THREE LINKEDIN FEATURES YOU SHOULD BE USING

Upon creating your LinkedIn account and looking around, it is not difficult to understand how you can feel overwhelmed and bombarded with a plethora of information and news.  However, once you get through all the noise, there are a few features you may want to think about enabling to enhance your LinkedIn page.

1. BLOG RSS FEED

With this feature, you are able to add your blog updates via an RSS feed.  This simple and easy to use tool allows you to promote your blog content to all visitors who visit your page.   Keep in mind that you will need to ensure you update your blog with fresh content regularly – an out-of-date and flat news feed will show that you haven’t put any effort into your blog, and will reduce your creditability.

To enable this feature, click the dropdown menu next to ‘’Admin Tools’’ for your page’s “Overview” tab.  You will then scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your blog’s RSS feed information.

2. PRODUCTS AND SERVICES TAB

This feature offered by LinkedIn allows you to highlight and promote the products and services your company offers.  You can also use this same feature to advertise webinars, add videos, upload marketing and training materials and introduce new products and services.  Another beneficial feature of the Products and Services Tab is that it allows you to create up to 30 different landing pages to drive and target a specific audience.  You can create parameters based on the company size, job function, geography and more, which is perfect for those businesses who have different business segments marketed to different audiences.

Since this feature in more in depth, you can get more information on how to set up by accessing your LinkedIn account and visiting the Help Section.

3. RECOMMENDATIONS

One of the best ways to generate business, especially for the local retailer, is by recommendations.  You enable this feature in conjunction with your Products and Services Tab so that your customers now have the opportunity to recommend the products and services you offer to other LinkedIn users.  This will not only build your credibility, but also increase your LinkedIn following, in turn, making you the expert in your area.

Again, this feature is more in depth, so you can get more information on setting this up on your LinkedIn account by visiting the Help Section on LinkedIn.

There are a handful of useful features offered on LinkedIn, so take some time to sift through all the information and set up your account so it best promotes your business.  And, stay tuned for updates to the DOW Electronics LinkedIn page!

What features do you use on LinkedIn?  What works for your business?  Comment below with your suggestions.

5 SOCIAL MEDIA TERMS YOU NEED TO KNOW

Social media can be overwhelming and difficult to keep pace with – it is constantly changing and your audience has the potential to be huge, so not knowing what you’re doing, or what you are talking about, leaves you with the chance of looking confused to the entire world.  Don’t sweat – we’ve got a list of the most basic terms and how they pertain to your business.

PLATFORM – a platform is any system that manages content.  For example, the DOW Electronics’ blog platform is WordPress, which hosts an entire community of blogs.  This is important to know because each platform will have its own rules and regulations about what you can and can’t post, so make sure you read each prior to getting started.  Additionally, each platform has its own advantages to reaching your audience to give them the information they want.  For example, Facebook and Twitter are great for posting new sales information, promotions, and behind the scenes pictures, while a blog is best for showing off your expertise, so use each platform differently to ensure you gain the most.  This means you will need to post different types of content on each, and will take a little extra planning.

MICROBLOGGING – microblogging is the posting of short messages on a social media account.  These include Tweets on Twitter, Status Updates on Facebook, and comments on any given social media platform.  Microblogs are great because they promote the sharing of knowledge, networking, and intelligent conversation between individuals interested in the same topic.  While you may not think these are really important since they take little thought or preparation time, you need to put in the planning time to post something that your audience will get value from.  You also want to make sure you never post anything that is offensive or something that can be misinterpreted.  These comments can still be found by a search engine, and the last thing you want to do is generate a negative position about your brand.

HASHTAG – a hashtag is the symbol ‘#’ followed by a series of words or characters.  Messages that have the same hashtags are then grouped together to show you what is currently trending in social media.  For example, at DISH’s Team Summit this year, when posting to Twitter, the hashtag #TS2013 was used to group all like pictures and tweets in the same category.  Additionally, Facebook just recently added the functionality of the hashtag on its platform, so you will see these popping up in your news feed, with a link to click to see who else is posting about the same topic.  If a specific hashtag pertains to you or your business, go ahead and microblog about it – your brand will gain attention for staying on top of current ideas and events.

TRANSPARENCY – transparency is the act of engaging in considerate and courteous conversations with all users on any given platform.  Each and every platform that allows user content to be shared will have a transparency policy set in place, and repercussions can include blocked or deactivated profiles, so always think about the end result since you do not want to post anything that is offensive to any of the other users.  The main goal of social media is to share ideas and generate new beliefs via collective genius, and this is something you should aspire to do in every day social media use.

GOING VIRAL – going viral, or virality, is the rate in which content is passed along on any platform.  YouTube is a great example for thinking about virality.  This is the ultimate goal for any social media user – the faster your content goes viral, the more press and attention you are likely to receive.  However, there is a fine line, as you want to make sure your content goes viral for the right reasons, so make sure to have a sharp eye on all your posts.  When thinking about viral content, it is good to create a mix of useful information with lighthearted humor to engage your audience.

Now, it is important to remember these are the very basics, and since each platform changes each day, you need to make an effort to stay up-to-date with how each will affect your content and pages.

What confuses you about social media?  If there are any topics you need assistance with, just leave a comment below and the DOW Electronics team will be happy to help!

2013 Marketing Resolutions

There is no doubt that December can be an overwhelmingly busy month –with the hustle and bustle of the holiday’s, family gatherings and more, chances are you let your Marketing and Advertising plan fall to the wayside.  In this week’s post, it is our plan to help you with your 2013 Marketing Resolution.   Whether you want to simplify, revamp or retain your current customer base, we’ve compiled the best and most realistic marketing tactics you can implement this year.

SOCIAL MARKETING SMARTER, NOT HARDER

Here at DOW Electronics, we have several social media and online accounts, which can be tough to manage, especially if you cannot or do not want to sit in front of a computer all day. It’s been around for a while, but HootSuite is an easy, and free, fix to this problem.  HootSuite allows you to set up one program and add all your social media feeds, so you can post, respond to messages and answer customer questions all from the same site, freeing up substantial time.  You can also schedule messages in advance, so you can set your posts the night before, for after hours or even on the weekends, allowing you to spend less time worrying about finding time to post on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more.

CONTENT IS KING

It’s been said before, but it has never been more important.  Everyone, including your client base, is constantly bombarded with information, especially now in the digital age.  If the content you are putting in the market is not relevant to your audience, you will be passed over without a second look.  This not only means giving your clients the information they need, like training videos or tutorials, but also updating old or obsolete job aids and training items to be current.  Check your website to make sure everything is up-to-date, and do the same for any social media or business profiles. Old material looks unprofessional and like you’ve stopped caring, so updating your materials will not only be a benefit to your customers, but will also show them you are the professional they can turn to.

GO MOBILE AND GET LISTED

Almost everyone has a smart phone or tablet these days, so if you haven’t thought about supporting mobile access to your website, you should be.  This is the perfect opportunity to reach new customers in your area as people are foregoing traditional ways of communications (land line phones and dial-up internet), and switching to a smart phone or wireless device for everything.  Consider new families that move to your area – how will they find you if they have yet to set up internet or phone lines to call around?  Of course, they will turn to the instant connection on their device, and if you aren’t there for them to review, again, you will be passed over, and won’t even know it.

One site that will help your mobile marketing and online profiles is GetListed.org.  Getlisted.org was launched in 2009, and allows small business owners to regulate their online presence.  This easy to use, and free, online tool lets you claim your business listings on Google, Yahoo, Yelp!, FourSquare and more, thus increasing your search engine optimization.  You can also update business information and photos, creating a complete profile, which is more likely to be looked at.  So, now when those new families are moving in and searching for a cable or internet provider on their smart phone or wireless device, your business information is included, no matter what search engine or social media site they are using.

EMAIL MARKETING

One of the best ways to constantly reach your current or potential client base is email, but when was the last time you updated and cleaned up your email list?  Take the time to clear out the outdated information so you are only putting resources towards those who you know want your information.  Also, create an opt-in form on your website to draw in any potential clients, and maintain contact with past or current clients. Additionally, use email for more than just promotional and sales emails – company updates, press releases and community news will not only give your business personality, but will also show you are looking at the bigger picture within your organization.

Now that you have some ideas for your 2013 Marketing Resolution, it’s time to put them in place!  Start digging around and see what you can start changing now, and schedule the rest to be completed within the next couple of months, that way you are ahead of the curve and updated before 2014 rolls around!  Which of these tips will be the easiest for your business to implement?  The hardest?  Let us know what you need help with, or your feedback – we’d love to hear it!

Social Media + Lead Generation On the Spot!

So you’ve set up some snazzy Facebook and Twitter profiles, but you just aren’t gaining a following. What do you do? Well, as I’ve told you before, social media takes time and patience, but don’t get discouraged– a Twitter star is not made overnight. However, I recently stumbled upon a new iPad app that will help you gain fans and followers and generate some email leads for your mailing lists!

What is it?
It’s called OnSpot Social, and it works by engaging your customers while they are in your showroom (or kiosk or event booth) and getting them to follow your social media pages or provide their email right there on the spot– hence the name. There’s no need for your customer to pull out his smart phone to log into his Facebook app and you don’t have to hope he remembers your twitter handle when he logs on at home later tonight because you have an iPad set up in your showroom where he can simply type in his information and automatically follow you.

How Does it Work?
You simply download the app to your iPad* and configure it for your business with a theme and your company logo. You can choose to allow people to connect to you through Facebook, Twitter, and Email, or any combination of the three. You can even offer a special incentive for those who provide you with an email address or connect to one of your social networks! I like that the user interface is on the simple side. There’s no clutter on the screen to distract your customers, no games to play or websites to visit. People can get in and out quickly allowing the next customer to connect and eliminating the chance for any one person to monopolize your iPad.

*Sorry android users, the app is only on iPads right now. I am told, however, that the developers would consider making an android version if the demand is high enough. I suggest letting them know on twitter @OnSpotSocial 🙂

Is this for me?
OnSpot Social could be a great tool for just about any kind of business, but the integration of tablet computer technology into the lead collection process makes this tool the perfect fit for the consumer electronics and satellite sales industries– your customers will see that you are in tune with the latest technology and they will be excited to join you on the social web. Who doesn’t have a Facebook account, and more importantly, who can resist a touch screen?! Your customers need not be concerned about their privacy, none of their information is stored when they use this app. It also frees up your time so that you can collect contact information from one customer while simultaneously giving your sales pitch to another. This comes in really handy on a high traffic day or if you’re short-handed at your event or kiosk. Those few minutes you used to spend filling out a lead form can now be used for active selling– let your sales people sell and let the app take down leads.

How Much Does It Cost?
The OnSpot Social app is a free download from the App Store, however, the free version of the app is basically just a digital sign. In order to use the features discussed above, you have to choose a subscription plan: $25/week, $125/6 months, or $175 for a year. I know we all love the free stuff, but this is one place where your investment could really pay off. If you break the fee down, the one year plan is less than $15 per month– not a whole lot. If you think of it in terms of cost per lead, even if you retrieve only one lead per month through this app you are still getting a bargain. And I know that a lot of you who participate in events frequently can gather way more than one lead per month on this thing without even trying! Just think about how much your cost per call is on a direct mail campaign or a print ad and you will see that the fee here is pretty minimal. Just make sure that you actually have the app set up in plain sight and that you are directing people to use it. If you don’t, then why bother spending the money?

An additional cost to consider is securing your technology. The website offers iPad enclosures and stands so you don’t have to worry about anyone walking away with your tablet.

The Takeaway
While this is a really great innovation in lead collection, it’s all useless if you don’t take those leads and do something with them. At the very least you should be following up via email, phone, or mail… or better yet, a combination of the three! Make sure that you are adding all of the leads that you collect to your email newsletter recipients (and if you don’t have a newsletter, you should really consider starting one– but that’s another post). Provide fresh and interesting updates to your social networks to keep your new Facebook and twitter followers coming back for more. Remember that these are people who have freely given you their contact information and are now expecting you to get in touch– they are inviting you to sell them something. So take them up on the invitation, get in contact, and show them what you’ve got to offer!

How do you gather leads? How do you use them? Let us know in the comments!

5 Things Your Business Should Be Thinking About

Running a business can get pretty hectic and sometimes we get stuck in our routines because they are comfortable and easy. Here are a few things to get your brains working outside the box that will hopefully show you some positive results!

    1. Marketing Tactics

      Good marketing is a highly important part of your business. It’s simple, if people don’t know who you are and what you are offering, they can’t make a purchase from you. Most of you reading this blog are probably DOW Electronics retailers, and therefore participate in co-op advertising, and that’s great! If the brand that you are selling is willing to offset a portion of your marketing costs in exchange for you following their marketing rules, I say take advantage of it! However, don’t forget that you are allowed to do your own marketing without the assistance of co-op funds. The benefit of incorporating non-funded marketing tactics with your co-op funded initiatives is that you have greater freedom to experiment with your advertising. You can give online ads a try, get your business mentioned on the menu of your favorite sports bar, or sponsor a local baseball team and have your name printed on their jerseys. The beauty is that you are really only restricted by your own creativity. And don’t forget that when you are paying for the advertising, you can include many products that you offer in a single ad– co-op advertising generally doesn’t allow for this, or if they do, the reimbursement will be reduced.Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when marketing your business, just make sure that you aren’t violating any of the business rules of the products that you promote. Sure, you will have to take on the full cost of your marketing initiative, but remember that the name of the game is Return on Investment. You can’t think in simple dollars and cents. A co-op funded technique may cost you less out-of-pocket than advertising that you finance independently, but if you’re not seeing a return on it, was it really worth the money that you did spend? You should always be thinking about your cost per sale!
    2. Your Company Website

      Welcome to the 21st century, people! The internet can’t (and shouldn’t) be ignored. When people want to know something, find a business, or comparison shop, they go online. If your business isn’t there, it needs to be. What’s more, it’s not just enough to be online, you have to be active. Consumers shy away from a poorly constructed website that is seldom updated. Make sure that your website is professional, current, and full of useful and relevant information. You should visit your own websites regularly and evaluate whether the website you see is one that you would be impressed by as a consumer, if not, it’s probably time to update. You should be able to find a company who can build you a website for fairly low-cost (ask your friends and colleagues, they will likely have a recommendation), or if you are so inclined you can use services like WordPress to create a website. For those of you who are DISH retailers, there is even a program that offers free and co-op eligible websites! There is no excuse anymore, even small local businesses need to be online.
    3.  Social Media Marketing Think of your social media presence as an extension of your website, only this is where you have two-way communication with your audience. You can let your customers and potential customers know the latest news about your business and they can let you know about their experiences with you. The important thing that a lot of people forget about social media is the social part. Facebook and twitter were not created for you to peddle your goods and services, and their users don’t care to see a new advertisement in their feeds every few moments. With social media, you have to find a balance. Only promote when you have something notable to announce, like a big event or that great new product line that just came in. As a small business, it’s important that people know that your page is run by you, a real person in their own community. Don’t be afraid to comment on local happenings, the weather, or to make a joke– people want to buy from someone they know and trust, not from someone who is constantly pestering them for business. Let people know who you are and what you do, but don’t throw it in their faces. If you’re constantly providing interesting industry information, tips, and helpful commentary, they will make an effort to be a part of your business.Social media is also a good customer service tool. If someone has a good experience with your business, they may leave a “thank you” or “great job” on your page. This works the same way with negative feedback. It’s important that you are proactive and address both the good and the bad. Respond quickly and kindly– thank users who leave positive messages and do what you can to resolve negative experiences. In most cases, resolving issues on your social media pages where all of your current and potential customers can see is actually good for your business. Others will see that you have done everything in your power to correct a mistake and that you were sensitive to the customer’s problem. Often times, you can win back the customer who had a bad experience, and with him, several others who see that you aren’t afraid to admit to a mistake and to fix it. No one is perfect, it’s the way that you operate in a bad situation that sets you apart.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) You may have heard of search engine optimization, or SEO, or you may be wondering what the heck “search engine optimization” is. Basically, it’s a process designed to bring your website higher up in search engine results. SEO incorporates many different elements and there are individuals and companies whose sole purpose is SEO. Though it is a complicated process, there aresome things that you can do to make your website more search engine friendly. As I am not an SEO expert, I will defer to those who know what they are talking about:

 

10 quick SEO tips from smuggecko.com
7 Types of Content to Get Traffic and Links by Paddy Moogan at Distilled
4 Ways SMBs Can Get More From Their SEO by Lisa Barone at Small Business Trends

These are just a few blog posts to help you out and get you more familiar with the SEO monster, you can find endless information by googling SEO or Search Engine Optimization. If you really want to make sure that your website is properly optimized, it may do you some good to hire a professional. There are pros and cons to hiring help, so make sure to do your research first. Google has a great little guide on SEO and what to look for and questions you should be asking when looking to pay to optimize your site– who better to ask than the most popular search engine there is, right?

  1.  Customer Retention

    Last, but certainly not least, we come to customer retention. This is the one that many of us often forget about. Many businesses get so focused on generating leads and bringing in new sales that they forget about the sales they’ve already made. It is important to bring in new customers, but it’s even more important to keep them and maintain their loyalty after the initial sale. The next time a loyal customer needs something that you offer, they’re going to look to you first and not the competition.Maintaining a current customer is much cheaper and takes much less effort than does selling to a new one. Often times all it takes is a few simple gestures to show that the customer is important to you and that you appreciate their business. A great way to build relationships with your customers is to stay in touch. After the initial sale, send them a thank-you card or give a small gift with purchase. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just a little something extra to add that personal touch that the other guy doesn’t offer. Then, make sure to follow up after the sale. Add the customer to a mailing list to let them know when you’re having a big sale or offer a customer loyalty discount. Send a little reminder to let them know to send in a rebate or cancel services after the promotional period is up.Think about what keeps you coming back to a business and find a way to incorporate that tactic into your business plan. Why spend all of that time, effort, and money to get one sale when you can turn one sale into many over the years? I can’t say it enough, as a business owner you want the greatest possible return on your investment– so why not get 3 or 4 sales for the price of one?

    Here are a few ideas from Aaron Lee on how to reward your customers.

What has worked in your experience? Tell us below!

Get Online and Find your Facebook Following

By now, most of our retailers are probably aware that we have a Facebook page and are gaining a following. We know that many of you are on Facebook as well and that’s awesome, you’re on the right track! However, we want to make sure that everyone is 1. taking advantage of this great free resource and, 2. that all of you are using it correctly and efficiently. To give you all a little help, I’ve created a guide on how to set up and manage a Facebook page for your business. Even if you are already running a page, or especially if you are using a personal profile for your business, please take a look at this guide.

You can all read the guide to learn about setting up your own Facebook pages or converting your existing profiles to pages, but I  just want to give a quick word of caution that I didn’t really stress in the guide.  Please, please, please make sure to keep your Facebook pages professional. Once upon a time, DOW Electronics had a profile page that we mistakenly created instead of a business page, and many of you became our Facebook friends. This means that we were able to see everything that you posted to your profiles, and some of the things being posted on pages that were supposed to be representing businesses may not have been considered “professional” by all users.  Whether it’s coming from your personal profile or from your business profile (which should be converted to a page!), if your customers and potential customers have access to it, everything you are posting should be appropriate for anyone to see. If you have your own profile and you want to post this kind of content, make a point to have only your real-world friends as Facebook friends and don’t allow customers as friends– this will reflect poorly on your business and you risk losing customers. This is why we establish business pages!

That being said, Facebook is this generation’s channel for word-of-mouth marketing. People log into their Facebook pages multiple times a day, just like you do, and you can’t afford for them not to see you there anymore. It’s time for your business to join the largest social network in the world. So set up your pages, let people know you’re there, and start participating in the conversation!

P.S. Don’t get discouraged if your page doesn’t take off overnight. Sometimes it can take months of dedication for your page to really get a following– just stick with it, get your name out in the community, and your patience will pay off!