Marketing Eye

Small Business Marketing - Page 8

Retailers that have not adopted a strategic social media strategy that has as much weighing in their marketing budget as their traditional media spend, are at risk of not only losing marketshare but also staying alive as a business.

Retailers were slower to discover the benefits of using bloggers and affiliate sites to reach their target audience, but those who have taken seriously the trend that has absorbed the world in the past five years of social media engagement are seeing a lower cost marketing platform that is complemented by a more loyal and trusted customer base.
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I have a conspiracy theory relating to the latest blockbuster novel "50 Shades of Grey".

If you have spent any time at all reading any of the three novels in the series, you would realize that other than a basic storyline, it is all about porn. Albeit soft.

1.5 million people have already read this book. I have read it. My friends have read it. It is addictive and completely trashy, but let's face it - women love this type of stuff. Look at how successful Mills and Boons was and still is.

My theory though, having read two of the New York Times Bestseller Trilogy series, that the book was commissioned by a large chain or perhaps online sex store. Bare with me as I explain...
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It's been a windy road to get to where I am today. Sitting in front of my computer, going through literally hundreds of emails and sending off replies like I am in some kind of maniac rush.

Expansion isn't easy. Don't get me wrong - everyone has been supportive, but I have had to pull inner strength from places I never knew existed. You see, when you start a business at 25, there is no such thing as fear. You have nothing to lose. I had nothing to lose to be more precise. Blessed with a wonderful partner at home at the time, I was fully supported and encouraged to go out there and give it my best. And that I did.
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A moment to spare between meeetings and a laptop in hand, there is only one place to go.

Caribou Coffee Shop on Peachtree Street in Buckhead Atlanta.

As I ask for a coffee with skim milk, they ask my name. Not too dissimilar to a Starbucks Coffee shop but for some reason, I like the coffee more and I love that it is conveniently located near where I am staying.
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After a highly successful trip to AT & T for a new mobile phone, I ventured towards the car through the shopping mall Lennox in Buckhead Atlanta.

My eyes were captivated by the lights and colours that shine so brightly from Victoria Secret that my one year ban from going into the store, became a distant memory.
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The challenges of 2011/12 have been more worrying than ever before. There are some real reasons for this. Italy and Spain are in preparation ot sell debt amid concerns that Europe's fiscal crisis is infecting bigger economies, debt levels are more than 25% higher than the Great Depression and the US - well, we are all aware what is going on there.

For many small business owners, we are now down to the business end of the year. To make a dollar or for some, to survive another year.

While it has been tough and most small businesses can attest to this, those who are investing in their product and service offering, are fairing better than those who are saving every penny and hoping for a better day.

I am an optimist in every sense of the word. My glass is half full and there is a lot more left in the jug. But as I use positivity to spearhead my next steps, I am acutely aware that 'having all your ducks in a row' is paramount to not only surviving but growing your business and moving forward.

As a small business owner, there are many things to consider:

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Today, I had a chat with a marketing guru from Atlanta and we discussed the value of going offline with your clients.

So many communications today is done by texting, facebooking, tweeting, emailing, video conferencing, skyping - you name it - we are doing it! All of our talking has gone online.
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Have you ever been stopped at a traffic light and made a false start when it wasn’t your green light? Three colours control the daily commute of billions of people around the world, green means go, red means stop and yellow means slow down. To most people.

These colour associations are universal and worldwide. So if colours can tell us when to stop when to go, what else can it tell us to do? What is the colour of your brand telling customers to do?

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It may have only been recorded as a 5.3 magnitude tremor that rocked Melbourne last night, but the subsequent media exposure was phenomenal.

I was sitting outdoors at a Japanese restaurant when it happened and at first I thought my friend was moving the table with his legs. When it was clearly not him, we both looked on in amazement.

Then, a Japanese chef came racing out and asked us if we felt the earthquake. We both said yes, and I told her that I thought it was exciting, "My first earthquake".

That went down like a lead balloon. Of course, in Japan, earthquakes are very dangerous and has killed thousands of people - so in rememberence of that, being excited by it, may not be in seen in the best light. I remember when this happened in Japan. It was incredibly sad.

Moving on from that, the earthquake certainly was "trending" on all social media and within minutes there was a picture up on facebook with a table and four chairs. One had fallen over. I then saw that same image posted on at least 100 facebook accounts. The world of viral marketing.
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Do you find yourself chasing your tail when it comes to marketing your business?

Businesses that do not engage in a strategic marketing plan, often find that they are chasing their tail. They fly by the seat of their pants and have no real sales and marketing strategy in place. Instead of being proactive, and placing key performance indicators behind each and every marketing investment, they generally go with 'gut instinct' or what is available at any given time.

While being flexible to invest in marketing opportunities is always a good thing, it can be some small businesses biggest downfall.

It's nearing the end of the financial year or mid-year for those in the US, and its time to start looking back at what you have achieved in terms of building your brand, creating brand equity, increasing your sales performance and improving your customer relationship management programs.

Capitalising on your investment in marketing is not only a no-brainer, but it is also one of the clevest business decisions you can make.

Start the new year with:
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Before meeting a girlfriend for coffee today, I popped into a Bookstore to see if they had the book Sweet Revenge by Tom Bower - The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell.

I had the day before went online to the Book Depository (www.bookdespository) to see if they had it. As I went to pay, the website came up with an error message and then my phone rung and that was it. I had moved on from that moment.

Happy to pay a few dollars more at an old-fashioned bookstore, I spent more than 45 minutes perusing the thousands of books that were beautifully layed out in the store. When I went to pay, I was pleasantly surprised that the store had given me a credit from 3 years ago, for $35. I had bought a few hundred dollars worth of books as Christmas gifts that year and when Avenue Bookstore gives you a voucher, it has no expiry date.

Imagine how happy I was! Not only that, I bought two other books; The French Dog by Rachael McKenna and The Best of Business Card Design by publishers Rockport and not only did I benefit from the voucher, they also beautifully gift wrapped the books.

The big bonus was that the price of book was exactly the same as it was on Book Depository and after freight, the same as it was on Amazon. No difference. Except, I was supporting a local business and experienced the enjoyment of browsing a real store, with real people, with my dog following behind and gift wrapping.

Before you choose to make a purchase of a book online, consider this story. There is nothing more enjoyable then spending time in a bookstore.
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Last weekend, I travelled to Red Hill to a winery perched on the top of a hill, overlooking the most picturesque scenery outside of the European wine regions. It was simply spectacular. The view went for miles with the ocean as the perfect back drop.

Driving through the country roads, gave me time to think about the new direction of my business, Marketing Eye. There is so many things to consider when you are growing a business that is successful.
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It's time. We are ready. The curtains have been drawn. In 3 weeks, I will be living in America to follow my dream of building a global small business marketing firm.

It's summer over there and winter here in Australia, so the weather is definately a big plus. Cost of living is significantly less which means I can buy more shoes. There is a god after all ;-)

And... the business is ready. Most importantly, we have dotted all of our 'i's' and crossed all of our 't's'.

So, what's next?
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Many entrepreneurs believe that if you embrace failure on your path to success, you will succeed. In fact, most successful entrepreneurs have failed many times, but the difference between them and the rest of the world is that they don't internalize failure - instead they embrace it.

Failure sometimes helps us better understand what we are trying to do and how we should go about it. It sets a clearer picture for the direction that we should head.

"I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love, than to be a success at something you hate." George Burns.

Is failure just part of the parcel? Do we need to fail in order to succeed? Bill Gates did. Michael Jordan did too.
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