Our recent work for Milwaukee's Optimist Theatre (famous for its Free Shakespeare in the Park) has included a change of newsletter mailing vendor, and a consequent new look and feel.
You can see the archived web copy of this issue here.
While the new template would be different out of hand, we took the opportunity to consider a more efficient way of delivering the news, so that each story lives independently at the organization's website, and the newsletter simply features a teaser and a link to it.
Most newsletter vendors have editors that can be a bit clunky. Writing, or cutting / pasting / reformatting within them is really no picnic. And a newsletter that just scrolls down and down and down may chase away readers.
The new format has garnered good feedback, and complements the facelift that we recently gave to the website itself. All in all, it should help spread the word more broadly -- which is, after all, the point!
Put up your hands if you believe that referrals from satisfied customers is one of the most reliable ways to grow your business?
Great ~ leave those hands up.
Now, if you already have a Facebook page for your business, put your hands down.
Those of you with your hands still raised are passing up an invaluable platform for letting your most enthusiastic and loyal customers refer you to their friends.
Establishing a social media presence, and maintaining it, doesn't have to be confusing or painful or expensive. Eschewing it is the equivalent of leaving growth (and, therefore, revenue) on the table.
The foregoing was the tenor of a recent presentation that Write and Polish gave to our weekly chapter meeting of Business Network International (BNI). BNI, for those unfamiliar with it, is a networking organization whose goal is to pass referrals within a vetted group of businesses. We believe in it, and the success of BNI and other networking groups similarly organized and focused seems to bear out our own positive impression.
It is generally understood and agreed that a satisfied customer can provide the best advertising that a business can hope to have. Testimonials are a standard part of certain marketing pieces. LinkedIn has a recommendations section that works on the same principle.
Some businesses, though they may believe in the power of referrals, do not feel that they need social media. You would be surprised at the number of people in that room, whose BNI membership already testifies to their belief in the long-term return on investment of referral-based marketing, who do not participate in social media.
Businesses with a social media presence of any kind are depriving themselves of a virtual meeting place where their customers and clients can testify for and refer them. It's really that simple. That is a particularly glaring omission for smaller/local businesses that may have a harder time competing against "big box" equivalents.
But, someone will have to update it!
That is one of the objections that we hear. And, yes, it is great to have new and engaging content to keep you looking fresh -- the same as it is important to have new and engaging content on your website (without going into detail, doing so helps your search results). Conveniently, this is a two-birds-with-one-stone situation: add new content to the website and then promote it on Facebook and Twitter (or Tumblr or YouTube or, or, or...).
There are other benefits: engaging in conversation with your prospects helps convert them to clients, and it helps cements loyalty of existing customers.
But the single most important aspect, in our opinion, of a company's social media presence is the ability of your public to behave as friends/fans, checking in and telling what a good experience they have had.
Why is it important?
Not because it makes the proprietor feel good, though it certainly can. After all, each of us appreciates an "atta-boy" every so often. But, really, the key is that fans are complimenting the business "in public," where their own friends can see it. They are standing on the figurative street corner and telling everyone who happens by that a particular plumber gave them great service. Or that a real estate agent went the extra mile for them. And that they found just the right thing at the new shop on Main Street. And that they had a fantastic meal at a particular restaurant. They are referring the business, consciously or unconsciously, to their own friends.
That's the point -- a percentage of your customer's friends will see what and who it is that they are Liking and commenting upon, and stand to be influenced by it. Everyone on Facebook becomes a celebrity endorser in his/her own circle of acquaintance. And it is access to THOSE people, who may not have tried your product or service, yet, that you as a businessperson want. Just as in the three dimensional world, where you should be asking, at the end of a job or transaction, for your customer to refer you to others, social media enables that same referral to happen in cyberspace, right away, and to dozens or even hundreds of people at once.
Write and Polish is happy to consult with small businesses that are not certain how to go about establishing a social media presence, or that don't want to have to fool with doing status updates, but wish nonetheless to reap the not-inconsiderable benefits.
We recently added About the Artisan and blog-style News pages to the website of Embellishments, a working artists' studio and gallery shop located in Milwaukee's Shops of Grand Avenue.
We are providing continuing work to the website and building the shop's Facebook presence, particularly in advance of the November 10th Grand Opening.
We encourage those of you in southeastern Wisconsin to make a point to patronize this artist, and our friends everywhere to support smaller, local businesses and craftspeople.
Embellishments, a working artists' studio & gallery shop, recently began operations as part of the Pop-Up Artist leasing program at Milwaukee's Shops of Grand Avenue.
The shop will focus primarily on jewelry in a range of styles from historical to steampunk to just plain funky, but will offer a variety of other handmade items as well, many produced on-site. Jewelry repairs are also available in the shop, performed by proprietress A.J. von Tauffkirchen.
Write and Polish, in addition to doing some other bits of marketing and publicity, this week set up a Facebook page for the establishment. It's early days, but if you like art and those who make it, jewelry, eclectic shops in the mall, or simply small business owners, follow the link at the beginning of this article or click the logo and "Like" the shop. Then, plan to stop by next time you're in the neighborhood.
Embellishments will throw a Grand Opening celebration on November 11th, with some introductory offers lasting through the remainder of the month. Further details will be forthcoming.
Social Media and the Small Business
While social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks may seem like a fad or something that "the kids are all into this week," they provide an unprecedented capacity to hang out a shingle, get the word out, and succeed, all on a small budget.
Will today's social media turn into something else in 5-10 years? It's almost guaranteed that it will.
Does that mean that investing resources right now in using existing media to build an audience for your business is a waste? Clearly, we think it does not.
When the people are on Facebook and Twitter, use Facebook and Twitter. If they go somewhere else, then follow. And, don't be afraid to try out the next thing before everyone else does. There's far less value in being the last one to the party!
If using social media seems like a good idea, but is something you as a small businessperson have not had time for, contact us to talk about how Write and Polish can help.
Yes, there is a National Grammar Day (March 4), and there is a Tweeted Grammar Haiku Contest that celebrates it.
We didn't, until we stumbled across the fact. But, upon having our ignorance expelled, we immediately composed the following:
Style manuals banishapostrophic confusionyour peace is restored We Tweeted it to the contest, and look forward to perusing the results.You may review everything you ever wished to know about Haiku here.
This is for all of those who are confused about the constantly developing social-media-verse.
We've seen this "explanation" several times this week, and snickered about it in each and every case! It's quite a good summation of the differences, especially for those just dipping a toe into the wide ocean of Social Media Marketing.
Thanks W&P friend Mary Tanner, from whose posing we shared it!
Attention marketers and smaller businesses, especially RETAIL and those with (or trying to establish) a VIRTUAL STOREFRONT...if you've wondered what the new, shiny hotness is going to be -- Pinterest is it, at least for the moment.
Read all about it here, via an article posted by our friends at TDS Telecom.
This article addresses the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the QR code. Everyone who attempts to be "hip" with their marketing needs to read this. And then consider not just how/if you use this specific new marketing avenue, but apply these questions to your other social media activities.
Cliff Notes to the theme: always ask yourself "How likely is this to make me or my company/product/brand look lame?"
Marketers and would-be Business Social Networkers: this article, Viral Content-Why We Share Some Things and Not Others, is a studious examination of what we already know but sometimes forget -- blatant advertising as status posts for your business will not generally be shared.
Giving people something they can use, or that makes them laugh, or gets them exercised in some way (but, hopefully, not at you!) is more likely to be shared, and put YOU, as the originator, in front of the valuable individuals who do not yet know you to friend you.
Write and Polish Bloggers
Christie Manussier, principal Writer and Polisher, is the usual news reporter.