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Nancy Birnbaum-Marketing Maven

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Marketing Plan

5 things you should be doing now on social media to help your small business thrive

At least 86 percent of Americans are now Internet users, according to a recent Pew Research poll. A national survey of 1,520 adults conducted March 7-April 4, 2016, finds that Facebook continues to be America’s most popular social networking platform by a substantial margin: Nearly eight-in-ten online Americans (79%) now use Facebook. Here’s the current state of the social media landscape in America:

  • 79% of internet users (68% of all U.S. adults) use Facebook
  • 32% of internet users (28% of all U.S. adults) use Instagram
  • 24% of internet users (21% of all U.S. adults) use Twitter
  • 29% of internet users (25% of all U.S. adults) use LinkedIn
  • 31% of internet users (26% of all U.S. adults) use Pinterest

Unsure which social media platform is right for your business?

Check out these 5 tips to make sure your business is using social media effectively. And then Contact Me to find out how to get started!

1) Get on Google and Facebook first

At a bare minimum, you need to make sure that your business has an online presence on the most popular search engine and social media sites. If your business has been around a while, it probably already has a listing on Google, but you need to claim that listing. By claiming your listing on Google, you can get a jumpstart on making sure you come up when some does a Google Search for your type of business. Plus, you can make sure that your business hours and contact information are correct. Claiming the listing also allows you to respond to reviews that your customers or client may write.

2) Diversify your social media presence

Social media is always changing, but there’s a real advantage to having a presence on several different sites. Not every platform is right for every business. For instance, if your business lends itself to a more visually-oriented product, like art for instance, then you would want to be on Instagram and Pinterest. If you want to reach more business people, then LinkedIn is for you.

Your social media profiles on different sites can also help promote the other, and individual sites each have their unique advantages. Creating a YouTube page and posting a few videos is a fantastic and easy way to boost your search ranking.

3) Live broadcast a video

In addition to the wider choice of reactions to a post, last year Facebook added live video feeds. Broadcasting a live video on Facebook is comparable to having a local news crew show up at your business. A live broadcast can be the perfect way to publicize a special event or sale.

It’s best to keep live video feeds short. You’ll be able to see who’s watching in real-time and make comments as well.

4) Schedule your postings

You need to be informed about the best times to post on social media, so that you will be reaching the largest possible audience. The best time to post depends on the type of social media page you’re using.

Facebook and Twitter posts get the widest circulation in the evening, later in the week. LinkedIn, on the other hand, gets the most traffic in the morning in the middle of the workweek.

Facebook has just added the ability to schedule your posts for peak hours, so your business can still have Facebook posts going online while the office is empty. You can also get a free account on Hootsuite where you can schedule social media posts for up to three platforms.

5) Hire a social media professional to help

Managing social media takes time and expertise, especially when your business is just building social networks. Just learning about the different markets takes time, and then it can be a challenge to develop engaging and informative content that promote your brand.

Some businesses delegate the maintenance of social media pages to someone already working in the office, but this tends to result in inconsistent quality. To project a professional image for your brand, you need to enlist the help of a Social Media Professional like Russian River PR & Marketing.

Budgeting for social media also allows you to pay for advertising, which can increase the size of your following. With the right help, planning and attention, social media can make your 2018 a winning year for your small business.

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Easy How To: Write a business plan that will get noticed

I found this well-written article on Shopify (the new-ish, easy-to-use way to add commerce to your website). Thanks Jessica!

“Ah, the dreaded business plan. A frightful phrase for many, the very idea of having to write a business plan to apply for bank financing or equity crowdfunding can conjure up feelings of frustration or even dread!

That’s why so many business owners put off their funding applications and procrastinate about completing their business plans, even when they know finishing the task is in their best interests.

But if you need a business bank loan to grow your retail or ecommerce business, then you can’t avoid the business plan. Fortunately, you can use an approach that’s productive, interesting, and even (dare I say it?) fun, to develop a business plan that helps you apply for financing and becomes an important tool for guiding your company’s growth.

The “Ideal Customer” Approach to Business Planning

Gone are the days of the 80-page novella with reams of meaningless hockey stick graphs and business jargon. Your business is new and innovative, and your business plan should reflect that. Start with a simple question:

Who is my Ideal Customer?

Every single other piece of content you write for your business plan should be written with the answer to this question in mind. Once you have defined the one perfect customer for your business—the one you would simply clone thousands of times if you could—then you have a foundation for your market research, your marketing plan, your operations manual, even your financial projections. With a clear understanding of what problem your business solves and who you solve it for, writing a business plan becomes an exercise in how you’re going to make your ideal customers happy.

A business plan should be an exercise in how you will make your ideal customers happy.

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Suddenly, a business plan becomes something actionable. Something you can actually use to guide your business and evaluate your progress.

It also becomes something focused, specific, and clear. It’s no 80-page tome. It’s a succinct breakdown of exactly what your business will do and who it will do it for. That’s pretty compelling.

I’ll tell you this: if you write your business plan with this focus, you will be able to excite any lender or investor who reads it.

What to Include in Your Business Plan

Even with this new approach, your business plan should still be laid out the way lenders expect to see it. I recommend starting with this general outline and customizing it to your business.

1. Executive Summary: An overview of your business plan. Summarize all the important points in one page.

2. Business Overview

a. Products & Services: What you sell and who you sell it to

b. Company Ownership/Legal Status: Who owns your company, and what percentage of the business does each owner have? Is the company a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation? How much money has been invested into the company by the owners to date?

c. Start-up Summary: How much money do you need and how will you spend it?

d. Mission/Vision: What’s your purpose for being in business? This is an important part of the story you want to share with your customers and your lender.

e. Goals & Objectives: Include at least one short-term (within year 1) and one long-term (3+ years) goal for your business, and 2-3 smaller objectives that will help you reach those goals.

3. The Market

a. The Ideal Customer: Who is your customer avatar?

b. Market Size: Discuss your overall market and how big you think it is.

c. Market Segmentation: Your products and services will appeal to a few different kinds of customers. Describe your market segments, and indicate which one your ideal customer falls into.

4. Industry Trends: What are the local and global trends in your industry? This is also a good place to talk about switching costs, suppliers, and the potential for new competitors to emerge.

5. Competition: List your major competitors along with their strengths and weaknesses. Include an explanation of the benefits they offer to buyers.

6. Marketing & Sales Plans

a. Competitive Advantage: What sets you apart from everyone else who sells what you sell?

b. Marketing Plan: What will your initial and ongoing marketing activities look like, and what’s your budget for those? How many new customers should your marketing activities bring you? How many subscribers? How much website traffic?

7. SWOT Analysis: Analyze your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. What are the best things about your company? What are you not so good at? What market or industry shifts can you take advantage of and turn into opportunities? Are there external factors threatening your ability to succeed? Add a paragraph discussing how the business will overcome its weaknesses and threats.

8. Operations

a. General Operations: What are your opening hours? What is the process for bringing on a new customer? How about getting reviews, feedback or referrals? Do you have a clear sales funnel (the path people take to become your customer)? What does a typical day in your business look like?

b. Location: If you have a location, describe it and why you chose it. If you’re choosing to do business online instead, explain why.

c. Distribution: Are all your sales direct to customer, or do you sell wholesale or through affiliate partners?

d. Suppliers: Who are the major suppliers for your business, and how did you choose them?

9. Management & Personnel

a. Management Overview: Describe your management team’s background and explain their roles in the day-to-day operation of the business.

b. Personnel/Staffing: Summarize your personnel needs here, including your hiring schedule, approximate wages, and your organizational chart. Explain what each staff member does on a daily basis. It’s your people who operate your business, so you need to explain what they do to make it tick.

10. Exit Strategy: Do you plan to operate this business forever, or eventually sell, license or franchise it? Lenders need to know how they’re going to get their money back.

11. Financial Projections

a. Assumptions: Everyone skips this part, but it’s the most important part of the financial forecasts. Explain your assumptions about revenue, sales growth, and expenses here.

b. Break Even: Briefly summarize when you expect your company to start breaking even—that is, earn enough revenue to cover all operating costs.

c. Profit & Loss: Highlight your projected net profits and explain whether they are higher or lower than the industry standard, and why.

d. Cash Flow: Explain your credit policies and offer a plan for what you’ll do if your cash balance starts to get low.

e. Balance Sheet: Briefly explain the expected debt (loans or lines of credit) to equity (owner or investment contribution) in your business, and why you chose this balance.

Know When to Stop Writing

It’s so easy to go overboard with market research and analysis. Keep it focused mostly on your ideal customer, with just a short paragraph on each of your other market segments.

In your Personnel section, you don’t need to provide complete job descriptions. In most cases, just a line or two will do. In the competitive analysis, review only your top 3-5 closest competitors; if you have many competitors, as restaurants and retail stores often do, group them into categories instead of analyzing each one individually.

Lenders don’t have time to read really long business plans, so don’t write them. Usually, a lender will review your Executive Summary and Financial Projections first, and if they like what they see, they’ll move on to review the rest of the plan. Make sure your Executive Summary summarizes your ideal customer, your financing request, your estimated loan payback period, your profit potential, and your team’s capability to make it all happen—all in one page.

I repeat—your Executive Summary should only be one page long.

And don’t try to write it until the rest of your business plan is finished. It’s always the last task you should tackle, when the plan is still fresh in your mind and the most important points are easy to recall.

When you’ve done all of this, you’ll have a concise business plan that probably won’t exceed 20 pages.

What to Do With Your Business Plan After You Get Funding

With a business plan focused on your ideal customer, you hold in your hand a powerful tool for keeping your business on track. Assuming you set clear goals and objectives in the plan, you can go back and review these to evaluate whether or not you’ve achieved them.

You can use your financial forecasts to compare to your company’s actual performance, and quickly see if anything needs to shift. And when you’re making decisions about marketing campaigns, you can review your ideal customer profile to make sure your marketing dollars are being spent in places that will resonate with the people you want to sell to.

See? A business plan can be an interesting and useful tool for your business, as well as an essential document for getting a business loan. When you see your plans actually start to manifest, you’ll be very glad you did all of that work and didn’t shove it into a desk drawer when you were done.

Originally published on Shopify Blog

 

Planning your Small Biz Marketing in 2017

It’s time to start thinking about updating your marketing plan for the New Year. Not to worry, RussianRiverPR is here to help you find the best plan for your small business and budget. Happy 2017! It’s all about your plan. Do you have one yet?

Here’s a good pre-planning list from our friends at RIPL.

How do you know how effective your marketing efforts are if you don’t know what you want to accomplish?

The first step to being prepared in 2017 is to pick a goal. Make it specific and attainable. Start by reflecting on last years accomplishments and failures. There’s a lot of opportunity to learn from what worked and didn’t work for you, your business, and your customers.

Your marketing goal should be a statement of what results you want from your marketing efforts. For example your goal for 2017 could be to:

  • Achieve $500k in revenue (or overall sales)
  • Sell 75 homes
  • Get to 1000 customers in your loyalty program
  • Reach a 5 star rating on a third party site

What tactics will you use to accomplish your primary goal?

Think about the activities that will help you reach your goal. These should focus on customer acquisition, retention, and engagement. Creating awareness, generating interest, closing new sales and continuing customer engagement. Break it down – yearly, monthly, weekly, daily – to help you stay on track and reach your goals.

  • Email Newsletter to my customers (weekly, daily, monthly – depending on your customers and business)
  • Grow email list by 10 each week, 40/month, 480/year
  • Post regularly (weekly, daily, bi-weekly) to social media
  • Create 1 blog post per month
  • Grow Instagram followers by 500 each month (6,000/year, 125/week, 17/day)

Think about your target audience. . . who is your customer? What sets you apart from the competition? Consider consistent and creative messaging across all your social media, websites and customer-facing content. Video will continue to be a strong trend in 2017 across social media and marketing.

Think about your customer buying cycle. . . how do your customers find you? Decide to buy from you? And keep returning? What do you communicate to them during each of these steps or phases along the way? How are they thinking and feeling when making these decisions to purchase from you?

Answering these questions will help you come up with activities and content to achieve your main marketing goal.

How will you know success?

Measure, measure, measure and be data driven. Measuring starts with documentation. Document where you’re at now and where you’re going along the way. At Ripl, we use Google Sheets to help us stay organized and track changes week over week. Measure, evaluate, learn, and adjust!

Revisit your goal weekly or monthly and make adjustments along the way if something isn’t working or doesn’t seem attainable.

What are you waiting for? Start working on documenting your marketing goals and activities to prepare for a successful 2017!

Originally published by RIPL – http://blog.ripl.com/planning-your-marketing-in-2017/

Contact Us now to learn how easy it can be to develop a marketing plan or just get some much-needed help. Email RussianRiverPR at Gmail.com

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