Twitter Demystified

Twitter VAHave you “tweeted” lately? Do you like knowing what people think and aren’t afraid to ask? Both of these questions have to do with Twitter www.twitter.com, the social media phenomenon. Here’s a whirlwind tour of Twitter, for those who’ve been wondering.

Twitter, in a few words, is a “microblogging” community that tracks the frequent (sometimes constant) updates its members around the globe are posting. These members are able to “follow” each other and know instantly when someone they’re following writes a “tweet”. It’s much more immediate than other Web 2.0 sites like FaceBook, with small, 140-character snapshots updating someone’s status.

What does that have to do with business? Think of Twitter, and other social networking sites, as vast pools of members who share information, ask questions and otherwise communicate quickly.  The idea of sharing who you are and what your business does should be enough to have you signing up.

Twitter’s also a great way to survey thousands of people at once, by posting a question and watching for replies. Here’s a survey example wrapped in a status update, “Attending VA marketing forum 2pm CST. What svcs RU using VAs for?” Anyone who is following your tweets, or who searches for “VA”, will see your post and can reply. That brings up another great use for Twitter.

The search functions built into Twitter let you look for what others are saying about topics related to your business. There are actually three separate ways to look. TweetVolume www.tweetvolume.com lets you search for up to five words or phrases at once and ranks them by volume. Summize www.search.twitter.com lets you find all postings with related keywords and TweetScan www.tweetscan.com searches Twitter and similar sites for specified content and will even send updates by email.

There may be questions posted that you can answer, or conversations you can lend your expertise to. That’s the best way to build your reputation on Twitter. Nobody likes a hard sell-build relationships and watch for ways to meet people’s needs.

In his blog on community and social media, Chris Brogan gives 50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business http://www.chrisbrogan.com/50-ideas-on-using-twitter-for-business/. Follow his instructions for getting started, then experiment with several of his ideas this week. A word of warning: Twitter can quickly become addictive, if you let it. Set a schedule for posting, searching and following Twitter activity, just as you would any other market research tool.

We don’t have to chase every new phenomenon to be successful on the Internet. We should, however, learn what’s good and put those to work for our companies. Twitter, used in the right context, could turn out to be one of the best for you.

Seattle Businesses – Don’t miss this brand and marketing workshop!

Maria Ross - Marketing and Brand Expert

Maria Ross - Marketing and Brand Expert

Defining a brand strategy is essential for all businesses and a task that many small business owners find daunting.  To be successful in any economy or market, businesses need to have a defined niche and a sound strategy for how they are going to position themselves in the market place.  Regardless of how good a product or service may be, positioning and perception make all the difference.

Taking the time to define a marketing and brand strategy are a wise time and money investment that will pay off quickly.  Two of Seattle’s big brand and marketing dynamos, Maria Ross, Marketing Director for Red-Slice and Whitney Keyes of Whitney Keyes Productions, are holding a workshop to guide you through the marketing maze and help you find practical and creative ways to attract new customers  – and keep the ones you have loyal to you.  The workshop is being held February 11th, 2009, and is an excellent opportunity to get practical strategies from Seattle marketing dynamos.  For more information about the workshop, just visit: Branding Workshop.

Best,

Heather

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Microsoft cuts jobs – time for entrepreneurs to flourish!

lightbulbsglobeThe news that Microsoft is making its first mass layoffs in its 34-year history (according to the The Associated Press) is big news here in the Seattle-area as all of us are directly or indirectly impacted by the job cuts.  Microsoft is one of the Northwest’s largest employers and everyone in Seattle either works for Microsoft or has a family member, friend or neighbor working at Microsoft.  Whether or not someone we know loses their job, we know how difficult it can be working for a company undergoing an unprecedented internal transition. Champion Assistants is headquarted in Kirkland, just a 15-minute drive from Microsoft’s Redmond campus and we greatly value the impact the company has had in our region – providing jobs to so many and boosting the level of technological-savvy and development in the region.  Champion Assistants is a registered partner with Microsoft and we’re always keeping an eye out for what Microsoft is innovating.

In addition to Microsoft, the Puget Sound region is also known as being a region where entrepreneurs flourish – especially for minority-owned businesses according to Prosperity Partnership.org.  According to Washington State, women are considered minorities in business and therefore 51% majority women-owned businesses qualify for special loan rates as well as business counseling services from organizations such as the Community Capital Development Washington Business Center.  There are a number of free resources available to small business owners and entrepreneurs both nationally through the SBA and in Washington State.  I always recommend starting with free resources and exhausting them before paying for advice.

With layoffs being announced across various industries and company sizes, I think this economy will present innovators with an excellent opportunity to develop their ideas and go into business for themselves.  Being layed off can be discouraging, but realizing creative talent and ambition while working from home is tremendously rewarding.  I strongly believe that home offices will become micro-power centers of innovation over the next couple years.  Good talent rarely sits idle.

With the convenience of the home office and low barrier to entry for online sales, there is tremendous opportunity for small business to capture niche market share and sell online with extremely low overhead costs.  It isn’t all doom and gloom with layoffs.  Now is the time to fulfill dreams and stay productive at what we all do best and are passionate about.  Carpe diem!  If you are one of the many being affected by restructuring and layoffs, now is the time to develop your ideas and sell online.

Best,

Heather

Free Promotion: Increase sales with an online shopping cart!

Online Shopping Cart ExpertAchieve more sales in 2009 with the help of an online shopping cart! If you have a website, you need an online shopping cart!

Did you know most online shopping carts include autoresponders that you can set up in order to send “personal” messages to each new customer? Imagine easily automating your sales process and making your contacts aware of all that you can offer them!

Online shopping carts are inexpensive, a great marketing tool, and a fantastic way for businesses of any size to easily sell online. Our clients include solo-preneurs and small businesses selling all kinds of products from information materials to business seminars to gift products.

I would be happy to offer you a free 30-minute consultation about online shopping cart options, how they can be used for your business, and how to use them for optimal sales.

Best,

Heather

5 Essential Questions To Help You Find Your Niche

Finding your niche is one of the hardest and most rewarding aspects of marketing. Your niche is the group of individuals that are interested in your products or services. This group is who you will target your marketing plans and future products to. Knowing your niche will save you time and money in almost every aspect of your business. From research and development to marketing and sales, your niche drives your business and can be a constant source of ideas for more products/services down the road. Before you can market to your niche, you first have to find it. Here are five basic questions to help you isolate your niche market.

1.What problem does your product/service solve? Knowing the answer to this question will help you find the individuals who will benefit most from your product.

2.Who has the problem that your product solves? If you are selling insoles, for example, think about all the people who complain about their feet – athletes, cashiers & salespeople, waitstaff, elderly, overweight, and so on.  Think about all the people who could benefit from your product.  Solve the pain of your target market and they will be your loyal fans (and customers!).

3.How old are the individuals who have this problem? This will help you isolate your Niche from everyone else. If you know how old the crowd is your trying to reach, you will know some of what they are interested in, what they do, how they travel, how the communicate.

4.Do the individuals in your niche share any traits? Are they sky divers, scuba divers, race car drivers…? The more you know about your niche the more targeted you can make your marketing efforts. Individuals with shared interested have common media sources. Magazines, blogs, websites, etc.

5.What makes your product different than your competitors? Use the answer as your marketing angle. This is the one fact (or multiple facts) that sets you apart from the rest.

Just as you didn’t copy your product from something already available, you don’t want to copy your marketing plan from everyone else. Be unique, be memorable and always be honest. For help putting a marketing plan together or for implementing a current marketing plan, contact Champion Assistants at 425.605.0205.

Best,

Kristi

Are we answering your questions?

Champion Assistants Answers your questionsI hope the articles that we publish here help you to be more effective and efficient in managing your business. It’s our goal to write things that are timely and explore trends and ideas in marketing, sales and technologies.  Please let us know if there is a topic you feel we should write about. Let’s all put our heads together and help each other out.  You have experts at your fingertips – just contact us!

From all of us at Champion Assistants!

5 Basic Elements of Targeted Marketing

tragetThere are many styles of marketing, but only one that truly works in all applications. That one style is known as Targeted Marketing. Targeted Marketing uses information and planning to reach the right people at the right time. Below are the five basic elements to effectively and efficiently utilize this style of marketing.

1. Know Your Audience: Just like you know your products or services, you likely know who will benefit from them the most and why. What problem does your particular product solve? Are there any other problems that that same product solves? Who has these problems? Bingo, you have found your target. Now you must learn about your target market. What are there habits? Where do they shop? What media sources do they use frequently? Why do they hang out? What do they like and dislike? Knowing your audience in this way will help you to focus your marketing efforts toward them in an efficient manner. If you were trying to reach an 80 year old man you wouldn’t post an ad in Vogue would you?

2. Optimize Your Efforts: For every company this element will vary slightly, but the general emphasis here is to make sure the tools and information you have available to your clients are working for you. If you have a website, make sure the content is updated on a regular basis, the metadata is accurate and accessible including keywords and a site map. The same goes for brochures and other informational leaflets. The information needs to be accurate and honest and the appearance needs to be clean. No one likes looking at something that hurts the eyes. If there are too many bells and whistles or too many vibrant colors you are going to lose your audience. Simple is usually best!

3. Be The expert: Develop the ‘Know, Like, Trust’ effect by becoming an expert in your market. Write articles, have free information available, be honest and upfront. If you have the opportunity to share something that you know and enrich someone else’s business/life they will become a source of referrals down the road.

4. Plan Your Attack Strategy: Whit the information you now have you should be able to formulate your marketing plans. Know what you are willing to spend and where you want to spend that money. Figure out if your going to use mail marketing vs. email marketing and know where you are going to get your mailing lists from. (It is always best to use a source you can trust) Know what keywords are best for finding your information online. Figure out where you need to be so that your customers will find you instead of you having to hunt for them.

5. Befriend the media: The media is a huge source of referrals and are more than happy to learn about new inventions, new techniques, new anything. Use the media to your advantage by sharing information. Think of this as an extension of both elements 3 and 4. You are more of an expert in the public mind if the media mentions you or your business. Press releases, on air spots, and other media events should be a part of your attack strategy.

These five elements take planning and effort to be successful. Just as you wouldn’t leave the house without your keys, you don’t want to start your marketing with only one element in place. Figuring out who your marketing needs to reach, where to find them and how best to reach them makes a huge difference in any marketing plan.