at this concept as something they are not big enough for or have enough money to implement. Don’t be fooled by the massive industry that has evolved from this concept. Maintaining proper customer relationship management is essential to creating loyal and consistent customers.

This list of marketing concepts should be examined, researched, planned, and implemented, especially by small businesses, in order to be successful. Also, your marketing doesn’t stop here. Each business is unique and will have additional components that must be considered, but this list will jump-start any marketing plan.

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Source by Nate Stockard

10 Tips To Optimize Your Insurance Agent LinkedIn Profile

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Social media marketing is moving front and center when it comes to insurance agency web marketing strategies, which may encompass other terms such as insurance agency search engine marketing or insurance agency search marketing optimization. Agents and producers, owners and executives should be cognizant of this new frontier, perhaps changing the famous saying of “Go West, young man, go West” as popularized by Horace Greeley, to “Go Web young man, go Web”. As social media websites for business go, surely LinkedIn is one of the most preeminent, and one that insurance agents and agencies should leverage in their daily routine. Here are 10 tips to help better leverage your LinkedIn presence.

1. Professional Headline– Create a professional headline that explains your expertise and is keyword friendly. For example, I am an “Insurance Agency Marketing Expert” rather than a “Business Development Manager.”

2. Complete Education & Experience – Process can be accelerated by uploading a current resume from a Word document.

3. Request Recommendations – Request a minimum of 3 recommendations. We suggest a client, a colleague and someone else. Recommendations for previous work are also powerful.

4. Include Website Links – Add links to your website, your blog, and a personal website (if possible).

5. Integrate Twitter Feed – If you are using Twitter, add your Twitter ID.

6. Summary – Create a 1-2 paragraph professional summary that explains what you do and why it is important. Make sure to include your areas of expertise and leverage your SEO keywords.

7. Specialties – A short list of specialties that should look very much like your Top 3 SEO keyword phrases.

8. Blog Application – Under the “Applications” menu, select “Get More Applications.” Choose the WordPress application and enter the blog address. Select the options to display the blog on your homepage and profile.

9. Other Application(s)– If possible add 1-2 more applications that you feel would be of interest.

10.Make Regular Updates – Post regular profile updates. What you are working on, webinar invites, blog links and announcements are all great updates. Make sure to include your SEO keywords in the updates as well.

LinkedIn’s website states they now have over 90 million members around the world as of January 2011. Most of these members are business centric, as LinkedIn seemingly becomes the Facebook of business. Every insurance agent should have a presence on LinkedIn, and every insurance agency should have a company page on LinkedIn. Does that mean agents should ignore Facebook and other social media sites? Insurance agents and producers, should embrace the major social networking sites. However, if you are a B2B oriented agency or broker, LinkedIn should be a top priority as a social media marketing venue.

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Source by John W. Scranton

10 Tips To Optimize Your Insurance Agent LinkedIn Profile

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Social media marketing is moving front and center when it comes to insurance agency web marketing strategies, which may encompass other terms such as insurance agency search engine marketing or insurance agency search marketing optimization. Agents and producers, owners and executives should be cognizant of this new frontier, perhaps changing the famous saying of “Go West, young man, go West” as popularized by Horace Greeley, to “Go Web young man, go Web”. As social media websites for business go, surely LinkedIn is one of the most preeminent, and one that insurance agents and agencies should leverage in their daily routine. Here are 10 tips to help better leverage your LinkedIn presence.

1. Professional Headline– Create a professional headline that explains your expertise and is keyword friendly. For example, I am an “Insurance Agency Marketing Expert” rather than a “Business Development Manager.”

2. Complete Education & Experience – Process can be accelerated by uploading a current resume from a Word document.

3. Request Recommendations – Request a minimum of 3 recommendations. We suggest a client, a colleague and someone else. Recommendations for previous work are also powerful.

4. Include Website Links – Add links to your website, your blog, and a personal website (if possible).

5. Integrate Twitter Feed – If you are using Twitter, add your Twitter ID.

6. Summary – Create a 1-2 paragraph professional summary that explains what you do and why it is important. Make sure to include your areas of expertise and leverage your SEO keywords.

7. Specialties – A short list of specialties that should look very much like your Top 3 SEO keyword phrases.

8. Blog Application – Under the “Applications” menu, select “Get More Applications.” Choose the WordPress application and enter the blog address. Select the options to display the blog on your homepage and profile.

9. Other Application(s)– If possible add 1-2 more applications that you feel would be of interest.

10.Make Regular Updates – Post regular profile updates. What you are working on, webinar invites, blog links and announcements are all great updates. Make sure to include your SEO keywords in the updates as well.

LinkedIn’s website states they now have over 90 million members around the world as of January 2011. Most of these members are business centric, as LinkedIn seemingly becomes the Facebook of business. Every insurance agent should have a presence on LinkedIn, and every insurance agency should have a company page on LinkedIn. Does that mean agents should ignore Facebook and other social media sites? Insurance agents and producers, should embrace the major social networking sites. However, if you are a B2B oriented agency or broker, LinkedIn should be a top priority as a social media marketing venue.

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Source by John W. Scranton

The Things You Need To Know About Facebook Marketing

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What do you want to do with Facebook marketing? Do you want to create ads which entice people to your website? Would you like to engage your current customers in conversation? Would you prefer to draw in new customers from around the world? Regardless of your goals, you’ll find the tips in this article are priceless.

Take the time to fill out your Facebook profile with useful information and more details about your brand. Add a link to your website and write a brief description of your brand or products. Use a visitor counter to get an idea of how many visitors follow this link to access your homepage.

Use all of the options available to you on Facebook when using it to market your business. There are so many different ways that you can customize your page, the key is knowing exactly what those options are. If you need help there are many websites, including Facebook, that can give you some insight.

Consider surfing Facebook as your company instead of yourself. When you’re on your page, you have the opportunity to check out Facebook as the page itself. Do this and like pages which you think have a similar fan base, and then comment on those pages as well to get your name out to an expanded audience.

Offer something in exchange for signing up on your Facebook page. Having visitors register on your page lets you engage them in ongoing dialogue about your business. Offering them something, such as an entry in a sweepstakes, makes them more likely to register on your page and provide your business with valuable leads.

Create infographics. Infographics are a step up from pictures, and include information and relevant information that can be useful to your target market. When you create an infographic, it is even more likely to be shared by others because the information is valuable. This raises your profile, but it also makes you look like an expert.

Have your fans get involved with your various company or brand decisions. Customers love to feel important. It’s a wise choice to have your community involved in your basic decisions. If you blog, ask fans what they want to hear about.

Have fun with your Facebook marketing. This seems like an odd tip, but really it’s very important. A lot of people approach Facebook marketing as a serious job. It is, but your tone can’t be too serious. This is a social medium where people gather to have a good time talking. If your brand feels like a stick in the mud, you won’t get much traction.

Promote your Facebook page all over the place. Share the link to your social media profile on your website, on your personal page, on your blog, on your friends’ pages and anywhere else you can think of. The more exposure your page gets, the better it is for your business.

If you blog, Facebook can help you get the word out when you put up new content. Simply write up a post and direct people to visit it. Fans may forget to check your blog regularly, and a reminder when new content is up could be just what they need to take a look at it.

Speak with others through your Facebook page. Encourage your followers to chit chat. You can either start conversations or ask a question to get them going. After the fans start talking, you can take part as well. The more you do that, the closer your followers will feel to you and the more likely they are to patronize your business.

Ask your followers if they will share any content that you post. You may want to offer a small discount for those who do share. You could also promise to share a coupon code with everyone once one or your updates is shared by a certain number of subscribers.

Organize a contest and offer a prize to the contestant who gets the most votes. The subscribers who enter your contest will ask their friends to vote on their entry. This is a great way to get more visitors to your page and perhaps get some additional subscribers for your campaign.

Don’t relay too much on automation. It can be very tempting to automate your Facebook posting. More posts are better, right? That’s not always the case. People can sense an automated post, especially if all you post are links to stories from around the web. You won’t be building any sort of engagement between your audience and your brand.

Do not place any images on the cover of your page that are not good quality and/or are not relevant to your business. You may see a nice picture that you think people will love, but it won’t make any sense to post it if it has nothing to do with what you are selling.

Use videos whenever possible, especially if you have a new product to showcase. While a picture is great (and it is certainly better than nothing), a video is much more exciting and can give your followers more information than a picture and text alone can. Adding a video to your post is quite easy with Facebook’s current format as well, so there really is no reason not to give it a try.

Hosting

One way to build the presence of your business on Facebook is through a brand page. A brand page, which is also called a fan page, is similar to an actual personal profile. However, one distinct difference is that fans are accumulated instead of friends. On your brand page, you can import your Twitter and blog feeds. You can also post and collect content, have hosting discussions and collect user reviews.

Whatever investment you make into marketing on Facebook, you must use what you’ve learned here to make it worth what you pay. Having a solid plan in place first will ensure that your campaign meets the goals you set. The harder you work, the better your outcome will be, so get to work!

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Source by Joshua Nicholson