Posts

Knowledge helps set yourself up as an expert

Give Everything Away Now

Give Everything Away Now

Yes, you read it right.  I said give everything away right now.  Uh-oh, Scott’s gone mad.  That’s probably what you’re thinking, isn’t it?  Well good news, I haven’t gone mad.  I’m just telling you something that my marketing agency does as a general rule of thumb but I bring it up because not everyone seems to agree with this methodology. 

Give Away Knowledge to Show Your ExpertiseHow Digital Marketing is done seems to be a big giant secret for many business people.  I constantly see businesses create social media accounts only to never use them, or to post sales pitch after sales pitch.  I often stumble upon websites with outdated copyright notices (thanks for all the free content..just kidding).  Those same websites often are not mobile ready or lack simple things such as a favicon, and not so simple for some..a blog.

Digital Marketing Methods are not really a secret, and if you’ve been reading my blog or following me on social media you’d know I share everything I do.  There are no secrets here.  I will tell you exactly how I do it and have done so numerous times.  Just look at my last blog post, 5 Simple Steps to Blabbing Your Way to Success, and you will see what I mean.  I give everything away just about every day, and guess what.  I’ve experienced business growth despite telling everyone my so called secrets.  In fact, I always give potential clients a review of what I would do before they become a client.  They don’t all come running and maybe they give that review to a competitor but that’s OK..they can use it.

I am not the only one who believes in doing this.  I manage a marketing campaign for a local wildlife control company and routinely share tips on how to get squirrels out of the attic, or prevent raccoons and skunks from coming around.  I have been working with them for over a year now and they have experienced month over month growth both in traffic and sales.  Their site receives about 9 times the amount of traffic today versus a year ago.

I know several attorneys (Yay, watch out for me!) that routinely share ideas, tips and thoughts on their respective areas of practice.  They post blogs, videos and participate in podcasts giving the same information that they had to spend tens of thousands of dollars to receive.  They give everything away for FREE!  Why?  Because it works.  They are seeing growth in their business and increased traffic to their sites.  On the day an email blast goes out their traffic spikes.  On the days they share their own information on social media their traffic spikes.

On a recently podcast with one of those attorneys shared some of his methods to business growth and legal advice..for free.  Why?  Because he understood that you have to give before you receive.

On the contrary, I know another business owner who thinks that he should keep all his ideas and projects a secret.  He has been in business for over 40 years and did quite well for some time.  Today he is struggling as the competitive field has changed and his competitors are more than willing to share their “Secrets” and ideas.  He doesn’t want to budge on his thought process and I believe this is one of the reasons for his decline in traffic and business.  He doesn’t want to blog because he doesn’t want to share…he’s losing.

Give away the farm as part of your content marketing planThe moral of the story is essentially you have to give to receive.   But don’t give expecting to receive because it doesn’t work that way.  Some will take, take and take some more for a long time.  I was told of a business that had a client who participated in free webinars and received all types of free information for over a year but did eventually become a client.  It might take time, some people take longer to commit but being a source of information and knowledge will help you build an audience and eventually clients.

Giving away knowledge, information and expertise is not only a good marketing plan, it’s recommended by some of the industry’s top marketers..including me.  I hope you enjoyed this bit of free advice.

So get out there and give the farm away.

 

Are You a Growth Hacker?

Growth Hacking 101

growth hacking 101Technology and buzzwords go hand in hand and for those out of the loop, it can be hard to keep up with all of the new lingo and jargon. As we move into 2015, it seems that growth hacking is one of this year’s buzzwords, but despite its unique daunting name, its meaning is simple.

A growth hacker is a person who has the skills in starting as well as growing a business from scratch, although they don’t necessarily have to have been involved with a business since day one. Basically, it’s someone you want working with your company because their job is to grow your company, but how will they do that? You do want to see effective growth, right? So how do you apply the skill set of a growth hacker effectively?

Firstly, it’s good to remember that your growth hacker is not a short-term solution. Instead, they can actually drive your business forward in a sustainable manner. Something that has long-term benefits.

So what is Growth Hacking? Is it worth the attention?

Growth Hacking is when a marketing person or rather a business has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with the only what is trackable, testable and scalable. Tools such as e-mails pay per click ads and blogs are commonly used instead of the typical advertisements of commercials, publicity, and money. Whereas their marketing brethren are busy chasing vague notions such as branding and mindshare, growth hackers relentlessly pursue users and growth. If done correctly then those users beget more users, who later beget more users and the chain continues. Think of the way you were taught to approach marketing in business school and erase it. What’s interesting is that growth hackers are inventors, operators, and mechanics of their own self-sustaining as well as the self-propagating growth machine that can take a startup from nothing to something. Who wouldn’t want that?

How Can I Growth Hack my Business?

The best way to growth hacking is by asking your valued customers a few questions. Why do you prefer our products and services? Growth HackingWhat is holding you back from bringing other people to us? What product or service do you love? And many more. Ensure you don’t ask your friends or random people. Be strategic about it and use tools such as SurveyMonkey, Wufoo or even Google Docs, which make it very easy to offer surveys to some or perhaps all of your customers. Invite business contacts to use this service. The best way to get people to do this enormous favor for you is by making it seem like it isn’t a favor. Just make it the kind of thing that is worth spreading.

Top 5 Benefits of Growth Hacking: Why Use Growth Hacking to Grow Your Business?

Here are the top five benefits of using the techniques of growth hacking for your business.

Saves Money

At times, growth hacking can be a pain in the ass. Therefore it can be a very cost-effective way of promoting your brand. Rather than the traditional TV commercials, print advertising, and billboards, growth hacking concentrates on new cost-effective and measurable techniques to promote your business. Collecting adequate information on the success of the growth hacking strategies using real-time data allows you to determine the success rate of each and every plan. Strategies used by growth hackers are relatively low cost, therefore, they have more room to fail without costing the company lots of marketing dollars.

Builds Customers Relationship

When you position your company as an expert with lots of relevant and informative content, you will certainly build your network and make past and current customers experience a positive feeling from working with your company. Customers always want to feel good about their purchase. If your clients have a positive experience with your company they are more likely to interact with your new content and praise your expertise in the digital domain. It is without a doubt, the most terrific referral source to tap into and a unique way to stay in touch with past and current clients. Social Media is connecting everybody, let it become the new “magnet on the fridge” or rather a “business card in your wallet?” Make use of this invaluable connection to stay in touch and ensure you interact with past and current clients.

Organic Growth

Growth HackerThe number one goal for a growth hacker is to grow the visibility and following of a business. Diverting the focus to this goal makes them constantly try new avenues, platforms, and strategies to reach the online consumer. Basically, they will sign up for anything that can help achieve the goal of online visibility. The good thing is your online presence begins to grow organically through channels, content, and comments used by the growth hacker. The more you are actively participating in them, the more likely your business will organically grow with time.

Focuses on the Big Picture

More times than not we are busy focusing on the day to day, hour to hour and minute to minute tasks and responsibilities of the business operation. What most of us don’t know is that this does not focus on the big picture goal of every business. Using a growth hacker or growth hacking marketing strategy to guide your marketing keeps someone focused on the growth of the business. Businesses are either declining or growing, there is no middle ground. Ensuring someone is focusing on the growth of the bigger picture ensures you are focused on the main goal of growth.

Increased Online Visibility

Growth hacking somewhat of a volume game. However a growth hacker will not try to appeal to the masses, but rather he/she will attract those who already expressed interest in your offering. The more relevant and useful the content your growth hacker shares online, the more likely it will attract current and new clients to your online presence, creating a receptive audience. The more useful and relevant your content is, the more value your online presence has to potential or existing customers. Good content and information position your business as an expert. Most people want to deal with experts and will seek the advice of an expert when they are in need of help as well as keep their current business and referrals with that expert. Positioning your company as an expert will build a network and also make past and current customers feel good about their experience.

The beauty of Growth hacking

Okay, so you’ve done it. Your site is successful, users are bringing friends and generally your concept has become a household name. What next?

Do It Again! You can apply all of the above to whatever business concept you have. If it has legs, you will hit the ground running. Start now!

Bottom Line

Well, well, well. There you have it. Growth hacking works because of its huge reliance on its users. An understanding of who really wants your product greatly improves your chances of it being a great success. Continuing to analyze as well as understand the target audience basically means your business will continually grow with your initial users while giving them what they want. What’s more is you should also retain a buzz around your products using social media to really drive up the results and further growth.

Ready to Growth Hack Your Business?

Who Elected You Thought Leader?

What is a Thought Leader?

What-Is-A-Thought-LeaderThe new buzz word is Thought Leader.   Well, that’s one of many new buzz words.  I am starting to see a lot of social media profiles where the user claims to be a thought leader.   What does it mean to be a thought leader, and is that enough?

A thought leader is someone who’s views and opinions on a subject are said to be authoritative.  That means that you are the subject matter expert and people look to you for answers on that subject.  That would seem to eliminate all the self-proclaimed thought leaders right away.  Who made you the authority on a subject, especially something as broad as small business or marketing?  All of the sudden your 17 twitter followers (10% of which are spam) have elected you the thought leader on a subject?  This seems a little pretentious to me.

How does one go about becoming a thought leader?  Is there an election process?  I’d like to throw my hat in the ring, heck I am constantly thinking about stuff.

Just read my other blog posts and you will see I am often rambling about this or that.  This only happens when I have time to put pen to paper so to speak.  In reality, it’s fingers to keyboard but you get the drift.  There is so much more that I don’t blog or write about.  My mind is constantly wandering, thinking of how things could be better in different aspects of my life…and others.

Forbes says that it’s truism that thought leaders tend to be the most successful individuals or firms in their respective fields.   Well if that’s true then I should be the most successful CT Inbound Marketer.  I don’t believe I am..well not yet.  I find it hard to believe that a thought leader with little following is the most successful individual in their respective field.  In fact, to be a leader don’t you have to have followers?

A Thought Leader Among Men/Women

What if I told you I know of a thought leader who was recently hired at a large corporate firm because he was considered a thought leader?  You’d probably say that’s awesome, that just proves Forbes point and we should all strive to be thought leaders.  Well, whatA Thought Leader if I told you that the thought leader was fired months later because he failed to put any of his thoughts into action?  Oh, now I have your attention.

You see being a thought leader is cool, especially if you were not self-appointed but it’s not enough.  You have to act on your thoughts as well.  You have a great idea, a great course of action or steps to improve an existing plan and that’s awesome but it does no good if you’re not putting those thoughts into action.  The best-laid plans are useless unless you are prepared to, and do execute.

It’s kind of the reverse of acting without thinking.  You know what kind of trouble people get into when they act without thinking first.  It’s usually not very pretty.  Occasionally it’s downright ugly.   Well, thinking without action probably won’t become ugly (unless you get fired for it) but it’s essentially the same thing.  At least if you act without thinking you just might accomplish something.  A thought leader who doesn’t act will just portray someone who does nothing.

Do Something

The point of this brief but necessary post can be summed up with two words..Do Something.  I would not say I am the smartest man in business but I believe I can hold my own.  I have made mistakes but isn’t that how we learn?  I know, it’s cliche.  I am constantly thinking, looking for new and interesting solutions.  I love challenges, especially the challenges where everyone tells me it cannot be done.  I thrive on the “impossible”.

I put it all into action.  I do something.  And that’s the point I am trying to make.  Being a thought leader without action is the same thing as doing nothing.  It’s not enough to be a thought leader.

What are your thoughts on this?  Put your thoughts into action and let me read them!

Do Something

 

It Takes a Tribe to Raise a Small Business

Raising a Small Business

Raising a Small BusinessI remember hearing often throughout the years that it takes a tribe to raise a child.  It has been a long time since I have heard that but I do believe it is true to some degree today.  I have four children.  My wife and I are not the only disciplinarians, coaches, teachers, nutritionists and schedulers.  We rely on family to contribute to our children’s upbringing.  Sometimes our children are with friends, neighbors or teachers who we also rely on to build a solid foundation for our children to become productive members of society.

Well shouldn’t the same hold true for a small business?  Isn’t it time that we support the economy ourselves and stop relying on the government?  Shouldn’t we stop assuming that just because someone has a store front and a website they are OK financially?  Aren’t all small businesses in need of some type of help?

It Never Ends

I have been running a small business in some shape or form for over 8 years.  Before that I worked for small business owners who often could only afford to pay minimum wage with no benefits.  Last year over 3 million people lost their jobs because of small business failures and closings.   I can tell you from my own experiences that it is not easy running a small business on your own.  Here’s a list of just some of the things I have had to do while running these businesses.  One was an IT Support company which I had for about 7 years, the other is this one which is a little over a year old.

  • Marketing/Advertising
  • Bookkeeping
  • Taxes
  • Answering the phone
  • Accounts Payable/Receivable
  • Hiring contractors
  • Making sure contractors signed all paperwork including NDA
  • Paying contractors
  • Networking
  • LLC Paperwork
  • Ordering
  • Develop Website
  • Maintain Vendor Relationships
  • Maintain Client Relationships
  • Vehicle Maintenance

I am sure I am forgetting some things.  If you have employees there is quite a bit more to deal with.  I purposely hired contractors with the IT company to avoid the extra work of hiring employees.  That’s a lot of work, and that does not include actually doing what the business is supposed to be doing, like writing this blog post or managing a clients inbound marketing.

What’s a small business to do?

In my area I have networked with a lot of small business owners, even some of my competitors, over the last year.  One thing I learned while running the IT business is face to face networking is almost essential to your small business survival.  What networking has done for me (besides grow my client list) is allowed me a resource to bounce my small business problems off of other owners/managers.  In turn I can help with problems they might be having.

Small Business NetworkingGet on Meetup and Facebook.  You will find tons of networking groups, some specialized in areas where you might need the most help.  Join a chamber or BNI group.  Both are great resources for meeting different business owners who specialize in accounting, taxes, legal, HR, insurance and so much more.  Many business owners are more than willing to give free advice to other business owners.  I know I do it all the time.  Heck I do it on this site and on social media.

Just today I attended a relationship building group in New Haven called Our Breakfast Club.  After the meeting another attendee asked questions about uploading video to their website.  We tried to work through solutions but were not immediately able to find one.  I did however tell her I would look into it further.

Isn’t that every small business owners responsibility?  Shouldn’t we all be accountable for our peers success?  All too often small business owners are worried about their competition taking business away from them, but I am not aware of any business category that doesn’t have enough potential clients to go around.  The truth is small businesses make up over 99% of all employer firms.  That’s a large number!  If we truly want the US economy to turn around for good then we need to support each other.

Why Am I Bringing This Up Now?

Today I had an argument of sorts on Twitter.  Another small business owner who is doing quite well took it personally when I tweeted shame on small business owners who don’t support other small businesses.  It’s part of a campaign I am currently running for another business.  We went back and forth for a few tweets before he decided to just block me.  It seems if you don’t agree completely with some people then they don’t want to acknowledge you.  Either way the point I was trying to make was that we owe to each other, and ourselves to pay it forward.  I do help other small businesses out with advice, by purchasing from them rather than the corporate giants, by telling others about their business.  I am a raving fan of some area small businesses.

Small Businesses Can Get Along Like Cats & Dogs CanIt’s obvious to me that I struck a nerve with this gentleman.  And to be painfully honest he kind of pissed me off.  Don’t get me wrong, I kept it professional.  I do have a knack for calling you an ass professionally.  I learned this from all my years in the corporate world.  I do believe the small business community is responsible for helping each other out, just as I believe we are all responsible for paying it forward every chance we get by helping others who need help.

It is time that we stop taking food out of each other’s mouth and step up to help other small business owners.  I have always had a soft spot for small businesses, solopreneurs and self employed.  It’s hard work to be on your own but we don’t have to be on our own.  Stop being selfish and start working with other business owners.

To the business owners who don’t get out to network..I would strongly encourage you to do so.  We can’t help you if you’re not there.

What do you think?  Was I wrong using a tweet that was somewhat confrontational?  Am I wrong about small businesses supporting each other?  I would love to hear your comments.