Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's all about connecting....

It's all about connecting...  As businesses, we are told repeatedly to network. We network through the chamber, we network through business or trade associations, we network through vendors or suppliers, we network through friends and family and we network through our customers. 

With Social Media and Email Marketing, we can expand our network even more. So, why are some businesses still not utilizing these very important tools? Is it Cost? For the most part most of the tools available are free or the cost is very minimal - especially when compared to paid advertising and dues to various associations. Time? For businesses this is more precious and more important than the cost. We have very little of this precious commodity. Understanding or knowledge of the tools available? The learning curve can be somewhat daunting, especially for those with very little time to learn.

What's in it for me? Or, Why should I? Social Media and Email Marketing are about connecting. Some businesses expect to see some sort of return on their investment, but it is not just about the money, it is about connecting, staying connected and interacting with those connections. These tools have opened up doors and opportunities that were never there before. It has expanded a businesses ability to broaden and widen their reach. It allows them to do one of the most important and fundamental parts of business - to stay in front of their customers. It also allows them to be introduced to new ones.

So, what are the options for a small business?

1. Do you yourself.  PRO - Saves the business money.  CON -  TIME, it does take time to learn and time to use. Inexperience, not utilizing the tools correctly or frequently.

2. Have a friend or family member do it. - PRO -  Saves the business money. Helps with the time factor. CON - They could be inexperienced in the proper business use of the tools.

3. Hiring someone to maintain and grow your social media and email marketing, whether it's an employee or a marketing consultant.  PRO - Saves time. Allows you to focus on what you do best in the business. Experience and the knowledge. CON - Cost, but even this could be conceived as a pro - the return on this investment  can be very valuable when done correctly.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Press Release - Alternative Inbound Marketing - All Star with Constant Contact

Alternative Inbound Marketing Named One of
Constant Contact’s 2011 All Stars

Alternative Inbound Marketing recognized for achieving exemplary marketing results

Alternative Inbound Marketing, Anacortes, WA

Alternative Inbound Marketing has received the 2011 All Star Award from Constant Contact®, Inc., the trusted marketing advisor to more than half a million small organizations worldwide. Each year, a select group of Constant Contact customers are honored with the All Star Award for their exemplary marketing results. Alternative Inbound Marketing’s results ranked among the top 10% of Constant Contact’s customer base.

Alternative Inbound Marketing – Aims to Connect small businesses with their customers. Social and email marketing partner for small businesses. We partner with small businesses as a consultant and virtual assistant to help them achieve their online social media and marketing needs. As a partner, we collaborate with your business to build your online presence.

It is an honor to be selected an ‘All Star’ by Constant Contact. The real star is Constant Contact for providing us with great tools to help serve our clients and make them look good.

Constant Contact customers using any combination of the company’s Email Marketing, Event Marketing, and Online Survey tools are eligible for this award. Constant Contact looked at the following criteria to select this year’s All Stars:

·    Frequency of campaigns, events, and surveys
·    Open, bounce, and click-through rates
·    Event registration rates
·    Survey completion rates
·    Use of social features
·    Use of mailing list sign-up tools

“There is nothing we like more than to see our customers finding success. It’s the reason Constant Contact was founded, and it’s a thrill to see the fantastic results that our All Stars are achieving,” said Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact. “This group is really leading the charge when it comes to delivering relevant, engaging content that drives real business results. We salute this year’s All Stars for their success, and are honored to have played a part in their achievements.”

About Constant Contact, Inc.
Constant Contact is revolutionizing the success formula for small organizations through affordable, easy-to-use Engagement MarketingTM tools that help create and grow customer relationships. More than half a million small businesses, nonprofits, and associations worldwide rely on Constant Contact to drive ongoing customer dialogs through email marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, and online surveys. All Constant Contact products come with unrivaled KnowHow, education, and free coaching with a personal touch, including award-winning customer support. 

Constant Contact and the Constant Contact Logo are registered trademarks of Constant Contact, Inc. All Constant Contact product names and other brand names mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of Constant Contact, Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.
Alternative Inbound Marketing
Anacortes, WA

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Facebook Cover Photo - Design Special

Cover Photo
Design Special

On March 30th, Facebook will be changing Business Pages to the new Timeline. There are some really exciting features in the new Timeline. One of the new exciting features is the 'Cover Photo'. What a great way to brand your Facebook Page and make it look more like your Business. - That Photo Shoppe on Facebook


email us ( 3-5 photos, logo and Business name.

email us ( 5-9 photos, logo and Business name.

Armchair Cruising - on Facebook

Samples of Cover Photo Art for some local
designed by Alternative Focus/Alternative Inbound Marketing

Art in Anacortes on Facebook.

Johnny Picasso's on Facebook

Cascades Neuro Yoga on Facebook

Barbara Bickmore on Facebook

Saturday, March 3, 2012

New Facebook Pages Timeline - What about Business?

Without much notice, the ever-changing Facebook, says that on March 30th all Pages will be going to the new Timeline. There are some nice features in the new Timeline, I will admit. There is also some, ok features. One of the 'new' features is the 'Cover Photo'. You could also think of it like a website banner. The cool thing about this is now businesses/brands can get a little more creative. A Page can now stand out more - like the new Coca-Cola Page.

Another new feature, one that I have always wondered why they haven't done it, is you can now send a private message to a business. Some businesses might not like this. It could possibly take up more staff/employee time answering messages - kind of like answering emails. You can turn this feature off, but that seems very uncustomer friendly to me. Besides if a customer is having a problem, I would prefer to know it in private instead of having it publicly displayed on my wall.

Highlighting, Pinning and Milestones are some other new features that I think will help enhance a businesses Facebook Page.

A lot of these new features are great and will make a Business Facebook Page a more interactive and fun Page. There are still a few things that I find unfriendly to businesses. Facebook is a business, just like the rest of us, yet they have so many limitations and restrictions set in place on 'promoting' a business. Awhile back they put a big stop on 3rd party apps, some of which had some really great features for businesses. I, and so many others, found this very annoying. Now they have restrictions on what the Cover Photo (your Pages header/banner) is not allowed to do.

  • Price or Purchase information, such as '40% off', or 'Download it at our website'.
  • Contact information - no web address, email, mailing address or phone number.
  • Can't say 'Like' or 'Share' my Facebook Page.
  • Calls to action - 'Get it now' or 'Tell your Friends'.

Honestly I am not sure I understand why? What is their reasoning? My husband suggested it was because they want you to buy 'ads'. Ok, that makes some sense, but it's not a deal breaker for most of us. But to not be able to even put your website address or phone # in the header - Really? Let's face it Facebook - businesses are on Facebook. We are probably a big part of the drive behind the popularity of Facebook now. And we are businesses, businesses that need to 'promote' or 'market' our businesses. I am not saying that Facebook should be used for constant selling and marketing, not at all. In fact, I think it is a best used for communications with our Fans, but let's face it part of that communications is telling our Fans about our business and making it easy for them to contact us. And in all of our communications/advertising we are telling our customers to 'Like' us on Facebook, which Facebook has to love. So why can't we say that in our Cover Photo? Why can't we put our website at the top? Why such silly restrictions?

An answer we will probably never get.

Regardless, Facebook is as much a part of our business now as - emails, websites and the phone.

After all of that ranting about restrictions on promoting and marketing, and since I am a business - I am not going to restrict myself and I am going do a little 'promo' right here - If you need help with the new Timeline or any other Social Media or email marketing contact us at 360-588-6968. :-)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Ever Changing Social Media Landscape

The biggest frustration for most of us, is the constant changes in social networking. Seems like every time you turn around - Facebook is changing something on their site, or there is some new Social Media Site to discover and learn more about and add in the mobile market which is exploding. There is over 300,000 apps available and they expect that number to grow into the millions in the next year.

So where to start? If you are new to social media and social networking, then take small steps. Pick one or two sites and start. Practice everyday and stay consistent. Social networking works best if you stay consistent. Don't oversell your products or service. Post useful information and tips. Build trust. Stick with it and you will start to notice that it becomes as natural to your business as business cards, emails and websites.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Be Where Your Customers Are

I get asked a lot, which social media sites should I use? I only have so much time in a day, which ones are the most effective? There are some variables to consider, so there is no real definite answer to this - at least not in a blog post. The first consideration is, who are your customers? What Social Media sites would you find them on? You will find that each of the sites actually have different uses and different followers. Sure there is some overlap, but they will be used differently.

Facebook: With over 500 million users on Facebook, there is a pretty good chance your customers are on there, but is it the right fit for you? Most of the time, I would say 9 out of 10, the answer is yes.

Twitter: Great tool. Bloggers and professionals are some of the biggest users on Twitter, but you will read stories on retail stores, celebrities and others having great success on it. Again, are your customers on it? Will it help you in anyway? It might be useful just for staying up-to-date on what is happening in your industry?

YouTube: another great tool. Very effective for educational materials, introducing new products, artists, musicians, celebrities, having fun. Determine how your business can use YouTube and make it work for your customers.

Blogging: Personally I think blogging is a great tool for all businesses. It is a great way to educate, to communicate, to describe, to introduce and to inform. Is this right for you, or your customers?

The list can go on and on. Determine where your customers are and how you can reach them. Maybe start out small and with just use one or two social media sites. Keep it simple, keep it short, keep it real.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Take the time to connect

It surprises me that there are still business out there either not using social media sites as a marketing tool, or are not fully utilizing the sites they have. They give you many excuses, the biggest one is time. Now I understand that, I am just as guilty of it, but we all now that we have to keep our advertising and marketing plan going. Social media tools and email marketing, once you get a good system down, is not only quick, it is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to connect to customers and potential customers. You could literally reach thousands of people in just a few minutes. Isn't that worth a few minutes of your time each day?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Raving Fans

Raving Fans - A business asset

I am not talking about the customers that rave at you and complain. I am talking about the fans that rave about you on social media sites. Sometimes, I think small businesses forget about the greatest kind of advertising and marketing available out there is, word-of-mouth, and that is what raving fans do. They spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, email blast, you name it, they do it.

Raving Fans should be considered one of small businesses greatest assets and as a business we should do all we can to leverage that asset. Social Networking is all about connecting and building relationships. Even though Walmart, Costco and others have programmed customers to buy on price, customers still like to buy from businesses, or more importantly people that they trust. And they trust people/businesses that their friends recommend. Great customer service, personal connection, responsiveness, being helpful, honesty and integrity, all add up to a great experience. An experience that customers will rave about to all of their friends and they will use social media sites to do it.

Do you have any raving fans? If so, show them that you really appreciate them. They are worth it.