Why the NEW Google+ Local matters for your Small Business

Google just announced that it will kill its “Google Places” offering in favor of a new version on Google+ called “Google+ Local”.   Why does this matter? It is interesting that Google has decided to build out its business listing service on its very own social network.   What this can potentially lead to is for Google to essentially create a “Place Book”.  Basically, a social network for businesses to rival Facebook’s consumer based social network.  Imagine if you will, a network where a small business could go to interact with other small businesses, say its suppliers or its partners.  This would create a one stop shop where a business owner can get all their needs met.  

Now, add in Zagat and you have a powerful draw for consumers as well.  Zagat reviews are valuable because of their rating methodology.   It is  considered much more reliable because they are based on surveys.  The reason this matters to consumers?  Simple.  Yelp reviews can be skewed to favor the loudest person on the site. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to game the system.  It is as easy as putting an add on Craig’s List and hiring a “Yelper” to write reviews for your business.  I am not suggesting that this is the case with every review, but it can happen.  Furthermore, businesses like Zagat for the same reason, objective reviews.  I have heard small businesses complain that Yelp will not accept some positive reviews because it doesn’t “deem” them real.  Then, the company asks the small businesses for money to include the positive reviews on Yelp.  Not sure if this is true or not but I do know some small businesses are not fans of Yelp.  

The other important consideration is Location, Location, Location!  By making its “business listings” part of its social network, Google will be able to more easily encourage and prompt business owners to update their information.  This is the same information that is included in Google MAPS.  The search giant will also be able to incorporate this into its mobile strategy.  The fact is that 20% of searches done in Google are for places nearby.  This is huge!  And will only continue to climb.  In addition, 40% of all searches on Google are for “Local” businesses.  This represents almost $2 Billion per month.

Overall, I think this was the best strategy Google could have taken.  It will definitely increase the ad spend from local, small businesses.  While Google+, when compared to Facebook, may be the smaller of the two social networks, it certainly promises to be the most profitable.  

What do you think? Did Google make the right move? Tell us!

Remember to stay in the conversation email us at npersonaservices@gmail.com or follow us on twitter @npersona

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How Small Businesses Can use Mobile for Marketing

npersona's Blog

NOTE: This was first published in February of this year.

Tomorrow we are launching our new video series designed to help small businesses learn from experts in startups, small business and marketing.  We are excited that our first guest will be Josh Konowe, CEO and founder of Uppidy a mobile app that lets you store and share your text messages for free.  The video can be found at the end of this post.

With that in mind, I wanted to write a post and give small business tips on how to use some mobile marketing strategies.

Mobile SMS Marketing Campaigns

These types of campaigns can be easy to implement and fairly affordable, I have seen pricing as low as $15 with a one year contract.  Reaching consumers on their phones can be an easy way for businesses to stay top of mind with consumers.  Here are some tips to make…

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How Positive Psychology is Changing Product Marketing

Recently, I have been doing research on the topic of positive psychology.  The essence of positive psychology is to focus on strengths and virtues.  Traditional marketing focuses on the customer problem–the negative.  Businesses bring a solution to the problem–the positive.  Positive psychology advocates focusing on customer strengths–the positive.  Businesses are encouraged to enhance customer strengths with their solutions–another positive.   The field is still young and largely unexplored.  However, the impact of positive psychology on individuals has enhanced performance & productivity.  In my opinion, this is enough to at least explore how the principles of positive psychology can be applied to business and more specifically to marketing. 

Today’s consumer is more inclined to develop brand loyalty to companies with a purpose.  In other words, people today are looking for companies that have “values”.   It is no longer enough for your product to “solve a problem” your brand has to stand for something.  There has to be meaning in your brand.  From wikipedia, the character strengths and virtues that positive psychology aims at is the following: 

  • Wisdom and knowledge: creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective, wisdom, innovation
  • Courage: bravery, persistence, integrity, vitality
  • Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence
  • Justice: citizenship, responsibility, teamwork, loyalty, fairness, leadership
  • Temperance: forgiveness, mercy, humility, modesty, prudence, self control, self regulation
  • Transcendence: appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, playfulness, spirituality

Ask yourself, how do your products enhance your customers lives? What is the positive that your products or services bring to the table?  Focus on your customers strengths and add to them.  What do you think about positive psychology?

Stay connected, stay in the conversation. Email us at npersonaservices@gmail.com

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How to do effective business networking

Networking is a vital part of doing business nowadays.  However, many people are still intimidated by the idea of walking into a room full of strangers and “networking”.  Often, an image of a pushy, sleazy “used car” sales man comes to mind.  The truth is that networking doesn’t have to be that way.  Yes, you will encounter some people that are like that.  Most people are networking to meet new people that can help them connect with other professionals.  

The majority of people don’t have a concrete plan when they go to a networking event.  Always have a reason to be at the event.  It is good to be present–it is even better to have goals.  Get into the habit of setting goals for yourself and you will get more out of the events.  For example, set a goal of meeting three new people.  Be strategic about the types of people you want to meet to extend your network. 

A good way to meet a large amount of people is to introduce yourself first.  This is hard to do in the beginning.  The best way to get into the habit of introducing yourself is to practice.  It only gets easier with practice.  Soon, it will come naturally.  Another, good idea is to ask a lot of questions.  Humanize the process and find things you have in common.  Ask what they like to do in their free time.  Have a conversation not an interrogation.  The best way of really making a connection is to offer to help.  

Remember people do business with people they like. Be nice and be likeable. Show genuine interest in people.  The most important thing to remember is that networking is about building relationships.  Remember that relationships take time.  When you meet someone, follow up! That is the number one mistakes professionals make.  Getting the business card is good but it does you no good if you don’t take action!  Send an email and invite someone to coffee.  Connect on a personal level and continue the conversation.  

Building relationships is one of the most important skills any professional can have.  Keep in mind that this can take months, even years.  The key is to continue to build out your network–you never know who can make that key introduction.  

If you are in the Washington, DC metro area stop by our FREE workshop to learn more about networking best practices. Sign up here: http://www.eventbrite.com/s/98u9

On that note, remember to stay connected, stay in the conversation, email us at npersonaservices@gmail.com or follow us on twitter @npersona

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Artomatic! More than just art—its magic & marketing

After a long hiatus, Artomatic is back! If you have not heard, Artomatic is Washington, DC’s largest art festival.  The organization takes an empty building and fills it with art! This includes visual art, dance, music, poetry and everything you can possibly think of!  This year, the team at Artomatic took over an 11-story in Crystal City.   Last night was opening night and it was more than magical!  The great thing about Artomatic is that it gives artists a forum to showcase their art.  Artomatic is completely egalitarian–anyone can show off their art–all you need is $110 for registration and 3 volunteer shifts.

What is also great is that it lets artists market their work to the public.  This is a great opportunity for artists to get new fans and more importantly, sell their work.   Here are some tips for artists and others attending the event to help them market their work.

Tip 1: TALK to people

Have conversations with those that are visiting your exhibit.  Engage people and ask them what they think.  Show interests in their opinion.  Remember, not everyone is going to like your work.  That is ok.  There is no right or wrong worldview.  The point of this exercise is to connect to the people that do LOVE your work.  The people that fall in LOVE with your work are the people that will BUY your work and will tell others about it.

Tip 2: HELP people

Help other artists and drive traffic to their exhibit.  You would be surprised how karma works.  Always pay it forward.  Once others see that you are a “giver” they will be more than happy to help you with anything you need.  Besides, helping people makes you feel good and this leads to tip number 3.

Tip 3: Be HAPPY

Smile! You are at Artomatic, the happiest place on earth.  This is the place where you get to be a magical unicorn for one whole month!  Being happy and having a positive attitude is key to drawing people to you.   Engage people by giving them compliments.  Tell others what you like about their work, even if its one little thing.  Train yourself to look at the positive and you will be transformed into a people magnet.  And you know what else magnets attract $$$ 🙂

Have fun at Artomatic!  Enjoy the experience, you never know when it will happen again.  Be present and take your time to take it all in.

I will be having a professional development session this Wednesday titled “The importance of Networking for Entrepreneurs.”  Here is the link:  http://www.eventbrite.com/event/3492406883

Stay connected, stay in the conversation email us at npersonaservices@gmail.com Follow us on twitter @npersona

Enjoy your life! Lorena

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Facebook IPO, Over Valuations & the Tech Bubble

This has been an exciting week to watch Silicon Valley.  The much anticipated Facebook IPO is looming over much bigger questions–Is the company over valued? Are we experiencing a “tech bubble”?    The question of value has become even much more pressing for Facebook this week.  GM pulled its ads from Facebook because it could not justify spending millions on ads on the social network.  Indeed, this is one of Facebook’s Achilles heels.  The company has not been able to quantify and accurately measure the engagement of its ad network.  This prevents advertisers from being able to analyze the effectiveness of their ads.  As we saw earlier this week with GM, not every advertiser is willing to spend millions for “likes”.   At some point Facebook will have to be able to clearly demonstrate the level of engagement and how that engagement is turning into direct sales for advertisers.  For the majority of consumer goods, this will be a tough battle to prove.   How do you measure and tie a consumer’s purchase of a candy bar because they saw an ad for it on Facebook? Simple, you don’t. And that is the problem.

Mobile is also not Facebook’s darling.  The social network has failed to capitalize and monetize its mobile user base.   There are no ads run on mobile and this means there is no money there for Facebook.   The company lost money last quarter because an increasing number of users are moving on to use only the mobile platform.  This is certainly the case in third world country’s where desktop’s may not be as accessible as mobile phones.

So the question remains–is the company over valued? In my opinion, yes and no.  Facebook has not been able to really define a path to monetization that is truly measurable for advertisers.    This means that for some consumer goods companies, Facebook is not that valuable no matter what the size.  When companies make decisions to advertise they need to base those decisions on several factors, including consumer intent.  When you are on Facebook, are you really hoping you will find information about a new car? Not likely, you are there for entertainment.   So, GM was not so far off the mark when they decided to pull their ads–that is not their target audience (or at least not their ENGAGED target audience).   Now, the “no they are not over valued” view point is that having a massive audience has never been done before and they are becoming the new internet.  It is very true that the power of having amassed almost 1 billion people is undeniable.   Keeping those billion people engaged is going to be very interesting.   Think about how much data is transferred every second!  That data is incredibly valuable.   Is it $100 billion worth of value? I think so!  The trick is to have users continue to provide that data without experiencing “fatigue”.

Content is the most important element to the Facebook platform.  You and I are the content providers for a company that is worth BILLIONS of dollars! I am going to repeat that YOU AND I are the content providers for a company worth BILLIONS of dollars! Without that content–our content–why would anyone visit the site?  Think about that one next time you are updating your status or uploading a picture.

Tell us what you think!  Stay connected, stay in the conversation email us at npersonaservices@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter @npersona!

Starting this Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 we will be at Artomatic doing their professional development track for entrepreneurs.  Come by to meet the team and say hi–FREE SING UP HERE:  http://www.eventbrite.com/s/98u9

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How to do Targeted Marketing

Targeted marketing is extremely important for developing customer profiles.  I have created a video that discusses the principles of targeted marketing, segmentation, value propositions and much more!

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