Social Media Marketing: How to Attract More Business Through Yahoo Groups

Social Media Marketing: How to Attract More Business Through Yahoo Groups

Is your business taking advantage of Yahoo Groups to promote your business in Northern Virginia?

While many businesses are focusing their social media marketing efforts on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-In, Yahoo Groups offer a marketing opportunity you should not overlook.

What is a Yahoo Group?

A Yahoo Group is a self-selected group of people who share a common interest. Yahoo group membership is free and open to anyone who has a Yahoo account, registers for membership and is approved by the group moderator.

The Fauquier County Yahoo Group is an active forum of 976 members who regularly post and share information about local community news, activities, events and resources.  The Fauquier County Yahoo Group members frequently ask each other for recommendations to reputable local businesses that other members know, like and trust.

I monitor the Fauquier County Yahoo Group message posts and respond on behalf of my clients whenever I see people looking for the products or services my clients sell.

Case Example

Recently, a local resident posed this question on the Fauquier County Yahoo Groups:

“I am looking for roofer recommendations: Who to get a quote from and who to stay away from.”

As you can see below, Paul Henry’s Windows benefited from the endorsements and recommendations he received from members of this group:

Yahoo group roofer recommendations

Yahoo group roofer recommendations

Online Word of Mouth Recommendations

We all know that people prefer to do business with businesses they already know, like and trust. Nearly every day, Yahoo Group members ask each other for word-of-mouth referrals to trusted and reputable local businesses. Alert business owners or employees can join in these conversations and attract more customers with thoughtful responses.

You can probably find other Yahoo Groups serving residents of your own town or local area that work the same way. It’s easy to join a Yahoo Group and get on the mailing list for real-time message alerts, or daily summaries of messages posted.

Website and Facebook Advertising Tips and Tricks

business innovators podcast logoOn May 7, 2016, I was honored to be featured on the Business Innovators Magazine and Radio Show in an interview with Tamara Patzer, owner of Blue Ocean Authority on the topic of Website and Facebook Advertising Tips and Tricks.”

You can click here to listen or download the podcast recording of this interview, or read the transcript of my interview below.

Key Points and Show Notes

1:45 — How Yvonne helps local business owners market their businesses online.

3:05 — How Yvonne helped a local kitchen designer grow her business by creating a new website and social media presence that showcased her work and attracted more of her perfect prospects and ideal clients.

7:25 – How Yvonne helped a local custom home builder land a $150,000 project after revamping his website and posting his information on Facebook.

14:09 – Three things every website needs to have to generate more quality leads.

23:54 – How to advertise effectively on Facebook.

36:00 – A unique and little-known Facebook marketing strategy for restaurants that can add several thousand dollars a month in additional revenue for restaurants.

37:44 – Tips for wedding industry professionals.

38:40 – A unique and profitable Facebook advertising strategy for chiropractors that is generating $10,000 – $20,000 more new patient revenue per month per chiropractor.

Click the image below to listen to the full podcast recording.
Herbst Marketing Business Innovators Magazine interview


Podcast Transcript: Website and Facebook Advertising Tips and Tricks

Yvonne Herbst helps companies in the home improvement and health and fitness industries leverage the power of the internet and social media to reach and attract more perfect customers and generate more repeat business, more sales and more profits.

How Herbst Marketing Helps Local Businesses Market Themselves Online

00:53 — I help companies in the home improvement field and health related businesses create a web presence that establishes them as a top choice in their local marketplace. That can range from setting up their websites, setting up their social media presence, creating web content, creating video content, and helping them get more visible online, so that when people are looking for them they stand out in the search results.

1:29 — Tamara Patzer — can you give us a few examples of how you help them and what are some of the problems or perceived problems that people seem to be having with their marketing today?

1:45 — Yvonne Herbst — Well, a lot of business owners I talk with today used to advertise in the Yellow Pages, they might be advertising in local newspapers and local magazines and they are just frustrated because they are not seeing a return on their investment. They are not able to track that the advertising dollars they are spending in print media these days are generating real dollars and real customers.

And they also know that they could and should be using the internet and social media somehow, but they are just very confused. There are so many choices and they just don’t have time to sort it out, figure out the technicalities. And that’s where I come in.

I help them understand their options and select the best options for them and then often times they might not have any website at all or they might have put up a website on their own that looks kind of amateurish and it’s time for them to step up their game and create a more professional look and feel in their website.

Benefits of an Improved Web Presence

2:55 — Tamara Patzer — Do you have an example of someone you helped to make a better web presence?

3:05 — Yvonne Herbst — Yes, I do. A few years ago I gave a talk at a small local business workshop and one of the attendees was a kitchen designer and she came up to me afterwards and she said she really needed help. She was intrigued with what I said about how to make your website work for you, how to make it get found, how to capture leads.

And so I took a look at her website. It was one she’d built herself. I think it may have been on the Godaddy platform. And it was perfectly fine when she was first starting out, but now she was several years into her career as a kitchen designer and she had a beautiful portfolio of work but when you went to her website it just didn’t showcase her work well. It looked very amateurish.

And so I sat down with her and spent quite a few hours just interviewing her, getting to know her business, getting to know what she wanted her website to do for her, compiling her photos and organizing them, and created a new website for her that showcased her beautiful photos and a lot of blog content that explained the different projects she had worked on and explained the kinds of questions you should be thinking about before you launch a kitchen remodeling project, how to choose a kitchen designer and all this content positioned her as an authority in the local marketplace for people who are looking for a custom kitchen design.

So, a few months after her new kitchen design website launched — after I optimized the pictures, the blog content, and got her listed on Google and other directories, got her listed on houzz.com, coached her on how to get reviews, and produced some educational kitchen design tips videos for her — people started finding her for her long tail keywords, like “kitchen designer in Reston Virginia” or “kitchen remodeling in Fairfax Virginia” … and so they find her just by searching and then they would get intrigued by what they saw and what they read.

And she told me that within 6 months the number of leads she was getting through online search was equaling the number of leads she was getting through word of mouth recommendations, and so her investment in her new website, the optimization, the blog content, the customer testimonials and reviews, really has paid off for her.

New Website for Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

New Website for Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia


6:07 — Tamara Patzer — Did she notice that the length of time it took for her projects to go from start to finish — meaning the relationship she had with her new customer — was shortened after she got her new website?

6:19 — Yvonne Herbst — Yes, one of the comments she made to me was that now when she goes out to meet with potential clients it has made it less awkward in that initial encounter because they feel like they already know her, they know her style, they have seen photos of her work, they have watched her videos, and so they already trust her.

6:50 — Tamara Patzer — I think that’s really important because in the world today, like what you said, her online presence equaled or exceeded her word of mouth or real world referrals, so her website was acting like a referral partner for her. And you also did some work for her husband who is a custom home builder. Can you tell us a little about that?

Learn More: Read or Listen to the Interview with Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

7:25 — Yvonne Herbst — yes, but before I talk about that I’d like to mention that this kitchen designer now has a couple of dozen reviews on houzz.com, which is the premiere social media site for people in the home remodeling industry. And if you look at her reviews, a lot of these projects are $50,000 – $100,000 projects and probably a good third or a half of them pointed out that the people who hired her found her online. So that just illustrates how it does take up front work to pull your information together and present it in a way that is findable online, but the up front work certainly has paid off. (See example Houzz.com review below.)



> Click Here to Watch Sandra Brannock’s Authority-Building Kitchen Design Tips Videos

As far as her husband goes, he is a home builder, and they have a synergistic relationship because she designs the kitchens and if her client does not already have a construction company in mind, then her husband can come in and build the kitchen she has designed.

And he was in a similar position. He had a very rudimentary website that did not showcase his work well at all and so I built his new website and featured photographs of his building projects in a very attractive way with photo galleries and when the website was done I put up his Facebook page and then I put up photos of his work on my own Facebook profile and just by luck the night I posted the pictures of some of his projects they were seen by a friend of mine who was fed up with her own contractor and she had decided to fire him. So the photos I put up on my Facebook page caught her attention.

Brannock Enterprises Custom Home Builder Amissville VA

Facebook Mention of New Website for Brannock Enterprises

And then what happened — because this is the way people work these days — is she went out and looked at reviews and what other people were saying about his work and she was impressed with what other clients were saying about their experience with him.

And ultimately she hired him to do a $150,000 project – building a cottage by a pond on their property.

Learn More: Read Andria Corso’s Review of Brannock Enterprises Custom Cottage Construction in Amissville, Virginia

So this again points out how the ecosystem of the web works these days. You get an authority-building website that showcases your work and you get customers or clients to come in and say good things about you on your own website and other review sites and it turns into business.

10:30 – Tamara Patzer — I think you are absolutely right and those are very good examples. And it also proves how fast something can happen in the online word, because like you said you posted the home builder’s information and it just so happened that it caught the attention of someone who wanted to find a home builder at that exact moment.

And at any one time you are probably only going to have 3 percent of people looking for what you have but it just happened that you were in the right place at the right time and I think that social media and having an online presence puts you in front of the right audience because you can target the very words and people who are your audience. So that is really important.

Let’s talk more about business in general and basic marketing, because I know that you talk a lot in public and you do presentations. So when you meet business people, what do you think their biggest misconceptions are about what you do for them or what you are able to do for them?

Basic Marketing Principles for Local Business Owners

11:57 – Yvonne Herbst — Well, I think a lot of business owners realize that they need a website but they just think they can put up a website themselves and business will just start flowing to them and then they are puzzled when it doesn’t. They don’t understand all the different moving pieces beyond having their website up there that go into marketing your business online.

They also don’t understand basic marketing principles. Like they will get very hung up on having a trendy looking website but then they make it hard to find their phone number. It’s trendy to have their phone number hidden in small print at the bottom of the page.

And they also don’t want to put up some kind of lead capture mechanism or an offer that will get people to give them their email address so they can follow up with them.

They tend to talk about themselves too much. They don’t think in terms of what problem am I solving for my ideal client and how can I communicate that in a powerful and engaging way.

So it’s about who they serve and the problems that they solve.

13:25 – Tamara Patzer — I think that’s a really good point. You mention that a lot of times people have the misconception of “build it and they will come.” They think that if they build a website that people will come but pointing out the fact that sometimes people create websites that are just fancy online brochures. You mentioned a couple of factors about a good website.

Can you give me three tips about what a good well-designed website should include?

Three Tips for Improving Your Website

14:09 – Yvonne Herbst — Well, you need to capture the visitor’s interest within the first 3-5 seconds. So on the home page of the website it should be really clear what you do and who do you serve and how can you help them?

So you need compelling visuals and a compelling message on the home page. And there should be a clear invitation to call you or email you.

And if you can offer something educational or something that will benefit them when they provide their email address, then you can set up an autoresponder that will send them the information they requested and that is the beginning of cultivating a relationship that will lead to sales in the future.

You know, most people who come to your website in most cases are not ready to buy that minute. They might be researching their options. So there needs to be a lead capture and lead nurturing system in place on your website.

15:30 – Tamara Patzer — So people come to your website and you would have some kind of an educational program via email or something so that they can get to know those people better.

The Importance of Online Reviews

So what about reviews? Do you get very much resistance from people about asking for reviews?

15:57 – Yvonne Herbst – Yes, it’s an ongoing process. A lot of people are shy about going to their clients and asking them to review them. They feel like they shouldn’t be tooting their own horn; they feel like that comes across as arrogant. They also are concerned about imposing on their customers or feeling like they are asking for too big a favor.

But what I’ve found is that in most cases if people are happy with the work that you have done, they are more than happy to send you a testimonial.

The difficulty can come in when it comes to asking people to review you on Google because typically you have to have a gmail address and login to Google before you can leave a review so there is a little bit of a barrier there, but if you have a client with a gmail address it shouldn’t be hard to direct your customers and clients to your Google My Business page – you can even give them a link to that page — and ask them to share what they liked about working with you, or what they like about your products or services — and that also helps your search results. When people are researching your company and they see lots of 5-star reviews and your competitors have few or no reviews, it helps you stand out. It gives you more authority.

17:35 – Tamara Patzer — I think you are absolutely right because word of mouth is how most people perceive that they get most of their business, but as we move more online we do get more and more business from the virtual world because people do take time to research a purchase online before they buy it and people do go online to see what other people are saying about you. It’s so easy to push a button and find out lots of information.

Budgeting for Online Marketing

18:18 — Tamara Patzer — I want to talk with you about expectations. When you work with a marketer or a marketing company such as you, what do you feel are some of the things that people don’t realize is involved when working with a marketing company?

18:37 – Yvonne Herbst – Well, first of all they need to have a budget. It’s amazing how often you will talk with a company and you will ask them about their budget and they haven’t given it any thought and they are a little bit shy about what they are willing to spend. It’s a bit of a dance because they are afraid to say how much they are willing to spend in case they are in danger of getting ripped up. But what I am able to do for you varies depending on how much you are able and willing to invest. If you have just a tiny budget the marketing strategy can be very different from what we can do for you if you have a budget that allows us to do paid advertising on Google or Facebook.

Whether you have a budget that would enable me to take the burden off the client in terms of creating regular content and post regular blog articles or get videos done for them.

You can’t expect to get stellar results with a $500 budget. It’s important to be up front with people and discuss what you are willing to invest, and you also need to be willing to put in time and effort on your own end to provide the information the marketing agency needs to do a good job for you.

The OnBoarding Process

20:20 – Tamara Patzer — How much time would you say it takes to do what you would call an intake with a new client?

20:30 — Yvonne Herbst — Well, in the case of the kitchen designer and home builder I mentioned, I probably spent about 10 hours up front just interviewing them, getting a feel for their business. This was not all in one sitting but over several conversations, getting an understanding of their business, getting an understanding of their ideal client, getting an understanding of their value proposition and what differentiates them from their competition, trying to coach them.

In many cases it’s hard for clients to articulate what differentiates them and why a client should choose them over a competitor. So I help them clarify that. I help them wordsmith it. I help them create content that explains that clearly.

Most business owners aren’t good writers. They don’t like to write. They like doing their own job. So they need help honing their message and crafting a message that is powerful and engaging.

So that intake process can take around 10 hours and then you need to expect that the marketing person might be putting in another 50-100 hours creating the website, setting up your social media presence, and if we are doing videos for you then there is time involved in going to your place of business and videotaping you and editing the videos and then getting the videos uploaded and optimized for search and disseminated around the internet.

So a marketing person is not a mind reader. They can’t get inside your mind. You have to spend time and thought on your end so your marketing expert can help you.

22:35 —Tamara Patzer — I think that is really good advice and I hope business owners are listening because you are echoing what often happens to me because I will say, “Do you have a budget” and often the answer is, “No, I haven’t thought about that” or they feel uncomfortable because they are afraid that you are going to take what that number is and get it all spent.

But really what it is all about is having the budget to know whether or not we have to go for all the free strategies or do we have money to do paid advertising like a Facebook campaign.

Facebook Advertising Tips

I want to talk about Facebook because it is something that I think we all should be looking at, because I think there around 1 billion people using Facebook and we are not trying to get a billion people to become our client. We are just wanting to get the perfect client.

So why do you think people should be advertising on Facebook?

23:54 – Yvonne Herbst — I saw recently that there are around 7.2 billion people on our planet right now, and out of that there are around 3 billion people connected to the internet, and of those 3 billion people there are 1.3 billion people who are active Facebook users. That’s not just people who have put up a Facebook profile page and aren’t using Facebook at all.

And Facebook has acquired a tremendous amount of data on its active users. And what is interesting is that you can target almost any demographic you want inside of Facebook and get your message in front of these active users in a very cost effective way.

For as little as $5 a day in direct ad spend on Facebook you can reach several thousand people a day who have a specific interest in what you are doing.

Facebook Lead Ads

The trick about advertising in Facebook is that they recently introduced something called Lead Ads. You have probably seen these ads that show up in your news feed in Facebook, right? If it says sponsored it is a paid Facebook ad.

Example of a Lead Generating Facebook Ad for Dentist

Example of a Lead Generating Facebook Ad for Dentist

And these paid Facebook ads come with calls to action. One call to action is Call Now, another Download, another is Learn More, another is Watch a Video. So what you can do with the Learn More call to action is send people over to your website with a video they might watch or a report you can offer them, but before they can get that video or report you are asked to provide your name and email address and possibly your phone number.

And what Facebook lets you do now is integrate these lead capture forms with your email autoresponder system, like Constant Contact or Aweber or Infusionsoft so that you can now get leads through Facebook and put them into your autoresponder.

So this is a time saving move. You don’t have to get back to the person immediately. They fill out the form and get immediate get your video or report or coupon that you offered in your Facebook ad. And then you can set it up so they get regular follow up email messages and in some cases text messages from you to cultivate the relationship to the point that they know, like, trust and are ready to buy from you.

26:55 — Tamara Patzer – Wow, that is really phenomenal – how much you can do with Facebook. And that is a great value. I mean if you get one client that would be a really good value.

Facebook Advertising vs. Google AdWords

27:09 – Tamara Patzer — So how is advertising on Facebook different from advertising on Google?

27:11 – Yvonne Herbst — Well, what you need to think about when advertising on Facebook is, Google is a search based platform. So with Google Adwords what you are doing is researching keywords that are being searched. Google has a keyword tool that lets you see what keywords people are searching for in Google and it will tell you how much traffic there is for various keywords and phrases and about how much you should expect to pay to get a click on your ad in Google.

So Google is entirely search driven and people who are searching in Google are much further along in the buying cycle. They are interested in buying soon. They are interested in finding an emergency plumber or a locksmith or a local restaurant.

With Facebook, it is better for piquing people’s interest in a social way. Let’s say you are at a cocktail party and you are introduced to someone, you don’t say “Hey, I’m a home builder and let’s set up an appointment so we can see how I can remodel your home,” or, if you are a chiropractor, you don’t immediately say “let’s make an appointment for a chiropractic service.”

No, you get to know people, you have a social conversation and find out what your common interests are. Then you might follow up with them later on, but you don’t try to sell yourself right away in a social setting.

So Facebook ads are social ads targeted to people with an interest in what you are doing. They are there to pique their interest, to get them to click through to watch a video, or to get a coupon for your restaurant, or to learn more about whatever it is you are doing. Maybe get a how-to or tip sheet.

Then once you get these people into your sales funnel, you can follow up with automated messages with more information to move them forward in the buying cycle. And because they requested information these are permission-based messages. You aren’t spamming them.

How to Get Started Advertising on Facebook

29:57 – Tamara Patzer — So, if somebody wants to start advertising on Facebook, how do they do that?

30:02 – Yvonne Herbst — Well first of all you have to have a Facebook Business page. You can’t advertise just from your own personal profile page. You have to have a business page set up for your business.

Then you have to go to business.facebook.com and set up a business account there. They will ask you for your credit card information because when you advertise on Facebook they will bill your credit card. You can set a threshold inside Facebook for when your credit card will be billed, so you can say you don’t want to be billed until you have accumulated $50 or $100 in ad spend on Facebook. You are not billed immediately until you meet the threshold that you have set

Then once you get your business account set up, when you go to your Facebook business page there will be a message that says “Manage Your Page with Business Manager” and you have to click that link before you can post status updates as your business and not your personal self.

From there, there are 2 ways to create ads inside Facebook. One is through the adverts manager which is a simplified advertising tool, but if you want to dive deep and take advantage of lead ads, you need to use the Facebook Power Editor to create your ads. That gets into more detail than I can get into in this interview today but I can talk with your listeners and provide more information if they like.

Facebook Boosted Posts

32:05 – Tamara Patzer — So what is a boosted post in Facebook?

32:10 – Yvonne Herbst — A boosted post is the most basic form of Facebook advertising yo can do. Let’s say you have written a blog and you post the link to that blog on your Facebook page and you are given the option to boost it.

You want to create an eye-catching graphic to accompany that post to call people’s attention.

And Facebook has rules that any image you post that accompanies a boosted post cannot have more than 20% text on that image. If it does, Facebook won’t approve your boosted post.

Then when you boost your post, you have the option to say you want everyone to be able to see the ad, or you only want people who have liked your page to see the ad, or you want everyone who likes your page plus their friends to see the ad, and you can specify the geographic target area where your ad will be displayed as well.

So you can specify you only want people who live within 5 miles of your business to see your ad.

A lot of business owners assume that if 500 or 1,000 people have liked their page that ALL of them will see everything they post on their business page. But in fact, Facebook only shows your business page posts to 1-2 percent of your Facebook fans so if you want to make sure that ALL your Facebook fans see your post then you have to boost our post to ensure that everyone sees it.

And you can specify if you want your post to be displayed over 1 day or 3 days or 5 days or any period of time.

So boosted posts are a way to ensure that everyone who has liked your page sees what you are publishing and it can keep you top of mind with this audience.

33:34 – Tamara Patzer — So do you have any other good ideas besides Facebook for business owners? For example, can you connect your boosted post with a coupon?

33:57 – Yvonne Herbst — Well you can put a link to your website in your boosted post. For example I have a dog grooming client where I will upload a coupon image to her website and then we will boost a post advertising her dog grooming special with a link to the downloadable coupon in the status update on her page. Then people can click that link and download the coupon from there.

35:20 – Tamara Patzer — OK, so boosted posts are an inexpensive way to test a concept or an ad and you can actually take them to your website where all kinds of things can happen with Facebook like retargeting or remarketing. Do you also offer different campaigns? Would you like to talk about your birthday campaigns?

A Unique Facebook Campaign for Restaurants

36:00 — Yvonne Herbst — Yes, birthday campaigns are especially good for restaurants or day spas or any kind of business that provides personal services. Florists for example.

One of the intriguing audiences you can target in Facebook is people with birthdays coming up within the next 7 days. So a restaurant can advertise a free dinner or lunch to people who live near the restaurant and have a birthday coming up in the next week. Birthday celebrants can bring a lot of money into a restaurant because people usually bring at least one and often several people or a large group of people to a restaurant on their birthday.

So when someone decides they want that offer and click on the Get Coupon link, the restaurant receives an immediate notification of this lead and they can track the performance of their Facebook ad and see that it is really working. I know of restaurants that are generating 50-60 leads a month or more and several thousand dollars a month or more from this one marketing technique.

So these birthday celebrants are automatically added to the restaurant’s email list of customers and we can also add them to a text messaging list.

And the beauty of this marketing strategy for restaurants is that it’s a very cost effective way to build your customer list and get a positive return on your ad spend. Once these people are automatically entered into your email database , you can continue to send weekly or monthly offers and invitations to these people long after their birthday to keep them coming back and spending money in your restaurant.

Facebook Campaigns for the Wedding Industry

If you are in the wedding industry, you can target people who have become engaged in the past 3-6 months and send them an offer for your florist services, or wedding planning services, or DJ services.

The key is that you need to send people to an intermediate page – what we call a “landing page” — where your prospects have to provide their name and email address in order to get the offer. Then they are entered into your email or text message autoresponder system and you have their permission to follow up with them.

Facebook Marketing for Chiropractors and Health Professionals

I know someone who does marketing for chiropractors. He advertises Dinner with a Doc and advertises special events to people in the chiropractor’s local area who suffer from migraines or backaches or any kind of condition that a chiropractor can treat and the offer is to come have dinner with the chiropractor for free and learn how chiropractic can remedy your health issue.

This guy is getting 10-20 leads a month from one campaign for his chiropractor clients and these leads are turning into $20,000 or $30,000 a month in long-term patient new patient revenue. So the return on your investment when advertising on Facebook can be huge.

The key is to craft an offer and a compelling image that will get people wanting to learn more and sign up for your event.

40:16 — Tamara Patzer. — Wow. If you were not taking notes, I recommend that you go back and listen to this interview a couple of times because Yvonne I think you have given some really dynamite examples of how to market businesses online, how to create great websites and a great online presence, and then how to start using Facebook for advertising with a small budget and then of course as your business grows you can increase your budget.

Social Media Marketing Guide for Businesses

Social Media Marketing for Business: What trumps Google for getting found, attracting attention, arousing interest and increasing sales?

If you said social media, you guessed right.

With an ever-growing base of frequent and loyal users, sites like

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • Twitter, and
  • YouTube

are powerful channels for reaching more of your ideal customers and staying top of mind.

But successful social media marketing is very different from advertising in conventional media like newspapers, magazines, direct mail, radio and TV.

Successful social media marketing requires a shift in your mindset, emotional intelligence, and strategic planning.

The Social Media Success Plan for Business

Successful social media campaigns incorporate:

  • Timely and engaging content that you create – blog articles, videos, podcasts
  • Archived content that provides genuine value to your target audience
  • Other people’s content
  • Personal stories
  • Inspirational messages and quotes
  • Funny memes and images
  • Events and offers

Over time, your disciplined and consistent social media activities will:

  • Raise your visibility across the entire internet ecosystem,
  • Keep your brand, your products and your services top of mind,
  • Subtly and expertly guide your target audience into your sales funnel,and
  • Help you convert more prospects into customers

The Ultimate Business Goal

If you are like most business owners I know, your ultimate goal is to make a good income doing work you love so that you can:

  • Enjoy financial security,
  • Experience financial freedom,
  • Provide for your loved ones, and
  • Spend more worry-free stress-free time with your family and friends, doing the things that make life worthwhile.

Your social media marketing plan can help you achieve this goal.

Steps To Reaching Your Goal

Step 1: Identify your perfect customer(s)

Marketers call this step “creating your avatar” — a detailed picture of the kind of person who will love your product or service, become a loyal repeat customer, and who will be happy to recommend you to their family, friends and other social connections.

Take some quiet time and create a description and a mental picture of this person. Are they:

  • Male or female?
  • Married or single?
  • How old?
  • Where do they live?
  • What kind of house do they live in?
  • What kind of car do they drive?
  • What is their level of education? Where did (or do) they go to school?
  • Who do they most enjoy associating with?
  • Where do they work?
  • What kinds of hobbies do they have?
  • What are their most pressing problems, worries or concerns?
  • How does your business help them solve their problems, worries or concerns?
  • How do your products and services make their lives better?
  • What kinds of changes are they hoping to make in their lives to be happier or healthier?

Step 2: Create a 12-month outline of content you can create that will provide value to your perfect customer

Think about and research:

  • Relevant topics and content themes for each month of the year
  • Monthly, quarterly and annual events you can host
  • Other people’s content that you can share or repurpose and rebrand for yourself

Step 3: Create a detailed calendar of the relevant and engaging topics you will post about for each day of each month during the upcoming year.

social media planning worksheet

We recommend that you keep your social media posts varied and interesting by posting information in a variety of media and formats.

Examples include:

  • Original how-to tips (articles, videos, podcasts, images)
  • Infographics
  • Answers to questions your customers frequently ask
  • Answers to questions your customers should ask .. but don’t know they should ask
  • Funny or intriguing quotes
  • Curated content (content other people have created with some introductory comments by you that offer your own perspective plus links to the original content)

Stumped for ideas?

Think about the top influencers in your industry and visit their websites and social media pages to get ideas … and think about how you can adapt their content, put your own spin on it and make it your own.

Step 4: Create the Content

To reach the largest audience possible, you will want to create content in a variety of formats so it can be consumed according in the way(s) your target audience prefers.

  • For people who prefer to read, you’ll create written articles and blog posts.
  • For visual learners, you’ll create arresting images with intriguing, engaging, funny or thought-provoking captions.
  • For people who prefer video, you’ll create a series of short, entertaining and/or educational video messages.
  • And for people who like to learn while driving, you’ll create downloadable audio files and podcasts that they can listen to in the car.

Step 5: Publish Your Content on Multiple Platforms: Make Yourself Visible Everywhere

Reach your perfect audience on social mediaImagine the power of seeing your name and your business everywhere you go online. The more people see you, the more they will think of you before anyone else when they need the products or services that you have to offer.

By publishing your content in multiple formats on multiple channels, you’ll be multiplying your visibility exponentially, getting noticed and helping more and more people get to know you, like you, and trust you.

Happy customersAs you build up recognition, you’ll get more and more people spreading the word about your business, signing up for your events, buying your special deals and taking advantage of your exclusive offers.

And you will be rewarded with an ever-growing base of loyal customers who will be willing ambassadors for your company — people who will happily recommend your products and services to their friends, family and other social connections.

Which Social Media Sites Work Best for Your Business?

Which social media sites will work best for your business?

Which Social Media Sites Will Work Best for You?

Are you a small business owner who is trying to understand how and where to promote your business on social media? Is there any way of determining whether your social media activities will yield real results and be worth the time you invest in social networking?

As the saying goes, time is money, so if you are going to invest your valuable time (or an employee’s time) in social media marketing, it’s wise to concentrate on just one or two social networking sites to start. As you gain experience and confidence, you might want to participate in more sites in the future.
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Social Media Marketing Plan for Small Businesses

Can a social media marketing plan help your business grow?

Small businesses that engage in social media marketing can reap significant rewards over time. When approached in a systematic and disciplined manner, social media marketing can:

  • Help you reach a wider audience than you can reach in-person at Chamber of Commerce and other business networking events.
  • Grab attention and arouse curiosity about your products and services.
  • Put you in control of your company’s messaging and branding.
  • Educate your ideal clients/customers about your products and services through articles, pictures, and videos.
  • Establish and reinforce your position as a knowledgeable expert in your market niche or local marketplace.
  • Generate more calls to your business.
  • Create relationships that lead to more sales.

Social Media Marketing Checklist

The Whole Brain Group’s social media marketing checklist and infographic provides a helpful and comprehensive visual guide for planning your social media marketing activities. Companies that do not have the in-house resources to plan and execute a comprehensive social media campaign can expect to pay $2,000 – $7,500 per month for an experienced social media marketing firm to professionally manage your entire social media marketing campaign. You can also assign the tasks to a knowledgeable employee or contact Herbst Marketing to request a quote for social media marketing services at more affordable rates.

Social Media Marketing Checklist Courtesy of The Whole Brain Group

Social Media Marketing Checklist Courtesy of The Whole Brain Group

Recommended Blogging Activities

  • Write and publish at least one original well-written blog article or video each week.
  • Syndicate/repost links to your blog post to each of your social media profiles/pages.

Blogging, combined with social media marketing, has paid off for Expert Kitchen Designs by generating more high-quality leads and sales for kitchen design services.

Recommended Twitter Activities

  • Follow 10 new people each week
  • Re-tweet 2 interesting tweets per day
  • Send at least 3 tweets daily

Recommended LinkedIn Activities

  • Update Company Profile and Status
  • Connect with 3-5 new people each week
  • Follow 3 new companies each week
  • Ask for 1-2 recommendations each week

Recommended Google+ Activities

  • Share content at least twice a day to your Personal Google+ Profile and your Google+ Business page
  • Add 5 new people to your Google+ Circles each week
  • Offer a Google+ Hangout session for a topic in your industry (Click Here for a Google Hangout example)

Recommended Pinterest Activities

  • Add one new board containing at least 6 new pins (pictures) each week to your Pinterest page, with links back to your website/blog for each photo posted.
  • Be sure to use relevant keywords and descriptions for each new pin you publish.
  • Follow 5 new interesting and inspiring pin boards each week from users in fields related to your business.

Recommended YouTube Activities

  • Find and share three new videos each week to your Facebook, Google+ and Twitter pages.
  • Subscribe to 3 new channels in your industry each week.
  • Post video replies to relevant videos in your industry each week.
  • Plan and create one new video each week to showcase an area of your business.

Small Business Social Media Marketing Examples

Mommy Zen Video Blog
Twitter.com/mommy_zen
Expert Kitchen Designs Blog
Georjeans Dog Grooming
Herbst Marketing Blog
Girls Stand Strong Blog
Eileen Lonergan WordPress Blog
Expand2Web Online Marketing Blog
Sullivan Roof Cleaning YouTube Channel

You Might Also Like …

Social Media Cover Photo Guide

How to Get More Facebook Fans for Your Business: Case Example

Facebook Fans Expand Your Facebook Reach.It has been said that every person who becomes a fan of a local business Facebook page is connected to an average of 130 additional Facebook friends. Therefore, growing your business’ Facebook fan base can greatly expand your visibility and raise awareness of your products and services to a larger circle of potential prospects.

For example, the 635 fans of Warrenton Favorites have a combined total of 167,045 Facebook friends. Thus, any information posted on the Warrenton Favorites Facebook page could, potentially, be seen and noticed by 167,045 friends of our Facebook fans.

Plumbing Company Facebook Marketing Case Example

Recognizing the marketing value of each Facebook fan, Appleton Campbell, Inc. initiated a campaign in June, 2012 designed to virally grow their Facebook fan base. Prior to launching the campaign, the company marketing department had noticed that they generated the most engagement (comments and likes) on their Facebook page when they posted information about community activities they sponsored and supported — especially activities related to local sports leagues, school clubs and nonprofit organizations.

A company employee needed to raise $3,000 to finance his daughter’s travel and lodging expenses for a Fastpitch Softball World Series Tournament, which presented a perfect opportunity to help a talented local athlete attain her dream while promoting the company at the same time.

Appleton Campbell launched a Facebook campaign offering to donate $1.00 to their employee’s daughter’s fundraising effort for every new person who liked the Appleton Campbell Facebook page. As part of the campaign, the company’s marketing department also provided a WordPress Website with PayPal donate button to their employee, so that individuals could contribute additional money to the fundraising campaign as well.

Less than two weeks into the campaign, the company had increased the number of Facebook fans nearly 50%, from 140 fans when they started the campaign on June 15 to 208 fans as of June 26, 2012.
fundraising website

How Can You Apply This Viral Marketing Strategy To Your Business?

Look for opportunities within your community where you can sponsor and showcase worthy organizations and causes. Offer to partner up with these organizations or causes for a win-win Facebook promotion where new fans of your Facebook page know they are simultaneously helping to raise money or otherwise support a good cause.


Herbst Marketing helps small businesses in Northern Virginia and elsewhere grow their business by expanding their web presence. We design and develop affordable, customized WordPress websites, provide web copywriting services, and social media marketing consulting services. For more information, call (540) 937-7234 or email us here.

Google+ Local FAQs: Local SEO Tips for Northern Virginia Businesses

Google Places and Google+ Local map marker symbol

Google+ Local SEO News

Google’s release of Google+ Local on Wednesday, May 30, has raised many questions about what the change means for Northern Virginia business owners, and what – if anything – they need to be doing now to respond to Google’s local search update.

Here are answers to a few frequently-asked Google+ questions:

What Does the New Google+ Release Mean for My Business?

Google+ Local will allow you to manage your Google local business listing in a more meaningful way, according to Google.

Does This Mean More Work For Me?

Herbst Marketing clients can rest assured that we will be taking care of your Google Places pages and Google+ listings. If you are managing your Google web presence yourself, then you will need to manage your Google+ Local page through your Google Places account and login. If you have not done so already, you should create a Google+ Business page as soon as possible, because Google says it will be releasing a way to connect the Google+ Local listing with your Google Places listing soon.

What Will Happen to Reviews on my Google Places Page?

Any existing reviews on your Google Places page will be migrated over to your Google+ Loacl page. The reviews will no longer be identified by reviewer name, but will simply be attributed to “A Google User” until the owners of the reviews verify their old reviews. Google says it will be asking Google account holders (those with gmail accounts who have submitted reviews) to verify their old reviews.

Will I Lose the Photos That Were On My Google Places Page?

Any photos you had on your Google Places page will also be published on your Google+ Local page.

Does This Change How Potential Customers Find Me in Google?

Your potential customers will be able to search for your business as usual, and their experience will remain consistent whether they are searching in Google or on Google+, Google Maps, or through mobile apps.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Google+ Local?

  1. Google+ is Google’s response to Facebook, and Google’s initiative to add a more social dimension to Google business listings and search results.
  2. Your Google+ Local page will feature photos, a Review Button, and allow you to add people to various “circles” according to your relationship with them (Friends, Family, Acquaintances, Clients, etc.)
  3. Business owners who believe in promoting their business through social media are advised to let their social contacts know they are now on Google+ and invite family, friends, clients, and acquaintances to follow you on your Google+ Page.
  4. Google+ Local increases the “weight” of social recommendations in local search results. When potential customers search for local businesses while they are logged into a gmail account or other Google account, the search results they see will show local businesses that have been recommended by that potential customer’s friends and other members of their social network.
  5. Since Google local search results will be more heavily influenced by reviews and social recommendations, it is recommended that business owners develop and implement a system designed to encourage customers to review them on Google+.
  6. Google+ pages have a new “Local” tab to make it easier for potential customers to find businesses like yours from their Google+ accounts.

Want to Know More?

This article from Search Engine Land provides more information of interest to local business owners.

Need Help?

You can find out where your business is currently listed online (and get valuable information on where you should be listed online) by visiting GetListed.org and typing in your business name and zip code.

For affordable assistance in increasing your company’s web presence and improving your local search results, call Herbst Marketing today: (540) 937-7234.

Local SEO and Google+ Local: What Small Business Owners Need to Do Now

Google Places and Google+ Local map marker symbol

Google+ Local SEO News

Local search and Local SEO experts are buzzing about Google’s May 30 action in the local search arena and what it means for small business owners.

If you don’t know what happened (and most small business owners probably don’t know, and don’t understand the implications for their business) — Google replaced 80 million Google Places pages with Google+ Local pages in one fell swoop on Wednesday, May 30.

I realized something significant had happened when I started to send a client the link to my Google Places page to make it easy for them to write and submit a review about my Facebook and social media marketing consultation service.

To my dismay, I discovered that the red Write a Review button on my Google Places page had disappeared — which meant there was no longer any way that they could submit a review about my business through my Google Places page.

Fortunately, I had already set up a Google+ account and was able, with a few minutes research, to locate the link for my new Google+ Local page where the client could review my services now.

Why Google Reviews Matter to Local Businesses

Herbst Marketing Northern VA website design on Google+ Local

Herbst Marketing Google+ Local page

Local business reviews can make a big impact in local search results. Businesses with lots of positive online reviews from happy customers have more social credibility, and tend to rank higher in local search results, than businesses with no online reviews.

What Local Business Owners Need to Do Now

Google Local Search expert David Mihm recommends that local businesses take the following steps immediately in response to Google’s latest changes:

  1. Claim both your Google Places and your Google+ pages. (Don’t know how to do this? Ask me for help!)
  2. Get your Google+ page linked from your website, as well as your business name, address and phone number
  3. Get a small amount of Google+ activity going immediately.
  4. Message all existing customers witn an @gmail.com address that your business is now on Google+ and you would appreciate it if they would follow you on Google+ as well.

Links for Further Reading

For more information, please check the following authoritative articles about the Google Places / Google+ Local merge.

Local Search Just Got More Social — Google Places Pages Moved to Google+

Rankings on Google+ Local: Some Observations

Google Places Pages Are No More — But What Has Changed?

Google Video

Google also has published a series of videos about Google+ Local. Here is one:


20 Social Media Questions: Social Media IQ Quiz for Small Business Owners

Do you have a social media marketing plan for 2012?

Are you wondering if — and how — you should be using social media marketing to grow your business?

These 20 questions will help you get started with your social media marketing plan for 2012:

1. Do you have – or do you plan to develop – a comprehensive social media plan for your businesss?

2. How much time do you plan to allocate to social media marketing each week?

3. What is your monthly budget for social media?

4. Do you have a Facebook business page?

  • If so, have you created a custom welcome page?
  • Have you created an opt-in form on your Facebook page to collect names and email addresses of Facebook fans?
  • How frequently do you (or will you) post to your Facebook page?
  • How will you engage your Facebook fans through your Facebook page? What are the best kinds of information to share — and the best ways to share that information — through Facebook?

5. Have you claimed your Google Places page? Do you understand why you need to claim your Google Places page and how to complete your Google business profile to help you reach your target market?

6. Have you set up a Google Plus account? Do you have a Google Plus business page?

7. Have you set up a Google Plus business page? Do you know how Google Plus business pages differ from Facebook business pages?

  • See questions as 4a – 4d above as they relate to Google Plus.

8. Have you set up a LinkedIn account?

  • Have you joined any LinkedIn groups for purposes of growing your business?
  • Do you understand LinkedIn etiquette and how to use LinkedIn for networking?

9. Have you set up a Twitter account?

  • Will you link and automate your Twitter posts — or will your Twitter content differ from your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and blog content?
  • Do you understand Twitter etiquette?

10. Have you created business profiles in at least 10 other local business directories? Have you set up your profiles to link back to your website?

11. Do you have a website with a built-in blog?

  • Do you blog regularly? How frequently?
  • What kind of content will you develop through your blog?
  • How will you structure your blog to cultivate relationships and convert prospects to customers?

12. Do you know what tools you can use to help you efficiently implement and manage your social media marketing campaigns?

13. Do you own a smartphone? Do you understand whether and how your target market is using smartphones and mobile phones to find and research competing businesses?

14. Do you know what a location-based check-in service is? Are you using services like Foursquare to encourage customers to check-in and raise awareness of your business within their circles of influence?

15. Do you use online services for special deals and coupons? (Groupon, Living Social, etc.)

16. Do you know what a QR code is?

  • Do you have a QR code? Do know how to use QR codes to promote your business?

17. Is your business listed on Yelp?

18. Do you have a plan and process for encouraging online reviews from your best customers?

  • Do you have a plan and process for letting prospects know how to find and read your online reviews?
  • Do you prefer to discourage online reviews because you are afraid they can damage your reputation?

19. Are you using video to promote your business?

  • How do customers and your target market find your videos?
  • Do you know how to optimize your videos to maximize your visibility online?

20. Are you interested in learning more about:

  • How to promote your business using social media?
  • How to set up your Facebook Business Page and use it effectively to grow your business?
  • How to make and post a video?
  • How to create and manage a blog?
  • How to set up and benefit from free business profiles on different social media sites?

What are your most pressing social media questions for 2012? Let me know – submit your questions and comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them in future posts.