Marketing Workshops to be Scheduled for Warkworth

I’ve just confirmed with Kim MacNeil, Trent Hills councillor for Warkworth, that I will be presenting four marketing workshops at the Warkworth Town Hall Centre for the Arts.

The Centre for the Arts is big enough that it can hold anyone who might want to attend with no problem. It has WiFi so I will be able to do some live demonstrations. The Hall has to be rented, so there will be a nominal charge for attendance. It should be something like $5.00. (I haven’t talked to Kim about opening the doors for folks from outside Warkworth, but I think I have some pull in this deal so I can get you in)    :-)

(Note: All are welcome)

I will be presenting the same workshops in Warkworth that I have presented in Hastings. I have had an opportunity to tune them up a little though; and an opportunity to run through them, so I expect they will be better. In addition I will commit to including additional material, based on your feedback. So, if you attended the Hastings workshops, I am certain you will still come away with valuable information you either missed the first time, or that I have added. The truth is that a couple of months can be a long time on the internet. A perfect example is Facebook completely changing their look and utility between the time I committed to doing the Facebook workshop and when I had to present it. They had me scrambling for a few days, I don’t mind admitting.

The workshops are all running in the morning, from 8:15 to 9:45. I don’t know if that works better or worse for you, but there it is. Dates established so far as below:

Workshop #1 – Keywords and Your Google Places Listing – Thursday, May 10th

  • Keywords, Keywords Phrases, The Long Tail and why you need to care
  • What are your customers looking for? Women’s clothing, women’s dresses, women’s apparel or clothing stores? It’s costing you money if you don’t know
  • Using the Google Keyword Tool
  • Other research resources
  • Google Places, your free internet real estate
  • Common mistakes with Google Places listings
  • Directories, directories and more directories – why they matter
  • Optimizing your Places listing with descriptions, categories, pictures and video
  • Effective use of your Places listing
  • Getting positive reviews
  • Dealing with negative reviews

Workshop #2 – Email Marketing – Thursday, May 17th

  • Best return on investment
  • Your emails are not SPAM, they are wanted by customers
  • Where are you on the relationship matrix
  • What do you do with people who don’t buy today?
  • Managing your list
    • Manually – up to 100
    • Autroresponder for over 100 – As low as $5/month
  • Getting sign-ups
  • Autoresponder features
  • Kinds of email
  • Scheduling emails
  • Construction of an effective email
  • Email topics/content

Workshop #3 – Social Media – Facebook – Thursday, May 31st

  • Why you need to use Social Media
  • What “Web 2.0 means to business
  • Facebook for Business
  • Building your Facebook page step-by-step
  • What an effective Facebook page looks like
  • Getting people to your page
  • Using Applications on your page
  • Facebook advertising
  • Creating content for your page
  • Resources

Workshop #4 – Why Your Web-site Isn’t Working – Thursday, June 7th

  • What your website can do for you, and what it can’t
  • Why it isn’t working
  • Getting found
    • On-page SEO
    • Off-page SEO
  • Driving traffic to your site
  • Making your site “sticky”
  • Bringing customers back for another look
  • A “call to action”
  • Your website and email marketing
  • RSS feeds
  • Blogging
  • Becoming an “authority site”
  • Selling from your site
  • Analytics – who has been there, for how long, from where did they come and what did they look at?

This is a great opportunity to learn a little about internet marketing. The information in these workshops is actionable. You can go ahead with your new knowledge and improve your own marketing enough to put dollars in your pocket. The four workshops add up to 5-6 hours of training that you can’t even buy anywhere locally. An added bonus is that I am there, live, so you can ask questions and get answers specific to your business. It’s not one-on -one consulting, but it is the closest you can come for free (oops, I mean for $5.00).

Hope to see you there.

By the way, I am also talking with Schelle Holmes, president of the Trent Hills Chamber of Commerce, about putting on the workshops for the Trent Hills Chamber members. We haven’t established dates as yet, but I expect them to run in May and June. Details about when and where to be worked out.

 

 

How Not to Survive, Closed Bridge or Not

Just a short little slice of real life that illustrates some of what I have been writing about on these pages.

My wife, Lynn, decided to take her Mom out for a little drive this afternoon. She thought they could go down to Brighton and look at some women’s clothing stores, maybe grab a snack at some restaurant. Since we live in Hastings, and Brighton is about a 45 minute drive away, Lynn wanted to be sure the stores would be open, so I volunteered to do a search for “women’s clothing stores in Brighton Ontario” on Google Maps.

What followed was a perfect lesson in how to lose business. When I did my search, here is what I found. (Click on the image to make it bigger)

Do you notice the absence of red dots or little lettered tags for Brighton? In fact nothing comes up for “women’s clothing stores in Brighton Ontario” except stores in other towns. Well, Lynn knew that wasn’t correct because she had been in Brighton before. But suppose she hadn’t? What if she was a tourist or vacationer, or someone with some time to kill between appointments? If she had wanted to amuse herself by doing a little shopping, Brighton would have  just dropped off the lists of possible destinations after a Google Search result like that. And people are doing Google searches when they travel. They can use their phones or tablets now. Don’t count on anyone seeing your Yellow Pages ad.

Not only does any clothing store lose business, but so could the restaurant, gas station and maybe the book store.

You might note that The Water Lily, owned and operated by Sue and Randy right here in Hastings, shows up. Good job Sue.

Because Lynn assured me there really were women’s stores there, I did a little virtual walkby. You can use Google to get a street level view of most towns and cities in North america now. So off I went to Google maps again.

You can see the little orange figure I have circled in the screenshot to the left. You just have to drag the little fellow onto your map where you want to take a look at the scenery, as in the next image.

 

 

What happens next is a new window opens, with an actual street view that is a 360 degree rotatable point of view from the Google Camera van, when it drove down the streets of Brighton a year or two ago.

I was able to scroll around until I had a good look at the store fronts on Main Street and got the next look.

There it was. The Dragonfly, a women’s clothing store, just what we were looking for. So now I had the name of the store. Was it open? I went to their website and guess what? No hours of business!

Now I don’t mean to single out the Dragonfly. They had a nice enough looking website. They had even claimed their Google Places listing and uploaded some photographs, which is more than 70% of the businesses in small towns have done. The problem is, they seem not to have sat down and thought their internet strategy through. What are they trying to do with their web properties, the website and the Places listing?

One answer to that question should be “Provide potential customers with more information.”

Listing hours of business would seem like one of the most basic things they could do. As it was, they DID list their phone number. After making the call I listened to the recorded message that said they were open on Sundays, at 12:00 PM. So the Mom and daughter outing to Brighton occurred after-all. But if you are the Dragonfly, you have to ask yourself, “Are all potential customers going to be so persistent?”

If you are counting on that kind of persistence to make your business successful, I think you should think again. The internet provides you with a wonderful opportunity to give your existing and potential customers information about how you can meet their needs and wants. If you, as a business, are not using it, you should be. Once the information is on-line, it can work for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – for free if you limit yourself to a Google Places listing, and for only about $4.00 a week if you want a simple website. It is pretty tough for a business to get that kind of marketing value any place else.

Of course, you need to be sure your Places listing, or web site includes words and phrases that people might use when searching for a product or service. But how tough is that. See some earlier posts on this site for more information.

Whether you are planning to survive a bridge closure or not, take some steps to use the internet. And help your potential customers spend their money at YOUR store. Dragonfly, I’m talking to you.

 

Bridge Closure Postponed

Welcome news from MP Rick Norlock last night at the Hastings Civic Center. 
The decision has been made to construct a new bridge, instead of just repair the old one. This will also shorten the length of time for the closure. A new bridge can be constructed off-site, and then dropped into place after on-site work is complete. The suggestion was made that it could cut the closure time by 1-2 months. In addition, the closure won’t start until January, 2014, giving the people and businesses in town an extra year to prepare, and also leaving the Christmas period unobstructed.Norlock singled out the Hastings Helpers, and Tonya McColl-Smith as instrumental in causing the ministry to take a second look at their plans. He also cited the time and effort put in by Mayor Hector McMillan and Councillor Bob Crate.
An extra year to prepare is a real break for the town. It is critical, if you are a business owner, that this time not be wasted. Here are a list of things that need to be done:
  1. Begin immediately to survey your existing customers to find out where they are coming from. There is going to be an environmental assessment done, which will include an estimate of economic impact. The town can contribute to making this an accurate assessment by collecting critical data. More on this in future posts
  2. Create your own personal marketing plan. You can access information about the Municipality’s plan here. You now have 20 months to systematically improve your marketing and buffer yourself against the inevitable downturn in business during the closure.
  3. Plan to radically improve your cash flow before the bridge is closed. It looks like you might only have to get through 2 1/2 – 3 months instead of 4 1/2. As well as incrementally improving your business, can you think of some kind of “swing for the fence” event that could generate a cash infusion>
  4. Plan for a big push leading up to and through the Christmas shopping season in 2013. Again, if you can improve your results, after being handed the gift of an extra Christmas shopping spree, it will lessen the impact of the slowdown in January, February and March 2014.
  5. Critically evaluate your processes, products, services, overhead, marketing efforts, staff and every thing else associated with your business over the next 8 months. Be prepared to make changes early on 2013, if not before, to improve things.
  6. Join the Chamber of Commerce. Really, for $75 it is a no brainer investment in mutual survival for any Hastings business. It is worth it to just have a web page outlining your business. If you have your own website, a link back from the Chambers site is a vote of confidence in your credibility, in the eyes of Google and every other search engine out there. It will definitely boost your own websites ranking.
  7. Attend the marketing workshops. There is one coming next Wednesday, April 18th, at 5:30n PM at the Bridgewater Coffee Shop.  (Scroll down to see the post below this one). You have missed the first two on Google Places and E-mail. However I am going to be talking to the Warkworth Business Association next week. If they are interested, I may be repeating some of these workshops for them. I am going to broach the idea of doing them on-line, as webinars, where participants can view the whole thing from home on their computer. that should allow me to record them and have them available at some future date for people who register.  Keep checking back here for updates.

Next Workshop – Is Your Business on Facebook and Other Social Media?

DATE:  April 18th, 2012
TIME:   5:00-7:00 p.m.
LOCATION:   Bridgewater Cafe, 24 Front Street W., Hastings,

In this workshop I will address the following:

– Why You Should Be On Facebook
– Setting up a Facebook page for business
– Getting Your Profile right
– Uploading photos
– Using Video on Facebook
– Using an Opt-in form
– Getting “Likes”
– Automating Your Posting
– How to Get Fans
– Using Targeted Ads on Facebook
– Other Social Media
You do not need to bring laptops to this workshop. Notes will be sent after the meeting to those interested. It doesn’t cost a penny, but it could be worth dollars to your bottom line. Step-by-step I will go over everything you need to do to get up and running to start a business Facebook page. Do it right, right from the start, and get the internet working for you.
                                                                                                                                                               It was over a year ago when Facebook surpassed Google as the most popular internet destination. Some things you should know. Most Facebook users are on Facebook at least once a day. Many are on multiple times. That means, if you have a Facebook page, and they are “Fans” they will see any post you put up, the day it goes up. They don’t have to go visit your website. They won’t be able to ignore your posts like emails. They will at least see the opening sentence of every post. all you have to be is interesting. And we will talk about that during the workshop.

Email, Your Best Bang for the Buck

Various agencies have reported that email gives you an average of a 50 to 1 return on your investment. I won’t get into an involved discussion of this except to say that you costs can start out at zero, if you already have an internet account, so your only investment is your time. And two hours of your time put into crafting an email message could easily earn back 25 – 50 times whatever you value your time at.

Of course, this whole discussion assumes a few things. Number one, you have kept a list of your past customers email addresses. Number two, you have received permission from them to send out emails. And number three, you are constantly adding to your list.

The hardest and most expensive way to sell something is to spend the money to acquire a new customer. How many new customers or clients did you get last month? How much did you spend on advertising or marketing efforts last month. If you don’t have the answers, then you don’t know what your new customer acquisition costs are. That is a whole other discussion, so we will leave it alone. Instead let’s look at a hypothetical case.

You have a list of 500 past customers. You divide the list into two groups, men and women. You send out an email to each group talking about some new products that have arrived in the store, and then you ask the email recipient “Would you like us to send out an email reminder to your spouse when your birthday is coming up? To help them out, please let us know some of the things in our store that they might buy for you. Please list your birth date.”

Only 50 of the customers respond to the email. But that could wind up being some fraction of fifty purchases that would not have happened otherwise. Maybe only twenty of the fifty actually make purchases. But if the average purchase is $75.00 (not unlikely for a spousal birthday gift) that is $1500.00 worth of purchases that you might not have had. What is your mark-up on those purchases. That’s how much you could make for the time you put in.

Now, the best part is that the time you took to assemble your list is a one-off. The list is assembled and can be used again. You can send out the same email twice a year. You might get another 10 people giving up their birthday wishes and dates each time you send it out. At the very least, spouses are reminded, whether they shop at your store or not. This is definitely worth some goodwill. This is just one idea for an email list. There are many others.

  • Notice of sales
  • Notice of special buys
  • Notice of new products now available
  • Notice of new services
  • Links to useful information your customers can use
  • Notices of demonstrations
  • Links to deals from non-competitive Joint Venture partners that earn you some money
  • Notice of new rules, regulations, recalls or safety information
  • etc., etc., etc.
Email allows you to maintain a relationship with your past customers when they aren’t buying, so they remember you when they do need to buy.

Sponsored by Bootstrap Local Marketing

Hastings Helpers Website Goes Live

Hats off to the Hastings Helpers team. They have a goal. It is to make sure no one gets left behind by the bridge closure. They are determined to do what they can to minimize the problems for individuals in town in terms of dealing with this. to that end they now have an organization, committees, and an idea of what needs to be done.

One of the things they asked me to help with was a website. I have got one up for them now at Hastings Helpers (hastingshelpers.com). The website will no doubt change over the coming months, as the group figures out what they want on it and how it can best be used. So far it has a front page, list of all the news articles I could find to link to, a contact form, a page for resources (nothing there yet), a blog, where the latest happenings and updates on coming meetings or events can be posted, and a page for media folks to get some basic info.

We will be bound to put some links up to local helpful internet locations and much, much more.

Slide over to have a look, leave a comment or make a suggestion.

Greener Pastures

There are two classic essays about lost opportunity that remain as true today as they ever were. One is “Acres of Diamonds”, written as a speech by Russell Conwell, http://highered411.com/Readings/ACRES%20OF%20DIAMONDS.pdf , the other is “Greener Pastures”, by Earl Nightingale.

The link above will take you to “Acres of Diamonds.” Let me summarize Nightingales “Greener Pastures” for you. Nightingale makes the point that, when you are standing in your own backyard and looking off into the distance, every other yard or pasture seems to be a flawless green carpet. When you look at your own yard, you see the holes, the brown spots, the weeds, the torn turf. Of course, the point of the essay is that, if you could be transported to that far off patch of green, and look down on it from a height of 6 feet, you would see the flaws in it as well. It is only distance that makes it look better than yours.

In the same way, many business owners will spend thousands of dollars on Yellow Page ads, display ads in newspapers, and in flyers that cost hundreds to distribute every week. They are hoping to attract a few new customers. What they are ignoring are their own past clients. Folks who have already qualified themselves by spending money in the owners business. Marketing gurus like Jay Abraham and Dan Kennedy have made millions of dollars by going into existing businesses and convincing the owners to ignore the distant “greener pastures” and to focus on their own back yard “acres of diamonds.”

I have accumulated a lot of marketing material in the last 10 years while I have been learning this skill set. Here are some of the best ways to mine your own past customers for additional revenue…generally by offering them additional value.

  • Make them more frequent offers
  • Find a way to reward frequent purchasers
  • Provide a reward or discount for higher volume purchases
  • Organize a VIP club for your customers that comes with special privileges or discounts
  • Communicate with them regularly through email (or direct mail if the purchase point is high enough)
  • Identify your best customers and treat them better
  • Create continuity programs (you’ll be needing this every two months…why don’t we just sign you up, bill you monthly and we will throw in free delivery)
  • Regularly survey your customers to see if there are related products or services they would like you to arrange for them
  • Create special offers for them by doing joint ventures with other local businesses or services
Most businesses underestimate the impact of simply making more frequent offers to their existing clientele. Think of this…they have already purchased from you so they like and trust you. If you have something they need, why wouldn’t they buy it from you? Many times people are too busy to shop, forget about something they need, or are someplace else when they remember they need it, so they buy it from whoever is in front of them at the time. By reminding them of the availability of your product, you serve them and help yourself.

 

Hastings Helpers

Just wanted to make sure everyone was aware of the new group started by Tonya Mccoll-Smith. It’s called Hastings Helpers. Tonya recognized that when the bridge closes, it may create particular problems for some people. Folks without transportation options are on example. There might be people living on the north end of town who car pool with people on the south side. This could create the requirement for a large large detour it they were to hook up. There may be issues for others with mobility problems.

At any rate, the group has been started. It now has it’s own Facebook Group page http://www.facebook.com/groups/318989584790243/.

Expect to read more about it soon in one or the other of the local papers. Why not head over to the Facebook page and have a look. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 13th at 7p.m in the Policing room of the Hastings Civic Centre. The group is looking to coordinate any activities and services with the efforts of the municipality. This is still early stages but better prepared than sorry, as the old saying goes.

Start With Just 30 Minutes!

I was talking to a small part-time business owner, a few months ago, about taking some action to integrate the internet (and email) into her marketing efforts but she was overwhelmed at the thought. She currently  has another job, looks after the family, and is pursuing her craft business. Lots of us are in this position. We already have full plates and taking on any other tasks seems impossible. Of course, the truth is, just about everybody can scrape together 30 minutes. And that’s all you have to do. Putting aside just thirty minutes a day will allow you to  make steady progress.

The first few thirty minute sessions might be planning. Then you might spend a few sessions on learning some of the skills or knowledge you will need to use to harness the power of the web.  Once you have an idea of where to go, and some knowledge of how to do it you can begin laying out the specific tasks that need to be accomplished to get your email lists built up, get your business listed on Google Places or on different local and business directories,  or even creating some content for your blog.

When you actually sit down to think about it and plan a course of action, there are not that many steps involved. I will be going over pretty much all the information you need during the internet marketing for local business workshops, later this winter.

Thirty minutes a day is three and a half hours a week. It adds up pretty fast. In three months you will have put in a solid work week of effort, but better. Because you won’t be breaking your work time up with interruptions.

If you started today, in three months time you could have an email list, a Google Places listing, with pictures and videos, a blog website, links back to your blog and Google Places listing from YouTube and local and business directories, four or five pages of keyword optimized content, higher listings in the search engines than competing businesses from Cobourg, Belleville or Peterborough, an email list with hundreds of names, all of your online marketing integrated with your offline advertising, and a years worth of emails and blog posts ready to send out, and set up on a service that will post them for you.
What’s the worse case scenario? If you start putting in thirty minutes a day, you drop down to an hour and a half a week, and you don’t wind up with all of this done, only half of it. Actually, half of it would put you way ahead of where you are now, wouldn’t it?
You don’t need to become a web guru to achieve results that will help buffer the impact of the bridge closure. But you do need to take some action. Just thirty minutes a day will pay you big dividends.

Plan for the New Year

Planning for Bridge Repairs

Plan Your Response to Bridge Closure

Starting January 1, it’s a ten month countdown to the bridge closure, then we will have to grind out four months of reduced access. There is absolutely no point in waiting until October, and then hoping things turn out okay. The time to start taking action is right now. At least it’s time to start planning. Dealing with a four month traffic reduction seems huge, but there are things you can do.

Any project planner will tell you that to have a successful project you need to have an end goal clearly in mind. Then you identify the milestones needed to get to that goal. Then you identify the tasks needed to reach each milestone. So let’s start with a goal or two. Nothing wrong with having two goals, as long as they don’t compete with each other. Maybe one of our goals should be to generate extra income this year before the closure, to soften the blow of reduced income during the repairs. And the other could be to extend our marketing reach in a direction that won’t be hurt by the closure, so we won’t see such a drop of in business. Let’s take them one at a time.

More Income

How can we generate more income. There are really only three ways.

  1. Get more customers
  2. Get customers to buy more each visit
  3. Get customers to visit more frequently
  4. There is actually a fourth way that is kind of a subset of number one; that is re-activate old customers that have stopped coming in

Fortunately, all of these items don’t hurt our second goal so we can safely work on any or all of them.

Getting More Customers

Getting more customers means reaching out to more people in more ways, to grab their attention. It is hard to improve things if you don’t know how you are doing now. Do you track where you current business is coming from now? If you don’t plan to start. Are people finding you through the Yellow Pages, newspapers, flyers or posters? Which is most effective on a cost basis? Should you be cutting back on one and scaling up a different one?

Getting More Customers

Are you collecting email addresses? Do you have a formal customer referral plan? Have you entered into any Joint Ventures or partnerships with other non-competing businesses? These ideas don’t cost any money to implement.

When you capture clients email addresses, along with their permission to email them, you are in a position to ask them to forward any emails you send them on to their friends. You know how credible a recommendation from a friend is. You ask your friends their opinion of different products and services all the time. You act on them as well. So does everybody. Encourage your satisfied clients to recommend you to their circle. Having a Facebook Places Page makes this very easy to do. Having a Google Places page that your customers can post reviews on has a similar effect.

A Joint venture could be as simple as identifying a business outside of town that has some alignment with your own. You could arrange a simple coupon swap. Every customer that buys from them gets a discount coupon to your store. Every customer that buys from you gets one to their store. This way you both wind up getting some awareness that you might not have had otherwise. Will it generate much new business? Hard to say. But almost certainly any business that results is business you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Worst case scenario, both of your customers feel slightly more appreciated, since you have made the effort to secure them this discount; and the coupon allows you to inform a wider audience about products and services you offer. Maybe giving them information they didn’t have before.

Get Customers to Buy More Each Visit

This one can be a simple as moving a valuable offer right up to the cashier. As your clients are paying for their purchase, offer them the opportunity to take advantage of the valuable offer. Make it something larger, that you have discounted, but that still leaves a good margin of profit. Is there a regular consumable that you don’t often carry but you could order in? Something your customers frequently buy some place else? Can you think of something that you could give them a quantity discount on, that they could come in and pick up next week?

Let me give you an example that might be off the mark, because I don’t know the margins and quantity pricing available to you but they will illustrate my point. What if, as folks were checking out your cashier said, “We are planning a large buy on water softener salt, for delivery next week. If you order three bags today, you can get them for $6.95 each. That’s 20% less than regular price. If you want, I’ll bill you now and we will call you when they come in. You can pick them up right here, probably next Thursday. It’s the sort of thing you need to buy regularly anyway. But this will save you some money.”

You could use the same principle on everything from wind-shield washer fluid to cabbage rolls. Service providers could switch it up a little bit to say “February’s are always my worst month, I don’t know why. If you book and pay for your next appointment now, I can give you a 15% discount.”

You know your customers/clients better than I do, so you will have to come up with examples, but I think you get the idea. You are generating purchases that you wouldn’t have otherwise had. People may be used to purchasing certain products some place else, because your prices have to be higher. By managing larger quantity orders, you lower your costs, and encourage them to increase their purchase amount on something you wouldn’t have sold them. Win/win

Next post I’ll talk about encouraging more frequent visits and re-activating dormant accounts.