A strategic alliance is a relationship between two (or more) parties to pursue a set of agreed upon goals or to meet a critical business need while remaining separate businesses or entities. Partnering with people or companies who have a similar customer base must benefit both parties equally and have full commitment buy-in from each partner. When planned and executed properly, a strategic alliance can exponentially increase the success of a campaign or launch.
A consulting client recently confessed to me that his Facebook news stream is overwhelming him and he’s ready to give up on the brand visibility strategy we’ve outlined for building his personal brand through social media. I asked him to make a list of the top 25 people he’d most like to do business with, be on stage with or have as a strategic partner. He was able to make that list in just minutes, of course, because when he focused on his business goal, it was easy to identify those people most likely to be a part of that goal. This social media strategy technique saves him time daily.
Strategic Influence Building
I showed him how to put each of those top 25 influencers into a Facebook Interest List, which we called A-List Influencers. Now he can filter his news stream each morning and quickly scan the posts of the people he most wants to connect with and add to their conversations, comment, compliment, create value and in general develop a relationship with these highly desirable contacts. Facebook will always revert back to the standard news feed view but any time he wants to check in on his A-List Influencers, he can do so with just a click.
The promise of social media as the top of a profitable funnel can be the shiny object of marketing tools. Converting “Likes” to leads, however, requires a strategic use of social media rather than thinking of social media simply as a broadcasting tool.
A conversion focused social media strategy should bring a lead into the marketing funnel, capture the lead, create the opportunity and incentives to convert the lead (through either a sale or a partnership or a request for further information), engage that new partner/client and motivate the partner/client to transform into a brand evangelizer by providing them with the tools and incentives to recreate the cycle.
Social Media is a massive permission based marketing opportunity for entrepreneurs.
Social media platforms are where a large pool of potential clients spend their discretionary time. Developing a brand messaging strategy to engage with these potential customers requires understanding the language spoken on each social platform and integrating the social campaign with off-line campaign.
*Editor’s Note: The video you feature must be hosted on YouTube.
YouTube quietly added a new feature to the platform that will help small businesses, cash strapped start-ups, entrepreneurs, authors, speakers and coaches promote their brands, in just a few simple steps, across all of their YouTube videos.
InVideo Programming allows users to insert a branded logo or even another video into the corner of all currently uploaded videos on an individual’s YouTube Channel, all at once.
Branding With a Logo or Video
Imagine that as a small business owner you are creating short informational videos and posting them to YouTube. Next you share them through e-mail or through Facebook and even your business website* (your video must be hosted on YouTube, even if it’s featured on your website). Now with InVideo Programming, you’ll be able to embed another video into the corner of your informational video–say an announcement about a big launch, sale or special event–and ever consumer facing touch point for the original informational video now becomes an invitation to view the special announcement video in just one click.
I once had a boss who asked me why we published so many books that were not bestsellers. He wanted to know why we didn’t just publish the bestselling ones and reject the rest. It was a naive question, but one that crops up in every industry. Why don’t we all just launch the profitable ideas and not the mistakes? Shouldn’t there be a way to determine if a product or service or book will succeed before we invest time, money and resources in launching?
There isn’t a truly foolproof solution or we’d all be rich, no book would go unread, every product would have thousands of raving fans and marketing would be pointless. But there are questions that publishers and Fortune 500 companies alike ask themselves before they invest in materials, resources, marketing and everything else that goes into bringing a product or service from the idea stage to the marketplace. And, entrepreneurs need to ask themselves those same questions before they launch because their time, money and resources are their primary investment start up tools.
Every day thousands of fantastic articles and marketing ideas for entrepreneurs and small business owners come streaming onto the web, and throughout social media. What’s a busy entrepreneur to do. You can’t read everything. You can email yourself great links to articles you want to read later or save the links to a private circle on G+ or even bookmark them for handy reference. I use the G+ strategy most of the time and add sites that regularly deliver to my Google Reader account.
For those who haven’t yet figured out how to scan the headlines and save the best for later, here are a few ideas are so creative and useful that I want to make sure you don’t miss them. I’ve added short introductory paragraph to tell you why they’re worth your time to click through and read and possibly save. But all of these have ideas that you can use, right now, to amp up the action on your marketing.
Entrepreneurs not only create a product or service and become their own Chief Marketing Officer, Publicity Director and Head of Sales. Many entrepreneurs are not, however, comfortable with the sales end of business.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. There are countless trainings and teachers who can teach you their own step by step guides to identifying leads, pitching the product or service and closing the deal. But without a fundamental shift in the way the entrepreneur views his or her own value, the sales cycle will still stand as a huge challenge; a personal boulder in the road to success.
Identifying your “genius spot” is an important business asset. Knowing what you’re good at and more importantly, what you’re not good at, will save you time, money and frustration.
Entrepreneurs must learn to play in their Genius spot.
Start up entrepreneurs must often be their own financial advisor, tech expert, sales force, marketing and publicity team, and personal assistant. All responsibilities that a larger company would delegate to a full time employee. Doing these things yourself can leave an entrepreneur with little to no time to do what he or she went into business to do in the first place.
Making the commitment to find your genius spot and put the majority of your energy and time there can accelerate your business growth. Outsource those things that drain your time and energy to make room for your genius spot.
Which tasks in my business day absolutely must be done by me and no one else? Most likely the answer to this question includes creating your product concepts and delivering your services.
Which tasks could be done by someone else under my supervision? This could include your bookkeeping, mailings, design work, implementation of your marketing plan, and your legal work.
Which tasks can be completely outsourced with very little supervision by me? Perhaps, computer and software updates and maintenance, travel arrangements, supply ordering, printing.
What is the cost of continuing to do everything myself? The cost of doing it all yourself could be the failure of your business as you burn out or produce less. Compare that to the cost of outsourcing some tasks and the cost comes into perspective.
Virtual assistants, temps, freelancers and other options are used by Fortune 500 companies when needed to supplement their workforce and keep productivity and performance at peak levels. Consider whether you ought to borrow this success tip from the big players and outsource some tasks.
Let’s inspire one another. What could you outsource, right now, to create space for you to play in your genius spot.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners usually start with a great idea and a passion for their product. They open their doors, ready for new business and suddenly realize that they’re not only the product creator or service provider, but now they are also their own Chief Marketing Officer and publicity director. These are all too frequently role most new business owners are schooled to skillfully fill. Most new business owners say they wish they’d had a Beginner’s Guide to Marketing tutorial.
The responsibilities of the CMO are simple. Create both a short term strategy to promote the service or product you offer to the ideal customer and a long term strategy to retain that customer and sell them additional products or services.
Attraction and retention are two different strategies. And retention depends on attracting the ideal client in the first place, delivering a product that is a good fit with the client needs and a third element that is a little more ethereal, emotional experience.
Today, let’s talk about easy, low-cost attraction techniques that entrepreneurs can put into practice right away.
What words are your ideal customer typing into Google, right now, to find what you offer? Those are your keywords.
Your digital footprint is the new equivalent to listing your business in the yellow pages. Right now there are more than enough people typing “where can I find your product or service” into Google to keep your company afloat. Your job is to help search engines serve up your links to that motivated customer. How do you do that? By thinking like the customer. What words are your ideal customer typing into Google, right now, to find what you offer? Those are your keywords and you need to be using them in every consumer facing piece of promotion your create including blog posts, videos, press releases, social media bios, advertising and listings in professional business organizations. Write that list of 10-25 keywords or phrases on a piece of paper and tack it to your wall. Use those words strategically and logically in your messaging to help new customers find you.
Your best, and least expensive, promotional resource is a happy customer. A happy customer is usually delighted to give you a referral or testimonial if you ask. Make asking a routine part of your sales and delivery cycle. At the end of a sale, service or contract, ask your client or customer if the product or service you provided helped them and if there was anything, at all, that would keep them from recommending you to others. If they have a concern or any unfinished business, this will be your opportunity to resolve that and turn a somewhat satisfied customer into a delighted customer. Once you are sure your customer is happy, ask them if they would be willing to give you an endorsement either in the form of a quote, a survey or a short video testimonial. Ask their permission to use their name, likeness, quote or experience on your website to help other people learn about your business. Then, strategically and methodically, use those customer generated endorsements to demonstrate the value of your product or service.
Helping people find you is the first step to convincing people to do business with you. Endorsements by past satisfied customers demonstrate authority in your field, and bonus offers are samples of your work. Letting people try before they buy is one of the lowest cost marketing strategies available to entrepreneurs and small business owners. Some try before you buy bonus offers might be:
- A free 15-minute consultation to help customers determine if your services are right for them
- A free sample of your work in the form of a white paper, a case study, a sample of a physical product
- A group offering such as a free webinar or teleseminar that demonstrates your authority and offering
- An e-book with information of value to your ideal customer
By creating a large digital footprint, using your keyword strategy in every consumer facing marketing message, asking for testimonials, demonstrating your value through sampling and consistently delivering high quality products or services, you’ve developed a marketing strategy that becomes a part of your business DNA and helps attract and retain customers and clients.
2015 UPDATE: Since the writing of this blog post there have been several updates to the Facebook page design. The tab app “boxes” are now located on the left hand side of your page and not displayed underneath the cover photo. All the other instructions, below, are still valid and creating a custom image for your Apps is very easy to do. Any questions about this or other social media marketing strategies can be directed to me on Facebook at https://cindyratzlaff.com/BrandNewBrandYou.
Now that the default landing tab is gone and all tabs are now “views and apps” according to Facebook, brands have an opportunity to customize the image that invites a fan to engage with a custom app.
Custom images for Apps Are the New Advertising on Facebook Fan Pages
There are four boxes “above the fold” on the new Facebook Fan Page Timeline. The first position is occupied by the Photos app. This box position is permanent and cannot be moved to another position. The next three boxes to the right of photos can be moved, customized and featured at will, IF you created the app (or former tab). If it is one of the suite of apps created by Facebook, you cannot change the image. If the app was created by a third party, the option to change the image is controlled by the third party app and you should check with them. But if you created the app, you can change the image.
Step-by-step guide to customizing the app image on your Facebook Fan Page wall.
- Make sure you have enabled the preview of Timeline on your Facebook page by clicking the blue “preview” you will see at the top of every fan page that has not yet migrated to Timeline.
- Click the down arrow at the right hand side of the currently visible apps just underneath your page name and cover photo space to reveal all of your former tabs, now referred to as “views and apps” in Facebook language.
- Select the app you would like to customize and mouse over the upper right hand corner to reveal a pencil. Click the pencil to reveal a drop down menu.
- Go all the way to the bottom of the drop down menu and click on “edit settings.”
- You’ll now see a box that allows you to name the app and a link to change the custom image. After keying in the new name of your app, click on the “Change” link.
- You’ll be taken to a page where you can upload a custom image. Click on the “Change” link on this page.
- The familiar “Browse” option will pop onto the screen allowing you to upload an image from your desktop. Facebook recommends 111 px wide by 74 px high and will resize and convert images that are larger. I’ve had great luck with 280 x 180 sized images. Select the desired image from your computer and upload. There is no save button. Don’t waste time looking for it. Now go back to your page and look at the box image. The customized image is in place.
That’s all there is to it. You can change these images whenever you like and you can feature a new set of custom apps “above the fold” on Facebook Fan Pages whenever you like.
You can post a link directly to your custom app in your timeline and pin it to the top of your page for seven days to give it extra importance. I’ve created some simple custom designs for apps here to show you what’s possible. I’d love to see yours, too, so feel free to post a link to your custom apps below so we can inspire one another.