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Start with WHY

Having worked with dozens of small businesses who each have their own strong and unique ‘WHY’, I’ve been doing a lot of thought on our own (93 Agency’s) WHY. A company’s mission should not only apply to their operations but also should dictate all marketing and branding efforts. This is why at 93 Agency we focus so much on our client’s WHY to get down to what they really want to achieve, and how they want to share that with the World.

Over the years 93 Agency’s WHY has slightly evolved, much due to the inspiration and example our clients set. I strive to educate clients in my area of business expertise, however, they also equally educate me.
My goal is to support YOU, the business owner, so you can focus on bettering yourself and your business. If you’re feeling more stressed about social media after the “start-up” phase of our relationship, then I’m not doing my job. I want you to feel like you’re in good hands and that you can spend less time online, and more time with your customers, staff, and/or family.
At the end of the day, relationships are the backbone of a business. Social media is often seen in opposition to building human relationships and connections, but I don’t see it that way. My goal is to help you build more of these connections and to support businesses who strive to connect with more people in order to help their clients and the community with their products and/or services.

I’d love to hear more about your why, and how I can help you help others. I’m always available via email (natalie@93agency.com) to chat (no commitment) about your goals, growth, and marketing.

-Nat

Founder, 93 Agency

How Small Businesses Can Compete with Big Companies | Social Media Ottawa

 

Small businesses have always struggled to compete with big companies and franchised businesses for a share of their market. We’ve all heard stories of the ‘Big Guys’ pushing out the smaller, local businesses.

For the most part, small businesses can be; Mom and Pop Shops, Sports Stores, Restaurants, Convenience Stores, Bakeries, Breweries, Golf and Country Clubs, Local chains… etc.

Compared to five years ago, small businesses now have more tools at their disposal to compete with big companies than ever. Many larger companies like Shopify and HubSpot are looking to close the gap, by catering to smaller businesses to offer services that will help them compete with big companies. This week, we’re going to tell you how your small business can not only compete with the big guys, but beat them at their own game too. So, what can you do to compete with big brands?

 

Seek out loyal customers (Build Personal Relationships)

The golden rule of success in any business is to always remember, “80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.”

Loyal customers are the bread and butter of any business, but especially so for smaller companies. Let’s face it. As a small business, you probably don’t have the same marketing budget that a company like Samsung would. As a result, gaining new customers and attracting new audiences can be difficult.

However, as a small business, you have roots in the community. A neighbourly referral from one of your loyal customers could begin a string of new business through word-of-mouth. Small businesses have the power of personality. Big brands spend millions of dollars a year to build up their online personality, but as a small business owner, you have the power to create real, meaningful relationships with your customers. For free! That’s why networking and establishing your business as a neighbor in the community will help protect you from losing business to bigger companies. It will also give people a reason to choose your business over the big guys, which brings us to our next point!

Take care of your loyal customers and they will take care of your business. And if there’s one thing you can never have enough of, it’s loyal customers.

 

Find a unique selling point.

Our digital world is constantly evolving. With so much going on and so many advertising messages being thrown at our screens on a daily basis, it’s hard to filter through the noise and find a brand that truly connects with us. As humans, we want to belong. As consumers, we want to be understood and catered to. Your business will fail if you have nothing to offer that separates you from your competitors. It’s that simple. At some point, you have to face the music and realize that you cannot undercut prices like the big guys can. You also can’t supply to a larger market. What you can do, however, is offer something unique. You can offer something of relevance to your customers that not only shows them you care, but that you understand how to satisfy a need of theirs that nobody else has been able to do.

Just so you understand how earthshaking this knowledge is to the consumer, take a second to think about this. Imagine that you are at a rock concert from a well-known band that you’ve been dying to see.

Now, imagine this band shows up late (as many big name artists do, from time to time). You’d be disappointed right? You’d feel like you’ve been cheated out of your money. Well, that’s what we feel like when a big company lets us down.

On the other hand, imagine that next to this big concert, is a smaller band playing at a pub. The atmosphere is more pleasant, you’re not being suffocated by a group of teenagers trying to see over your head, and the band players are actually able to make eye contact with you. Not only that, but you decide to stick around after the show and you get to meet the band! A special privilege most people don’t get to experience at larger concerts. Imagine the feeling of belonging a fan would feel from meeting their band and talking to them without being talked down to or brushed off as ‘just a fan’.

In this scenario, the smaller band won business from the more popular band because of their ‘Unique Selling Point’. So, what makes your business different from the big guys? Do you offer services that they don’t? Find your USP and make it shine like the North Star: For everyone to see and admire.

 

Promote local.

People like to buy local. While online shopping and e-commerce sites offer much of what big box stores cannot, there is nothing that can replace the experience of trying out a piece of clothing or taking a car for a test drive. There are some things that people simply need to see and feel before they make a purchase decision. More often than not, large companies will not have stores in your area. If they do, they may sometimes need to order from a warehouse to refill stock. As a small business, your inventory will likely reflect the purchasing habits and trends of your regular customers.

The basis for any relationship, business or not, is trust. It’s natural to trust a brand in your area than one in another because it’s more relatable. A business that operates in your neighbourhood is much more likely to understand you as a consumer and for that reason, we tend to trust local shops more than big companies.

 

Be agile.

Big companies have more people in many departments, with layers upon layers of management to go through before any decision is every made. With smaller companies, you can usually speak to the owner or a manager directly for assistance with an issue.

Small businesses also have the power to be spontaneous and much more creative. Two things that are extraordinarily successful in the world of social media. If something isn’t working with your strategy, at least you won’t have to worry about getting an entire floor of executives to approve your decision before it’s too late.

E-Commerce

The booming success of companies such as HubSpot and Shopify comes from helping small businesses to compete with larger scale companies by helping them set up online stores and email marketing strategies.

Online stores have been an excellent way for even the smallest companies get noticed and make sales with customers from all parts of the globe. They also provide a unique experience, which certainly beats going to the store on a rainy afternoon.

 

Advertise/Promote with Social Media

As we mentioned before, social media is the place to be if you’re a small business. With more reach than some of the biggest media companies in the world, it’s no wonder why almost 90% of small businesses are active on social media.

The landing page of your website or social media page is essentially the entrance to your place of business. If someone were to walk in your store or business, that first impression will be from your online presence.

We’re always searching. Whenever we are looking for a new car, house, set of cutlery, or what have you, we tend to do our research online. Now, when people search for your brand, they will have the opportunity to discover your story online. Be different. Be relevant. AND MOST OF ALL: PROVIDE VALUE.

Social Media is free to use and post your content, making it a cost-effective tool for small businesses with little to no advertising budget. If you want to take the next step and grow your reach, advertising with social media platforms have netted businesses some of the highest ROI’s (returns on their investment) in the industry, alongside video marketing and email marketing as the most efficient and effective strategies in the marketing world today.

The Power Of Email and Social | Inbound Marketing

Social media is a powerful marketing tool on its own. Partnered with email marketing (average ROI of 3800%), these tools can become a magic marketing duo. Successful integration of email into your social media marketing strategy can greatly improve your SEO, generate leads, and create a brand experience that your audience will enjoy and remember.

Does this mean that you have to start buying mailing lists to contact people with your messages? NO! The genius of inbound marketing is to eliminate the nuisances of outdated marketing tactics such as purchasing lists and spammy messages. In this article, we’re going to show you how email and social can work together to create a successful, cohesive, and consistent inbound marketing strategy!

 

Cross Promote

Tease your audience about the perks of email by posting hints on social media as to what they’re missing out on. Vice versa, you can also send an email to your subscribers about the joys and benefits of following your social profiles.

Twitter and Facebook both have features that allow you to create a post or form for others to enter their information like an email address (lead ads). Just be sure to make the offer worthwhile! Contests and giveaways can go a long way here!

You can also add social buttons to the header/footer of your emails, similar to how you would add them to a blog or webpage. They should not be disruptive to the content and should provide a call to action that directs your audience from one brand touchpoint to another, taking them to the next step in your sales funnel.

Facebook also has a feature which lets you add a button to the top of your page. You can use this for many things, but it is especially useful as a “Sign up” button for people to enter their email address.

 

Coordinate

Line up your weekly/monthly content by topics or relevance so that email and social content do not repeat, confuse or distract users from your objectives. Coordinating your content with a calendar is a good way to make sure that your content is organized, not scattered. This also allows you to ensure that multiple teams or departments will be on the same page. Consistency is the name of the game here!

 

Custom Audiences

Did you know that you can use your mailing list to create a custom audience on Facebook? This will allow you to specifically target those in your mailing list with promotions and content through Facebook Ads. Additionally, you can add a Facebook Pixel to your website to track users who have visited your site and retarget them on Facebook. Using these custom audiences, your ROI for ad spend will be much greater and the cost of acquisition per customer will be much lower. This is because people who have either visited your website or subscribed to your mailing list are already interested in what you have to offer.

You can also upload subscriber lists to most social platforms like Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Indirect Email Marketing

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have niche communities that are called groups or lists. Usually, these groups are public and anyone who is interested can join. Some of these groups have moderators and will not let marketers in, but if you have something of value to offer, they might let you post in the group. What does this have to do with email marketing?

When you have subscribed to or joined a group on a platform like LinkedIn, you will be sent a notification triggered by activity within the group via email. This is a unique opportunity for small business owners to really network with their audience on a niche level. With this method, you won’t have direct access to their email, but you’ll be getting into their mailbox indirectly.

 

Your Turn!

Try using these strategies to support your blooming online presence! The businesses that have the most success are the ones that plan everything from start to finish, and never give up. It can be overwhelming, but if you ever have any questions, you know who to ask!

 

Not sure if what you’re doing is working? Sign up for a risk-free Social Audit with 93 Agency and let us show you why we’re the go-to social media experts! Don’t forget to follow us on social media for your weekly dose of small business marketing tips.

Storytelling 101: A Guide For Small Business | Content Creation

 

New businesses often have common ‘startup’ issues. As an agency that specializes in finding and solving these common issues, we can tell you that most of those mistakes can be easily spotted on your online presence and through your content creation process.

 

What does storytelling have to do with your business?

 

First of all, storytelling is a form of entertainment. Naturally, as humans we feel the desire to be entertained. The beauty of storytelling is that it allows us to escape reality very briefly, detaching us from the stresses and responsibilities of everyday life. Social Media is often the perfect distraction from reality because of how quickly we can consume the content. If someone is surfing around social media, they are likely going to different pages, while watching their own news feed. Now imagine if you could get one of these users to stay in one place for an extended period of time. The chances of them making a purchase in the store is much higher, right?

That’s where storytelling comes in. You want to keep your guests (potential customers) interested so that they will stay in your store long enough to make a purchase. The same theory applies to your digital and social marketing. As consumers, we are thirsty for more content. At the same time, there are so many marketing messages directed at consumers that they don’t know what to look at. It’s our job as the marketer, to make sure that our message is the one they are paying attention to. How do we do that? Storytelling.

 

What story will you tell?

 

Every business has a story, the same way every person does. Where did you start? What problem are you solving? Incorporating elements that speak to the history of your brand and personality in your marketing strategy will ensure that your business is relatable. If your consumers can relate to your brand, then they will trust your brand. Brand storytelling is our way of letting the consumer know that we understand their personality, their lifestyle, and most importantly, what satisfies their needs. Just like a best friend would.

After all, if a consumer trusts your brand, they will be loyal. Everybody knows that 80% of your business comes from the loyal 20% of your customer base, so it’s no surprise that the secret to the long lasting success of any business is trust.

 

How do you build a story around your brand that people can trust and relate to?

 

People aren’t stupid. They know if it’s worth following a particular page or not because they can almost instantly tell whether or not the content they are looking at is valuable to them. That’s why the quality of your content is so important. It’s important to always focus on providing VALUE.

Imagine that your newsfeed is like the first chapter of a book. If I don’t like what I’m seeing in the first few pages/posts, then why would I subscribe to suffer through more boring and invasive messaging that I can clearly tell is meant to sell me on something? That answer is, I wouldn’t. And neither would you. Create content that you yourself would enjoy viewing. Ask yourself, is my content valuable in helping my customers with issues they may be having? What questions is it answering?

Then, build your story through a steady, consistent stream of content that highlights your brand’s best qualities. These qualities could be in the form of services, products, and more. The idea is to openly show them the things you care about. By doing this, you are showing that you care about more than just selling, and that you want to help them with their pain points.

 

Conclusion

 

Hopefully you have a better understand of why spamming your page timeline with promotions and advertisements will not build trust with your customers. What will build trust with your brand and customers is transparency and credibility. People will follow and support your business because they believe in your story. Remember to entertain, entertain some more, and then entertain again.

Why do you think we call a tissue a Kleenex? A copy machine a Xerox? Storytelling, my friends. Storytelling.

Maximize Social Media Ad Spend | ROI

Social Media marketing is one of the most cost-effective advertising solutions for small and medium businesses. However, if you’re not using it right, it can cost you significantly in time and headache and you might not see the ROI. Managing your ad budget can be tricky. How do you know how much you need to spend and where? What keywords to use? How do you know what’s working/ what’s not? Here are some simple best practices on how to effectively manage your ad budget.

 

Choose and Create an ad. Cast your net.

 

Sponsored vs. Promoted Posts

 

Facebook and Twitter ads: they’re all the same, right? Wrong! There is a huge difference between sponsored and promoted posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Promoted posts are organic posts uploaded to your page. They can be “promoted” by spending a little money to increase the reach of your post. A regular post will only reach a portion of the people who follow you, by default. Once you pay to promote it, the post will then reach people outside of your page’s following, or you can simply promote it to reach a larger percentage of your audience. The choice is yours!

-Promoting your top performing posts is a good way of testing the quality of your organic content if you think that you have too small of a following to generate a good measurement of engagement.

-It’s also good to use when you are running a contest and you have a post that you want to be shared. Paying to have that specific post reach way more people is an excellent tactic for this type of promotion.

 

Sponsored posts are posts you can create solely for the purpose of advertising. You can visit the Facebook Business page to see all the ad formats and their benefits. These sponsored ads are to be created for a specific audience and purpose. Ranging from website clicks to page likes, you can custom create a message that will appear on someone’s feed the next time they log on while your ad is running.

While sponsored and promoted posts will both appear on someone’s feed in the same manner, the two will achieve two entirely different objectives.

 

Start reeling in leads with repetition through retargeting.

 

The beauty of advertising with social media platforms is that you have the ability to custom create your audience.

-Facebook Pixels. This is a piece of code that you can add to a landing page on your website to track visitors. You can use this pixel code to then import an audience into Facebook’s ad manager. From there, you can actually target people who have recently visited your page (or been on a page that contains your pixel) with your ad. People who have visited your page are more likely to purchase from you because they are familiar with your brand and it is top of mind.

 

Analyze and Optimize.

 

To truly master managing your ad spend, you will need some practice with analytics. Every platform that you advertise with will have some form of analytics available to you. Use this information wisely, because it’s there for a reason. Whatever platform you are using, be sure to monitor your ads as they are running. Look for key differences and things that need improvement. These are some of the most common ways to test your ads:

-A/B Testing. This is a method that simply uses two or more different sets of ads to test which subtle changes are more effective than others. Some ad sets might be best tested to see which images are more appealing to your audience, or which caption is more enticing, etc. Then you can make sure you’re only spending money on the most effective ad.

-Audience testing. Test two identical ads but with different audience profiles to see if you are properly targeting your potential leads.

After testing your ad sets to find out which combination of settings will perform the best, it’s time to start investing in the ads that will net you the best ROI.

 

Let’s recap.

  1. Create Visibility Through Targeted Ads. (Cast the Net)
  2. Reel In Your Leads Through Retargeting
  3. Tweak with Analytics. (Invest in what’s working to Maximize ROI)

 

Are you thinking about getting started with advertising on social media? Sign up for a free consultation with one of our experts!

If you’re a small business owner and have a marketing problem you want to be answered, fill out a contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

As always, follow the conversation @93Agency on social media.

Video Marketing for Small Business | Video Marketing

It’s no secret that video posts generate higher engagement on social media. In fact, over 60% of small businesses have added video marketing to their social media marketing strategies. So what’s new?

Over the last few years, brands have been steadily adopting video marketing strategies into their overall communications. In 2013, marketers predicted that video content would account for 50% of all internet traffic. It’s now 2017, and guess what? Video content now accounts for 80% of all internet traffic! The point is, if you’re a small business owner and your current marketing plan doesn’t include video content, you’re missing out. Big time.

 

Videos are social engagement magnets.

A Facebook video receives, on average, 135% more organic reach than a Facebook photo. Videos are also 6x more likely to be retweeted (Twitter) than a photo. Thanks to industry research like this, we can begin to see a trend in what kind of content elicits a response from your audience.

Most of the content that we see on social media is text-based. So, when someone finally sees a video on their feed they can’t help but focus their attention on it. From there, you just have to keep them interested.

Social media is much more cost-efficient than traditional forms of advertising such as; the local newspaper, magazines, radio, and especially TV. The cost of creating a video will depend, but getting your video to reach potential customers is free. If you want to spend a little on promoting your post to reach more people, you can do that as well. There are so many options that allow you customize your ads that overspending is virtually impossible.

Builds trust and improves brand image.

75% of users have visited a company’s website after watching one of their videos on social media. Videos are also easier to remember. In fact, 80% of users can recall a video ad they saw 30 days ago. 90% say that videos helped them in making purchase decisions.

Your brand is your personality. As a consumer, they will have a much easier time making a connection with that brand’s personality if they can see you, hear you, and understand you. As we mentioned before, roughly 2/3 of small business owners are using video marketing in their social media strategies. As a consumer, I’m going to view the brand that has put more effort into earning my attention as more credible.

Increases your SEO rankings.

Google loves video. You’re actually 53 times more likely to show up first on search results if your company website has a video embedded on the landing page! The reason for this is largely because consumers will spend more time on a page with video on it. By watching the video, they are staying on that page. This tells Google that the content is valuable and is a good place to send others searching for similar things. Since Google owns YouTube, the benefit of having a YouTube channel for your business is large.

To make sure Google picks up your company’s video on its radar is optimize your video title, tags, and description to match appropriate keywords that people might be using to find your video. Uploading your video to multiple channels will increase your ranking, as will having it shared by your followers. Higher engagement tells Google that others found your content useful. As a result, Google will rank your brand name higher than those with little engagement. By investing in video marketing that you are actually investing in SEO as well.

Easy to Digest.

Reading a product description or filling out a form can be highly tasking. It’s easier for a consumer to simply watch and listen to a video for 30-90 seconds before making a decision.

This decision will depend on your video’s purpose and what action you want your viewers to take. Your consumers want to see your product or service in a real life situation. Something that they can relate to. Videos leave less to the imagination than photo ads and thus, are less confusing and easier to digest. This is why most people can recall video ads over a print ad.

Conclusion

Video marketing is one of the best ways for small businesses to separate themselves from the competition. With some practice and a little bit of help, your next successful video could go viral in your local community!

Thinking about getting started with video marketing and have a few questions before you’d like to get started? Sign up for a free social audit with the experts at 93 Agency!

If you’re a small business owner and have a marketing problem you want to be answered, fill out a contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!