Tag Archives: tips

Short attention span

I am a tremendous multi-tasker.  I am doing more than one thing at a time, most of the time.  I also have a very short attention span.  Which means I get bored pretty quickly.  I have talked to lots of people who do as well and they tell me that is why they don’t stick to an exercise program.  I completely understand!  *hand up* me too!  I don’t even take the dogs on the same route each day for their walk!

I’ve been pretty successful over the last 3 1/2 years at keeping boredom at bay by doing the following:

  • I’m very fortunate with my fitness club.  Western Racquet has a set class schedule but the content of the classes are always different.  (Other than Step class for which the choreography is the same for the month and it just takes a while to learn it … fortunately for me!)  They also add/drop classes depending on demand/response. But, finding classes that aren’t the same over and over is helpful.
  • When I can’t get to a scheduled class, or when I’m out of town, I have found MyFitStation on Facebook as well as mydreamshape.com.  They post a monthly workout calendar and each day is a different workout.  They are all planned out so I don’t have to do so, but they are varied without me having to figure out my own plan so I don’t get bored or frustrated.  Pinterest is also a great source for workouts you can do on your own.
  • I occasionally throw in something completely different to change it up.  Like Belly Dancing or a bike ride or something.  Just a curve ball to make it feel new.  I am thinking of going back to racquetball again and I haven’t tried that in well over 20 years!
  • While I, in general, like it better when I work out with other people (a friend or in a class), sometimes I just like to put the ear buds in and tune out the world. I hop on the elliptical or the Stairmaster and read while I work out on the machine.  That also takes my mind off how hard the workout is since I’m without the encouragement of a class instructor.
  • I have had a few personal training sessions and while I’ve enjoyed those workouts; I’m just not sure that is something worth it for me for either the workout value or for the cost value.  I sort of feel, well, a little picked on with most trainers!  The two I’ve worked with recently haven’t made me feel like that at all and I’ve benefited from their coaching in how to do some exercises correctly that I hadn’t been.  I think that will prevent me from injury and also give me the best benefit from the work.  So … jury out for me on personal training but if you need a push or a jump or a little snazz it up … maybe try it!

If you have trouble sticking to a workout schedule, it may not be you or even the specific workouts – you just may need some change up.  I know I would never have last 3 months let alone 3 years if I did the same 3 or 4 workouts all the time.  *ick* You know what they say about variety?  Well, it is the spice of your fitness life too.

Have a great week!

Social Media Friday: Are Your Facebook Fans Connected with You?

When analyzing and judging your Facebook plan and its success (and I’m presuming you do … right?), do you take into account that only about 17 percent (source) of your business’ Facebook fans see your posts?

Some studies suggest the percentage might be as low as 3 percent. That means that even if you are doing well growing your fan base, the actual number of people seeing your posts is probably much lower than you think.

If your posts aren’t seen, your success will suffer.

Take a look at your Facebook Page.

Do you see a long list of posts with only a few comments, likes, or shares? That’s a problem because it informs Facebook that your fans lack interest, and generally have a weak relationship with your page.

Facebook has an algorithm known as EdgeRank, which decides if a post should go into your fans’ newsfeeds. If EdgeRank decides that your post doesn’t cut the mustard, it won’t show up.

The way to get more of your posts seen by your page’s fans is to make sure that Facebook can tell that their relationship to you is strong enough to warrant putting it in their newsfeed.

There are strategies that tell Facebook that the relationships they have with their fans are strong. One is to post the kind of content that more people chose to comment on, share, and like.

What to post? Photos, especially images of people your fans know.

Did you recently host an event or have a sale that someone took pictures of?

Hopefully you took lots of photos of your customers. Post those images, making sure you tag each person in each photo. Yes, this requires you to be a Facebook friend of the people you tag, which means they have confirmed a friend request from you, or you have confirmed one from them.

Another quick and easy social media plan is to visit your friends’ pages, as your page, and connect with them.

Look for posts on your friends’ pages that are generating interest, then contribute to the conversation.

All the commenters are then exposed to your page and have the opportunity to become fans.

This kind of proactive engagement is a great way to introduce your fan page to a wider audience.

Especially look for pages with high fan counts and heavy activity.

If you want to figure out your Facebook page’s engagement percentage do this:

As an administrator of your page, click on the Insights link. Scroll down until you can see the chart with your latest posts.

Add up the “Reach” of the 10 latest posts. Divide by 10 to get the average. Divide that average by your total number of fans. That will give you your actual reach percentage.

What is your business’ engagement percentage? How does that fit in with your social media strategy? What social media tips do you have for other businesses? What has worked for you?

Preventing Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is not something we generally talk about or want to think about.  However, while we can’t completely insulate our worksites and our employees from it, there are things we can do.  According to SACS Security in Akron, Ohio, here is a 6 step approach for preventing and responding to workplace violence:

  1. SMART HIRING. Know what kind of person you are bringing into your organization.
  2. SUBSTANCE ABUSE. Drugs and alcohol problems drastically increase your chances of all levels of workplace violence. Keep them out with policy, training and testing.
  3. MANAGEMENT TRAINING. Managers cannot stop what they do not see. Train them to recognize the signs and be proactive.
  4. POLICY. Have a dedicated workplace violence policy. It tells your employees management is serious about the subject and concerned for their security.
  5. PHYSICAL SECURITY. Identify your risks and mitigate them with proper physical security measures.
  6. DE-ESCALATING AGGRESSION. Managers and customer contact employees need to know how to properly deal with angry employees, clients or visitors.

An additional step to insulating your site & people:  don’t insulate yourself or others in ownership/management from what is happening in your workplace and, to the extent advisable, your employees’ lives.  Don’t snoop – just don’t close your eyes to what may be happening.  Intervene in a positive, caring, proactive way.  Not only may you help a valued member of your team, but you just might save lives.

Four what!?? 7 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Take a Look at Foursquare

I’m going to be brutally honest and admit I’ve really struggled with Foursquare.  A few days ago when blogging about Twitter, I shared the reason we’ve used the Chamber logo instead of my photo at Twitter is because I don’t want it to be about me.  Foursquare, to me, was the ultimate in “all about me.”

If you don’t know what Foursquare is, I’ll give you my thumbnail description:  Foursquare is a self-identified personal “where are you now” service.  Kind of like “Where’s Waldo” without the red striped shirt.  You check-in where you are, Foursquare tells everyone and, well, stuff happens.

If I didn’t get Twitter at first, I *really* didn’t get Foursquare.  Honestly, if people don’t care that I’m getting coffee, then they definitely don’t care I’m getting it at Luna Cafe! Plus, I love my Blackberry and have no immediate desire to get an iPhone (though I love my MacBook Pro and seriously covet an iPad2!) and with Blackberry you have to proactively login to Foursquare and check-in each time you go somewhere.  Typically, I have seventeen things going on in my head at the same time (remember the shiny I mentioned yesterday about blogging?) and having to *remind* myself to tell the world I’m at the grocery store is JUST not a priority.

BUT!  BUT! As I keep saying, it isn’t all about me and there are some really good reasons to use Foursquare, both personally and for business.  Today’s guest article explains it FAR better than I can!  The article comes from ducttapemarketing.com another hidden gem of  site I found via Google.  (No!  I don’t own stock … don’t I wish I’d be that smart!?)

From John Jantsch:

In an end of the year prediction post I wrote for OPEN Forum, I listed location aware social media tools as something that would get big time attention in 2010. (See: 5 Trends that Will Shape Small Business in 2010)

foursquare for businessThe idea behind location awareness is that people will use the GPS capabilities in today’s mobile devices to check-in, tweet, review, and refer and add their location while doing so. Today I would like to talk about what I think is one of the first location aware services that is already beginning to impact small business.

The service is called Foursquare and while it’s receiving lots of hype from the bleeding edge social media types as the next Twitter, it may be totally foreign, or at least nonsensical, to many small business owners. While I want to use this post to introduce you to Foursquare, keep in mind that my primary point of view is that of the small business marketer and what I believe Foursquare has to offer, and not really the Foursquare user per se.

Having said that I do first feel the need to give you an overview of Foursquare.

The big picture

Foursquare is a location enabled service that allows users to “check in” when then stop at a bar, restaurant, park, bookstore or really anywhere they want to list. The service further allows users to connect with friends and alert them of your location if you choose. There are other services that have tackled this basic function, such as Loopt, Brightkite, Gowalla, and even Google Latitude, but Foursquare also turned this activity into a game: a point that I believe led to its current role as a leader in this evolving space. (I’m also keeping an eye on Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s location play in private beta called Square)

Foursquare is self-described as – “Think: 50% friend-finder, 30% social cityguide, 20% nightlife game.”

Users compete with check-ins to earn points for their city, badges for various types of activity and to become mayor of frequented spots. Just like Twitter back in early 2007 none of this makes much sense until you play with it a while and until you have some folks to follow and connect with. (In fact, it doesn’t really make that much sense then, but there’s something sort of addictive about it.)

Users also add and update information about businesses, write tips and make suggestions for anyone to consume. This rating and reviewing function treads on the turf of services such as Yelp! and acts as another data point for people trying to locate a good pizza on the Upper East Side for example.

Foursquare is set-up around cities and enhances the kind of neighborhood, hyper-local, branding and community building that is so important to local type small businesses. The service is currently available in a growing list of cities and is driven by iPhone, Android and Blackberry apps. Check out the Foursquare help page for some more detail.

OK and now on the real reason I’m writing today. I’m not ready to suggest that every business rush to Foursquare as the next red hot thing, not yet anyway, but I do want to point our a handful of reasons that many small business should start paying attention to this growing force, even if you don’t get it.

Below are seven reasons why I think Foursquare may hold promise for small business

1) Hyper local, tech savvy, evangelists – Foursquare user are people that really love their neighborhoods, getting out and evangelizing the businesses they love. This tech savvy, early adopter is exactly the kind of consumer business should kill for as they often influence large circles. Embracing Foursquare and giving these tech leaders the tools to promote your business is just plain smart business.

2) Online offline – I’ve been writing a lot about this lately, but Foursquare is yet another way for local business to use the efficient online tools to drive more in-person, offline activity. People are physically checking in to your business and talking about online in what can turn into a tremendously effective one-two punch.

3) Make offers – On a recent trip to Chicago I checked into my Marriott on Foursquare and immediately received notice that three nearby businesses had a special offer for me. Currently Foursquare allows just about any business to use their platform to offer deals and promotions to users. You can visit the Foursquare business page to get your business signed up. It’s free for now, but I’m guessing this is big revenue piece for them in the future.

4) Track and reward – Foursquare’s gaming functionality allows businesses to create special promotions for mayors and badge earners and in effect setting up a competition among their most loyal fans. The image below comes from a special promotion hosted by blynk organic, a restaurant in North Carolina. By creating and communicating Foursquare’s tools and platform you can begin to educate customers and create Foursquare advocates for your business. Some bars and restaurants routinely promote free offers for mayors.

5) The power of making it a game – One of the most intriguing aspects of Foursquare is the game. It’s amazing what some folks will do in order to win a game, come in first or, in this case, be the mayor of a popular spot. Gaming and entertainment are huge money winners (video games rival the movie industry in sales) and any small business that can find ways to add gaming elements tied to patronizing a business may just find a real competitive edge.

6) Automated CRM data – So many small businesses have little of no way to track customer behavior. A coffee shop may have a patron that comes in daily for years, but they have no way to track anything other than a face and friendly smile. Every business should find ways to capture everything they can about a customer. Obviously email is a great tool and can be very effective for follow up marketing. Foursquare usage however goes far beyond that. Foursquare can provide business owners with check-in stats for users. What this means is that the customer that comes in every day can now be tracked and even incentivized to get a free cup of coffee for every tenth check-in. It’s like the digital/social version of the loyalty card. Please tell me you see this as huge potential.

7) Sync with Twitter and Facebook – Like all good social media platforms Foursquare understood the need to integrate with platforms that others already use. Foursquare users have the option to tweet or add a Facebook status update every time they check-in. What this means is that a Facebook user with a few hundred friends might expose your business by way of a Foursquare check-in to thousands of Facebook walls. While many of those folks on Twitter or Facebook may not be in your part of town, I’m thinking it’s still a pretty good thing for the brand.

While I’ll caution again that Foursquare might not be the highest priority for many businesses, it’s something that is coming and will be put to use by businesses outside of the retail and entertainment world (I can already imaging how real estate agents could use this.) Businesses that get how to use, stimulate adoption and promote Foursquare now could hold a significant advantage when and if Foursquare becomes the next Twitter.

A word from your sponsor… okay, it’s just Cheryl again!  Changing voice when writing and everyone is in the first person is tricky!!  I am VERY sporadic with Foursquare and really only use it well when I’m on vacation, probably because my “to do” list in my head is much quieter then.  I do have some other reservations rooted in privacy and personal safety, but, I’d say be smart, be judicious .. but check it out. You may love it personally, there are deals out there to be found and if you are a retail, bar/restaurant or other consumer based business that needs word-of-mouth and foot traffic; you *really* should check out Foursquare!

The last post for this week of social media tomorrow will be on overall social media marketing essentials & strategies.  See you tomorrow!

18 Twitter Tips for Small Business & Business Association

This guest article is from Frank J Kenny’s blog.  It’s Monday, so time to get set for the week!  This week’s focus will be social media and tips on it’s use.

This blog post is focused on using Twitter to create awareness and build loyalty (retention) with the folks in your target market.

As I have written many times before, there are 3 goals available to you in social media and Internet marketing. Let’s concentrate today on the first two.

  1. Awareness
  2. Retention
  3. Acquisition

Notice that I wrote about folks in your target market. It is important to keep your target market in mind. That isn’t to say that you can’t use Twitter to stay in touch and build stronger relationships with your friends and family. But if you are serious about using social media marketing for business, it is imperative that you know your target market and that you search them out.

In no particular order, here are some points to consider when using Twitter for small business and association marketing.

  • Create a fun bio that shows you have a personality but also expertise in your niche. If you are an accountant, include that you are a CPA but also say that you love skiing or your grand-kids. The bio is critical. Play with it a bit. You will find that once you have a fun and fresh bio that establishes your expertise more people will follow you.
  • Follow people in your target market. Many will follow you back. Don’t think that you must know them personally. And don’t worry about following too many. Too few is a bigger problem than too many.
  • Think of Twitter as broadcasting on the radio. Sure, not everyone will see your tweets. That is OK. Not everyone hears a radio broadcast. Feel free to post the same general thought or link a couple of times in a day. The people on Twitter come and go, just as listeners to radio stations.
  • If you are running a business association, follow all of your members who are using Twitter. RT them often.
  • Check out the “followers list” of your contacts. Follow those in your target market or industry. Build up those counts.
  • ReTweet (RT) folks as a gift. Give Gifts. Be Generous.
  • Use TweetDeck. Organize your contacts into columns.
  • Put you Twitter I.D. in all your email signatures and marketing pieces.
  • Watch your spelling and grammar. People will have little to judge you on in the beginning so make sure you are at your best in this area.
  • If you don’t have a link to share or something fun to offer, post a quote. People love quotes.
  • Make your posts short enough for retweets. I see this mistake all the time. You only have room for 140 characters, including the RT and URL. Use a URL shortener to save room. TweetDeck does this automatically for you.
  • It is nice to create a custom background but not necessary.
  • On Fridays, do the #FF and promote people in your target market or industry. By helping them stand out, you stand out.
  • Don’t automate your tweets. Social media is all about relationships, not advertising. We have got to get out of the push advertising mindset and into the Give Gifts. Be Generous. mindset.

BACK TO ME TALKING!  Quite honestly, it took me a while to get my head around Twitter.  I just could not see beyond momentary updates and let’s face it *I* don’t care that I’m going to get more coffee – so why would anyone else.  But, after Pat Olejniczak from the Kress Inn messaged me several times and then harassed me in person with, “Hey, Cheryl!  DePereChamber is still available on Twitter…”  I finally signed up to get him to stop already!  But, then … thank you Pat!  I *got* it.  This was a way to develop relationships with people who really only want & need quick hits of information about the Chamber, our doings, our members and news from the De Pere area.

Yes, I have told Pat he was right all along yet he never tires of hearing it!    Try it, follow these tips – use it well & wisely and believe me, you’ll be thanking him too!

Tomorrow … Facebook!

Blogging – a report from a 30 minute crash course

Blogging more consistently, and better, is not a New Year’s resolution for me, it was a November resolution.  My birthday is the 1st and I often do resolutions then instead of New Years Day.

Last year in March, I attended the National Main Street Conference in Chicago and while there, went to a session on Blogging.  I was very much stumbling around with trying to figure out blogging and all the whys & wherefores of it.  I hope I’ve progressed from then!  I just found these notes and as they were helpful to me, I thought I’d share them.

Why blog?

  • Provides outlet for you to share news/info that YOU control
  • Allows for instant feedback
  • Engages your community
  • Ability to find new volunteers

Blog=Website but Website does NOT=Blog

Rules:

  1. It’s about the conversation!
  2. Quality not quantity (word count doesn’t!!)

About engaging your readers:

  • Ask questions (use comment feature)
    • Create a comment policy
  • Add multimedia content
    • Video
    • Audio
    • Photo
  • Provide new content often (2-3 days/week)
  • Short, concise posts

Gathering content

  • Automated searches
    • Google Alerts
    • Yahoo Alerts
  • Creative Commons

How will people find it?

  • Email signatures
  • Social media networks
    • Facebook
    • MySpace
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
  • Bookmarklets
    • Share This
    • Add This
  • Link to other blogs/websites
  • Traditional marketing methods

Tips

  • Link to other sites – OFTEN!
  • Be ready for (and open to) critcism
  • Be yourself
  • Engage your community (volunteers)
  • Showcase your business/volunteer commitments
  • Invite people to write guest posts

Should I be blogging?

  • Know your audience (will they read?)
  • Do you have time?
  • Do you have something to say?
  • Remember what Demetrio said, you want to:
    • Persuade
    • Inform
    • Educate
    • Entertain

I hope to keep making my blog better and better this next year.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on my blog and would be very interested in reading your blog if you take the plunge.  Just comment with a link and I’ll read you!!

Holiday season home stretch tips for retailers

We all know how critical this period of time is for retailers.  A few must do last minute tips —

  • Have all salespeople read company ads, catalogs and distributed literature before customers come in with questions and inquiries. Also check out the ads of the competition. If your competition has a Facebook page – become a fan so you know what information they are passing on to customers.
  • Establish dress codes for employees and enforcing these dress codes. Employees are the representatives of the business and should project the image the business wants to convey.
  • Greet everyone who walks through the door. Coming up with five different greetings — so customers don’t hear the same greeting over and over when shopping in the store.
  • Have employees identify themselves when answering the phone. This adds a professional touch and provides the caller with a person to identify with on the other end of the line.
  • Clean up the cash-wrap area as-you-go and put everything in its place. Customers are concerned about transaction accuracy and your services, i.e., shipping, if this area is a mess.
  • Listen, really listen to customers. If you don’t really listen and show customers the wrong merchandise — they will assume you don’t have what they are looking for and leave.
  • Stock and clean during hours when the store is not open. Doing these chores when the store is open is inconsiderate to shoppers and doesn’t convey a professional image.
  • Get everyone on board. Ensuring that everyone in the organization understands what the winning advantage is and what their role is in supporting it.
  • Stay in contact with your customer base — contact customers who shop in your store regularly. You can use email or regular mail. I recommend you call your very best customers yourself. Tell them what’s going on and why they need to drop into your store. If they need a little more persuasion — let them know that a gift certificate for $5 is waiting for them to start their Christmas shopping in your store.
  • Build your database. It’s a very busy time of year but don’t forget to capture customers contact info to grow your database. Your database is “gold” to you.
  • Store and window display lighting. Add at least 30% more light in your store; it will affect the way your store looks and help sell more product. It can be as easy as replacing light bulbs that have burnt out.
  • Focus on selling. Teach your staff to show just one more item to every customer that they talk too. Don’t forget add on sales at the cash register.
  • Tone in the store — this can be many things. I like to see enthusiastic, happy staff all pulling together to achieve this Holidays Seasons’ goals with a focus on exceptional customer service.
  • Hands free shopping — offer customers a basket, a bag or cart. Take your customer’s coats and other bags, offer to look after them. Do what ever it takes to make your customers feel wanted and cared for. Creating this type of shopping experience will keep customers in your store longer and will increase sales.
  • Daily sales targets — should be shared with your staff. They should know what is expected of them and what the goals of the store are. Create a sales culture in your store.
  • You alone are the driving force in your business. Get out on the sales floor more often over the next weeks.
  • Watch your sales increase. They always do when the boss shows up!

Today’s tips are from Barbara Wold, Author and Business Strategist

Tweeting? No – I’m not asking if you are a bird!

I know there have been many (many!) “social  networking” “social media” seminars lately and I’ve been to a few.

What did I know before I went?

  1. If you aren’t in the social media mode, you need to be because your customers increasingly are and your competitors are (or will be)
  2. If you aren’t in yet, you need to have it as part of your overall communications and media strategy (be able to define that you: know your product, your customers, your potential customers and your competitors)
  3. It takes additional time, but is a necessity.
  4. If you aren’t in yet – get in.

What did I know after I went?

All of the above!!

Here is a Twitter 101 for businesses.  I’m not going to post it all, just a few highlights and a LINK HERE to the whole article.

So what does Twitter do for businesses?

Twitter is a communication platform that helps businesses stay connected to their customers. As a business, you can use it to quickly share information with people interested in your company, gather real-time market intelligence and feedback, and build relationships with customers, partners and other people who care about your company. As an individual user, you can use Twitter to tell a company (or anyone else) that you’ve had a great—or disappointing—experience with their business, offer product ideas, and learn about great offers.

So how does it work?

Twitter lets you write and read messages of up to 140 characters, or the very length of this sentence, including all punctuation and spaces. The messages are public and you decide what sort of messages you want to receive—Twitter being a recipient driven information network.  (it is about the reader, not the poster)

So how do businesses use Twitter?

Twitter connects you to your customers right now, in a way that was never before possible. For example, let’s say you work for a custom bike company. If you run a search for your brand, you may find people posting messages about how happy they are riding your bikes in the French Alps—giving you a chance to share tips about cyclist-friendly cafes along their route.

Others may post minor equipment complaints or desired features that they would never bother to contact you about—providing you with invaluable customer feedback that you can respond to right away or use for future planning. Still others may twitter about serious problems with your bikes—letting you offer customer service that can turn around a bad situation.

But Twitter isn’t just about useful immediacy. The conversational nature of the medium lets you build relationships with customers, partners and other people important to your business. Beyond transactions, Twitter gives your constituents direct access to employees and a way to contribute to your company; as marketers say, it shrinks the emotional distance between your company and your customers.

I know you have a lot to do … I know this is more and seems silly – but if your customers and your customers are reading these quick marketing messages, don’t you want them reading yours?