The phrase "the customer is always right" is dead wrong

Rule #1:  The customer is always rightRule #2:  If the customer is wrong, re-read Rule #1Rule #3:  When making decisions about your business, ignore the above two rulesOld Bitty Doyle is not a customer you can pleaseAs a small business owner, how many times have you heard the first two rules above? You probably originally heard them from the same place I did, Tom Peters. Peters talked about it way back in the day with his book, "In Search of Excellence" in which one example he used showed how a simple grocery store became wildly successful by following the first two rules.Now don't get me wrong. If you run a B2C business like a restaurant, a … [Read more...]

32 White Hat Ways to Build Inbound Links – Expanded

This article expands on Hubspot's "32 White Hat Ways to Build Inbound Links" written by Corey Northcutt by adding a few more ideas to what Corey discussed. Oh, and, if you don't mind, please tweet a few snippets from this blog post. If you do that, we may then be able to afford to buy Loraine in the cube next to me a new ficus tree since she killed yet another one .....sorry, long story. : )Building inbound links to your blog or website is the most important way to bring more visitors to your site and to influence search engines to rank your page higher.  If you can add inbound links without trying to pull the wool over Google's eyes, then … [Read more...]

How to double your Gmail inbox placement rates

We all talk about the little tweaks we can do to help increase our inbox placement rates at the major ISPs like Gmail. But what if you are having trouble getting into the inbox at Gmail at all? What if we asked the question "how can I DOUBLE my inbox placement rates at Gmail"? AND, what if I further asked "why can't Loraine at our office not keep a simple Ficus tree alive?" Well it is possible to answer the first two questions, anyway. If you are willing to incorporate some personalization tactics that specifically target Gmail subscribers with their own campaign (and yes, this means doing some extra work), then you may be successful. If you … [Read more...]

Why can’t I do email marketing with Outlook?

Why can't I just use outlook to send bulk emails? Let's start out this article on the right foot, shall we? Outlook sucks for sending marketing emails. Why? Because you are missing so many components that will make you successful.Outlook is fine for communicating with your customers and co-workers, but don't expect it to double as a "free" email marketing tool. Here's a list of some of the reasons Outlook won't work for sending bulk marketing email:Poor HTML! Outlook uses Microsoft Word to create the html necessary to send out a nice looking email. The problem is that Word's creation of html is so bad that your email can get … [Read more...]

Your email open rate may not mean what you think. What the Silverpop Benchmark study can teach marketers.

Email service provider Silverpop conducted a benchmark study which reveals some interesting email marketing information that impacts senders of bulk email. Below is the recap which may open your eyes.Your open rate may not mean what you think:Email recipients are now commonly using their mobile device to scan their email messages. Many emails are deleted, but some are opened on a mobile device and then saved for later viewing on a laptop. This could register two opens for the same subscriber. It might seem that this subscriber is really interested in your email message and was so darned excited about it, she had to reopen it later just to … [Read more...]

How retailers can use social to drive customer loyalty

Brick and mortar retailers (and online retailers) do a rather poor job in using social to help grow their own businesses. Several years ago, when you first started your retail store selling dried lima-beans, or used lawn-mower blades, or defunct Suzanne Summers flab-o-blaster-cisers or whatever it is that you sell, none of this social-schmocial stuff mattered.  Times have changed!  And so should your approach to building customer relationships.  Here are some quick ideas that you should incorporate into the retail experience you are providing for your customers.For Brick and Mortar stores - ideas to grow your socialUse in-store … [Read more...]

Why frequent marketing touches will fail every time

It's so common that we small business marketers believe that frequently interacting with our customers is what grows relationships with them. Send them a lot of emails and tweets, touch them on a Facebook business page, respond to every comment on our blog posts, repin their pins on Pinterest, blah blah blah. Sounds good right? The more you interact the closer your relationship is with your customers, right? I mean, that's what a relationship is right? It's about interacting a bunch of times? Well, let me ask you a question. Was it the number of times you went on a date with your future husband when you were "courting" (sorry, it's an old … [Read more...]

Aunt Bea says to not post to Facebook more than once a day

With all this talk, caterwauling, and fluff about how important it is to use social media to build your small business, it's important to talk about what NOT to do as well.  As it turns out, when it comes to posting on social media sites, too much is not a good thing.  You've worked hard to obtain a social following, so don't abuse your relationship with your followers.Take a look at the graph below.  For businesses that have a Facebook business page (and you should), posting more than once a day showed diminishing returns.  In fact, if you compare the number of Likes and clicks of the first post of the day to the later posts of the day, … [Read more...]

The Black Dog runs circles around your small business advertising strategy

In your small business have you developed a following?  Not just a following on your Twitter account but I mean a following of loyal customers who love what you do? The easiest example of what I'm talking about are those little businesses you find at your favorite beach or vacation area. These are those great little mom and pop restaurants, ice cream shops, or doughnut stands. But, this theory of small business advertising that I'll outline can apply to your small business as well. Small Business Advertising the Wrong Way Lets use the example of The Sugar Shak, a little ice cream shop that you and your kids love to visit while at Rosemary … [Read more...]

Be glad Twitter broke up with LinkedIn

You date a girl for all that time, you give her all that great stuff, take her on dates to see those sappy girl movies, and then she dumps you for Steve McStud-o-bicepts because he has the really cool hair that has the swooshie thing at the front.  Well that's the situation with Twitter giving the old heave-ho to LinkedIn this week.  What does this mean to you as a small business owner?  In the past, if you created a Twitter post thingey (called a tweet), you could add "#li" in your tweet and that little code gizmo told Twitter to also post your tweet as an update to your LinkedIn profile.  This was looked at as a time saving measure whereby … [Read more...]

5 steps to create your first Pinterest board

Are you a simpleton?  Do you read a lot of "Dummies Guide to...." books?  If so, you've come to the right place.  So, your wife told you to "set up a Pinterest board to help drive traffic" to your small business (eg- restaurant, fishing supply store, online junk seller, used tire salesman, ficus tree repair shop, or whatever).  But you don't know what Pinterest is, why your wife is on such a rant about it, or how your business could use Pinterest.  And after all you'd rather be applying suntan lotion whilst sipping iced cafe-o-laite.  And anyway, even if you knew how to set up a Pinterest account, you wouldn't know what to do with it. Let's … [Read more...]

The boring-business guide to using Pinterest to drive traffic

If your business is as boring as watching paint dry on a painting depicting grass growing in a drought, then you need to read this articleIs your business as boring as paint drying?I'm still not surprised that a business owner isn't yet familiar with Pinterest.  What is Pinterest?  It's the #3 social network in the world, that's what it is!  It's the underdog.  It's the Cinderella story.  It's the bronze medal winner at the Olympics.  It's the (something else that I can't think of right now).  Anyway, the thing that makes it different from the Facebook and Google+'s of the world is that Pinterest is a visual social network.  It is based … [Read more...]

Imagine your small business if you had a blog that didn’t suck – 8 tips to avoid oblivion

Elaine needs your helpYou own a small business, and business is down, revenue is down, profit is down, cash bribes under the table are down..... And what's that I hear you saying?,  "Oh, it's the economy, that's the problem".  Yeah, yeah. Cry me a river. Listen, if  your business is off, then you need to write a blog.  And not a blog like your current blog, but a serious blog that actually elevates you into the position of being looked at as an expert in your field. A person that people turn to when they have questions. A person willing to help by providing expert advice in your field. And no one is more adept at providing that type of advice … [Read more...]

5 easy steps to build your small business using LinkedIn

Pizza box math humorSearch engines love LinkedIn, just not necessarily YOUR page If you run a pizza joint that gets most of it's business from passers-by on the corner of 8th & University Place in Greenwich Village, NY (no, there's not really one there, I already checked so stop looking), then your business might not need LinkedIn. But the rest of us, that are made or broken by the connections we make with business people, do need it.Many business people have a presence on LinkedIn but they aren't really maximizing it.  There are several hidden things that will make your time spent on this great social network well worth … [Read more...]

Why arsonists wish they had a Google+ business page

OK, lets say you're an arsonist, hell-bent on angst, and thinking it would be cheaper to burn stuff down if you would go to the neighborhood Costco store and buy napalm in volume.  Then, the more you think about it, this whole "sneak in and burn down buildings for no reason" is actually a lot of hard work.  I mean, it's hot in there, and you got burned that one time.  It was a big owee.  Then it dawns on you....instead of doing all this hard work yourself, why not sell napalm to other arsonists and have them do the work for you!  You could buy a pallet of napalm at Costco, and then open an online business selling it!  "But wait, who would … [Read more...]

3 Steps to Newsjack your small business that Would Make Gordon Ramsay Jealous

Newsjacking!  Chef Gordon Ramsay might be angry, but he actually wants your restaurant to succeed.  What the heck is newsjacking and how can I grow my restaurant (or any small business) using it?  Well, it's like Joe Cocker said, "I try with a little help from my friends...."  I'm not sure why I need a Joe Cocker reference in here. Anyway, in this case, you'll use your "friends" in the media business.  You don't have any?  Well we'll borrow them.  Newsjacking is a simple concept.  When a big news story breaks that relates to or affects your industry, you write a blog article that relates to, or incorporates that news story.  Newsjacking a … [Read more...]