Using a "POEM" to Improve Your Social Media Strategy
It’s frustrating to see small businesses give up on social media as a marketing channel after just a few months of effort. Usually the heart of the problem is a weak or nonexistent content marketing strategy. Without a strategy, there can be no meaningful, long-term engagement.
Engagement doesn't happen like spontaneous combustion. Content is at the center of engagement. But it’s not as simple as just slapping up some content on your social channels or blog. A small business needs a content strategy to create highly targeted content assets for fans and followers to engage around.
The Importance of Understanding Your Audience
Your business also needs a content strategy in order to outline the messaging and brand impression you want to convey. Is your business known for providing helpful advice to other businesses or consumers in your niche? Then you'll need a lot of helpful content around issues your target market cares about. On the other hand, if your business is known for providing fun products, you'll want fun and entertaining content.
This is where understanding your audience comes into play. You have to know what your audience wants and expects from you before you can build a content strategy around it.
Now for that Concept…
Here’s what you need to succeed in using social media to find new customers and engage your followers, and it’s not a secret: POEM.
That’s Paid, Owned, and Earned Media. Essentially, it involves diversifying the types of content you publish through social channels. Let’s dive into each.
This comes in the form of sponsorships or advertising on third-party sites to better reach your audience.
You likely already have and are using your owned media, or the channels that you create and control. They include (but are not limited to) your company blog, your YouTube channel, all social profiles, and your website.
Here you let your customers and the press spread the word about your business. It’s also known as word of mouth. If you’re doing a good job of marketing your business (and offer stellar products or services), your fans will do the legwork.
So by combining all three, you reach a wider audience and help grow your fan base on social media. Let’s look at an example. If you create a whitepaper on "10 Ways to Start a Business" that you give to new email subscribers, you’re off to a good start with your owned media.
Only no one’s downloading it.
So you invest in paid media and place an ad on Facebook and Twitter to get your whitepaper in front of more eyeballs. Because it’s so inherently valuable, once people download and read it, they share it with their followers, resulting in your earned media.
So you see how the three forms of media can play together nicely and help you increase your base of influence.
Before you give up on social media altogether, I encourage you to revisit your content strategy (or maybe visit it for the first time) and determine a way to fit in paid, owned, and earned media into the equation.
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SBA Learning Center
An Introduction to SBA
3 C's and a D - featuring SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet
Recognizing AAPI Community Leaders and Organizations
In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, the SBA’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives highlighted the role of AAPI community leaders in promoting and assisting local economic growth on Main Street, strengthening America as a global leader and helping develop the next generation of startup entrepreneurs and business leaders.
As President Obama stated in his proclamation “During Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we celebrate the accomplishments of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, and we reflect on the many ways they have enriched our Nation. Like America itself, the AAPI community draws strength from the diversity of its many distinct cultures -- each with vibrant histories and unique perspectives to bring to our national life. Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have helped build, defend, and strengthen our Nation -- as farm workers and railroad laborers; as entrepreneurs and scientists; as artists, activists, and leaders of government. They have gone beyond, embodying the soaring aspirations of the American spirit.”
The SBA is proud to support and work with Asian American and Pacific Islanders across the country. AAPI community leaders and organizations are crucial partners as educators, conveners and advocates for small business networks at the local and national level.
On May 20, I was honored to participate on a panel at the Korean Churches for Community Development Annual Legislative Summit in Washington, DC to share our commitment to the AAPI community, and highlight some of the important programs where we are working closely together: the 8(a) Business Development Program that assists disadvantaged businesses in their growth, the HUBZone Program that encourages business development in historically underutilized business zones through contracting opportunities, and the Community Advantage Loan Program– just to name a few.
I was particularly excited to meet with and hear from a group of student Ambassadors from colleges and universities across the country as many are graduating this month and were interested to learn more about how the SBA is helping launch and support the next wave of entrepreneurs and startups.
The highlight for me was serving as a judge in a mock funding pitch competition, and getting to hear many of the students’ incredible ideas and impressive launch, marketing and growth strategies.
We know how important training and mentorship opportunities like this can be for young professionals and hopeful entrepreneurs, and recognize organizations like KCCD and many others across the country that help support and facilitate them.
You can learn more about SBA resources at SBA.gov.
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4 Ways to Market Your Business This Father’s Day
Father’s Day is less than two weeks away, and if this year is similar to last in predictions for spending, it can be a profitable time for your business. A 2013 survey by the National Retail Federation indicated that shoppers would spend more than $100 on a gift for Dad – more than $12 billion in total spending. Here are a few ways to get in on the action this year.
Give the gift of togetherness
When it comes to Father’s Day gifts, we often think of getting something for Dad that he can enjoy on his own. Consider an approach that lets him have a good time with the family as well. For example, if you own a restaurant or café, try a father-child special for a dine-in experience. Or if you have a hardware store, hold a workshop that allows kids to come in with their fathers to make something they can take home. They’ll walk away with a great experience – and a birdhouse (or something) as a memento.
Cater to kids
Own a brick-and-mortar store? Highlight merchandise for Father’s Day by bringing it front and center. Arrange your items so that kids can see and reach what they might buy Dad. Like kids’ cereal in a supermarket, bringing things to eye level can go a long way to attract attention. Even if they’re not spending their own money, they can certainly carry purchasing power in influencing the other parent!
Make it easy
Buying gifts is never easy, so help your customers out by creating a gift guide. You can offer suggestions by price, interest or audience (child, spouse, parent). With emails and social media, especially, you can get the word out that you have the perfect gift for Dad. You can also highlight particular gifts you think may be hot-ticket items. If you can, take the extra step by offering free gift-wrapping (or shipping, if you run an online store) as an extra incentive as the holiday gets closer.
Create a buzz
If you don’t think you’re in the business of offering specific Father’s Day specials, you can still acknowledge the occasion! Get in on the action with social media, for instance. Ask fans on Facebook or followers on Twitter to share photos of special moments with Dad, funniest pictures of Dad, etc. It’ll be a great way to engage your customers and foster a sense of community.
Regardless of your type of business, what you provide or sell, there’s a way to incorporate Father’s Day into your marketing and sales tactics. Check out our insight from marketing expert Rieva Lesonsky for additional ideas and inspiration for holiday marketing.
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Contributor and Moderator
Why Direct Mail Still Matters and How to Make It Work for Your Business
Do you think direct mail has gone the way of the dinosaur? Think again. In 2013, nearly two-thirds of all consumers bought something as a result of a direct mail piece, according to the Direct Mail Association (DMA). Not surprisingly, people age 65 and older are prime candidates for direct mail, since they tend to stay at the same address for many years and they enjoy reading their mail. What might surprise you is that young adults aged 18 to 34 are also highly responsive to direct mail, according to Epsilon. Why? Because young people are constantly inundated with email, spam and social media messages, direct mail stands out as something different.
If you’re still not convinced direct mail is worth adding to your marketing mix, consider this: Direct mail costs no more than print or pay-per-click advertising, according to the DMA, and has an average response rate of between 2 and 6 percent, depending on factors such as whether it’s four-color, optimized or personalized. Compare this to email marketing, which has an average 0.12 percent response rate, according to Direct Mail News, and there’s no excuse for not giving direct mail a try.
How can you test direct mail without breaking the bank—and with great results? Here are some ideas.
1. Choose your format:
Do you have a simple, easy-to-understand offer? Consider postcards. They come in different sizes, so they stand out from letters and news circulars, and they’re affordable to print and mail. Keep your design simple and eye-catching; use both sides of the postcard to maximize information.
Is your sales pitch more complex? If you’re selling a pricey product or service that requires more convincing, a sales letter is the way to go. Get it opened by making the outside mysterious. Experts say that envelopes with no marketing copy at all on the outside often work best—people will open it to see if it’s something important, instead of throwing it out as junk mail.
On a really tight budget? Printing a simple flyer, then folding it in thirds and sealing it can be a cost-effective way to get the word out. Use a bright color so your piece doesn’t get lost in a pile of mail.
2. Make an offer they can’t refuse. Direct mail typically needs to include some type of special offer or savings to be effective. In general, it’s better to offer dollars-off than a percentage off—for some reason, it seems more valuable to customers.
3. Create a sense of urgency. Time-limited offers get customers moving to contact you and buy. However, don’t send an offer every month, or customers learn to devalue what you sell and consider the discount price the “regular” price. Make your deals really special by offering them infrequently. Another alternative is to offer a free gift or other extra with purchase; make it something that costs you little or nothing, but has value to the customer.
4. Personalize it. The best direct mail calls on the recipient’s past experience with your brand. For example, if a customer comes to your auto repair shop for an oil change, get their information and send them a reminder postcard with a special offer a month before their next oil change is due. You’re offering something of value (helping make car care more convenient) in addition to offering a discount. Free meals on birthdays are another standard direct mail piece that works (who comes in to a restaurant alone?).
5. Test and track. Test different wording on your mailings, different offers and even different designs until you find out what works best. Use coupon codes on your mailers and have customers bring the mailer in or refer to the code when they call so you can track which campaigns pull customers in. Or add a URL that leads to a custom landing page so you’ll know which mailer drives online traffic best.
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