Growing Your Business with LinkedIn®

February 15, 2019 by Comerica Bank

LinkedIn® is the world’s largest professional network. It also serves as a great platform to grow your business, as it can help connect you with other professionals.

It’s a highly valuable business network that can help you grow your network of contacts, generate new leads and accelerate your go-to-market opportunities.

How to develop your LinkedIn® profile

By building a presence on LinkedIn®, you can drive engagement to your business. It could be your next step towards continued growth. Follow these steps to develop your profile:

  • Create your page. Known as a LinkedIn® Company Page, it will give you the opportunity to tell your business’s story, drive word-of-mouth and share career opportunities.
  • Entice followers. Engage with potential customers and spread the word about what your business does. Connect with your employees and network contacts so they can ‘like’, comment and share your business updates. Link to your other marketing channels like your emails, newsletter and blog.
  • Share useful content that’s fresh and interesting, such as industry articles and thought leadership items. Provide regular updates about your business and its goods or services.
  • Track your business’s analytics, such as how engaging your posts are, how quickly your followers are growing and any relevant trends.

Complete your profile

Before you can reap the benefits of LinkedIn®, it’s vital you progress through all the steps of completing your profile.

Fill in your company’s details (an overview and description of your business) and upload a logo and banner image. This will help bring your business to life on LinkedIn®, as your logo will be visible in search and it will also appear on your employees’ profiles.

Get started creating your company page by watching this short LinkedIn® video.

Begin posting updates about your business

Schedule a content plan along with product or service updates that will be useful to your potential customers. When posting, keep the following points in mind:

  • Think about your business’s page as more of a forum than an advertising platform.
  • Focus on discussing your industry and creating thought leadership content.
  • Post helpful advice and resources that can offer practical value to your customers.
  • Engage with your followers and aim to help solve their problems. This may encourage them to share your content.

Promote your page to gain more potential customers

Encourage your staff members to add your business to their personal profiles, and to post content or updates regularly. If potential followers notice that professionals with related skills and experience follow your company page, you might enhance your business’s credibility.

Think about adding a link to your email signature to promote your page through blogs and newsletters. Add a ‘follow’ button to your company page to make it easy for people to track your business.

LinkedIn® strategies

Try some successful LinkedIn® promotional strategies, such as:

  • Utilizing visual content. LinkedIn® isn’t a very visual network, so it’s important to try to make your business stand out where possible. Your company logo and profile image are two avenues for achieving this.
  • Writing expert content. Use keywords that highlight the uniqueness and experience of your business, with the aim of portraying you and your staff as experts in your industry.
  • Interacting. LinkedIn® is a social network and to successfully grow your business, you’ll have to engage with people. Browse the profiles of your connections and see who they’re linked to. You might just come across some valuable leads.

Design showcase pages for your goods or services

Showcase pages can tailor messages to different segments of your audience while highlighting certain brands or product lines. Your followers will be able to see this content in their news feeds if they’re interested in it, meaning it’s more focused and relevant to them.

Find out how to add showcase pages to your company page.

Harness the power of LinkedIn® Groups

For a small business owner, LinkedIn® Groups represents a powerful strategy to build your business network by communicating regularly with colleagues, industry leaders, suppliers, and prospects.

You can use LinkedIn® Groups to share content, ask questions and find answers, view job opportunities and make contacts. Learn more about how LinkedIn® Groups can help grow your business.

Consider paid LinkedIn® services

It could be useful to look into the costs and benefits of upgrading to LinkedIn®’s premium services.

For example, InMail messages can be sent to anyone on LinkedIn® without needing their contact information. It’s a professional outreach service that can put your business’s LinkedIn® profile in front of potential customers.

 

LinkedIn® is a registered trademark of the LinkedIn Corporation.

This information is provided for general awareness purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as legal or compliance advice for your business.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. While the information contained within has been compiled from source[s] which are believed to be reliable and accurate, Comerica Bank does not guarantee its accuracy. Consequently, it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor be relied upon as such.  

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Market your Point of Difference

February 8, 2019 by Comerica Bank

One reason why people will choose your product or service over a competitor’s is the perceived, real or otherwise, difference to similar ones in the marketplace. You’ll need to find a competitive advantage over your rivals to make your business comparatively more appealing in the marketplace.

Doing business with you should be more attractive and compelling than with your competitors. A brand positioning strategy can help your business focus on the key ingredients that will set it apart from the crowd. It should be simple and needs to easily connect with potential customers.

Consider your options

Your primary marketing goal should be to create a unique point of difference. It will make your business stand out from your competitors and convince consumers to choose your product or service.

Your point of difference, also known as a unique selling point, needs to be the key benefit that you want your target market to associate with your product or service.

Your customers should have a favorable perception of your business so identifying a point of difference can be vital to achieving that outcome. Some areas of difference you might consider include:

  • Customer service.
  • Convenience.
  • Specific benefits of your product or service.
  • Your business story.
  • Variety.
  • Price.

Consult your customers

If you already have customers, survey them to find out what they’re really wanting from you and your competitors. Consumer knowledge is crucial to finding your unique point of difference.

You may find out that the reason why you thought your customers choose your business wasn’t actually the reason why they keep coming back. They may be motivated by something you hadn’t even considered, making this research critical.

Sometimes, customers will be more loyal to a brand that they can relate to. Consumers who show a positive response to a business story they correlate with will sometimes become emotionally connected.

Make your business look unique

The simplest way you can make your business more unique and transparent is by telling your story. Tell potential customers how your business started, your role and what you put into your product or service for them.

Start by listing the steps you take from product or service initiation through to end delivery to your customers.

You can then use this list to form the basis of your business’s story, which can ultimately build your entire marketing strategy.

Differentiate from the competition

You might start out with exactly the same product or service commonly available in the marketplace, but add features that differentiate it from the pack.

It’s difficult to stand apart from the competition in a global marketplace. You’ll need to talk about the special features of your product or service to gain interest from potential buyers.

Determine your key strengths and weaknesses against your competition. Examine your three main competitors and take a close look at what your personal business brings to the table in comparison to them.

Focus on your market

An effective technique for a small business that’s struggling to compete against larger operations is to serve a specific market better than the rest. One example could be a small hardware store that can’t compete on price. To build a competitive edge, it focuses on a wider range of certain tools and equipment, while training its staff to be more knowledgeable about the hardware it sells.

In this example, the business develops expertise in the products it sells, which becomes its competitive advantage.

Contemplate cost leadership

By closely monitoring the costs of your business, you can aim to become a cost leader in your market. You want your business to operate at its highest possible level of efficiency so you can compete on price and use it as a competitive advantage in your industry.

This strategy can be risky, as you’ll push down the price and potentially start a price war with your competitors. Whoever has the most resources to sustain smaller margins will eventually come out on top.

After you determine your unique point of difference, focus on developing a marketing strategy that will show off your competitive advantage.

This information is provided for general awareness purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as legal or compliance advice for your business.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. While the information contained within has been compiled from source[s] which are believed to be reliable and accurate, Comerica Bank does not guarantee its accuracy. Consequently, it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor be relied upon as such.

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Driving Traffic to Your Website

January 24, 2019 by Comerica Bank

Putting your business on the web is just the start – users need to be able to find your site. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one way to make your business more visible to the world.

SEO in a nutshell

Search engines can be a major source of traffic to your website, provided you use SEO to ensure people can find you.

A better ranking increases the chances of driving more users to your site. Getting your website to land on the first page of results will improve click rates. After that, the number falls rapidly.

Ranking highly should be a primary goal

The best SEO strategies are highly targeted. Your goal is to rank well when users search for terms that are relevant to your business. To succeed, you need to identify and then target very specific search terms that those interested in your business would use in a search.

Consider the following tips for starting the process:

  • Brainstorm a list of relevant keywords. Include product types and names (or words) that relate to your target market.
  • Narrow down your list and assign a priority to each search term.

Make use of online tools

Use online tools to identify the search terms with the highest volumes, such as Keyword Discovery®, Wordtracker™, and Google® AdWords Keyword Planner. These tools display the number of times a chosen search term has been used.

Record the volume of searches for each keyword or phrase in a spreadsheet. High-volume search terms often have many websites competing for the top rankings, which can make it difficult for smaller or newer websites to get near the top.

Crosscheck results by entering the exact search term into search engines that highlight keywords in the results. As a general rule, if most of the results on the first two pages contain the exact search term, the competition is high.

Consider disregarding very competitive search terms. Low-competition, high-volume words could be more important to target because they can send significant traffic to your site.

Take a look at low-volume search terms as well. If the terms are relevant to what you offer, keep them on your list.

Build your final list of target keywords, ordered by priority.

Optimize your website

Match pages on your website to the keywords in your list. Aim to target two or three search terms with each page on your website. Then:

  • Get help from a web designer or an IT expert to incorporate your target search terms into page metadata. Page titles and descriptions have a significant influence, so try to include your keywords in both.
  • Search engines check words in the URL for relevance, so be sure to include target search terms here. For instance, if your page is about men’s coats, you might name the page ‘mens-coats.html.’
  • Work the target search terms into the text on your pages. Use the keywords in a natural way, so your text remains readable.

Harnessing the value of links

Links can make the biggest difference to your search ranking because search engines like Google© regard every link to your website as a vote of confidence in the site. Links from high-ranking websites are worth the most. Aim to:

  • Ask your loyal customers, partners, and suppliers if they would be willing to link to your site.
  • Try to make the linked text match the exact search term you’re targeting with the linked page.
  • Post comments on forums and blogs. These outlets may allow you to link back to your website if you leave a comment or take part in discussions.
  • Offer to contribute articles or resources to high-profile websites in return for links.
  • Submit your site for inclusion in online directories that act as jumping off points to other websites.
  • Run a business blog that contains interesting insights and debates – including relevant keyword links in your blog posts can help you gain links.
  • Give people a reason to link to you – the best links are usually the ones that come naturally because what you offer is valuable.

Keep SEO in perspective

Regard SEO as just one element of your online marketing strategy and avoid spending too much time tweaking your site. Getting the basics right should be your main priority. If you have an interesting site with good content, then SEO will happen more naturally.

An SEO strategy will take time to show results; your site should climb the rankings gradually as search engines update their indexes. Three months is a reasonable period to measure results over, though new sites with poor rankings may take much longer to show significant improvement.

SEO rewards a long-term approach so be persistent and get help from an SEO expert.

Remember that:

  • Ultimately, your website is for customers, not search engines. If your website copy is so keyword-heavy that visitors can’t understand it, they’ll search elsewhere.
  • Search engines use advanced methods to identify sites trying to game the system. If a term appears too often, this may actually count against you. Avoid going over the top.
  • Link to reputable sites only. In the same way that links from recognized sites count in your favor, links from blacklisted sites count against you.

 

This information is provided for general awareness purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as legal or compliance advice for your business.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. While the information contained within has been compiled from source[s] which are believed to be reliable and accurate, Comerica Bank® does not guarantee its accuracy. Consequently, it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor be relied upon as such.

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Social Media Trends Making Waves in the Business World

January 8, 2019 by Comerica Bank

There are more than two billion active social media users worldwide – your target audience is likely among them.

By connecting with your target audience in a way that’s relatable, your business will remain fresh in their minds when they need the products or services that you’re offering.

Staying up-to-date with social media trends can be an essential part of keeping in touch with your customers. But which trends should your business consider following this year?

Interact with live streaming

Live streaming has started to make waves in social media marketing circles. With the emergence of Facebook® Live and Periscope® (among others), there are opportunities to interact with your customers while showing them your small business’s world through your eyes.

Live streaming video is a fantastic way to interact with your customers in real time. For instance, you could:

  • Demonstrate how you run certain services.
  • Conduct training and become a go-to reference for a particular product.
  • Host interviews offering personal ideas and opinions to increase engagement.
  • Share live events to let people who can’t attend be part of them.

For example, a number of U.S. gyms use Facebook’s live streaming service to show actual footage of their customers working out with their gym equipment.

Attract leads with data-driven storytelling

When it comes to gaining and retaining customers, it isn’t really just about advertising. It has become just as much about publishing – providing useful content that leads to the sale of your goods or services.

Data-driven storytelling is one of the most recent trends at the heart of using content to attract leads to gain paying customers. By embracing data-driven storytelling, your small business can:

  • Connect through stories that your clients find valuable or relatable.
  • Keep your brand in front of its potential customers.
  • Offer a deeper understanding of the values of your bank.

Narratives that are proven to work

There are a few essential narratives that work well when utilizing data to tell a story. They are:

  • Trends, or how something is increasing or decreasing over a period of time. For example, if you have an online clothing store, you might create a data-driven story based around the increasing trend of purchasing clothes on the Internet.
  • Relationships, which is usually the correlation between two sets of data. For example, your business might decide to take a closer look at the relationship between linking through to your website and filling out your contact form.
  • Comparisons, or how one business is performing against competitors.
  • Surprising data that challenges or confirms something that people think is true or false.
  • Rank orders, or telling a story about the ranking of the data in a table. For example, you could find out how often your small business clients ask questions online through your chat service.

Encourage social word-of-mouth

These days, consumers are becoming influencers and thought leaders in purchase decisions. Their voices are heard through social media channels, so they can greatly impact the opinions of other potential customers.

Social media is a conversational tool by nature, so encourage the conversation about your business, and its products and services to be a positive one.

Target digital natives

It’s likely that part of your target market will be younger customers who have grown up in the digital world. Digital natives may not only be in the younger age bracket, but they tend to have a few common qualities including:

  • Unpredictable life paths.
  • Financial instability.
  • A lack of long-term consumer loyalty.

Using online stores may be the only way they purchase consumer goods and services, so keep that in mind when deciding how to market via social platforms.

Experiment with GIFs and video marketing

GIFs (Graphics Interchange Formats) are now generating about 60 percent more engagement than a static visual. They use a compressed system that’s suitable for small animations – to get simple messages across quickly.

Both GIFs and video marketing are powerful tools that can attract and hold attention, or capture and convey an emotion, in ways that words can’t. This makes them highly useful in social media circles where the attention of consumers is constantly being bombarded by information and advertising.

Get in contact with us at Comerica Bank today.

 

This information is provided for general awareness purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as legal or compliance advice for your business.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. While the information contained within has been compiled from source[s] which are believed to be reliable and accurate, Comerica Bank does not guarantee its accuracy. Consequently, it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor be relied upon as such. 

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How to Test Your Marketing is Working

January 2, 2019 by Comerica Bank

Your business may have a few marketing campaigns operating through various channels. It’s important to test if each campaign (and channel) is working.

The strength of your marketing plan is dependent on how relevant it is to your target customers. It should be effective at:

  • Drawing in the customers you’re looking for by appealing to their core needs or wants.
  • Creating leads. There are plenty of proven lead generating methods you could be adopting if your marketing isn’t working. For example, offering a free sample, trial or a download has worked for many companies.
  • Producing sales. it’s vital to have a sales strategy that fits in with your marketing campaign.

Have you accurately measured your business’s marketing results? In this article, we’ll discuss multiple ways you can test whether your strategy is working.

Hitting your return on investment target

Finding out which areas of your marketing campaign worked and which didn’t will allow you to calculate your return on investment (ROI) for each segment of your plan.

To accurately measure your ROI, you should have:

  • Recorded how much money you’ve spent on each part of your campaign. For example, an online marketing campaign to attract new customers to your travel agency website may have cost $1,000 for so many clicks through to your site, whereas your local newspaper’s website might have charged $600 for placing your ad on their travel page for a day.
  • Determined whether you’ve made a profit. For example, linking to your site from the advert on your local paper’s website may have directly led to travel sales of tens of thousands of dollars and profits of $8,000. This profit figure would make it a successful part of your marketing campaign.

Establish which parts of your campaign produced a healthy ROI and which ones fell short.

Automating your marketing content

If your marketing efforts aren’t quite hitting the mark, consider using marketing automation. For example, you could automate the release of your marketing content through an online forum, or e-newsletter at set times.

It may help your business to maximize the effect of your content marketing on your target prospects.

Receiving positive customer feedback

No one tells you just how well your marketing is coming across than your target customers. You can find out what you need to know about each of your marketing initiatives by:

  • Asking for customer feedback about your marketing campaign. Ensure you and your staff interact with your customers as much as possible, asking subtle questions to assess how they responded to your advertising.
  • Providing an avenue for online responses. For example, you could have a complaints form on your website, or a comments section for people to leave their opinions on your products, services and marketing campaigns.
  • Conducting a more formal survey for more in-depth detail about what your customers think. For example, you could ask questions like “What did you think about our NCAA© March Madness campaign?” or “Did our campaign influence your decision to make a purchase during March?’ A focus group might be an ideal environment to carry out a formal survey.

Increasing sales and profits

If your sales and profits are increasing, it’s likely that your marketing plan is having a positive effect.

For example, if your total sales during the last financial year came to $90,000 and this financial year you’re on target for sales of over $100,000, your current marketing campaign is probably having some kind of beneficial influence.

Getting feedback from your salespeople

If your business has salespeople, get them involved in the discussion about how effective your marketing campaign was. They may have a clear idea based on their interactions with customers.

Ask them if your intended message is getting through. If feedback from your salespeople is negative or your target customers are unaware of your latest campaign, it might be time to adjust your plan.

Next steps

  • Carry out our quick marketing plan online training.
  • Be sure to market your point of difference.

This information is provided for general awareness purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as legal or compliance advice for your business.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. While the information contained within has been compiled from source[s] which are believed to be reliable and accurate, Comerica Bank® does not guarantee its accuracy. Consequently, it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor be relied upon as such.

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