Posts Tagged ‘small businesses’

Why Social Media and Not Email for Small Businesses?

Some interesting research suggests small businesses prefer social media over email marketing.  In marketing and sales research conducted by Ripl (mobile application software provider), revealed the following:

  • 55% for Facebook
  • 43% for Instagram
  • 19% for Twitter
  • 41% for creative and graphic design
  • 7% cited email

Email marketing as a marketing channel came in third to social media posts and blogs (websites).

Why Social Media and Not Email?

Of course, the first answer to this question is resources. Small businesses have limited resources.  Not only money, but time, energy and emotions are also in short supply.

Possibly, many of these small businesses have had negative experiences with email marketing. Their email boxes are cluttered and overflowing with sales pitches of buy this or buy that.

Lack of education is another reason.  Unfortunately, many who engage in small business marketing focus on social media even though these providers have a very limited social media presence.

Probably the best and most overlooked reason is these small businesses lack a well researched strategic plan. Without a solid strategic plan, small business owners and salespeople engage in Captain Wing It behaviors where they spray their marketing all over the place and then pray something will stick.

Doesn’t it make sense to track the right things to product the right results to avoid misdirected actions and misguided decisions?

The real WHY behind the preference for social media over email marketing returns not knowing what to track and results in poor actions and bad decisions. Then what happens is social media becomes the fall back marketing action.

If you want to make better decisions, then CLICK HERE to schedule a call with Leanne Hoagland-Smith to learn what options you have that respect your limited resources.

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Want to Increase Sales? Just Answer Your Phone!

Local small businesses continue to clamor for more sales.  Continued calls to increase sales resonate from social media to one on one conversations.  Yet, if these sales hungry SMB would just answer their phones, I am sure they would find new sales leads, new customers and continued opportunities.

increase salesYesterday morning I made 12 calls to local small businesses and only two SMBs answered their phone with a real live person..  The other 10 calls went to voice mail.  Even after 18 hours no returned phone calls or even text messages.  Really, how sales hungry are these SMBs?

Several of these SMBs had ads placed in the local newspaper.  One would think if they placed a paid advertisement for sales prospecting, they would answer their phones.  Wrong presumption.

A long time friend and colleague, Rick Gosser of Gosser Corporate Sales, continues to harp about small businesses that don’t answer their phones. He answers his phone, emails, voice mails and texts all the time unless he is already on the phone.  Then he quickly returns the voice mail if one is left. This sales behavior or rather sales attitude continues to increase sales for him.  Rick has shared how often people comment about him actually answering the phone as they expect voice mail.

Technology in this case is a sales prospecting tool and only a tool.  How SMBs use that tool is up to them. The misuse of that tool or tools in this case a phone, voice mail or text appears to be rampant.

Remember, people buy from people they know and trust.  (Sales Buying Rule #1).  By not returning phone calls sows the seeds of distrust. In today’s competitive market, can any SMB afford to create distrust?

Just like I shared last week, one can increase sales by committing to taking these three actions with the first one being a better communicator.  Communication is a two way street.  If you don’t answer your phone, you are communicating the wrong message.

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Intuition – The Gut Brain for Business and Leadership Success

A wise mentor once said to me “Given enough information your intuitive sense will be validated.” Intuition some suggest comes from our gut brain as described by Dr. Robert Cooper in his book Get Out Of Your Own Way or by others as an unknown sense that has always been with us. What I do know is intuition supports both business and leadership success.

leadership-successWhatever the source, intuition is the gut brain for business. For example, have you ever met a potential client and felt immediately that this was a good fit or conversely met a prospect and couldn’t get away from him or her fast enough? Or maybe you received a sales referral, made the first contact and your gut brain is screaming “No way?”

Why did you have those strong feelings? And more importantly, why did you listen to them?

What happened when you failed to listen to your intuitive sense? Did you experience an internal “I told you so!”? Maybe, after ignoring your “gut brain” because you were afraid of being judgmental, you took a chance and the end result confirmed your intuition. No where is this sense, intuition, more needed than in business and leadership success.

Why should you listen to your intuitive sense beyond your own hits and misses? We all have heard the failure rate of small businesses especially solo entrepreneurs. I believe one reason for these failures is because these entrepreneurial innovators failed to ignite their own intuition and leveraged the power of that intuition in their small businesses.

In business, we must not ignore these feelings. When we use these feelings in conjunction with a solid decision making process, we can work smarter and then work even harder as we strive towards achieving our desired results. Our intuition helps us to prevent miss steps provided we are willing to hear the messages from our “gut brain.” By listening which is not to be confused with immediately acting, we can achieve far greater leadership success.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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In Marketing Time Is Relative

Time is short or at least business people believe it to be.  Time has not changed as we still have 24 hours, 1,440 minutes and 86,900 seconds in each day. What has changed in marketing is the amount of messages being received by ideal customers and target market.



According to Laura Henderson of Mondelez at a ClickZ Live event she stated “The current average attention span of Web and mobile users is less than eight seconds.” Tubular Labs analyzed 24,000 YouTube and FacebookVideos with more than 10,000 engagements and shared the average Facebook video was just under 90 seconds at 81.22 seconds while on YouTube the average video was near 14 minutes.

Marketing people including salespeople learned this past July that the average persons spends more than 20 minutes a day on Facebook (Business Insider) while checking their phones 150 times a day (Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Buyers). However even with shorter attention spans, what is the best marketing times is still “relative.”

Over on LinkedIn Pulse from my ongoing research and the research of others, longer articles receive more views, likes, comments and shares than short articles.  LinkedIn members want quality content and will invest more time to read a 1,000 plus word post while potentially ignoring the shorter posts.

What this research on time and marketing has revealed is you have just a few seconds to grab someone’s attention and up to 25 more seconds for them to be engaged in your marketing message. If the average human speaks at a rate of 150 words and reads at around 300 words per minute (WPM), then you have 75 words if speaking and 150 words if reading before they tune out.

Understanding the importance of time and marketing is essential especially for small businesses that cannot afford high price cable, television, radio or print advertising. This is why social media and mobile marketing continue to gain traction while traditional marketing channels continue to lose audiences.

The critical point to learn is if you have an emotionally compelling and quality message that sounds and maybe even looks different than your competitors, you will attract attention even with the short attention spans.  Time in marketing is relative.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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Will You Be Suffering from Trust in Sales Erosion?

A recent poll from Gallup revealed Americans trust the media far less today than just 16 years ago.  Today only 40% of Americans trust the media compared to 55% back in 1999. Possibly this demonstrated erosion is also impacting trust in sales.

trust-in-salesIf the general public is becoming less trusting of past trusted resources, then it makes sense trust in sales may also be suffering.

People buy from people they know and trust. Sometimes like comes into the mix, but knowing and trusting always come first.

Top sales performers are those who have demonstrated trust in sales. Yet trust can be weakened especially when customers are ignored or their business taken for granted.

This trust erosion appears to be especially true for those ages 18-49 where they have only 36% trust in the media compared to those 50 or older who have 45% trust.

Staying abreast of what the general public is feeling is important to anyone in mid size to small businesses and especially for those in sales.  It appears people are becoming less trusting and potentially more cynical and even jaded when it comes to establishing and maintaining trust.  Possible social media has also had a negative impact on building trust in sales.

What salespeople may wish to take away from this poll on trust in the media is trust in sales can also change.  This is not the time to take any clients for granted. Possibly now is the time to consider putting together a marketing plan in which each clients receives at least one to two contacts per month and potential clients may require two to three contacts.

If people do not know you, it is hard for them to trust you.  Sure they may have known you years ago, but more importantly do they know you today and how do you know they know you?

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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The Dead Box in Sales

The Dead Box in sales appears to be growing.


  • Cold calling is dead
  • Close ended questions are dead
  • Traditional selling is dead

Almost every day the word dead appears connected to some aspect of selling. If there was a sales graveyard, it would be littered with a lot of tombstones.

I remember learning about how death can be premature as noted by Mark Twain who wrote:

“…the report of my death was an exaggeration.”

So why are there so many reports of exaggerated deaths in this dynamic field? My sense is it is one of three reasons or a combination of these three reasons:

  • To sell a new sales process, style, book, seminar or sales training
  • People seeking a quick fix
  • People seeking to take advantage of those seeking a quick fix

Until people do 100% of their buying from robots, selling will still happen. To earn new revenue requires:

  • Time (knowledge of sales cycle)
  • Ideal potential customer (knowledge of who buys solutions)
  • Compelling emotional message (knowledge of industry and how to speak to potential customers)
  • Connectivity (connecting the solution to the customer’s value drivers)
  • Stream of planned and consistent activity (marketing, selling and keeping actions)

If any of these elements are not present, salespeople and their sales managers may begin to believe some of the rhetoric about this or that being dead.

With the U.S. economy appearing to lose steam, my sense is there is going to be a lot more deaths in the Selling Graveyard. For those forward thinking leaders in small businesses, who have invested the time to understand how to increase sales, they will avoid the Selling Graveyard with all the Dead Boxes.


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The Human Touch Still Prevails in Workplace Culture

To improve workplace culture from employee happiness to hiring, many mid-size to small businesses are relying on software to find potential problems.  I even use several workplace culture assessments when working with my corporate clients.

workplace-cultureWhat some consultants and those in executive leadership roles forget is software will always be secondary to the human touch.  What I mean is it is essential to talk to employees face to face to gauge their emotional reactions.

When employees are asked open ended questions and know their answers are confidential, this human touch can provide incredible insight to the workplace culture.  This is not really possible when only technology is used because most of the workplace culture assessments may not cover a specific emotional issue being faced by an employee.

Of course the employees must believe these one on one interviews are completely confidential.  Their responses would be recorded in a general way without revealing any key behaviors such as specific vocabulary usage.

Skilled interviewers can identify potential and specific problems within the workplace culture that may go undiscovered through software applications. These interviews are much like having a check-up with your physician.  He or she uses technology diagnostics to secure an accurate assessment on your current health.  However, the physician does not totally rely on technology. Employing the human touch is part of the overall assessment process.

There are many good software programs and probably equally number of bad software programs to assess workplace culture. Just remember an organization is comprised of living organisms, people.

Your people respond to other people in ways that technology can never assess. The human touch will always be essential until the time we have a 100% robotic workplace.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219-508-2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Forward Thinking Leaders Are Not Satisfied with the Status Quo

What separates good from great small businesses?  I think the answer is fairly simple – Forward Thinking Leaders.

forward-thinking-leadersMany business consultants write volumes and volumes about what makes a great business.  However at the end of the day, those companies that are ahead of the flow are led by forward thinking leaders.  Steve Jobs was one such person.

Many mid-size to small businesses that drive the daily local to state economies are also headed by individuals who think ahead, who are not satisfied with the status quo. These entrepreneurs continually ask themselves “How can we be better?” to “What more can we do with the resources we have?”

These forward thinking leaders push everyone around them to be better. They create environments that encourage risk taking because they know with change happening at the speed of light staying with the status quo may mean financial doom.

Possibly, another reason why these individuals push the status quo is because the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) is very evident.  By having mastery, autonomy and purpose, these individuals know how to motivate themselves and then motivate others.

Of course some small business owners start out as forward thinking and then the daily grind bogs them down. They become meshed IN the day to day operations of their small businesses and fail to invest the time to work ON the business.  Over time, their once abundance mindset has evolved into a scarcity mindset that allows the status quo to remain unchallenged.

Being satisfied is the human condition, the fallback position.  Wanting more for one’s self, for others, is where forward thinking leaders excel. And the very best part, is each of us can be satisfied with the status quo or decide we want more.  History has shown those who want more bring new innovation into the workplace and into the economy.

Yes Margaret there will always be a better way to build a mousetrap.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Writing Is 20% of Content Article Marketing

With so many small businesses with under 20 employees (97.7% of all U.S.businesses), content article marketing through blogs or distribution sites has become the a popular marketing tactic.  For example,write an article on LinkedIn Pulse and you will attract attention and maybe even get a new sales lead.



The problem with content writing is the writing should comprise around 20% of your time.  The other 80% should be promoting that article. That is where the word marketing comes into play.

Did you know over a million articles have been published on LinkedIn Pulse since its inception in early 2014.  Currently this marketing channel is experiencing over 50,000 articles per week.

Standing out in this crowded market place is difficult.  Believing a one time push of your article will attract any attention is foolhardy. Remember, marketing is all about attracting positive attention.

Build a Community

The more people you have sharing your content article marketing the greater likelihood you will attract attention and gain a sales lead.  I belong to several communities that share not only this blog posting, but other content writing such as LinkedIn Pulse as well as other online publications.

As you build your community, make sure others provided quality writing and share the same values. For example, excessive self promotion is not a good value.  Some self promotion is necessary. However post after post about buy this book or attend this conference where I am speaking does not attract positive attention.

Make It Easy to Share

After you establish or join a community, make sure your content writing is easy to share. Create several tweets around 100-120 characters.  Include in those tweets any hashtags that may make finding your tweet easier.

Also do not forget creating quick postings for LinkedIn, Google+ or Facebook.  These can exceed 140 characters. By creating the posts allows you to direct the marketing message and make it far easier for your community to share your content article marketing.

Schedule Different Times

Not everyone has his or her eyeballs on your blog or article when you post it.  Through the use of automation tools such as HootSuite, you can schedule your posting to be viewed at different times. Also you can then repeat the posting a couple of weeks later. Effective content article marketing truly happens over a period of several weeks if not several months.

Marketing Is a Two Way Street

Remember content article marketing is a two-way street. If someone shares your written content, make sure you acknowledge that sharing.  Consider sharing that person’s content if he or she is not a member of your community.

Possibly log into your LinkedIn account several times a day and see who has published what.  If the article sounds interesting to you, read it, like it, comment on it and share it with others through the social media buttons.  Your activity will be noted to your connections and this may encourage others to read a particular posting.

Content article marketing is an investment of time and does require some strategy specific to keywords, your ideal customer profile as well as scheduling.  When you execute these marketing strategies with efficiency and effectiveness, your efforts will eventually give you a return on your investment in a new sales lead or better yet a new client.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 CST. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Business Growth Is More Than the Number of Pickles

How many pickles does a Whopper have?  According to a presentation I heard this week, the answer is exactly four.   However Burger King did not significant experience business growth because each Whopper had exactly four pickles.

business-growthBurger King grew because of its brand “have it you way.” This brand was a promise to its customers they could have the Whopper and any other hamburger, the way the customers wanted it.

So often when mid-size to small businesses look for business growth, they tend to focus on the minutiae and fail to realize why their customers buy from them. Customers buy because of your brand.  In many instances, that brand is probably not the brand envisioned by the small business owners.

Brand is simple yet illusive.  As Gus Olympidis CEO and Founder of Family Express recently shared, “brand is not your logo, … not something tangible.” 

“No, your brand is your promise.”

Olympidis should know as his Midwest convenience stores focus on finding people to demonstrate its brand every time a customer enters a store. On each door is this signage “Our Family Serving Yours.” For every person who applies for a position at Family Express, only one is hired.

For those mid-size to small businesses seeking business growth, consider rethinking what your brand really is.  As Burger King and Family Express realized, your brand is what you deliver to your customers.  This is why strategic plans begin with a base strategy to help solidify brand through a competitive advantage of:

  • Commodity Driven Focus
  • Technology Driven Focus
  • Quality Driven Focus
  • Service Driven Focus
  • Customer Driven Focus

Today your challenge the status quo and change it is to rethink what your brand really is.  Look beyond your probably expensive logo or positioning statement.  Think about what promises you make to your customers or clients.  Then think what promises you keep to your customers or clients.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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