Blog

Blog

How to Get More from Twitter

How to Get More from twitter title image

Facebook is the undisputed social media king and Instagram is the new queen, but Twitter is a quick, easy-to-master marketing tool for many small businesses, nonprofits, and consultants. It can help you increase your visibility, drive web traffic, build relationships with customers and prospects, position yourself as a thought leader, or just keep up with trends.

This article is written for existing Twitter users, but if you can text, you can Tweet. Here’s a guide to get started on Twitter. (And even advanced users might find this Hootsuite Guide to Twitter Marketing helpful.)

Stupid Twitter Twicks

Want to get more from Twitter? Aside from the most obvious things (use popular hashtags); include a photo in your profile; and promote your Twitter page from your email signature, website and other social media), here are the tactics I’ve found most successful.

LiveTweet
Tweeting while you’re attending an event (using the conference or event hashtag) is a surefire way to attract new followers and gain attention. (screen shot of you live tweeting magnified to circle the hashtags and user handles)

  • Announce that you’re attending the event and will be live tweeting, listen for pithy quotes from the speakers, summarize or comment on what’s going on, and share any useful or fun tidbits you can.
  • Quote the speakers by name, Twitter handle, and/or hashtag if you can, and they’re likely to retweet you.

Example of Myrna Greenfield live tweeting

  • Research the conference hashtag and the speakers’ Twitter handles in advance, so you don’t have to waste time during the event.
  • Follow the conference hashtag to see who else is tweeting and retweet as much as you can.
  • DM other people tweeting from the conference and meet them for coffee. I’ve met some great people and even gotten some business from connecting with other Tweeters at events.

Tweet Smarter

  • Check your analytics to see Screen shot of tweet deckwhich days/times you posted your most successful Tweets. The best times to Tweet differ for everyone –it depends on your followers.
  • Tweet frequently to increase the chance that your followers will see (and engage with) your Tweets. The most important thing to know is that the average life of a Tweet is about 18-24 minutes. After about three hours, your followers are unlikely to see your latest Tweet.
  • Write Twitter posts at night and schedule them to go up at your chosen time, if you find it hard to Tweet while you’re busy doing other things. You can schedule Tweets using social media engagement tool, like Hootsuite or TweetDeck. You can also schedule Tweets using Twitter. (screen show of tweet deck or just the image with a link)
  • Check Twitter several times a day so you can engage and respond to commenters and new followers. Take a few minutes to scan your feed and look for interesting Tweets you can like, retweet, mention, or comment on.

Use Lists

Hardly anyone seems to bother with Twitter lists, but they’re a useful way to keep track of the people you’re following and can help you attract followers and influencers.

  • Set up a list for each category of Example of Myrna Greenfield's twitter listspeople you follow. You can make your lists public or private (I keep most of mine public). Every time you follow someone new, add them to a relevant list. The people you add get a notification, which may motivate them to check you out and follow you.
  • Utilize lists to find relevant content. If you’re short on time or focused on a particular topic, you can just click on a list to just see Tweets from the people in that group. It’s also a good way to keep track of what your clients, your competitors, and influencers are saying.
    • Speaking of competitors, if you don’t want them to know you’re following them, you can add them to a private list without officially “following” them.
  • Subscribe to other people’s Twitter lists. This is a great way to find new people worth following.

By the way, if your Twitter lists are public, anyone can subscribe to them. So if you own an ice cream shop, you could create a list titled “Best Ice Cream in Boston” and include your business! Twitter lists show up in search engines, so if someone Googles “best ice cream boston twitter,” they will see your list in the search results and may check you out.

Include Images and Videos in your posts

  • Communicate with visual symbols whenever you can. Visual symbols are one of the most effective tools you can use to convey a message in a limited space. Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without images. So use images with your Tweets whenever you can. You can include up to 4 photos in a Tweet.
  • Add some emotion or humor to your Tweets with Twitter’s animated GIFs Tap the icon to compose a Tweet and then tap the GIF logo at the bottom of the screen to look for the right GIF. (You can also include your own GIFs by clicking the photo icon.)
    • What’s better than a photo or GIF? A video!
  • Go live! Don’t have any premade videos? You can create a live video on Twitter. Give your followers a behind the scenes look at your business or offer tips.

Use Twitter Analytics (screen shot analytics)

  • Use the insights to figure out what topics (and style of posts) are most appealing to your followers and use that to plan your content. For example, I assumed that most of my followers would be foodies, but they’re even more obsessed with politics and current events.
    • To access your analytics, click on your image icon in the top right (Profile and Settings). Click on Profile & Settings and click on Analytics from the drop down menu.
    • Click each of the tabs in the top navigation menu for fascinating tidbits about your top Tweets, your followers and their interests, your profile visits, and more. Be sure to check out the submenus; for example, under the Audiences menu, click on Demographics to find out the region, age, sex, income level, and other info.
  • Screen shot of twitter analyticsShape content around Events. Click on the Events tab in Analytics, then check out the hashtags for upcoming events and recurrent trends (like #WellnessWednesday or #TB (Throwback Thursday)

How to Promote Your Local Business

Graphic for how to promote your local businessSmall, locally-owned, independent businesses continue to struggle as more consumers purchase products and services online, but here are three ways that business owners can succeed in our ever-changing environment.

1) Leverage the “Buy Local” Advantage

A growing number of US consumers are choosing to buy from locally-owned stores, services and producers, with over a third (39.3%) of US consumers saying that they prefer to buy local whenever possible.[i]

Studies show that consumers buy local for a variety of reasons:

  • They feel that local businesses provide better and more personalized customer service than national chains.[ii]
  • They believe that locally produced products are higher quality.
  • They want to support local vendors,[iii] help the economy, and help the environment.

Chart showing why people buy local

In other words, you have a significant advantage over national chains and giant ecommerce stores, because a significant number of customers already understand and prefer the value and values that you offer. But in order to leverage this advantage, you must make it easy for “buy local” customers to find you.

Who are these target customers? They’re like to be established homeowners with strong ties to their community and an interest in health and the environment.[iv] To help these customers find and remember you, strive to be as visible as possible in your community, communicate about what you offer and have an active local presence, both in-person and online.

2) Offer a Superior Experience

Of course, giant online businesses and big box stores have many of their own advantages, so you have to find other ways to compete. The behemoths can usually offer bigger product selections, lower prices, and greater convenience than locally-owned businesses. They also use sophisticated marketing techniques to collect data about your interests and behavior, so they can send you “personalized” ads and messages enticing you to buy.

Woman at farmers market
Creative Commons, USDA

In contrast to this type of virtual personalization, with its creepy Big Brother feel, small locally-owned businesses can offer a more authentic and valued method of personalization. You can recognize—or at least personally greet–each customer. You should know who your best customers are and reward them with offers or services that make them feel special.

Customers look to small businesses for their taste, expertise and advice. If customers need assistance, you can help them figure out what they need, and recommend the best product. And if you can’t provide it, you can send them somewhere that can.

You can also offer a superior experience by offering free samples, demos, live entertainment, and other activities that make customers look forward to patronizing your business.

3) Make the Most of Your Online Presence

The Internet has been a mixed bag for small, locally-owned businesses. While ecommerce has helped put some brick-and-mortar retailers out of businesses, having an online presence has helped many small businesses attract customers who would otherwise never have found them.

Online search has become an essential part of the shopping experience, even for dedicated “buy local” shoppers, with majority of searches taking place on smartphones and tablets. Three-quarters (76%) of people who do a local search on their smartphone visit a store within 24 hours and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.[v]

Consumers frequently use a mixture of online and in-store activities to research and purchase products and services. While some shoppers visit stores and then buy online because it’s cheaper or the selection is better, the reverse is also true. In fact, a higher percentage of shoppers actually research online and then come to stores to make a purchase than vice versa.[vi]

You can increase the likelihood that customers will come into your store to buy by spotlighting the products or services you offer on your website, reviews sites, or social media, even if you don’t enable people to order or book online. Providing information and photos, showcasing the quality of your work, sharing customer reviews and testimonials, and highlighting your values and commitment to the community will all help bring them in.

It’s no longer optional: All businesses need an online presence if they want to survive.

Search engines actually provide an advantage to local businesses. Because so many people are searching for products and businesses via their smartphones, Google and other search engines have changed the way that search engine results appear. When someone does a local search, such as “clothing stores near me,” Google highlights the three local businesses that are the most relevant to the user on a Google map, with links to the businesses’ websites and directions.

graphic showing google local searchGoogle uses many criteria to determine which sites get highlighted, but taking steps to “optimize your website for local search,” is a must. In addition, your website must be “mobile-friendly,” meaning that it’s easy to read and use on a smartphone and that the pages load fast. (Google has a free test you can use to determine whether it considers your site mobile-friendly.)

Google also likes to highlight websites that have claimed their free “Google My Business” listing. But you should also look for other online business directories and review sites where you can promote your business. In addition, solicit online reviews and try to be active on at least one or two social media channels.

Final note: As important as all these strategies are, most small businesses still attract the majority of their customers the old-fashioned way: A personal recommendation from someone that your prospective customer already knows and trusts. Great “Word of Mouth” will always be a competitive advantage.

 

[i] “Buying Local” – Survey by AYTM

[ii]Yodle Insights: What Consumers Want from Local Businesses

[iii] “How to Succeed in (Small) Business” – Toluda “QuickSurvey”

[iv] “Buying Local” – Survey by AYTM

[v] “I-Want-To-Buy-It Moments: Mobile’s Growing Role in a Shopper’s Purchase Decision” – Think With Google article

[vi] State of Retail 2017 Report – TimeTrade Survey

Relaunching my Website: Lessons Learned

Relaunching my Website: Lessons Learned

Good Egg Marketing specializes in building websites, so when I wanted to create a new site for our own business, I figured it’d be a snap.

If I’d just wanted to give the site a facelift, but keep the same content, it would have been simple. But I was determined to create an easy-to-navigate site with lots of useful stuff and a fun, distinctive look.

Admittedly, I was busy running my business, so I wasn’t working on the site all the time. But all in all, it took over two years to complete!

Whether you’re starting a new website from scratch or building a new one, here are a few tips on how to create or relaunch a site, based on my lessons learned.

Start with Your Goals

I was really clear about what I wanted the new site to achieve and that helped me stay true to my vision throughout the process. Here are my three goals:

  1. Drive traffic to the site by providing useful content that people find on Google and other search engines. Yoast logoOver the years, I’ve written dozen of articles on a variety of business and marketing topics, but I never paid much attention to search engine optimization (SEO). This time, I used Yoast SEO to help ensure that each article focused on a specific topic and keyword.
  2. Encourage people to spend time exploring the website by making it easy to navigate. The content on my old site wasTools and Resources page from Good Egg Marketing Website grouped by date and format—articles, newsletters, and presentations—rather than by topic. The site organization made sense to me—and no one else. The new site organizes content by topic and by audience, so visitors can find what they need faster.
  3. Encourage people to hire us by showcasing our past work. When most people visit the Good Egg Marketing site, they’re already interested in us, but need to be convinced that we can help them. I included testimonials, case studies, and a list of our speaking engagementsTestimonial from Good Egg Marketing Website and clients. The content showcases our expertise; our client roster demonstrates that people have confidence in our work.

As I look at the analytics to see how people are using the site each month, I’ll be able to tweak it to achieve my goals.

Focus on Your Customers

As a marketer, I’m always telling clients to put themselves in their customers’ shoes  and address their needs.

The websites for many marketing company websites lead with who they are, what they do, and how they do it. All important stuff to include, Homepage from Good Egg Marketing Websitebut not at the top of your home page.

Our new site directly addresses frazzled business owners who feel overwhelmed by all their marketing choices.  A series of rotating marketing tips complements a short video that expands on that advice in a friendly, informal style.

Get the Visuals Right

The biggest challenge for the redesign was coming up with a distinctive look. Since marketing services are intangible, it’s hard to find an image that expresses what marketing is. I didn’t want to be yet another site featuring a photo of a flower or a mountain.

After playing with a variety of concepts, including a recreation of my desktop strewn with tools of the marketing trade, I was at my wit’s end.

General layout for Good Egg Marketing WebsiteI finally went to a graphic designer I’d worked with many years ago and started with a clean slate.  She interviewed me about my vision and ideas for over an hour. Ultimately, she came up with a dramatic, abstracted version of the Good Egg Marketing logo–a green egg!–that sets the tone for the site through shapes and colors.

Once she created the basic look for the home page, I was able to write headlines and text that complemented those images and she created additional pages that built on the same format. My web developer was able to turn her images into a flexible WordPress design and everything else fell into place.

Bake Mobile into Your Site from the Start

I knew all along that my website needed to look good, load quickly, and be easy to use on a mobile device. These days, Google and other search engines penalize you if your site isn’t mobile-friendl­y. Unfortunately, I didn’t put enough thought into how the images would work on mobile when we developed the site. Mobile version of Good Egg Marketing Website

We created the desktop site first, meticulously tweaking it to get it to look just right. But when we looked at the site on a cell phone, many of the graphics didn’t line up correctly. We were using a mobile responsive design, but the graphics needed extra tweaking. Ultimately, we were able to create an acceptable mobile version, but it required additional time and expense.

If you look at the analytics for your current site, you can see what proportion of your visitors are viewing your site on a desktop versus a mobile device. Even if you don’t have a lot of mobile visitors now, mobile will eventually take over, so you should bake mobile design into your site from the start.

It Takes a Team

Good Egg Marketing Website TeamJust need a simple site with basic information about who you are, what you offer, and why you’re in business? If you have good computer skills and the time, you can probably create a website singlehandedly. There are plenty of free or inexpensive website builder programs that let you DIY (do it yourself) pretty easily. If you want to create a unique looking site or organize lots of content, however, don’t try this on your own!

I managed the project and wrote the copy, but over the two years, I worked with two graphic designers, three assistants, a web developer/videographer, and a search optimization expert. Instead of bringing these talented people together as a team, I worked with them individually and sequentially. It seemed more efficient at the time, but in retrospect, putting a team together from the start would have saved time and money in the long run.

If I were starting over again, I would also decide which project management, storage, and communications tools I wanted the team to use.  We shared and stored some of our work on Google Drive and Dropbox, but we didn’t use them as consistently or effectively as we could have. In the future, I plan to use Trello and Dropbox for my personal projects, as well as with clients.

Final Thoughts

A good website isn’t static, like a printed brochure. It’s a living thing that you need to keep feeding and buying new clothes.

If you have a well-planned site, you should be able to adjust it as needed without needing a full redesign every six months. But, like fashion, web technology and design move so quickly that it’s inevitable that I’ll crave a new look eventually. When it comes time to build the new site, I plan to reread this article and take my own advice.

Customer Relationships are Key to Sales Success

Getting your product into a store or restaurant is exciting, but once you’re on the shelves, how do you make sure that you’re there to stay?

Here are some tips from a recent panel that Good Egg Marketing moderated at the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) Local Food Trade Show in Boston, Mass. While this article focuses on farms and specialty food businesses, the principles about how to keep customers happy apply to most businesses and organizations.

Getting In

Despite intense consumer interest in buying local, getting your local food products into specialty food stores, restaurants, and institutions is challenging. Stores like Cambridge Naturals in Cambridge, Mass. get hundreds of requests a week to carry products.

Find a Niche

Finding a distinctive niche to fill is just as important for stores and restaurants as it is for the businesses that sell to them.

There are gazillion salsas, Nola's Salsa Logocookies, and ice creams already on the market, yet new products get on the shelves every day. How?

When New Orleans native Sherie Grillon moved up to Boston, she noticed that no one was making a fresh traditional Mexican style salsa fresca, so she started Nola’s Fresh Foods in 2011 to fill that niche. Being able to differentiate her product from other local salsas helped her get into specialty food stores and restaurants and she’s now selling to Whole Foods and Star Markets.

River Valley Coop  in Northampton, Mass. faces heavy competition from supermarkets and Whole Foods Markets carrying organic and natural products, so they’re focused on being “hyperlocal.”
river valley co-op logo
River Valley Produce Manager Henry Kryeski embodies the store’s slogan, “Wild about Local.”

Kryeski goes out of his way to work with as many farmers as he can, but with so many western Mass. farmers growing “so many great things,” he can’t buy kale from everyone.

“That’s where the word niche comes into play,” Kryeski says. He gets the best quality and avoids overlap among the 200+ items he carries from more than 30 local farmers by taking the time to figure out which farmer is best at growing the products he wants to buy.

Kryeski meets with farmers off-season to discuss what they’ll grow for River Valley the next year, so everyone can plan ahead.
Cambridge Naturals Logo
Cambridge Naturals has also been adept at finding a niche. They started out as a full-scale natural foods store in 1974, when the natural foods movement was just getting going, but by the mid-1990s, the industry had become extremely competitive.

In order to survive, Cambridge Naturals rebranded themselves as a natural health store with a carefully curated selection of groceries. Their commitment to sourcing local, organic and ethical products, supporting the community, and providing excellent customer support has enabled them to thrive in the niche they carved out for themselves.

Look for the Right Venues

The best places to sell your produce and products are where the owners, buyers, and customers care about supporting local farmers and food producers, not necessarily the places with highest annual sales volume. Stores like Cambridge Naturals pride themselves on being the first to bring in a new product, so they’ll go out of their way to support small, independent local businesses.

“We go after exciting unique products with a good story to tell,” says Cambridge Naturals’ second-generation co-owner, Emily Kanter. “We’re often the first stop for a lot of brands that haven’t been elsewhere yet. We like to have products that aren’t in every store. “

Nola’s built its salsa business by establishing relationships with supportive stores. “We can sell four times as much at a small owner-operated local store than at the big natural foods supermarkets, because the customers know and trust the staff,” says Grillon.

CISA logoCommunity Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) in South Deerfield, Mass. was the first “Buy Local” organization in the country. CISA’s Local Hero Program Manager, Devon Whitney-Deal, works with over 425 farmers, retailers, specialty food producers, institutions and others who sell and support local food. She helps their members find the right venues to sell their products.

“Be creative when you’re looking for buyers,” advises Whitney-Deal. For example, if you want to sell to institutions, don’t just approach your local schools, colleges and hospitals. Some local food producers in western Mass. sell to assisted living communities, because “their residents are demanding local food,” she says. Wherever there are eaters, there are potential customers.

Be Persistent

Creating and maintaining strong relationships with the owners, buyers, and customers is essential to getting in and staying in. Most buyers are sympathetic to new entrepreneurs, but they can be hard to get reach, because they spend so much time out on the floor, receiving shipments, going to trade shows, visiting farms, or talking to other entrepreneurs. And if you’re out in the fields, meeting with suppliers, doing demos, or selling at markets, you may also be hard to reach if they do call back.

Figuring out how to get in touch with buyers–either when you’re making the initial sale or after you’re in–can be tricky. Some buyers prefer that the initial contact be made online or by email, others by phone, others by dropping by. While some venues provide information on their websites about how they want to be approached, in most cases, you often have to try a variety of methods to get a response.

The right frequency for contact will depend on each particular buyer and your product. Some buyers want to be communicated with weekly or biweekly, others monthly, others every six months. Ask them how often you should contact them and the best times to reach them.

Kryeski recommends that you check in on your product and stay in touch with the buyers. “Consistency is key,” he says. “Ask the buyer how often you should call and then call regularly, whether it’s every Tuesday or whatever schedule you work out.”

Personal contact can make the difference. “I worked with one farmer who was having trouble selling her lamb,” Whitney-Deal recalls. “I suggested she go out to dinner and bring along a little cooler with a lamb step or lamb ribs to give to the chef to ask them to taste it. She did it, and sure enough, that chef called her back” and eventually became a customer.

Be Ready to Sell

In addition to having a quality product that’s ready to sell, you need to have your samples, sell sheets, price lists, and business systems ready.

“The days of writing invoices on paper are over,” notes Whitney-Deal. “You need to have computerized invoicing,” she says.

Kanter suggests that companies invest in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, so they can track sales calls to current and potential customers. In addition, scheduling software can remind you when to make sales and follow-up calls.

In addition, almost every store is going to want you to do demos to introduce your product to their customers, so you need to make sure you have time set aside to demo and support each new store. “When Nola’s gets picked up in a new store, we do a demo in that store once a week for 6-8 weeks, so we can get people to taste our product,” Grillon says. “If you want to become one of the products that they’ll buy every time, you’ve got to talk to everybody and build a connection, so when they see your product they think of you.”

Staying In

You can’t assume that, once your products are being carried, you’re all set.  “Getting into stores tends to be the easier part,” says Grillon. “Staying in stores is harder.”

Visit stores and meet with buyers regularly to make sure that your products are stored and displayed correctly; that the owner, buyer, and staff know you and can share your story; and that you’re checking in to see what that store needs.

When she started out, Grillon did three demos a day. She’s adamant about hiring the right people to do demos. “The demo person is the face of your company. Don’t settle for somebody who isn’t going to promote your company the way you would,” Grillon says. “Tell them to talk to every customer that walks by, even if you’re just saying hi.”

In addition, you have to stay loyal to your initial customers. “Some of the specialty food producers do a lot of demo support right off the bat, but then they get into a bunch more stores and we never hear from them again,” Kanter says.

Although Kanter understands that businesses need to give extra attention to their newest accounts, she urges businesses to stay in touch. “Check in regularly to ask how things are going, what can I do, do you want any more demos, can I send you some free samples,” she advises. “We’ll keep selling the product as long as it’s relevant and our customers want it, but we’ve had to say goodbye to several local products that we loved because they over-committed and we couldn’t get their stuff.”

How to Use the Power of Symbols

Kate McKinnon wearing pink pussyhat in SNL skit
Kate McKinnon plays a Russian woman surreptitiously donning a pink pussyhat as “Vladamir Putin” brags about the happy population in this Saturday Night Live skit that aired on the night of the Women’s March.

Who would have thought that a pink hat could become a symbol of resistance?

Symbols are one of the most effective ways that you can build your brand, convey a concept, or launch a campaign.

A symbol can be a visual image, gesture, object, or idea that represents something other than itself. Merriam Webster describes a symbol as a “visible sign of something invisible.”

Continue reading How to Use the Power of Symbols

What is Nonprofit Marketing?

Good Egg Marketing- How to Market NonprofitNonprofit marketing is the process of motivating people to do or believe something, such as donate time or money, make a purchase, change a behavior or belief, take an action, or become more aware of an organization or issue.

Like for-profit businesses, most non-profit marketers seek to increase awareness and perception of their organization or cause, persuade people to believe or do something, and use their resources effectively.

While not all of the tactics that companies use to market themselves will work for nonprofits, the main principles of marketing apply to both sectors. Here are the top three marketing components that every organization should use.

Continue reading What is Nonprofit Marketing?

3 Tips to Increase Sales for the Holidays (and Beyond)

Facebook post example by Myrna GreenfieldMany businesses, especially brick-and-mortar stores, do 25-30% of their business in the final two months of the year, then go through a serious sales slump in January and February. But if you stay focused on your customers’ needs, you can use the holidays to build a loyal customer base that supports you all year-round.

Here are three “Don’ts” to help you increase sales during the holidays–and beyond.

Continue reading 3 Tips to Increase Sales for the Holidays (and Beyond)

Harness the Power of LinkedIn: Simple Tips to Get More from Your Profile

Power of Linkedin

“I don’t know what to do with LinkedIn,” my clients and colleagues say when I suggest it. Although LinkedIn’s always been a useful way for me to keep up with and expand my network, I admit that up until now, it hasn’t offered much to users who aren’t actively job hunting, recruiting, or seeking new clients.

LinkedIn is about to launch a promising redesign, however, with an improved news feed and some snazzy messaging and meeting scheduling capabilities. With over 130+ million users in the United States (and at least 25 percent of them logging in regularly), LinkedIn deserves to be part of your marketing toolkit.

Here are my suggestions about what to do with LinkedIn.

Continue reading Harness the Power of LinkedIn: Simple Tips to Get More from Your Profile

How to Increase Your Email Open Rates

Illustration of declining email open ratesEmail is still the most trusted, popular and effective marketing tool available: that’s why our inboxes are stuffed with it. So what’s a good open rate for your marketing emails? Overall, average open rates hover around 21%, but open rates range from 11-27%, depending on the industry, Constant Contact reports.

The only statistics that matter are your own: Is the percentage of people who open your emails increasing or declining? Here are some tips to help you improve your open rates.

Continue reading How to Increase Your Email Open Rates

Lazy Guide to Marketing Resources

Person in hammockHaving trouble keeping up with all the
latest marketing tools (or even getting started)? Fortunately, there are lots of places—most of them free–to find great articles, videos, and resources to help you up your marketing game. So if, like me, you’d rather spend your vacation time gardening than sitting at your computer, here’s my lazy guide to marketing resources.

Continue reading Lazy Guide to Marketing Resources