Digital Marketing Fundamentals for Entrepreneurs

As the digital landscape has evolved, the fundamentals of digital marketing have expanded scope. Today, digital marketing is comprised of multiple areas which involve a coordinated, integrated strategy to attract new customers, gain a share of voice, and position your firm for your strengths.

Digital marketing is comprised of:

  • Content Strategy
  • SEO
  • Blogging
  • Social Media and social media sharing and advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Search marketing pay per click

The presentation embedded here covers each of these areas. It is one which has been presented in several iterations, most lately to entrepreneurs at the SCORE chapter here in the Lowcountry.

If you want a refresher on the components of digital marketing, you may find some tasty tidbits among these slides.

Slides from the presentation are posted on SlideShare and embedded below.

Image to Link to Slideshare.net Digital Marketing Fundamentals

If you are viewing this and don’t see the embedded presentation, click on the image above to link over to SlideShare.

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Gaining New Information from Old Ground

Bala-Sivakumar-Photo-of-Stonehenge

Dig in for fresh marketing insights

As a child, I envisioned myself an archeologist. Digging in pits, dusting off ancient bones, pottery or dinosaur bones. What compelled me was the expectation that I could make surprising discoveries.

Recently, scientists announced new discoveries at Stonehenge, that ancient site which is a profound mystery. Over the course of several years they used non-invasive technologies including motorized magnometers, ground-penetrating radar arrays, electromagnetic induction sensors, earth resistance surveys, and 3-D laser scanners to help them see below the surface. Analysis of their mapping proved startling.

Their fresh way of seeing has uncovered (virtually, as no actual digging was done) information as well as previously undetected structures in the area surrounding Stonehenge. Read articles from National Geographic and Fast Company.

What new discoveries can you make?

Science is replete with stories of ground-breaking discoveries made by reviewing familiar territory. Yet, I see few small businesses using similar scientific diligence or even gaining new observations.

Taking a new perspective, using novel methods of analysis or just sitting down with your customers can lead to astounding insights which lead you to innovation. Whether from fear of the new or from paralysis, many plod the known path, and never diverge to the uncut field, breaking new ground.

Most critical to any new insight is data. Research. Comprehension. How often do you consider what your customers need, not what you have to sell. Or how easy it is for you to sell it. Going over the old ground of why and how you established your business can yield insights. So can interviewing customers.

Recently a client asked me what should she do to help her gain more business. But she had no marketing research or observations from which to form conclusions. Or to gain clues to things buried in the landscape, just awaiting the archaeologist’s trowel.

Observe, ask, seek to get marketing research

Research is an often feared tactic. Many business owners think it expensive and a waste of time. And undertaken with that point of view, is probably true. Many avoid customer service surveys and even the simple Net Promoter Score which is based on a single question: “Would you recommend this to a friend?” Just a simple question with highly complex ramifications. If seven out of ten say, “no,” then your business is failing to meet customer expectations. Meaning your business is vulnerable. You are just a hair away from failing.

Small enterprise’s new products and services are often built on “me too” knee-jerk response to societal or commercial trends, but not as often tested to validate a particular firm’s customers need the service.

With the tools of the Internet, it’s not hard to format a straight forward customer survey. Or find existing research.

So, if you want to gather a bit of insight, start with frank conversation with a few of your most longstanding customers. The ones who know you well. Ask them the big question: “What do you wish we would do better?” Don’t flinch or equivocate, listen. Record their answers. Either audio or by taking notes. Follow that question up with “What do you wish we could do to help your business grow?” OR “What do you wish we did that we don’t do now?” Then finally, “When have we served you best?”

In the last half-decade anthropologists have become essential partners to big business; observing everything from how customers interact with products to how they peruse shopping aisles. These observations provide fresh insights which lead to product innovation.

You can do the same thing if you have a retail store. (Note, if you’re doing this, be sure to have customer service people in the store so you don’t have to worry about customers being helped.) Practice observation. Really seeing without trying to figure out what you can do to make a sale. You may find that the display you most wanted your shoppers to see is never approached. Or that your too precise array of merchandise doesn’t invite handling.

Getting help

Life has a way of detouring from childhood dreams. In my case, I’m not an archeologist, but a marketing consultant. And that’s great. I get to help talented business people make new discoveries every day.

If you don’t feel you have the neutrality, time or ability to observe or question your customers, we do. We can arrange customer interviews, observe customers on location or conduct in-depth surveys.

Now exactly how did they get those stones to Stonehenge?

Photo credit: Flickr user Bala Sivakumar, Smoking Stonehenge

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They Love WordPress and So Should You

 

WordPress trend graph

WordPress CMS

WordPress is the dominant content management system platform.

WordPress is used by 60.9% of all the websites whose content management system we know. This is 23.1% of all websites.

We use it for all the sites we build. There are other platforms out there that can support your site, but do they have the wealth or variety of add-ons and support across the content management spectrum.

WordPress most dominant CMS

While Drupal and others each have a respectable share of the pie, WordPress is the most dominant platform. gained. If 61%% of the world’s websites run on WordPress, it certainly should be good enough for your site.

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Non-Profit Workshops Offer Instruction in Social Media and Digital Marketing

CCF0logo

Making our communities better

The coastal South Carolina area and greater Charleston are very fortunate to have The Coastal Community Foundation as a resource in the community.

The Foundation exists to shepherd the growth and development of funds created by donors with specific intents. Along the way, the CCF provides strategic programs to ensure that donors’ funds will go to recipients who are best prepared to improve the communities in the CCF’s service area. According to their website,  “The Foundation works with each donor to create an individual philanthropy plan and empowers recipient organizations to expand services, create new initiatives, and implement long-term programming.”

Google provided funds to the CCF to help non-profits learn to use Google Apps and to improve their social media marketing. This fall, I will be one of their instructors for a series of non-profit workshops.

The schedule of non-profit workshops:

Sept.
Social Media Strategy/ Intro

Cheryl Smithem

Wed., Sept. 10
-Section 1: 10 AM– 12 PM
-Section 2: 1:00 – 3 PM.

Social Media 101

Holly Fisher

Tues., Sept. 23 & 30
-Section 1: 9 AM– 12 PM
-Section 2: 1–4 PM

Google Apps

Beaufort

(Geeks on Call)

Oct.
Google Apps

Charleston

(Geeks on Call)

Email Marketing

Holly Fisher

Thurs., Oct. 23 & 30 -Section 1: 10 AM– 12 PM
-Section 2: 1-3PM

Nov.
Social Media 201

Cheryl Smithem

-Tues., Nov. 11 & 18
-Section 1: 9 AM– 12 PM
-Section 2: 1–4 PM

Computer/Data Security

Bob Hooper

Dec.
Effective Websites

Cheryl Smithem

Dec. 2 & 9
-Section 1: 10 AM– 12 PM
-Section 2: 1–3 PM

If you are interested in enrolling in any of these workshops, please contact Annette Nielsen, program coordinator for these workshops by calling The Coastal Community Foundation at (843) 723-3635

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Why I Do Not Go to Networking Events

A blank dark blue name tag with the words Hello My Name is and white space for your name or text.

I hate networking events*

I’m going to risk the ire of every business blogger and entrepreneur I know (and probably lots I don’t know but might just come to know because of this post.)

I hate networking events, organizations and gatherings that tout networking as a benefit or sole reason for their existence.

Now, I do not hate people, quite conversely, I enjoy people. One of the best hours one can spend is interacting with another human being, learning how they view life and how they have gotten where they are. Just hearing their story.

Networking events and all the advice on how to prepare for one, how to participate in them and how to follow up after them are just bunk.

Events where the focus is networking are fake

Take a bunch of business people and toss them in a room, give them a plastic glass of sweet tea or wine, and a cube of cheese and a HELLO MY NAME IS stick-on name tag and you’ve got a networking event. People are there (no matter how much they prepare) to get your business card and give you theirs. They rarely want to have substantial conversation or tell you their story, and if you do start in on an in-depth conversation, you get interrupted by someone else who wants to hand you their business card. And then what do you do with all those 3.5 x 2 inch pieces of paper anyway?

When what you crave is the backstory of someone’s life, motivations and worldview, networking events don’t cut it.

Making connections

Host a celebration for friends and you’ve got a party, which is actually a networking event, but centered around fun, not networking. Volunteer to teach a class, cook soup in the soup kitchen or serve on a board of an organization and you’ll have new connections.

A few months ago a friend had a few of her new friends over to her house for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. While there, I met several people and learned how they came to choose Charleston as their home. In several cases, there were business intersections and in the natural course of conversation, we shared business cards. And discussed opportunities to work together. And none of it happened with a nametag or a fake intent to network.

If you want to make real connections which lead to an opportunity to do business together, be social. Go to parties, concerts, plays, art openings. Meet people. But for heaven’s sake don’t go to networking events.

*thanks to Andra Watkins for her willingness to say this a long time ago!

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