Posted by: stephenfetters | October 14, 2015

How to Sell Without Selling

We all know the ability to sell our product or service is crucial to the success of our business.  When I talk to small business owners, the biggest complaint I hear is,”But, I’m not a sales man (or woman)!”  I have studied the art of selling for many years. (Yes, it is an art.)  Here’s the good news.  At its core, selling is really all about listening.  Here is an excellent article explaining just how that works.

Death of a Salesman: The Art of Selling Without Selling








Death of a Salesman

As a small business owner, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “I’m not a salesman (or woman), how am I supposed to market myself or product?” The beauty of marketing is that you can sell without actually selling.

But how can this be?

I’m going to focus on social media marketing for the sheer fact that I’ve had many small business owners say to me, “I post my products on Facebook, but no one seems to care.” People don’t care because you haven’t given them a reason to care.

Let’s use a real life example. Let’s say it’s the first time I met you and all I did was talk about myself and what I wanted you to do for me. Would you continue to talk to me? I’m not a gambler, but I think it’s safe to bet that the answer would be no.

Give your audience a reason to like you

In social media marketing, or really any form of marketing, you rarely want to talk about yourself. This might seem counter intuitive but if you talk about things your audience cares about, educate them about the topics you are an expert in, and let them speak their minds, they will be much more willing to listen to you when you do talk about yourself.

Remember, you are an expert in whatever you do and your audience knows that. This gives you the opportunity to show off your expertise and build relationships with your customers. For example, if you are a hair salon owner, offer a daily tip about how to do your hair. This can be anything from “Tip: If you’re going to curl your hair, make sure you do not wash it for 12 hours before curling,” to a video tutorial about how to style your hair for a black tie event.

When you show off your expertise, your customers will appreciate you for educating them about the things they’re interested in. Also, the next time they are looking for a hair salon, they’ll think of you first because you gave them such great tips on how to do their hair at home.

Let your audience talk about themselves

People love to talk about themselves. This is no surprise to any of us, so tap into that urge. Ask your audience questions related to your brand or create a poll and let them participate. The best thing about doing this is that you’re not only increasing engagement but you’re learning who your audience is, what they’re interested in, and what they’re looking to learn from you.

Let’s go back to the hair salon example. Why not ask your audience, “What hair style have you tried at home but can’t seem to get right?” This question allows your audience to interact and participate with you, and (this is a big AND) it helps you understand what your customers are struggling with. You can then take this knowledge and create a workshop or tutorial to help them with that tricky hairstyle or simply make sure you’re offering that specific service.

Make your audience laugh

So many people are afraid to post things that are not directly related to their brand. This is a fear you need to overcome.

Again, we return to the hair salon. You can post a picture of a dog having a bad hair day and have a caption that says, “Looks like Fido should have come into the salon today.” You can also go a little further off topic but make sure to bring it back to your audience. TheConstant Contact Facebook Page has a ton of great examples of this…but here’s one of my favorites:

Constant contact funny Girl Cube

Use the 80/20 rule

This does not mean that you can’t promote yourself. By building relationships with your customers and ensuring 80% of your content is for them, you can then throw in 20% about yourself without the fear of scaring them away.

Now that you’ve engaged your customers with the valuable information they’re looking for, allowed them to talk about themselves, and entertained them, they’ll be willing to listen to your promotions without feeling like they’re just another person you’re selling to.

Your promotions don’t have to feel “salesy” either. There are ways to talk about your new product without saying, “We have a new brush…come buy it now!” Never say “buy it now.” This is a pitch your customers will run from. Instead, why not post a picture of that new brush with the brand name below and a caption that reads, “It’s waiting for you!”

No salesman allowed

Not a salesman? That’s perfect! People don’t want to be sold to. There are numerous ways to spin your content so you are selling them without making them feel like you’re selling them. This is the key way to build engagement and relationships.

Just remember, if you read your content and realize you’ve been talking about yourself more than 20% of the time, it’s time to change your strategy. Take a step back and interact with your customers. You can sell without selling!

What steps have you taken to sell without selling? Have you seen an increase in your customer engagement? Let us know in the comments below.








Posted by: stephenfetters | October 9, 2015

What is The Biggest Lie Ever Told to Small Business?

One of the biggest challenges we face as small business owners is how to build a contact list of interested prospects. Finding it comes down to a trade-off between time and money,  many small business owners turn to a paid solution as the answer.  Here is an excellent article describing the best way to go about list building. (Spoiler alert…it’s going to cost you time, but the results are worth it.)

The Biggest Lie Ever Told to Small Business Owners About Marketing and What to Do About It

Posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 at 3:32 pm.

ID-100262766Paying a low monthly fee to automate your marketing and get customers for your business seems like the Holy Grail nowadays. This is the latest version of snake oil salesmen who used to say: “Pay me and I’ll get you on the top of Google search results”.

From my experience, it seems like most business owners dread the time of the day when they’re supposed to be working on marketing, and this is primarily because they don’t even know where to get started with marketing! Clearly, an easy way to forget about the problem is to purchase a solution that will take care of this so they don’t have to and this is why so many take advantage of this pain point to sell dubious solutions that rarely generate any results.

The biggest lie ever told to small business owners about marketing is:

“You can pay for advertising and marketing automation to grow your business without any time commitment on your end.” – Absolutely NOT!

Unfortunately, more often than not the magic bullet type solution is more illusion than reality. Advertising, marketing automation and lead generating services drain your limited resources instead of building a base that you can leverage as you grow.

There is a time and a place to use these tools, but most of the time small businesses get tricked into thinking this is always the best use of their limited budget, only to find out later on that they were taken advantage of and that these leads didn’t really convert into any tangible business results.

Advertising and Lead Generation Services

Before thinking about spending money to get visitors to your website or leads delivered to your email, remember to try out some of the free ways to revamp your online presence and get someorganic (free) results. If you do decide to try out paid advertising services, make sure to set up your website properly to convert visitors into potential business. If you’re not ready, you shouldn’t be spending a dime just yet.

Taking advantage of Google AdWords takes significant knowledge and budget to experiment. You’re literally bidding against every other advertiser to get those clicks! And even solutions like AdWords Express tend to work best when you’ve got enough money to learn about what works and what doesn’t.

In any case, with AdWords you’re fighting a battle where the one with the biggest wallet wins in the long term. And the worst part is that the moment you stop spending money, the visitors stop showing up.

The other alternative seems to be lead generating services. This can be frustrating, since they don’t really know your business well and end up driving the wrong type of leads (potential customers) to your business. On top of this, they tend to be expensive and have the same downside as regular pay-per-click advertising: once you stop spending money, the results are gone.

Classic Marketing Automation

Let’s face it; the biggest problem for small business owners isn’t dealing with large volumes of visitors or leads. How can thousands of dollars of unused marketing automation programs help when the challenge is really at the top of the funnel: getting exposure and getting found online.

The real problem is not about automation, it’s about building the right foundation and framework to reach people and engage them to eventually convert them into paying customers.

What do business owners need to succeed with marketing?

A Platform

First, they need a comprehensive set of tools under one login that provide everything they need from a website to email and social media. The platform approach has been proven to work for the big companies by players like Hubspot and Marketo. It’s clear that there’s lots of advantages of having everything integrated in one place, saving time and making it easy to track the results.

But platform alone is not enough.

Smart Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is a key component to a comprehensive marketing solution for a small business. However, it shouldn’t be about complicated nurturing flows that use complex triggers and algorithms. A simple auto responder that’s easy to setup gets you 80% of the way with minimal effort.

What automation should be is a software package that helps business owners be effective with their time. It should also be about providing the right guidance to surface the things that matter like contacts that the business owner should be calling, emailing and then providing simple workflows to empower the right course of action. Automation can’t be about eliminating the business owner from the equation; this would only reduce their edge. It must be aboutempowering business owners and amplifying their impact.

But smart marketing automation is not enough.

Simple Tools

Everyone agrees that small business owners need tools that simplify marketing.  Simple is at the core of every successful SMB marketing product, and the reason for this is that business owners are very busy and don’t have time or patience to learn how to use complex marketing tools.

Simple doesn’t mean basic, business owners still need to have access to data-driven powerful tools, but the user experience of these tools must be fantastic. Whenever possible the number of options and decisions should be reduced and the use of guided marketing should be imbued in the system to recommend the right tool at the right time.

But simple is not enough.

A Guided Marketing Platform

Guided Marketing Platform

The real solution for small business marketing starts by understanding that the majority of small business don’t spend any money on advertising when they’re getting started.

There are several building blocks that will help entrepreneurs carve a path to marketing success and that don’t cost too much money. It will take time and effort, but these will be resources well spent that will build a foundation that will be there for the long haul. Business owners must build upon their strengths andtake advantage of their edge as local businesses to find customers and grow. Nobody knows their neighborhood, their community, their customers and their products like an entrepreneur who decided to start a company to pursue their passion. That’s a pretty strong advantage that few others will have.

How do you unlock this marketing opportunity?

Set up your online presence

  • Get your business listed in online directories and review sites.
  • Setup a marketing optimized website (including SEO best practices) with an easy way to manage it and that has a simple way for you to create content.

Get a contact manager

  • Capture those people who want to learn more about your business, this will help you get organized from the get go.

Get started with social media

As your online presence starts building up through your website and you start receiving some organic (free) traffic from search engines, it’s probably time to start working on setting up your social media presence. This helps you connect with your audience and also helps strengthen your SEO and search engine ranking.

You don’t need to be present in every social network out there. Choose the ones that are right for you and the ones that you can commit the time to manage. Don’t spend 10 hours this weekend setting something up to then forget about it in a week! Commit to one and work on it to build engaging conversations with your audience on it.

Start a blog

With the bases covered, it’s time to start creating some remarkable content to drive traffic to your website. The best way to get results is to take the time to write blog posts that people will love to read and share. Since you’ve already established your social media presence, you can take advantage of it as a way to generate digital word of mouth. Your marketing platform must offer an easy way for readers to like and share the content that you create.

  • Start a blog. You can post as often as once per day or as little as once per month. Think of this as having a conversation over the counter with a customer. It’s a great way to tell a story about your business, how you got started or why certain products or services you offer are especially interesting.
  • Remember to use SEO best practices to get the best results from search engines.

Send your first marketing email

As your business starts picking up and you start generating a nice lead flow, you’re going to start building a list of people who are eager to hear from you. This is the time to start paying attention to your contact list and start segmenting or dividing it into sub lists. This is where smart marketing automation can help make this process seamless:

  • Send your first email to your contacts. A monthly newsletter to all of those who subscribed works great, you can also send product and event updates via email.
  • Reach out directly to your “Hot Contacts”, those who are most likely to become paying customers based on their actions (your Guided Marketing Platform should automatically filter these out).
  • Pay attention to the email marketing laws to prevent costly lawsuits

Paid Search and Lead Generating Services

As you start growing your revenue you can start thinking about allocating some of that budget on paid advertising and lead generating services. These can be useful to supplement your business growth especially when you have enough of a budget to make them work. We suggest using them to expand your existing organic efforts in months with low traffic.

  • Setup a Google AdWords campaign, using analytics to understand the results that you’re getting. Give yourself some room to experiment and learn before throwing in the towel. A comprehensive solution must offer managed pay-per-click services to help you use your budget wisely.

Takeaway: Build your organic foundation first and spend later

As you can see, there are many things that you can do to setup your online presence. These efforts take time, but they are a great investment and they can help you in the long term.

Once you’ve got an established presence on directories, review sites and other listings, this will drive traffic to your website for free. Then, make sure your website is optimized to take advantage of that traffic and use a guided marketing platform to build upon your investment. Then you’ll be ready enhance your presence by blogging and engaging on social media. Finally, you’re ready to start converting those visitors into paying customers!


Posted by: stephenfetters | October 6, 2015

Here’s 4 Ways to Find What Your Customers Want.

One the biggest challenges facing us as small business owners is finding out just what our customers and clients really want.  Here is an excellent article that outlines 4 ways to do just that. 

4 Strategies for Getting to Know Your Customers with Mobile

To increase your customer retention and loyalty, it is important to learn as much as you can about your customer base. By recognizing and understanding their needs, wants, and buying habits, you can anticipate and meet their expectations. There are many different ways to learn more about your customers, including a well-crafted text message effort.

Mobile can be used to gain insight about your customers in two different ways. It provides a forum for conversations with your audience to get to know them directly. It also provides an indirect means for understanding your customers through data. You can use both of these avenues to improve the customer experience and achieve your business goals.

Photo Campaigns

One strategy for getting to know your customers better is to encourage them to text you a photo after they’ve purchased a product from you. Consider offering them a special discount in exchange. Customers can send in photos demonstrating how they use your product or similar concepts. This can help you to understand the way that your customers engage with your products, as well as what other items they may want to purchase in the future.

Ask you customers to send in a picture of themselves using your product.

You can advertise a photo campaign in various venues, including in your post-purchase text to your customers. Also give your customers the option of sharing the photos on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts including a hashtag. This not only helps you to learn more about them, it also helps to spread the word about your company. According to CMO, where your customers choose to post also gives you insight into how they will likely engage with you in future marketing campaigns.

Contests and Voting

You can also use contests or polls to find out more about your customers and improve your products. For example, you may want to have your mobile subscribers vote on a new product you plan to bring to the market so that you customise it to their preferences.

Texting is the perfect medium for customer voting

You can increase the incentive for them to vote by entering them into a contest to win something. Text to vote campaigns are easy to develop. You simply create a set of keywords, and encourage your customers to text a certain keyword to vote. Then you tally the winner by seeing which keyword received the most texts.


Distribute surveys to your mobile subscribers in order to get to know them better and improve the customer experience. You can send a variety of surveys through your online SMS system, including questionnaires about customer demographics, preferences, an experience with a product, customer service experience, and more. Surveys help you learn more about the customer and their experience with your business.

Analyze Customer Data

Getting to know your customers is not just about directly communicating with them through online SMS or other avenues. You also need to spend some time looking at data that will give you other insights into their preferences and habits. For example, you can look back at past campaigns to see which offers they’ve redeemed, and which have been ignored.

Tracking data across various marketing channels can help you form a more comprehensive picture of your customers. You should look closely at their spending patterns, income, hobbies, interests, location, gender, and other attributes to then define customer groups based on various demographics, according to Business 2 Community.

When you have a full picture of your customers, it is easier to develop targeted ads and offers for your audience. You can also create an experience that matches what your customer wants and expects, which can increase your customer retention and loyalty.

Connecting and getting to know your customers with mobile can benefit your business in many different ways. If you are interested in getting started with online SMS, try FireText for free.

FireText provide SMS Marketing for your business. 
Add SMS to your marketing mix today – find out more.

© 2015 FireText Communications Ltd. All rights reserved

Posted by: stephenfetters | October 2, 2015

5 Excellent Ways to Shape Your EMail Marketing

As small business owners, we often hear that email marketing is dead.  Actually, it’s not only alive and well, it’s one of the most effective marketing tools available.  Here is an excellent article telling exactly why you should be using it. 


email newsletterNo matter how enamored you may be with social media, email still outpunches just about every tool out there when it comes to cost effective lead conversion.

Now, done correctly, what this really means is effectively using email communication in conjunction with efforts to produce educational content, amplify content throughout social media channels and turn Twitter followers into email subscribers.

It’s integration as much as anything that makes email work, but there are a handful of things that you need to do to get the most out of the email component of the mix.

Grab Attention

It’s not enough to have an email subscribe form tucked into the sidebar of your home page. If you’ve got a great offer to put in front of your visitors you need to make it impossible to ignore, without being obnoxious.

A new breed of popups makes grabbing visitor attention and turning it into email list subscribing almost pleasing. I’ve been experimenting with a rather new WordPress plugin called Pippity.

Once installed and configured this tool will note when you have a visitor that has not been offered your email subscription and briefly take over the screen to make them an offer. The visitor still has lots of control over the screen, but this tool positions your list in a way that’s hard to ignore.

I know there are some that don’t like this tactic, but Pippity gives you so much control, including A/B testing, that you can fine tune the tool’s use to make it work for you. Like it or not, with the right offer, most people see 300-400% jumps in subscribers using this kind of approach. (One tip: Turn it off for mobile browsers, as there’s no way to make it a pleasant experience on a mobile.)

Exchange Value

Giving people a reason to subscribe is even more important than simply grabbing their attention. In order to get willing subscribers these days you must sell the value of what you have to offer and most likely exchange something like a free ebook or report that sounds too good to miss right at the point of subscription.

The act of giving an email address comes with a price these days because all of our email inboxes are jammed. Your free stuff better sound as good as most people’s paid stuff if you want to get subscribers.

Of course, this also means that you need to keep the value exchange high if you expect to keep subscribers. Turning email subscribers into paying customers is not a one-time event; it’s accomplished through a process of building trust over time.

No matter what time frame you choose to offer your email newsletter, once a week or once a month, each issue should be something that people look forward to. It’s great to have a large list, but if less than 10% actually open your emails then you won’t get much return on your efforts.

Serve Snacks

I’ve been producing a weekly email newsletter just about every week since some time in 2002 and I’ve played with different formats, different content, and different ways to present information.

A great deal of what I’ve always tried to do is evolve with overall communication trends and my best advice is that you subscribe to lots of newsletters and pay attention to how others present information and how they change their presentation over time.

Currently, my newsletter format is designed to offer several compelling article abstracts grouped into a set of topics that I believe my readers expect from me. I author about 50% of the content and then hand select a couple blog posts from blogs I read that related.

When I switched to this snack sized, scannable format, I immediately noted that my response and engagement increased dramatically.

Be Sharable

Smart marketers have always employed tools that made it easier for people to share their email newsletter with friends, but these days that means making your content easy to share in social media as well.

Most email service providers have added social media sharing options that you can embed in your content so that a reader could tweet that they just read your article.

The content itself must exist online in order to use this most effectively. Most service providers also allow you to create an online archive version of your newsletter and I recommend you use this approach to socialize your content sent via email.

Go Solo

Once your readers come to appreciate your valuable newsletter content you may earn the right to send them offers. This is something that takes a little bit of experimentation and you can certainly erode trust by sending too many offers or sending offers that just don’t make sense.

While you can mix an offer or two into your regular email newsletter format, I’ve found that sending the occasional offer for a product, program or even joint venture with a product or service you truly believe in, using what is called a solo email is the best approach.

A solo email is designed to do only one thing, deliver the story and make a case for your offer. This can be a straight out offer to buy something or even an announcement for a free online seminar where you intend to make an offer, but it must be about one thing and one thing only.

Let me repeat, sending offers is something you earn, just like earning the subscriber in the first place. You must take care that you treat this trust with respect or you will lose it. Keep the value of your offers as high as the value of your content and your readers will appreciate getting both.

My recommended list of email service providers. (Each allows you to accomplish the things mentioned in this article)


Posted by: stephenfetters | September 29, 2015

How to Tell “Your” Story

In my last few posts, I have been discussing the importance of using stories to promote our small businesses to potential clients and customers.  The inevitable question is, “OK, how do I do that?”  I recently ran across this excellent article on telling your own story.  This article was actually written for Lawyers, but just substitute your business or profession and see if there is not magic here. 

Our guest blogger this month is Michael Hammond who writes about the strategic use of stories in relationship marketing. This article originally appeared in “The Briefs” published by the Orange County Bar Association.

“Tell Me A Story …”

Pat Conroy, the well-known American novelist, once said:  “The most powerful words in the English language are, ‘Tell me a story’”. Why do stories have such power over us? Perhaps, it’s because long before humans were writing, we were telling stories and these stories – told, memorized, repeated and embellished over millennia – became the wellsprings of human development. Our innate love of telling stories seems to be almost as powerful as our love of listening to them.

In the modern world stories are everywhere.  They provide the plots for books, movies, theater, and television shows. The twenty-four hour news channels bring you the stories of the day. The best teachers, leaders and communicators have always recognized the importance of storytelling and have used them to convey lessons, messages and inspiration. Just think about Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s recent Academy-award-winning movie. A well told story has the power to conjure strong images and evoke a powerful emotional response in the listener.

Think about it, whether we’re meeting an old friend for a drink or a complete stranger on a plane, our interaction is largely defined by the exchanging of personal stories. Dr. Jonathan Gottschall, an English professor at Washington & Jefferson College and the author of “The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human”, said in a recent interview:  “We live in stories all day and we dream in stories all night. … Storytelling is a key competence because it’s the most powerful method we know of riveting the attention of others and of connecting with them emotionally.”

What’s Your Story?

Because telling and listening to stories is hard-wired into our psyche, they are one of our most powerful forms of communication. Harness the power of storytelling in your word-of-mouth marketing and you will tap into the innate receptivity of those you want to educate about who you are, what you do and why. Use stories in conversations with potential clients to demonstrate your expertise, with referral sources to illustrate how you can help their clients, and in social settings to educate people about your firm.

Richard Stone of the StoryWorks Institute advises lawyers to “Look for the drama in your everyday actions to formulate your stories. Just as a good author can find a story where others see only the commonplace deeds of ordinary people, it’s possible for each of us to frame our work in heroic terms. Stories are your narrative assets.”

According to Stone, a well-crafted story about why you became an attorney, why you feel compelled to help people or how you fought to succeed in spite of great difficulty, becomes an important conversational strategy. These stories are like verbal commercials for you, your practice and your brand. Once discovered, these narrative assets can become the hidden gems of your word-of-mouth marketing program.

Finding Your Voice

How do you transform your own many and varied experiences into well-crafted stories?

Read the following prompts and write down the first ideas that pop into your mind when you hear them:

  •  I became a lawyer because…
  •  I’m passionate about my practice area because…
  •  The type of people (your primary client) I like to help is…
  •  The reason I like to help these people is…
  •  I make a difference for people because…

Recall other stories that convey your effectiveness as a lawyer. Don’t bore your listener with a thinly disguised list of your accomplishments; instead, tell them about how your clients have actually benefited from your professional skills. Tell them a story about:

  • A case you just won.
  • An award you just received.
  • Your background or upbringing.

While not yet full-blown stories, whatever came to mind as you read these prompts could be promising and may warrant further thought and development. Once you’ve found your basic story idea, it’s important to flesh it out, expand upon it and add color to it. To add structure to your story, think about the three elements of every typical tale – context, characters and climax.

One criminal defense attorney tells his story this way:  “When I was young, I got into trouble with the law. But before I went too far, an attorney who was an old family friend intervened and set me straight. My practice is dedicated to that man – I want to do for other people what he did for me.”

Stealth Storytelling

At Atticus, we call stories the “stealth bombers” of strategic conversations. On the surface they may enlighten or entertain the listener, but they are also educating them, connect them to your background, highlight your values and reveal your motivations. In short order, the information these brief narratives provide can portray you as an empathetic human being and, because they require a certain amount of self-disclosure, deepen your intimacy with the listener.

Whether you employ long, rambling stories or simply divulge small glimpses of your personal history, having a variety of brief narratives you can use at different times and in various situations can be a valuable addition to your marketing assets. Stories can be helpful in conversations with potential clients trying to gauge your breadth of experience and your depth of compassion; with prospective referral sources trying to determine how well you would serve the clients they could refer to you; and in social settings to educate people about who you are and what you do.

Remember, stories that are humorous show that you are human. You don’t have to be the hero in every story; in fact, stories that portray you in a self-deprecating light can be engaging, heart-warming and among the most memorable.

The Three Cs of Storytelling

Way back in 1982 in his watershed book “Megatrends”, John Naisbitt posed a paradoxical prophecy:  “The more high tech we create, the more high touch we want.” How much more high tech have we become in the last thirty years? How much more do we yearn for high touch today? For human connection? Perhaps this accounts in some way for the psychic pull and the mesmerizing effect that storytelling still has on us.

Jim Blasingame, a leading expert on small business and entrepreneurship, says that we should deliver high touch to our clients through the telling of stories and reminds us of the Three Cs of Storytelling:

Connect – Use stories to connect with prospects and convert them to clients.

Convey – Use stories to convey your experience, expertise, humanity and values.

Create – Use stories to create a client’s memory of you and generate top-of-mind awareness.

Learn the art of storytelling and tap into the power of a good story, told well. You’ll know you’ve been successful – that you’ve really connected with someone – when they tell your story to others.

Michael Hammond is a “founding father” of Atticus and is a Certified Practice Advisor. A licensed attorney since 1983, he has spent his entire career either practicing law or supporting and promoting the practice of law. Michael has a depth of experience in lawyer marketing, one-on-one business coaching and strategic planning.


Posted by: stephenfetters | September 22, 2015

How to Build a Good Story

In my last few posts, I have been emphasizing the importance of using stories about your small business to engage potential clients and customers.  People love stories.   And they will remember stories long after your pitch about your product or service is forgotten.  Here is another great article on how to tell a good story. 

Harness the power of storytelling to appeal to new customers

In today’s world, which is crowded with messages, businesses need to create a brand with an authentic story

Hands holding roasted coffee beans
 If you know the farmers who produce the coffee you sell, include them in your brand’s story. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

For brands, and the marketers behind them, the idea of telling stories to win over hearts and minds is nothing new. But in today’s world, which is crowded with messages and largely devoid of trust, it has never been more challenging, or more valuable, for a brand to win loyalty.

How does it do this? There is a well-known proverb that my former boss used to use, “tell me a fact and I will learn, tell me a truth and I will believe, but tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” We remember narratives and journeys over facts.

When you’re thinking about your business, you shouldn’t only think that you’re selling a product or a service, you should think about how your brand is appealing to people’s emotions and how it fits in with their lives.

The good news is, storytelling is cheap. The bad news is it isn’t easy. It requires emotional intelligence, cultural insight and a lot of craft.

So what do we mean by story? Simply put, a story unites your idea with an emotion, it makes your product personal. Think about your customer and get under the skin of what they believe in.

Forget your product momentarily, it’s the context you’re trying to articulate. Telling people what to believe will fail, but showing you understand how they already feel – that is how brands get ahead.

Take a brand like Ella’s Kitchen. The founder, Paul Lindley, who I was fortunate to work with for a number of years, crafted an entire brand on the authentic story around his personal experience of encouraging his daughter to eat healthily. He created a world for kids filled with fun and experimentation. It is a story that taps into the emotions of parents and families across the world and is expertly woven into every element of his business, from the font used in emails to the design of their packaging and their adverts on TV.

Crafting your story can take time, but the important thing is to be authentic – consumers can tell if you’re not. It is unlikely your story will appeal to everyone but that’s fine, if you aren’t turning some people off, it’s unlikely you’ll turn anyone on.

How to use your story

  • Show, don’t tell – in the world of Vine, Instagram and Twitter, you don’t need to tell people that you make your leather bags by hand, or that you know the farmers that produce the coffee you sell, you can show them. Sharing inspiring content can be the most effective way of winning over consumers and proving that your story is authentic.
  • Let your customers do the talking – customers are as important in creating a brand’s story as the business itself. Start a conversation with them, ask them to be part of the story. Think about Coca-cola’s personalised cans – the customers did the hard work here, Coke just produced the product.
  • Bring it to life – live events and experiences can take your story to the next level. So, if you’re telling a story about being adventurous, then you should be engaging with customers in a way that shows them that you are. Think about the way Red Bull hosts live music and extreme sports events. They’re giving something meaningful back to a highly engaged audience.
  • Use the press – your story should be a “red thread” throughout everything you do with your business and using PR can be the most effective way to really strengthen your brand story. Being in the right media, with the right messages and at the right time can position your business in a way that allows people to see what you stand for.
  • Be authentic and consistent – no matter what, your story has to be true and you need to make sure you are committed to it. As a startup it can be tempting to take every opportunity that comes your way, but ask yourself each time whether it fits in with your story and vision. From which shops stock your products, to where you advertise and the people that represent your brand – make sure it all fits into the wider story.

Nicole Green is a communications consultant and runs PR workshops for startups. She tweets at @nlgreen

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Posted by: stephenfetters | September 18, 2015

How to Tell Stories For Fun and Profit

In my last post, I included an article on the importance of telling the story of your small business to attract customers and clients.  You may have read that post and said, “All well and good, but HOW do I do it?”  Here’s a great article I found that explains just that. 

There’s a story about how Shoestring Marketing was born. And, I tell my story all the time.

It’s in the “Meet Jessica” section of my website. It’s also in my ebooks. It’s in my sales-copy. When I host webinars and teleseminars, I start with the story behind Shoestring Marketing.


Because it helps my prospects connect with me.

The goal in telling my small business story is to show people that I personally know what it feels like to build a business on a shoestring budget. And that it CAN be done.

I tell my story so that I can try and convince people that if I can do it – so can they.

If you really want to stand out from the crowd, then you have to connect with people on a deeper level.

It’s not enough to tell people about the features of your product or service. Believe it or not, they really don’t care that your widget is faster than the speed of light.

And, preaching the benefits your customers will receive when they use your widget isn’t even enough anymore. Although focusing on benefits is an important part of marketing, your prospects need a reason to believe that your widget will improve their lives.

Nowadays, in this crazy, competitive world you need to connect your story to your prospect’s problems. It’s important that you show them that you have experienced what they are experiencing and that you know exactly what they are going through.

You need to connect to their pain on a truly emotional level, show them the solution and convince them to take action.

We all have a small business story to tell.  Here’s a simple 5-step process in order to use your story to add power and pizazz to your marketing:

1) Discover the personal story hidden behind your business.

Why did you start your business? What problems are you trying to eliminate? What hurdles did you need to overcome.

2) Tell your story authentically and with passion.

Obviously, your story needs to be a true rendition of what you personally experienced as a small business owner. If you are passionate about your story, your prospects will be passionate about your story.

3) Connect your story to your prospect’s pain points.

It’s vital that your story zeroes in on the problems that your prospects are currently facing. Your story should create an immediate and lasting bond between you and your prospects.

4) Show them the solution.

It’s important that once you connect to your prospect’s pain, that you immediately show them how to alleviate this pain. Show them that you have personally discovered the solution and, as a result, your problem has been solved.

5) Convince them to take action.

Once you share your story, what do you want your prospects to do? Should they call a 1-800 number? Visit your website for more information? Or make a purchase? Each time you share your story, make it incredibly easy for your prospect to take the next step.

Connection is one of the main tools for the Shoestring Marketer. So, connect with your prospects and your customers on a deeper level by sharing the story behind your small business.

And, by the way, you can read all about the story of Shoestring Marketing right HERE.

Posted by: stephenfetters | September 15, 2015

Telling Stories for Fun and Profit

OK Mr. Small Business Owner.  You have a website.  You have a product.  How do you get people interested in buying?  The answer is simple.  Tell your story.  People love stories.  Attached is a post explaining how you can do this.  I found it fascinating. 


For years I couldn’t figure out how to get attention for my business products. Since no one knew the products existed, I couldn’t make sales.

With a more expensive product I could use direct sales: calling and emailing customers to educate them about the product, then ask for the sale. That worked, but was always slow and painful—and not the least bit scalable.

Worst of all, that high touch sales process doesn’t work for products under $200. There just isn’t a high enough profit in each sale to make it possible to spend time on the phone with every customer.

I watched other businesses spend money on ads, but that seemed to work best for big national brands that could spend money on awareness and didn’t have to make sales from every ad. And ads require money to spend. Something most small business owners don’t have.

Besides, even if ads were a possibility, the moment you stop spending you stop seeing results.


Another way for attention

I needed another way to reliably get attention and turn that attention into customers. Oddly enough the answer was sitting in front of me, it just took me all that time to realize it was the solution to my sales problem.


Start teaching

I read articles and blog posts by the experts in my industry. I clicked through from those article to their books and software products. Often purchasing both.

For project management I use Basecamp by 37signals. Without their popular blog I never would have heard of the product.

For invoicing I use Freshbooks, also from reading their blog giving advice on how to invoice my freelance clients.

For video hosting I use Wistia. They have a great product, but I’m not sure that alone would be enough to convince me to use them over YouTube, a free alternative. Instead, it’s that Wistia put out an amazing series of videos that taught me how to produce great videos on a budget.

As a final example, I purchased Rework by Jason and David at 37signals. Why? Because they had taught me so much about business already, I was desperate to learn more from them. My purchase was one of many thousands that helped launch their book onto national bestsellers lists.

All these companies used free teaching to gain attention, then turned that attention towards their related products.


My turn

After finally noticing this trend and the impact it could have on my business, I finally decided to give it a try. My next project was a book, called The App Design Handbook, that teaches developers how to design beautiful iOS applications.

Step one was to write app design tutorials and publish them on my blog. Each one got attention, and I funneled that attention to a pre-launch email list about the book. Within two months I went from no audience to nearly 800 people who asked to hear more about my book when it launched.


The results

On launch day the members of my email list purchased The App Design Handbook in droves. I watched sales climb throughout the day until they finally peaked at $12,500 for the first 24 hours!

Far more revenue than I had ever seen before in a single day. At that moment I knew that teaching wasn’t just a tool for famous experts, but that it could be used by anyone to build a following and sell products.

Since that moment I’ve sold two more far more profitable training books and launched an email marketing startup, all of the customers acquired through teaching great content.


But not for everyone

Teaching worked—and I told everyone it worked, but I had a problem. I knew how this worked for some types of businesses, but some business models didn’t seem to fit.

For example, If you want to sell an email marketing tool, teach people how to do email marketing effectively. If you want to sell training to photographers, give away some training for free to build an audience.

But that only covers some types of businesses. What about the expert photographer who wants to sell fine art prints.

The up and coming photographer that would buy training from the expert wants to shoot photos, not buy prints from the expert.

The art collector doesn’t care about the details of f-stop and aperture, they want to buy beautiful art that has a story.

Someone in the market for custom furniture isn’t trying to learn how to make furniture, they just want a beautiful, functional dining room table.

That puzzled me. How does teaching help sell fine art and custom furniture?


It’s in the story

What does the art collector want to buy? They don’t just want a beautiful photo, you could get that from any home decor store for under $50. The art collector wants a photograph that has a story.

Imagine you come over to my house for dinner. Just before we sit down you notice a photo of a western ghost town hanging in my dining room. It’s such a strikingly great photo that you can’t help but ask, “where was that taken?”

How would your interest level change if I responded, “no idea, I bought it Walmart.”?

The only response to that is “Huh, it’s a neat photo.” The conversation moves on.

But what if that photograph had a story? That would completely change the conversation.

If instead I say the photograph was taken in a small ghost town in Idaho. Then I go on to tell you that it is one in a series of seven photos taken by this great photographer out of Washington state. Last fall he went on a road trip through seven different old mining towns, capturing one perfect image in each town.

The photographer wrote on his blog about the story of each town, his process finding the perfect shot, and the tales of his journey along the way. Available for free on his blog, or in a coffee table book you can purchase that includes all the photos.

The photo hanging in my dining room is a limited edition print that I purchased after following his journey. I also have that coffee table book that you can look through after dinner. His story, the story of each town, and the details of the entire trip are all included.

Now are you interested?


A form of teaching

That story is just another form of teaching—really it’s more of sharing. Just about everything has an interesting story. When told well, that story does two things: first, it increases the perceived value of the product, and second, it makes you want to follow the creator and learn more about their work.

Interesting stories get shared. That’s marketing.


Teaching + Story

The two techniques could also be combined. When I self-published my first two books on design I shared the details and the backstory on my blog (that’s the story). Soon I had almost as many people following me for marketing and self-publishing as I did for design. Then I started writing more specific tutorials about publishing and marketing (teaching), before releasing a book on the topic.

The fictitious photographer we talked about earlier can sell training, art prints, or custom work. Teaching—giving information away for free—will help is training business, but it will also get more exposure for his prints and custom work since he will now be seen as more of an expert.

Art prints, with a good story behind them, will demonstrate his expertise and if he shares the process will bring even more followers to his site. Soon he will have an audience following him not just for his work or teaching, but also just for who he is.

Teaching and story can be two sides of the same coin. Not every product can benefit from both story and teaching, but combined they make a very powerful business model that brings customers directly to your products.


I need your help.

I’m writing about teaching and story for a new (secret) project. Do you have an example or case study of using teaching or story in your business? If you know of a good example from another company feel free to share it as well (just make it clear that it’s not your own example).

Tell me your story.

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Posted by: stephenfetters | September 11, 2015

How to Use Metrics to Improve Your Website

If you are a Small Business Owner with a website, tracking the results is critical to your success.  But…where do you start?  The attached post gives an excellent discussion of 6 basic metrics and how you can use them.

The 6 Most Important Web Metrics to Track for Your Business Website

In a previous post, I talked about the 10 best tools for tracking online analytics data for your business. If you’ve started to use any of those tools—in particular Google Analytics—the amount of data they can provide can be overwhelming. When you log in to Google Analytics, you’re faced with a sea of numbers, charts, and menu items. It can be downright intimidating to anyone but a seasoned analytics professional.

But, it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it looks. If you are new to web analytics, the key is to start with tracking some basic numbers. Once you get a handle on these key metrics, you can expand your data portfolio and build your expertise.

Here’s my list of the top six metrics you should be looking at on a regular basis:

1. Visitors

Crowd of people in street 2Specifically, I like to focus initially on unique visitors. This is the number of people that visited your site during a specific timeframe (e.g., yesterday, last week, last month). Unique visitors represents the count of individual people that visited your site regardless of the number of times they visited your site. So, if person A visits your site once and person B visits your site five times, you will have two unique visitors and six total visits.

These numbers are important because they represent the size of the audience that you are reaching. As you expand your marketing efforts, you will want to see if they are effective. This is especially true if you do offline marketing that can’t get tracked explicitly in Google Analytics. So, if you run a magazine ad in the October issue and don’t see a corresponding jump in visitors during that month, perhaps that portion of your marketing budget could be better spent somewhere else.

As you get a handle on tracking unique visitors, you can expand to look at repeat visitors. If your number of repeat visitors is growing, this means that people are visiting your site once and then deciding to come back again to shop or read. This means that your site was compelling and useful, or “sticky” in online marketing lingo.

2. Referrals

ReferralsAs you get a handle on your visitor numbers, your next question will be, “Where did these people come from?” The referrals report is the answer to that question.

Referrals track users as they click on links in search engines, on other blogs, and other websites to your web site. The referrals report will show the number of visitors you are getting from social sites as well.

Understanding where you traffic is coming from is the key to understanding how the work you are doing to promote your business is working. Are people mentioning you on their blogs and linking back to you? Are your social efforts paying off?

The referrals report is also useful to find other companies or blogs that you might consider forging a stronger relationship with. If you are getting traffic from a specific site, you might want to consider reaching out to that site and establishing a more formal relationship.

Driving in San Francisco Is Difficult For Both Car and Driver [Watch]

Can the Ford Edge make you feel unstoppable from a city that’s determined to stop you from getting anywhere?

3. Bounce Rate

A “bounce” is when someone visits your site and immediately clicks the back button or closes their browser tab. What this usually means is that that user didn’t find what they were looking for on your site and decided to leave. This is the equivalent of someone walking in the front door of a store, taking a quick look around, and immediately walking back out the door.

Obviously, sometimes people just end up on the wrong site by accident, so getting your bounce rate down to zero is impossible. But reducing the rate is critical. Every lost visitor is a lost opportunity, so you’ll want to figure out why people are leaving and try to add the right content or navigation on your site to keep users around.

If you combine the referral report with your bounce rate data (Google Analytics does this for you) you should be able to see what sites are generating the highest bounce rate. Unfortunately, Google is no longer sharing search term data, so you don’t get to see what search terms have a high bounce rate.

4. Exit Pages

Strategy - next exitPeople often confuse “bounce” and “exit,” but they are very different metrics for you to measure. Unlike a “bounce”, when a user visits your site and barely views one page, an “exit” is when a user visits multiple pages and then leaves your site.

Some pages on your site may naturally have a high exit rate, such as your order receipt page. After all, a visitor is probably done with their purchase if they have reached the order receipt page after successfully completing a purchase.

However, having a high exit rate on other pages on your site may indicate that you have some problems. Take a look at your pages that have high exit rates and try and hypothesise why a higher number of people than average are leaving your site from that page. Are they not finding the information they need? Why are they choosing to leave?

5. Conversion Rate

Customer handing over credit cardOf all the metrics you might track, conversion rate is probably one of the most important. Conversion rate is the percentage of people who achieved a goal on your site. Goals are things like completing a purchase, filling out a contact form, or viewing a certain page on your site.

The reason conversion rate is so important is that it is the ultimate measure of how successful your site is. If your site has a low conversion rate, you are either attracting the wrong kind of visitor to your site or your site is not effective at convincing your visitors that you offer the right solution to their problem.

Monitoring conversion rate can also tell you if something is broken on your site. For example, if your conversion rate suddenly drops, that might mean that there is an error in your shopping cart or a problem with your sign-up form.

6. Top 10 Pages

Finally, it’s important to know what pages your visitors think are the most important on your site. By viewing your top ten pages report, you know which pages to focus on as you look to improve your site and which pages will have the most impact if you make changes.

If you run a content site, your top ten pages report may change frequently. In this case, the report will tell you what types of content your visitors find most useful and engaging, and which headlines you’ve written were the most successful. Use this knowledge to help determine what kind of content to create as you move forward with growing your site.

Start Small

Web analytics and metrics can be overwhelming. The key to avoid drowning in the sea of numbers is to start small. Pick a metric that matters to you and your business and track that one metric and try to improve it. By focusing on only one thing as you get started, you’ll get a better feel for the numbers and how you can impact them. As you get comfortable, you can expand the metrics that you track.

For much more detail and help with web metrics, I highly recommend Avinash Kaushik’s books: Web Analytics: An Hour a Day and Web Analytics 2.0.

What web metrics do you track in your business? Let me know in the comments.

This post is a part of Small Business Tracking Week, sponsored by LivePlan and TSheets.

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Noah Parsons is the COO of Palo Alto Software, makers of LivePlan, the award-winning online business planning software. Follow him on Twitter. Follow Noah on Google+ 

Posted by: stephenfetters | September 8, 2015

Blogging…Absolute Necessity for Small Business

As a small business owner you should know blogging is a great (and inexpensive) way to promote your business.  The attached article has some great ideas on how to go about it. 

Beginner’s Guide To Blogging For Small Businesses

Traditional marketing methods, especially in the past, emphasize pushing your product under prospective buyers’ noses with one message: sell, sell, sell. In contrast, content marketing focuses on providing something of value to your current and potential customers, with the understanding that when they are ready to make a purchase, there is a good chance that they will do so from you. Why? Because you made a favorable impression, gave them something (information, e-books, resources, a laugh) for free, and established yourself as an expert in your industry.

Illustration of typewriter

Writing a blog on your business website is one of the best ways to provide content for your target demographic, whether that be specific clients or an industry. Every time you write and share a blog post, you are planting a seed in the minds of everyone who reads it about your brand—who you are and what you have to offer them.

We’ve compiled several tips for you in this beginner’s guide to blogging for small businesses: what to write about, the basics of SEO, and where to publish your blog posts.

We’re going to assume that you have, at the very least, already created a physical blog on your website, whether it’s with WordPress, Blogger, Squarespace or any other blogging platform. If not, here’s a quick read onchoosing a blogging platform.

What To Write About and Where To Get Ideas

The first thing you’ll need to figure out is what to blog about. The most obvious answer, of course, is news about your company, product or service. But to avoid coming across as myopic and self-absorbed, branch out and also write about other things. Remember the three rules of blogging: entertain, inspire, and inform. Each post should do at least one of these.

Here’s what to write about and where to get ideas from:

  • Trending topics in your industry. Give your readers a reason to bookmark your blog as the go-to site for industry information, resources or a daily chuckle. Get inspiration for your blog content by discovering what people are talking about at Twitter’s Trending Topics (the column of hashtags on the left side of your Twitter page), BuzzFeed’s Trend SectionGoogle’s Top Trends by topic, or Small Business Trends. And don’t forget trade magazines or the local paper.
  • Start with a catchy, keyword-rich title. Often times starting with a catchy title will inspire content for a full article, so brainstorm with your team for headlines or subjects. Get help from The Daily Egg’s headline formulas that convert, Hubspot’s kick-ass title formulas, and GoinsWriter’s tricks to writecatchy headlines. In addition, check out fun content ideators such asContent ForestTweak Your Biz, and Portent.
  • Be personal. Fans who are interested in your business generally tend to be interested in the people who run it. Write about the behind-the-scenes goings on in your office, exciting news about your company such as industry awards won or a company retreat (and be sure to include photos!), testimonials from your customers, and humorous posts. Spotlight a different product, customer question, or “how-to” each week. Share the experience, obstacles, and solutions that you have faced in your business.

Looks Do Matter

Hollywood is not the only place where looks matter. In a world of high expectations and short attention spans, getting your entire blog post read is no simple feat. Make it easy and pleasurable for readers by using effective and pleasing-to-the-eye formatting.

  • Headers. When you click on an article only to be hit with a massive wall of densely-packed black lettering that covers every inch of your computer screen, it’s a little overwhelming. Break up the text into digestible paragraphs and start each section off with a header in bold typeface to make it stand out. That way, people can scroll through the article and immediately get a sense of what the full content is.
  • Bullet points. Using bullet points and numbered lists is another way to make your blog post easier on the eye. In fact, the list post (also known as a “listicle”) is one of the most popular types of posts and are very effective for driving traffic. These are great for compiled statistics, tips, or ideas and usually include the number in the title. For example: 7 Tips For Taking the Leap To Full-Time Freelancing
  • Proofread. If you think that grammar and spelling are not important, you wouldn’t be the only one—but that’s no excuse to be sloppy. If your business is blogging, it behooves you to be the epitome of professional—and that means immaculate spelling and grammar. People notice mistakes and awkwardly-phrased sentences, and they judge a business for making them. If you can’t even hire a good writer or editor, they assume (rightly or wrongly) that this will also be reflected in the craftsmanship of your product or service.
  • Images. The Internet is more visual than ever, as evidenced by the popularity of Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, because a good picture can communicate an idea instantly. Considering that 44 percent of people are more likely to engage with brands when they post images, try adding one or two high-quality photos or graphs in your posts. If your budget doesn’t have a lot of leeway, use one of the many royalty-free photo websites out there, such as PixabayUnsplashPhotosByPeople, or Compfight. Just make sure to always use quality images, not those that look like they were taken in the dark on a cheap smartphone.

The Basics of SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) makes it easier for people to find your website. Using the same keywords on your website that people would type into Google when looking for your product or service helps the search engines discern what your site is about and point people to it if appropriate.

Here are several ways you can help the search engines—and thus people—find your blog:

  • Update your favicon. This is that little 16×16-pixel image associated with the brand that appears on a web browser tab next to the website’s name. For example, Facebook’s favicon is the blue square with the white “f”, Twitter’s favicon is the light blue bird. Without your brand’s favicon, you’ll stand out as an online newbie. Here’s a 2-minute video that shows you how to add a favicon to your WordPress blog.
  • Customize permalinks. A permalink is the permanent URL to each blog post (or any specific web page) that you publish. As soon as you create a new post, it generates a permalink and if you don’t change it, it will look like this:

    If you customize it, it will look like this:

    Not only does customizing it look better, but it improves search engine optimization. Be sure to include your target keywords (those words and phrases that a person might type into a Google search) and if possible insert them at the beginning of the title and permalink. Change your permalinks in WordPress in the dashboard under Settings > Permalinks.
  • Meta description. This is the 156-character snippet or preview of the website that displays on the list of page results when someone does a Google search. Besides making it simple for searchers to see what the website is about without having to click on each link, it increases your chance of appearing on the first page of results. Find this box just below the window in WordPress where you write your blog post.
  • Body content. This is the text of your blog post. Place your keywords or key phrase within the first paragraph. It’s no longer necessary to scatter your keyword throughout the content ten times; using it once early on is all that search engines require in order to figure out what your page is about.
  • Blog post length. To further help optimize your blog, most posts should be at least 1500 words. Obviously quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to word count, so shorter, excellently-written posts are fine, too. But if you want to rank better in the search engines, try for longer, well-sourced articles.

Where To Publish Your Blog Posts

So now that you have come up with some fantastic ideas with catchy titles that are well-written in an easy-to-read format, what do you do with them after you’ve posted them to your blog? According to online entrepreneur Pat Flynn, 50 percent of a blog’s success happens after it is published.

  • Share to your social media platforms. The first thing you ought to do is share your blog post from your website straight to Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter (which means you’ll have to embed social media icons on your site). After sharing it to your business’ social platforms, share to your personal profiles as well. Don’t be shy about asking your friends, fans, and followers to re-share if they like what they’ve read.
  • Engage, respond, and thank. Make sure to turn on the alerts in all your social media to notify you via email as soon as someone comments on or shares one of your posts. To let them know that you are not an indifferent company, reply to all comments, answer all questions as soon as possible, thank everyone who shared your post or favorited your tweet, and otherwise engage with people. This goes a long way towards the success of not only your blog posts, but your overall brand.
  • Post to other sites. To further get your blog read, consider posting it to such article publishing platforms as MediumEzine, and Examiner. There are numerous general and industry-specific platforms to repurpose your content, so pick a handful that work best for you and get your blog posts out there.

When it comes to successful blogging, there is a lot to learn. But if you start with basics in this beginner’s guide to blogging for small businesses, you’ll have a leg up on the other newbie bloggers out there!

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