How to Get More ROI from Social Media

When business owners complain that their social media efforts aren’t paying off and they just aren’t seeing a return in their investment of time, it’s usually because they’re using the Jackson Pollack approach to social. They’re simply “flinging” paint on a canvas. There’s no goal behind what they’re doing. It’s random. That approach may create beautiful art, but it rarely works for business.

Being on social media isn’t enough just as you don’t become a professional ball player just by walking into a stadium. There’s hard work involved and there are things you need to do to set the foundation for using social media efficiently in your business.

Stop wasting time and start seeing a return on investment in social media by using these tips.

How to Accomplish Your Business Goals on Social Media

Whether you are brand new to social media for business or you’ve been doing it for a while and you’re just not seeing the results you want, changing these simple things can mean a much larger return on investment for you.

1. Don’t waste your time on sites that are popular. Instead, figure out the social media sites your ideal audience uses most and be present on those.

2. Create a social media mission statement. What are you doing on social media for your business? Why are you there? Are you helping customers make an educated buying decision? Are you looking to differentiate yourself in the marketplace? Or is your goal something like establishing a fun culture so that you become an employer of choice?

Whatever your goal is for your social media interactions, create a statement that illustrates this and can be clearly conveyed to your staff. Then it will be easy to differentiate a good post from a lackluster one by asking does this bring me closer to my goal?

3. Learn by what competitors are doing. You should know what your local and global competition are doing on social media. It’s also a good idea to watch brands outside of your industry to see if you can apply anything they’re doing to improve your business and social media work.

4. Prepare for a marathon. Recently I saw an interview with Simon Sinek in which he talked about the daily little things that make people fall in love with you. There’s not a moment in time where someone can definitively say this was what made me fall for that person. It’s a cumulative effect. The same is true of social media for business. It’s all of the little interactions and conversations you have with people that will begin to mean something to them. It generally won’t be just one blog post (even if it starts that way). One awesome blog post might catch their eye but it won’t win them over through the end of time. You will make constant investments in the relationship and posting good content consistently that will move them to become more loyal.

5. Create a strategy around how you will reach people. You may post great content but if nobody sees it you won’t get shares and likes. There are a number of ways you can reach people. You can pay to do it directly on social media sites by running ads, you can exchange favors with friends and encourage your staff to share your content, you can introduce yourself to industry influencers who may share your content, and you can produce content for other bloggers, associations, convention and visitors bureaus, and other organizations that can get you in front of your ideal customer. You need people to share your content so create a strategy around how you will ensure people see it first.

If you go out on the social media with the idea that posting good content will get you a huge audience, you’re betting your business future on winning the lottery. First, you need to build a strong foundation and plan behind how you will best use your time in the most efficient manner. When you do this, your social media spend from a resource and time perspective will start to show a lot more return on your investment.

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.

Your Employees Still Need Mid-Year Reviews During COVID: Here’s How to Make Them a Critical Part of Business Success

Most employees think of reviews as the sand in their bathing suit. Sure, it comes with a benefit (a day at the beach or, in this case, a great job) but it can be incredibly annoying. Add in a global pandemic and you may be thinking it’s best to just skip them this year.

You couldn’t be more wrong.

Skipping a mid-year review only adds to your employees’ potential feeling of disconnection. Now, more than ever, you need to ensure your employees feel a strong allegiance to your company and are well-positioned for continued success. Mid-year reviews help you accomplish both of these things and more.

This Is a Different Kind of Review

Before you get ahead of yourself and start hammering on issues of non-performance, envision these reviews from a growth and loyalty perspective. Your employees have a lot of things they’re balancing right now from kids at home to concerns over elderly parents to worries over race relations or personal safety.

Keeping this in mind, this review is not about pointing out how they’re not as effective of an employee as they were pre-COVID. Assuming the employee was a high performer before the epidemic, think of this time as you would a professional athlete recovering after surgery. The first day back at physical therapy you wouldn’t mention their lack of ability based on what they did prior to injury. You examine it as a growth opportunity and imagine how your support will help them get back to previous strength and potentially be better than before.

Yes, this review is different. It’s about listening, guiding, connecting, and growing.

Questions, Not Forms

Instead of the typical employee review and completion of the goals sheet, look to create opportunities for discussion by asking questions. To be successful in the future you need to understand how your employees are faring during this time. It’s an ideal opportunity for valuable exchange.

This review may closely resemble a personal, mini SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, obstacles, threats) analysis and that’s okay. Look to open up lines of communication through talking about:

  • The challenges they face(d). What was the most challenging? In the past, we would be looking for “professional life” answers. But with COVID on our doorsteps, personal and professional lives have bled into each other. Encourage employees to share whatever challenges they’ve had to overcome.
  • Fears. What are they most afraid of?
  • Triumphs. What have they accomplished during this time that has made them feel good and capable? (Yes, making it through virtual school math with their child counts.)
  • What they need you to know. Ask them if there’s anything you should know about them or their lives. Sometimes employees want to share but opening up in a virtual meeting may be difficult. Give them an invitation to explain what they’re going through. Offer support and help where you can. Share some of your own struggles

You may be wondering about the business value behind this type of review. If all the things your employees talk about are personal, how can that help your business?

In the same way that posting pictures of your pet on social media gets some of your largest likes, shares, and comments.

The business is comprised of people. When you take the time to connect with them on a personal level and recognize what may be impeding their success or what is behind it, you’ll both have a greater appreciation for the other.

This type of review helps build a company’s culture and improve loyalty. Both very important factors in your business’ future success.

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.

Canada United

 

City of Stratford Joins Canada United to Support Local Businesses and Accelerate Small Business Recovery

Created by RBC in collaboration with the national network of Chambers of Commerce and over 50 corporate partners with Stratford’s Economic Recovery Task Force to support local businesses as part of the nationwide movement

July 22, 2020 (Stratford) – The City of Stratford announced today it is joining Canada United, a national movement to support local businesses in communities across the country. As part of the movement, RBC has brought together more than 50 of Canada’s leading brands, Business Associations and the national Chamber network to rally Canadians to “show local some love” by buying, dining and shopping local.

City of Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson said “Small business is the heartbeat of Stratford and our citizens have always shown a consistent and unwavering loyalty and dedication to our many entrepreneurs. We’re as famous for our shops, dining, hotels and coffee as we are for our theatre and this program will help our many essential local businesses rebound and thrive.”

Canadians are invited to join the Canada United movement by buying and dining local, including celebrating and supporting local businesses during the Canada United Weekend from August 28 to 30, 2020.

Canadians are also encouraged to watch the Canada United videos online at GoCanadaUnited.ca, like posts from @GoCanadaUnited on social media and use #CanadaUnited to demonstrate their support. For each of these actions until August 31, 2020, RBC will contribute 5 cents up to a maximum contribution amount of $2 million to the new Canada United Small Business Relief Fund, while working with government and corporate partners to source additional contributions to the fund during the course of the campaign. The Fund will provide small businesses with grants of up to $5,000 to cover expenses related to personal protective equipment (PPE) renovations to accommodate re-opening guidelines and developing or improving e-commerce capabilities.

Small Canadian businesses across the country will be able to apply for up to $5,000 in grant funding. The program intends to support small Canadian businesses of all kinds from across the country. The Canada United Small Business Relief Fund will be administered by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the national Chamber network. Small business owners who are interested in the program can visit www.GoCanadaUnited.ca to learn more about grant application details, including eligibility criteria, and to apply.

“We are excited to welcome the City of Stratford to Canada United to help local businesses and Canada’s economy come back strong,” said Neil McLaughlin, Group Head, Personal & Commercial Banking, Royal Bank of Canada. “Canada United was created to kick-start an economic rebound by rallying consumers to give local businesses the support they need to re-open during these uncertain times. By bringing together government, business associations and corporate Canada, we are looking to start a movement to get Canadians to buy local and support businesses across the country. We are genuinely excited by the energy all of our partners are bringing to this effort.”

“If there has been one silver lining in all the tragedy and sacrifices of the current crisis, it has been the spirit of collaboration and unity of purpose that has been evident between levels of government, across provinces and across sectors,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We are calling on that same unity of purpose with Canada United. Small, local businesses are the heart of our communities, our Main Streets and our economy. Together, it is time to show local some love.”

-30-

About investStratford

investStratford is committed to advancing the economic future of Stratford, Ontario, Canada through investment in arts, education and industry. Globally Connected | Community Driven www.investStratford.com

About RBC

Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 84,000+ employees who bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 17 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries. Learn more at rbc.com.‎
We are proud to support a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. See how at rbc.com/community-social-impact.

For further information contact:
Joani Gerber, CEO, investStratford 519-305-5055 x1001
Elke Bidner, Marketing and Communications Lead 519-305-5055 x1003

4 Marketing Tips for Businesses with No Marketing Budget

You likely have heard the phrase, “you need to spend money to make money.” I’m not here to argue that from either side but digital marketing has allowed businesses with very small budgets to make a big impression. While it hasn’t exactly leveled the playing field, it certainly has helped businesses gain a larger audience with very little investment.

Most of these tools and strategies are free. But it’s important to note that when it comes to social media or online advertising, you will have to spend some money. In these situations, it’s best to create a very targeted audience for the strongest return on investment. After all, Facebook and other online platforms are very happy to take your money. But if you tell them exactly who it is you want to place your message in front of, you will spend less of it and achieve greater click-throughs.

4 Tools and Tips to Gain a Larger Audience Through Minimal Investment

Before we get into the tools and tips for better marketing on a small budget, it’s important to layout the assumptions. We are assuming you have a website and social media profiles on the platforms your target market visits most frequently. If you don’t, those are the first things you need to secure.

Also included in this list at the end of each tip or tool is advice on things to do later. These items require a little more investment but should be on your To Do List when you have additional money or are drawing up your next budget.

Now let’s get back to that list.

Keywords

What do people use to search for you? What phrases and questions might they ask to find a business like yours? Incorporate these into your web copy. The top keywords and phrases you want to place for should be used in prominent spots on your website such as headers and titles.

But don’t stop there.

Make sure that these words as well as the cities and areas you serve are used throughout your web copy. Write articles around these phrases as well.

If you have a website, you can go make this change now in a few minutes and then brainstorm ways you’ll create content around those words, phrases, and questions.

Thing to do later: redesign your website with a professional writer or SEO expert who can make the most of your web copy to bring in more interested potential customers and increase your organic rankings.

Call to Action

This is probably one of the most commonly overlooked ways to improve your sales. When people are reading your posts or content and they’ve gotten to the end, they have spent time with you. Unless they are related to you or they owe you a lot of money, to make it that far shows interest. Capitalize on that by asking something of them.

Your call to action should fit the stage of the sales cycle they are in. For instance, if someone is checking out your about page they generally are just finding out about you and want to know more. Ending your about page with a “buy now” button Is probably a little premature. On the other hand, ending a demo video with a buy now call to action is not.

Thing to do later: Track and test your calls to action. Words, fonts, colors, sizes, buttons, and locations all feed into a person’s likelihood to follow the call to action. Test these things by creating multiple ways to format the same call to action. Analyze your data to see which are your most effective

Blog

A blog is a great way to allow your audience to get to know you on a more personal level. It’s also the perfect way to tell your business story and allow it to evolve over time. It provides a way to let your personality shine through encouraging people to do business with you.

Keep in mind blog posts should have calls to action as well.

Thing to do later: create a written solution to your customer’s biggest problem. Use it as a lead magnet to increase sales.

Explanation and Framing

While you are reworking website copy, make sure you use some copyrighting skills. One of the many “tricks of the trade” is explaining why your company is the best. Then, use that reason to shape the best buying practices. For instance, if you provide Solution A in your business, create content around how Solution A is the only way to get the best solution.

Marketing your business doesn’t have to be expensive. Now is the ideal time to use some of these inexpensive practices to grow your audience and establish know, like, and trust to improve sales.

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.

Change these 3 Things in Your Business Now for a Stronger Recovery

With number of COVID infections currently stable in Perth County, people are beginning to start feeling confident in an economic recovery.

There are a few things we know about how business and customers have changed. You can use that knowledge to restructure your marketing in order to better position your business for a stronger recovery.

Here are the three things you should be working on now for a stronger future.

Improve Communication and Copy

This is a global pandemic. That means in some way, regardless of where your customers live, they have been affected. People’s lives have been forever altered.

The first thing you need to do to prepare for recovery is to understand that the way you communicate with your customers must change. People expect a much more human face to business and they want to understand you and know more about you before spending money with you.

There may also be topics or marketing copy you want to revisit. Many large companies are rebranding or dropping words form their company vernacular due to our current environment and racial tensions. Review marketing language and product descriptions. Take a look at employee communications. Understand how you’re being heard by all groups.

You’ll also want to adjust your content to reflect what people are going through now. Re-imagine the solutions you can provide to the issues created by COVID and use that to shape your messaging.

Eliminate Friction

If you’ve been thinking that it seems like people have shorter fuses these days, you might not be imagining it. With children at home (instead of school or camp), jobs shifting to home offices, protests, and some jobs being eliminated altogether, it’s no wonder that stress levels are high.

And it has ripple effects on other things as well. Customer service lines have been inundated with calls and wait times can exceed an hour or two. Even if your customers, vendors, or other stakeholders aren’t frustrated with your business, they could become so if there’s any form of friction in the buying or contact process. Stress is high. You don’t want to contribute to it.

That’s why you need to make sure you smooth along the rough edges as best as you can. Many people are fed up, scared, or just tired of this new order. Many want things to go back to the way they were but these past few weeks are showing that that may never happen. There’s a frustration in the realization of this.

Do your best to ensure customers and potential customers don’t have any of those situations with your business. Go above and beyond to improve user experience.

Get Back into “Fighting” Shape

If your employees have been working from home, there are a few things you can do to make sure that everyone is “back in shape” for the office. You were in survival mode but now you have to be prepared for thriving mode. Are there professional development courses you want your employees to take? Are there topics you need to brush up on? Make sure you encourage your staff to do so and give them time to complete these activities.

It’s likely been a while since they received any formal reviews or goal talks. Take some time now to make sure everyone is on track for success. Your business cannot be successful if your employees aren’t.

Ask for feedback and listen to their suggestions. Right now, disgruntled employees may be afraid to leave a job. But their negative attitudes could be making it difficult for coworkers and customers. Don’t leave things unaddressed just because you’re out of the office.

There are so many options for professional development that are free or very low cost. Check out webinars, podcasts, YouTube videos, Facebook Livestreaming and other low-cost solutions. 

With a couple of easy changes to your business protocols you can position yourself for a very successful future.

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.

How to Build a Tribe for your Business

Have you ever noticed that there are influencers on social media who mention an item and no sooner than they do it sells out? The cynical side of me believes there are certain people out there who could talk about how chic dust bunnies are and suddenly there’d be a host of people growing their own dust bunnies like they were chia pets.

But it takes a special personality, doesn’t it?

Maybe when all business dealings were in-person. But now that a lot of them are online, it doesn’t take an over-the-top personality to cultivate a tribe. In fact, you cannot only do it easily for yourself and your business, but the pandemic is the perfect time to start building your tribe if you don’t already have one.

What Is a Tribe? Why Do You Need One?

If you have a lot of time on your hands–and you don’t even need that much, it’s a quick read–you need to look into the book on the topic by Seth Godin. But assuming you want the abbreviated version…

A tribe is your group of people that you have influence with.

A tribe is not a specific number of followers. A tribe is measured by level of activity. For instance, if you know a preteen on Instagram they may shout excitedly every time someone follows them or likes their picture. In fact, you may be surprised at the amount of emotional energy they can spend caring about an emoji. For most preteens, this is proof that someone likes them and they get validation from that. As a business owner, you should be past that type of ego enforcement. Instead, you want sales.

After all, likes aren’t going to pay your rent.

So for you, a tribe is an active group of people who are interested in what you’re posting and will act on suggestions you make. Tribes are the basis for influencer marketing. If you want more sales, you need to develop a tribe. When you do, they will help you with word of mouth marketing.

Ways to Build Your Tribe

COVID has prevented us from doing a lot of things recently. But hopefully what it has done has helped you become more engaged with your audience on social media. Ideally, you’ve used this time to start connecting with customers and potential customers. If not, here are a couple of ideas you could be doing to build your tribe:

  • Go where your audience is. Figure out where they are on social media. If you don’t have accounts on those platforms, create them. If you have accounts that are no longer working for you and helping you connect, spend your conversation time elsewhere.
  • Start following and commenting. You can post really incredible stuff on social media but you’re assuming that the platform is showing your content to the people you most want to see it. Unless you’re paying for the views, that’s not always happening. However, if you comment on posts, you’re guaranteed the owner of the account will see it. Just make sure that when you do you are adding to the conversation and not simply trying to sell.
  • Be transparent. Don’t lie about who you are. Be open and honest.
  • Be friendly and encouraging. People are drawn to a positive attitude and will avoid those who constantly complain. Be a bright light in the darkness. However,…
  • Be real. While being positive is a good thing, you don’t want to appear fake. Share your struggles. But also share your plan for overcoming them. Show people that you’re human and ask them if they’ve ever had the same struggles. You might be surprised by the kind of way people open up.
  • Listen and interact. When people do open up, do a little more than just liking their comment. Look to continue the conversation by asking them a question or reflect on their feelings and show them the empathy they are likely hoping for.
  • Be you for the business. People find it easier to interact and connect with other people. Whenever you’re interacting on social media or posting blog posts, do so as an individual, not as a logo. If you want to use your business logo and name that’s fine. But make sure when you’re doing so that you give them your name too.

If this type of advice sounds familiar it’s probably because building a tribe for your business is similar to being a good friend. You want to be yourself and share the challenges and joys you have in life. Share your stories. Ask to hear theirs. These types of actions can have a very solidifying effect on your budding relationship. And a strong relationship will mean more revenue through word of mouth marketing in the future.

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.