Tag Archive for business lessons

Marketing Pieces for your Small Business

Today’s guest post comes to us from Suzzie Moore.  Suzzie is a freelance writer posting about a variety of topics on her blog “Rediscovering the Pen” and working on her dream, her first novel.  You can also find Suzzie on Twitter @suzzziemoore.

Marketing is essential to any business.  But if you’re the owner of a small company you’ll know that successful marketing comes at a cost.  And yet you may not realize how much you can save by doing it yourself.  A small investment of time and money now can save you a fortune in the long run.  You just have to know where to begin.

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Product Review: Sprout Social

Here at NxtGen, we are always looking for affordable, yet effective, social media solutions that the everyday small business owner can use.  For the past several months, we have been testing out a few different Social Media Management tools.  Today I am going to share my thoughts with you on one of those tools: Sprout Social.

Review: Sprout Social is a social media management tool that allows businesses to efficiently and effectively manage & grow their social presence across multiple channels and turn social connections into loyal customers.  Overall, I really like this tool.  You can easily connect your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Gowalla accounts and manage them all from one convenient location.  They even recently added the ability to connect your Google Analytics account, which is a really nice feature.  For business owners that don’t have the time to waste checking and updating several different social media sites, and don’t have the budget to pay a high priced consultant or service, this is a great tool.  You can easily update all your social networks in one place, find new customers with their advanced search technology, monitor conversations taking place across the web either about your brand or your industry, and easily organize all your social media connections in one place, complete with history, notes and more, using the address book feature.  They also provide really great analytics that give you detailed information on followers, influence, engagement, clicks and more – all in colorful, intuitive charts & graphs.  You can review the data right from your browser, or you can create branded PDF reports with the click of a button (data can also be downloaded in CSV form).  But even better is the price!  For the average small business owner out there, who only needs to manage one account (one account handles up to 5 identities), the Pro Plan is only $9/month!  And for those businesses who need to manage multiple accounts, or are looking for a little more in depth analysis, their Business Plan is still an affordable $49/month. Both plans come with a 30-day free trial.  See graphics below for more detailed information on what is included in each package. Read more

Word of Mouth Is A Two Way Street

Two years ago I needed to have my backyard deck stripped of paint and stained.  I had been looking online and could not find any companies that wanted to do the work I was requesting.  A good friend of mine works for a home and door company in my area, so I asked him if he knew anyone that could do my job.  He gave me the name of a company that he worked with in the past that does decks.  I contacted them, and they were able to recommend a company who could fill my need.  The deck came out great, and I could not be happier.   A few months later I decided to have my front porch replaced.  I ended up using the same deck guy, and was very happy with how the front porch came out initially.  Actually the the front porch came out so nice that both my parents and my in-laws hired him to do work at their houses, thanks to my glowing recommendation.  Two years later, I have a leaking roof and two sets of unhappy parents.  Turns out he took a few short cuts, and while his work looked great initially, it did not last over time.  Now I have to constantly listen to both my parents and my in-laws complain about how the deck guy screwed them.  Lesson learned; word of mouth is a two way street.  In business, and life in general, you are responsible for the recommendations that you give, not just the service that you provide.

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Building An Online Community: Part 3 – Nurturing Your Community

Welcome back for the final part of our series on how to build an online community.  In our previous posts, we talked about Choosing the Right Platfrom and Growing Your Community.  Now we will            discuss the critical step of nurturing that community that you have worked so hard to build.

Have you ever seen the show “Yard Crashers” on HGTV?  It is a backyard remodel show, where the host waits at home improvement stores looking for the perfect weekend warriors who could use his help. People go in thinking they’re just buying a bag of mulch, but instead come home with the host and his team, who completely transform their landscape.  It happens to be one of my favorite shows on TV right now (and I don’t even have a backyard.  Go figure), however, at the end of every show, I am left wondering, “what now?”  What happens when the experts all leave and these people, who previously neglected their yard to the point of it needing a complete makeover, are left to handle it all themselves?  Building a beautiful, lush, garden is hard work, but it all goes to waste if you do not continue to care for, and nurture it.  Well, the same can be said about your online community.  You can put all the hard work, time, and effort in the world into picking the right platform and building your community.  But if you don’t continue to nurture that community, it was all a giant waste of time.  Here are a few key tips to focus on once you have built out your community.

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Building An Online Community: Part 2 – Growing Your Community

Welcome back to the NxtGen blog and our series about building an online community.  Last week we started things off by explaining the importance of choosing the right social media platform in order to build your community.  Now that you have done your due diligence, and decided what platform you are going to use to broadcast your message, we are going to look at the next step of the process: Growing Your Community. Below are some key areas to focus on when starting to build your community.

Act Like a Host

Picture this.  You get this amazing invitation to attend “the party of the year”.  It promises to be filled with a ton of people, and all kinds of fun and entertaining events.  You decide to go to the party, even though you don’t know anyone else going.  When you arrive, nobody greets you, or introduces you to any of the other partygoers.  You walk around for a while awkwardly introducing yourself to a few people trying to figure out if you have anything in common.  A half hour into the party, you are so bored, you end up sneaking out while nobody is looking.  Sounds pretty awful right?  Well how is that any different than joining a group online, where they promise you all kinds of great stuff in order to get you to join, and then once you do, nothing!  No interaction.  No engagement.  No perks.  Nothing!  When trying to build an online community, you have to act like a (good) host.  Be courteous to members.  Thank them for being a part of your community.  Introduce them to other members that they have common interests with.  Offer them unique and exclusive content or specials.  Make sure they know you are there for them and that you are happy to have them!

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