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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.
Be Relevant to Google

Be Relevant to Google – The Rest Will Take Care of Itself

In an age of digital connectivity users want results, and they want results fast. Within this framework Google is playing an epic game of King of the Mountain, and no one is poised to knock them off that mountain anytime soon. While Google has their hands in a lot of cookie jars, their predominant core functionality still revolves around their ability to take a user supplied query and return the most relevant results in the blink of an eye. We’re going to dissect it in more detail, but the keyword that needs to be circled, italicized, bolded, highlighted above is ‘relevant’.

Be Relevant to GoogleFor a hyper local business owner that is already the accountant, HR, customer service rep, salesman, etc – it is critical that they add Google buff to that list to make sure they position themselves to be relevant for the users that are searching for their products or services. Yes, there are other search engines, but Google still holds a 72% search engine market share – so when time is tight you can find the most benefit, and highest ROI, by focusing your efforts on making sure you represent your business with the right content and on the right mediums to become relevant. Trying to understand the terminology used when discussing the algorithm Google uses for its search engine can cause many to have nightmarish flash backs to vocabulary prep courses for the SAT. So were going to keep it simple and look at the three things that a hyper local business needs to master to become, and stay, relevant.

Content is King

Forget all the high tech terms, forget all the web mumbo jumbo and remember this simple three worded statement:  CONTENT IS KING. If you truly embrace this you will put yourself in a position to succeed in the web space where so many hyper local businesses fail. There are hundreds of solutions out there to help hyper local businesses become relevant on the web, but they will all fail if they aren’t supported with engaging, concise, and consistent content. The days of keyword stuffing and link building are dead, but organic SEO is still very much alive, and by creating a site that focuses on the core services and products of your business then the more likely you will be returned in results when users are looking for your type of business or service. Take the time to really think about your business and how people talk about your business and give all of that great content to the builders who are creating and maintaining your web presence. If you want to really go next level on content then take a look at keeping an active blog on the site that speaks to consumer issues and wants to only enhance yourself as an authority within your business’s vertical.

Get Social

If you have amazing content on your site about your business it is more important than ever to make sure that you get involved in Social Media. For most hyper local businesses it is quintessential that you have at least one account set up with the big players –  Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn, preferably an account for all of them. By having your own account on these sites it gives you the ability to share the content of your site to a community of users that might not have come across it otherwise. It is also necessary that on your site you create the ability for users to be able to share your content when they want to across all of the aforementioned sites. If you provide high quality and industry/user specific content then people will naturally want to share your site, and this helps promote overall organic activity around your brand. When Google sees this type of activity around a brand name they will associate your brand with being an authority in the space and your site is that much more likely to be served in the search results for users to digest.

Mobile First

Many of today’s consumers are on the go and aren’t necessarily looking for businesses while they’re at home at night, but rather when they’re on their phone out and about. It is no longer efficient to build a site intended for desktop use and then retroactively work towards creating a mobile presence. In an age where time is the most valued commodity, a great way to make sure you have a site that is mobile optimized and still serves its purpose in a desktop environment, while minimizing upkeep time, is to make sure that you’re site is built in a responsive design. A responsive design is Google’s recommended configuration for a site build as in the most basic sense it just means you have one URL that uses the same code and changes it look to the consumer based on the screen size of the device they are using. More importantly having a single responsive site makes it easier than ever for the Google bots to read and index your site content, and when Google can read your site correctly you position yourself to succeed.

This is by no means the Holy Grail to solving the enigma, wrapped inside a mystery, that is the algorithm used to support Google’s search engine; however, it does give you some very rock solid first steps to position yourself ahead of your competition in a readily changing environment by just staying relevant.


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.
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.

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.

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.

Small Business Owners on a Budget

Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners on a Budget

If you own a small business, you may be facing some difficult marketing decisions. Financing is often tight and ideas are often scarce. Not every small business owner can afford to hire a marketing consultant, so here are a few practical marketing tips for a small business owner on a tight budget.

Have a Marketing Budget

Think about the scope of your business and about what you hope to accomplish through your marketing campaign. With this in mind, calculate the percentage of your budget that you plan to devote to marketing. Some experts recommend a level of about 10% of your revenue, but this can vary based on your individual situation and goals.

Stick to Your Plan

When you’re setting up the budget at the beginning of the year, remember to plan out how you’re going to use it. If you just stash the money somewhere and spend it haphazardly on marketing expenses as they come up, you’ll never know how long the year’s money is going to last. Try to be intentional about where you’re spending it by looking ahead and predicting how much you’ll need when. Be flexible when you need to, but try your best to stick with the plan.

Invest in a Good Website

Some small businesses figure that they can get away with just having the basics online or (worse yet) with not having a website at all, due to their local customer base and narrow range of interest. However, these days when new customers are looking for your business, the first place they may go is Google, and their online findings will be all they have to consider. If your business does not appear online, many potential customers will not even consider you. Try to make the first impression that a customer will have of you via your website a good one. Contact PowerSites today to get your small business a website, and make sure that you have the basics needed to have an established online presence.

Email Marketing

TV ads (and, by the same token, billboards) can be prohibitively expensive. Try to cut down on the need for a TV spot by capitalizing on free advertising methods like email marketing and word-of-mouth. Send out newsletters through email. This can be even more cost-effective than a printed newsletter and, even better, you can have your customers forward it to their friends for free.

Social Media

You definitely don’t want to miss out on the benefits of social media. Every small business should at least have a Facebook page and Yelp page. Post regularly to attract new customers, and keep your current customer base engaged. Thank them by offering them specials and exclusive discounts. Social media really is the online equivalent of “word-of-mouth” referrals. If someone likes your business, they will probably post about it on their Facebook, tweet about it on Twitter, or leave a review on Yelp. However, if someone does not like your business, they will most definitely be telling everyone on social media about it. However, if handled and addressed properly, negative reviews are a great opportunity to show that your small business excels in customer service.

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.