Is It Too Late for Your Business?

Wildfire Media World. Welcome to our World!

Hmmm…more importantly, is it too late to turn followers into leads, and leads into sales? The answer is one I would normally give my kids…Depends on if you are good!

 

Being a good boy or girl is…well…good! BUT it’s not as important as being good at social media. It is for this reason that many companies fail.

Start up businesses often open their doors without so much as a Facebook page, Twitter profile or an Instagram board. In fact social media as a whole is an afterthought. Some existing, well established companies, yo-yo between being online (and not) and end up creating a Facebook page, just to have something “modern” on their websites. The content they post is equal to the company newsletter that goes out. Boring and impersonal. Often infrequent.

New or old…Their followers dwindle & splutter in the low kiddies’ pool as far as numbers go. There is no contact to speak of and surprise, surprise…NO SALES!

Why exactly is this? Because the state of things demand that the internet of things be incorporated into the marketing of things.

I hear you say’ “Okay..uhhh… wait what?”

Allow me to explain.

Wildfire Media Strategy

The entire world has gone digital. From long before the time you start a business (or decide to expand it) you need an online presence. To have an online presence, you need a Digital Marketing Strategy and a Social Media Strategy. From there you need the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to extract data which will aid you in your marketing and dare I say….MANAGEMENT things!

So lets start off at the beginning. A Digital Marketing strategy is about more than your “marketing”, so to speak. What you put online, how you say it, when and where, is vital to the success of your business. To have a successful Digital Marketing Strategy in place you need to know the following:

Who are your ideal customers?

Make up a mock profile of your ideal customer, even if you have existing clients. What is their race, age, occupation, etc. Bear in mind, you want to go after the decision makers, those who are “mentors”, not the decision imple-mentors.

 

Where are they?

I’ll give you a hint. “Online” is not an answer. Research every possible forum, website, social media outlet and digital medium there are in your industry. From there you can determine where your ideal customer is the most, and how long they spend there.

 

What are their interests?

Do your target audience gather information on only specific topics or do they have a wide range of topics that interest them. It is also very helpful to know what draws them to a specific place online,  and how long they spend on there. This sort of information will let you know if it is worth spending your time & money on that site.

 

How do they prefer to receive their information?

Every person is different, therefore it is important to know how your customers receive their information. Do they prefer e-mails, RSS feeds, blogs, tweets, or referrals by friends? Do they prefer audio, text or video?

 

In what manner will your ad or post stand out?

In every digital medium there are cases of “ad blindness” where people ignore certain ads. This applies to posts too. Knowing your target audience will allow you to know how to grab their attention.

Using the information you have so carefully researched, opens the door to…ANOTHER DOOR! You can’t just take what you know and build posts and ads around it. That is why you need a social media strategy.

After the break I will go into detail about Social Media strategies.

 

 

 

 

If you treat your employees like numbers, they will treat you like the paycheck you are.

And we’re back. Well! at least I am!

Many companies fail because they try to do their own social media. Hiring a social media expert will save you a lot of time and money, for the prime reason that they do things right, the first time. Even if you still refuse to get a pro in, you need a Social Media Strategy. This is vastly different to your Digital Marketing strategy, because social media is not about marketing, it is about connecting.

Your followers are not your customers, so they don’t want a sales pitch. They want you to confirm what they already know. So your posts and ads will be geared towards adding value. There is a strict social media etiquette to follow and very tight line between fishing and spamming.

The first thing to consider is how your brand will be perceived online. Will your online voice and persona be friendly or professional, informal or formal? Using your preferred “voice” you can increase customer satisfaction, generate leads, drive traffic to your website and ultimately increase revenue.

Then all the information you have gathered in your Digital Marketing strategy can be used to make up “owned” content and “paid” content. Those are the words you spew, enlightening the masses and encouraging them to share this new found wisdom, and, of course, your online adverts. Apart from that you need “earned” content. To get exposure and brand awareness you need to identify decision makers/ influencers and prospects on social media, follow them, share their content that adds value to your followers, engage with the followers, earn their trust and then align your products or services with their needs, when the opportunity arises. (Phew!)  It boils down to building firm partnerships and generating sales leads. Easy hey?

At all times your social media strategy must be implemented in such a way that it is….wait for it…SMART. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time based. In a nutshell, plan what content you will posts and when, for who, how long and what you hope to achieve by doing so. If you can’t get that right, you never will. Just  kidding… It’s about posting, engaging, measuring the result and doing it all over again, until you get it right.

It sounds hard… 317 million users on Twitter, tweets going out every second at the same time. 1.79 billion Facebook users.  LinkedIn has 467 million users and your content has to stand out among all that in order to create brand awareness before you can start building leads. But fear not! The best way to start creating brand awareness and drive traffic to your website, is through your employees and friends. Be warned, if you are one of those companies that treat your employees like a number, or worse, they will treat you like the paycheck you are. No one will share your content, in fact they might sabotage or troll your posts.

That is another reason your social media expert will include in your strategy, a Social Media Policy as well as a Critical Response Plan in case of bad publicity.

The easy part now is to incorporate the internet of things (It’s a real thing) and keep updating your strategies for best results.

 

The Internet of things, is simply put the area where operational technology meets information technology. Let’s say you are a manufacturer of some sort. Anything with a chip or a sensor can be assigned an IP address and information can be shared on a network.

The mechanical input can provide valuable insights and improvements. Machine to machine communication can be incorporated in every industry and together with data pulled from apps and your online platforms like Google Analytics, many problems can be eliminated from planning, production right to after sales customer satisfaction. Any strategies going forward can include “success” stories on how problems were overcome and information gathered at any stage, can be used to entice new customers.

So there you have it. I spewed out a lot of useful information and very impressive words. All you have to do is share it. (nudge-nudge)

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LONG LIVE BUSINESS 3.0

Wildfire Media World. Welcome to our World!

We have entered the year 2017! Traditional Sales, Marketing and Management is dead. We now use data to predict future outcomes and anticipate what customers, competitors and partners need, way before they do. This is called Predictive Enterprise.

 

 

In order to stay relevant and grow business, all industries are fast harnessing the power of AI. Whether it be through Automated Deep Learning systems. Big Data Analysis, Cloud Computing, Automated cognitive computing or Applied Data Science, the new Business 3.0 model builds prediction into its strategy. Sounds way too complicated for so early in the year, right? Not really…here is how you can become a Predictive Enterprise and upgrade to Business 3.0.

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There are many ways you can leverage online resources to listen to what customers, competitors and even employees are saying and anticipate their every need. Using the information you extract, you can innovate faster than anyone to emerge ahead of the pack in every way. Here are some ways to become a Predictive Enterprise.

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CRM Automation

By applying Automated Deep Learning algorithms to software, companies can automate their CRM. The data extracted can perform various functions like assessing a customer’s lifetime value, what products they require most and how often they require them. The knowledge gained will be useful in predicting what they might need next, and avail opportunities for improvements and innovation.

 

Live Reporting

Your in-house programs can give you reports which you can use to gain insight into spend analytics, customer service performance, manufacturing variability, logistics optimization, consumer demand forecasting and supply chain risk management. But more than that, they can help you offer your customer more than what you thought possible! Big Data analysis affords you a deeper look into your business, helping you solve problems and deliver a better service to your customers. Social Media is another form of Big Data Analytics whereby you can gain insight into your customer’s behavior, reactions and predict future outcomes. This is how so many companies send you recommendations and newsletters pertaining to your interests.

 

Online Applications

Various internet giants like Windows, Google and Amazon allows documents to be shared on their servers. This is where Cloud Computing comes into play. Through their online applications you can access your documents from anywhere and share them to anyone. Information is easily stored and accessed, but the real eye popper about cloud based data is that it can be processed. This lends businesses the opportunity to harvest data from numerous resources. The more information a manager/ sales, purchasing or marketing employee is armed with, the better planning they can do. Having the bigger picture helps in the decisions they make, which ultimately funnels down to the service and support your customer receives. Many brand innovations can stem from the Cloud based computing with the correct information.

 

Data Mining

Just like Big data analyses, data can be mined through Automated Cognitive computing. A broad spectrum of technologies incorporated into software, can enable a business to input instructions, and have the machine learn from the data gathered, find hidden insights and produce an output which anticipates a specific need within your business. It is all about the rhythms in algorithms.

 

Forecasting

Applied Data Science is another word for data analysis, but guess what? There are actual University courses offered in this profession. The very capable Applied Data Scientist is able to delve even deeper into data and analytics extracted. This will help businesses to find even more creative ways to generate business value & generate more business. By using past data, your business will be able to recommend similar products or services to customers in future. Businesses will also be able to forecast complex behaviors, trends and  make viable business decisions before any competitor.

The way in which companies will use data to plan production, keep optimal stock levels, recommend products to drive sales and send automated personalized responses to customers has changed. Information is no longer retrieved for present day monitoring, but to enhance the customer’s experience and future business decisions.

Interactive websites, with the best analytical tools, and solid social media management is the key to becoming the next best Business 3.0!

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SMASH IT WITH THE 3 P’S OF GROWTH HACKING

Wildfire Media World. Welcome to our World!

Last week we prepped the grill on Growth Hacking Management – In 5 easy steps no less! Now you know how to manage your Growth Hacking tactics, comes the fat juicy steak to flame grill to perfection! Growth Hacking can be done in many ways, but to make them easier to follow, the Growth Hacking tactics, have been broken up into three categories.

These categories are referred to as the 3 P’s in QUICKSPROUT’S DIFINITIVE GUIDE TO GROWTH HACKING. Do yourself a favor and read the entire guide here. It is loaded with tons of valuable information, but here are the 3 P’s from their guide.

  1. Pull – Instead of finding customers and visitors online, drawing them to you through various means is called the Pull tactic.
  2. Push – Finding customers online and pushing them towards your website, product or service is referred to as the Push tactic.
  3. Product – The Product tactic uses your product or service to attract more customers.

It goes without saying, that all three categories implemented into your Digital Marketing Strategy work best together. Much like any sport, you won’t win the game without using all your gear, now would you? The same applies with Growth Hacking tactics. You need to apply all three categories. Cheer up though. You won’t need to use all the methods detailed under each category.

(all content and images provided by Neil Patel and Bronson Taylor)

THE PULL TACTIC!

  • BLOGGING OR GUEST BLOGGING

One of the tried and true ways of getting traffic to your product is through blogging or guest blogging. Blog posts are suited perfectly to send you traffic for a number of reasons.

  • Blog posts are keyword rich, and are easily indexed by Google, which aides an overall SEO strategy.
  • Blog posts have a compounding effect. The more you write, the more total chances you’ll have of pulling people towards your product over time.
  • Blogs are usually based around specific niches, so if you are guest blogging then you can tap into large swaths of your market with a single post.
  • Blogs are usually disseminated through RSS readers, so there is an inbuilt mechanism to deliver your thoughts to others.
  • Blog posts are great at educating people, and people that are informed about your product are more likely to move through your funnel.
  • Blog posts can position you as a thought leader, and people would rather use a product that has been created by an expert rather than a nobody.
  • Blog owners are always looking for new guests post, which makes this low hanging fruit in many cases.

Blogging is a no brainer. The only decision you have to make is whether to start your own blog or guest blog for others. The main reason to guest blog is that you don’t have to create the audience. You only have to create the post. Trust me, it’s easier to create a post than to gather the people together that are willing to read it. However, the main benefit to starting your own blog is your ability to have full control. If you build your own audience you have more flexibility over the content. You might choose to get more aggressive in the future with sending traffic to your product from the blog, but if someone else owns all your content then you don’t have this possibility. Neither answer is wrong as long as you choose for strategic reasons. Remember, you can always do both. Maybe you start by guest blogging but then transition to your own blog.

Whichever route you choose you must not make your blog posts an extended pitch for your product. You’re gently pulling people in, not begging them to visit your site. If you get too overt about your intentions it will turn people away. With a little creativity you can easily get click throughs without making your post feel like an ad. Always start a new post with a bio that links to your product (no one will begrudge you this), and try to link to your product once within the post, but only when it’s relevant to what you’re saying.

Also, the blog posts that get read and shared are the ones that tap into something emotional, trendy, educational, enjoyable, or surprising (amongst others). Take note of the kinds of posts that get your attention, and then reverse engineer them to inform your own writing.

Buffer, which has been growing at an incredible rate, used guest blogging as an engine of growth. Their founder, Leo, even wrote a blog post about how he used guest blogging at http://leostartsup.com/2011/06/how-i-used-guest-blogging-for-my-startup

PODCASTING OR GUEST PODCASTING

Podcasting is another great pull tactic because audio has inherent inbound qualities. When you hear someone speak then you are given a window into their mind that is different, and sometimes even better, than reading their thoughts. Like blogs, podcasts have inbuilt distribution mechanisms (podcast listening apps), but there are differences between blogging and podcasting when viewed through the lens of getting traffic:

  • Podcasts are not easily indexed by search engines.
  • It’s easy to click a link in a blog post, but it’s hard to visit a site that is mentioned in a podcast.
  • Podcasts are fewer in number, and tend to have smaller audiences.

It is highly unlikely that a podcast will be a viable channel for traffic, unless you think very creatively about it. Here are some twists that you could try:

  • Whatever you do, go niche. You probably don’t have the production experience or the budget to compete with general interests podcasts. Instead, select a very narrow niche, and dominate it.
  • Don’t start a podcast with a goal of doing an episode every week. Rather, set a goal of 10 episodes total and make it more like an educational course on a certain topic that your market would love to learn. With beautiful album art and a great audio intro, people will find you in the podcast directories and get curious. Never promise more episodes, and tell them upfront in the first episode what your intention is.
  • Go on a few podcasts as a guest, and then use those episodes as a part of a drip email campaign in order to inform your email list about your product further, via audio, to increase conversions. Note: the same thing can be done with blog posts also.

Of course, it is possible to go the traditional route by creating a podcast that publishes new episodes every week, but there is something you must know. Podcasts require a lot of time to do well, and low quality offerings will not gain enough traffic to matter. Therefore, get creative and think like a growth hacker, not like a podcaster. Use their medium, but not their methods.

Tweak! was a podcast about running a web agency and they only produced 9 episodes, but they were more like a class and less like a show.

EBOOKS, GUIDES, AND WHITEPAPERS

Part of creating an effective pull strategy is to use the unique makeup of your team to inform which tactics you try. Some people love the idea of doing little things on a very regular basis (like blogging, or maybe podcasting). Others would rather invest large chunks of energy at spread out intervals, and produce things that are a bit more monumental. This is a valid tactic, and large written documents have a number of advantages in terms of getting traffic:

  • Ebooks, guides, and whitepapers have a certain draw to them. It’s somewhat easy to ignore a new blog post, but when there is a new hefty document on a niche subject you care about, it’s hard to ignore.
  • Ebooks, guides, and whitepapers have a high perceived value, and you can ask for an email address in exchange for downloading them. It feels like a fair trade, and it helps you build an email list that you will eventually work through your funnel.
  • Ebook, guides, and whitepapers spread through social media very effectively when they are executed well.
  • As an author (even a self-published one) you are a thought leader of sorts, and people will want to use the product you’ve created.
  • Ebook, guides, and whitepapers can be written to specifically educate people about your product. Informed visitors are more likely to become members and users.

MailChimp has a number of guides at http://mailchimp.com/resources which they publish for all the reasons listed above.

INFOGRAPHICS

Infographics can entice people to your product because they simultaneously display expertise and aesthetic taste. Visualizations are powerful tools, and they are spread using social media extremely easily. Adam Breckler, of Visual.ly, provides the following advice when creating an infographic:

  • SELECT A GOOD TOPIC

    Pick something that is clever, exciting, noteworthy, or that stands out for some other reason. Just don’t be boring or irrelevant.

  • FIND THE RIGHT DATA

    People sometimes assume that they have to create the data themselves, but often a simple Google search will uncover data sets that have already been compiled.

  • ANALYZE THE DATA

    Look at the data that you have with journalistic integrity. Don’t bend the data to suit your needs.

  • BUILD THE NARRATIVE

    Brainstorm what story the data should tell. You need to transform the numbers into a coherent narrative, and not just present them as a collection of facts.

  • COME UP WITH A DESIGN CONCEPT

    Now it’s time to consider ways to tell your narrative visually.

  • POLISH AND REFINE THE DESIGN

    Put on the finishing touches and make sure everything is as high quality as it needs to be to gain the public’s attention.

  • DISTRIBUTE THE INFOGRAPHIC

    You can distribute it using your own audience (email list, social media, etc.), or you can use services like Visual.ly which is a marketplace for browsing inforgraphics.

Everlane produced a couple of controversial infographics that created a firestorm online. Their infographics showed the typical markups that department stores charge for t-shirts. Since Everlane sells similar quality shirts at lower prices it’s easy to see how this infographic brought them the right kind of visitors.

WEBINARS

The offline world has seminars, but the online world has webinars. These are very successful channels at bringing in new visitors for a few reasons:

  • Webinars are usually live, so people are forced to put them in their schedule, and view it as an event. A YouTube video can be watched anytime, but people must “attend” a webinar. When something is in their calendar they tend to take it seriously, and they take the information shared during the webinar seriously.
  • Webinars usually have limited seats, and this faux scarcity makes people feel like the content is exclusive and important. If you are important in someone’s mind then they are likely to move through your funnel more efficiently.
  • Webinars allow for interaction, and if someone gets to interact with you then they will have a connection to you and your product that will carry over into activity on your product.
  • Webinars educate people, and the more you give away in terms of educational value the more visitors will reciprocate in different ways.
  • A webinar can end with a special promotion of some kind for your product and this can drive traffic to your product.
  • A webinar can be done in conjunction with another company so that you can benefit from their audience learning about your product for maybe the first time.

Unbounce hosts something called “unwebinars.” Above is one they did with Joanna Wiebe in order to benefit from her expertise and her audience.

CONFERENCE PRESENTATION

Conferences may feel like a very non-growth-hacker way to get traffic, but that’s just because you’re not thinking of it creatively enough. A conference presentation may pull in a few more visitors to your product, but not many, and the amount of preparation required is very high. However, a conference presentation creates a number of by-products which can be used to pull in visitors more effectively.

  • SLIDE DECK

    If you’re presenting at a conference then you probably have a slide deck. This deck can be uploaded to slideshare.com and now you have a left over piece of collateral that can easily be shared, and it will bring people into you product for the foreseeable future. Sildeshare.com is a social network in it’s own right, and you would do well to invest in it.

  • VIDEO/AUDIO

    Many conferences will record your presentation, and this will allow you to put it on your company blog, upload it to YouTube, place it in email signatures, or use it during a drip email campaign.

Besides the by-products of a presentation, here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • INSTANT RETWEETS

    I once spoke at a conference, and I ended my presentation by telling the audience that if they retweeted my last tweet that I would give them a discount to my product. I created a social media tornado in a matter of seconds.

  • PERSUASION

    Why did Steve Jobs do presentations? Because they’re are powerful. If you have the gift of gab, and can command an audience, then sometimes a few moments on stage can create a number of traffic sources for your product. Remember, growth hackers are right-brained and left-brained. Sometimes the ROI is fuzzy, but that doesn’t mean it is non-existent.

Rand Fishkin, the CEO of Moz, has over 60 slideshares, and they have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, creating countless new visitors for his product at Moz.com.

SEO

In a sense, all the tactics we’ve covered so far are incredible from an SEO point of view. As you create content of various kinds (blogs, podcasts, ebooks, whitepapers, guides, infographics, webinars, slide decks, video/audio presentations) then the search engines are going to realize that you are an authority on your topic of choice, and you’ll rank high for certain keywords. However, there are really two kinds of SEO strategies. I call them content and code.

  • CONTENT

    By virtue of creating content, even if you don’t know how SEO works, you will be optimizing for it. Just keep producing and you’ll be using SEO to your advantage even if you don’t know what an algorithm is.

  • CODER

    There are also things you can do at the code level which enable a solid SEO strategy. Are your links seo optimized with keywords? Are H1 tags properly labeled. Do you use Schema.org tags for specific kinds of content? Do you have an up-to-date site map?

If you can use both content and code to your advantage then this is obviously the best case scenario. However, even if you can’t do both, you should do at least one or the other. Search engines are still the primary way we navigate the internet, and to ignore this simple truth is very unwise. SEO is important, and for many businesses it’s the primary way they gain traffic at the top of their funnel.

Udemy is experimenting with creating transcripts of their courses, just for the sake of SEO. Considering that their courses usually cost money then SEO must be important for them to give away some of the content for free in the form of text.

SOCIAL MEDIA

One of the ways to gain traffic at the top of your funnel is through social media (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.). There are actually so many spammy ways to do this that first I feel the need to tell you what not to do.

  • Don’t follow and unfollow people on a social network just to get their attention if you don’t intend to actually have some kind of relationship with them.
  • Don’t buy followers of any kind. They aren’t your market. They can’t amplify your message. They are a waste of money.
  • Don’t bother people. Ask yourself what kind of pings you would like to receive if you were in their shoes.

Here are some tips to help you bring in traffic to the top of your funnel using social media:

  • Engage with people who might actually use your product. Know your demographic.
  • Provide value at every chance. Answer questions. Give advice. Help them in some way. Don’t just take, but also be a giver.
  • Become a hub of interesting content, whether you produce it or not. If you gain a reputation as a great curator of content then people will pay attention to your posts and tweets simply because of your track record (even though you actually didn’t produce anything yourself).
  • Social media is a marathon, not a sprint. Social media usually will not give you massive traffic instantly. In fact, you should actually underestimate what follower counts and like counts represent. Even if someone with 100k followers retweets you it probably won’t give you much new traffic unless your demographics are perfectly aligned (but even then I’d be skeptical).
  • Social media is as much about customer support as anything else. Surprisingly, this can be a tool for new traffic. As people watch your stellar customer support happening in public then they will be more apt to try your product themselves.
  • Use social media to amplify all the content you created in tactics 1-8. Social media works great in conjunction with other tactics.
  • Like everything, creativity can open up new possibilities. Skittles once made their entire homepage a Twitter feed of a search for the word Skittles. They received countless mentions of Skittles on Twitter that day, and the internet collectively paid attention to their ingenious ploy.

Here is the Skittles homepage showing every mention of the word Skittles. This is very brave and very creative.

CONTESTS

Contests are an awesome way to drive new traffic to your product. A lot of people are actually unaware of how well contests work. Ever heard of AppSumo? Want to know how they grew an email list to over 700k emails? They started with contests. Ever heard of AirBNB? Want to know what they started doing this week to drive new traffic to their product? They started promoting a contest. Contests are good for small companies and big companies alike, so here are a few of things to remember as you create a contest:

  • Give away prizes that are meaningful to your audience. Every contest shouldn’t include a free iPad. Give them something that represents you. As an example, if you are AirBNB then give away free housing (which they are). This is important because if you are capturing their email address as a part of the giveaway then you don’t want a junk list that doesn’t represent your demographic. Just giving away iPads will give you an unqualified list, and you will have difficulty moving them through your funnel.
  • Giveaway experiences, not just goods and services. What do you think someone will remember more, an iPad or a trip to some awesome destination to see their favorite band? They might cost about the same, but the impact could be drastically different. As an example, if you work for Uber, then giveaway a ride with some celebrity in an Uber cab. Now that’s an experience.
  • Have prizes for at least first, second, and third place. People want to feel like they have a chance of winning, and if you only have a grand prize then they might not play along.
  • Give them more entries to win the contest based on how much they give you in exchange. For an email address they get one entry. If they share a friend’s email address with you they get two more entries. For a retweet they might get three more entries. You get the point. Help them increase their chances of winning the more they grow your list and promote your product.
  • Run the contest long enough to gain some traction. Consider running it for a month. Anything less and you might not get enough entries to make the ROI work.
  • Make a big deal when you announce the winner and use this occasion as another event that generates noise online, and potentially traffic.

AppSumo is still running contests to this day. They found something that worked so why should they stop? Also, notice how experiential their prize is.

APP MARKETPLACES

One of the channels for gaining new visitors which has arisen in the past few years is marketplaces. The Apple App Store is a marketplace. The Google Play Store is a marketplace. There are actually two kinds of app marketplaces, and they are different.

  • B2C APP MARKETPLACES

    If your company made an app for a consumer then you’ll probably be in a B2C app store like the Apple App Store. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are trying to get new users through this method:

    • Reviews matter immensely. Do whatever is necessary to not get bad reviews in the first place, and try to get people to change their reviews after they’ve left a bad one.
    • Screenshots are a window into your app so make them perfect. If you don’t visually entice people you can’t pull them in.
    • Think about your app’s name carefully. Will it be easy to search for and easy to find.
    • You cannot rely on the marketplaces alone for new traffic. There are simply too many apps now and you are a needle in a haystack. You must use the other tactics in this book also.
  • B2B APP MARKETPLACES

    If your product can be used for businesses then you might consider this relatively new kind of marketplace. Companies like Salesforce or Mailchimp now have their own marketplace for apps that integrate with their product. Here are some helpful tips concerning B2B app marketplaces.

    • These marketplaces are less crowded so they are easier to stand out in.
    • B2B marketplaces are apt to promote your product on their blog, in an email blast, or other ways, if you just ask them.
    • Sometimes B2B marketplaces will even pay you to build an integration with their product. Shopify recently had a fund that they used for this very purpose.
    • As with consumer marketplaces, reviews and screenshots matter, so don’t skimp on these.
    • You can include a “coming soon” in your description on these marketplaces which will list upcoming products that you will also integrate with. This is a great way to be found more easily on the B2B search engine since you will have a number of products listed in your description as keywords (this was one of the tactics that Wishery used, and they were eventually purchased).

    The AppExchange is Salesforce’s B2B app marketplace.

DEAL SITES

In the aftermath of Groupon’s rise (and slow demise) there have been a number of deal sites created in their wake. For many niches there is a deal site which has a substantial email list and is willing to promote your product. The arrangement with these companies is usually pretty straight forward. You provide a discount to their audience, and in exchange they provide you with distribution. This is a quick way to get traffic, and given how easy it is to set up this kind of relationship it’s worth trying. Another unexpected side benefit of these deal sites is the number of people who will purchase your product at full price even though they came from the deal site. The internet is a strange place and this will happen more than you would guess.

Mighty Deals is a niche deal site that serves designers. It would be worth it to see if you can find a deal site for your niche.

LOPA (LEVERAGE OTHER PEOPLE’S AUDIENCE)

Although this is built into many of the tactics already covered I still wanted to talk about LOPA explicitly. Basically, building an audience is incredibly hard. So if you can find any way to leverage someone else’s audience then you will be taking advantage of a traffic shortcut. Guest blogging is a form of LOPA. Guest podcasting is a form of LOPA. Even marketplaces are a form of LOPA. Here are some other ways that you can take advantage of LOPA:

  • Create a giveaway for a specific blog that has your demographic as their audience.
  • Reach out to group leaders on Meetup.com that run communities that could use your product, and ask them if they’d tell their group about you.
  • Offer free accounts to thought leaders in your industry and if they have a great experience they will share it with their audience.
  • There are literally too many possibilities of LOPA to even begin listing them all. If you are creative enough you will always have new opportunities for LOPA.

 

THE PUSH TACTIC! 

PURCHASE ADS

It may not seem like growth hacking at first glance, but ads are definitely a place to hack the distribution of your product. Sure, if you just purchase ads without a strategy, void of creativity, doing nothing to gain an edge, and ignore the process of multivariate testing, then you will be like everyone else (and it probably wouldn’t be considered growth hacking). But that’s not what we’re going to do. Here are some things you must keep in mind as you approach this push tactic:

UNDERSTAND YOUR AD PLATFORM OPTIONS

There are many different ways to purchase ads. Most people assume that there is just Facebook, Google, and Twitter, but there are so many more. You can also purchase ads on LinkedIn, which would make a lot of sense if you’re selling to corporate customers. There are niche ad networks such as Carbon (carbonads.net) or The Deck (decknetwork.net), both of which will allow you to target specific verticals. There is BuySellAds (buysellads.com) which allows you to purchase website banner ads, tweets, newsletter sponsorships, RSS includes, and even spots on mobile apps. There is a relatively new ad network that just focuses solely on email sponsorships called LaunchBit (launchbit.com). There is even a solution called Trada (trada.com) that will crowdsource the purchasing of your paid advertising and only take a cut if they exceed your goals. If you want to focus exclusively on mobile users then you can advertise using Tapjoy (tapjoy.com).

Here is a screenshot of Carbon, a niche ad platform.

Here is a screenshot of BuySellAds, one of the generic ad platforms.

This doesn’t even include the platforms that focus on retargeting. Retargeting gives you the ability to track users to your site and show your ads only to those people as they browse around the internet. Now, even your ads can be pre-qualified. If this sounds magical it’s because it is magical. In this space alone you have a number of platforms like AdRoll (adroll.com), Perfect Audience (perfectaudience.com), and Retargeter (retargeter.com).

Here is a screenshot of AdRoll, which was named the #1 advertising company by Inc. Magazine.

There has been an explosion of ad networks over the last few years. Some would argue we have too many ways to purchase ads. This can be a good thing if you are willing to investigate the options to find the ones that meet your needs.

  • LEARN THE TECHNICAL
    DETAILS OF YOUR CHOSEN PLATFORM

    Once you’ve found an ad platform that meets your specific needs then it will be imperative that you learn the technical details of their offering. The difference between making money or losing money could easily be the difference between knowing the technicalities or not. The most complicated and advanced platform is probably Google AdWords, and it could easily take months to truly master their product, but most of the other options can be learned in a weekend with a high degree of proficiency.

  • BUYING ADS IS A BUSINESS MODEL COMPETITION

    It’s always hard to know how much you should spend for a single click, or for a set of impressions, but the answer is actually a factor of your business model. If you are targeting the same audience as another company, but your business model is more efficient and your LTV is higher, then you can afford to pay more for the traffic without going upside down. The best thing you can do to win customers using ads is to have a great business model. It’s almost an unfair advantage because no amount of tips or tricks can overcome this one stronghold. If you can pay twice as much to acquire a customer then you have a very defensible strategy.

  • CONSIDER THE VARIOUS PERSONAS OF YOUR CUSTOMER

    Your customers can probably be reached using various platforms. For instance, they are more than likely on Facebook and LinkedIn. You must then decide which persona they are utilizing when they want a product like yours. When someone is on Facebook they are thinking about friends and family. They are looking at photos of other people’s experiences. When people are on LinkedIn they are thinking about climbing the corporate ladder and how networking with others can help them reach their goals. If your product is for project management in agile environments then I wouldn’t choose Facebook, even though technically you could reach your demographic there. Yes, they would see your ad, but their mindset would be incorrect because you are introducing yourself to them in the wrong place. Always think about the persona your customers exhibit while using your particular product before choosing an ad platform.

  • CIRCUMVENT THE AD NETWORKS WHEN POSSIBLE

    This tactic may not scale easily, but it is still well worth mentioning. You could go to BuySellAds (or other places) and buy banner ads on a particular blog that your audience reads. However, if you cut out the middleman (BuySellAds) and go directly to the owner of the blog then you can get cheaper rates for two reasons. First, BuySellAds is making a cut of every transaction, so if you go direct that is money that you can recoup without the blog owner losing anything. Second, you are able to negotiate. Very rarely is the lowest price and the advertised price the same thing. You can ask for a lower rate and often close a deal relatively simply.

  • IF YOU ARE PAYING PER CLICK THEN QUALIFY EVERY CLICK

    There are two ways to buy ads. First you can purchase them on a CPM basis, which means you pay for set number of impressions and it doesn’t matter how many clicks they get. Second, you can pay per click and this means that it doesn’t matter how many times your ad appears, you only pay when your ad is clicked. If you are paying per click then you don’t want people to click your ad unless they are seriously interested, because it costs you money every time they do. Luckily, there are things you can do to qualify clicks using the ad itself. Consider putting the price of your product in the copy so that people don’t click unless they are interested in spending money. Also, don’t use emotion to pull them in unless that same emotion will cause them to buy from you. Don’t put a picture of cute cat on your ad, just to get cat lovers to click on it, if your product doesn’t have something to do with cats.

  • TEST VARIATIONS OF YOUR AD

    One of the most fundamental lessons of ads is that you have no idea what your audience will respond to. You have to test multiple versions of the copy, multiple versions of the imagery, and then multiple combinations of the copy and imagery together. The numbers will tell you the truth about which ads you should be running, but your intuition or gut is probably not accurate.

PROMO SWAP

One of the easiest, and free, ways to drive traffic to your site is through cross promotions with other companies. If you find a company who is already serving your target demographic, and you wouldn’t be considered a threat to them, then there are plenty of ways that you could coordinate to promote each other. Here are some ideas to help you brainstorm possibilities:

  • SWAP TWEETS

    Each company sends out a tweet to their followers about the other company.

  • AD SPACE SWAP

    Each company allows the other company to place a banner ad on their website or blog.

  • PRE-ROLL VIDEO SWAP

    Each company gives away video ad space to the other company.

  • GIVEAWAY SWAP

    Each company promotes a giveaway from the other company on their blog.

AFFILIATES

Another way to push people toward your site is by hiring affiliates. This is an arrangement where you pay someone every time they reach a certain goal for you, like getting a visitor to your site, or activating a member. An affiliate might use many of the tactics in this book, but you are paying them to do it instead of worrying about it yourself. Here are a few things to know if you are going to use this tactic:

  • THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT THE INCENTIVES

    If you give an affiliate $100 for every new signup, but there is no clause that says the new signup has to stick around for a certain number of months, then you could find yourself in a situation with misaligned incentives. The affiliate would be rewarded for getting you low quality customers that cancel quickly because it doesn’t affect their profit either way. Create a system where the affiliate only benefits if you benefit.

  • DON’T ROLL YOUR OWN AFFILIATE SOLUTION

    There are a number of products that will allow you to easily get up and running on the technical side of creating an affiliate system, and on the acquisition side of finding affiliates to promote your product. There are products like Commission Junction (cj.com) that will connect you with affiliates, and products like DirectTrack (directtrack.com) or Omnistar (osiaffiliate.com) that actually track affiliate payouts.

    Here is a screenshot of Commission Junction, a juggernaut in the affiliate space.

  • VET EVERY NEW AFFILIATE EARLY ON

    When someone becomes an affiliate for you then they are representing your business to some extent. The tactics they use, the language they employ, and their general style, is a reflection on you. They may not be an employee, but they will be the front of your brand for the people they reach. Choose your affiliates very carefully.

DIRECT SALES

I’m going to be honest, this is a hard one to categorize as a growth hacking tactic, but it is a way to get traffic at the top of the funnel so I would be remiss to completely ignore it. Direct sales teams do not work for every kind of product, but in some cases it is a worthwhile tactic. AppStack (appstack.com), a startup that creates mobile websites in conjunction with mobile ads for local businesses, was able to grow revenues to over 50k a month in a relatively short amount of time, and their primary strategy was direct telephone sales. I use them as an example because it’s hard to imagine a startup using this method, but some of them do, and it actually can work.

Here is a screenshot of AppStack, a startup that gained initial traction through direct sales.

THE PRODUCT TACTIC!

 

NETWORK INVITATIONS

We now live in a world where many people have already compiled their social networks in various places. We have a group of friends on Facebook. We follow people on Twitter. We are connected to business relationships on LinkedIn. We have a list of email addresses in Gmail. We have the phone numbers of friends and family in our mobile phones. The first product tactic that we’ll discuss for getting visitors hinges on our ability to use pre-existing, pre-defined, networks of relationships to our advantage.

  • PHONE CONTACTS

    If you are building a mobile app then you are basically a few clicks away from permission to message their entire phone book about your app. We don’t usually think of a phone book as a social network, but it might be our most intimate network of relationships. Umano, a new service that provides the ability to listen to popular online articles, utilizes this tactic. They prompt you to share with friends after using their service a couple of times, or you can do so from the settings menu (below). Notice how they preselect everyone for you, and you have to either manually deselect people or “unselect all.” This is a common practice for many of the network invitation tactics. It is also worth noting that you can call or text with access to a phone number, so this gives you a few options on how to message people once you’ve gained permission. There might also be email addresses associated with a phone number that you can also access.

SOCIAL SHARING

Social sharing, as defined here, is not about explicitly inviting people into your product via their established connections or friends. This tactic is more about allowing anyone to talk about your product on their social network for whoever may be reading it. For instance, instead of asking someone to invite their Facebook friends to use your product, you instead allow them to easily post something to their Facebook feed about your product. If they have a public profile then this can be seen by anyone, not only their friends. The most prevalent example of this is seen in popular blogs. The Next Web (seen below) prominently displays the ability to share each and every post with your social connections in various places.

Most social networks have code snippets that you can copy and paste into your product to make this kind of social sharing extremely easy. There are also solutions that combine all the popular social sharing options into a single interface. Flare, by Filament (shown below), is a simple, lightweight solution for social sharing that is coming out soon.

Although it may not be obvious at first, another thing to keep in mind when implementing a social sharing strategy is to consider where your traffic naturally comes from. If you get most of your inbound traffic from Twitter, but you only allow people to share your product on Facebook then you are missing an easy opportunity. Make sure that people can share your product in the places that are most likely to bring you back more inbound visitors. This will have a compounding effect.

API INTEGRATIONS

The next step, beyond social sharing, is to actually integrate your product with an existing social network at the API level. Instead of just asking them to share, you can actually bake sharing into the experience and make it happen in the background without forcing the user to give you permission each time. A great example of this is Spotify. It’s no secret that Spotify heavily used Facebook to grow their product, and they did so through an API integration. Once you login to Spotify using Facebook Connect and give Spotify the needed access, then your activity on their service is automatically published to your Facebook feed, and it’s also published inside of the Spotify app to anyone that you are connected with on Facebook. Below is a screenshot of the Spotify app, notifying me of new users who are also connected to me on Facebook, and another screenshot showing notifications within Facebook itself of my friend’s listening habits. These are done completely in the background, which creates frictionless sharing that can only really happen through an API integration.

Another example of this tactic is the Nike+ API integration with Path and Facebook. Everytime I go for a run and track it using the Nike+ app on my phone, then the data about my run is pushed to Path and Facebook, so that my friends can see my activity. Friends can even cheer me on from within Path or Facebook which will trigger an applause sound as I run. This is borderline genius. Below you can see my Nike+ app asking me to share on Path, and on the right you can see the results being published to my Path friends. Again, this it totally seamless. Once I set it up initially it does this automatically.

API integrations, despite their incredible upside, are not 100% stable. As certain products become extremely popular, and gain momentum on existing social network, then it is not entirely uncommon for exposure to be throttled. Facebook, for instance, has the incentive to give you access to their platform. This keeps them in a dominant position if many developers use them. However, Facebook does not have incentive to give you the complete social graph of their billion users. If you start to have too much success with an API integration then you can’t count on the rules staying the same for you.

On a similar note, API integrations are great as a way to growth hack your product, but the more you intertwine your product with a 3rd party service, the more at risk you are. Twitter is a great example of this. Many companies were built on the Twitter API, but then Twitter changed the number of API calls allowed. This left many Twitter clients without a backup plan. Use APIs to grow your product, but be wary that the API doesn’t become your product.

BACKLINKS

One of the first examples of product growth hacking actually used the backlink tactic. When Hotmail first came out they did something that was simple, but which would drastically change their trajectory. They included a link at the bottom of emails that were sent using their service that said “Get your free email at Hotmail.” A viral loop was born.

This tactic is still being used to this day. A modern example is found in services that allow you to embed a popup on your website for various reasons. Notice the backlinks in the screenshots below. Widgets of any kind are good candidates for backlinks.

INCENTIVES

Certain products lend themselves easily to creating incentives for users to bring new people into the product. The classic example of this is Dropbox. They have a number of incentives that they offer users for various actions that they can take. This tactic works especially well if you have something which is of low cost to you, but of high value to users. In Dropbox’s case, they use storage space like a currency because the exchange rate is in their favor. Storage is not that expensive, but getting new users is very valuable to them. The user is in the opposite situation. Storage space is valuable to them, and their contacts don’t seem that valuable. This makes for a perfect storm.

It’s worth cautioning that many startups, in an attempt to imitate Dropbox, have been frustrated with their inability to pull off the incentive tactic. Their product might not have much intrinsically to offer their users as incentives. Also, notice that Dropbox goes beyond just giving away storage for friend invitations, but they also give away storage for actions that will help you understand their product. Educated users churn less.

ORGANIC

As much as technology within the product can spread the product, there is something that can be even more effective, organic word of mouth. Organic word of mouth is when someone shares your product, online or offline, in ways that you didn’t orchestrate. They are compelled to tell people whether you incentivized them or not. Organic communication can’t be measured, and it can’t be controlled, but it can be a force that propels your product forward. You can’t make someone share your product organically with their coworkers or friends and family, but you can do certain things to make it more probable.

  • Simple products spread organically
  • Beautiful products spread organically
  • Pain relieving products spread organically
  • Products that make people look cool spread organically
  • Emotional products spread organically
  • Fun products spread organically
  • Unique products spread organically
  • Surprising products spread organically

You can’t be all these things, but you must be one of these things, or you probably don’t have a chance of spreading organically.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS ON GETTING TRAFFIC

Now that we’ve talked about all three ways of getting visitors into the top of the growth hacker funnel (pull, push, product), here are some final thoughts to keep in mind:

  • GETTING TRAFFIC IS A RECIPE,
    NOT A SINGLE INGREDIENT

    Imagine that you start to bake a cake, but you decide that you are going to include only one ingredient and leave out all the others. It would be a cake of pure sugar, or pure butter, or pure flour, and it wouldn’t taste that great. Getting traffic is similar. Most products you will have multiple ingredients that come together to create a traffic recipe. It might be a mixture of 2 pull tactics, 3 push tactics, and 1 product tactic. It might be 0 pull tactics, 1 push tactic, and 4 product tactics. It would be nice if there was a silver bullet for every product, and once you found that one ingredient you could ignore everything else, but that’s not the way it usually works in reality.

  • GETTING TRAFFIC IS A RECIPE THAT IS ALWAYS CHANGING

    As you begin to learn how you can get traffic to your product you may be tempted to settle in and stop trying new things. You may assume that what is working today will always work. This is not wise. The recipe that is working for you today will probably change and morph over time. It may not be different tomorrow, but it will definitely be different in 6 months. Growth hackers who master getting traffic are never too comfortable.

  • DON’T JUST COPY THE TRAFFIC RECIPES OF OTHER STARTUPS

    It’s so tempting to just do what everyone else is doing, but your startup is unique. It has unique personnel, unique advantages, unique disadvantages, unique customers, and it should have a unique game plan for getting traffic. Copying other startups is nearsighted. Learn to create your own recipe for growth. It will taste better that way.

 

Be sure to read the entire guide as it will help activate, and retain customers, and give you helpful tools, all provided by Neil Patel and Bronson Taylor

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Start Up Growth Hacking Management in 5 Easy Steps!

Start Up Growth Hacking Management in 5 Easy Steps!

Wildfire Media World. Welcome to our World!

We all have dreams. Dreams to independently generate income from a hobby or skill that we are passionate about. Be it to give our children a future, live peacefully on a deserted island with sufficient air conditioning and unlimited WiFi someday, or sail around the world in a luxury yacht when we retire, those goals are woven into our dreams. We start our own businesses in the hope to reach our goals sooner, and get away from the depressing pressures of working for someone else.

With the doors open to our four walled dream catchers, comes the reality of marketing and managing a business. However in today’s day and age, that all is done through Growth Hacking, a fancy name for digital age marketing coined by Sean Ellis.  At every step of the way, growth hacking is used for customer acquisition, engagement, transaction, retention and referral.

growth, hacking, marketing, business, startup, management

But first: Why should start ups incorporate growth hacking? Why should existing large corporations bother with this concept? 

The nature of the internet has forced businesses, new and old, large and small, to focus all their efforts on growth. Direct sales pitches and broad based advertising no longer works, because consumers base their buying decisions on the results of online research. They don’t just Google your website, they investigate your heart, body and soul! Allow me to explain:

  1. The company’s heart: Consumers want to know that the company share their values and interests. They want to know that they are dealing with real people, who also face real issues and love the same things they do. What you say online and how you say it is about more than just your core business. It is about how you fit in with your customers.
  2. The company’s body: Consumers don’t just research your products. They research your online reputation. How you interact with them and others, your reviews and the way you handle bad press goes a long way!
  3. The company’s soul: There is something to be said about the sense of community, belonging and value your business can offer them. People want to connect more than ever, because the internet (though it opened up so many ways of communicating), it has left us feeling more disconnected than ever.

The ever changing consumer behavior and spending habits of online users forces product designers, marketers, sales staff, customer service staff and all other departments within a business to change their thinking and tactics in order to keep up. Growth hackers use their knowledge of their products and avenues of online distribution to find ingenious, technology based concepts in order to fit in with the new way of how consumers shop.

 

“There are hundreds of Growth Hacking tools and ideas to use. But how do you manage it?”

wildfiremediaglobal, growth hacking, start up, small business, marketing
  • Start Up Growth Hacking Management Step 1: 

Have actionable goals for every step from customer acquisition to customer referral! How are you going to attract new customers? How are you going to engage with them? What do they need to make the leap from browser to purchaser? What can you do to retain them as a loyal customer? How can you turn them into brand ambassadors and encourage them to refer your products or services? If you don’t know how, then boy! You are going to want to stick around for next week’s post!

 

  • Start Up Growth Hacking Management Step 2: 

The next step to manage not just your growth hacking tactics, but how they fit into your goals, is through Analytics. Track content creation metrics in terms of size, length, and visuals. Track content created by others as a result, content shares, likes, and devices used. Track content shared in terms of location, demographic, times, KPI’s and platforms. Analytics don’t just inform you when your goals have been reached. It can shape and help you redefine new goals, and it can eventually be used as historical data and be used for relevant tracking metrics of new growth hacking tactics. Easy right?

 

  • Start Up Growth Hacking Management Step 3: 

By leveraging your existing strengths to build plans, goals and tasks, your business can funnel it’s best resources to follow the path of least resistance. What the hell does that mean? Let’s use your product knowledge as an example. During customer acquisition, engagement and retention you can leverage the product knowledge you have, to plan content for your company blog, newsletter and social media campaigns. Much easier than trying to spit out something intelligent to say, which will take much longer and more resources! Thereby you can manage not only the content you put out there, but also set time efficient tasks which fit into your goals.

 

  • Start Up Growth Hacking Management Step 4: 

Before you put your goals into action through whatever growth hacking tactic you have chosen, the best thing to do is to make up a Hypothesis for every possible eventuality and outcome. “Oooh….kay, sounds easy, but why?” I hear you ask.  Having a list of possibilities of what could go wrong, what you hope to achieve and what you think will happen, and comparing that to what had actually happened, will help you manage future growth hacking ventures. As your start up grows you will be less likely to repeat past mistakes and try new things.

 

  • Start Up Growth Hacking Management Step 5: 

When all is said and done, nothing beats control groups and A/B Testing. Whether you want to acquire new customers, engage with them, turn them from a visitor into an user or buyer, or keep them on as loyal customers, and convert them to brand ambassadors, running experiments and tests continuously is the best growth hacking management step for your start up. It is the wash, rinse and repeat to your business cycle, because you will know what works and how to achieve your goals faster and better.

small business, growth hacking, digital marketing, wildfiremediaglobal

There you have it. Start up growth hacking management in 5 easy steps. You might wonder why I did not start with growth hacking tactics first. Would you put the tenderized steak on the barbecue before prepping the grill and starting the fire? Yeah… didn’t think so either. Lucky guess I think. Next week tune in for the 3 P’s of Growth Hacking. The ultimate tactics to attract, keep and turn your visitors…Vampire style! Blah-blaaah Blah!

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SMO for Joe Schmo!

social media, google, facebook, twitter

By now you should know that your company’s PR, brand awareness, customer service and marketing, and well pretty much EVERYTHING else goes hand in hand with social media.  It’s all about creating an online presence. Sound easy right?

Amy-Poehler-No

Sure it does! If you know how. There are thousands of helpful articles on SMO (Social Media Optimization). Every Tom, Dick and Sally is doing it. But we here at Wildfire Media (Pty) Ltd want to show you how to make the most out of your social media presence.  How many times you must post on each social network and what content works best, is the key to a great social media experience.

First: Set up a Social Media Marketing Strategy and evaluate what you want to achieve from your posts. Set goals and assess them on a regular basis.

According to digital marketing guru, Jeff Bullas, your business needs to focus on engagement first and then sales. Here is a graph Jeff posted about the goals the most successful marketers achieve.

How-Social-Media-Marketers-Optimize-Their-Social-Media-Marketing-6

Posting on social media is all about content and etiquette. Here are some guidelines to follow:

Twitter: Many people tweet every fifteen minutes as they seem to think it increases their traffic and engagement. It does not. The engagement they receive is from people begging them to stop! Tweets can be pre-scheduled these days, and for the best results, between 5-10 tweets over 24 hours is enough. All you need is a very short & effective post, a catchy # or two (but no more than three hashtags), an informative yet entertaining picture and a call to action, like “Please retweet” or “Share now and win.” This is not an effective method to gain exposure…

wow

Facebook, Pinterest and Google Plus:  We have all seen it before. Someone posts the same post to several groups and every post appears on the Facebook or Google Plus Newsfeed. It’s great when people schedule different posts frequently too, but every hour? Nope. A maximum of 5 posts per day is needed. However, to promote your brand or business effectively on these social networks takes a little oomph! You need more than visual content. You need short messages with videos and pictures on special offers, promotions, upcoming events and company culture. Your posts need to drive engagement and create interaction and not be a direct sales pitch. Again a call to action also goes a long way.

This is a great example for Lowe’s sprinkler systems:

tumblr_inline_mpde0nWNnM1qz4rgp

Linkedin:  Linkedin requires 3 things to make your post shine among the best of them. Strong thumbnail images, compelling headlines and personalized content. Share your experiences, helpful advice, failures, successes, company updates and what inspires you. These posts will create interaction and great exposure. For best practices only post 3 times a day. Any more, and you’ll be considered a spammer.

ss-linkedin-status-updates

You Tube, Tumbler, and the rest:  Once a day is enough, really! Your videos, vlog feeds or blog posts need to be high quality, visually stimulating and generate engagement. Post a “behind the scenes” look into your company, product information sessions or “a how to”  once a day. Top 10 lists and guides generate the most traffic.

The key to all successful social media posts is engagement. Your posts need to be fun, entertaining and educational. Once they are posted, engage with those who have shared or liked your work. You can say a simple thank you, ask question about the person or add a witty comment of your own to create more feedback. Do not turn customer’s comments into an opportunity to make a sales pitch.

You need to set yourself up as a market leader, a person/ business of influence and an industry leader. Engage with your followers on a personal level. The sales will follow in time.

 

Why Auto Re-tweet Services are Killing your Business!

Wildfire Media World. Welcome to our World!

 

Did you know? Over 100 million users log into Twitter daily, and over half of them use automated tweet services from Twitter content management platforms. Some of the big names include Hootsuite,  Sproutsocial, Tweetdeck, Roundteam, and so on. There is no shame in using a content management platform to schedule posts to your social media accounts. In fact, to curate and create valuable content to engage with your customers, platforms like Hootsuite are awesome, as they ensure that your posts are shared at optimal times, thereby delivering better results. It is simple case of time management and great organizational skills. That is good for you, your brand and your business!

 

 

twitter, wildfiremediaglobal

Sadly, the problem is not what you schedule to post, but rather what you automatically re-tweet. In recent months a great movement has begun, whereby customers, influencers and those visitors interested in participating in conversations, no longer follow accounts that use auto re-tweeting services. The reason for this is simple. Followers want to know that what you have re-tweeted, was specifically chosen with them in mind. They want authentic, well designed content, which relates to their interests and their needs.

Despite the fact that you can carefully set up auto re-tweet services to only tweeter specific accounts, lists and hashtags, what the best of them can’t do is prevent re-tweeting the odd rant, mentions, follower statistics and direct messages to another account. They also can’t prevent re-tweeting  an account that posts every 5 minutes and drowns out your own and other account’s posts.

We have experienced all of this first hand, where our followers were left in a sea of irrelevant information.

 

twitter, auto, retweet, wildfiremediaglobal

The worst trend that has emerged is falsely designed tweets. These tweets contain specific words and hashtags that you are looking for, but the links are completely irrelevant. This deception is hard to uncover unless you have actually read the article, before you have retweeted it. Misleading headings designed to catch retweet bots looking for keywords and hashtags will get you unfollowed and ruin your reputation.

 

“Auto-retweeting not only devalues one’s content, but it makes you less social.”

In the end you want to engage with followers and drive content to start conversations. To do this you have to present online, and we mean really BE PRESENT.

Auto re-tweets, auto DM’s and auto mentions are a thing of the past. The time has come to be active and engage with your followers. We have done away with our auto re-tweeting service for this very reason. We want to connect on a more genuine level with our followers and to have our content and what we re-tweet be reliable, dependable and authentic. If you are serious about your customers and followers, you should too!

wildfiremediaglobal, twitter, feed

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SEO Your Website and Content!

SEO Your Website and Content!

Wildfire Media World. Welcome to our World!

We have done our fair share of posts on Websites, Content Marketing and SEO. Heaven knows there is a lot of information on the great ol’ www on it. But today we are taking it a step further…Helping you to do all three at once!

That’s right! Follow these tips on how to redesign or start your website, and set up content… all with SEO in mind.

 

Without a website, your business might as well be invisible. And even if you have a killer website, the only way new customers are going to find you, is through optimizing your website and content for search engines.

The first step to creating or re-designing your website is to understand your customers. Who are they? Where are they? What do they value most? How do they search for you online? These are the first questions to ask when you set up a Content Marketing Strategy and SEO Strategy too. Understanding your target audience is the key to a successful online presence.

 

 

To kill all three birds with one stone (metaphorically speaking) incorporate these three guidelines into your website, content marketing and SEO strategy.

  1. Navigation – When your customers search for you directly, they will enter your name or a variation thereof into search engines. Once they are in your website, it should be easy for them to navigate through. If it takes more than three clicks to find what they are looking for, you will lose customers. Create a simple design with very little distraction. In every aspect of your content, navigate your customers to your end goal as set up in your content marketing strategy.
  2. Information – People will often look for information online and start their searches with words like “How to” or “What is”. Keeping this in mind, design your website and create content in such a way that you will be the business they turn to.
  3. Transaction – The majority of the time, people will search for specific products or services not knowing that you provide such a service or product. Their searches will contain words like “best photographer in UK” or “online courses,” which you should incorporate into your website description and content. Your website should have clear sections where they can purchase products or services at a click of a button.

 

“Increasing your ranking in search engines is easier than than your think”

So using the guidelines of Navigation, Information and Transaction, here is how to incorporate SEO into your website, pages and posts.

  • It all starts with the URL – Your domain name, your page titles and post headings are what link your website to search engines. It is the first thing search engines and readers see. Your domain name should be clean, clear and concise with no special characters, or numbers. Just like a store front to a shop, it must reflect your business name. The same will apply to your Meta Title url’s. These are the headings or titles you give each page and post, so they must reflect keywords about what your business does.
  • Describe with descriptions – To really SEO the crap out of your website, posts and pages, you should also have a clear description underneath each title. These should contain keywords, describing what your business does or what your post is about. That way potential customers can read your title and description in the search results, and you can draw them to your site. Having a title and description, improves your SEO ranking. Many websites also add Meta Tags to their blog posts to make it easier for search engines to pick up relevant keywords to relate to search engine topics. A Meta tag is one word, separated by commas, which directly relate to that post and will include keywords your customers enter into search engines, for example “online, shop, shoes.”
  • Anchor that text – When you include links to re-direct visitors to another page on your website to help them find what they are looking for, it increases your SEO ranking. These will often be linked to text, like “visit our online store.”  Linking text to another website that you used as a source for your information, not only improves SEO, but it also makes you look good. However, always credit the source by including their name and direct link to the information your shared. You could also add a “follow them on Twitter” with a link to their twitter handle as added credit.
  • Do the Alt Text – Search engines look for what is called Alt text in images and videos in order to describe what is in the visual. When you give a clear and concise description of the visual along with your business name, it makes it easier for search engines to direct visitors to your website, page or post.
  • Nail it with Social Media links – Your social media pages have an impact on your rank in search engines.The more content visitors share, the more visitors you will get to your website and the more search engines will take notice. Therefore your website, posts and pages must have links to your social media platforms and must have share buttons to make it easy for customers to share your content.
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In summary, always add your company name in the Meta sections and Alt text, along with keywords about what your business is about, into your headings, pages, pictures and posts. That way when potential customers search for you, a product or special keywords related to your business, your website will show up in the search results.

These are some easy steps to make sure your website, blog and content are Search Engine Optimized! If you already have a website with awesome content, it is not too late to go back and edit some of these SEO tricks into them either. We hope it helped you? But if you have anything to add or have any questions, please drop a line in the comments section and let us know?

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The Darth Vader approach to Content Marketing

The Darth Vader approach to Content Marketing

Wildfire Media World. Welcome to our World!

Darth Vader is probably the most scariest and unrealistic character to base your Content Marketing strategy on. However this character can teach you a thing or two!

The objective of every company, big or small, no matter what industry they are in, is to create awareness, generate leads and drive sales. In the digital arena, direct selling is no longer acceptable. In fact consumers will ignore you like the homeless guy in the alley.The key to sales is Content Marketing.

Every business wants to create viable and effective content, in order to connect with their customers, and stand out from their competitors, but that is not always easy. The web is saturated with information.  Many give up and many don’t bother at all. You need to have faith in your business and your product! You also do not need to hire a Content Marketer. You can do your own in-house content marketing and become an expert Content Marketer in your own right.

 

“Content Marketers do not need a budget! They just need a voice.”

This is why you should be like Darth Vader. He knows what he wants and he takes it. You want to create awesome content to connect with customers, start conversations and leave your digital footprint?  We have some awesome tips for any business to start today!

First…ALTER THE DEAL! Set up a Content Marketing Strategy or change the one you have. Know exactly who, when, where, why and how you want to reach customers online. Once you know everything about your customers, start creating content that they will identify with. Your posts should always follow the 70-20-10 rule.

70% is created and curated content (shared content from your influencers, competitors and market leaders -but remember to always credit their work in your posts or tweets). Created and curated content consists of blog posts, articles and information that will educate, entertain and add value to your customer’s life.

20% should be personal content. This is about sharing experiences and valuable lessons with your customers. It can also be content that shows your customers that you share their values and ideals, whilst giving them a sense of belonging.

10% should be promotional content, however always have a “call-to-action” in each post and tweet, and always give the customer an incentive to share or make use of your promotion.

 

 

So about that 70-20-10 rule. How exactly do you get the 70% created and curated content? That is easier than you think. You have the information (sorry Darth…the “power”) at your fingertips. You just need to put it into blog posts.

Email queries from customers on your products and services can be used as content for a detailed blog post about each topic. Alternatively you can make up a post about all the Frequently Asked Questions and post it as a list on your blog. Your website’s FAQ section can also be used to build a detailed blog post.

What many people don’t realize is that employees hold a well of knowledge in their hands. Anyone from the receptionist, sales staff, accounts staff, and even management can give ideas based on their first hand experiences with customers or telephonic queries that they have received. Past conference materials, presentations and lectures can be incorporated, either as a blog post, video, or slide-share on your blog.

Information learned and obtained from Trade Shows can be used to further build on the knowledge you have of your industry. You can go so far as to use what your competitors are saying about you, against them in a post. (That’s so Darth Vader!) Of course you don’t want to blatantly say anything negative about your competition, but making them out to be the bad guys and look like fools in a subtle, funny manner, does work.

The next item on the list…is lists. Readers love statistics and facts, so blow them away with research in your field that you have done online. Even better, put it into a pretty little picture format, like an infographic and you’ve got gold! Use current events and Twitter trends and relate them to your products or services. Better yet, share with them what you and other employees need and use to do your daily functions. A “day in the life” or “behind the scenes” look into your business is better than any reality show. Your top 10 , advice and how to’s on using your products and services in a video format will make for killer content, and add a little variety to your normal posts too.

Darth Vader the crap out your customers, competitors and online conversations to get the topics you want to post about.

To find curated content to share with your customers directly to your social media platforms, or use the content in your blog posts, there are some great online sources like Trendspottr, ScoopIt, Reddit, etc. However you can checkout this great article by the Content Marketing Institute for more ideas. (see what we did there? – curated & credited!)

 

 

 

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Evaluate us!

Evaluate us!

We value our community and would like to know exactly what you think. Evaluate us and feel free to elaborate on your likes, dislikes, suggestions and opinions in the comments section?

10 Facts about Marketing everyone thinks is true

Wildfire Media World. Welcome to our World!

Marketing is no longer only applicable on TV, newspapers and magazines. It is digital. We all know this to be true, but did you know most people think these facts are true?

hocked face

  1. Advertising banners on websites get higher click rates. This is false. Most clicks on banners are purely accidental!
  2. Facebook is overrated as a Marketing tool. Facebook is great if you target the right people, at the right time, with the best ad you can afford.
  3. All branded emails are opened.  Nope. More than half of those emails are opened on mobile devices and the rest are deleted.download
  4. People will tell others if they had a positive experience with your company. Not likely, unless someone specifically asks them about a product or service they acquired. They are more likely to share negative experiences freely.
  5. Offline promotions are no longer used. Think again. More than half of the businesses out there still use print and other marketing mediums.
  6. Twitter and Facebook are the most effective content marketing tools. Ummm…no! It is Linkedin.images
  7. Most business-to-business marketers measure their success based on their subscriber growth.  Really? Not true. In fact, they measure their success based on their website traffic and interaction.
  8. Hosting live events are no longer necessary. The days of mingling and face-to-face interaction are far from over. Go wine and dine your prospects.
  9. The top Marketing goal of any company is sales. Hate to disappoint, but in this day and age, this is incorrect. The top marketing goal is to retain customer retention and loyalty. Who knew?download1
  10. The top reason customers have a relationship with a brand is because of interaction. Sooo not true. The top reason why customers buy from a business and stay with that business is “shared values.”

Closing fact: Having regular blog posts, videos, info-graphics and webinars count for 61% of sales. The majority of your marketing efforts can be channeled through your website and shared via social media and email newsletters.

Contact us today for more information before you make any decisions that might have you end up looking like this….200_s

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10 Website Basics you should know

10 Website Basics you should know

Wildfire Media World. Welcome to our World!
Are you a small business that offers a product or service? Do you have a website or adhere to website basics?
Did you know that over 52% of small businesses do not have a website? What is even worse is that they do not use their websites to their full potential. The first place a customer will look to find a photographer, florist, baker, plumber, seamstress, a web developer, a restaurant, a place to stay or a great book, is …you guessed right… Online! Shocking right?

Statistics show that small business owners (51%) use technology to help with accounting operations. However they are not utilizing technology for appointment booking and scheduling (39%), customer relationship management (34%), point-of-sale systems (25%), and acquisition marketing (14%).  Additionally, more than half of small business owners do not even measure the results of their marketing programs (56%).

So how do you start your own website and use it effectively? Start with the top 10 website basics:

“Very few businesses know how to use their webistes to their full potential.”
  1. A domain name.
    Dot com websites are far better than .biz, .net or .org. for commercial use. Register a domain with a reputable company that will still allow you full control over your domain name. That way if you need to make any changes there will not be any problems. Reputable companies also offer better support as opposed to cheaper options.  Your website needs to be your voice! Make a professional one?
  2. A website host:
    Although there are many free or cheap options available,a web development and hosting company will not limit what you can do on your website and offer great after sales support. They also have the knowledge to help you with your online business growth and give you the best hosting package that is the best for your industry. Remember; you buy cheap, you get cheap. That is the last thing your business can afford!
  3. Website design:
    Use a professional web designer that will provide you with a fully integrated Content Management System, which you can manage yourself. When someone else owns your domain and develops your website for you, your website belongs to them and only they can make changes and manage your content. The most important reason to use a professional web developer is that they can make your website mobile friendly. There is no way around it, as the majority of people use their devices to obtain on-the-spot information.
  4.  Search Engine Optimization:
    Search engines use web crawlers to search websites for specific information  relevant to a person’s search topic. Web developers and designers use popular links, meta tags and keywords when they develop your site, so that these search engines can easily read the text on your site and refer clients in the search engine. Content is the key to your success!
  5. Be Creative:
    All search engines disregard flashing images  and static pictures. Your customers, however, like pictures. The flashing images?  Not so much. They want unique, creative content with quality images. You need to grab their attention and still get your message across.  The best way to do this is through professional photography and exclusive stock photos. They aren’t cheap, but they are worth it. Stay away from site links eg. “click here to continue to site” or “learn more” buttons. Keep your website simple, unique and entertaining.

6. Contact:
Make it easy for visitors to contact you.  List your contact details on every page or have a “call to action” button. Many websites offer options like; “click here to have one of our representatives contact you today!” or “”call us now!” The best call to actions are “Download your guide to success now!” or “get your free sample today!” which encourages customers to contact you. A  web developer can draw up a contact form which can also serve as an appointment booking and quote scheduling, which can be synced with your current calendar.

7. The Opt-in list:
Over and above the call to action, your website needs to encourage visitors to leave their email address in order for you to build your mailing list. The table are turned and you contact the customer first. A mailing list is invaluable to businesses, as many sales leads can be generated from them. Web development companies know thow to make this the basis of your company’s CRM (Customer Relations Management), as the interaction can be analyzed to provide services/ products better suited to the customer’s needs. Past sales and target audience behavior can also be analysed in order to facilitate business growth.  Offer your visitor something of value in exchange for their email address, for example; “Sign up for our newsletter today and get 10% discount on your next purchase!” Staying in contact with your customers will also create future sales.

8.The Point-Of-Sale:

Online shopping has become the norm. If you have a product to sell, your website needs a Point-Of -Sale system, to enable customers hassle free shopping online. Use a reputable web design and development company that know the ins and outs of e-commerce. Their security, problem solving skills and service will be worth every penny.

9. Get the traffic:
You have your whole website up and running with every possible basic covered. Now all you need is traffic to your remarkable site. The best way to do this is through a proper digital marketing strategy. You will need to incorporate three important elements in order to be successful. a) Paid advertising: Google Adwords, Facebook, Twitter, etc. provide excellent paid ad services, however their success rate has been debatable. b) Owned:  This is the content you share from your website or blog to your social media pages to drive traffic to your website. Every post needs to drive engagement and encourage shares so people will visit your website. c) Earned: To earn traffic means engaging on social media. By engaging with influencers, competitors and customers in a positive conversation, you create brand exposure and establish authority in your niche. Offering discounts, answering questions and partnering with influencers and your brand ambassadors you will generate a lot more traffic than just liking posts.

10. Analyze:
You need to know your traffic. Who, what, when, how and where is the most important knowledge to have in any business. Google Analytics can be incorporated by your web developer with a simple code in order for you to analyse your digital success. Your marketing campaigns, your customer feedback and KPI’s can all derived from running analytics on your website and social media pages. Grow your business today!

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How To Adapt & Succeed in 2017

How To Adapt & Succeed in 2017

Wildfire Media World. Welcome to our World!

Businesses will need to step up their content marketing strategies and marketing efforts to accommodate an ever growing spectrum of consumer platforms and adapt to the consumer’s changing habits.

Last week we featured a post on how consumer behavior will change in 2017 and the impact it will have on businesses.

This week, we want to help you adapt to changing consumer behavior and show you how.

Business will need to go where the consumers are, and they go to where information is the easiest to obtain: social media. With so many social media platforms and many more to appear in the future, businesses need to step up their game. The key is to set up not just a multi channel content marketing strategy, but a digital marketing strategy as well, in order to stay relevant, drive conversation, generate leads and give customer’s what they value most.

A good digital marketing strategy allows for organizations to have cross-channel engagement with their shareholders/ investors, employees, suppliers and customers. For seamless and consistent engagement to work across all channels, companies will need be innovative and incorporate the latest technology. The focus will be on converging applications, channels, content, devices, networks and interaction. To converge all this, many companies will have to change their business models.

 

“The consumer expects the same interaction online as in the store, or expect the interaction they started online, to continue in a store.”

The good news is that you don’t have to change your entire business model. Companies can incorporate a digital marketing strategy into their existing business model, provided that they truly understand the needs of their customers, the shifts in their market place, the differentiation strategy of their business, and the best means for achieving success. Some companies have gone so far as to create a spin off business, to test a completely new digital marketing strategy without causing their traditional customers any unease.

So, how do you develop a digital marketing strategy? The first step is to assess your current business model and see where your strengths and weaknesses lie on the digital front. Based on the model below you can begin to formulate an action plan on how to bring your business model into the digital age.

 

 

 

 

Once a digital marketing strategy has been formulated, businesses and organization can set up a content marketing strategy geared towards conversation and conversion generation. Your content needs to be relevant to whatever industry you are in, and serve to enhance your visitor’s experience as well as educate them. Whatever content you create to share with your target audience, needs to be relevant, valuable and needs to be consistent. It needs to be about things your customers care about. You also want to create content that influencers will want to share to their audience! This will not only improve your SEO ranking, but will be great PR too.

The final step is to reach customers! With so many platforms out there, the best way to reach your customer is to know them and what their interests are. They will be on the platforms most in sync with their values and what information they find useful. However, in today’s economy, business will be looking towards reaching as many potential customers as possible, and build a relationship with them well in advance. As mentioned before, digital convergence of applications, channels, content, devices, networks and interaction will need to be developed. Marketing and advertising campaigns need to be designed for customer who also stream information online directly onto their smart TV’s or smart phones. Content marketing campaigns can use online solution companies, like Hootsuite to provide services for cross posting on multiple social networks and devices, following conversations & interactions, launching campaigns, analytics and more. For seamless and consistent engagement, Digital convergence for content and advertising across all channels, networks, applications, interactions and devices work best in the form of video.

 

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The Future of Business in 2017

The Future of Business in 2017

Wildfire Media World. Welcome to our World!

This is what the future holds for businesses in 2017. The game will be changing in every form from Content Marketing, Social Media, to the very way business is conducted. And that is only online! Imagine the changes in the real world?

Browsing habits of consumers have changed already this year. Even though Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have increased their reach through video sharing, many more platforms are going to make an appearance in 2017. Snapchat has already taken over as the leading platform for video. By next year, businesses will need to go where the consumers are, rather than share to social networks directly from their website or blog. Consumers are everywhere and they go where information is the easiest to obtain in the shortest amount of time. Many would think consumers go directly to the company’s website, but the fact is that they turn to social media first.

“Where consumers go, so must we.”

So where does that leave businesses?

A recent survey by Hubspot showed that video is clearly the future. Consumers have busy lives and as a result, they need content that is easily “digested” and skimmed through. With a mobile focused society, that is even more important. The majority of consumers use their mobiles to search for products, information and services, using popular search engines, and social media like Facebook and LinkedIn. They pay more attention to videos, than pod casts, although the latter has been on a steady rise and will most likely become more popular by next year. Consumers are interested in news first, then social media posts, research content, online classes and interactive tools and games. We can only hope Pokemon Go, stays out of the equation.

We also predict that In 2017, there will be a rise in AI technology, which will be incorporated into some consumer platforms and will no longer be limited to voice search adaptations like Siri.

With all the new innovations soon to be launched by Facebook, Google, Amazon and other online giants, businesses will need to step up their content marketing strategies and marketing efforts to accommodate an ever growing spectrum of consumer platforms and adapt to the consumer’s changing habits. We will be telling you how you can do that in our next post. But make no mistake, 2017 is going to be a very interesting year!

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10 Reasons your Online Presence is Failing

10 Reasons your Online Presence is Failing

In the global economy today, it is more important than ever to have an online presence. Self employed artists like Authors, Photographers, painters and designers, or home based businesses, corner shops, FMCG stores, and major multinational corporations are all in danger of losing out on opportunities and valuable income.

Most businesses have the basics like a Facebook page and Twitter account. Some even go further and use Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Skype, Pinterest and other platforms to reach their target audience. They put in a great amount of effort and yet yield very little results. Why is that? The reasons are simple.

1. Punctuality!
You need to show up for your audience, and you need to show up on time. If you miss the peak hours your target market is online, your posts will get lost in the feeds and won’t be seen by those very important customers.  Do research online to find out where and when your demographic is online and schedule posts for those times.
2. Bad information!
It is pointless posting content at the optimal time, when the content itself is useless. You know who you want to sell to. Therefore post content that will be of interest to them. A little awareness, a lot of indirect marketing and a smidge direct marketing will go a long way. The best rule to follow is the 70-20-10 rule. 70% of your content should be blog posts, info-graphics, shares from your customers, competitors and popular conversations. 20% should be information that will add value to your target audience’s life, for example; shared values, experiences and educational posts. 10% and ONLY 10%, should be promotional content.
3. Too many Excuses!
The best time to start developing your online presence is right now. Even seasoned professionals get tired of posting content, but they do it. They don’t make excuses for not posting daily. Don’t wait for that special sale to start or your book to be launched. Start in advance and gain traction with whatever campaign you want to run.

“Stop making excuses”

4. Doing the bare minimum!
By posting a few things online and not actively engaging and sharing your content, you will not get far. You also need to encourage others to share your content in order for it to be seen. Simply having a one sided presence is not enough.
5. All smart and no brains!
Once you engage with your customers, it is pointless to act like you know everything and not take other’s opinions or suggestions into consideration. Don’t always give out information. Ask questions, run polls and get your audience involved. Make them feel like they are contributing to your business and adding value to the lives of others.
6. No conviction.
You have to believe in yourself, your business and your company’s vision, values and mission. If you don’t believe in what you are doing, you can not expect others to do so. Share those beliefs, core values and missions. Your business has to come across as authentic, approachable, knowledgeable, professional and friendly. Reflect that in everything you do online.

7. Lack of productivity!
It is all very well to have an online presence, yet not know what to do with the information you gain in return. Many businesses simply ignore valuable analytics and insights into their business and blindly continue posting. Know what works, when, where, how, who and why. These insights will drive traffic to where you need it most….your bank balance!
8. Wrong kind of interaction!
To have an online presence, you need to interact with past, present and future customers. You also need to interact with your competitors and drive conversations. It sounds difficult, but it is not. Follow the golden rules: Don’t be rude, be approachable, don’t flirt, stay on the topic and never have derogatory remarks about another. Play nice as mom would say.
9. Apologies, apologies!
If you are going to come across like you are apologizing for your very existence, you will not get anywhere! On the other hand if you have to apologize a lot for your posts, you are doing something wrong. Evaluate your “online appearance” once in a while and you will never have to apologize again!
10. Lack of commitment!
Time is of the essence. We all know that. However that is not an excuse to rush through your posts, comments by others or any interaction online. Make time to thank those who have shared or commented on your posts. Be sure to reciprocate. Having an online presence means you have to be present. To have a successful online presence you also have to stay committed to the success of others, not just your own business. Your sales graphs will certainly show the results.

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10 Ways How Not to hold back your Business

10 Ways How Not to hold back your Business

Wildfire Media’s shareholders all have successful businesses of their own. But their number one priority is always…YOU!

Wildfire Media’s shareholders all have successful businesses of their own. But their number one priority is always…YOU! So with that in mind, they shared some helpful tips on how to grow your hobby into a business, and your business into a successful brand! The key focus is not just the growing part, but also the sustaining part. If you have an existing business, read on! You won’t believe your eyes!!

1. Define your brand or re-define it!
You need to know what your business’ brand is. Define who and what your business is all about! Is your business brand friendly or straight forward? Is your business’ voice informal or formal? Do you want to portray your business as approachable, positive and knowledgeable? Or do you want your business to personify other traits? Once you have defined your business brand, carry that message across all your social networks.
2. Have a unique selling point!
Stand out from your competitors by offering your customers something they cannot get anywhere else. We don’t mean special offers and discounts. This needs to be part of your core business that customers would want to connect with you rather than your competitors. Think about that one? Why should they use you?
3. Bravely go where no man has gone before!
Many snorts have probably escaped a few readers right now. We know! Easier said than done, right? But here’s the thing… In today’s “instant gratification” digital age, you need to take risks and be bold to get potential customer’s attention. How? Create controversy. Create debate. Create consideration. Bottom line, be creative.

“Create controversy. Create debate. Create consideration. Bottom line, be creative.”

4. Own it!
Once you have set out to do something, own it! Be confident and be bold. Great leaders have more than just ‘big’ voices, they have ‘big’ actions and don’t care about what people think or say.
5. Connect with your customers!
You need to go through people’s hearts to get to their wallets. True story! Studies have shown that due to social media, everyone feels more disconnected than ever. Sad, really, but in the end if you can give your customers the attention they crave, you will reap the benefits.
6. Partner with successful businesses.
What? Partner? Network linking is a great way to partner up with successful businesses. Offer successful businesses an incentive to add your website link to their websites. Guest blog for influencers/ successful business or co-blog on an article that they care about. Propose to do a feature on them on your website in exchange for a few shares on social media.

7. Leverage them!
Use your new found connections as a base for increasing your exposure. The people you surround yourself with can benefit your social standing, just as the alignments you have online can increase your status.
8. Expose yourself!
Turning to the media once you have reached marginal success is great way to gain more exposure and grow. Businesses can learn a lot from celebrities. They don’t make a move without informing the media where and when they are going to be there. Your business needs to be a media hound. Invite media to your events, share your achievements, and grow!
9. Manage your success!
The best way to advertise and promote your business is to use each success as a stepping stone to the next. “Hey! Remember that time we were number one or did that? Now watch what we’re going to do!” Use social media to grow your following, and use that following to gain leads. Turn those leads into sales!
10. Remember your team!
Is Jo-Lo still Jenny from the block? Yeah! So make sure you remember the people who got you where you are and build them up too. That includes your staff, former customers and suppliers. Who you have behind you is just as important as those in front of you!

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5 Unexpected Uses For Your Website!

5 Unexpected Uses For Your Website!

In today’s world, people have websites for everything! Soon-to-be married couples have a website so invitees can RSVP, check out the venue and find all the information they need about the BIG DAY. Unemployed people create websites to enhance their CV, so potential employers can see who they are, what they stand for and what they offer. Businesses, especially, have gone a step further and are using their websites as an online brochure, customer service center and point of sale all in one! But that’s not all they do. AND, there is so much more you can do.

It doesn’t matter if you are a part-time hobbyist, corner florist or a big company. We have some more amazing ways you can use your website! Check out our top 5!

internet-1028794_960_720Check one! A business Card. 

Wait a business card? That’s right! You can use your website as a business card. Whenever you post a comment online, make sure your Avatar, Gravatar or Profile pic is linked to your website. They can immediately see who you are, and what your business is all about.

“Bet you didn’t know this?”

scarygiphyCheck two! Even the Score. 

Imagine being able to tell someone that you’ve written an article about a specific topic, therefore you know they are “misinformed,”  or threaten a company with an entire article about their poor service on your website! Sure there is Yelp, and other online forums, but writing an entire article? Oh yeah! That would make even the biggest companies a little frazzled.
wildfire media Check three! Good Old R & D.

How many companies that are not in the Research and Development industry use their website for R&D?  Very few! Most website hosts and blog platforms have easy to use Polls which you can add to your posts. So use them to find out all the information you can about your customers,  and what needs they have. Do surveys in order to reduce unnecessary work and streamline your operations.

wfm12Check four! Chat boards.

Let your visitors get to know one another. This is not a new concept. Many companies have bulletin boards or chat boards, where visitors can interact with other visitors and share information from fitness tips, music they like, to movies to see, live events to attend, or anything they want. The conversations never has anything to do with the company or what they offer. The idea is to keep visitors coming back to your site to check the latest on the topics they are interested in. Let them share things about them and you might learn a lot more about your target demographic.

catgiphy (1)Check Five! Show off your VIP’s. 

Your customers, loyal fans, or other people in your fields can contribute to your blog, and they can increase engagement. Enable your website to offer them the ability to create their own profile and share valuable information or exchange stories with your readers. By letting others speak for you, they bridge the gap between the brand and the consumer. Open your doors so they can grab your visitors’ attention.

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What Is The Secret To Your Success?

What Is The Secret To Your Success?

We have been a fan of  Melanie Hook, a photographer in Cape Town for quite some time now. She has been all over the world, and captured beauty wherever she went.

What strikes us about her, is her passion.  We dedicate this post to Mel Hook, as her passion inspires us.

You can follow her on Facebook and Pinterest. For those who live in Cape Town, she is the owner Hooked On Fitness, a private home based gym with NO Queues, where she is your qualified one-on-one personal trainer!

Successful people like Melanie, always say “it is my passion”  when asked about what made them a success. Chances are that if you have a business, it is something you are passionate about. The same goes for your hobby.

If you cook, arrange flowers, take photos, write stories, or believe in your unique ability so much that the thought of failure does not scare you, that is a passion. If it makes you smile, get out of bed and be nice to your momma, then that is something worth investing in.  You need to turn that passion into a business and show it off to the world! How would you do that?

“The secret ingredient to your success is a effective web presence!”

Your blog is the place where you welcome visitors into “your home” and let your personality shine. Grab your visitor’s attention with what you can offer them, rather than your product. Your website is your sales platform, and also the place to handle customer queries, among other things. There are many social media platforms you can use to get your name out there, and we have covered their importance in business previously-  Social Media.  But most importantly, a web presence means interaction! You need to interact with your influencers, customers and follow the conversations of your competitors to stay ahead of the game.

In the famous words of Oprah: “Follow your passion and live your best life!”

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The Secret Behind Mom and Pop Stores

The Secret Behind Mom and Pop Stores

The Secret Behind Mom & Pop Stores – Everyone’s in on it!

There is a big move away from Franchises and Corporate companies, as customers are starting to support the small business owner.

What’s old is new and what’s small is big again!  Everyone is on it.

We love supporting the local grocers, bakers, electricians, mechanics and butchers. Occasionally even the local liquor store, or as we like to call it, the pharmacy!

Why? We give you exhibit A!

 

Even though their numbers are dwindled in the suburbs and cities alike, Mom & Pop stores have remained a constant since childhood. Nostalgia aside, they have not sacrificed their humanity for profit, unlike franchises. In order to survive they have diversified and still kept their unique ability to provide “the personal touch” to customers.

“They offer the best and most personalized experience and customer satisfaction”.

For that reason core customers return again and again, not to buy a specific brand, but to buy LOCAL and get that experience. These core customers outspend the rest and offer valuable word-by-mouth advertising. There aren’t enough coupons or point systems in the worlds the compete with the power of that!

Some major stores like Tesco, Whole Foods and Walmart, to name a few, have already begun to move into smaller spaces  a long time ago, in order to provide a “specialized” service for locals. They have done away with the big shelf space and large inventory to stock low cost necessities to gain entry into this niche.

Mom and Pop stores will however remain the future because they offer something that Tesco and the likes never will. They offer a sense of community and loyalty to their own community. They instill a sense of belonging, and provide customers with honesty, care and peace of mind.

When is the last time your service provider, or chain store provided that?

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How Small Business Is Making The World A Better Place

How Small Business Is Making The World A Better Place

Now is the time to start your small business. Grow your hobby into cash making machine! So many people think big business drives the world. The fact it, it is small business and their loyal customers.

Here’s how your small business makes the world a better place:

Economic Growth

Small businesses are well placed to build personal relationships with customers, employees, and suppliers. There is little hierarchy or chain of command. With a small business you know who you are dealing with; you can ‘put a face’ to the person you are in contact with. Person-to-person interaction is as important as ever in building strong relationships. Your small business contribute to the local economy by bringing growth and innovation to your community. You also help stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities to people who may not be employable by larger corporations. Small businesses tend to attract talent who invent new products or implement new solutions for existing ideas. They are well positioned and have less hassle to introduce and develop new ideas. Larger businesses also often benefit from small businesses within the same local community, as many large corporations depend on small businesses for the completion of various business functions through outsourcing.
Adaptability and Flexibility

Large businesses may have set ways of operating and establish procedures that are hard to change. Small businesses are often far more flexible. It can also reach a quick decision on whether or not it can do what is required. Your small business also possess the ability to respond and adapt quickly to changing economic climates. This is due to the fact that small businesses are often very customer-oriented. Many local customers will remain loyal to their favorite small businesses in the midst of an economic crisis. This loyalty means that small businesses are often able to stay afloat during tough times, which can further strengthen local economies. Small businesses also accumulate less revenue than larger corporations, meaning they may have less to lose in times of economic crisis.

 

“Every business was small once. Through good personal relationships, excellent service and competitive pricing, they have grown.”

Schools and Local Government Offices

Due to the lower overhead costs of small business, their prices are cheaper. They can also enter into several different markets, whereas large corporations are more bound to their core business. When consumers patronize local small businesses, they are essentially giving money back to their local community. A thriving local business will generate high levels of revenue, which means that the business will pay higher taxes, including local taxes. This money is then used for local police and fire departments as well as schools.
Future Growth

Small businesses do not always stay small. Large corporations, such as Nike and Ben and Jerry’s, started off as small businesses that grew to become major players in the national and international marketplace. Many computer-industry leaders began as “tinkerers,” working on hand-assembled machines out of their garages. Microsoft is a prime example of how a small business idea can change the world. Small businesses that grow into large businesses often remain in the community in which the business was first established. Having a large corporation headquartered in a community can further help provide employment and stimulate the local economy.

 

Every business was small once. Through good personal relationships, excellent service and competitive pricing, they have grown. Your small business can become something amazing! All you have to do, is get the right people behind you.

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