Local Marketing 101 - The Marketing Plan

Local Business Marketing 101 – The Marketing Plan

Marketing: (noun) The way companies interact with consumers to create relationships that are beneficial to both parties.

Advertising: (noun)  The act or practice of calling public attention to one’s product, service, need ,etc., especially by paid announcements in newspapers and magazines, over radio or television, or billboards, etc.

Branding: (verb) To mark with a branding iron


As a marketing manager I have helped mid to large sized companies put together marketing plans. In bigger organizations there are usually a number of people involved in the process and it can take a days or even weeks. Some companies even go as far as taking their teams offsite to develop the plan in order to keep them focused.  When it comes to creating a marketing plan for a local business, it isn’t much different other than there are probably less people involved but the questions you face and the components of the marketing plan are the same.

What is a Marketing Plan?

Local Marketing 101 - The Marketing PlanA marketing plan is the roadmap for all of your business’ marketing efforts. This is where you outline what channels you want to invest money in (i.e. online, social media, direct mail, TV, radio, etc.) and what it is you want to do via these channels. It also should encompass the message you want to deliver to your customers. The purpose of a marketing plan is to help schedule your campaigns and help keep the efforts on track. The marketing plan is a part of your overall business plan and should support those business goals. Marketing plans are typically set for a year. Outlined below are the main components of a marketing plan and some questions most marketers face when creating their plan.

Establish a Realistic Budget

To begin with, create a realistic budget. Your marketing budget should be part of the plan. If you want to increase your business by let’s say 50% but are only willing to spend a minimal amount on achieving that, the likelihood of accomplishing your goal is slim. Many business owners spend very little on marketing. Only about a quarter of business owners spend more than $500 per month on marketing leaving close to 75% of business owners spending less than $500 per month. Some spend nothing! This is according to Yodle’s First Annual Small Business Sentiment Survey. Of course, don’t spend more than you can afford but be smart about where you invest your marketing dollars. Figure out where you will get the most exposure and Return on Investment (ROI). The U.S. Small Business Association also suggests giving yourself some flexibility so that you can run an unplanned campaign when your business needs an extra boost or for when you’d like to test new offers.

Know Your Audience

Find out who your customers are and what they are interested in. This will give you better insight into what your message and value proposition should be to your customers. What is it that most of your customers respond to the best? Use that information to help you acquire new customers and retain current ones. Market research is also important in identifying segments that are important to your business. What types of customers do you want to attract? Research can be conducted via direct mail, surveys and personal interviews with customers.

Select the Right Marketing Channels for Your Business

Determine which channels work best for attracting your target market. The most common channels businesses utilize for marketing purposes are:

  • Direct Mail
  • Classified Ads
  • SEM (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Directory Listings
  • Website
  • Email
  • Mobile
  • Social Media
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Radio
  • TV

Depending on the type of business your running and budget you might use all of these or just a few. In deciding which channels to use, think about where you can get the most visibility by your target market. That is exposure and geography. So for example, if your target market is 18-24 year old females within a given zip code, you might consider using a combination of social media, mobile, SEM and your website.  Nowadays, it is imperative to have an online presence even if this is the only channel you use to brand and market your business. Having a website for your business not only adds credibility but it makes it easier for your customers to find you. Keep in mind that although Radio and TV will get you mass exposure, it is difficult to target your message to a specific segment of people and it is also difficult to track its impact on revenue. The key here is to optimize the mix of channels and offers you are using. Only testing will help you figure out that sweet spot.

As mentioned earlier; you also have to think about ROI (return on your investment). Measure the impact that your campaigns have had on your revenue and compare that to a time when you were either not running a campaign or running a different campaign. This will help you figure out which campaigns worked best for you. It is important to make campaign analysis and reporting part of your marketing plan. Without it you can’t tell what worked and didn’t work. When building out the plan, Consult with all of the business stakeholders. This can be business partners, employees or vendors. They might be able to share insight that you may not have which will help make your plan stronger.

Revisit Throughout The Year

Marketing plans are living, breathing documents. They are fluid and can change as your business and the market change. The plan should be revisited periodically throughout the year.  As you test and optimize your campaigns, you may decide that you’d rather invest in only some of the channels (or different channels altogether) that you initially started with. The key is to analyze your campaigns and see if they are paying off.


Iliana Angel, Marketing ManagerIliana Angel is the Marketing Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

Don't let a bad review hurt your business

The “Don’ts” of Dealing with a Bad Review

Don't let a bad review hurt your businessThere’s nothing worse than putting all your effort into something and then getting heavily criticized for it. In these situations I would put “my temper” in the top 5 easiest things to lose, right next to “my keys”, and “my left sock”. However, when it comes to your business, and your brand, that’s the last thing you want to lose. So here’s some tips for things you want to avoid doing when you receive a negative review of your business.

  • Don’t email the reviewer

    At least not immediately. Give yourself time to soak in what the reviewer is saying about your business and take it as constructive criticism. Time and time again you read stories of reviewers receiving caustic emails from angry merchants, and this never ends well for the merchant. The best response is to reply to the review directly in the public forum, let everyone that reads the review see that you’re willing to work with customers that may have had a bad experience. Spin the negative review into a positive outcome.

  • Don’t blame the reviewer

    Sure it may seem odd for the customer to order a cheese pizza without cheese. However, blaming the customer will just give you a bad reputation. Instead focus on the main issue that the reviewer is complaining about, and see what you can do to fix it. Unfortunately though, sometimes there is nothing to fix, you just made a mistake. Which leads to my next point.

  • Don’t be afraid to admit you’re wrong

    Probably one of the hardest things to do. We’re all human and no one expects you to be perfect, mistakes happen. Admitting when you’ve been wrong or made a mistake is an admirable trait. Be willing to admit when you, or your business has made a mistake, and be sincere about it. Offer them a free cheese-less pizza as an apology, bring the customer back into your business and do your best to make sure they’ve had a positive experience.

  • Don’t do anything

    Now this last point doesn’t apply to every review, in fact probably doesn’t apply to most reviews, but I want to mention it anyway. It’s like what your mother said to you about the bully at school “just ignore him and he’ll leave you alone”. Sometimes the reviewer could just be a troll, if your site is doing well on review sites like Yelp, then a review out of left field is posted ripe with personal attacks, it’s likely this person is a troll. The best solution is to ignore them. Most people can tell when a reviewer is being a troll and will likely do the same.

I’ve listed out four “don’ts” but hopefully the message is clear. Losing your temper, especially in a public forum, could wreak havoc on your brand. So before you start putting words to paper, make sure you’re calm, read it twice before sending, and ask yourself “Is this the kind of message I would want to receive?”


IMG_9375_600x600Michael Baaske is the Digital Product Coordinator at PowerSites® who has received a bad review or two. PowerSites® is an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

Create Your Facebook Page

Social Media Monday: How to Setup a “Kick-Butt” Facebook Page

Getting your business on Facebook is easier than you think. All you need to get started is a few key bits of info, two high quality images that meet Facebook’s image guidelines and you’re good to go!

Just follow these easy steps:

  1. If you don’t already have a personal Facebook account, you’ll need to create one…
  2. While logged in to your personal Facebook account, on the “Home” screen, look to the left side of the page, for “PAGES” and click on “Pages Feed”.
  3. Once on the “Pages Feed”, click on “Create a Page”.
  4. From here, you’ll be given the option to choose what kind of page you’d like to create. For the purposes of helping your business be found online, choose, “Local Business or Place” (this option will also give Facebook users the ability to “check in” at your business when they’re there).
    Create Your Facebook Page
    After selecting “Local Business or Place”, you’ll be prompted to select a category from the drop-down menu of choices. Don’t take this step lightly; the fields you have to populate will depend on the category you choose. Don’t see your specific industry? Try picking something more broad, like “Professional Services” as this will allow you to choose up to three subcategories; these won’t appear in a drop-down menu as before but you’ll be able to start typing key phrases and if Facebook has a subcategory that aligns, you’ll be able to choose it.
    Choose Your Business Category
  5. Continue populating this section with as much information as is being asked for; the more info you give, the less users will be wondering about your business.
  6. Choose Your Profile ImageNext, choose a “profile image” for your page. If you have a logo, this is the place to put it; that way when you post comments or photos or, users are sharing your posts, your business logo will be the image everyone sees.
  7. The “cover image” is the very large picture that sits behind your “profile image” on your Timeline. This should be a large, high quality image of something relevant to your business.
    NOTE: Facebook has strict guidelines about cover images NOT being used for “advertising”. If your cover image contains more than 20% text, Facebook could elect to remove your page with or without notifying you. Blogger, Scott Ayres, provides some nifty tools to check if your cover image makes the cut.
  8. Your Facebook page is now up and running; invite all your friends to “like” it and you’re off!

Kelly Flores, Customer Service RepresentativeKelly Flores is a Customer Service Representative at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

How can SEM benefits your business

How Does Search Engine Marketing Benefit your Business

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a way to promote your products or services. The purpose of Marketing is to get the message of your brand, and offers delivered to as many people as possible that may be interested in what products or services you have to offer.

How Does SEM (Search Engine Marketing) play a role in this?

SEM allows you to market your product and offers through the Search Engines, like Google, Yahoo, and Bing for example. Search engine marketing is one of the most effective marketing techniques that allows us to drive qualified leads to your business. With SEM, we can provide a quick and effective way to be found on the search engines because we are able to bid on specific keywords related to your products and services. We can target people who are already interested in you, and with SEM we can provide exactly what they are searching for.

How can SEM Benefit your Business?

How can SEM benefits your businessWhen people search online for a product or service they are usually in a buying stage. We use SEM to target your product and services so that when someone searches for a specific product your ads will show in the search result listings. SEM allows us to literally place your business in front of the people looking for you and bringing these prospects to your websites and converting them into a customer.

  • Lead Generation: SEM will drive targeted traffic to your site 24/7. The Internet never sleeps. When your site has visibility on search engines, you are going to get targeted traffic every hour, of every day. Millions of searches are conducted every day as people look for websites, information, products and services. With search marketing, you can definitely get more targeted traffic to your website.
  • Cost Effective: When compared to other traditional advertising media, search marketing is definitely more cost effective. Search engine traffic is more targeted which makes it easier for you to convert prospects to customers. We are also able to measure your response with Google Analytics so that you know how effective your campaign is, and with SEM you can see results right away.
  • Brand Building: When your website has high visibility on search engines, you are showing your prospects that your business is an authority in your respective brand or industry. When searchers see your website often, they will remember your brand. Even if they do not need the product or service now, they will think of your brand first when they need it in the near future.
  • Stay Competitive: Do a Google Search with some keywords related to your business. You will see that most of your Competitors are already leveraging SEM, and are taking business away from you. Stay competitive in your industry with SEM.

Major search engines like Google account for more than 90% of all search engine traffic. SEM allows you to leverage your business in Google’s playground to get the maximum exposure to your business. Be seen in your industry with Search Engine Marketing. To find out how you can get started contact PowerClicks SEM today!

Article Source: EzineArticles.com


Rejane Thayer, Search Engine Marketing SpecialistRejane Thayer is the Search Engine Marketing Speicalist at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

What is SEO?

What is SEO?

What is SEO?

Photo Credit: SEOPlanter

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of affecting a business’s ability to be seen and ranked by the search engines through controlling content and code on your website (aka On-Page SEO) as well as managing relationships with other websites who may write about, or link to, your website (aka Off-Page SEO). The search engines will chose to display your website’s content within the search engine results page, or SERP, if it thinks the topical nature of your website content is relevant to the keyword or phrase a user has searched. It will then use a complex formula, or algorithm, to determine what content to show first.

The age old formula for winning in SEO has always been Authority + Relevance = Rank.

  • Authority can be determined by how large your website is (how many pages are on your website) and how credible you are (how many other websites are linking to your website).
  • Relevance can be determined by the overall topical nature of your website to the search being conducted, how relevant a specific landing page or article of content is, and how recently the piece of content being considered was created.

SEO is all about letting nature take its course and doing things organically. Paying for placement on a website or advertising will not have any impact on your organic ranking. And, trying to cheat the system, i.e. developing linking schemes or paying others to link to link to you, rarely has an impact anymore as the search engines strongly prohibit this practice. In some cases, they will even black list your website if it is connected to the use of prohibited, or black-hat SEO practices.

When SEO was born in the early 2000’s, SEO was really all about trying to manipulate data on your website or developing link schemes within pages on your website and with other websites. Today, SEO is somewhat different, thanks to the constant updates and optimization of the algorithms or formula’s search engines use to determine what content to show you. SEO is less about trying to affect your rankings and more about simply making sure your brand is well established, professionally represented, your website is easy to navigate, and you are hosting unique content that is relevant to the products or services you offer. The more useful and unique content you host on your site, the more opportunity to have for others to find your content and share it with others.

Before social media, really the only way to share content was via writing an article on a website and then referencing someone else’s website or content by linking back to them. Social media has really changed things as a majority of content is shared on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and LinkedIn and linked back to the originating source. All of these back-links, or inbound links, provide signals to the search engines that others have found your content useful, or credible enough to link to you. Although not every link holds equal weight, receiving this organic flow of traffic from these other websites back to your website lets the search engines know you are indeed an authoritative source.

Although the fundamentals of SEO have remained somewhat the same, the search engines have dramatically changed their formulas, or algorithms over the years. Besides inbound links and content on your website, there are dozens of factors and variables that can affect your website’s ability to rank organically. The search engines now take into account:

  • Who is actually conducting a search
  • Where they are physically located
  • What types of websites they are more likely to frequent than others
  • What sort of content is being used (text, photos, video, audio)
  • Who is linking back to you (social influencers, educational institutions, news/media sources)
  • How recent your content was published
  • How rich your content is vs. others
  • How well your website is built
  • And the list goes on and on…

As a business with a website you must be thinking “wow, trying to keep up with SEO is easily a full-time job.” Well, it’s true – there are hundreds, if not thousands of companies, who specialize in helping businesses of all sizes climb the ranks of the search engines. And, although SEO can seem quite daunting and complex, it’s important to remember that the search engines’ ultimate goal is quite simple – to think like you! The goal of the search engines is to show you exactly what you are looking for. Sure, some of you may have been thinking that the search engine’s goal is to make money, but the reality is that they can only make money off of advertising if they constantly strive to create a great user experience that keeps search engine users coming back time and time again.

Part of the user experience is showing content from credible sources. So, keeping to the simple mantra, if you focus on making sure your brand is professionally represented online (across your website, social media, listings, etc.), you take care in regularly updating and providing unique, relevant, and rich content, and you make an effort to share your content and encourage others to digest and share your content, you shouldn’t have to worry about SEO as things will just happen naturally.

Is there more to SEO? Sure there is. However, the search engines are getting smarter and smarter at determining what content to show when. In fact, Google’s latest updates have started to take away much of the control of SEOs, making many of the technical components of SEO industry standards that come with most any website hosting or website creation service. SEO is now more increasingly less about gaming the system and more about focusing on managing your brand and your reputation. Pretty soon, we may see a world absent of any mention of SEO at all!


Drew Fortin is the VP of Marketing at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

google rankings

The Not-so-Secret Secret of How to Rank Well on Google

So you want to rank well on Google? Well, look no further because PowerSites has the answer. To rank well, or even just rank on Google, it’s best to understand what Google is trying to do. Google as a Search Engine has one goal, to provide the best results to their users as possible. They take in the search query as provided by the user and try to find a list of websites that best fit what Google thinks the user wants.

So how does this help you? Well, as Bill Gates famously said back in 1996 “Content is king.” By having more and relevant content on your website you make it easier for Google to understand what services your company provides. When Google better understands a website they’re more comfortable sending their users to that website.

We talk about a little bit throughout our blog posts about SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. SEO is simply, making it easier for Search Engines (Google, Bing, etc..) to understand the content on your page. So even from an SEO standpoint there is a focus on good quality content. As Google’s Matt Cutts states in a Q&A, even without good SEO Google can still find your content and use that to make sure they provide the best results to their users.

So How do you Rank well? Put yourself in the shoes of your customer, what do they want to know about you and your business. Your website is you, online. What services do you provide? Do you do anything special? What makes you better than your competitor? But don’t forget the basics like where are you located, and when are you open. By providing as much information as possible about your business, Google can understand you, your company, and your website better, which will make it easier for them to refer you to one of their customers.


IMG_9375_600x600Michael Baaske is the Web Product Coordinator at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings. Michael’s worked at the PennySaver for 9 years and is a computer nerd and fan of the cord cutting movement.

Powersites-blog-Google+

Why Google+ is a Necessity for Your Small Business

Google+ is a necessity for your small business. In a digital era where it seems like a new social networking site is popping up every day, there’s no doubt that the social landscape can be a confusing one to navigate for a small business owner. Instead of trying to understand the impacts and benefits of each social option on your brand, take the time to learn one–Google+.

In its most basic form Google+ is a social networking site, but the power behind the platform makes it an invaluable tool that must be fully vetted – as it holds significant SEO/organic search value and integrates with the complete suite of Google products and services. Below, we will take a look at these and 2 other reasons as to why you shouldn’t wait any longer to make sure your business is on Google+.

SEO Benefits

There are numerous SEO benefits from using Google+ that can help a company’s SEO value. After you create a Google+ page people are able to ‘+1’ your page, which is very similar to the ‘like’ functionality of Facebook. In part of their SEO ranking algorithm Google factors in how many +1’s your page has in order to determine the popularity of your business compared to others. It is also of note that Google+ posts are almost immediately crawled and indexed, which just adds to the overall visibility you can obtain through being an active Google+ user. Other factors like Google Authorship and Google+ Local pages also can contribute to a company’s overall organic search visibility.

Integration Amongst A Full Suite Of Google Products

There is no mystery that Google owns quite an extensive product profile and it would only make sense that Google would spend the energy to make Google+ interact with these various platforms as efficiently and easily as possible. With existing integrations with Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Chrome, and Google Play it really makes Google+ the one stop shop to leverage all of these tools within a single social network.

Google+ Local

Google+ Local is Google’s answer to company Facebook pages, and provides more robust functionalities with integrated features like Google Maps, Zagat Reviews, and a thorough integration within Google+ to review how your circles interact with your business. Provide valuable information about your business for consumers to absorb and interact with, with the added benefit of having your Google+ Local page being indexed by the search engines. Finally, in order to show up on Google Maps for local search a business must have a Google+ Local page.

Relationship Development

Google+ provides their users with unique abilities to further engage with potential consumers and enhance their brand awareness by being actively involved. Communities, give business the ability to interact with individuals and other companies who share a particular interest. You can join, or even better, create your own group so that you can potentially become viewed as an authority within your chosen vertical. Events, give a business the ability to set up an event and distribute that information directly to a users/groups Gmail account and calendar if accepted. The more consumers a business is able to interact with the better possibility they have for those consumers to turn into customers.

These are just a few of the benefits a business stands to gain if they leverage Google+ appropriately, and illustrates why it deserves the attention of all local business owners as they trying to navigate the extensive waters of social media. If you have more questions about the benefits of Google+ or how PowerSites® can help you with your presence on Google+ please contact us today!


Lynn Hughes, Product Manager at PowerSites®Lynn Hughes is the Product Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

Small Business Resolutions

Small Business Resolutions for 2014

What better time than the start of a brand new year is there to create a list of smart resolutions to keep your business growing in the year to come. Below find several tips from PowerSites to consider as you plan your budget, goals and business aspirations for 2014.

Engage in Content Marketing

Be seen as a credible authority in your industry by participating in content marketing. Vary the channel in which you deliver the information to cast a wider net of consumers. Concentrate on adding high-quality, industry-related news and information to social media, your business website, email newsletters, video channels and also consider making guests posts on other websites. The more you are seen as an expert on the topics you publish, the greater your following will become.

Hire a Social Media Manager

Facebook and Twitter are often seen as the social media standard on which small business should engage. However, other platforms such as Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram, are paving new ways for small business promotion, along with new sites such as Slideshare, Path and Mobli which are quickly gaining interest. With all the social marketing possibilities, consider hiring or contracting a social media manager to focus entirely on your social presence, and target the specific audience you wish to attract.

Watch the Clouds

Cloud computing is becoming a crucial asset to large and small businesses alike. Cloud computing is not just for data storage anymore, but rather makes a plethora of applications readily available to you and your business. Think of cloud computing as a way to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software, recommends InfoWorld.com.

To make the best use of these cloud applications, make sure your business technology is ready for it. Wherever you are located, look at the options you have for broadband connectivity. Companies such as Verizon in Washington DC offer bundled internet and voice services using advanced fiber optics technology. This gives you the speed you need to do sophisticated number crunching when planning your next growth phase.

Mobile-Ready is a Must

With the majority of consumers owning a smartphone or tablet, mobile-readiness should be at the forefront of your business. Upgrade your company’s website to a responsive design that allows people to access it from any size device without sacrificing viewability and a stellar user experience.

More Ways to Accept Money

Be seen as a modern, tech-savvy company by offering mobile wallets and payment services such as GoPayment and PayPal to offer customers convenient ways to pay for goods and services. If you have a mobile business, increase your cash flow as opposed to invoicing a customer when you get back to the office. Many services offer free card readers that attach to your smartphone or tablet with low inexpensive per transaction fees allow you to collect payment on the spot.

Work Smarter, Not Harder: iOS Apps for Small Businesses

When you own a small business, it’s your baby. You want to handle everything down to the last detail, even if you end up curled up in a corner when the lack of a work-life balance comes crashing down on you. Delegating tasks to employees is a good first step toward confronting this issue, which affects many small business owners. Putting your technology to work for you helps with the rest. These iOS apps allow you to work smarter and not harder, so you don’t have to keep looking over your employee’s shoulders, and actually manage to relax.

Dropbox

Cloud storage is widely used by many companies, and for good reason. The ability to upload all of your needed files to an account that you can access from anywhere, and sync across your devices, means time saved. running back to the office because you forgot to grab the sales projections for your investors is suddenly not an issue. Dropbox is a household name for personal and business cloud storage, and its business features give you powerful file sharing and collaboration tools that are safe and secure.

Quickbooks 2013

Book keeping and accounting isn’t the most glamorous task, but until you can afford an accountant on staff, you’re stuck doing it yourself. Make this process slightly less painful by using the Quickbooks 2013 app. According to the Apple Store, it allows you to create invoices, check out your profit and loss on the go, create estimates, and analyze your profit and loss.

Evernote

When you don’t need a full blown collaboration tool, but you do want to sync notes filled with business information, meeting minutes, and ideas to your team, Evernote works perfectly for this application. This powerful app gives you the ability to share your notes with your team, adding in files and media for supporting documents.

Go to My PC

Are you separated from your computer when you travel for business, have vendor meetings, and are otherwise out of the office? Instead of stressing because of the lack of access to your main computer, use a remote desktop connection app such as Go To My PC. Despite the name, it also works perfectly well on Macs if you use Apple for more than your mobile products. You connect directly to your computer and can access it as though you were right in front of it. The connection is secure so your data is kept safe.

American Express Receipt Match App

American Express is known for the best small business credit cards from AMEX, and they have an app that makes it even more appealing as a prospect. The American Express Receipt Match App works as a typical receipt scanning app to start with. Once you or your employees enter in their receipt information, however, the app searches for matching transactions from your credit card statement. That way you don’t have to wonder which card it ended up on, and you have a full accounting of all of your receipts. This makes claiming expenses and deductions that much simpler at the end of the tax year.

How to Utilize Pinterest and LinkedIn Alongside Facebook and Twitter

Social NetworksFacebook and Twitter may be the best-known social media sites, but they’re not the only ones that can benefit small businesses. Among English-speaking social sites, LinkedIn sits at the number five spot, trailing behind Twitter, Trendstream’s GlobalWebIndex reports. Meanwhile, Pinterest ranks number seven. Both sites are growing quickly, with LinkedIn growing at 30 percent, and Pinterest at 20 percent, Jeff Bullas reports. For small businesses seeking cost-effective marketing methods, both these platforms represent untapped opportunities.

Pinterest

Socialbakers has found Facebook posts with photos generate more “Like”s, comments, and shares than any other type of post, constituting 93 percent of the most interactive posts. Pinterest leverages this visual appeal by enabling users to upload images and other media content as “Pins” and organize them on “boards” where others can see them.

Pins create a way to visually build your brand. You can pin images associated with your company logo. You can also post graphics that position your expertise or support your sales theme, such as quotes or infographics with statistics.

Pinterest can help generate leads. Your Pins can attract followers from within Pinterest. You can also link your Pinterest account to other sites to attract followers from there.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn boasts 200 million users, including 74 million from the United States, according to its site. It provides the business-oriented equivalent of Facebook, which can boost your brand in several ways.

Customizing your URL will distinguish your page from competitors and from others with similar names. Ideally, choose a URL consistent with a domain name representing your brand. Use a service such as WebHostingBlueBook.com to locate a good URL domain name.

Your profile’s headline field lets you describe what makes you and your products or services unique. Other fields establish credibility by citing your professional credentials and displaying references.

LinkedIn also provides promotional opportunities. You can network with other professionals in your field or your target market by using the site’s private messaging and groups features. Participating in group discussions and sharing content gives you a way to establish your expertise and build business relationships.

The above methods can also serve to drive traffic to your other social media platforms. For instance, you can include links in your profile. You can also share content of interest to groups you participate in, where appropriate.

Integrating Your Social Toolkit

Pinterest and LinkedIn work best when used in conjunction with your other social media tools as part of a single toolkit, rather than viewing them in competition with Facebook and Twitter. You can integrate your Pinterest account with your Facebook and Twitter accounts for cross-platform sharing. Likewise, you can use your LinkedIn profile to link to your Facebook or Twitter pages, and vice versa. You can also share content from these social media hubs with your LinkedIn networks.

You will get the most leverage out of using these social media tools if you track your results. Sprout Social provides one way to do this by integrating management of your LinkedIn page with your Facebook and Twitter activity and providing you with analytic feedback on the results of your campaigns.