How do I start a blog?

Every week, we answer a common question about marketing or an aspect of business. This week, our question comes from a fan who entered our giveaway for an Amazon Fire Stick and Echo Dot bundle. Today, we answer: “how do I start a blog?”

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

Blogging is a great way to build a platform to reach your audience. Done well, blogs are a fantastic way to educate others and build your credibility within your chosen field. Better still, starting a blog is not too difficult to do!

How to Start Your Blog: Simple Steps You Can Take Today 

Before you start your blog, think about what you’re going to blog about. Having a clear direction will make it much easier to create great content that you want to share. Really research your audience’s needs, and tailor your blog to help them meet their goals. Remember: it may be your blog, but it’s all about your audience!

Step 1: Find Your Niche

Just like companies need niches, so do blogs. Decide if you want your blog to be educational, casually informative, or professional. Think about how you wish to create content as well: essays, interviews, podcasts, and videos can all be part of your blog. You shouldn’t feel the need to do all of these, unless you think your audience will like that!

Step 2: Choose a Platform

The next step is to choose your blogging platform. While there are platforms that require you to pay, we’ll focus on the free stuff for simplicty’s sake going to focus on the free platforms and services available. WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and Tumblr are all great platforms with countless possibilities in terms of configuration and customization.

Step 3: Choose a Web Host

After you’ve chosen your blogging platform, you need to choose your web hosting service. Without getting too technical, the basic concept is that web hosting services allow you to run blog software on their servers so that your customers can view it online. Some web hosting is even free, particularly if you use platforms like Tumblr.

Using WordPress as an example, they allow you to have hosted and self-hosted sites. Hosted sites are run on WordPress’s servers. Self-hosted sites are run on someone else’s servers.

If that’s tough to wrap your head around, here’s how it works for Marketing is the Product. We use the platform WordPress. Our whole website is hosted by Dreamhost. The total cost of ownership for us is around $15/month.

Final Thoughts 

Starting a blog is a great way to create content that others want to read. When used as part of a bigger strategy, content marketing through a blog can really work wonders to grow your business!

Remember to keep your blog relevant to your readers, but always full of fresh, nice-to-read content. Starting is the hardest part, so once you power through the initial hurdle, your blog will be up and running in no time!

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

Should I use cold calling to grow my business?

Every week, we answer a common question about marketing or business. This week, our question comes from a fan who entered our giveaway contest for a Fire 7 Tablet. Today, we will answer the following question: “should I use cold calling to grow my business?”

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

Cold calling is a very unique way to market and grow your business. If you’re not familiar with the concept of cold calling, it’s very simple. Your business calls people who have not previously expressed an interest in your product or service.

Cold calling is a form of “interruption marketing“, and as you might expect, many people have a negative opinion of the practice. However, you shouldn’t just write it off as a method from a bygone era. Cold calling still has a place in the modern world of marketing. Today, we’ll shed some light on the pros and cons of this controversial practice.

Cold Calling: Why It Works

One of the biggest complaints we hear by small business owners is a simple one. “No one knows we exist!” Drawing attention for the first time is difficult.

What’s more, even established businesses often struggle to generate leads. Even if you’re creating great content to pull people in, sometimes you need to be, for lack of a better word, pushier in spreading the word.

Enter cold calling.

Businesses use cold calling to reach out to new people with information about their products or services. When trying to raise awareness and grow your brand, this can be extremely helpful. Cold calling can help you expand your customer base as well as market your business. 

Cold calling can benefit your business in a number of ways. If you do not have an audience already, cold calling people could be a great starting point! When you get someone on the phone, you have a chance to make a sale or at least spread the messages you want to spread. Even getting someone to answer is a small victory – you have a chance to hear how they sound and what they think.

Of course, the hard truth about cold calling is that it only has a 2% success rate for the most skilled professionals. That’s an optimistic scenario and, yes, this is a VERY low percentage. Still, that’s not bad when you consider that cold calling is a way to market a business completely from scratch.

Why is it that low? Well, for starters, getting people to pick up a call from an unknown number can be fairly difficult. Nearly everyone I know declines calls from an unknown number, for whatever reason it might be. That itself is a big reason cold calling can be so difficult. Fortunately, there is software that can call multiple numbers at once.

How to Cold Call

Before you make your first cold call, you must realize that rejection will happen. It will be constant, rapid, and often rude. When you cold call individuals, there will be far more failures than conversions.

That doesn’t mean cold calling is ineffective, though! Just a handful of conversions can make up for hundreds of hang-ups, rude comments, and confused people on the other end of the line. Push through the hardships and keep going!

Make sure that you don’t lean entirely on cold calling, too. You need another form of marketing. You don’t want to earn a reputation as “the business that does nothing but bombard people with calls.” Balance cold calling with other marketing methods such as social media marketing and content marketing.

With all this in mind, here are five specific tips you can follow to succeed at cold calling.

  1. Do your research and filter your lists. If there is any information that can increase your success rate from 2% to 3%, that will make a massive difference in your return on time.
  2. Make a cold calling script. Search online and copy the scripts that work.
  3. Think about your target audience and pick the right time of day to place a cold call.
  4. Figure out how many calls you need to make for a certain sales quota. After you’ve done a few hundred, you can divide conversions by total calls and that will give you a conversion rate.
  5. Practice, practice, practice!

Still looking for more advice? Here’s a good article for further research.

Final Thoughts

Cold calling can be tough, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless! There are some incredible perks to it, and when done correctly, it can help establish your business faster than other more superficially attractive methods. Remember to be patient, persistent, and respectful through the process, and you will be well on your way to getting those conversions!

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

How do I convince people to buy my products?

Every week, we answer a common question about marketing or business. This week, our question comes from a fan who entered our giveaway contest for a smartwatch. Today, we will answer the following question: “how do I convince people to buy my products?”

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

Convincing people to buy: where do you begin?

Convincing people to buy your product takes many steps. At the foundation of the process, you have to know what your marketing strategy is. What are you selling, who are you selling it to, and what are your goals?

Step 1 is the most important: create a good or sell a service with excellent Product-Market Fit (PMF). If you sell something with great PMF, you can be forgiven for many mistakes in your marketing plan.

There are two parts to this. First, you must know your target audience. Who are they and what do they like? How do they make decisions?

Next, you have to understand your audience’s needs deeply. Make sure your product or service is meeting those needs.

You have to get this right before you promote your products, reach out to people in the industry, seek reviews, raise funding, or run ads. If you’re not sure, start small and fine-tune your product or service until you achieve great PMF.

What Are Really You Selling?

There is an old cliché in marketing that still rings true. Customers want ¼-inch holes, not ¼-inch drills.

Know your product and all it has to offer. Marketing is most successful when you are conveying the true value and worth of your product to your audience. Remember: this is value as your customers see it, not as you see it. Think about their needs first!

Once you understand why your product or service pleases your customer, everything else becomes easier. When you promote your good or service, people will pay attention because it’s relevant. Reviewers will look upon your good or service favorably. Raising funds becomes easier.

When in doubt, remember four rules:

  1. Make the product or service valuable to your customer based on their needs.
  2. Find simple ways to show them that you’re meeting their needs.
  3. Let them know you can meet their needs by promoting yourself in media they read or in places they hang out in.
  4. Follow the social norms of the places you enter.

Where do I meet my audience, and what do I say?

We covered #1 and #2 above. Now let’s focus on #3 and #4. There is a wealth of channels you can choose from to market on. Even considering social media alone, there is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and much more.

The point is, there is a channel that does almost anything you are looking for. There is a subcommunity for nearly anything you can imagine. Tap into those platforms. Work your way into those subcommunities. If you make board games, get on Board Game Geek. If you make books, get on Goodreads. Lurk on the communities first, then become a member and get to know people.

Still not sure how to promote your work and convince people to buy? When in doubt, show your product or service in action. If it’s really all it’s made out to be, at least a few customers will take notice. That’s often all you need to get things to snowball from there. Word-of-mouth is powerful like that.

Final Thoughts

Convincing people to buy your products is hard. There is no way to hide that. There is no one size fits all solution.

While it is hard, it is NOT impossible. A few simple principles apply to every industry. Always think about the customer and their wants. Pick your target audience carefully. Test your product or service on a small scale.

Once that works? Find out where your target audience hangs out and what media they consume. Work your way into the community. Take your time!

More so than anything else, trust that the product you are selling has value and is special – because it is!

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

How Do I Start Marketing My Small Business?

Every week, we answer a common question about marketing or business. This week, our question comes from a fan who entered our giveaway contest for a Fire 7 Tablet. Today, we will answer the following question: “how do I start marketing my small business?”

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

Find Your Target Market First

The first step to marketing your small business is to find out who your target audience is. Not sure how to do that? We’ve actually written a couple of posts on the subject:

In layman’s terms, your target audience are the people to whom you are selling your goods and services. These are the primary people your business is trying to attract. It is important to keep this in mind from the get-go, so you can properly market to your ideal audience. 

Do your research on which medium(s) you want to market through. Marketing is an incredibly diverse profession. There are SO many different ways, methods, and channels through which you can market. To really drive the point home, consider that digital marketing alone includes social media, email, paid advertisements, and so much more.

The point is that you can engage your market in countless ways. You want to focus on the channels your target audience is already using. Once you settle on the right channels, then you focus on using the channels correctly, learning, for example, the nuances of Instagram or TikTok.

Lastly, knowing your audience helps you understand your business’s goals, both long-term and short-term. To market your business, you need to know where you currently are, and where you are trying to go. It’s a simple principle, but an important one.

From there, you can create a solid plan of action that assures you won’t spend unnecessary time or money on things that will not lead to you achieving your goals.

Specific Steps You Can Take

Let’s say you know your target audience, have considered different marketing channels, and have clear goals. Now it’s time to take action!

If you’re starting from scratch, some places you can start include:

  • Creating a website through tools like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.
  • Set up a mailing list for free through MailChimp.
  • Set up social media accounts, if nothing else, to read what people have to say.

Even the steps above are still pretty broad. If you’re not sure where to start online, go to Facebook. You can create a page for your business for free. We’ve written at length on why we believe Facebook is particularly beneficial, but here’s the short version: lots of people and good ad tools. Facebook can be a great way to not only raise brand awareness but also promote and sell your product/service. 

If you’re looking to do some research on your existing audience, look into Google Analytics. Setting up Google Analytics with your website makes it much easy to learn more about your customers. This is because Google Analytics analyzes your website’s data and creates reports for you. Understanding your data helps you find out what your customers like the most so you can give them more of it.

When you are starting out, one of the most important things you can do is raise brand awareness. As a small business starting out, getting people to notice you can be extremely difficult. A website, social media, mailing list, and Google Analytics for data tracking are a good place to start. Beyond that, you should experiment! Some businesses succeed through advertising, while others create content like blog posts or podcasts.

Final Thoughts

Starting the process of marketing for your business can often seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Take it one step at a time, define clear goals, and check in with them once in a while. And if you’re still stuck? That’s what we’re here for 😉

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

Why is marketing so sleazy?

Every week, we answer a common question about marketing, or an aspect of business. This week, our question comes from a fan who entered our giveaway contest for a Fire 7 Tablet. Today, we will answer the following question: “Why is marketing so sleazy?”

(Going for the easy questions, huh?)

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

Welcome to the world of marketing, for better or worse

At its core, marketing is about getting people to buy stuff.

Yes, it’s true that you have to create real value. You have to genuinely meet the needs expressed by your customers. It’s very difficult to succeed without actually making someone’s life materially better.

But let’s be brutally honest. Competition is intense. The global market is a very big place. When your competition acts bad, it’s tempting to do the same. Like it or not, you have to market your business to succeed. It’s unavoidable.

So does marketing deserve its reputation for sleaziness? Sometimes.

Is marketing actually sleazy?

Like we said earlier, marketing doesn’t necessarily have to be evil. In fact, when you’re meeting customers’ needs for a fair price, it usually isn’t. Indeed, you’re just letting people know that you can help them, which is a net positive for the world at large.

But what happens when you can’t actually meet needs? Empty promises.

Empty promises made by marketers are far too common. Marketers often times will make claims and promises to a potential customer that they are unable to back up. They’ll tell you what you want to hear. Not following through with those claims is part of why many people feel that marketers are sleazy. 

As a result, marketing is viewed by some as dishonest. When you are trying to grow a business – your own or someone else’s – exaggerating is easy. It’s often easier than actually being good at your job.

But there’s more to it than that. Here are some other reasons why marketing or marketers can be sleazy.

The product or service is garbage

This is a simple point, so we won’t waste a lot of time on it. Quite simply, marketers’ whole job revolves around making their products or services look good.

And if the product or services are objectively garbage? There is basically no ethical way to succeed.

Now do remember: just because a product is low-quality, doesn’t mean it is low value. A low-quality product that’s known to be low-quality but is sold for a low price to a knowing customer is fine. A bad product sold for a high price is irredeemable.

Marketing jargon is complicated, but lying is easy

SEO, SMM, CRM, ROI, PPC…

Marketing these days is full of acronyms and jargon. That means it’s very easy to confuse customers and clients. Talented but unethical marketers can make a small fortune by essentially pretending to be doing more than they are.

When selling to customers, this means emphasizing features that are too complicated to understand. When pitching work to clients, this means rattling off buzzwords and numbers without context to conceal how little is actually being done.

Jargon is not necessarily evil. In fact, it’s very useful when used correctly. It’s just so happens to be a tremendous smokescreen for bad actors.

Marketers have different incentives than the public

Marketers aren’t paid to give an honest overview of products or services. Their goal is to move units and generate revenue. When it comes time to actually make sure the goods are worth the money, well, caveat emptor.

You can think of this like a zero-sum game. Oftentimes, in the short run, a marketer benefits when someone else loses. I sell you a bad product and walk away with a pocketful of change at your expense.

You can get away with this for a long time, too, but not forever. People are smart and do eventually realize when they’re being had.

Talented but sleazy marketers can fake quality work

Some marketers are exceptionally good at branding and public relations. With these two skillsets, you can beautifully polish garbage products. Really bad marketers can create a product, fake reviews, and spam the media with press releases to fill up Google results.

The end result? It’s practically impossible to tell that the product is actually bad. The brand, the reviews, and the press all agree that the product is great!

Some marketers work for longer just to run up the hourly bill

One of the easiest ways to make money is to overbill your existing clients by selling them stuff they don’t need. It’s a very good way for those with broken moral compasses to generate revenue.

If you are hiring a marketer or an agency, our advice to you is simple. Don’t be cheap, but also don’t just sign off on every project. Ask for a rationale for each project, and make sure it’s a good one that doesn’t just lean on jargon.

How to market without being sleazy

Good marketers are focused on getting results for your business while meeting the needs of your customers. Marketers who are focused on getting you the results you are looking for will be making progress throughout the journey, showing you step by step how what they are doing is affecting your business and its growth. 

So with this in mind, we’ll leave you with five basic rules for marketers to follow. Marketers, take heed. Business owners, hold marketers to these rules.

  1. Don’t try to sell garbage. If the product or service is bad, walk away.
  2. Use jargon sparingly and only with context that a layperson can understand.
  3. Make sure your well-being does not come at the experience of your client or their customers.
  4. Never fake quality work.
  5. Don’t run up the bill by providing unneeded services.
First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

How do I advertise my small business on Facebook?

Every week, we answer a common question about marketing or business. This week, our question comes from a fan who entered a contest to win a Fire 7 Tablet. Today, we will answer the following question: “how do I advertise my small business on Facebook?”

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

Why Advertise on Facebook?

Facebook advertising is one of the best tools to advertise your small business. So much so that praising it as an ad platform is a cliche in the marketing world – for good reason!

Facebook is the biggest social media platform in the world with over 2.4 billion users. There is no way you can reach every single user, but you don’t have to. Facebook Ads are exceptionally good at helping small business owners target the perfect audience. Facebook gives you the ability to design your own ads, and show them only to your exact target audience. 

How does this work? Quite simply, Facebook does a lot of demographic research for you. Their precise methods are not well-understood, but Facebook uses its users’ activity to determine their interests, as well as other information they provide such as age, gender, and geographical location.

In English? You can show ads to people who actually care about them, theoretically never wasting a dime on someone who doesn’t care. Beat that, television!

Before You Advertise on Facebook, Do These 2 Things First

Before you start advertising, create a Facebook Business page first. Facebook Business pages are great for a number of reasons, particularly since you need one to run an ad.

Getting your business page set up gives your business a presence on Facebook. Facebook Business pages also provide insightful analytics on your posts.

Second, don’t run a dime in ads before you understand your target audience. This is critical to successful advertising.

Facebook will let you customize your ads to practically anything you want. That freedom won’t do much good if it isn’t reaching your intended audience. So first, take a moment and think about what kind of qualities your customers have, such as:

  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Geographical location
  • Interests

If you’re selling something for women, don’t advertise to men. If you’re running a coffee shop in Dallas, don’t advertise to people in Seattle. When you’re selling a board game, target people who like board games.

We know: this all sounds like common sense, but failure to follow this common-sense rule is the single easiest way to lose hundreds of dollars on Facebook.

Let’s say you have an established business. You already have a Facebook page with thousands of likes. Let’s say you also have no idea what your target audience looks like. In cases like this, you can create lookalike audiences which are made of people similar to the people who already do business with you.

Running an Ad on Facebook

To show you an example of what creating a Facebook ad is like, we are going to run a simple advertisement for our sister company, Pangea Games. Here are the steps so you can follow along:

1. On your Facebook page, click the Promote button.

2. Select one of the options on this screen to proceed. We’re going to choose Get More Website Visitors since it is the easiest to demonstrate.

3. On the left hand side, you’ll create your advertisement.

  • Enter a URL.
  • Choose a format – we’re going with Single Image.
  • Upload a photo or choose one from your page.
  • Enter a headline.
  • Enter text.
  • Select a Call to Action – we’re using Learn More.
  • Skip over Audience for now – we’ll revisit that in the next step.
  • Automatic Placements (Recommended) – leave checked on.
  • Duration and Budget – choose how many days the ad should run and how much it should spend each day. If you’re not sure where to even start, start with $5 per day for a week.

4. Go back to the Audience section. Click Create New Audience.

  • Give the audience an Age.
  • Select your audience’s Gender.
  • Select their Locations.
  • Under Detailed Targeting, add interests, demographics, and behaviors.
  • Click Save.

5. When you’re done, click Promote. That’s it!

As you can imagine, running Facebook ad campaigns can be very nuanced and complicated. We’ll cover that in-depth in another article. This one should help you understand the basics in the meantime!

Two Other Ways to Promote Your Small Business on Facebook

Facebook isn’t just for advertising, though. You can connect with your audience through your Facebook page. You can share all kinds of content such as posts, videos, blogs, pictures, etc., you are able to reach your audience. Once people start responding, you can hold conversations! This is not only great exposure for your brand, but it also helps you maintain positive relationships with current customers. 

We won’t cover in-depth in this post, but you have the ability to boost posts that you make. This is a paid feature, not unlike advertising, that allows you to share your Facebook posts with a larger audience. This is great if you are growing your customer base or reconnecting with past customers or leads and need a little help.

Final Thoughts

Facebook is one of the biggest and most popular sites in the world. Understanding the ins and outs of Facebook’s advertising system helps you run effective advertisements. With time and experimentation, you can see what works best for your business. 

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

How can email marketing help my small business?

Every week, we will be answering a common question about marketing or business. This week, our question comes from a fan who entered our giveaway contest for a Fire 7 Tablet. Today, we will answer the following question: “how can email marketing help my small business?”

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

Why Email Marketing is so Effective Today

You’re a business owner, and you have got a long list of emails from customers over the years. Now, what do you do with it? Email marketing campaigns can serve as not just a platform to reach your current audience, but a stepping stone to grow your business. 

But what if you don’t have an email list? What if you’re starting for the first time? As it turns out, there are a ton of techniques you can use to build mailing lists. In fact, this is one of the most talked-about aspects of marketing. Sites like HubSpot and Constant Contact have good guides on email list building from scratch, and this is just what we’ve found after 30 seconds on Google!

Email marketing promotes customer relationships. Solid customer relationships serve as the foundation for any business. Email campaigns allow you to reach your current audience while providing content to keep your business at the front of your market’s mind. Building that relationship will pay dividends for your business.  A lot of ink has been spilled on why exactly email marketing is so good at building relationships.

As if that weren’t enough, though, email marketing is extremely cost-effective. While many marketing channels require capital upfront, email marketing can be done for free on a small scale. On a larger scale, it costs money, but not much. Platforms such as Mailchimp do an excellent job of providing both free and paid plans for email marketers-to-be. 

Long story short, you can make a lot more money if you keep your customers’ attention and interest through thoughtful email marketing.

How Email Marketing Can Help You

Thoughtfully designed email marketing campaigns can provide fantastic exposure for your business. Creating a steady flow of content gives you the ability to better serve your customer. All this happens while spreading information about your business and building an air of authority. The result: you drive people to your business and keep growing from there.

Creating a good email campaign requires a delicate balance. You want to keep the message clear, clean, and simple with only one main call to action. If you can provide educational, informative, or fun content, your open rates will go through the roof. After all, you’re giving people a reason to, you know, actually read your emails.

Email marketing has a very high return on investment. Actually, that’s the understatement of the year. For every $1 spent on email marketing, $44 are made in return. That’s an ROI of FORTY-FOUR!

How do you spend money on email marketing? In addition to labor and time costs, tools like MailChimp have paid plans if you exceed a certain number of list members. Additionally, you may choose to grow your mailing list through advertising.

How You Can Start Email Marketing Today

Not sure where to start? We’ll give you a brief overview here.

Go to MailChimp and make a free account. You can email up to 2,000 people without ever spending a dime.

Create a good email template using MailChimp’s wonderful tutorial.

After that, come up with some good topics to write about. Establish a regular email schedule, say once a week. Then start building your email list!

Final Thoughts

Email marketing is one of the best ways to inexpensively grow your business. Email marketing keeps you on your customers’ minds, making it easier to sell in the long run. Sending consistent emails to your audience keeps them engaged with your business, and serves as a prompt to check out the newest things you have to offer. 

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.
social media marketing

What’s so great about social media marketing?

Understanding marketing can be difficult, especially when you’re learning. Knowing who to market to is hard enough. Then you have to figure out what approaches, social media marketing or otherwise, to use to execute your master plan!

social media marketing
First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

There are so many good marketing options available that it’s overwhelming. While there are countless ways you can approach marketing, one very popular and low-cost method is social media marketing

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing means using sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter for marketing. This is not an exhaustive list, of course – new channels like TikTok pop up as time goes on.

Marketers have to adapt to meet the needs and wants of society. For this reason, social media is a beautiful way to reach people where they already are. You can find an incredibly diverse array of people from different backgrounds, young and old, with varying interests. The potential for highly targeted messaging is immense.

This is how social media helps small businesses grow. You can learn a lot about people in an organic way and you can target very specific audiences.

With this in mind, let’s focus on three main points.

Social media marketing & branding

Social media is one of the best ways to inexpensively raise brand awareness. One of the best things about social media sites is that they are free to sign up! There is literally no start-up cost. This allows you to start marketing any service or product you have for free.

Granted, organic reach is declining on social media channels these days, meaning you are having to pay more often than you used to in order to reach people. You can still get an uncommonly good return on your investment, even despite this.

Paid advertising on social media is surprisingly robust. For example, Facebook has a great ad platform, where you can pay for ads to boost your posts. Again, this is not required to run a Facebook page, but ads can be run for as little as $1 meaning the barrier to entry is very low.

Having social media pages can also help generate web traffic and improve your ranking in Google In short, social media is, in our opinion, the best bootstrapping tool for completely unknown, shoestring budget companies to brand themselves.

Social media marketing & customer relationships

Social media allows you to interact with your customers. Customer service is a massive part of any business. Having pages on media platforms allows you as the business owner to interact with your customers on a personal level frequently, efficiently, and quickly.

Customer relations are a crucial point in any business. Social media sites are used by the vast majority of people today. They are already there, so why not give them a chance to contact you where they’re comfortable? It’s an easy way to build rapport (and your brand) with your target market.

Social media marketing & advertising

Returning to the subject of advertising, most social media sites have advertising platforms these days. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are a few examples. With a very small budget, you can start getting more likes, views, and clicks. Once you get a handle on each site’s advertising platform, you can use them to generate leads and even conversions. Basically, social media can make you money if you know what you’re doing with it.

This allows small business owners the ability to market what they have to a large number of people quickly for low start-up costs. You’re not working in the dark, either – these sites can decisively prove their value! Instagram, as an example, has business profiles you can switch use that have powerful data analysis tools.

Final Thoughts

Social media marketing can be a beautiful way to keep grow and expand your business. At Marketing is the Product, we believe that it’s one of the best ways to start from square one. Marketing is a constantly changing and complex field, but social media gives the scrappy start-ups a chance to succeed. You have more opportunities to promote your business than ever before!

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

Which marketing metrics are most useful?

Every week, we answer a common question about marketing or business. This week, our question comes from a fan who entered our giveaway contest for a Fire 7 Tablet. Today, we will answer the following question: “which marketing metrics are most useful?”

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

What are marketing metrics and why do they matter?

Marketing metrics are data used to track the success and efficiency of marketing initiatives. Metrics can be anything from sale figures to the number of clicks on an advertisement. Other metrics include pageviews, email sign-ups, and nearly anything else you would want to track. Understanding marketing metrics can help you see your business in an objective way, giving you the information you need to make good decisions.

Marketing metrics are the hard facts and figures needed to measure your marketing performance. These metrics are essential to your business, because without them, you don’t have an objective standard to measure your business against. Objective data lets you see which channels and which content are providing value to your audience and it can help you find areas to improve.

Let’s say you want to increase your web traffic. To see if you are getting more views, you must be able to track both past and present data. Using different metrics such as pageviews or number of unique users per page lets you know whether or not your content is reaching your audience. You can then make more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

But remember: the goals are more important than the metrics! Metrics just happen to be great for helping you achieve your goals.

Having a clear image of what you’re looking to track is critical for success. In our tech-savvy society, it is easy to get caught up in just how much you can track. But data is useless without context. Understanding your business’s short-term and long-term goals will help you to see what metrics are most useful to track.

Using AIDA to Choose Meaningful Goals

But how do you know which marketing metrics are useful? There are so many!

We’ve made it clear that to understand your data, you have to understand your goals. Yet this is where people get stuck. It’s sometimes difficult to see which goals matter when it comes to getting people to care about your business enough to buy from it. For that reason, let’s revisit AIDA.

AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. This model shows the different steps in the purchase process that a customer takes.

  • Attention is when the customer becomes aware of what you are offering, whether that be a product, service, or content.
  • Interest is when the customer begins to gain interest in what you have to offer.
  • Desire is where the customer starts to want your product.
  • Action is where the customer purchases your item.

How AIDA Can Help You Pick Metrics

Working through the steps in AIDA, you can select metrics that are applicable to each step. For example, getting people to pay attention is often one of the most challenging aspects of marketing. Thankfully, through tools like Google Analytics, you can track everything from who your ads are reaching, to how many people are viewing your page.

What are good metrics for measuring attention? You can look at the overall reach of your advertisements (impressions) or the number of users on your website. All you need to measure for is people seeing your company’s name. Whether or not they care is a different story.

So how do you gauge interest? You can use social media to track number of followers. Alternatively, you can use email sign-ups as a proxy for interest.

Desire is more complicated, but web, email, and social media analytics provide ways to measure that too. You can measure likes, retweets, Facebook reactions, and more to see if people are truly interacting with your brand. You can monitor Google Analytics to see who has visited the shopping section of your website. You can monitor your emails to see what percentage of your mailing list opens every single email.

It doesn’t stop there. Tracking desire can be anything from looking at your ad clicks and landing page views. Seeing which ads have the highest click-through rates can let you see which ads are best at stoking desire.

Finally, measuring action is relatively straightforward. When someone does what you want them to do, that’s a conversion. A sale is a conversion, as is a request for a quote. So action metrics are often as simple as tallying up conversions!

Our Favorite Marketing Metrics

There are no marketing metrics that work for every business. There, are, however, some that we pay a lot of attention to ourselves.

Our favorite two metrics are lifetime value (LTV) and customer acquisition cost (CAC). LTV is a measure of how much revenue each customer brings over the entire lifetime of their account. CAC is a measure of how much it costs to earn a new customer. Ideally, you want LTV to be multiple times greater than CAC.

Getting straightforward measures for LTV and CAC is not easy, though. If you’re just getting started with marketing metrics, don’t get hung up on choosing the fanciest ones. Start with the basics.

Here is what we recommend if you’re just starting to pay attention to marketing metrics:

  • Financial: Revenue, Expenses, and Profit
  • Conversions: Number of Sales, Number of Quote Requests
  • Web Metrics: Number of Unique Users, Bounce Rate, Time on Site, Top 3 Traffic Sources
  • Email Metrics: Number of Subscribers, Open Rate, Click Rate
  • Social Media: Number of Followers, Engagement Rate

Final Thoughts

Picking the right marketing metrics for your small business may seem intimidating. With a careful focus on the goals that matter to you most, though, metrics will clarify rather than confuse. That way, you can answer the age-old question of “do people really care about what I’m saying?”

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

How do I advertise my small business on Instagram?

Every week we answer a common question about marketing or business. This week, our question comes from a fan who entered our giveaway contest for a Fire 7 Tablet. Today, we will answer: “How do I advertise my small business on Instagram?”

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.

Instagram is HUGE

Instagram has one billion active users every month. It is one of the most downloaded and used apps to ever exist. Not only does this serve as a social media platform, but it also serves as an incredible platform for you to advertise your small business. 

As you would expect of a platform so large, you can find people Instagram from all walks of life. That means it can be fantastic exposure for your small business. There are countless ways to utilize the app to advertise your small business. Instagram can be used to interact with your followers, post content, and help promote your content. 

To really drive the point home, let’s see what Facebook’s survey says. Eighty-three percent of Instagram users say they discover new products or services through Instagram. Eighty-one percent use Instagram to research products or services, and eighty percent of people weigh Instagram into their purchasing decision.

Instagram has an enormous user base. On top of that, the vast majority of Instagram users use their platform in their purchase/discovery process. When you look at it this way, having an Instagram account for your business seems like a logical way to promote your products, services, or brand outside of your website.

How to Use Instagram

Instagram Business pages allow you to interact with your customers and others who are interested in what you have to offer. Through Instagram Business, you can connect your website to your account, allowing users to access your site from Instagram. This is a great way to help promote your brand and drive more viewers to your website. 

Instagram ads allow you to reach accounts who have never heard of you. This platform lets you create your ads and reach your specific target audience based on features such as location, demographics, interests, behaviors, and more. Having the ability to customize your ads means that you can choose the information on who your ads target. This lets you focus in on the exact target audience that you want your content going out to. 

Beyond advertising and branding, though, Instagram’s biggest opportunities are easy to overlook. You have a chance to be real and engage your followers. Talk to them. Get to know them. Look at what they post and get a sense of who they are and what they care about. Neither algorithms nor streamlined business processes can replace the power of genuine human connection.

Even still, there are easy ways to draw a lot of genuine attention fast. For example, contests are a fun way to gain traffic as well as raise brand awareness. Be honest. When you see “enter for a chance to win a brand new 60 inch TV”, you’re at least curious about what you need to do to win, even if you’re a contest skeptic. Contests gives people the incentive to view and engage with your content, as well as take other desired actions.

This is not even scratching the surface of what you can do with Instagram posts, albums, stories, or live-streaming. These features are so nuanced that we’ll do a separate long-form article about them in the future.

How to Advertise Your Small Business on Instagram (A $1 How-To)

In all likelihood, you’ve used Instagram personally. Using it as a business feels different, though, so we’re going to demystify the most business-oriented task you can use Instagram for: running an advertisement.

There are nine simple steps.

1. On Instagram, go to your profile.
2. In the center of the page, click the button that says “Promotions.”

3. At this point, you may need to verify your Instagram profile and allow access to your Facebook account.

4. Choose your destination. Select whether to send people to your profile, your website, or your direct messages.

5. Select your target audience. If you select Automatic, Instagram will target people like your followers. If you create your own audience, you can select an audience based on interest, age, and other demographic information.

6. If you create your own audience, you’ll do the following. Name your audience, determine locations where your ad should show, select interests, and the age and gender of your target audience.

7. Select the audience that you created in Step 6 (unless you’re using Automatic).

8. Determine your budget for your ad and the duration of the ad campaign. (When in doubt, start with $5 per day for a week until you learn the system).

9. Review your ad and click Create Promotion.

Final Thoughts

Few platforms impact society as much as Instagram does. A phenomenal number of people use Instagram daily, making Instagram a great way to reach a large number of people. Take advantage of all of the tools Instagram has to offer your small business, and see how far it can take you!

First time marketing your small business?
Join our online community of small business owners.