I started my day remembering a blog I’d read the night prior. Tea Contains Less Caffeine Than Coffee on the Broken Secrets blog. I couldn’t get my caffeine soon enough! I rarely drink coffee, but when I do I get the caffeine kick I need. Since I knew I’d be talking to people though – I did them all a favor and DIDN’T drink coffee. Coffee breath stays with me all day — so I opted for Mountain Dew Typhoon instead. (I needed something caffeinated to help me function on 2 hours sleep!)
Once Michael and I checked in at the registration desk and mingled some, we settled in to the auditorium at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering building (For those that don’t know it’s the big glass building at the corner of Fuller Road and Washington Avenue Ext. in Albany)
Below are some notes about the forums that were offered.
I found as I started writing this that it was VERY difficult to keep up with all the information the panels were presenting. Many of the following sections will appear more as “notes” vs. a “narrative.”
Times Union: Tools for Small Business Success
Speaker: Tena Tyler – News and Information Services Senior Editor 518.454.5324
To have your business information printed in the Times Union you need to understand your audience. You need to know how to speak their language. She stressed that a business needs to know when to call an editor. If you’ve sent in a press release and two weeks have passed and it hasn’t been published, make sure you call in. Tena stated that one of the biggest problems with small businesses in the region is that they don’t accept that online is a form of publication. Many businesses are turning to Facebook and Twitter to market their businesses, but small businesses seem to be slower to use the online medium for marketing.
The TU wants to help small businesses in the region
If you have a story about your business: TUBusiness@timesunion.com
If you have a business event and would like it added to our business calendar: TUCalendar@timesunion.com
If you want your event to be in the print version – please contact them 3 weeks in advance
Eric Anderson – Business editor 453-5323
Speaker: Craig Eustace – Retail Advertising Manager 518.454.5529
Craig spoke about the paid marketing that the Times Union offers.
The Times Union now has Niche publications.
Life @Home – geared towards your home – design ideas, DIY projects, etc.
Healthy Life – geared towards women’s issues and things women would like to read about.
Explore – Where to go what to do – travel/tourism
In Motion – Automotive magazine
Vow – Brand New – Wedding magazine (Just launched Tuesday!)
You can advertise your small business in these publications to get your ad in front of a targeted audience.
Pay per click is also offered. You will know how many people clicked on your ad. It is track-able so you will know what your return on investment is.
They offer direct mail marketing. They can provide demographic lists. For example – If you’re a roofer – they can get you a list of all houses in the readership area that are 25 years or older. You can target them and send your ad to those target customers.
We have huge growth in the technology market in the capital region.
2 out of 3 jobs are created by small businesses
Earlier this month Sam’s Club did a survey of their small business customers.
“What is it that you need in order to stay in business?” was the main question.
The answer: MONEY! Sam’s Club partnered with the National Business Association and the Small Business Administration to figure out how to get small business loans for the small business community. If the small businesses don’t have money to maintain their businesses, it will directly effect Sam’s Club’s bottom line. This act alone shows that Sam’s Club partners with their customers.
What do small businesses need around Albany?
Many have good business but it isn’t steady.
Figure out how to get your customer out to shop.
Consumers are afraid to shop. Afraid to spend – need to save their money.
If you want to make it as a small business, you need to be a partner with your customer
It’s your job to be friends with you customers.
Read your tweets and messages out loud. Would you want to buy whatever your pitching?
Engage with your audience – have a fun personality.
Friend every reporter out there to get your name out in many forms of media.
Comment on the blogs, Facebook, Twitter….
Interact with your customers on Twitter & Facebook with personal tweets and comments.
Questions that you should ask yourself prior to blogging are:
“Why should people read your blog? Why should they care?
People blog for different reasons. Some blog to market their business, others blog to build a sense of community.
“Careful what you put out there. Count to 10 before you hit publish.”
“What degree do ethics play in a community?”
Rev. Alan Rudnick spoke about people who “hide behind the veil” AKA – Anonymous bloggers.
Merci reminded us that “Blogging is a knee jerk – reactive media.”
“If you don’t believe in your product, in yourself, and that you can cheer yourself out of a corner – you shouldn’t start a blog.”
“Be a follower OR have a following.” Your choice.
They spoke about the recent “Ding Dong Ditch” incident that happened locally last week. Why did it become such a firestorm? It was a story that contained emotion. It could happen to any home owner. Social Media helped that story spread like wild-fire. So much so that CNN picked up the story.
An audience member Karen McGowan spoke that she hadn’t considered a blog for her business until today. The panel encouraged her to start blogging about her business Capital Interior Scapes an interior plant scape business. By blogging she would humanize her business and she would appear as an expert in her industry. She could post customer recommendations, pictures of plant-scapes she’d designed, lists of plants that people could consider and so many other things.
Why is mobile taking over everyone’s lives?
It makes our lives easier.
What is social media?
“Social media are media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques… They support the democratization of knowledge and information and transform people from content consumers to content producers.”
Benefits of social media
New customer acquisition
Current customer outreach
Brand monitoring and management
They spoke about using Facebook, Twitter, Ning, Yelp, GetListed and Know Em to market your business. Go to these sites and fill out your business profile. They stressed to fill in EVERY blank and as many keywords as are relevant to help your business come up in internet search engine results.
54% of the phone users in the local market use Verizon service.
30-40% of them are smart phones.
52% of the phones sold last week in his store were smartphones – ie. Droids, Blackberries, etc.
She didn’t present them as a “Top 10″ but some of the key points were:
Have a unique Design
You need to know who you’re competing against and what their web presence and marketing strategies are.
Keep your important information “above the fold”
You want the viewer of your site to see the important information without having to scroll down the page.
Use keyword phrases in your blog and on your website so you will organically show up on Web search results.
She also spoke about using Google Alerts to monitor the online activity of your company name.
Use social media to:
Tap into your existing network
Expand your network s to include contacts at the companies where you want to work.
Biggest online community – most bang for your buck – IT’S FREE!
People know you, like you, and WANT to help you
Great excuse to keep in touch with people who could help you
She stressed the importance of making small-talk first. Don’t friend request someone and immediately ask them if their company is hiring. Make some small talk and as the conversation evolves, your job search will be mentioned.
Connect with professionals you might not want to see your personal life on Facebook
Your resume will appear on Google, showing potential employers what you want them to see.
LinkedIn has job boards as well as groups you can join based on your alma mater and industry.
You can find out background information about potential employers
There is an introductions feature that you can use to meet someone who a mutual friend knows.
Network outside your circle of friends
Prove yourself as an expert
Hear about jobs
Keep on top of new trends in your industry
Make connections with companies and employers who may not have otherwise noticed you)
Tips when using social media
Fill out your profile completely
If you’re not going to do it well, don’t do it at all
Rather than being on every network – choose a few and grow quality followings