Marketing vs. Advertising: It’s Important to Know the Difference

In an era when 8 out of 10 small businesses are destined to fail within the first year, it is essential that these business owners understand the difference between marketing and advertising and their unique importance to their overall success. A lot of times you will hear the terms used interchangeably, and this is fundamentally incorrect. If used, and understood, correctly as standalone functions you can quickly see how the two can effectively augment businesses to help drive conversions, create sticky customers who identify with your brand, and act as a catalyst for revenue growth.

Marketing

474373035When a small business looks at what their marketing efforts should be, it is quintessential that they understand marketing is the process of readying their products and services for the marketplace by portraying a brand that speaks to their targeted consumer base. The first step for establishing a marketing strategy for a product or service is to truly examine their target audience by identifying their needs and values. Once the target demographic is determined it is important that the small business uses the influence of those consumers on determining the brand elements (i.e., colors, logos, etc) to push the products or services in alignment with the needs of the consumers.

Marketing Tools

  • Website – In an era where more and more people turn to the internet to digest content and look for products and services, there is little doubt that your website should be considered your cornerstone of your marketing plan.
  • Local Business Listings – Leveraging the power of a Local Business Listing service will help get your business listed within the framework of search engines, mobile, and directory sites that all factor into local SEO for your website. This product will also give you the ability to brand your business across a wider network of web presences.

Advertising

451929683As noted above marketing is the way that you push and convince potential customers in the marketplace that you have the right product or service form them; however, advertising is how you reach and communicate to those potential customers the existence of your products and services. A small business must take their marketing efforts and determine the advertising channels they want to pursue to reach their target demographic. Some of the most popular advertising channels leverage the tools of print, radio, television, and the Internet, which all provide an efficient path to communicate a brand to a potential consumer. Obviously, most advertising channels do not come free, so for a small business with a tight budget, it is important to know which channel is best suited to reach your target audience effectively.

Advertising Channels

  • Social Media – Social media is a highly effective and largely inexpensive tool that should be readily leveraged by a small business to spread the word about what your business has to offer. Local businesses should pay particular attention to Facebook, Google+, and Twitter as these platforms will let you acutely focus your advertising money on trying to reach your target audience.
  • Search Engine Marketing – Leveraging the power of paid advertising across the major search engines (i.e., Google, Yahoo!, and Bing) allows a small business to serve location and keyword based ads to consumers that are readily searching for products and services. These highly customizable and targeted ads will allow your small business to put itself in front of more consumers in an effort to get them to engage and convert with your business.

If you have any questions on how the suite of digital products offered by PowerSites® can help you support all of your marketing and advertising needs don’t hesitate to contact us today, or reach out to your existing Account Executive directly.

 


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 Local Business Listings.
Why small businesses need to be mobile savvy

It’s Not Too Late For Your Small Business To Be Mobile Savvy

Why small businesses need to be mobile savvyWe are in the midst of a digital revolution and one thing is clear, an era of mobile is upon us. While technology has taught us that nothing stays the same for long, it has become abundantly clear that mobile devices will impact the relationship between consumers and small businesses for a long time to come. First, it’s important to understand the current and future impact of mobile and then take steps to make sure that your business portfolio includes a strong mobile strategy.

3 Steps to Improve Your Mobile Presence:

1. Responsive Site Design

Creating your website is the most basic step you can take in the development of your online brand. It is critical that your site is capable of being digested by users on a variety of platforms including laptops, tablets and smartphone devices. As a small business owner we know you wear many hats on a day in and day out basis so instead of managing both a desktop and mobile version of your website look for a responsive site design to make sure your brand is presented appropriately all screen sizes and devices. By leveraging responsive technologies you can create a single website (lives on a single URL) that automatically adjusts itself to fit any screen size that a potential customer is using to view your content.

2. Social Media

With millions upon millions of users interacting with social media through their mobile devices it is essential that as a small business you leverage this digital marketing channel to further support your overall digital presence. There are so many different social media sites that it can be quite overwhelming for someone who isn’t necessarily tech savvy to leverage these services appropriately. However, if you focus on the big three; Facebook, Google+, and Twitter you will more than be able to cover your bases. So do some homework, create a page for your business on each of these sites, and get your company in front of a whole new group of customers who are on the go, ready to buy, and use their mobile devices to drive their purchasing behavior.

3. Local Business Directory Listings

No two mobile users will search for a product or service the exact same way. As a small business owner with a mobile strategy it becomes your responsibility to make sure that your brand is available for digestion through as many channels as possible. You can enhance your presence within local search by leveraging local business directory listing networks. The benefit here is two-fold by creating a consistent presence across sites like Yelp, Yahoo! Local, PennySaver, and FourSquare you increase your exposure for users searching for small businesses on these individual sites as well as improving your local search rankings for organic traffic on the major search engines.

The mobile space is readily evolving and will only continue to change, but as a small business if you can take these basic steps to start establishing an effective mobile business strategy and presence, you’ll be on the right path to making sure the move to mobile doesn’t pass you by.


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.
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.

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.

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.

Twitter Tuesday: Follow Tweets to Manage Your Online Reputation

The great thing about social media is that fans of your business will use it to let others know about their experience, but this can be a double-edged sword. At the same time, the worst thing about social media sites, like Twitter, is that folks who do not like your business can nearly instantly let others know about it, which can spread like wildfire.

Twitter Tuesday: Follow Tweets to Manage Your Online ReputationThat about sums up Twitter, a social media platform where users can say anything, as long it is no more than 140 characters in length.

Praising a place, checking in by tweeting their location, commenting on a restaurant’s menu or ambiance, or letting friends and followers know about a store they’ll never step foot into again – these are just some of the common tweet scenarios you’ll come across while perusing Twitter.

It doesn’t matter whether Twitter is part of your local social media campaign, you definitely need to stay alert, and monitor what is being said about your small business. Fortunately, you do not have to assign an employee to monitor the Internet for tweets about your small business. There is a free service called Twilert that will do it for you.

You simply sign in using Facebook or Twitter and then schedule Twilert to email you at set interval – from every time someone tweets about you to once a day. There are different pricing plans, but there is a free plan that sends you one Twilert per day.

The beauty is that you will learn what your customers are saying about you even if you don’t always use Twitter for marketing your small business.

It’s important that you be ready to respond to any complaint in a positive manner that will reinforce your good customer service. If you see something negative being said about your small business, don’t tweet back irrationally, defensively, or in a retaliating manner. Just simply tweet them that you are sorry, and apologize that they were not fully satisfied with their visit to your establishment, and instruct them to contact you privately via email so that you can resolve the issue, and potentially have another opportunity to give them a better customer experience.

If they do contact you, make every effort to satisfy them and they will most likely tweet about your customer service and what a great business you are! Social media platforms like Twitter can be one of your best marketing tools. Smart small business owners make every effort to manage their online reputations, and Twitter can serve as an open ended way of improving customer service.

Social Media Monday: Small Business Owner’s Guide to Facebook Graph Search

Facebook’s new applications and innovations can be hard to keep up with. But these same innovations can be used to help increase marketing for your small business. For example, the Graph Search, one of the applications recently pioneered, can help increase traffic to your Facebook page if handled correctly. Here are three simple steps to maximizing the Graph Search’s potential.

Keep your Facebook page active

First of all, if you want your Facebook page to be taken seriously, spend time on it. Make it attractive to customers and get them involved. When users are searching for businesses to try, the businesses that will show up in the search (and even more importantly, those that will have highest place) will be those with pages that are continually kept up-to-date and have plenty of reviews and user action. Keep your social media presence strong and vibrant. Write posts that intrigue customers and draw them in, and put promotions up online to encourage more customer action on your page. Try coupons and special online deals or even competitions to draw more traffic to your Facebook page.

Encourage recommendations and reviews

The more popular your page gets in the social media world, the more likely you will be to get more recommendations by users. This is important because for Facebook Graph Search, your popularity on Facebook itself is what counts to get you into the search results. Regularly encourage users and customers to share your page, invite their friends, and promote your services. Communicate to your customers how important their reviews are to you. Ask for their likes and comments often. Recommendations are especially important because they get you into the “friend recommendations” search results when potential customers are searching for a small business like yours.

Get your page on Facebook Places

A future expected development in Facebook search is a “Local” feature that will allow potential customers to search only those businesses in the immediate area. Because of this, make sure that your small business is listed on Facebook Places so that you can have a presence in the area and appear in the “Local” search results. Even now, there is a ‘Nearby’ option, so try to get a presence in the area by gaining as many recommendations as possible so you’ll be featured in a higher spot in the search results.

Using these three simple tips, you can ensure that you get into the Facebook Graph Search results for potential customers of your business. This is a great- and free!- way to promote your small business online.

Get more Likes to your Faebook page

Social Media Monday: 7 Tips to Improve Your Facebook Results

Set-up Facebook Business PageWhat’s the key to improving your Facebook results? Develop a real strategy for goals and audience.

The first step when you begin working with Facebook or any social media site, should be to decide how it fits in with your overall social media marketing strategy. You may decide to use Facebook to attract a new target prospect or to increase penetration in an existing market, but be sure you know the target audience you want to reach, and make sure you set measurable goals along with creating a plan for attaining them. Follow these tips from PowerSites, and you should be well on your way to better Facebook results.

Nurture and engage customers with content, games

Ensure that your Facebook page is about more than just selling your product. Of course, you’ll provide information about your products, but don’t make the page all about hard selling. Try to provide a variety of useful information that’s fun to read too. Add a downloadable app, run a simple contest, or offer coupons and deals so the customer has a reason to visit your site often.

Add photos, apps, link only updates

Make sure your page is as visually interesting as your content by including pictures or graphics. Use the occasional link only update to direct people to your primary website while still keeping your Facebook page fresh.

Analyze the value of your Facebook fans

Now that you have a following on Facebook, use analytics to uncover what each fan is worth. There should be incremental revenue or more frequent sales associated with fans. If there isn’t, go back to step one and rework your strategy. Offer coupons, prizes or giveaways that help you to measure the impact on sales from your Facebook page by directing people to your store or website to redeem the offer.

Use customer feedback to help build your brand

Even negative feedback can have a positive impact if you take the time to respond in a thoughtful way. Don’t lash out at the poster, but do make sure you get your side of the story out there. Offer to make good on the problem if you can, and you may even turn the unhappy customer into a happy one. Refer to our previous Social Media Monday blog post for more tips on how you can turn social media negativity into customer loyalty.

Reply button

Use the reply button to respond to feedback and to make sure that the poster sees your response. People feel a very real sense of connection with social media contacts, and that feeling is exactly what you want to nurture. Show your posters that you value and respect them by responding to their posts.

Mobile layout and update

With mobile device web traffic nearing 50 percent, you want to make sure that your page reacts correctly to devices. Using Facebook Mobile Layout not only helps you ensure that your site looks great, but it allows you to update from your own mobile device.

Integrate with Salesforce Social

Salesforce’s recently introduced Social.com, which allows you to create and manage campaigns with just a few clicks. Where it really sets itself apart is with its integration to Salesforce’s CRM and listening tools, where you can analyze and target prospects based on demographics or behavior in near real time.

Just follow these tips, and you will find that they lead you down a path to effective use of Facebook, and ultimately, better Facebook management.

How to turn your negative customer feedback into customer loyalty.

Social Media Monday: How to Convert Social Media Negativity into Customer Loyalty

How to turn your negative customer feedback into customer loyalty. Eventually, almost every business or company will find a negative review or a post from a disgruntled customer in social media. Whether a retweet takes on a life of its own, or somebody leaves bitter post on your own Facebook page, it feels like a personal attack on your small business. For this blog in our Social Media Monday series, PowerSites is giving you the steps to help you convert any social media negativity into customer lotalty.

Monitor your brand

Negative comments can appear anywhere, not just on your Facebook page, Yelp page, or in a Tweet. Monitor the internet for any negativity so you can take action as soon as it appears. If you’re too busy to do the monitoring yourself, designate someone reliable. This is too important to ignore.

Post a reply

If you do see a post or comment on any of your social media pages, resist the temptation to ignore the post. Statements and opinions posted on the internet have the potential to be magnified and spread quickly, and the impact of a negative post that goes un-addressed can be substantial. People expect to see a response from the business owner, so if there isn’t one, it makes it seem as though the negative comment is the whole truth.

You may need to take a deep breath before you write it, but always reply to a negative post as quickly as you can. If the poster has a valid gripe, apologize and offer to make it right. If the post is just bizarre, make sure that customers hear your side of the story by creating a careful and factual reply. Don’t rush through writing your initial response. You want a well thought out response and you need to make sure it addresses all the points in the original message.

Watch for the poster’s response to your reply

If the negativity resulted from a legitimate problem, your sincere apology and offered fix may be enough to turn the poster into a happy customer. The internet is full of messages from once-angry people who amended the original post when the business resolved the issue. If you’re lucky, your poster will be one of these people. Now, when people come across the negativity, they also see your response and the poster’s amended comments. They realize that your business cares about its customer satisfaction, and that helps them to trust your products and business.

However, not everybody is so lucky, at least, not every time. If the poster responds negatively to your overture, repeat your reasoned response. Don’t get in to a flame war no matter how many unreasonable or outrageous comments the poster makes. Your responses must always be reasonable and professional.

In any case, it’s important that you make your side of the story available to potential customers. The most loyal customers may even make defensive comments or tweets of their own that highlight excellent service or superior products. By coming to your online defense, their original feelings of loyalty intensify, and they will become a more satisfied customer.

Remember, don’t let negative comments sour you on social media, because they are a terrific opportunity to enhance customer loyalty if you follow a few important steps.