All posts tagged online marketing

How to Choose Social Media Tools for Your Business

How to Choose Social Media Tools for Your Business

When you begin to consider using social media marketing for your business, the choices can seem overwhelming. There are so many social networks out there, and will the time needed to do all of them really pay off in the long run? How do you choose what makes sense for your business?

Here’s a process you can use to help you decide and then use what you choose effectively:

  • Write down your goals for social media marketing: Are you seeking new customers, or looking to grow your mailing list? Are you interested in finding people that are interested in a business opportunity? By taking some time to consider your goals, your subsequent actions will be a lot more focused.
  • Define your target market: You must understand who you want to reach if you’re going to find them online. So spend some time narrowly defining your target market…their ages, education, income level, interests, etc. Then you can go and find them!
  • Figure out where your target market spends time online: Once you know who you want to reach, then do some research to find out where that target market spends time online. Facebook is a great place to find consumers, but if you’re looking for people interested in a business opportunity you may do better on LinkedIn. If you want to reach a more niche audience, perhaps the people you want to reach are on a more specialized network like or Don’t just assume that the “biggies” are best for your business. Take the time to do the research so you know which network will help you reach the people you are looking for.
  • Decide how much time you can devote daily: This is also very important. If you’re a solopreneur, you’ve got a lot to do already, and adding the maintenance of dozens of social networks to your plate means that you won’t do anything well. Instead, narrow your focus to one or two social networks based on the daily amount of time you can invest. Remember, doing one social network well is better than spreading yourself too thin and leaving no impression on people at all.
  • Learn the social network before jumping in: Once you’ve got a short list of social networks that would work for your business, spend some time researching them. Talk to other business owners that have used them, and ask about their results and best practices. Read the terms of service of the network so you’re clear on what you can and cannot do as a business on the social network. And take some time to observe how others use the network at a personal level. If most people use the social network personally, you want to be sure your understand the norms and cadence of the interactions there, so you don’t come in like a bull in a china shop, alienating the very people you want to reach.
  • Commit daily: Once you establish your presence on the social network, realize it’s a daily commitment. Especially in the beginning as you’re building your momentum, it’s absolutely critical that you spend time every single day connecting with the people on your social network. Share great content, talk to people, answer questions. It’s the giving of yourself each day that builds the engagement that leads to new business.
  • Add your social networks to your offline marketing: Now that you’ve got an online presence, be sure to add it to your offline interactions. Add the URL of your social presence to your business cards and signage. Invite every customer to connect with you online. Let your in-person business contacts know about special “online only” offers that you provide online to encourage them to join you there. The beauty of the online presence is that you can connect with people a lot more regularly than just waiting to connect in person. Be sure every person you work with is invited to join you online.
  • Measure! This is perhaps the most important part of social media, and the one most often neglected by business owners. It’s not enough to set up your online presence and “feel” that things are going well. You must measure. The ultimate goal of any social presence is to convert contacts on your social networks to people that help you meet the goals you outlined in the first bullet of this article. So if you’re looking to build your mailing list, be sure you’ve got a way for people to sign up to do that, and call it out regularly on your social networks. Then measure how many people come to your sign up form, and how many get to the success page after filling it out. How many do you lose? If too many people are abandoning your form before completion, maybe you need to change your form. If your goal is to get more customers, then you should be measuring how many people are coming from your social network to your shopping page (or into your store…are you asking how they heard about you?), and then how many actually make a purchase after visiting. Google Analytics will give you a lot of this information. Make sure you’ve got it installed on your website, and are looking at the data regularly.

It’s not enough to just jump on Facebook because everyone else seems to be doing it. A measured, thoughtful approach to your selection of social media tools, and then measuring the results of your actions, will bring you much closer to your goals.

What social tools do you use? Why did you choose them? How are they working for you? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments.

DSEF & CBBB: Watch Your Event Explode When You Use These Three Promotion Paths

DSEF & CBBB: Watch Your Event Explode When You Use These Three Promotion Paths

Today’s highlighted blog post from the Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB):

Watch Your Event Explode When You Use These Three Promotion Paths

By Lance Trebesch and’s global customers do such a great job promoting and hosting their events we thought we would share some of their most powerful tips with you.

Today, advertising is a multi-tiered task. Modern event planners need to use all the tools available. After all, you can’t sell tickets if no one knows you have tickets for sale.

Word of Mouth: Before you go viral, go verbal!

  • The Australian music and events PR company Pretty Like Money wanted to sell event tickets to “uni students and urban music lovers” for their recent Hip Hop Halloween. They spread the word that their event would be “a different scene.” Those in search of novelty couldn’t help but get excited about a unique event in the area.
  • In America, Denise Johnson, who coordinated the Alex Johnson Memorial Concert, told us never to overestimate the value of word-of-mouth advertising. She found that she could sell more tickets “one-on-one” than she could through paid advertisements.

Traditional Media: There’s still room for print in a visually- jumbled world.

  • The Swanage and Purbeck Hospitality Association in the UK wanted to promote their village with a comedy festival and our print products helped them spread the word in the area: They used “professional flyers printed and circulated locally plus posters and roadside banners.”
  • In Australia, the Professional Women’s Wrestling Alliance also drums up interest in upcoming matches with printed material. Besides hanging posters, they “hand out fliers to draw the initial attention of the local surrounding areas to where we will be holding events,” combining word-of-mouth with print advertising.

Online Promotions: Share content on your sites and on those of others.

  • Written or videotaped interviews uploaded to allied sites or YouTube work before and after the event. According to UK band Bombskare, “Social media works best,” for spreading the news to their plugged-in fans. They also use QR codes to help bridge the gap from one type of media to another.
  • David  Reynolds of Blue Heron Productions in the U.S. understands that not everyone has the know-how to jumpstart an online campaign. That’s why he encourages the musicians he promotes to help him out: “The younger bands see the benefit of Internet marketing and are generally better at it.” Since his advertising budget is limited, he loves this low-cost, high-tech option for promoting acoustic music.

So use these tips to get the word out, get folks through the door, and watch your event attendance explode!

DSEF and Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) fosters honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. for more information.

Using the Facebook Page Timeline to Succeed in Business

The DSEF's Facebook Timeline
Using the Facebook Page Timeline to Succeed in Business

The DSEF's Facebook TimelineAs of March 30, 2012, all Facebook Pages will automatically be switched over to the new Timeline format. Like any change, there are of course some new features to get used to. But by using your Page strategically, you can benefit your business which can help you build success. Here are some strategies you may want to consider:

  • What do you want your cover image to say about your business? 
    Much has been written around the blog-o-sphere about selecting a cover image. Whatever image you choose to use, make sure that the image tells the story you intend. If your business is primarily about cooking, perhaps you want to show people enjoying delicious food or having fun in the kitchen (this says you’re about making cooking delicious and fun). If your business is personal coaching, perhaps you want to include an inspirational saying along with photos of groups of people who seem connected (this says you’re about building people up emotionally and connecting them). If your Page is more about team building, perhaps you want to include enthusiastic pictures of your team (this says your team is a fun and active place to be.) The important thing is to think about what you want to express as a brand, and then choose or create a cover image that reflects that message.Here’s a useful article that provides some examples of Facebook cover photos (some by direct sellers):
  • Keep the conversation alive. As an entrepreneur, one of your biggest advantages on your Facebook Page is the opportunity to connect with people personally, and engage in conversation. So be sure you’re continually checking out the comments that others make on your page, and responding in a timely manner.
  • Post engaging content. Just like with the old Page layout, the majority of interaction with your Page will occur within the News Feed (Facebook home page) and NOT on the Page itself. So be sure you’re using the type of content that engages. Here’s an article with 7 essential steps for writing updates on your Page that engage:
  • Track your stats. The best way to improve something is to track it. And Facebook makes it easy to do just that with Insights for Pages. Click on “See All” next to the Insights snapshot on your new Admin panel, and take a look at the stats on each of your posts. This will give you a really good idea of the kinds of posts that resonate best with your Page community.  (Do more of them!) Review the parts of the world where people talking about your Page come from. And so on. By understanding who is using your Page, and how, you can replicated the actions that are bringing you the most results.
  • Highlight your apps. Maybe you’ve got a tab set up on your Page where people can sign up for your newsletter, or a custom welcome tab. Even though you can’t set these up as default landing tabs anymore, you can still highlight them. Arrange them underneath your cover image (you can change the order), and choose custom photos for each. Here is a set of free custom Facebook app icons you may want to use:

Change can often be a challenge, but like it or not the new Timeline is here to stay (for now!) Best to embrace the challenge and find ways to make the new format work for you.

What would you add? How are you using the new Timeline for Pages to build your business? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Free e-book “Business Owner’s Road Map to Success.” It has over 50 pages of techniques for everything a small business owner needs to master, from business planning and ethical selling to a success mindset. It’s all there and it’s free for you. To get it, just “Like” our Facebook Page here: Pass it on!

Fixing Your Marketing as Simple as 1-2-3

Fixing Your Marketing as Simple as 1-2-3

If you’ve ever seen the 1989 film Field of Dreams, you are familiar with the phrase, “If you build it, they will come.”  Fortunately for Kevin Costner’s leading character, that was true.  However, that isn’t exactly the case for small business owners.  Customers won’t just find you; you have to market to them.  The best thing we can do for our business is to learn from the mistakes of others, and then make better choices. Here are the most common marketing mistakes and how to fix them.

  • Underestimating the power of research – Think you’ve got that million dollar idea for a product or service?  Well before you invest significant amounts of money into such an idea, it is of utmost importance to do some serious market research and test your product/service with a real customer base.
  • Overestimating the power of research – Although this may seem contradictory to the previous statement, it is crucial to remember that emotions play a large part in customers’ decisions.  Yes, most consumers do their own research and respond well to the facts, but their emotions guide those decisions even more than they may realize, so connect with them on that level.  Keep this in mind when creating a marketing plan.
  • Ignoring the tried and true – As entrepreneurs, we want to be innovative with not only our products, but also our marketing strategies.  In your quest for originality, don’t spend too much time re-inventing the wheel.  Instead, familiarize yourself with existing tactics that have been successful for others.  Use these as the basis for your marketing techniques, and put your own twist on them so they are tailored to your particular business.
  • Fixing what isn’t broken – Your hard work and preparation have paid off, and you are enjoying a very successful promotion that you created yourself.  In fact, you’ve been reaping the rewards of this promotion for nearly a year.  It’s about time you switched it up and tried a different promotion right?  Wrong!  Just because you may be getting tired of it, don’t forget that an untapped market and new customers are discovering it for the first time.  If you really feel the need to try something different, keep what you have while testing out your new idea.  This way, you won’t lose out on time and profits if the results are less than satisfactory.
  • Lack of patience – Think of a memorable commercial you’ve recently seen.  Did it make you literally jump off your couch and head to the store for that product?  Probably not.  Remember that customers don’t act quickly.  When implementing a marketing strategy, patience is a virtue.  Give it some time to reach an audience and produce results.  Only then will you be able to tell if it is effective or not.
  • Casting too wide a net – You’ll never be able to be everything to everybody, so trying to be will only be a waste of time and money.  Figure out who your ideal customer is and focus on your target market.  By concentrating on a smaller niche, you will be able to satisfy unmet needs and wants of those customers.

Since marketing is such a subjective aspect of your business, it can be complicated and overwhelming.  Avoiding common pitfalls will save you time and help grow your business.  What else can you add to our list?

9 Ways to Use Pinterest for Your Small Business

9 Ways to Use Pinterest for Your Small Business

Pinterest is the hottest new social network, with articles filling up the web about how fast it’s growing. And it’s little wonder…most people are visual learners, and the ability to capture and organize photos of the things we love online can be very addicting and satisfying.

And because people are sharing photos of products they love or want (along with recipes, dream vacation destinations, and so forth), you have an opportunity to add your product line to the mix and gain additional attention. But that’s not the only use! Here are some of the ways you can use Pinterest to benefit your business:

  • Share product photos. This, at its core, is the simplest way to use Pinterest. Share photos of your product line that others can share as well, and link to your sales page. Just be careful not to be TOO product-centered or you’ll annoy your friends and be in violation of Pinterest rules.
  • Create a vision board for your business. Pinterest is a great tool for collecting photos of where you want your business to be in 1, 5, 10 years. Is your eye on a car, a home, or a fabulous vacation? Collect photos and put them on your vision board on Pinterest.
  • Create a personality for your brand. Pinterest is a great tool to show people the personality of your brand. Do you have a sense of humor? Share funny quotes. Do you have a brand that leads to a luxurious lifestyle or high fashion? Share related photos. By being mindful of the brand image you want to project, you can share photos that help people develop a sense of your overall brand.
  • Share training resources you find on the web with your team. Come across a great blog article or training piece online that would benefit your team? Pin it! Then let your team know that you’ve got a board with great resources that can help them build their businesses.
  • Run a contest. Many brands are now experimenting with running contests on Pinterest. It’s a great way to promote viral visibility of your products. This article from PR Daily may give you some ideas to get you started:
  • Collect inspiration for your own content. For example, you might collect recipes that inspire you to create your own recipes, or makeup or fashion looks that give you ideas about ways you can suggest customers use your products.
  • Do research about the things that excite your customers by checking out their boards. It can give you ideas for theme parties, specials you might want to offer, or prizes you might want to award in contests.
  • Give people ideas about additional ways to use your product line. For example, if you sell home decor items, you might show rooms and point out where your product would be perfect in the layout.
  • Create an opportunity board that highlights the benefits of your business opportunity, and share it with people who are considering joining your team. It could include your recruiting video, a link to your recruiting brochure, a video about your next incentive trip destination, etc.

Many retailers are finding that Pinterest drives a LOT of traffic to their websites. So it’s a great idea to check out this hot new social network, and find ways to put it to work for your business.

Your thoughts? Please share them in the comments! And be sure to follow us on Pinterest at We share a lot of great resources for your business!

Niche Markets: The Key to Success

Niche Markets: The Key to Success

Small business owners and direct sellers are lucky in that they have a major advantage over large corporate businesses: small businesses don’t have to be all things to all people.  In a big business’s effort to reach a very large audience, there are several groups of people whose needs are being left unmet.  This is where you come in; by defining and marketing to your niche, you will be able to focus on those needs and build a successful business.

  • Evaluate your products/services for unique qualities.  Consider something you already offer to market in an original way, or create a new product or service completely based on something you already have.  For example, if your business sells cookware, consider marketing a few pieces together with some recipes aimed at busy adults who need a “one-pot meal” for quick prep and easy clean-up.  Something like this might appeal to both working and stay-at-home moms because both would benefit from such a convenience.
  • Do some target marketing.  Marketing to your niche may require some education, especially with unique products and services.  Some may not even know that such a niche exists or that they might have a need for it.  Focus your marketing efforts on educating potential consumers about the product or service in general, and then demonstrate how you can meet that need.  Some examples to get you started can be found here.
  • Set clear objectives.  What do you hope to achieve in your business by creating a niche market?  You may want to expand your customer base, increase your network, cut your marketing costs, or raise your profits.  Make sure your goal is concrete and your efforts directing toward achieving it.
  • Test-market and size up the competition.  You will need to know how you stack up against any potential competitors.  In order to assess your competition, collect and analyze some of their products/services, brochures, print ads, websites, social media pages, etc.  You should be comparing elements such as pricing, marketing strategy, and customer service.
  • Speak the right language.  As with any type of marketing, niche marketing requires you to speak a common language with potential customers. Going back to the cookware example, when targeting that working mom, you are going to appeal to her needs by using words and ideas she can relate to.  These words and ideas will be somewhat different from those used to appeal to the stay-at-home mom.  For example, you might paint a picture for the working mom of what her typical day is like and how your product will make it easier; the full-time mom will have a very different mental picture, even though the product and need are the same.

Being able to focus your business efforts on niche markets, you will be able to reduce your overhead costs and acquire a new customer and networking base.  How have you used niche markets to build your business?  Please share your strategies and ideas below!

DSEF & Money Wise Women: Using Social Media to Build Your Business

DSEF & Money Wise Women: Using Social Media to Build Your Business

Today’s highlighted post from Money Wi$e Women Get Smart Teleseminar Series (Click here):

Using Social Media to Build Your Business

Do you understand social media and how to use it? Jennifer Fong will discuss the differences between social media for personal and business use, how to get started with social media, and social media tools to consider using for your business.

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong is a social media speaker and consultant who teaches direct selling companies and individual direct sellers how to use social media effectively as a business building tool. A former direct sales company CEO, Jennifer built her company from the ground up, and understands what it takes to build, lead, and train a team, as well as the underlying principles of any direct selling business: network, sell, and recruit. She combines her expertise in direct sales with her passion for social media marketing to provide direct sellers with the knowledge they need to put social media to work for their businesses in a strategic and profitable way.

DSEF proudly sponsors the free Money Wi$e Women Get Smart Teleseminar Series hosted by Marcia Brixey, Founder and President of Money Wise Women Educational Services and author ofThe Money Therapist: A Woman’s Guide to Creating a Healthy Financial Life. The series covers topics related to business and finances and provides women the opportunity to learn from professional experts in a safe, comfortable environment.

To find out about upcoming teleseminars, visit

Tapping Your Network to Grow

Tapping Your Network to Grow

We all have networks. These are groups of people that we connect with on a regular basis because of mutual interests, business, or other reasons. They’re a great source of personal satisfaction as well as potential business leads. Whether it’s a book club, religious organization, or professional networking group, networks can be a great resource for your business.

Here are some ideas for tapping this valuable resource to continue growing your business.

  • Give them a reason to check out your business.  If these people are already in your existing network, chances are they have some degree of familiarity with your business.  For this reason, you need to motivate them to rediscover you.  Perhaps you have recently renovated your space, introduced a new product/service, or expanded your online presence.  Use this change to re-promote your business to your network contacts and keep the relationship alive. Ask them to check out the change and offer their opinion.
  • Offer reciprocity.  Through networking, current contacts often lead to new prospects and future contacts within your network.  To take advantage of this, offer a way to return the favor when someone helps you in your business by either patronizing it themselves or advertising it to others.  For example, a local restaurant owner can recommend a nearby banquet hall for parties and offer a special discount for customers using his or her restaurant for the catering.  Likewise, the catering hall can refer customers to the restaurant for a free appetizer or dessert by mentioning their name at the restaurant after booking a party at the banquet hall.  This helps each business gain new customers, and maintains a good relationship between both businesses.
  • Team up for an event.  Promoting each other’s products and services can be done in many ways, including putting together a joint event that works for everyone involved.  A direct seller of home décor might team up with a direct seller of cookware to create an event that offers people new ideas about how to prepare for a dinner party, covering everything from how to best use your space to what recipes can be used for each course of the meal.  An event like this exposes each business owner to a new group of potential clients while providing the opportunity to show those prospects the best of each one’s business.
  • Make professional appearances at trade shows, chamber of commerce meetings, and industry conventions.  Consider doing a speaking engagement, teaching a workshop, or holding a demonstration of your business’s products/services for other small business owners.  If you run a successful business, you have much to offer fellow business owners and those just getting started.  Making a name for yourself locally will spark interest in your business.

Your network is a valuable resource which should not be overlooked when taking steps to grow your business.  What ideas do you have for tapping your network?  Please share with us in the comments below!

Free e-book “Business Owner’s Road Map to Success.” It has over 50 pages of techniques for everything a small business owner needs to master, from business planning and ethical selling to a success mindset. It’s all there and it’s free for you. To get it, just “Like” our Facebook Page here: Pass it on!

How To Offer Incentives Without Cutting Your Price

How To Offer Incentives Without Cutting Your Price

Offering incentives in small business can be a bit of a challenge, but it can also benefit you in terms of customer relations, customer retention, and of course sales.  However, it can be risky to base all of your incentives on price cuts, so consider some alternatives when creating them.

  • Tokens/Tickets/Vouchers  – One cupcake shop in Columbia, South Carolina created a special incentive to attract customers on last fall’s Small Business Saturday movement.  For every dozen cupcakes purchased at regular price, the customer would receive four tokens, one each good for a free cupcake.  To sweeten the deal (pun intended), the owner allowed the tokens to be redeemed right then and there if the customer wanted.  This was a brilliant idea, because most businesses, big and small, make customers wait until a future visit to redeem such an incentive, and often with an expiration date that creeps up sooner rather than later.  Using tokens, tickets, or vouchers and rewarding your customers on the spot shows your appreciation for their patronage.
  • Loyalty Programs – A great deal of businesses have some form of a loyalty program in place for frequent shoppers, but take this idea to the next level by offering your customers something really special.  For example, the children’s clothing giant, Carters, gives each customer a card that gets a stamp for every $20 spent.  After 5 stamps, a 10% discount is applied to the next purchase.  This is pretty standard, but you can use this idea to your advantage.  Instead of a discount, you could offer a special shopping day where he or she would have exclusive access to new products before they’re made available to the general public.
  • Individualized Product or Service – Based on a customer’s purchase history, you could offer a product/service that he or she would be particularly interested in.  For example, say a customer regularly buys a certain type of hair product from your cosmetics business. Because you know what this person wants and needs, you could offer a free consultation for a new hairstyle, color, or shampoo and conditioning treatment.  Providing individualized service to your customers improves relationships and gives them more reasons to come back.
  • Free Gift With Purchase – This really works well when you can purchase items at wholesale that have a higher perceived value.  Additionally, you can promote a higher-priced item by offering a free gift with it.  For example, select a product or service that you want to interest your customers with; if they buy it, they could also get a free custom-printed t-shirt designed by a local artist, or a free canvas tote bag with your logo printed across the front.  The benefits here are two-fold: the higher price you can charge for the item will help offset the cost of your free gift, and you are also advertising your brand by distributing your merchandise to your customers.

By thinking outside the box, there are endless possibilities to the incentives that one could offer.  What are some of your ideas for non-price related incentives?  Please share them in the comments section below!

Target Marketing For Small Business

Target Marketing For Small Business

With so many different marketing methods being used in business these days, it can be overwhelming to decide which is right for you.  One should consider the use of target marketing, which is dividing your market into specific groups and concentrating on just one or a few important components.  For example, a pet grooming business specializing in grooming show dogs could implement a direct mail campaign (snail or electronic) that reaches only particular dog owners rather than advertising in a newspaper that would reach a much larger market.  The first step is to define your target market; then you can develop strategies to advertise your business directly to them.

Defining your target market, or “niche”

  • Decide why a person would make a purchase from you.  People usually buy something for at least one of three reasons: to solve a problem, to meet a basic need, or to make themselves feel good.  Sorting your target market into one of these categories will help you narrow your focus to a smaller group.
  • Consider the demographics of those who could use your product or service.  This information includes age, gender, income, education, marital and family status, and ethnic and/or religious background.  You’ll be able to invest your marketing dollars more wisely if the information you gather about your target customer is specific.
  • Consider the psychographics including lifestyle, social class, activities, and attitudes/beliefs.  This additional information should allow you to form a picture of what the ideal prospect would be like.  From there, you can figure out where they would be exposed to different types of advertising.
  • When creating a target market, or micro-niche, you should make sure that it is small enough that you can be a competitive force, but not so small that there isn’t enough money to be made.  For example, Amazon has pretty much cornered the market on the online sale of books, DVDs, and digital media, so trying to compete with them would be futile.  Similarly, construction of birdcage perches exclusively out of recycled material is too specific and would appeal to such a small number of people.

Examples of target marketing

  • A direct seller for a higher-end jewelry company knows that her customers are mostly women in their 30s-40s who like a well-polished look that includes a versatile wardrobe, a contemporary hairstyle, and manicured nails.  Advertising to this target market can be done via fashion blogs, hair and nail salons, and local clothing boutiques.
  • A small business that offers in-home photography sessions knows that its target market is parents of newborns wanting professional pictures without the hassle of going to a studio.  This demographic can be reached via parenting magazines and websites.
  • A pastry shop that specializes in custom-made freshly-baked desserts knows that its target market is mostly made up of local business owners and private party planners.  Reaching this group can be done via vendor fairs and event hosting expos.

The key to target marketing is deciding who that small group is and then finding the best approach to reaching them.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your current and past clients to get to the information you need. You will save money budgeted for marketing as well as being able to build your business based on those who have the greatest interest in your product or service.  How have you defined and reached your target market?  Share your ideas in the comments section below!