Marketing Plans For Small Business

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 11.49.17 PMWould you rather put your hand in a blender than create marketing plans? For small business owners, often the answer is a resounding “YES!” The task is often time-consuming, tedious and some would even say mind-numbing. But then there are people like me. Marketing nerds that live to create marketing plans for small businesses. People that keep notepads on their nightstand because they often find themselves waking up in the wee hours of the night full of tactical revelations to grow your business. Welcome to my world.

I tend to hear the same questions over and over again from small business owners that find themselves in need of a marketing plan.

  • “Why should I create a marketing plan?”
  • “When do I need a marketing plan?
  • “What should a marketing plan include?”

Today I answered these questions (and a lot more) in a radio interview I did with Debra Simpson, Producer of the North San Diego Business At Large radio program. The recorded interview can be heard right here, right now.

Once we get past the intros and into the interview itself, you’ll hear Deb ask me what the key elements of a marketing plan are. Since we were pretty limited on time I had to blast through these quickly without much explanation. Here’s a little more detail that explains what your marketing plan should include specifically:

The Company Background Statement

The company background statement positions you. It indicates what your company is, how long it has existed, who owns it, who manages it, what services it provides and the credentials of those providing them.

The Marketing Background Statement
The marketing background statement lays out how your business has been built to date. It lists every single marketing tactic you’ve tried and the results of your efforts. It also states how your business is currently operating–and requires you to document your revenue, number of leads received each month, number of leads converted to customers, length of the sales process, and other key criteria. This establishes a baseline for future marketing activity.

The Ideal Client Demographic and Psychographic Profile
The demographic profile should identify the age, gender, household income, education, professional status, ethnicity, marital status, geographic location and other relevant, quantifiable characteristics of your ideal client. The psychographic profile denotes the attitudes, lifestyle, opinions, values and commonly-held beliefs of your ideal client. It’s been said that 90% of purchases are emotional. Knowing this, it is extremely important to understand the emotional characteristics and lifestyle tendencies of your ideal clients, so you are positioned to share messages that resonate deeply with them.

The Key Competitor List & Selling Points
This is a list and analysis of your top five competitors. Who are they? What messages are they sharing with your prospective clients that are “shopping around?” How are they positioning themselves? What are they telling the clients they’re gaining and you’re losing?

Differentiating Points
What makes you different from everyone else that sells the same thing? Why are you the ideal choice? What is your compelling story?

Client Perspective Summary
What do your existing clients say makes you different from everyone else that sells the same thing? Why did they choose to do business with you instead of your competitors? Do the differentiating points you’re currently sharing resonate with them or is is just “more noise?” How did they feel before they worked with you? How did they feel after they worked with you? Who would they recommend you to?

Marketing Objectives
Considering your marketing history and the baseline you established when you developed your Marketing Background Statement, what reasonable growth expectations can you set for the next year? The next five years? Be sure your objectives are specific, measurable, and time-sensitive. Every objective should include a number and date.

Marketing Tactics
How can you articulate your differentiating message better? How can you enhance your credibility and visibility in the market? Where, when and how should your message be heard?

Key Performance Indicators
How will you measure your efforts throughout the year? Considering your big picture objectives, what specific results must you obtain in the next month, quarter, etc., in order to confirm that your efforts are well-placed? If you’re finding that you’re missing them mark mid-way, what’s plan B?

12 Month Marketing Calendar
Based on your availability and budget, the 12 month marketing calendar is your action plan. Separated by month, it indicates every single thing you need to do to reach your goals. No details are left behind here. Consider it your monthly marketing to-do list that clearly spells out what needs to be done, who is responsible for doing it, and when it will be done by.

And that’s that. When you’ve answered all of these questions with great attention to detail, you’ve got everything you need to get the marketing ball rolling for you again. You’re equipped to share the right message, with the right people, at the right time, in the right place and in the right way…all of which will lead to your ideal customers saying “yes! I want to buy what you sell!” Good stuff, eh?

 

How To Generate Qualified Leads

How To Generate Qualified LeadsWe’ve all heard about the sales funnel–that inverted pyramid that directs prospects through your sales process and eventually, produces a paying client. But how do you find the leads to hop into your funnel to begin with? Times have changed. It’s not as easy as it used to be. Customers are jaded to all of the marketing noise. And the economy is still in the tank. That means you may need to re-think who you’re targeting. And once you do, how you’ll get your message in front of them. Here are a handful of ideas that reveal how to generate qualified leads:

1) Be Strategic: Before you go out hunting for new leads, it’s critically important to identify exactly who you’re looking for. Remember, you only want to share with people that want what you sell & those with the authority (and means) to buy it. Your first step will be to build an ideal customer demographic profile that includes your customers age, gender, education, income, marital/parental status, career, and if applicable to your biz, race & religious affiliation. Then, you’ll want to create a psychographic profile. This article will walk you through the process. Once you know exactly who you’re looking for, it’s a lot easier to find them.

2) Be Social: Once you’ve got your profiles nailed, find out where these people hang out, and go there. Chances are, your customers are engaging on at least one of the social media platforms–be it LinkedIn, Facebook, P’interest, Google+, Twitter or YouTube. Once you figure out where your audience hangs out, jump in and join the conversation.  Look for opportunities to share your expert advice by answering questions or revealing insights. Your target market will eat up your brain dumps! And then they’ll begin to trust you and inquire about your services.

3) Build alliances. Who do you know that shares your target market, but doesn’t compete with you? How can you cross promote each other? For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, you’ll want to develop strategic alliances with florists, caterers, d.j.’s and other wedding industry professionals. Take the time to get to know the best in your class. Then, propose a way to cross-promote each other and watch the qualified leads start to flow both ways.

4) Give away good stuff: Once people find you, they’ll likely jump over to your website to check you out. When they get there, give them something in exchange for signing up for your list. Something good.  (You do have a list, right?! If not, hurry up and do something about that. You’ve got to stay in front of your prospects if they’re not ready to buy the day you meet them!) Make sure your freebie is valuable–really valuable. If you’ll make thousands of dollars from securing just one new client, giving away something worth $50 shouldn’t even make you blink. You’ll know you’ve picked a good freebie when you find yourself sitting on the fence thinking “should I really give this away for free? This is valuable!” This is one very effective way to get your prospects to give you permission to stay in front of them. And that’s worth its weight in gold. Once you’ve successfully captured their info, follow up with fiercely targeted communiques and you’ll have a full pipeline of qualified leads in no time.

5) Be present: Get out there and network the old fashioned way, face-to-face.  Ask the people you meet thoughtful questions. Listen 2x more than you talk. Instead of bringing your usual stack of business cards, bring ONE. And give it out when you meet the person that really wants and needs what you sell. Be purposeful.

And there you have it. How to generate qualified leads in 5 simple steps. Sure, there’s a lot more that I could add to this list, but this is probably enough to keep you occupied for a bit! What are some of your favorite ways to generate qualified leads?

 

How To Maximize Facebook Engagement

Let’s face it—we all know the more you engage your Facebook “fans,” the faster your customer list can grow. However, as a business owner with a “to do” list a mile long, finding the time to consistently engage may seem next to impossible.  Good news! It’s NOT!  As the saying goes, you can’t eat an elephant in one bite. So, stop trying! The trick to building a thriving Facebook community is to steadily nibble away at this seemingly daunting task–by focusing on one post, one fan and one day at a time. Is Facebook marketing fast? Nope. Can it help you generate massive business? Absolutely. These 19 action steps will get you started. Choose one to focus on every day. And when you’ve nailed everything on this list, come back and tell me what happens!

1. Write down 1 S.M.A.R.T. goal that you will reach by investing your time into your Facebook page. A SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive. For example: “I will add 50 names to my email list by September 1st.”

2. Plan now what you are going to post for the next 7 days. Stay laser-focused on your goal. This is your opportunity to showcase your brilliant self and engage your prospects.

3. Think of 3 action steps you want your “fans” to take when they visit your page. Do you want them to sign up for your email list? Watch your video? Read your blog? Visit your site? Or? You’ve got space for 3 graphically-supported action steps on Timeline. This is a huge opportunity to get people taking action on your page. Go to my page and look at my blue, orange and red boxes. That’s what I’m talking about. You need these, too.

4. Facebook has a tool that lets you schedule posts in advance. Watch this video and  schedule your first advanced post.

5. Create a rockin’ “About” statement. You’ve got to use Facebook real estate intentionally. On the front of your business page, add a live power link to something useful, along with a call to action under your profile picture. You’ve got very limited space to work with, so use your words wisely.

6. Share a question that begs for a subjective answer. For example: “What color is better for a sports car: yellow or red?” Or how about “what do you like better: peanut butter or jelly?”  Watch people weigh on it. Start tracking what and when you post and the number of likes and shares that come as a result. You’ll learn what your audience responds to and when they respond the most.

7. Add a picture to your post. The sheer size of photos in the newsfeed automatically drives more attention to your posts.

8. To really engage people, consider rewarding each new like/share/comment with a charitable donation, of say, 10 cents. People go wild over stuff like this, especially when your cause pulls at their personal heartstrings! Action step: Pick your charity!

9. Check out the promoted posts feature which gives you an option to pay $5.00 and see what happens. Here’s a glimpse of what you might expect.

10. Ask people to weigh in on a controversial issue. Some say steer clear of religion and politics. I couldn’t disagree more. Have the guts to talk about things people care about.

11. Share good news! In a world filled with bad news, people are craving good news! Share your victories and invite others to share theirs.

12. Listen to your community. Ask for their opinion about something you’re dreaming up. Find out if they want it. How they’d use it. What they like/dislike about it. Listen and change your plans according to their needs.

13. Invite your community to share their best tips for their respective industries. People love to “be the expert.”

14. Find (or plan!) a local event that your community might be interested in attending. Tell them about it and ask who you can look forward to meeting there.

15. Tag key people in your next post and ask them to weigh in on it. You MUST use this sparingly to avoid looking like a spammer. But every once in a while, this engagement tool ROCKS! (To tag someone, simply enter the “@” before their name. Example @ImpressionsMktg.)

16. Here’s another cool way to get more shares! Write something inspirational/helpful/funny on a post it and share it. You can do this for free here.

17. Use your post to tell a story. Stories aren’t just for little kids. We all like to hear a good one.

18. Shorten your posts. 80 characters is ideal. Spit it out.

19.  Post outside of business hours. According to Buddy Media, those that do have 20% higher engagement rates.

What do you think? Do you have additional tips that have worked well on your page? Please comment and share your insights with us.

 

How To Use Google+ For Small Business

If you own a local business, you, of all people absolutely must get your arms around Google+. Just a few days ago, Google Places changed to Google+ pages – did you catch that? This means, if you want your local biz to stay visible on Google, you’ve gotta get into Google+. Period.

If you’re tempted to throw your computer off a cliff right now and say some words you probably should not say, never fear…help is here! <insert superhero music> la ta ta tahhhh…enter, moi.

To get started, listen to the call I did with Elaine Lindsay, who I like to refer to as, “Google+ Guru of the Universe.” She will teach you how to use Google+ for small business. Then, jump in and start to make things happen. I’m a fan of making things simple and easy to digest, so instead of trying to tackle everything on this list in one sitting, I encourage you to tackle individual steps every day. Here are 9 steps to consider:

  1. Get a Google account that you’ll use ONLY for business purposes: http://bit.ly/HkMfDH. Remember, the purpose of these action steps is to get you moving forward in your marketing in 15 minutes or less each day. Don’t get distracted by looking at all of the shiny objects, just get your account and then, get back to work.
  2. Before you go any further with setting up G+, create your strategy. Do as follows: 1) identify your purpose for being on the platform 2) Set realistic, measurable and time-sensitive goals that correlate with your purpose. Example: “I am engaging on G+ because I want to build credibility. I will do this by posting a strategic, insightful tip on my business page every day for the next 30 days.”
  3. Write your “about” page for Google+. Be sure to fill it out completely and include your keywords and links, this is Google after all!
  4. Create 5 circles in 15 minutes or less. Here are the names: prospects, clients, industry leaders, G+ experts and finally, personal. To do this, click on the small icon on the top, left side of your screen that looks like 2 Olympic circles. If you hover over it, it will say “circles.” Next, click on the orange “create circle” box on the left. Give it a name and hit save. That’s it.
  5. Add 10+ people to the circles of your choice in 15 minutes or less. Since these action tips are focused on your biz, add to any of the circles I suggested, except personal. You can find some relevant business connections to add by visiting: http://www.RecommendedUsers.com/ or https://plus.google.com/u/0/getstarted/follow
  6. Learn how to use hashtags on this platform and why: http://bit.ly/Izz1im
  7. Connect your Gmail, Yahoo or Live email account, import your business-related contacts and add them to your circles. If your contacts aren’t on G+, an invitation will be triggered. Then go back to the 3 people you really want to build relationships with and post something thoughtful in front of them.
  8. Visit Gplus.to to claim your G+ username. Mine is gplus.to/impressionsmktg. Use the same name you use on your FB biz page, Twitter, etc. so that it’s easy for you to remember & easy for people to find you.
  9. Watch this video to learn how to notify people of a specific post. You need to be careful not to abuse this feature, but if you use it wisely, you can get the right content, in front of the right people…and very good things can happen when you do that! :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg2yUGUh9NY&feature=share

There certainly is a lot more to Google+ than I’ve been able to share in this post, but this is at the very least, a good start for you. As you learn how to use the platform, please post comments with additional tips.

How To Make Money Using LinkedIn

Are you guilty of creating your profile on LinkedIn and then <GASP> abandoning it? I hate to say this, however, you’re in very good company. If you want to know how to make money using LinkedIn, this is your lucky day. LinkedIn is a business goldmine for all of you B2B entrepreneurs–and it’s really very simple to use with just a wee bit of guidance.

I know you’re busy, so instead of overwhelming you with a monster project and suggesting you try to tackle LinkedIn solo, simply listen to the interview I did with Rick I, “The LinkedIn Guy” on my free marketing call in May. On this call Rick teaches you how to make money using LinkedIn. And because I love you more than butter, I’ve also summarized the daily 15 minute action steps I posted on my Facebook page in May–all of which are designed to help you rock LinkedIn. Enjoy!

  1. If you want to generate results, observe and do what the people that are already generating results are doing. Check out my profile. Then, check out Rick’s. Take note of the commonalities.
  2. Re-write your professional headline. You’ve got 120 characters to play with. Make yourself stand out. First, tell people what BENEFIT you offer them. Then tell them what you do. And be sure to get your keywords in there!
  3. Check out your current position & title. Did you add your keywords? So many people write the name of their company and then put “owner” or “CEO” down for title. B-O-R-I-N-G! Be memorable and get your keywords in your title.
  4. Add your past positions & optimize them with keywords. For example, if you want to be found when someone searches “auto repair” make sure you pop those exact words in your past position titles & descriptions as many times as you can. On LinkedIn, your search results are a numbers game. He who populates a page with the keyword the most, gets to the top of the page. You’ll see people do all kinds of crazy things to make this work to their advantage. While some keyword integration will help you, don’t go overboard too far. Remember, real people are reading your profile–above all, you want it to be appealing to humans.
  5. Write a catchy first sentence for your summary. It needs to grab the attention of your audience.
  6. I see a lot of LinkedIn summaries written in 3rd person. YUCK! That’s a really quick way to distance yourself from the reader–and also come across as a bit elitist. Remember, REAL people read this stuff. This is your opportunity to build a relationships with them. You wouldn’t talk about yourself in third person if you met them face-to-face. Don’t do it here either. If you’re guilty, time for a re-write!
  7. In your summary, tell your viewers how your CLIENTS say you’re different from your competition. This isn’t you saying whatever you want to say, this is your clients. That’s far more powerful than anything you can say about yourself. Don’t know? Ask!
  8. Add action steps to your summary. What do you want people to do after they read your summary? Tell them! They’ll probably do nothing if you don’t direct them.
  9. Add your specialties to your summary. It’s keyword time again!
  10. Get familiar with “Answers.” Click on ‘more’ in the top navigation bar of LinkedIn. Then, select answers from the drop down. Find a question related to your industry that you can answer and do it. This is your opportunity to show everyone how brilliant you really are! :)
  11. Now that you’ve answered a question on LinkedIn, it’s time for you to ask a question. Click on ‘more’ in the top nav bar, then select ‘answers.’ I’ve learned some incredible things using this tool.
  12. Look at your connections, and think about who you can introduce your clients & prospects to. Since you only have 15 mins, pick one client/prospect today and find as many connections as you can that they might benefit from. Make the introduction and watch the LinkedIn love start to pour out!
  13. Embrace the fact that you don’t have to entertain deep relationships with every single person you connect with. Pick a handful. Shower them with love. Sprinkle the rest on occasion. That’s all you need to do to make social media work for your business.

Got more insights your fellow entrepreneurs need to know? Post ‘em in the comments!

 

How To Build Customer Loyalty

How To Build Customer LoyaltyThis morning I read the most insightful post on Google+ by Guy Kawasaki. It was so invigorating, I just couldn’t help but ask him for permission to share it. And being the enchanting guy that he is, he told me to go for it! So here goes:

“My friend, Carmine Gallo, has written a book called The Apple Experience: Secrets to Building Insanely Great Customer Loyalty. The Apple Store is the most profitable retailer in America, generating an average of $5,600 per square foot and attracting more than 20,000 visitors a week.

In the decade since Steve Jobs and former head of retail, Ron Johnson, decided to reimagine the retail experience, the Apple Store not only reimagined and reinvented retail, it blew up the model entirely and started from scratch. In his research for The Apple Experience, Carmine discovered ten things that the Apple Store can teach any business in any industry to be more successful:

  • Stop selling stuff. When Steve Jobs first started the Apple Store he did not ask the question, “How will we grow our market share from 5 to 10 percent?” Instead he asked, “How do we enrich people’s lives?” Think about your vision. If you were to examine the business model for most brands and retailers and develop a vision around it, the vision would be to “sell more stuff.” A vision based on selling stuff isn’t very inspiring and leads to a very different experience than the Apple Retail Store created.
  • Enrich lives. The vision behind the Apple Store is “enrich lives,” the first two words on a wallet-sized credo card employees are encouraged to carry. When you enrich lives magical things start to happen. For example, enriching lives convinced Apple to have a non-commissioned sales floor where employees feel comfortable spending as much time with a customer as the customer desires. Enriching lives led Apple to build play areas (the “family room”) where kids could see, touch and play on computers. Enriching lives led to the creation of a “Genius Bar” where trained experts are focused on “rebuilding relationships” as much as fixing problems.
  • Hire for smiles. The soul of the Apple Store is in its people. They are hired, trained, motivated and taught to create magical and memorable moments for their customers. The Apple Store values a magnetic personality as much, if not more so, than technical proficiency. The Apple Store cares less about what you know than it cares about how much you love people.
  • Celebrate diversity. Mohawks, tattoos, piercings are all acceptable among Apple Store employees. Apple hires people who reflect the diversity of their customers. Since they are more interested in how passionate you are, your hairstyle doesn’t matter. Early in the Apple Store history, they also learned that former teachers make the best salespeople because they ask a lot of questions. It’s not uncommon to find former teachers, engineers, and artists at an Apple Store. Apple doesn’t look for someone who fits a mold.
  • Unleash inner genius. Teach your customers something they never knew they could do before, and they’ll reward you with their loyalty. For example, the Apple Store offers a unique program to help people understand and enjoy their computers: One to One. The $99 one-year membership program is available with the purchase of a Mac. Apple Store instructors called “creatives” offer personalized instruction inside the Apple Store. Customers can learn just about anything: basics about the Mac operating system; how to design a website; enjoying, sharing, and editing photos or movies; creating a presentation; and much more. The One to One program was created to help build customers for life. It was designed on the premise that the more you understand a product, the more you enjoy it, and the more likely you are to build a long-term relationship with the company. Instructors are trained to provide guidance and instruction, but also to inspire customers, giving them the tools to make them more creative than they ever imagined.
  • Empower employees. I spent one hour talking to an Apple Store specialist about kids, golf, and my business. We spent about ten minutes talking about the product (a MacBook Air). I asked the employee whether he would be reprimanded for spending so much time with one customer. “Not at all,” he replied. “If you have a great experience, that’s all that matters.” Apple has a non-commissioned sales floor for a reason—employees are not pressured to “make a sale.” Instead they are empowered to do what they believe is the right thing to do.
  • Sell the benefit. Apple Store specialists are taught to sell the benefit behind products and to customize those benefits for the customer. For example, I walked to the iPad table with my two young daughters and told the specialist I was considering my first iPad. In a brilliant move, the specialist focused on my two daughters, the ‘secondary’ customer who can influence a purchase. He let the girls play on separate devices. On one device he played the movie, Tangled, and on the other device he brought up a Disney Princess coloring app. My girls were thrilled and, in one memorable moment, my 6-year-old turned me to and said, “I love this store!” It’s easy to see why. Instead of touting “speeds and feeds,” the specialist taught us how the device could improve our lives.
  • Follow the steps of service. The Apple Store teaches its employees to follow five steps in each and every interaction. These are called the Apple five steps of service. They are outlined by the acronym A-P-P-L-E. They are: Approach with a customized, warm greeting. Probe politely to understand the customer’s needs. Present a solution the customer can take home today. Listen for and address unresolved questions. End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.
  • Create multisensory experiences. The brain loves multi-sensory experiences. In other words, people enjoy being able to see, touch, and play with products. Walk into an Apple Store upon opening and you’ll see all the notebook computer screens perfectly positioned slightly beyond 90-degree angles. The position of the computer lets you see the screen (which is on and loaded with content) but forces you to touch the computer in order to adjust it. Every device in the store is working and connected to the Internet. Spend as much time as you’d like playing with the products—nobody will kick you out. Creatives who give One-to-One workshops do not touch the computer without asking for permission. They want you to do it. The sense of touch helps create an emotional connection with a product.
  • Appeal to the buying brain. Clutter forces the brain to consume energy. Create uncluttered environments instead. The Apple Store is spacious, clean, well-lit, and uncluttered. Cables are hidden from view and no posters on placed on the iconic glass entrances. Computer screens are cleaned constantly. Keep the environment clean, open, and uncluttered.

The three pillars of enchantment are likability, trustworthiness, and quality. Apple’s engineers take care of quality, and the Apple Store experience personifies likability and trustworthiness. I’ve never left an Apple store without being enchanted—in fact, I seldom leave the Apple Store on University Avenue in Palo Alto without being enchanted and buying something too! Resisting Carmine’s book, like resisting an Apple Store, is futile, so just get it here.”

You can learn more about Guy, and check out his amazing stuff at GuyKawasaki.com. Be sure you read his bio; it’s mighty impressive! And for those of you following our Google+ action steps this month on my Facebook page, you should consider reading his book, What The Plus, Google+ For The Rest of Us. You can buy it here for a mere $2.99. Yup, you read right. $2.99!! Oh happy day!

How To Use Google+ For Small Business

By popular request, I’m going to teach you how to use Google+ For Small Business this month on my Facebook page. Each day I’ll share a new tip that you need to know to make your presence on Google+ rock. If you haven’t yet “liked” my page, you need to do that pronto. And remember, if you engage with the page, meaning you “like” or comment on the posts, they will show up more in your newsfeed, which will make it easier for you to follow the lesson!

Before I get into how to create your business presence on Google+, take a peek at this cool infographic that shares some of the reasons why you’ll want to take the time to get to know this social media platform. For those of you with time constraints, be sure to cruise to the middle of this image to see how to use Google+ in an efficient way.

Follow this tutorial to create and optimize your Google+ business page:

1. Begin by creating your Google+ brand page by clicking here. You need to be signed into your personal profile to do this. If you don’t have that set up yet, do that first, and then come back to set up your brand page.

2. Select the best category for your business. You can choose from:

  • local business or place
  • product or brand
  • company, institution, or organization
  • arts, entertainment or sports
  • other

If you mouse over each of these options, you’ll find the category that’s right for you. Most of you will choose local business/place or company/institution/organization, so the rest of this post will written to address those options.  If you choose local business or place, do the following:

  • Select your country and your phone number. Google will use this to search for any existing info on your company. If the search renders your business, but has room for you to fill out additional info, do that now. If not, click the link to “add your business to Google.” Some SEO experts suggest entering your full address in this section, even if you work from home. For reasons that only the Google mucky-mucks know, P.O. Boxes are not an acceptable alternative. (Boo, Google!) Pay attention to the address and contact info you add in this section, as you’ll want to make sure it’s identical to what you enter when you claim your space on Bing or Yahoo or any of the other options.

If you choose company, institution or organization:

  • Name your page with your exact company name. Don’t keyword stuff here. Just use the real name that you go by because when you leave posts for other users, this is how you’ll be recognized. It will look really weird if every time you post it says something like “Joe’s Dog Training | training San Diego dogs to sit, come, heel and be generally pleasant creatures”

3. Select your industry, who your page is for (make it accessible to everyone unless you’re selling adult-oriented content. And if that’s the case, please leave this page now. I don’t like helping people market yucky stuff like that. **End rant**.) Agree to the terms and click “create.”

4. Enter your tagline. This is where Google says you can enter “The 10 words that describe your business best,” but beware, it often truncates at far fewer than 10 words. Sometimes just showing a few. So put your power words first. This is a place for your keywords. Then, add your logo when asked for your profile photo. It’s a good idea to rename your logo on your computer to include your keywords and then upload it, as opposed to uploading an image with some random name that won’t help Google.

5. At this point you’ll be triggered to tell everyone about your page. I vote for skipping this until your page is completely set up.

6. The next page you’re land on will invite you dive in using Google+. But before you do that, let’s finish optimizing your page. Go to the far left side of your page, above your company image and click on your company name. Then cruise over to the right side of the page and click on the blue button that says “edit profile.”

7. Click on “introduction” and you’ll have the opportunity to enter a keyword rich description of your company, products and/or service. As always, I advise writing this is plain English first, then go back in and figure out where you can insert your keywords naturally. Remember, you’re trying to appeal to people first, and search engines second.

8. Add your contact info. Remember, be consistent with what you’re sharing elsewhere. I added a link back to my website here because I’m going to take every opportunity I can to get a backlink from Google–and I think you should do the same.

9. Add your website. Yay! Another backlink! When finished, click on “Finished Editing.”

10. To the right of the “about” link in the grey bar click on the “photos” link. You’ll have the opportunity now to select 5 photos that represent your company well. Again, make sure these images are optimized by naming them with keywords before posting them. If you have photos of your products, pop those in here now. If you’re a service-oriented business, you may opt to do a search for images with your service words included and upload those. Or you could always have a designer create custom images for you if you want to look really posh. I found my images for free and you can too at Free Icons Web.

11. Add your videos. Of course, this is another great way to make your profile more enticing and to boost your credibility.

12. Once this is all wrapped up, it’s time for you to jump in and learn how to use Google +. I’ll be teaching you how to use Google+ for small business on my Facebook page all month long, so be sure to check it out often so you can learn how to make this tool work for you.

How To Get On The First Page of Google

Image of Business on the First Page Of GoogleOf course you want to know how to get on the first page of Google, who doesn’t? But how? How do small business owners with limited marketing budgets compete with the big guns? Stop banging your head against the wall. It’s not as hard as it may seem! Learning how to get on the first page of Google is simply a matter of optimizing your website and getting lots of authoritative backlinks. Here are 20 ways to make that happen:

1) Google loves blogs with optimized content. And videos? They rock, too! BUT, if you do videos be sure to transcribe the content of the video into the post with your keywords on top because Google can’t “see” videos!

2) When picking your keywords, use modifiers like location, description, target market, etc. A keyword like “San Diego dog photographer” is much easier to rank for than “photographer” and it results in QUALIFIED lead generation.

3) Visit Get Listed and enter your domain name to see if you’re missing opportunities in local search results.

4) Do a Google search. See that brief explanation of the content beneath the search results? That’s called a “title tag.” To strengthen your search results, write keyword rich title tags for every page of your site. 65 characters is ideal. This helps the search engines determine if you’re a good match for the search.

5) When creating your keywords, think LONG-tail keywords rather than short keywords. BUYERS search with long-tail keywords. Browsers search with short keywords. Long tail keywords are usually 4 words that very specifically relate to what you sell. Generic, short words like “realtor” are not only super difficult to rank for, they are usually very ineffective in driving any buyers to you.

6) When deciding what you want to rank for in Google, think first about what your most lucrative product/service is. Then, consider what your best sellers are. THESE are the things you want to spend your time and effort working on!

7) While on-site SEO plays a role in Google results, it’s your OFF-site SEO that really carries the Google juice. That said, you want to focus on getting authoritative backlinks – meaning, trusted, well-respected sites linking back to your awesome content.

8) When you write a blog post and you want it search engine friendly, write it in “normal” words first. The most important thing is to make your article useful. Then, go back and pick a phrase you want to be ranked for. Add it as close to the top of your article (in a natural way) as you can. Bold it. And then maybe repeat it one more time in the article (again, make sure it flows with the rest of your copy).

9) One really easy way to get backlinks to your site is to create an insightful video or infographic and share it with your target audience as well as influencers in your industry. If it’s super cool, they will pass it on to their network. You have so much amazing knowledge stored up in your brain. Do a brain dump and share it. People will love you for it! ;) I put a video up recently about how to create a custom Cover image for Timeline on Facebook. It was so easy for me to create and man oh man, did I get traffic from it! Fantastico!

10) Have you listed your business on Google, Bing and Yahoo? If not, take advantage of these free opportunities to get more exposure for your small business. There are loads of options, but the top three are: Bing, Yahoo Local and Google Places.

11) Do you have a WordPress site? Make sure you’re using the All-In-One-SEO-Pack plugin. This puppy is an optimization tool! After you write your blog post, fill in the blanks for your title and description to optimize your little heart out! And if you don’t have a WordPress site…well friends, all I can say is that you should. It offers sooo many benefits.

12) Focus on ranking for just 1 or 2 keywords on each of your site pages. When you try to rank for too much on too few pages, you just end up looking like a hot mess.

13) Are you in a networking group? Make sure your group website is linking back to yours! Strong group = strong backlink. Strong backlinks = more Google love!

14) “Authority links” are those that come from reputable sources…like, The New York Times or CBS.com. Those carry AMAZING Google juice! Get a link from them, and you’ll be loving life! It’s not as hard as you may think! Subscribe to Help A Reporter Out & you will see press opportunities EVERY DAY!

15) Don’t blog because you don’t know what to write about? Solution: Answer the questions you hear most frequently. Then, invite non-competing businesses that share your target audience to read & share with their network. People love to share good stuff!

16) When you discover a favorite product/service that helps you run your business better, send a recommendation for it (along with a link to your site) to the manufacturer. They’re often eager to publish rockin’ testimonials & may just link back to you.

17) Recently Google announced they want website images to have descriptive file names. By default yours are something like “pic_ 890.jpg.” It’s important to rename them so they are inclusive of your keywords. I read once that the best way to optimize images is to write them as if your target audience is blind. Describe each image in the same amount of detail that you would if you knew the end user couldn’t see it. While it may seem like an unusual approach, it actually makes perfect sense. In this case, your target audience is Google. And Google is indeed blind to images. That said, make it so Google can see it so they can render your site when appropriate!

18) Search engines hold Slideshare in high regard. That said, start sharing your content there! If you have no clue what I’m talking about, change that right now and check it out: .

19) Make sure your website is being tracked by Google Analytics. It’s easy and free and it gives you extremely valuable information that can help you determine what is and isn’t working well for you.

20) I love infographics. They just make everything so easy to understand! Here’s a rockin’ one of how to get more backlinks in less time.

I could list more tips, but then this post may never, ever end, because yes, there really are that many. Consider this a starting point! Got another tip entrepreneurs needs to know? Please post it in the comments section!

How To Create a Free Custom Cover Image For Timeline on Facebook

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Oh yo! Oh yo! How I LOVE it when I discover brillant, FREE marketing tools! Watch this video to learn How To Create a Free Custom Cover Image For Timeline on Facebook!

In case you haven’t heard yet, Timeline for Pages (a.k.a. Fanpages/Business Pages) will be released to everyone on March 30th. The look and feel of your page will change drastically. And Facebook will also force you to follow some of their new rules for cover images, which include, but are not limited to:

– no calls to action

– no phone numbers

– no website addresses

So what can you do? Well, you can certainly get super creative with how you design your cover image. And nothing in the rules said you can’t HINT at what you want people to do on your page! And you absolutely can and should tell people the benefits they will receive by keeping tabs on your page.

In this 10 minute video I walk you through the process, step-by-step, so you know exactly How To Create a Free Customer Cover Image For Timeline on Facebook and become the envy of all of your fellow entrepreneurs! Watch and learn!