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Plugged In: Utilizing Different Social Media Channels to Spread Your Brand

There’s no two ways about it: spreading your brand effectively in the online environment requires the use of multiple social media channels. But you just got done creating your new brand, you say? Little good it will do you without hittin’ the streets and spreading the word, my friend. And because we’re tech-y, by streets we mean social media channels. Like a faithful companion, wherever your customer base goes, you must follow. Choose Wisely With literally dozens of options to choose from, selecting the right social media channel can seem like a daunting task. For ideas, check where other businesses in your sector are building an online presence, and above all, use your common sense – if you make sounds, use Bandcamp; if your product translates well into visuals, consider Pinterest. If you’re selling a true niche product, consider building a presence on a web forum that specializes in the subject (trust us, if you can think of it, somewhere, deep in the bowels of the Internet, there exists a forum where people are nerding out about it this very minute). The Classics But some social media choices aren’t genre specific. Whatever your business does, it can probably benefit from a blog on your website, where customers can read about developments in the field and get a little part of the lifestyle of your brand. Blogs are always a good idea, because they add personality to your business, and, as they ideally provide valuable information, enhance your site’s visibility. Most business also develop their social media presence on Facebook, less because Facebook’s platform relates particularly well to what they do and more because everyone is there. Creating a Facebook page for your business is something like the millennial equivalent of being in the Yellow Pages. Link ‘Em In Unless you have a dedicated, in-house social media team, you probably don’t have time to create completely different content for 4 different… […]

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Building a Brand: Summing It Up

If you’ve been paying attention this past month, you’re getting to know a little bit more about small business branding. As you saw in last week’s infographic, branding begins at the customer’s fundamental choice between your business and the competition, and it ends with the variety of channels used to disseminate your brand. “But Jack,” you’ll say, “I have a product that rocks. Do I really need to bother with all this branding stuff?” Ideally, your product speaks for itself, but other factors matter too – the customer might care about your company’s reputation regarding reliability, or how he will be perceived by others when carrying your product around town. This, all the other stuff, is where branding comes into play. And yes, my dear amigos, it does matter. Repeat after us: Your business is never too small to care about branding. Your business is never doing too well to care about branding. Because branding always comes back to the crucial question of us vs. them, pick a brand voice and brand values that are unique in your industry. Unique means memorable. If you sell ducting, sell ducting like no one in a 20 mile radius sells it. Here’s a tip: uniqueness usually involves some kind of backstory. It is a proven fact that the human mind perceives things better in story form. For one, every entrepreneur (and everyone in general) has their favorite business startup story. Usually, this story involves winning against all odds, and something crazy, like running a shoe factory from inside the bathroom … of the next door neighbors. So look into your past and try to build the story of how your business came to be. Chances are, there’s more to it than “we saw an opportunity and went for it”, and the customers deserve to know. To maximize your exposure it’s important to choose the right channels for spreading your brand. For example, businesses… […]

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Why Branding and Where Do You Start?

Now that we’ve made your small business findable and gotten some customers to take action,  it’s time to talk about branding. “Why branding?” you might ask, “If I’m providing value, why do I need gimmicks to get customers?” The truth is, while we stand by our statement that value always comes first, it is truly rare that a business will be the sole provider of this value. Often (as a matter of fact, if your business idea is any good, always) there will be other businesses that offer the customer something very close to what you offer. Branding is how you differentiate yourself from the pack and make the customer choose you over your competitors. It might help to think of branding as a sort of argument you’re building in the mind of the customer, to answer the question “Why us?” We discussed the power of rhetoric a while back, when we kicked it with our main man Aristotle. You might want to go back and reread that one, boys and girls, because good branding connects with the customer on all three levels – logical, emotional, and credible. Which brings us to the crucial point: To have a successful brand, you need to understand your customer’s needs and desires. Then, somehow, you must resonate with the customer on their level. So, to get started in building (or rebuilding) your brand, do some brainstorming about what kinds of things your typical customer would find appealing, how you want to appear to the world, and what is appropriate for your field of business (Pickles the Clown probably shouldn’t sell complex financial instruments). Then, it’s only a matter of taking the brainstormed list and building up a cohesive brand, which you will then implement in every point of interaction between you and the customer. Keep in mind that there is no “right” way to approach branding, even in a particular field – think… […]

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Don’t Be Boring: Driving Engagement by Providing Value

Now that the buzzphrase “social media marketing” dominates the blogosphere, many businesses equate a strong social media presence with successful customer engagement. They go on to saturate their followers’ newsfeeds, stretch their mailboxes to the limit, and generally make it hard for friends to get anything productive done online without running into marketing content. And yet, nothing happens. Even worse – by overexerting themselves online, these businesses risk committing the worst sin of social media – being a bore. This phenomenon occurs because reaching out to the customer and making a connection with the customer are actually two different things. The former is necessary for the latter to happen, but by itself, it does not help your business and could actually harm your brand. If you’re the kind of company that makes major efforts to dominate Facebook but sees little ROI on social media, you might want to rethink your strategy. To make a connection, an effort has to be made to meet your customers on their level. Think: what kind of person would be a potential customer, and what content would that kind of person enjoy viewing online. At Little Jack, we distill this concept down to providing value. Just like your product or service provides the customer with value, your marketing should provide him with a miniature version of that value — whether that’s helpful information, humor, or inspiration. Here are three questions you can use to ensure you’re not a being a bore before the next time you post: Would you share this with a friend you saw walking down the street? We understand that a lot of the social media game is deciding you’re going to do two posts a day and then sifting the desolate back alleys of the web for “good enough” material. But if a lot of the content you produce is not something you’d share in real life, congrats, you’re spamming your… […]

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Lost and Found: How Findable Is Your Local Business?

Sometimes, no matter how much you try to refine your business model, you might feel as if you’re stuck and revenue numbers just won’t budge. If you’re wondering what you’re doing wrong, the answer might be that you’re just not being found by your customers, especially on the local level. We at Little Jack hold the unconventional belief that one needs to be found by the customer before other favorable interactions can ensue. This is why we’re going to spend the next month telling you about various ways to get discovered by your client base. If you’re not doing these things, chances are you’re not being found   Take control of your customer reviews. The new generation of online consumers trust websites like Yelp! and Angie’s List to tell them where in their neighborhood to go next. Businesses with dozens of reviews are the rock stars of local search, so try to incentivize your customers to review your business online. If you’re unlucky enough to have received poor, or even lukewarm reviews, you should take the helm and claim them as your own. For more details, see our post on managing negative feedback while continually smiling. Claim your place on Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing. All of these mapping services have the option of creating an account at that address, with your business’s contact information and website. You should claim your location on all 3, to ensure that when someone lazily searches for “X near 60601,” you’ll be one of the blips on their map instead of being a nothin’, no-good nobody. Use local keywords. An obvious point, yes. But just because you have “chitown” in your domain name doesn’t mean that Chicagoans will be able to find you. On the actual content of your page, you should occasionally use your location in combination with your main keyword. Just don’t repeat it too much or your website will begin to sound… […]

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Major Facebook Changes and What They Mean for You

Ok, dude. Facebook made a fundamental change to their News Feed a few weeks ago, which will likely permanently change the way businesses use the service to reach their audience. While doing some casual online prowling (completely innocent, of course), you might have noticed something called Promoted Posts in your News Feed. Promoted Posts allows any user or group with less than 5,000 friends to pay a fee to keep a particular post higher in the News Feed of friends. Why You Should Care: Facebook has long been the arbiter of cool. Traditionally, posts that got a great response stayed higher in the News feed. Now, for the first time, you can literally buy popularity (that would have made high school easier). Granted, people will know that you promoted the post with cash. But to notice this, they first have to look at the post. You can pay your way straight into their subconscious. It’s cheap. The average cost of a Promoted Post is a measly $7. Depending on your budget, you can promote a post anywhere from once in a blue moon to several times a week. But if you want to play it smart and get the most of your money, you shouldn’t just promote anything. A good strategy would be to post something on your page, and see if it resonates with your audience. If you see a good response in the first few minutes, you can bump the post further by promoting it. You get access to data. The money you spend doesn’t just get you the extra attention. The Promoted Posts feature also includes a counter that tells you how many views you got the old-fashioned way and how many views came from the Promoted Post. Having access to these kinds of metrics for Facebook is unprecedented, and could alone be worth the price of admission. The public response to Promoted Posts must have been… […]

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Pay Up: Is There Still Room for Digital Paid Advertising?

If you’re a social media purist, you’re an expert at getting attention. You know how to be the 800-pound gorilla in the room, or, depending on your brand’s capacity for destruction, the bull in the china shop. So you might scoff at any old-fashioned notions of having to “pay” for digital advertising. We at Little Jack, however, recommend a comprehensive marketing strategy. Sometimes, you need just a little extra help to get your page to the top of that search results list, after which your brilliant content will speak for itself. But you might need that initial click. Our policy is: depending on your market, don’t be afraid to spend a little money on online advertising. The key is to figure out exactly which kind of paid advertising you need. You’re putting your hard earned cash on the line, after all. Be a paid advertising champ, not a paid advertising chump! Pay per Click Pay per Click advertising means, as you might have ascertained, that you only pay the site displaying your advertisement when someone actually clicks on your ad. Strictly speaking, this is the more conservative paid advertising method, because it is entirely results based. Companies that buy Pay per Click advertising are interested in trying to hook the customer now and get him to do something, whether that’s buying a product or reading a webpage. Smaller companies often rely on Pay per Click advertising, for a couple of good reasons. First, because small companies are unknown to the customer, their ads don’t have very much lasting power – it’s now or never to get the customer to learn more. Secondly, Pay per Click advertising offers very specific feedback. You can see which of your ads were clicked the most and which were clicked the least, and refine your strategy from there. You optimization tweakers out there (read Lifehacker?) would love this. Pay per Impression With Pay per Impression… […]

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Why Mobile Will Dominate Marketing

Mobile marketing, or as we at Little Jack like to call it, marketing on microscopic screens, is all the rage. At no other time in history have fully-functioning adults regularly fallen into as many potholes, missed so many incredibly attractive potential life partners on the street, and generally gone through life as oblivious to their surroundings. Why? Two words: Tiny screens. Why mobile marketing is on the up: People use their mobile devices more than they think they do. While desktop web browsing tends to take place in longer “sessions”, the ever-present nature of smartphones means that we use them for shorter but much more frequent info transactions. For the next hour, try to be conscious of everything you use your smartphone for. You might be surprised how often you reach for it. The term crackberry didn’t come from nowhere. A few days ago, our editor had to disable his wireless data in order to keep from going over on his data usage. The withdrawal he experienced during those three days made Trainspotting look like The Color Purple. We bring them everywhere. Going jogging? Keep track of your mileage. Hitting the sack? Record your movements to analyze your sleeping patterns. Brushing your teeth? Use a timer that ensures you allot appropriate time to each quadrant of your denticles (seriously, check out iBrush). Since the invention of the first TV (and the invention of the first couch potato 5 minutes later), no other platform has had such cultural ubiquity and integrated into our lifestyles so completely as has the smartphone. We trust our mobile devices with everything. We trust our devices to know every place we go (how else can you check in on Four Square, bro?), scan the products we buy, track our daily calories, even send us push notifications. Think about that for a second — even when we aren’t using an app, it is allowed to bother us… […]

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Analog Advertising - What the Digital Pros Don't Tell You

Hi kids, Uncle Jack here today to talk to you about something very weird, a sort of old champion recently become new underdog in the marketing game. We’re referring to “analog” advertising, of course. Any of you born after 1995 might be skewing your heads slightly to the side, furrowing your troubled brows and asking, “But Jack, what do you MEAN analog? Aren’t you constantly pumping us full of information about the importance of DIGITAL?” Well, the short answer is yes. Because we don’t specialize in analog advertising, we’re sort of shooting ourselves in the foot a little bit with this post. Nevertheless, we owe it to ya. Back to the Future Now, without putting you through a course on continental philosophy, we’ll try to explain why analog still matters. The reason analog advertising works so well is because it exists out there, in the world. Which is just a way of saying it exists on, how should we say it philosophically, stuff. And stuff has a tendency to accumulate. When you have an object made with your name on it, and then disseminate it annoyingly, somebody actually has to destroy that marvelous piece of advertising to get rid of it. At the very least, that means a trip to the garbage bin (or, for the conscientious soul, a trip across town to the nearest recycling center). All this is much harder than a one click permanent delete. That’s why analog advertisement products tend to stick around. Think of the mountains of business cards all over people’s desks, people’s ridiculous collections of mugs with different “clever” “slogans” on them, the promotional fridge magnets that are always falling off. Think of those infuriating mailers  you always find on your front door handle, which, despite your annoyance, always tend to not only make it inside your house, but also stick around for weeks at a time. Objects we use daily tend to… […]

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Behind the Hype: Where is Twitter Marketing Now?

For a New York minute there, Twitter was the hottest ticket to social media popularity. As droves of teens flocked to the service, creepy upper level executives plotted in dark conference rooms about how to best monopolize on Twitter’s rapidly growing audience. Hence the birth of Twitter marketing. Facebook was out, or at least old. A platform that makes even Facebook users look old? Now that’s fresh. (Look out for ToddlerTime, the new multi device-platform that for the first time ever enables toddlers to keep in contact with colleagues. Ok, we’re getting carried away.) In all seriousness, a couple of years ago Twitter was the platform everyone was watching. Now, despite consistent growth, its glamour has been taken away by newer services like Instagram and Pinterest. Twitter had a rough moment for a while there. It thought no one cared. It started drinking a little bit. Ok, it drank a lot. It had some issues with privacy, as well as indecent exposure overseas. You may wonder, where is Twitter now? Is it still relevant? Yes Twitter still very much matters in the social media. But now that the novelty factor has worn off, it’s time to get serious about your Twitter use and think strategy. Many business owners think that as long as they flood their Twitter stream with messages, they’re doing “public outreach” and giving their business a human face. Get real, buddy. No one cares if your 10am Jamba was delicious. Brian Solis, a prominent thinker about social media, speaks of something called Twitter “resonance” — the measure of how long a message stays alive after it is first posted. This resonance period can be prolonged by things like ongoing back-and-forth conversation related to a post, retweeting, or using a trending hashtag that gives your message exposure to a new audience. If your messages are resonant, chances are you’re benefitting much more from your Twitter use than other… […]

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