Did you know that you can create a historical Facebook archive by downloading all of your posts and data, including images, messages and more? Just go to "Settings" and in the "General" tab you'll see an option to "Download a copy of your Facebook data". You'll be asked to enter your password, and a few minutes later you will receive an email with a download link. My personal Facebook page archive downloaded today contains 43mb of data, and includes just about everything, even a history of the people I've poked! LOL. But seriously, this is a valuable option for securing your data, so give it a try, then leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Being a business owner and entrepreneur means wearing many hats, all the time. Fortunately, in this ever-advancing age of technology, there are a multitude of valuable, web-based tools to help you efficiently and effectively manage your business.
Here are some of the best: 14 Free Business Tools for 2017
WHAT METRICS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED?
The results you choose to track will depend on the goals you have set and the strategies you have in place. Here are some examples:
Growth in organic web traffic – how many website visitors did you have?
Social engagement – how many new page likes, post likes, comments and shares were gained on FB and other social media platforms?
Lead generation – how many new subscribers have you received?
Conversion rate – how many new customers or inquiries did you earn and where did they come from?
TOOLS FOR TRACKING RESULTS
Google Analytics is by far the most valuable tool available to you as a marketer (and yes, unless you have a professional, paid staff to handle your marketing efforts, as a business owner you are a marketer.) It is an extremely robust platform and can be somewhat complicated, however learning the basics will be well worth your time.
Aside from the standard dashboard and statistics provided by Google Analytics, it also offers a a powerful tool called “Link Builder”. This allows you to create unique URLs (called UTM parameters) for each specific link you wish to track. For instance, if you want to place a link to your most recent blog article in your email signature line, in an email campaign, in a Twitter post and in a Facebook post, you would create 4 specific links, all pointing to that one webpage. This VIDEO by KISSMETRICS explains exactly how to create your own UTM parameters.
SOME OTHER HELPFUL TOOLS INCLUDE
Surveys - Ask your customers how they found you.
Promo Codes - Request that your customers enter a code to get a certain item or discount, and use different codes with different campaigns.
Email Analytics - Use services such as Constant Contact, Mail Chimp and others which provide excellent link tracking services.
Social Media Analytics - Utilize Facebook business page and other social media platforms statistics on your individual posts and page engagement.
Google Alerts - Receive email notifications when your business name or blog post titles are mentioned online.
PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER - CREATE A MARKETING DASHBOARD
Excel is an excellent tool for tracking and analyzing your marketing results. List each individual campaign on the left side, then assign a column to each metric you want to track, then be sure to include the title of each campaign, the linked URL and the date. Of course you'll want to list your goals either monthly, quarterly or by campaign, so you can compare them to your results to determine where you may need to adjust your efforts.
Setting goals and systems for tracking your marketing results is critical to assure your progress is based on informed decisions rather than squandering your time and money without a clear path for success. If you need help creating a plan or implementing smart strategies with measurable results, contact Carol@equineofficesolutions.com. Then contact us to schedule a personal strategy session to learn how you can take your business to the next level and beyond.
Once the basic systems are in place, your primary marketing goal is to draw interested prospects to your website, to engage, inform and eventually convert them into paying customers. As we all know, your greatest business assets are your previous customers. Why? Because they KNOW you, TRUST you and have EXPERIENCE with your services or products. They are also your best source for valuable referrals and testimonials. Testimonials should be found everywhere in your marketing materials and on your website. Also, never miss the opportunity to ask for a referral from a previous customer, and then reward them with incentives.
LIST BUILDING & CONTACT RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS: Building a list of current contacts, as well as past and prospective customers, is fundamental to a successful marketing plan. Segmenting the various customers in your list, will allow you to best leverage your list of through the use of a Contact Relationship Management (CRM) system that integrates with your email system to keep track of correspondence, set reminders, trigger posts in social media, etc. Recommended CRMs include Highrise HQ, Insightly, Contactually and Sales Force, just to name a few. Adding pertinent information to each new contact’s record, such as what product or service the individual expressed interest in, will be valuable later when you offer promotions via email marketing. Lastly, creating a sign-up form and subscriber incentive on your website will help grow your list and the potential for obtaining more customers.
EMAIL MARKETING is still one of the most effective tools for reaching out to and following-up with customers and potential customers, if used correctly. Besides having your list segmented, it’s crucial for your emails to clearly represent your unique brand, be delivered regularly and offer helpful information for your readers. Creating an email template will provide consistency, building a familiarity with your audience that will ultimately increase the likelihood of them opening and reading your emails.
Some important tips to remember as you create an email include:
Your email marketing campaigns should ultimately incorporate your blog, social media, and lead capture strategies. Notable platforms include Constant Contact and MailChimp.
CONTENT MARKETING is another extremely valuable component of any successful marketing plan. Your blog is your home base for all of your content, and provides links to direct your audience back to your website. Most engaging content is brief yet packed with information. Some examples of effective content types include YouTube videos, podcasts, articles, eBooks and interviews. Establishing relationships with editors of key publications can also expand the reach of your content and rapidly build your audience.
SOCIAL MEDIA is also an indisputable component of any successful marketing strategy. Here we want to connect individually with our audience and build relationships that will create a following. A number of post scheduling tools are available such as Hootsuite and Bufferapp, allowing you to engage more consistently with less effort. And always remember to personally check in on your social media platforms at least once or twice a day to respond to comments and engage with your community.
The most common social media channels include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. Those most effective for you will depend on your business focus and the demographics of your audience. If your products lend themselves to visual promotion, Pinterest or Instagram may be for you. If your promotions are more content driven, LinkedIn will be very effective. Take your pick to or employ them all, but use them and do so regularly. Join those groups on Facebook and LinkedIn where your audience gathers. Build relationships by supporting others, commenting on active threads and offering your expertise. Posting photos and videos along with your content regularly can be a highly effective tactic in any marketing strategy. The goal is engagement and lots of it! The more engagement your posts receive, the more visible they will become in the newsfeeds of your followers.
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS can open doors to new audiences and promote your business on a much wider scale. There are many types of collaborative ventures such as hosting a webinar or sharing a booth at a trade show. Things to consider when building collaborative partnerships include:
The possibilities are endless and so are the benefits of such strategic partnerships. Being creative and bold will open up new and exciting marketing options and potential business for both partners.
A great way to promote such partnerships is by sending out a press release. Press releases are brief and to the point and can reach a large audience of new followers with similar interests. Be sure to include a personal introduction to each press release and information about you and your website. Overtime, growing your media relations will help you gain even more significant exposure.
In summary, your strategic marketing plan needs to be hand-crafted to best meet the needs of your individual business. It is not a cookie-cutter, one plan fits all. The strategies and tools described above are available to all, and implementing them with creativity, focus and dedication will lead you to success greater than you’d ever imagined.
Stay tuned for the final installment of this series, where we’ll outline the best methods for “Measuring the success of your efforts and putting it all together.”
By: Carol M. Aldridge | Equine Office Solutions
The first step in building a marketing plan for any equine business is to define your target market. Our previous article defines what a target market is, how to determine yours, and understanding their needs and wants. Once you have accomplished this, you’ll be well on your way, and can turn your focus toward market analysis and establishing your value proposition.
BASIC MARKET ANALYSIS
Performing even a simple market analysis will help you become acquainted with your current audience and your competition. It will help you create a value proposition, produce strong and attainable goals, and help determine a clear focus for your specific marketing campaigns.
1. Review past sales & business activity: first, review sales for the past two years. How did your customers find you? What did they buy? What needs did you fill? What are their demographics? The answers to these questions will provide valuable information that will help shape your future marketing focus.
2. Research your competition: Determine who your competitors are. Visit their websites, follow them on social media, and subscribe to their newsletters to keep informed on what they are doing to stay competitive in the market. How do they differ from you? How are your businesses the same? Evaluate strengths and weaknesses of both.
3. Poll your customers: Send a brief poll out to your current and past customers to help shed light on what you are doing right and where you may have room for improvements or enhancements. What value have they found in your products or services? What would they like to see you offer in the future? How did they find you? You can even go a step further and invite them to write a recommendation for publication on your website.
YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION
Once you have completed a basic market analysis, you are ready to shape your value proposition. A strong value proposition will differentiate you from your competition and give you a significant competitive edge. Finding clear ways of being unique and positioning yourself as a visible expert in the market will help attract your target audience.
Ask yourself: “What are the problems I solve and the results I enable?”
- Define the problem(s) you are looking to solve
- Evaluate whether your offer is unique and compelling
- Measure the ease of which the customer can find and use your offerings
- Build your Value Proposition
Tag Line: Consider developing a tag line to communicate your value proposition in about 10 words or less.
ESTABLISHING YOUR MARKETING GOALS
One of your main goals should always be to draw interested prospects to your website where they can access your contact information, learn more about your business, your unique value proposition and your products and services, and perhaps even read recommendations from customers and colleagues.
Additionally, setting a series of long and short term goals will help you maintain a specific focus, and will allow you to measure the success of your marketing efforts.
Some items to consider:
-craft very specific goals, as they lead to much greater success than general goals
-take care to assure your goals are realistic, attainable and measurable
-set long-term goals first and then short-term second (step-by-step to support long-term goals)
Suggested Marketing Goal Categories:
1. Sales/ Income
3. Web Traffic
4. Social Media Page Likes & Post Interactions
5. New Customers
7. Email Marketing Campaign Opens/Clicks
8. Collaborative Partnerships
9. Media Coverage
10. Blog Comments
In conclusion, inbound marketing and reaching out to your targeted audience are most successful when there’s a plan in place and steps have been taken to establish a clear and focused presentation and realistic goals. Watch for future articles in this series, where we will explore enhanced marketing strategies and measuring the success of your marketing efforts.
Defining Your Competitive Edge:
How to never run out of customers again
Building a compelling value proposition
Setting Business Goals:
Steps to Successful Business Goals:
Here are some tips to help you define your target market:
ANALYZE YOUR CURRENT CUSTOMER BASE
Take note of who is already buying from you. What characteristics do they have in common? Which customers bring in the most business? What do they value most about your business? You may even choose to present a brief survey to your customers in an effort in an effort to gain a better understanding of their needs.
RESEARCH YOUR COMPETITION
Your competition may be apparent or you may need to search for them. Whatever it takes, understanding who they are, how they are reaching their audience, what they have to offer will be extremely helpful in shaping a clear picture of your general audience.
DEFINE THE BENEFITS OF YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Write out a list of the products and services you provide. Then list the needs each of these fulfill. Next make a list people who have a need that your benefits fulfill.
DETERMINE SPECIFIC DEMOGRAPHICS TO TARGET
The previous three tips should give you a fairly clear image of your ideal customer. Now, let’s look at specifics. What demographics do they have in common? Some general demographics to determine include: Age, Location, Gender, Income level, Education level, Marital or family status, Occupation, Ethnic background.
UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE
Your target audience should now be coming into focus. For example, let’s say you are targeting women over 40 in the Real Estate business with an income of $80,000 or more. Now you can begin to expand their profile beyond demographics to their interests and lifestyle. Perhaps they enjoy traveling; you could consider advertising in a high-end travel magazine. Or if they are interested in the arts, you could begin networking in a LinkedIn group focused on the opera. In essence, be present in the places chosen by your target market is so they can find you.
EVALUATE YOUR DECISION
Finally, take a look at the target market you’ve chosen and ask: Are there enough people to sell to? Can they afford what I am offering? Am I truly meeting their needs? How can I best reach them with my message?
Remember, you can have more than one target market. Defining your audience is a bit of work, but the benefits will be worth your while. You will save time and money and receive a better return when you direct your message specifically to each niche.
If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so HERE. You’ll also receive our Zero-Budget Marketing Plan For Equine Business Owners AND all of the replays to the 2015 Movers & Shakers of the Horse World Series!
Here are some quick tips to help you utilize your customer base more effectively:
GET TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
TARGET YOUR MESSAGES
Segment your contact list, and then target your marketing campaigns directly to each group. They will feel you 'know' them and have a sense for who they are and what they want. This grows trust and loyalty. The more you focus your message on each specific audience, the greater your return will be. Let your messages 'speak' to them.
THE BENEFITS THAT LOYAL CUSTOMERS CAN PROVIDE
WAYS TO REWARD YOUR CUSTOMERS
Add your most significant contacts and customers to a CRM program such as Insightly, Highrise, Contactually or Sales Force. Be sure the program integrates well with your email system to track correspondence. Research their business and enter as much information as possible. This will give you an immediate overview of that client. This information coupled with their account history will provide a complete customer profile for reference and relationship building. Then schedule follow-up reminders. Drop them a personal note or email with helpful
information, a happy birthday wish or just to check in. They will remember you and appreciate your extra effort.
These management practices may take some extra effort, but they will pay off exponentially in the long run. In the future, when your customers are in need of your products and services, or their friends and colleagues ask for a recommendation, your business will be top of mind. And the experts all agree that word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising.
As an equine business owner, you wear many hats. But no matter how organized and hard-working you are, your approach to marketing can ultimately make or break your business. Consider these top 4 marketing strategies to help you gain an advantage in the equine industry’s competitive business environment:
A PROFESSIONAL QUALITY WEBSITE
Your website is your business’s face to the world. These features will help assure that you are continually presented to your target audience in a positive and inviting manner.
Design - A clean layout & easy navigation invite your readers in and encourage them to explore your site while learning more about all your business has to offer.
Branding - Consistent branding throughout your website, and all other marketing materials creates instant recognition.
Lead Qualifying - Include adequate information about your business/products/services to assure your visitors can easily determine that you have what they are looking for.
Blog Component - Integrated blogging capability is highly recommended as a key component of your website to assure successful content marketing and effective SEO.
Capturing the email addresses of your target audience will allow you to stay in direct contact, providing future offers and information.
Lead Capture - Include a dedicated landing page on your website that incorporates a subscriber opt-in form.
Subscriber Incentive - Offer a free report or ebook containing valuable information for your prospective customers.
Email Marketing - Integrating your lead capture system with an email marketing system such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp, will help automate the entire process. Just set-it all up once and let the system do the work for you!
The content you publish and share with your audience and subscribers are what keeps this whole system in motion. It draws in new customers and keeps your audience interested.
Blogging - Draw traffic to your site and enhance your SEO by consistently publishing content rich blog posts.
Email Marketing - Email your subscribers regularly with links to your blog posts, and include inviting offers and other valuable content.
LinkedIn's Publishing Platform - In my opinion, this amazing promotional tool has not received nearly the recognition it deserves. Each post published there is categorized and made available to ALL LinkedIn members.
Content Curation - Other reputable sites such as Reddit or EzineArticles will publish your content for free, producing valuable backlinks to your website.
News Releases - Publishing professional news releases on a regular basis can be the single most effective way to get your name out to your potential market. It’s best to determine several key media outlets and develop a working relationship with each, so they recognize and take note of your news when it is received.
Networking is the #1 marketing strategy for any successful business. It is a daily activity whether we choose to recognize it or not. Approach every business contact as an exercise in relationship building to ultimately grow your business beyond any other standard marketing tactic. Determine where your target market is, then become a visible participant there.
Groups - Join online networking groups dedicated to your niche market, and join in the conversations with supportive replies and helpful, informative posts.
Influencers - Watch and learn to determine who the most influential professionals are in your field, and then introduce yourself.
Events - Meeting other professionals in person is the most powerful way to grow your business relationships. Look for local equine seminars, Horse Council events, shows and other equine events on your area. Then attend with a professional, friendly attitude (never with the intention to “sell”) and be sure to bring lots of business cards!
CRM - A comprehensive CRM (contact relationship management) system will take your networking from average to supercharged! The most valuable aspect of a quality CRM system is its ability to streamline and strengthen your follow-up efforts. Because without follow-up, networking and relationship-building efforts are practically meaningless. Enter each new person that you wish to stay in touch with, then assign one or more “tags” for sorting and filtering purposes. Most systems will also automatically integrate with your email creating an ongoing record of your correspondence with each contact. You can also schedule email or text reminders to help keep you on track.
Incorporating these key systems & strategies in your basic marketing plan will allow you to grow and maintain an increasingly successful equine business.
Photo by Evgeni Dinev at freedigitalphotos.net
Hey Folks - If you haven't already heard, I wanted to let everyone know that the popular series, Movers and Shakers of the Horse World, is back! Randi Thompson and I are working together on this exciting production, and the first episode will air on G+ this Tuesday, Feb 17th at 8pm ET. We'll be speaking with Liv Gude of Professional Equine Grooms.
JOIN US THERE: How do you find us? All you need to do is go to the Movers and Shakers of the Horse World Hangout at this link: https://plus.google.com/events/ceql3i13lu8pea4b1bre66f7mhg. You can also email me with your request to attend and we will send you the invitation link. You do not need to join Google+ to participate.
Future episodes of the Movers and Shakers of the Horse World include:
Feb 17th Liv Gude of Professional Equine Grooms
March 10th Debi Metcalfe of Stolen Horse International, Inc. aka NetPosse
April 14th Wayne L. Williams of Speaking of Horses TV
May 12th Fran Jurga of HoofCare.com
June 9th Christy Lanwehr, CEO of the Certified Horsemanship Association
July 14th Glen the Geek of Horses in the Morning
There will be a unique link for each episode so stay tuned.
We hope to see you there!
With the Holiday Season upon us, we're all so busy that it's often difficult to find the time to think about growing our businesses. That's why I'm sharing this quick and insightful article with you this month. Mark my words - you'll want to bookmark it and refer back again and again!
If you're in business for yourself, then you're not only a business owner, you're a salesperson too! For some of us that's not always an easy position to be in. This article by Geoffrey James outlines the features of a successful follow-up email proposal that's sure to win the business of your prospective clients.
"The 1 Email That Every Salesperson Must Master"
Carol Aldridge is an Administrative Consultant and Support Specialist serving the equine industry for over 25 years. Her clients across the United States and Canada enjoy customized business support services designed to relieve workload pressure, streamline office procedures and maximize marketing results. Learn more at www.EquineOfficeSolutions.com.
If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so HERE. You’ll also receive our Zero-Budget Marketing Plan For Equine Business Owners. And please, feel free to share your thoughts and ideas by commenting below - together we can all help each other succeed!