Google Plus announced in the fall of 2012 that they had officially surpassed the 400 million registered users mark. About 100 million of those users actively check their Google Plus accounts, Gigaom.com reports. That is a potential pool of 100 million customers, some of whom will be interested in what you are selling. Companies such as H&M, BMW and Mercedes-Benz consistently engage customers through Google Plus, and the effort appears to be paying off. Each of these corporations has more than 2 million followers.
It’s understandable if your company is wrapped up in marketing efforts through Facebook and Twitter. After all, those seem to be the networks everyone is using. While you’re posting and tweeting in those spaces, though, you may be missing a large, well-educated audience that hangs out at Google Plus.
Who’s Using Google Plus
Google reports that, at nearly 70 percent, users of Google Plus are overwhelmingly male. They are well-educated and technologically savvy; they are not on Google Plus to find out what you had for lunch or how your sister-in-law is doing after the birth of her child. This is their tool for keeping up-to-date on the things that matter.
Another lure of the average Google Plus user: According to the search giant, their users have far more money than those who use other social networks. While 16 percent of Facebook and Tumblr users make more than $100,000 a year, a full 30 percent of Google Plus users do.
Signing up for a Google Plus account is as easy as signing into your Gmail account. If you don’t have a Gmail account, you know the drill. Simply go to Gmail.com, and register by coming up with a user name and password. That’s it. Once you have a legitimate Gmail account, you can begin to access all those millions of people who also have Gmail accounts. You can reach your Google Plus account directly at plus.google.com.
A strong presence on Google Plus is directly correlated with stronger search engine results. The only real way to gain traction online is through search engine results, and Google is the gatekeeper. If you are going to market online, you need to see Google as your ally. That friend is handing you a golden ticket to the party through Google Plus. This complex system is one of the greatest assets in social media marketing, www.dsl.com reports, whether we like it or not; business owners who ignore it are missing out.
Google Is Listening
While behemoths such as Facebook and Twitter may take forever to make the kinds of changes their users clamor for, Google is good about keeping an ear to the ground. In fact, the organization of Google Plus has changed dramatically over the past two years to keep up with what users tell them they want. The site allows you to separate people into categories, depending upon whether they are friends, family, acquaintances or people you are following. While that may not sound like much, it enables you to pinpoint the audience you reach. There’s no reason to let your mother know about the new promotion going on at your gym if she’s not going to be interested. You can upload text, photos, links, videos or special events, and target them precisely to the people who are most likely to care.
While “circles” may sound like a cute way of saying “friends,” it really is more than that. Because your personal circle is broken down by category, the direction you choose to expand your circle is up to you. For example, if you have a particular business acquaintance and would like to have more like him, you are able to reach out to the people in his circle and ask them to join yours. No, you may not be as interested in your brother’s softball buddies, but then, you don’t have to expand your circle in that direction.
Business Insider made waves in May by reporting that Google Plus was outpacing Twitter and poised to become the second largest social network in the world (behind Facebook). What makes this particularly surprising is that Google Plus got off to a slow start following its 2011 launch. Although millions of people signed up to use it, critics panned it to the point that users lost interest, and many never even accessed the accounts they set up. Business Insider goes on to say the recent rapid rise of active Google Plus users is likely due to a number of factors, including Google’s efforts to link all of their services together—so if a user signs into one, he signs into them all.
Google Plus is already an important marketing tool, and it’s poised to become a force. Business owners need to be on board.
Image by Flickr user Bruce Clay, Inc.
For every dollar spent on email marketing, a well-executed plan can earn you $40 back, according to Local Vox. That kind of return is just for email— meaning that a fully realized marketing plan could net much more.
The reality for most small businesses, however, is that marketing is often put on the back burner. Many small business owners worry that effective marketing is simply too expensive for them to pull off, or they make the mistake of thinking that newer is always better. Your business marketing budget, no matter how small, can show a return with careful planning, attention to useful collateral and consistent use of the free tools you have at your disposal.
Start Planning Early
Your marketing budget is limited, but with long-term planning you can use what you have effectively. Think of marketing plans as an investment, not a cost, and approach them as big-picture changes. Plan your approach based on ROI, not idealism. Instead of casting a reel that you hope will bite, take the time you need to get to know your precise target markets. Tim Donnelly from INC surmises that it might be alluring to “think big,” but in reality it’s better to target what you know on a deeper level. This is why your big-picture marketing plan should start with the basics.
Getting the Basics Right
Basic marketing is powerful, but it has to be done right. Spamming potential customers with endless, loosely targeted emails will not yield those returns. A well-crafted, targeted email is more likely to succeed.
Basics extend to all marketing collateral, down to the business cards. In the electronic age, it is easy to discount the humble business card. This is a mistake. Just like a handshake, the right business card can make a lasting impression. High-quality plastic business cards are sure to stand out from the average stack of white card stock. Your business card should be as much an artifact as it is a source of information. If it makes an impression, it won’t be thrown away as soon as you hand it out. Just like your mission statement, it should resonate.
Giving it Away
In the beginning of the 20th century, Jell-O made its way into the hearts and minds of customers by giving away recipes in the hundreds, according to CBS Money Watch. Within a few years, the company was worth $1 million. Information or knowledge is easy enough to package, and you can give it away for free to make an impact. If it is good, you become an authority in the minds of your customers and they will come back for more. This can be applied to your company’s recipe for success, or the fruits of your mission statement. If you know a lot about something, or simply want the world to get to know your product, there is a creative, affordable way to do so.
Leverage Social Media/ Use What You Have
Most companies don’t have millions to spend on social media campaigns. Even a basic social media presence is a great way to gain increased exposure, and to give your customers access to your company. Start by examining various social media platforms, from blogs to Facebook to Twitter, and see what works for you and your company. Johna Revescencio, a freelance online community manager, won the #PlanWBoost Twitter contest by simply having each member of her team consistently reach out to key Twitter influencers, and it worked. More successful case studies like Johna’s champion social media tactics can be found at Accuracast.com.
Find the outlet that will help your business the most and use it, according to StartingUpTips.com. If you already have an effective ad campaign, it often pays to keep using it and promoting it on social media. Business owners can get bored with their current promotions and pay to change them. This leads to unnecessary marketing expenses, warns Entrepreneur.com. You can reuse pieces of previous images and text for other purposes, like in-house brochures, business cards and buzz-worthy social media tactics.
To advertise is to communicate; rather, to persuade an audience to act upon a product, service or ideal. With a target market in mind, companies intend to convey a distinct message. While you need to keep your marketing campaign fresh and innovative, it doesn’t have to be over-the-top expensive.
It takes time, energy and imagination to get your brand presence realized and your identity solidified to the public. There are ways to provide clarity and transparency to any market through thoughtful design elements and practical, yet clever solutions.
Creating meaningful relationships is the foundation for success in any business. With the growth of social media and ever-evolving social circles on the web, the success comes from not only knowing how to stay connected but to foster alliances. In the formation of your social media community, it’s not the number of “friends,” but the ability to engage and launch smart conversations with the ones you have, ultimately maintaining more stable connections.
Business relationships go both ways. The willingness to give, share and support must be mutually maintained. The conversations, whether face-to-face or through digital media must be real. There’s no time for small talk. If you find yourself too busy and your business relationships become neglected, they’ll wither away, and the value of what had been carefully cultivated in the past loses steam and could eventually end.
Never Fear! Some Tips:
- Don’t listen with your answer running; meaning, actually listen before you decide how to respond. You’ll never fully understand what the other person is trying to say if you already have a response created in your head.
- Encourage constructive criticism. It takes courage, but it helps a business grow and improve.
- Be an expert in the field and be honest with your peers, employees and competition.
As any savvy entrepreneur knows, it only makes sense to develop an understanding of your target customers before you launch advertising and promotional strategy. With letterhead, notepads, pens and thumb drives, putting your brand logo on usable, high-quality items, makes customers feel they’re being rewarded for even considering your product or service. Trust ensues and then comes growth.
Bookmarks, stickers, personalized CD covers and plastic cards can be a refreshing change from the everyday business card or brochure that gets tossed in the recycle bin before a client even really looks at it.
Niche publications offer a way to nail down your specific target audience and gain visibility in your industry. Not only that, but they allow you to keep abreast with the competition as well as the latest industry trends (even though you’ll be at the forefront of innovation). Advertising in a trade publication also speaks directly to the distributors on the front line who are selling your product. Relationships are formed, and trust becomes determined on a superior editorial package in a well-designed magazine that keeps the readers interested.
For example, the lighting industry has a trade publication called enLIGHTenment magazine. It highlights edgy products, notable award winners, seasonal and aftermarket trends, energy-efficient lighting and news in and around the business. Whether a manufacturer or distributor in this industry, your presence in this trade publication will be seen not only by competitors but vendors and enthusiasts.
I love this infographic. It could be the outline for an initial web design consultation with new clients.
Knowing how hard it can be to extract content from some clients, this line cracked me up: “Are you sure? There must be a story in there somewhere. ”
The original blog post that went along with it has some fun samples of current trends. I particularly enjoyed the parallax scrolling examples. Even if you don’t know or care about “parallax scrolling” you’ll love playing with the 007 cars presentation, and Jess & Russ’ engagement timeline drew me in to their romance even though I was just there to see the technique.
Have some fun…check out the parallax scrolling at
Protect your identity with the tips shown in this infographic.
- Beware of links in emails – look for a second form of identification
- Know that images, logos are easily faked
- Beware of emails claiming a heightened sense of urgency
- Monitor your credit rating
- Use a credit card with a low spending limit for online purchases – do not use a debit card
- Vary your passwords
Stay safe in 2013.