4 Reasons Why Twitter Is a Waste of Time for Small Business Owners

We’ve all heard the hype: “you NEED to be Facebooking, Twittering, blogging and YouTubing if your business is going to survive in the next five years.”

But spare a thought for the humble small business owner, generally a one or two person operation, maybe up to five… time poor, money poor (GFC?) and with little computer education let alone a working knowledge of the internet and social media.

But with all the so-called ‘Social Media Gurus’ out there whose advice do you follow (even if you do have the time to invest in learning)…?

For many small business owners Social Media is the bane of their existence, a necessary evil they HAVE TO DO… just because everyone else is doing it. Yet, if they’re going to take time out of their busy schedule to ‘do’ Social Media how on earth are they going to make money from it, how are they going to get a return on their investment?

Social Media is full of wishy-washy slogans like ‘enter the conversation’, ‘meet customers on their terms’ and ‘let customers tell you what they want from your business’. How is a small business owner to make sense of any of this, let alone make money for their business?

Twitter is a much talked about Social Media website yet it could be the undoing of many small business owners that dare to spend their days ‘tweeting’, re-tweeting, following and hash tagging.

Here are 4 reasons why Twitter is a waste of time for small businesses owners:

1. Time – tweeting takes time, and what small business owner do you know that isn’t time poor? If you had a few hours spare each week to tweet, there are better ways to spend it.

2. Money – we’re all in business to make money, yet when it comes to social media a select few seem to know how to do it. We hear how Dell Computers made $4million on Twitter last year. Is Dell a small business? No. They have a huge team whose sole responsibility is to perfect their social media. But how is a time-poor small business owner going to make money from Twitter? They could hire someone but at what hourly cost? They have to make that back and more to make it even worthwhile.

3. Lead Generation Strategy – for a small business to run smoothly they must have one or more lead generation strategies. And when it comes to Social Media the same SHOULD hold true. Yet the majority of small business owners use social media randomly – a tweet here, a post there – but where’s the system? To make it work you need a strategy. Twitter is a place for you to build you ‘expert’ status. Credibility which leads to expert status takes time and what small business owner has unmetered time?

4. Customisation – Twitter allows you 140 characters per ‘tweet’. Sure, you can customise the picture on your profile, but who cares? Twitter allows zero customisation to give your business profile an edge, nor does it offer opportunity to capture business leads.

For small business owners who want a return on their Social Media investment they need a tool that can help them do that. They need a system in place to get the results they’re looking for and it needs to run on auto-pilot the majority of the time. If Twitter can’t offer this, what Social Media Site can?

The answer is Facebook. Facebook ticks all the boxes that Twitter doesn’t. With Facebook, Small Business owners can:

– invest little time, but with the RIGHT knowledge, can gain a financial return on the time they invest

– Invest little money aside from an upfront setup cost (assuming they hire an expert to set it up for them)

– Systemise a lead capture procedure that brings in qualified leads right to their email inbox

– Customise – as of March 10, 2011 Facebook offers customisation for anyone to insert a ‘mini-website’ within their Facebook Page which gives them full control over the content they place on their Facebook Page.

Internet Marketing For Small Business Tips – Choosing A Domain Name For Your Lead Generation Website

If you want to create an internet marketing for small business strategy for your local business you will need to have a website set up. This website needs to be a lead generation website in order to be effective as a marketing tool.

So what do we mean by lead generation website? To be an effective marketing tool for your local business the website that you have set up should be search engine optimized, and have the ability to capture the names and email addresses of those who visit it.

The first step towards an effective lead generation website is to choose a domain name for it. This is the name of your website and it also determines the address where it may be found on the internet. When you choose a domain name remember to include the main keywords that your target market will type into the search engines to find you.

Let’s look at an example to illustrate more clearly what I mean. We will assume you have a local business, called Anderson Plumbing Services in the town of Membury. You certainly would not want your domain name to be the name of your business because not many people would find your site this way. You want to use the keywords which a prospective customer might type into Google to find your services, and incorporate them into a domain name. So a better example for your domain name might be memburyplumbing.com.

So now that you understand that it is important to include keywords in your domain name, where can you find out what keywords people are using when they are looking for information on local business services? Fortunately there are many tools that can help you find these words. One of these is the Google Keyword Tool. If you type the phrase “Google keyword tool” into your search bar you will find it is the first result to come up.

Type into the search box some words that you think people might be searching for such as “Membury plumbing” and the tool will bring up a list of many others related to this one. You will also see some columns which tell you how many times a phrase is searched and what the competition is like for that phrase. Ideally you will want a keyword phrase that gets enough searches but for which there is not too much competition. Once you have a few domain name ideas written down you need to select a domain name registrar to see if the name you have chosen is available and register it. The domain name registrar that I use is Godaddy. Do not take any notice of all the upsells that this registrar will try and sell you. Just register the name you have chosen. It is a good idea to register your domain name for as long as you can; five years is best. The search engines are able to pick up these details and tend to take more notice of a domain name that has been registered for longer.

Now that you have a domain name that has keywords in it you will be stand a better chance at achieving an effective lead generation website as people will be able to find it more easily.

3 HOT Tips To Improve Your Ads/Flyers and Letters for Small Business Growth

One of the areas that you can dramatically improve the number of leads to your small business is through effective advertising.

Right now I’ll take you through 3 HOT tips on how you can bring in more money and customers.

Here are three things you can do to improve your prospecting letters.

1. Use a benefit orientated headline, not your business name.

The biggest mistake most small businesses make is using their business name as the headline for their advertisements.

Your prospective customer isn’t interested in your business name, they want to know what you will do for them. So tell them in the headline.

A case in point is the weight loss market.

If you’d like to lose weight which headline would appeal to you more…?

“Naughton Services” (business name headline) or…

“Lose 5kgs in 7 weeks” (benefit headline)

Obviously the second headline would appeal more.

Make sure you use benefit headlines for all of your marketing pieces.

2. Take a ‘Point of YOU’ approach.

Print out each of your letters/ad/flyers and take a red pen and circle the words I, We, or Our in your letter/ad/flyer.

Now rewrite your letter using the words YOU or YOUR.

Why?

Your prospective customer doesn’t care about you. They are interested in themselves and they want you to tell them how buying from you will benefit them.

So don’t tell them about you in your ads/flyers and letters. They don’t care! Appeal to their self-interest by telling them how they will get value for money, and how they will benefit.

For example…

“I will talk about the 5 key areas that I feel are important in health”
“You will learn the 5 key important areas that will dramatically improve your health”

A general rule of thumb for any marketing piece is that for every ‘I’ or ‘We’ there should be 5 ‘You’ or ‘Your’s.

3. Ask the reader to ACT NOW!

At the end of all of your marketing pieces make sure you ask the reader to take action.

Specifically tell them to ‘pick up the phone’ or ‘visit our website’ or ‘visit our shop’.

It seems really strange to point this fact out. Yet so many businesses simply forget to tell the reader what they need to do to buy from them. And if you aren’t telling them, you’re losing sales.

Your customers are ‘silently begging to be led’ so tell them how to contact you or what they need to do to buy from you. It makes a HUGE difference. Try it and see for yourself.

These three guidelines you have just read, can immediately improve the results you’re getting from your marketing.

Try them, and see if they improve your business growth.

Copyright © 2005 by Casey Gollan. All Rights Reserved

A CRM Solution For Small Businesses

Managing customers, conducting marketing campaigns and achieving timely follow-up on sales leads is a vital process that can overwhelm a small business. Keeping promises, storing correspondence, managing sales and being able to quickly determine the status of accounts is crucial to success. Having a single, integrated solution to accomplish all this makes the lives of small business people so much easier and more productive.

Internet-based customer relationship management (CRM) and contact management solutions offer significant advantages. Typically, they are more affordable for small businesses because there is no software to buy or maintain. Equally important, online CRM solutions are accessible from any Internet connection by authorized personnel, providing a good centralized answer for both far-flung sales forces and company management. Too, online CRM solutions circumvent the danger of viruses accessing or destroying vital company data. And most solutions do not require a long-term contract, so it’s easy to get started and companies are not locked into a solution that may not be right for them.

I recently helped a client modify his Website to communicate with AppShore’s online CRM and contact management solution. I was impressed by what I saw.

Why? First, AppShore is designed for small businesses, a market that my own consulting service targets. Having tried other online CRM solutions myself, I am familiar with their functionality. What struck me right away about AppShore is how simple it is to use. Things that seem complex in competitive Internet-based solutions like Salesforce.com or desktop packages such as Goldmine are straightforward and fairly easy to understand in AppShore. I believe this reflects the background of the AppShore team, which consists of seasoned software professionals experienced in start-ups and small businesses.

Speaking as a small business person myself, here are some things that I particularly like about AppShore:

  • It has an intuitive design and offers functionality that is a good fit for small businesses rather than enterprise-level companies. I did not have to spend hours studying a manual to understand the function of each tab or how to use it.
  • It employs “mouse over” technology to give you a quick overview of accounts and leads, as well as the ability to edit them.
  • Accounts and leads can be imported using csv files. This means your Outlook Contacts and ACT! files, for example, can be easily imported to AppShore.
  • Relevant documents, such as proposals, agreements and RFQ’s can be uploaded and stored for fast access and management.
  • AppShore even offers a means to seamlessly transfer captured data from Website forms into the AppShore “new leads” database and then automatically notify you via email. This is a terrific time saver that ensures that Web-generated sales leads never fall through the crack!
  • The ability to prioritize tasks by customer or prospect helps you to focus on activities that generate business.
  • Opportunities are easy to track and (by assigning a probability and dollar amount to each) provide a basis for forecasting sales. Setting up a sales funnel with different stages is straightforward and beneficial.
  • Versatile reporting capabilities facilitate management of marketing and sales functions, as well as providing fast looks at expected revenue.
  • AppShore includes a convenient outbound Webmail function that allows you to send email using your domain name. Emails can be linked to customer and prospect accounts for easy retrieval and reference.
  • The ability to set up and use templates with multiple “insert” fields for outbound email marketing campaigns and customer/lead follow-up is available with the premium plan. This is both convenient and effective, allowing small businesses to be responsive and conduct inexpensive marketing campaigns. Just be sure that emails are sent only to valid contacts to avoid violating CAN-SPAM laws and provide an “unsubscribe” capability if you use this feature to send email newsletters or promotions.
  • A “dashboard” tab allows you to quickly review upcoming activities, your latest leads and top opportunities.
  • Password-based access and a separate Administrator function provide adequate security. AppShore databases are also backed up on a regular basis. Having vital customer and sales information located offsite also facilitates disaster recovery.

Overall, AppShore is an excellent solution for a small business. It’s not too much, nor too little. Like any CRM package, however, set-up and terminology may be a little confusing for small businesses that have never used a CRM package before.

What would I like to see more of? The AppShore solution is surprisingly lacking in online tutorials and a Help tab to provide quick answers for “how to” questions. This oversight is balanced by AppShore’s free personalized training, set-up assistance, and excellent telephone support (I know because I tried it!). And, AppShore will release a new version in June 2008 that includes a searchable FAQ (answering “how to” questions), user manual downloads and online problem ticket submission.

Best of all, AppShore is affordable for small businesses, with prices starting at just $11 monthly per user after a thirty-day free trial. Moreover, there are no long-term contracts, so companies can export their data and discontinue AppShore at any time if they are dissatisfied. But from what I’ve seen, small businesses will be pleasantly surprised by the positive impact on their bottom line once they start using AppShore CRM.