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Posts Tagged ‘online marketing’

 Small-Business Marketing Strategies

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

New small businesses pop up every day trying to get footholds in larger markets. In order to attract desired patrons, they must market themselves in unique, fun and interesting ways to a wide variety of consumers. In today’s world, effective consumer marketing strategies always include using the Internet, with online surveys or reviews playing a large part.

If you are a small business, it is important that you leverage the Internet to better market your company, said Marc Karasu, founder of, in an e-mail interview.

Karasu shared his thoughts on how small businesses can use Internet marketing to broaden their customer horizons.

1. Take charge of what is said about your business online. Unbenownst to you, there may be many unflattering things being said about your business that you need to refute or correct, Karasu warned.

2. Consumers use the Internet for shopping research. If your company does not come up near the top of searches on sites like Google or, worse, has bad reviews associated with it, then you could be losing out on new sales.

3. Build a great customer service brand to increase sales and engender customer loyalty. It’s more important than ever for small-business owners to join the conversation online and help to manage their companies’ reputations.

Establishing a good rapport with consumers is probably one of the biggest challenges that faces small-business owners as they try to break into larger markets. Providing quality products and services are only half the battle. The other half, as Karasu pointed out, is creating effective marketing campaigns, which include taking the time to create comprehensive consumer surveys that will allow small-business owners to know going in just what consumers require.

Read article here:

 Leveraging customer review to manage your reputation online

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Undoubtedly, no single thing matters as much for increasing sales and engendering loyalty as building a great customer service brand. And considering the immediate and ubiquitous nature of the Internet—where details about a negative customer experience can spread like wildfire—it’s more important than ever for small business owners to join the conversation online and help to manage their company’s reputation.

Whether you like it or not, consumers are most likely talking about your business on the Internet. And if you’ve recently heard about a customer service problem at your business, it’s likely that you became aware of the situation in the same way that most consumers do: by finding a review about your company via a search engine.

So how can you be proactive about managing your reputation online? Let’s look at two ways:


Increase the number of online reviews about your company. You can begin this process by asking your top customers to post a review about your business on customer review sites such as and By asking your top customers to post reviews, you’ll likely generate a number of complimentary reviews quickly and easily. These reviews will help to offset any existing negative reviews, help to increase your visibility on search engines, and help to attract potential customers who are searching for your products or services online.

When you come across a complimentary review about your business, you should add a quick “Thank You” in response, and mention that you appreciate the support of your customers.

Respond to negative online reviews about your company. You can tackle this effort by having a staff member—who understands your company culture and brand—spend a few hours each week searching the Internet for unflattering reviews about your company. (Note: There are online tools available that can help you accomplish this.)

When there’s a comment field available in a review, the staff member should respond with some helpful and constructive content that shows that you care about providing good customer service. In addition, they should state that they are an employee of the company. The respondent should never pretend to be a consumer, because that deception will likely be discovered, and will likely produce even more uncomplimentary content.

The employee should also include a link to your website in the response, which can help to drive traffic back to your website.

The goal here is not to have only good reviews, because even some of the best companies have bad reviews written about them. The goal is to achieve an effective balance, and to make sure that you don’t allow uncontrolled rumors to spread online. You also want to demonstrate through association that your brand is focused on good customer service . . . and that you’ll take steps to improve it when you fall short.

By leveraging online reviews about your company in your favor, you can often have a greater impact on the purchasing intent of consumers—who are deciding what to buy and where to buy it—than even the best TV commercial or magazine ad can have.

Read the article here:

 Businesses online marketing to increase holiday sales

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

If you are a small or medium sized business it is important that you prepare your company to leverage online reviews to help increase your holiday sales and to start advertising online.

Consumers use the the internet and search engines to do their shopping research and if your company does not come up near the top of those searches on sites like Google or worse, has bad reviews associated with it then you could be losing out on new sales.

To get your company up to date and ready for this holiday shopping season here are some resources you should look into right away to help you with your marketing and search engine results.

They cost little or nothing and require nothing more then some time on your part.

In no particular order:

Get a Facebook page for your business.  Its free.  Go to

Contact Groupon and see if advertising with them makes sense for your business.

Claim your free business page at MeasuredUp and help your customer service and online reputation.

If you have a website, buy some keywords for your marketing at Google. It costs some money but you only pay for consumers clicks.

Write a review about your business on Yelp.

Create a twitter page for your business.

These are just a few easy and effective marketing suggestions.  Start with these and then lets give some others a try.

More online tools and resources then ever exist to help you with your business marketing.  They are easy to use and most are free.  You have no excuse not to use these tools and if you dont you can be sure your competitors are.

 How Small Businesses can build their Online Reputation

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Times are tough and the economy is not helping small businesses.  Yes their are spending bills and loan programs etc but the real backbone of any small business is or at least should be great customer service.

After all, it’s the one thing you can do better then the big guys and it costs you nothing right?  So why don’t more small businesses do more to build up their customer service reputation?  That is, beyond the obligatory thanks and “Nice to see you, come back again soon, hear”

What I am getting at is why don’t more small business owners better harness and utilize the internet and search to help drive business, take business away from bigger competitors and build consumer loyalty.  Well, that’s easy,  many small business owners  just really don’t understand the internet and search and are scared to learn.  But really, is that a good excuse?

If their is one thing you do for your small business advertising and brand it is that you should learn how to leverage the internet and search to build and promote your customer service, manage your online reputation and drive leads and sales.  It’s just too easy and effective to ignore.  Sites like and Yelp and Angies list and many others allow you for the first time to actually compete on an even footing with the big box stores.  Yes, you heard me right.

Think about it.

Most consumers today start a purchase with research on the internet.  Even if they are just looking for the address of that big box store or a coupon for they are “Searching”  on Google or another search engine and this is your opportunity to intercept them with your business and products.  Entice them to deviate and come on by.   Motivate them to try you instead of them.

You could not compete with the advertising budgets of the big stores.  The newspaper ads, the tv commercials, the billboards.  But now you have a means to interact with potential customers at the exactly the moment that they are researching a purchase.  And you can do it for Free or almost free as effectively as the big guys.  Really, what more could you ask for.  The internet has truly leveled the playing field when it comes to small business marketing and local advertising.  For a few dollars a day and maybe an hour a week you can mount an online offensive that will keep your business front and center for online shoppers, researchers and browsers who are looking for your core products and services.

You can start to really develop a customer loyalty, following and customer service brand.  This is called your online reputation.

To start building your online reputation go to and do a search for your business name, the core products you sell and the general category you are in.  Look at the Organic search (free) results.  Look at the paid ads on the top and the right of the search results page.  See what your competition is marketing, the prices and what they are saying.

Now think about your business.  The products that you feature, the prices, and the customers.  Find where your competitors are weak.  Is it the hours? The location? The prices?  The selection? Or the simple fact they are big and impersonal and you are small and local.

Spend the time to figure out your brands real positioning and value proposition.  All this means is “what is it that you do better then anyone else”.

Now, go to, Yelp and Angies list and write a review about your business.  Be honest that you are the proprieter.  Readers dont like to be misled and can spot a phony review.  Be clear about your business and your value proposition.  Share a promotion or sale.  Talk up your free parking, selection and most important, your hometown and great customer service.  If you do not have good customer service then this is your time to get focused on it and make it a business priority and investment.  If you already have a good customer service reputation and online reviews then great.  Your job is never done.  Write more.  Have your customers write more.

The point is that the more sites you write a free review about your business on the more good reviews their are about your business online and the more likely that a potential customer comes upon your review in their search and comes on by to give you a try.

It’s free advertising.  It’s targeted.  It works.

If you really want to go the extra bit then tell your best customers to go on to write a review about your business.  Again, the idea is that the more good, honest reviews about your business online the better.

Their are many other ways to market your business online from Google adwords to banners to PR and social media but until you take advantage of the Free online reputation management tools you should not bother with the others.  Your Customer Service reputation is your Online Reputation and the good reviews shoppers read about your customer service and business when they search online will build your brand, drive leads and increase sales.

 5 Steps To Better Small Business Marketing

Friday, April 23rd, 2010


by Marc Karasu,

You can give your small business marketing a spring cleaning and burnish your brand without having to spend much money.Leverage the following marketing tactics to raise the profile of your small business, stay a step ahead of your competition and increase revenue:

1. Social networking Many of your customers of all ages are using social networking sites. You don’t need to be a computer expert to use them and for a few minutes investment you can learn how to create a company presence on them that benefits you for years to come with little further effort other then maintenance.

Facebook: Go to and build a “company” page.

Twitter: Go to and make a page for your company.

Share your new online presence with your customers with counter cards at the register or signs in store windows.

2. Customer service As the boss, you see your employees only on their best behavior. In today’s economy, no single thing matters as much for your sales as building a great customer service brand. Whether you already have a good reputation or need to build one, these simple steps can get you on your way fast.

Call your company Anonymously, call your business at several different times of the day and ask some hard customer questions to see how your employees react and interact with a customer. This will allow you to identify problem areas with your customer service and address them with training.

Returns Have a friend try to return something and document the experience to help identify areas of strength and weakness.

Online reputation and reviews You have likely come across some negative reviews about your company on a search engine. Many current and potential customers use search engines to help guide their online research in deciding where to buy. You can leverage the world of online reviews in your favor by asking your customers to review you on customer service sites like ours or business sites like

By confidently asking customers for customer service reviews, you will in no time have dozens of complimentary reviews of your company online. These will help negate any bad reviews and potential customers will be able to find and trust you when researching online.

3. TV now offers small businesses the opportunity to produce a TV commercial and buy targeted TV on which to run your ad inexpensively. You could produce your ad for as little as a $250. For a few hundred dollars a week, you could run your new TV commercial in your local market or region on the networks you feel best target your customers.

Smart companies are using TV to build their brand and beat competitors.

Go to to learn more.

4. Email Start collecting email addresses of every customer. Request their email address politely and explain you will never share it and would like to keep them updated on specials, useful info and new products.

Tell them you will email them once a month and that they can opt out at any time. Explain that this is for special customers and that you will be distributing exclusive promotions through your company email newsletter.

Starting and maintaining a company email newsletter costs almost nothing and allows you to keep track of your customers and build a database. Not every customer will want to give you an email address but many are happy to.

Go to and start a newsletter today.

5. PR You have more to say about your business then you realize. Regular press releases about important company events, news or upgrades will help local media keep up to date on your business and will often lead to journalists calling you for quotes or more info that can lead to inclusion in articles.

These help raise your company’s credibility, build your reputation and keep your brand in front of customers. Once you get some articles written, you can use those publications logos on your website or on in-store signage, further building you company’s profile.

Go to to learn more about creating press releases.

With these five easy and inexpensive marketing tips you can quickly start to raise your small businesses profile, increase sales and build your online reputation while further distancing yourself from your competitors at a fraction of the marketing spend.

 Four areas for improvement in retail online marketing

Friday, April 23rd, 2010


By Marc Karasu

Being an executive in this economy is tough. Being a marketing executive is almost impossible.

Whether you are at an established company with a well-known brand or at a startup, the pressure on you to deliver is immense. To make matters more challenging, it is likely that your marketing budget has been cut. Every dollar you spend is questioned for ROI and in most meetings you are asked about developments in social networking, customer service and PR because it is all anyone reads about and promises tantalizingly high yield at low cost.

Whatever category your retail business is in, the following tactics will help you build, track and keep up on the buzz about your brand without the need to invest large amounts of money. These ideas compliment almost any brand at any budget.

1. Social networking – You probably already have a Facebook and Twitter page that may or may not be yielding results for you. To help these pages along and to build up your social networking reputation or refute complaints, you should be leveraging these pages further.

What you can do now – Task a junior member of your team to be your “social outreach ambassador.” This role is focused totally on trolling Facebook, Twitter and blogs to “invite,” “reply” and “request” connections with current and potential customers and groups. By spending 20 or so hours a week on this effort you will slowly help along your Facebook and Twitter following, refute untrue online blog statements and reply to customers who have questions. This is a hard position to measure effectiveness on, so it could be hard to justify in your budget. But you have to consider this proactive marketing. The opportunity cost saved is not having uncontrolled rumors online. Many PR firms are starting to offer this service, but they don’t really get it and won’t be able to react as quickly as someone in your company culture who understands your brand.

Start with an intern and scale from there.

2. Customer service – In today’s economy no single thing matters as much for your sales and loyalty as building a great customer service brand. This is an area of marketing often overlooked or muddled with expensive and hard-to-use processes. If you are even aware of your customer service problem it is likely you first came across it the way most consumers find you: You found a review about your company online, via a search engine, and it was probably not flattering.

Online reviews are here to stay and many current and potential customers use them to help guide their online research in deciding where to buy. You can leverage the world of online reviews in your favor and often have more effect on purchase intent than the best TV commercial.

Whether you have a large customer service department, no customer service department, already have a good customer service reputation or need to build one, today many new online customer service tools exist that are often free or low cost.

What you can do now -
Start asking your customers to review you on business sites like and customer service sites like By confidently asking customers for business and customer service reviews, you will in no time have dozens of complimentary reviews of your company online. These will negate most bad reviews, increase your positioning on search engines and help interested, potential customers find and trust you when researching online. The goal here is not to have only good reviews as even the best companies have some bad reviews about them online. The goal is to have a balance and to demonstrate through association that your brand is focused on improving.

3. Online comments – The Internet is talking about you whether you like it or not. On thousands of sites, content that mentions you or a competitor is constantly being added. You need to join this conversation, even if you can’t control it.

What you can do now - Take that intern who is working on Facebook, Twitter and blogs and have him also spend five hours a week searching for reviews about your company or articles about something that is relevant to your business. When there is a comment field, have the intern write some intelligent content in response. State that they are an employee of the company and include a URL to your site. Do not try and pretend to be consumer as this will likely be found out and create further uncomplimentary content. This effort will help rebut negative views, show your company cares about its reputation and will help drive traffic to your company Web site. If you come across compliments, add on a quick “Thank You” comment, saying that you care about your reputation and appreciate the support of customers.

4. PR - You have more to say about your business than you realize. Regular press releases about important company events, news or upgrades are often overlooked. Generate interest from journalists by creating content that will interest them.

What you can do now – You know your business and the kinds of things the press wants to cover. Often, the press does not have the resources to generate data for a story. Create a poll on your Web site based on a topic of interest and then pitch the results to your press contacts. This will often lead to an exclusive or inclusion in a larger story about the topic.

If you have good contacts you also can pre-pitch an idea to them to gauge interest and then create the poll customized to their needs. Polls like these help raise your company’s credibility, build your reputation and keep your brand in front of customers.

With these easy and inexpensive marketing tips, you can quickly augment your existing marketing efforts and start to raise your company’s social media, customer service, online and PR profile while helping increase sales and build online reputation.

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