Sword and the Script

Small Business Negative Reviews are a Gift; Here’s What to Do



by Frank Strong

Small Business Negative Reviews are a Gift
She was unhappy with a small businesses service, so she left a negative review.  She gave the business two stars in Google.

The business owner was outraged by the review. “You will be hearing from our attorney,” he allegedly wrote in response.

And there, in just a few paragraphs, one negative review went from zero to sixty in a game of chicken that isn’t likely to benefit the business.  It’s generally not a good idea fight with customers, let alone angry ones, and it’s downright dismal to do it in public.

Sure, such a public debate might draw attention, but it’s certainly not desirable attention. Even if a case winds up in court and the small business wins, it still loses.  It’s called the Streisand Effect, which The Economist sums up as follows: Read More…

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Survey Says on Twitter, Small Business is Likeable



by Frank Strong
Survey Says on Twitter Small Business is Likeable

Conventional social media wisdom says people don’t like brands on Twitter – which in part explains the movement for humanization. Contrast that with “personal branding” and we indeed live in strange times where brands strive to be human, and people strive to be brands.  

Whether it’s the humanity or branding, there’s something inherently likeable about small business. Clearly there’s a lot to like – according to the Small Business Administration, small business makes up more than 99% of employer firms in the U.S. and provide for nearly half of all private sector jobs.  A new survey by Twitter – Small Business Customer Insights – says small business socially likable too. Read More…

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Off Script #2: Gini Dietrich on Business, Balance and Access



by Frank Strong

gini-dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communication firm.

I had mentor once that used to say:  you may not remember what people say, you may not remember what people did, but you will always remember how people make you feel.

Over the years, I’ve found that to be true – and it’s true of Gini Dietrich.  I don’t really remember how or when I first bumped into Gini online, but I do remember being surprised at her responsiveness. Not just with me, but with everyone. The commenters on SpinSucks are a community onto ourselves; the “crazies” as she affectionately calls us.

Here was an influential PR pro, with tens of thousands of followers, as CEO of Arment Dietrich with a business to run, taking time to respond to individuals as individuals. It was beyond impressive – and a lots of people noticed. Gini makes you feel good, and I often wonder if that’s a talent that can be learned but not taught.

If you peruse her posts regularly, you’ll begin to pick up that Gini has had some tip-toe-to-the-edge-of-failure experiences in the business world. Even so, there was always some detail in between I had wondered about…and Gini agreed to answer the five hardest questions I could think to ask.

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S&S: You’ve often written you used to work for a Top 10 PR firm.  Then you left and started your own company.  How did that evolution take place? Did one day you just decide to resign and go put out a shingle, or was this something you had been planning or something else? Spontaneous?  Read More…

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Small Business Love Affair with Content Marketing


small business content marketing

Photo credit: eMarketer

by Frank Strong

Small businesses are engaged in a growing love affair with content marketing according to a survey by BusinessBolts.com and analyzed by eMarketer.

Three-quarters of small businesses are engaged in content marketing and 74% said they plan to increase their budget on content marketing in the next year.  The results mirrors other findings, for example, in late 2012, a joint report by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs found that 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing and budgets were up 26% from the previous year.

The BusinessBolts.com study says small businesses are finding benefits in traffic, search rankings and brand building in exchange for minimal effort.   Sixty-two percent of small businesses reported spending less than $100 per month on content marketing and almost half (45%) said content has lowered their advertising costs. Read More…

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Marketing Persona: profile of a social SMB



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by Frank Strong

What does the persona of an SMB that’s engaged in social media look like?  It falls generally into these characteristics:

  • The SMB earns $20-30 million in annual sales
  • It has 1-3 people in it’s marketing shop
  • Spends $10,oo0 a year on social media
  • Uses about 3 different tools to manage social media
  • Added social media to the list of existing duties of a marketing person

That’s pretty darn precise, no?  How do I know this? There’s a new survey out by my employer, Vocus and Duct Tape Marketing, which I had a role in analyzing the data. The study Path to Influence: An Industry Study of SMBs and Social Media, which is freely available is unique among surveys in that it’s scientific; it’s statistically valid and has a confidence interval. In other words, the data is rock solid — and so too is the marketing persona.  Read More…

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Reputation Management Tips for Small Businesses



Note:  This first guest post is penned by Jiyan Wei, a former work colleague of mine at Vocus, which owns PRWeb and  HARO  which is STILL free, BTW).  As I’ve often found with most product managers, he has a keen  observations: observing habits, inclinations and trends in order to make educated guesses about the market direction and where to take a product.  He’s recently taken the helm as CEO of BuildZoom, a site that matches contractors with home improvement enthusiasts.

>>>   While driving to work one morning, I listened to a radio ad from a notable Silicon Valley company (which has raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $60m over the past few years), promising to help consumers monitor and manage their online reputation.  Read More…

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One simple way Google has changed the world


Photo:  a flyer posted on the wall of a small businesses near my home.

Photo: a flyer posted on the wall of a small businesses near my home.

by Frank Strong

This is a true story.

There was a bag in the front yard. It had been sitting there for several days. A little girl meets her father in the garage after work one day and says, “Daddy, what’s in that bag in the front yard.”

“I don’t know, honey, let take a walk over and see,” the father replies.

They walk over to the bag and discover the contents contain a Yellow Pages book.

“What’s the Yellow Pages, Dad?” asks the little girl.

“Well, when you need something, like a plumber, you look in the Yellow Pages directory to find one.”

They carry the bag into the garage and the father promptly drops the bag in the trash bin. The girl is dismayed at the calculated loss of such a useful directory and asks why it’s being tossed in the trash. Read More…

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How one small business uses Facebook



Jeremy Posing 002

by Frank Strong

There’s no shortage of advice for businesses looking to tap social media to enhance their profile and brand. Sometimes we learn best by learning from others and to that end, he’s a quick look at one hard-hitting small business in the DC area that is making in-roads in the social media world.

Founded by a former grade-school teacher with no formal training in business, Jeremy Lafreniere has grown his passion for mixed-martial arts (MMA) from a weekly club held in a church basement into a world-class training program. Capital Jiu-Jitsu now has three-area locations in the greater Washington, DC-area and is the only MMA school in the area affiliated with the legendary Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy.

Aside from my personal admiration for my friend’s tenacity and self-learned business savvy, I’ve been greatly impressed by his ever-increasing presence on social media sites including, FacebookTwitter and his own YouTube channel.

I asked Jeremy a few questions over e-mail and since we often learn best by learning from others, feel it’s best to simply share his answers in his own words. Keep in mind, Jeremy is not a marketing guy per-se, though undoubtedly he has learned much about marketing in the course of growing his business.

When did you open the account and why?
I opened an account on Facebook early in 2008 as an experiment in what was becoming a very successful form of social media. I wasn’t sure how to go about having a Facebook account, because there was Capital Jiu-Jitsu the business and my personal life. I ended up with two separate accounts. I use my personal account to update friends and family with media and information about my personal life, and the Capital Jiu-Jitsu (CCJ) account with media and information relevant to the staff and students of CJJ.

Do you feel it has helped your business? What aspect is most effective?
I do feel it has helped my business. Of course not in a concrete way (we generated 10 additional leads this month), but in the sense that we can disseminate relevant information. We also use our news blog, our training network site, our message board, our newsletter, and are just now getting into Twitter.

In your own words, what sort of “things” do you do with FB?
I put up relevant media, occasional “What’s on your mind?” posts, and might send out an e-mail here and there. I disabled the “chat” feature, because I was receiving too many requests from people I’ve never met wanting to debate the legitimacy of our training methodologies (i.e. “Ninjitsu is better than Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, because…”) Unfortunately, I enjoyed the occasional chat session with students and friends, but those were less frequent than the former.

You have a lot of “friends” (nearly 2,000 at the current count) — what was the rate of growth or how fast did this accumulate when you opened the account?
I requested friends of students, staff, schools, fighters, and those who seemed interested in our programs. That was initially, and since then, we grow at about 5 friends a day.

Did you invite people (friend them) or are they “friending” you?
Initially I requested friends mostly. But now, people request us mostly.

Why would people friend you….and once they do, why visit your FB page?
I think most people make friend requests to grow their presence on Facebook. After that, people will make the request because they are legitimately interested in what is going on at Capital Jiu-Jitsu.

How do you balance the line between being a marketing-pest on FB and being a thoughtful contributor to the social media discussion?
I try to keep my posts to information relevant to students and staff. Not so much as an effort to “market” but to bring awareness. I still have a long way to go regarding this, but I get better all the time.

How much time do you think you put in a week on FB?
I’d say two hours a week. I get on once a day, check e-mail, make a post, and see what people are writing in the home feed of “What’s on your mind?” posts.

Do you promote events and do you think FB drives traffic?
I do promote events in the sense that I will attempt to make friends aware of events through the “What’s on your mind?” posts, but not through Facebook e-mails.

Of the social media outlets you’ve used, which are most effective?
It is hard to say. Our message board sees the most conversation. Our training network site sees the most posts. Our Newsletter gets to the most people. And we are brand new to Twitter.

What advice would you give to other small business owners looking to use FB for marketing reasons?
Keep it current, relevant, friendly and fun!

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I should point out that in Jeremy’s school, Jiu-Jitsu and MMA isn’t just for rough-and-tumble men. Capital Jiu-Jitsu has a variety of programs for women’s self-defense, kids and fitness including, CrossFit and Yoga. Having been a student in his school, there’s no doubt in my mind that his experience as a grade-school teacher has enabled him to excel in teaching martial arts.

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A chance conversation with a small business entrepreneur

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