Small Business Saturday (SBS) is coming up and you should be excited! Here’s what SBS is and here’s how you, the small business owner, can participate.
American Express started SBS in 2010 and the goal was to promote more holiday shopping at small businesses. After one year, even the Senate got involved and passed a resolution to solidify the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday. Every state across the U.S. now participates in the event since small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. In 2016, Small Business Saturday generated an estimated $15.4 billion.
So, how can you get a piece of that $15.4 billion pie?
To get involved, there are materials you can create on the Shop Small website featuring your business’ name and what you do. If you do accept American Express, you will most likely be featured on the Shop Small Map. For more details, please visit their website. Additionally, there are other marketing materials that we can give you. It is a first come, first serve basis, so act fast! So, shoot us an email, we would love to partner up with you and help your small business grow!
by Aaryck Enriquez who is currently petting a good dog.
Instagram is fun and addicting. It’s so much fun that I try to showboat how cool my life is by showing how many dogs I can pet in one day. While posting all the dogs I pet on Instagram, I’ve noticed that more companies are marketing on the app and you should too as a small business owner. After doing some research, here are some facts that should excite you as a small business owner for using Instagram:
It looks like your business is a gold mine on Instagram. (Hallelujah hands emoji)
So, here are 5 Marketing Tips to get ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶t̶a̶i̶l̶ ̶w̶a̶g̶g̶i̶n̶g̶ you excited to market on Instagram:
1. Use #ApplicableHashtags
Hashtags on Instagram are used to organize and categorize all of the photo and video content and increase your chances at being found in all of the visual clutter. Essentially, hashtags are the lifeblood for each of your posts.
Since hashtags are very helpful in being found, use hashtags that are applicable to your business and to the specific post. For instance, a Mexican restaurant might feature a new burrito that has carne asada and a new hot sauce, so try using your city/geographical location #FortCollins, what the product is #CarneAsadaBurrito, and add something that might be trending, e.g. #picoftheday and #FeedAaryckMoreMexicanFood. Hashtags like these work, because they help grow your reach to your audience and preferred demographics. Just be careful not to use too many hashtags, because it’s not a good look for a visual content-rich platform!
2. Post quality content
Good and engaging content on Instagram is a great way to gather a following and market to them. However, it’s not always easy to just snap a photo and have it be good content, because it requires time, effort, and energy to create good content for Instagram. Amra and Elma Beganovich at Forbes Magazine understand this and said, “Lackluster images or posts are not worth sharing and will turn off your audience. This is why it’s critical to invest time and energy into the quality of your content. Sometimes this may require extensive research, editing and planning – but in the long run, it’s worth it.”
Let’s visit the burrito example again:
A picture of a burrito is kind of boring – all the good stuff is inside! So, to post good content, think outside the box. Maybe take a photo of the freshly cooked carne asada made for the burrito to showcase the quality ingredients. Perhaps, take a video of the burrito being made or make a graphic of all the ingredients.
This might be time consuming and overwhelming, but don’t worry. We love creating content and we can help! Especially when it’s carne asada burritos…
3. Collaborate with Other Businesses
Back in the day, Aerosmith had clout. Aerosmith collaborated with then super hip-hop group RUN DMC in the 80’s and came out with the hit single, “Walk This Way.” The song topped the charts, was a massive success and I still the dig fun-spirited rock/hip-hop collaboration.
Like music, social media collaboration on Instagram can and does lead to success. Social media marketing veteran, Lisa Karl says, “The trend on Instagram now is to share the love, so to speak, by tagging others or even by outright promoting other companies, products and services.”
The reason behind this strategy is simple: it leads to more reach and more sales. Karl explains further, “The results are threefold: higher recognition for everyone involved, increased followers (who in turn tag the businesses during visits) and increased traffic and sales for the local businesses.”
So who can you think of that you can collaborate with?
If I was making that carne asada burrito, you can best believe that I’m gonna collaborate with the tortilla company...
4. Invest in Paid Ads
Instagram did a survey in 2015 and found that 60% of people discovered new products on Instagram. Additionally, 75% of users take action after being inspired by a post.
Based off of the data above, I always highly recommend an Instagram ad budget, because paid ads increase your reach and exposure above and beyond your organic reach. With the assistance of a paid ad program, you will gain more followers and influence anyone else who sees the ad to take action.
5. Use the Insights Tool
Instagram has a cool feature on how to track posts called “Insights.” Used exclusively for business pages, Instagram offers daily insights on how each of your posts are performing and how people are engaging with your posts. Using this tool will help you make better decisions on future posts.
Using the Insights tool allows the you to see how many likes and comments each post is getting, thus giving you an idea which content you post tends to perform better overall. Once you know what content performs best with your audience, focus more on those kind of posts – obviously.
I hope these tips were helpful in getting you started because Instagram is a rewarding social media platform when it’s used properly. As a marketing professional, I love being able to figure out what works and what doesn’t for my clients. I also love creating designs, taking photos, engaging with people on there and trying to figure out the next trending hashtag – it’s a rush! However, if you need help with your Instagram marketing, contact me here at Canopy Creative Marketing!
by Aaryck Enriquez
Online reviews have great advantages but also have become tricky to manage because you cannot control what people say. However, review sites play a huge part on how people find your business online and decide if they want to buy from you. This is because 90% of consumers read online reviews before they visit a business and 88% of them consider these reviews as personal recommendation.
Here are 4 ways to use good or bad online reviews to your company’s advantage:
1. Know the Big 4.
Simply put, “The Big 4” are Google, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Bing. These sites give consumers access to reviews, information, etc. when it comes to services, restaurants, etc. and they represent almost 80% of the local search traffic.
To maximize efficiency of the Big 4, claim your business on each site, if you haven’t done so already. It can be a lengthy process but trust me, it’s worth it, because once the Big 4 has your business claimed, they will start supplying other online directories with correct and valid information about your business. Also, when you claim your business, you will have the ability to properly respond to the reviews that come in these sites.
Having a more cohesive online presence does lead to more clicks, and more clicks can ultimately lead to more sales! So get familiar with “The Big 4!”
2. Use Your Responses as a Marketing Tool.
When responding to reviews, you can add in a little marketing.
First, if you get a very positive review, formulate a response that is genuine and addresses the reviewer sincerely. Then, try using your business name and location in your response so this review is more likely to appear in search results.
Remember, your reply is now public, so it’s okay to market yourself! Try adding in something that pertains to the review but also your business like, “Sounds like you order from us a lot, did you know we have a loyalty program for great customers just like you?” After that, invite the customer to do something like to return to your store or to invite their friends.
Adding a little marketing to your responses can and will create more incentive for that reviewer to return. It will also inform other consumers who look at reviews before making a purchase decision what you have to offer!
3. Stay on Top of Negative Reviews.
It’s easy to take a compliment, but it’s hard to take a criticism. It’s especially difficult to take a criticism that can be disrespectful and full of “absolutes”, like “this is the worst place EVER” or “NEVER go here or you will regret it.”
Regardless, the more gracefully you can handle the issue, the better it reflects on you.
For negative reviews, don’t be like this person:
Yikes. This business owner did NOT respond appropriately.
To not be like this business owner. First decide which negative reviews require a response. If the review has a rating but no review, there’s not much to be done. If the negative review does contain content, try to respond in a timely manner. We recommend setting up Google Alerts for your business so you can be alerted when someone posts something about you or reviews you online. This will help you stay on top of all reviews!
Once you know there is a negative review, first try to figure out what happened that would cause the consumer to take time out of their day to write a review. Perhaps the kitchen staff was understaffed, or one of your employees was having a bad day; whatever the reason, find out what happened and respond sincerely without using the name of your business or relevant search words. Don’t forget, search engines are looking for these things!
Acknowledge the customer’s concerns. Even if they’re unfounded, show sympathy that they had a bad experience, because again, sometimes people just want to feel heard. However, that does not mean accept blame. Provide contact information so that you can gather more information from them - some sites allow for private messages. Don’t go into too much detail or ask any questions. And certainly do not launch into excuses. This will prevent saying something that could cause the upset customer to add more. Shoot for 3 sentences.
Then, try to move the conversation offline if you can. Have them call you or the manager directly to solve the issue. 1 out of 3 consumers who receive a retailer response to their online complaint end up posting a good review and in addition, 34% end up deleting their negative review altogether.
4. Ask for Reviews
Again, online reviews can help your off-site SEO and they are also here to stay, so you might as well take advantage of that by asking your patrons to review you online. Do this by making it easy for them to review you online! Have a sign by the register or include it in your email marketing to tell them where to go online to review you or have an incentive for them to post a review.
Not making reviews a part of your work processes can ultimately hurt your business because they play a large role in your online marketing. You can have the best looking site in town but if you have a 2.9 star-rating on Google, those consumers will go elsewhere so it’s best to get to work if you haven’t already. If you don’t know where to begin, or just don’t have the time (because it is time-consuming), reach out to us and we can help!
I Went to a Work Conference in Memphis & All I Got Were These 4 Things I Learned That Could Help Your Small Business Grow.
by Aaryck Enriquez
I like to pet dogs and help your small business grow.
Recently, I was in a little town called Memphis for a conference about sales and small business marketing. Our parent company brought us along to learn more about the industry and it was blast! I also learned a few things.
First, I found out that salespeople are a unique breed.
They walk with a swagger and confidence that can only be matched by NFL running backs. So imagine 800 NFL running backs walking around a large hotel constantly flashing smiles at each other, to include me. Why are they doing this to me? What does that smile want from me? I trusted it but I didn’t want to. It was sort of like that.
Okay, so obviously you probably already knew that but being at this conference was informative, educational, and above all, motivating. So, this is what actually learned from this conference and something I wanted to share with you, the small business owner:
1. “Habits & Rituals”
Outside of the “evening festivities” on Beale Street, the highlight of the week was keynote speaker Walter Bond. If you know who he is, you’re a bigger fan of 90’s NBA Basketball than I am. If you don’t know who he is, get good and look him up – and I am not talking about his NBA stats. I am talking about his motivational speeches.
Walter Bond, let’s call him Mr. Bond for funsies, is one helluva speaker. He had the whole audience wrapped around his finger because he had a great message, strong delivery, and a humorous approach. At the end of his motivating speech, I was able to articulate his main point, “Habits and Rituals.”
What I learned from him was something so simple and ordinary; our habits could be the difference between having a great year or a bad year. So, ask yourself, “Do my daily habits and rituals help grow my business? Does it help my marketing?” If they do, great! If they don’t, then something needs to change immediately, because that affects your bottom line. The littlest thing can make the biggest difference!
2. “Eat the Frog”
I ate a frog once. Well, I ate his leg. It was salty, chewy, and my cousins from the backwoods of Michigan just laughed at me as my face contorted in displeasure. The frog leg wasn’t pleasant but it was something I had to do. Being a third grader AND being called a “chicken” was a tough way to live, so down the hatch the frog went.
In Memphis, I learned something eerily similar...
There’s always something unpleasant you have to do to get your job done. Being the business owner, you’re going to be doing a lot of odd-end jobs and most of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to marketing and growing your own business; some of those jobs you’re not going to like. For example, you may have to allocate a marketing budget for the next quarter or come with a new strategy to market to a different audience. However, it doesn’t have to be that bad: Just eat the frog. Getting the unpleasant part of the job done first can free up so much more of your day. It can also help spur on creativity and productivity. Plus, you don’t have that nasty frog staring you down all day.
3. “Synergy is Not a Cliché Word Anymore”
Eh, it still is but I saw synergy in motion!
In Memphis, I had the pleasure of working with all different types of employees from across the country. We did a project which allowed us to break up into groups and brainstorm about certain dilemmas we faced. Then when the group discussions were done, each group presented the problems to the entire room and then accepted input and advice from other people.
I love that! Addressing a problem and working as a team to solve it is one of my favorite things in the world! Working collectively allows other perspectives to come together to something you might have missed before. So, when it comes to your marketing strategy and growing your business, synergy takes an individual problem and makes it a team dynamic thus creating more opportunities for improvement and business growth. An applicable cliché to further my point, “teamwork makes the dream work.”
4. “Go get lost in Memphis”
Actually, I don’t recommend this. Memphis is a fun town, but you also want to keep yourself safe. I was able to go get lost because a.) it was 1:30 pm and b.) I’m 6’1 with a very wide frame; people generally don’t mess with me. Regardless, getting lost did wonders for me. I was able to collect my thoughts, refresh my mind, and I was rejuvenated.
I endorse “getting lost” because when it comes to strategizing a marketing plan or figuring out next month’s goals, it can be overwhelming. Being a business owner is a tough and you’re going to need to give yourself a break once in awhile. So get lost in a book for an hour or binge watch a few episodes on Netflix. Give yourself that moment of relaxation to recharge yourself so you can reflect and regroup. Your business’ growth is depending on it!
That week was a blast. I had so much fun with my coworkers and I learned even more about marketing and growing small business. I was also reminded to sit back and just enjoy the process. So, if you ever found yourself overwhelmed or unsure about what to do with growing your small business and can’t enjoy the process, we are here to help you!
by Aaryck Enriquez
“I’m going to stream this live," she said.
The person in front of me – probably named Becky, looked like a Becky – was sitting on the grass like me and was watching the annual Fourth of July fireworks like me. Unlike me, however, she was streaming the fireworks live on Facebook on her dinner plate-sized iPhone with the brightness settings set to supernova. It was bright and distracting. Yes, even with the fireworks going off.
Personally, as a consumer, I don’t care about Becky’s live stream of the fireworks because
a. It looks terrible.
b. Fireworks are one of those “you had to have been there” sort of things.
c. Becky doesn’t understand Facebook. Stop it, Becky, Minions™ make terrible
Yet, as a consumer, I am excited to see businesses livestream their content because livestreaming adds a depth to an online presence and gives the audience more content to see! Despite my distaste for Becky’s use of livestreaming, it’s actually amazing for marketing and you.
Wait, what is livestreaming and how does it benefit me?
Livestreaming is a video that is distributed to your choice of web applications and it’s, well, live.
With a direct access to the business, consumers are given immediate engagement through live streaming which helps strengthen your brand. The content you put on there is up to you as you can use your smartphone, tablet, or even a Canon “It Costs How Much?” Mk III camera.
The uses of livestreaming that are trending are webinars, how-to videos, behind-the-scene looks, interactions with the audience for those applications with user-comment functions (Facebook Live), and a live broadcast of an exclusive event. These uses give the consumers a unique, one-of-a-kind experience that isn’t felt anywhere else in marketing which may lead to a greater incentive to buy!
It’s already here, so try to embrace it.
Look, the older I get, the less I like new things. I don’t know what it is - maybe my spirit animal is a grumpy old man - but it’s getting harder for me to like new things.
When Periscope was first introduced, I scowled at it and dismissed it. When Facebook Live was announced, I “Gran Torino’d” the news and demanded it to get off my lawn.
Needless to say, I am the perfect example of what not to do.
Instead, you should embrace this trending form of marketing because video is the fastest growing medium on mobile platforms, and mobile platforms are the fastest growing media in digital marketing.
Be Interesting, Helpful, and/or Informative.
In order to ensure your audience sees your content, your livestream has to be interesting. Going live doesn’t mean your content is Emmy-nomination worthy. Prepare well in advance because being prepared ahead of time will help create better content, therefore, leading to your success.
To create interesting, helpful, and/or informative content, I highly recommend setting some goals with your audience in mind. For instance, you may want to create more traffic to your store or you may want to show an example of how your brand is associated with great quality by showcasing it with a live stream. After your goals are set, create a plan to execute. This could be a lot of things but make sure that whatever you do, it leads to meeting (or surpassing) your goal. Don’t ever lose focus of your goals and audience!
Once the plan is created, practice. Practicing before going live will help you be interesting, helpful, and/or informative because then you’re not as awkward in front of the lens and you can fix minor issues like whatever that creepy guy in the office is looking at on his computer in the background.
When you’re about to go live, take a deep breath and be yourself. Going live allows consumers to see the (almost) real you and the real brand. This is an opportunity to shine with relevant content that can help create incentive to buy!
It May Not Go Your Way – At First.
Live streaming is the new niche of digital marketing. It’s a frontier yet to be fully explored and you may not get it right the first couple of times, and that’s okay. You’ll be forgiven if minor mistakes happen - like if some knucklehead makes inappropriate comments on your livestream. What will make a difference is how you handle those certain mishaps and respond appropriately. Remember, consumers are looking for a brand they can trust (see: previous blog post) and livestreaming is a great tool to help build that trust with your audience.
So give live streaming a shot! Don’t be like me, embrace it! If you’re nervous, remember that a lot of other businesses are experimenting with this form of marketing, too. Don't jump on the bandwagon before it’s too late because you might’ve missed out on some great conversions to sales, or even worse, Becky could’ve learned how to livestream better than you.
by Aaryck Enriquez
Being in a band used to be cool and I used to be in a band.
I am now 29 years of age with a slowing metabolism, so the definition of cool has drastically changed for me. I still secretly desire to play music for 24 people crammed in a smelly basement, but I have learned to count my losses and move on. So, yeah, adulting sucks.
Alas, from the ashes, a phoenix rises and that phoenix’s name is Digital Marketing! Call it a second chance at true love but I am still calling it Digital Marketing, because I’m not a weirdo.
All kidding aside, being in a death metal band taught me a lot about marketing that I never knew and I also never thought being in a death metal band would teach me anything...
• Consistency is neat!
In my band, we didn’t tour. Like, at all. We might’ve made the 30 minute drive to the least populated college town in America: Laramie, Wyoming, to play in an abandoned plane hangar, but that’s it. We normally only played in one town and one town only, but here’s the thing: KIDS LOVED US. These kids knew they could rely on us because we always put on one heavy show and they could always rock out with their socks out because of us. The same is true in the digital marketing world; when your marketing is consistent, consumers will notice you and will come to you.
My homies over at Forbes agree with me, “Brands are built through the consistent delivery of the brand promise.” Consumers, like the kids at our shows, are more likely to return to due to that consistent delivery of your own brand and marketing.
A wonderful (and brilliant) approach to consistent marketing is that of GymIt. GymIt is a small Massachusetts-based gym with a simple idea: keep the gym simple. What sets them apart is that their social media is consistently witty, humorous, and most of all, simple. Even they like consistency. Literally:
What can I say? Human beings like stability so understand your audience and your demographics and appeal to them! Let them rock out with your brand out.
• Network to Grow Your Net-worth!
Bands book tours ahead of time with show promoters or booking agents they know, because it’s all about “who you know” in the music industry and in life in general. Networking is an essential part of building a business…. Or a band.
“But Aaryck, didn’t you just say you didn’t tour as a band – how would you know this? Isn’t that how bands make money? Don’t they book shows and then tour? Don’t record sales (outside the first week of a new album’s release) not really matter much anymore for an income and now bands make most of their consistent income from touring and merch sales?”
Well, extremely knowledgeable reader, you are correct about that but what I am saying is that I still learned that networking is crucial for marketing from observing other bands.
See, when a smaller band wants to go on a tour of the country or their greater market region, they try to reach out to the few contacts they have to book a show. Then, they build upon that by making more contacts. The band makes more contacts by networking and marketing itself to grow and get these bookings for their tour. These bookings helps them get shows so they can get money. This complex algorithm I just made drives my point home: booking + playing show = money.
The same goes for you because networking can help grow your digital marketing presence just like how a metal band can increase their bookings. Here’s a few networking examples for you that can lead to success:
• Being adaptable is what the cool kids do!
I know I said be consistent. I am not contradicting myself here. In fact, I am being consistent at being adaptable. See what I did there?
While being consistent in digital marketing is crucial, it’s also crucial to know your audience. So, what happens if your audience changes? [see: this section of the blog’s title]
I won’t get into details but one night, my band opened for three somewhat “satanic” bands that will not be named. Let’s just say they were the “opposite of what we stood for.” The lineup that night brought in a different audience than what we were used to playing for, too. Classic cat v. dog fight, eh?
While we didn’t compromise our beliefs to cater to the audience, we did adapt our approach. It was a great show and I made some great friendships with dudes I never knew I would be friends with.
The same goes for digital marketing: stay true to your brand but be flexible. You may never know what positive results might come of it. Look at what Wendy’s is doing to adapt to their growing younger audience: they are addressing their younger audience with funny twitter jokes, silly Instagram ads, and much more. Adapting while still staying true to their mantra of having the freshest food is paying off for them so it will pay off for you, too.
• Be authentic!
This has nothing to do with me being in a band other than Instagram came out at the peak of my band’s existence and we used it a lot for funsies.
Anyways, you probably saw “Be Authentic” as a quote on Instagram with that cool paintbrush cursive font. Your sister probably posted it and you snickered to yourself, “ha! Becky’s the least bit authentic.” But, you see, in digital marketing, being authentic is noticed by you AND Becky. Most consumers can tell what’s real and what’s hog wash because most consumers are looking for something real, something they can trust.
For example, be active in your online engagement - it’s a surefire way to build a relationship with your consumers. Comment on their comments, reply to their direct messages quickly and sincerely, interact with those who interact with you, and most of all, just be the “you” you wanted to establish with your brand. Being authentic is paramount in keeping the brand-consumer relationship alive. So do yourself a favor and don’t be a Becky; your target audience will see right through you like you did… with your sister Becky.
There are more lessons I learned about digital marketing but these are the key takeaways during my days as a front man. Obviously, you have to find what works best for you as a brand and digital marketing experience, but what’s important is to do the legwork to get to know your audience and key demographics and apply these principles. Your audience is what makes your world go ‘round and if you’re struggling with that, reach out to us here at Canopy Creative Marketing. We help with that, heck, we specialize in that. Heck, my job title is that!
Lately, we have noticed that many small businesses we speak to have abandoned email marketing in favor of other forms of online marketing, like social media marketing. While Facebook and Instagram may seem like…. sexier marketing mediums, here at Canopy Creative Marketing, we like to stress to our clients the power of email marketing. Here’s why:
We know you have seen stats that boast Facebook has over 1 billion active users, but worldwide email accounts are expected to reach 4.9 billion this year! Here at Canopy Creative Marketing, we like to think of email kind of like the currency of the web; anyone who is online has an active email address. So, when it comes to reaching your customers or potential new customers, there is no channel with wider reach than email.
YOUR MESSAGE IS SEEN
We LOVE social media marketing and it can be an important element of a business’s online marketing strategy, but if you want to ensure your message is being seen, email is the way to go. This is because unlike Facebook, where only about 2% of your Facebook fans see your posts in their News Feed (thanks, EdgeRank), about 90% of email gets delivered to the intended recipient's inbox. That means your message is about 45 times more likely to be seen using email than an organic Facebook post.
What is the ultimate goal of your marketing strategy? It’s to turn a potential customer into a paying customer, right? Well, email is more likely than your social campaign to make that conversion. One of the biggest reasons for this is that email subscribers have explicitly told you they want to hear from you when they signed up for your email list. Think about it, even though Facebook ads can be very effective (more on that later), users probably have not told you they want to see your Facebook ads.
IT’S HOW PEOPLE PREFER TO HEAR FROM YOU
Email is a more professional than a post on your company's social networks. For many people, social networks are a personal way to keep up with friends and family. In fact, only 17% of people say they prefer to receive promotional content via social media as compared to 72% who say they prefer email.
There are many effective ways to market to customers and potential customers. However, if you have limited time and resources, you have to prioritize your efforts! Email marketing is an effective way to attract, engage and connect with you audience, and that is why Canopy Creative Marketing discourages our clients from discounting the power of email marketing.
To start using email marketing to reach your audience, contact Canopy Creative Marketing today!
If you haven’t already noticed, Facebook has recently started experimenting with new recruitment features, like a Jobs Tab. Apparently, because Facebook noticed companies (like us!) have been using their pages to post about their job openings.
The new Jobs features allow page admins to formally share a job opening with details like job title, salary or if it’s full-time vs. part-time. The special formatting is supposed to differentiate job postings from other content to help your position posting stand out in users’ News Feeds.
The job postings will also appear on your page as Jobs tab which will send job seekers to a special landing page. Once a user applies for your open position, you will receive a notification as a Facebook Message.
We love the idea of social recruiting and tapping into the networks of our fan page visitors, so the next time Canopy Creative Marketing has a job opening, you will be sure to see it as a tab on our Facebook page!