The Minneapolis Local Business Forum is the brainchild of a local entrepreneurs who want to promote business growth in the greater Twin Cities metro area. Introducing business owners to each other and to local residents, we hope to kick start our local economy. The Forum is totally free and without obligation. Unlike other recent initiatives, we want you to remember that free bit. This is our commitment to you. That and, in exchange for your participation, we promise to deliver to you value that you are not likely to get elsewhere regardless of price. This community has given us so much and we are giving back to you, our community, with this mastermind group.
The Minneapolis Local Business Forum is About Free Exposure and Prosperity
Minneapolis Local Business Forum focuses on providing ideas, strategies and tactics to grow your business. There is no free lunch; but, by banding together, we can act together today to promote and grow our businesses. Our forum is an opportunity for free exposure, valuable contacts and invaluable promotion for every business owner who decides to participate. This endeavor can only work for all of us when all of us contribute. In addition to solving your most difficult problem, others will benefit from the problems you have already solved. Participation in Minneapolis Local Business Forum can hook you up with other local business owners who could:
- Complement your own skills
- Provide contacts
- Possibly use your services
How can you help us get the word out to your local business neighbors?
Although our goal is to jumpstart business throughout the Twin Cities, we are focusing on our own backyard now: Golden Valley, New Hope and Plymouth. Your credibility in this community is extremely valuable to us. Your help in promoting the forum helps your own business growth. Please, help.
What’s In The Minneapolis Local Business Forum for YOU?
Of course, you want to know, What’s in it for you? There are no guarantees. However, it’s widely known that “two heads are better than one!” Who knows? You and your business could:
- Make new friends and strategic partnerships.
- Identify possible vendors and clients.
- Solve problems with like minded professionals.
- Be recognized for your expertise.
- Showcase your business to eager buyers.
Some Minneapolis Local Business Forum Tangible Benefits
Yes, we want to grow our businesses, too. We are local entrepreneurs, just like you and everybody we are inviting to this group. In exchange for meeting you and sharing ideas, following are some of what we offer to you:
- Free exposure for your business.
- Free membership in the Minneapolis Local Business Forum.
- Free listing on the Minneapolis Local Business Forum website.
- Free video commercial about your business on your listing.
- Free Minneapolis Local Business Forum Facebook promotion.
- Free Minneapolis Local Business Forum Twitter promotion.
- Free access to our Minneapolis Local Business Forum LinkedIn group.
The Minneapolis Local Business Forum is Opportunity Knocking On YOUR Door
But, you MUST participate. The Mayors of Golden Valley and New Hope have expressed their support for our forum and are actively recruiting local businesses. All business owners in our community are cordially invited to attend our inaugural meeting which will be:
6 to 7 PM (5-6 PM videos)
Master Communications Group
3410 Winnetka Avenue
Back Entrance (East)
New Hope, MN 55427
The Minneapolis Local Business Forum Website Is All About YOU
At that meeting we are unveiling our website. Listings are free of charge for local business owners and include a complementary video clip about each business and business owner shot by local videographer Master Communications Group. Come early (5:00pm) to our first meeting and we will walk you through their free video at that time.
Please, Join Us At The Minneapolis Local Business Forum Inaugural Meeting
We would love to see you, too, on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 5:00-7PM. We very much look forward to meeting you so we can exchange ideas, share experiences and generally support one another in a proactive and relaxed fashion. Thank you, for your esteemed participation.
Answer Minneapolis Local Business Questions: 612-235-6060
I talk with a lot of business owners and executives. One of the biggest problems I’ve been hearing is the dearth of targeted sales leads. There are, of course, plenty of books written on just this subject. Some will say, buying leads is the way to go. Others will say that success comes only through referrals. Lately we’re hearing about the Internet being a bountiful source of qualified leads.
Targeted Sales Leads Are On The Internet
The Internet is a big place. How do you go about finding sales leads on the Internet; or, rather, how do targeted leads go about finding you and your company? We’ve touched on this before: the Internet, in a sense, is an enormous library and search engines are its card catalogs. As we learn to search and find what we want on the Internet — when we want it — we respond less and less to offline media. How, then, can you be found by these eager buyers on the Internet?
Do You Need Targeted Sales Leads?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a tactic the goal of which is to get more business and more customers. Filling your sale funnel with sales leads is a marketing strategy accomplished online by three tasks:
- Be found by search engines
- Be found on 1st search engine results page
- Maximize the number of website visitors
What Are The Requirements For Targeted Sales Leads?
Of course, nobody can know your business better than you. In order to attract targeted sales leads, we must understand the products and services you sell. Furthermore, your unique selling proposition allows prospects to see the difference between you and your competition. Who is your very best customer? Why do best customers stay with your company? We must identify your buyer personas before you can use the keywords that your best buyers actually use to search for you.
SEO Benefits Targeted Sales Leads
For many, that is a lot of work, especially all of this thinking about your business from your customer’s point of view. Why go to all this bother? Google recently remarked that every day four billion searches are conducted, one billion of which seek something local to buy. Done right, SEO benefits you in several ways:
- Search engines respect your website and place it on the first search results page for specific keywords.
- People searching for specific keywords will find your website on the first search results page.
- Being found by more searchers, more visitors will visit your website.
- More people visiting your website could translate into new business.
- Organizing your website to better be found makes your website more interesting to visitors.
- Organization of web pages and content to better be found makes your website more interesting to visitors.
SEO Deliverables Result In Targeted Sales Leads
Whether you do your SEO yourself or pay somebody to do it for you, you’re hoping for more customers, aren’t you? SEO sits on the marketing side of business and can deliver the following:
- A defined service area by which to be found in local business results;
- A manageable list of keywords and phrases for which great prospects are actually searching;
- Distribution of keywords by web page, focus and intent;
- Organization of web pages by intent, theme and relevance;
- Every web page detailed by keywords, title, headers, descriptions and service area; and
- Solid foundation and flexible design for ongoing and growing first page search engine exposure.
Some SEO Expectations Are Targeted Sales Leads
Although black hat wizardry may fool search engines quickly, the history of search engine algorithm changes indicates that these tactics are short lived tactics and not strategic. Following sound relationship marketing principles, your online properties will attract great customers and steadily build great new business over time. The time factor must not be underestimated and optimal progress may not be appreciated before three to six months. Some keywords are more competitive than others and will take longer to show first page search engine results. Competitors want first page search engine results, too, and some competition will slow your website progress.
Targeted Sales Leads Are The Goal Of SEO
Being found is not enough; nor is being found by a lot of people. Being found by enough of the right people is the only true success in marketing, regardless of medium. Success is more a function of converting great leads into great customers than it is in simply attracting large numbers of random visitors to your website. Targeted sales leads, then, are the ultimate goal of search engine optimization.
Answer Targeted Sales Leads Questions: 612-235-6060
Local small business marketing sees every web page as another unique opportunity to be found. Traditionally, local small business advertising designed the home page like the dust jacket of a book and its table of contents. Usually any backlinks point directly to the home page, regardless what specific information the visitor was seeking. The only way to find and get to inner web pages is via the home page and elaborate menu navigations. Google and other search engines catalog web pages and their content. Every one of your web pages is an opportunity to be found for some specific content, keywords and phrases which introduce visitors to the rest of your website. Each blog post becomes another web page, another leaf on the tree that is your website. Blog software like WordPress facilitate categorization and tagging blog posts and phrases in your content which, in turn, provide additional opportunities for your content to be found and cataloged by search engines.
Local Small Business Marketing Wants Great Customers
Take a long close look at your very best customers. You know, those two or three customers who, if cloned ten times, would totally transform your business forever! If you had ten more of them you could simply fire the bottom ten customers, sleep better at night and you’d be ever so much more profitable at accounting time. Identify those factors in each of them that make them great customers. Imagine, if you will, one of your ideal buyers browsing the Internet looking for a solution to their problem which, unbeknownst to them is sitting right here in your hand. Their circumstances are far more than simply the keywords they type before clicking [Search]. Indeed, their circumstances include environment, education, age, family, ethnicity, geography, attitude, health and a host of other factors.
Buyer Personae Love Local Small Business Marketing
Why don’t you ask them why they bought from you? Why are they so loyal to you? Why do they keep coming back to you? What is your relationship all about? When you know your great customers so well that you immediately see them, or don’t see them, in a stranger you just met, then you have identified one of your buyer persona. Marketing ideas begin with the reality of your business.
Aim High With Local Small Business Marketing
If marketing is truly the relationship between your business and your marketplace, and every relationship begins with a single conversation, why would you ever intentionally go out of your way to start a conversation with somebody who does not fit your buyer persona? On the other hand, when you have an absolutely clear picture of your best customer in mind, if you meet a prospect identical to that best customer, what will you not do to convert them into another great customer? This isn’t so much a matter of scheming and plotting as it is an organizational principle. There are only so many hours in a day and only so many days in your life. Focus exclusively on those prospects most likely to become great customers. If you’re going to market anyway, aim high, aim at those that will benefit most from what you offer, from what you do best. So, when it comes to web pages, put yourself in your best prospect’s mind.
Local Small Business Marketing Solves Problems
What is it they most want to see? Paint them a picture of you and your company fully solving their problem. Tell them stories of how you have solved these problems for other people and how your customers benefit from your solutions. Everybody is an expert at something. When you go eyeball-to-eyeball with them across the sales table, you will tell them your most persuasive story. Put those stories in writing and publish them on your blog or web pages. Convert that to a video and syndicate it to Youtube and podcast it and publish it every way imaginable online. Seed the entire Internet with breadcrumbs, with stories specific to each persona’s needs … many will follow you and heed your call-to-action and convert from lead to prospect to great customer.
Wasted Local Small Business Marketing Real Estate
Small business marketing can’t waste web real estate. It’s not that you can’t create more. You cannot afford to confuse or mislead visitors. It wastes your time and theirs. Wasted web space is wasted effort that can produce nothing of value. If a web page does not have a specific purpose, if it is not intended for a specific buyer persona, it is more likely to turn away business.
Answer Local Small Business Marketing Questions: 612-235-6060
Marketing your business online effectively depends, of course, on getting great new customers from the Internet. On the one hand, you must be found on the first page of search results or your chances of being found at all drop precipitously. When was the last time you searched online and actually clicked on a link on page two, ten or one hundred? Yes, I, too, sometimes go beyond page one; but, how often do you do it?
Inbound Marketing Your Business Online Depends On Being Found
On the other hand, you must be found by a large enough population of searchers. Clearly, not even you can sell everybody who crosses your path today, can you? The truth is, some are ready to buy from you today, some later and some, quite frankly, will never buy from you. That they many not buy from anybody any time is no consolation, is it?
Marketing Your Business Online Puts You In Front Of Great Prospects
The trick is putting yourself directly in front of the very best of the best prospects. Quite some trick, indeed! Anticipate eager buyers shopping specifically for what you offer and you can appear before them as if they sought you out. Inbound marketing is all about empowering consumers. Be found by enough of the right people and inbound marketing your business online is profitable.
Keyword Analysis Drives Marketing Your Business Online
Taking a tip from the search engine optimizers (SEO’s) you need to study the key words and phrases those eager shoppers type into the search box before clicking search. For simplicity, let’s call the words or phrase of words people type into the search box a keyword. Keyword analysis then is the study of keywords and how you will be found by people using them.
Answer Four Marketing Your Business Online Questions
There are four questions every business must answer if they are to get great new business from the Internet:
Marketing Your Business Online Seeks Buyers
- What are people actually searching for?
Although many start by listing those keywords by which they want people to find them, nobody can control the keywords searched by others. If you want to be found by a specific keyword, but nobody is searching by that keyword, you will not be found. Hence, anticipate eager buyers shopping for what you offer.
Marketing Your Business Online Demands Buyers
- What is the commercial intent of each search?
The history of the Internet is a long story about sharing information between government agencies and educational institutions. Little by little all of this world’s information is finding a home online. Any type of research you can imagine can be conducted over the Internet, including names, addresses and phone numbers; texts of the greatest world literature; and known species of fish near New Zealand. I can’t speak for your business; but, my business needs paying customers. Hence, anticipate eager buyers shopping for what you offer.
Begin Marketing Your Business Online Simply
- How difficult is it for me to be found on the first page of search results?
Even if eager buyers are searching for your keyword and they have every intention of purchasing, there remains the daunting task of being found in search results. Some companies have been at this for many years. Some have earned great authority, credibility and trust from search engines and consumers. Difficulty to reach the first page is a function of passing your competitors on the way from last page to first. Many well searched keywords may be easier for your business than others.
Marketing Your Business Online Demands Your Choice
- For which keywords do I want to be found?
Knowing the keywords eager buyers search to find you, knowing which keywords are searched for purchasing purposes and knowing the less difficult keywords on which you can build success demands another decision from you. From this sea of opportune keywords you must sort, prioritize and select a subset on which to build your foundation. Know this, a list of keywords by itself holds little promise for you. Great prospects already know the keywords they are using — it’s the solution to their problem that they seek.
Inbound Marketing Your Business Online Begins With Keywords
Inbound marketing your business online effectively depends on delivering great content to great customers on the Internet. The truth is, some are ready to buy from you because they come to believe that you have the solution to their problem. That they use specific keywords when searching for that solution means that content featuring those keywords will attract their attention. Once you have their attention, then you have the right to call them to action and invite them to interact with you. Nonetheless, inbound marketing your business online begins with thorough keyword analysis.
Answer Marketing Your Business Online Questions: 612-235-6060
New sales leads, I am told, are the bane of small business today. Or, shall I say, there is a dearth of new sales leads everywhere struggling business looks. To what do we owe this sparsity? I talk with a lot of business owners. Lately, the two biggest problems I hear are too few targeted sales leads and poor return on advertising investments. Do either of these ring true with you?
How Rare Are New Sales Leads?
Was it always this way? Most business owners tell me, “No, in better times customers were plentiful.” Is this only a matter of good times versus bad times? They tell me that not too many years ago, new customers found them in the yellow pages and called for an appointment. New customers read a newspaper ad and came through their door ready to buy. New customers used to answer the telemarketer’s call eager to give up their credit card number. Really?
Did The Internet Destroy New Sales Leads?
Some bemoan the Internet. “The Internet is a scam!” they tell me. “There are so many hooligans out there selling Google salvation.” OK, now we’re getting somewhere. It’s true, Google is not in business to give you customers. Google is in business to make money and lots of money they are making. Their best customers, however, are not you and me, business owners, and not you and me, website owners. Google’s best customers are advertisers who pay Google to place their ads where eager shoppers will find them, click on them and see what they have to offer.
Does Google Eat New Sales Leads?
Why, then, is Google so large, so dominant and everywhere we look nowadays? They are in our smartphones. They are renting out commercial movies and competing with broadcast media. They are developing a driverless car. But, clearly, they started on the Internet and the Internet is the foundation on which they built this behemoth. Why? The Internet is where consumers have migrated. Yes, those consumers not flipping through yellow pages, those consumers not calling the classified ads, those consumers not answering their phones — those consumers are on the Internet. Eager shoppers are scouring the Internet to buy today’s whim. And they’re telling their friends and family what they found.
New Sales Leads Respond To Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing takes advantage of the Internet and the sea of shoppers there. Anticipate eager shoppers searching for what you offer. Identify the best of these shoppers, identify that most interesting of your offering and place your virtual kiosk directly in their path. Instead of intruding into their lives shrieking “Buy me!” and “Give me money!” demonstrate to them what you have to help them. Offer your visitors some token of your expertise with no strings attached. Show them that, indeed, sometimes lunch is free. New sales leads like that.
Can New Sales Leads Can Find You?
Inbound marketing success is predicated on three things:
- Be found! Until you are found there is no chance new sales leads will come to you.
- Be found by enough people. It’s truly unlikely that you will sell all of your prospects today. Some will buy, some will not and others may buy another day.
- Be found by enough of the right people. At any given instant, some percent of the world is looking to purchase what you have to offer. Regardless the number, these are your prospects — nobody else. How likely are you to persuade a diaper shopper or diner looking for great Chinese food to open their wallets to you?
New Sales Leads Are Looking For You
Are new sales leads the bane of small business today? To what do we owe this sparsity? Many business owners say, “In better times customers were plentiful.” The problem is you are looking in the wrong places. Worse, your best prospects are looking for you and you’re nowhere they are looking. Inbound marketing attracts new sales leads and you can give them what they want.
Answer New Sales Leads Questions: 612-235-6060
OK, sure, if you’re big business like Wal Mart or Amazon the Internet is great. But, what do search engines have to do with online marketing for small business? In short, search engines are a tremendous opportunity to be found. How’s it working out for you in the Sunday newspaper classifieds? How many new customers found you in the yellow pages last month?
Online Marketing For Small Business Works Locally
Truth be told, right this minute, right here in the Twin Cities, eager buyers are searching for what you offer. Anticipate these eager buyers and you have the opportunity to stand up directly in front of each of them and tell them your great story. Once you identify the buyer personae of your greatest customers, what’s to stop you from stalking your perfect prospects? Isn’t creating great customers the best action you can take in growing your business? Is it possible to have too many great customers?
Search Engines Help Online Marketing For Small Business
Let’s look closely at typical search engine results to see what’s in it for you. For the sake of illustration, we’ll use Google. Sure, lately we’re seeing a lot of commercials about Bing, and certainly Facebook, too, has an impressive number of searches. Google recently reported four billion searches every day, one billion of which are seeking to buy locally. With two-thirds of all search engine searches, Google epitomizes the online search experience.
Depending on your specific search phrase, the Google search results page may contain three different types of results:
Paid Search And Online Marketing For Small Business
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising may appear above all other results and/or down the right side. First and foremost, know that these are paid advertisements. Every time somebody clicks on one of these ads, whoever placed the ad pays Google. From the time you sign up to the time you start seeing results can be as quick as a few hours. Paid advertising can quickly pull prospects, test landing pages and gauge the market.
Local Business Results And Online Marketing For Small Business
Have you noticed the maps? Unless you’re totally oblivious to the Internet and online search, these last two years of online marketing for small business are remarkable because of the local business results.
Google and the other search engines realize that there is an enormous demand for local and neighborhood search results. Why? Because eager buyers are shopping and ready to buy; but, they’re not prepared to put a new house in a shopping cart and purchase it from Amazon. For many items consumers still insist on buying from a person. They still put the relationship before the deal. And that is great news for local business.
Getting on the map is not a function of paid advertising. Nor is it simply a matter of having a great website. Local business results feature businesses that are remarkable in their community. First, they claimed their listing in the local directories, such as Google Places, Yahoo! Local, Yelp, etc. Second, these businesses made the effort to standardize their listings everywhere, including using the same local telephone number and spelling consistently. Third, customers find them remarkable enough to leave online reviews, endorsements and testimonials for local business. The search engines are gathering many public reviews into the local business results.
Organic Results And Online Marketing For Small Business
Last but not least are the well known organic results. They are called organic because they are the “natural” ordering of all web pages cataloged across the Internet. Although, different search engines rank and order web pages differently, the notions of credibility and trust and back link references from other websites are shared. Clearly, if your business is found on the first page of Google results, eager buyers searching for what you offer may click on your link. Also, the more eager buyers find your link the more likely your business is to sell. Although, many say organic results are “free,” do not forget that consumer searches vary and the search engines change their rules to appeal to searchers.
SEO And Online Marketing For Small Business
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of appealing to search engine algorithms in order to place high in their rankings. Effective online marketing for small business must consider SEO because each business must be found by buyers if they are to sell. Neither SEO nor marketing, however, is simply a matter of adding some ingredient to your website. If marketing is the relationship between a business and its marketplace, and every relationship begins with a single conversation, how many conversations with eager buyers do you want online?
Online Marketing For Small Business Creates Great Customers!
Is it possible to have too many great customers? Search engines are a tremendous opportunity to be found. Right this minute, right here in the Twin Cities, eager buyers are searching for what you offer. Is creating great customers your goal in online marketing for small business?
Online Marketing For Small Business Answers: 612-235-6060
I talk with a lot of business owners every week. One of the biggest problems I’m hearing over and over is too few targeted sales leads. We’re all facing extreme challenges in these trying times. Bottom line, there’s little going down that wouldn’t pale in light of simply finding more business. So long as we’re seeking more customers, why not aim for targeted sales leads?
Targeted Sales Leads Seek Benefits
First, we need to focus clearly on the best possible target. We’ve all had customers who gave us so much grief, never meeting another might itself be success. Why take on more troublesome customers? Remember, instead, the best customer you have ever had. You know, she came to you with the perfect problem, you proposed the perfect solution and she asked to become your perfect customer. Describe in minute detail the persona of your best customer. Profiling your buyer persona includes gathering many facets of her personality, background, daily activities and current solutions for her problems. Seeking a solution to her problem, knowing the solution, you have what benefits her. What’s in it for her? You.
Buyer Personae Represent Targeted Sales Leads
Start by seeing every interpersonal interaction with a prospect, whether on-line or in-person, as an opportunity to listen and identify patterns. Really knowing how buyers think, what matters to them and where they are when they’re ready to buy, you no longer guess what to say, where and how to communicate with them. Have you ever noticed how much simpler and effective it is to listen before you talk to prospects? They will tell you just how bad their problem is. They will describe in great detail just how valuable the solution to that problem is. Indeed, they will tell you how long they’ll endure the problem and when and under what conditions they will buy the solution. Profiling buyer personae gives you a prime opportunity to truly empathize with target sales leads.
See Through Targeted Sales Leads Eyes
Stop promoting a product and see through buyers’ eyes, see clearly the circumstances driving their decision process. A buyer persona is a person, a short biography of whom describes your best targeted sales leads, not just their job description. Break all of your buyers into distinct groups. Catalog everything you know about each of your best customers. Buyer personae make it easier to create content targeted to important demographics.
Targeted Sales Leads Are Real People
High quality, relevant online content is the best and most effective way to communicate with and persuade targeted sales leads. Remembering that great customers are also real people, with real people problems, ought to simplify your side of the conversation. Simpler, though, only inasmuch as your audience is truly in need of what you offer. An archetype of your ideal buyer is a buyer persona, an example buyer representing a real audience, an audience eager to listen to you the more they need what you offer.
Be Found By Targeted Sales Leads
I talk with several business owners every day and I’m hearing over and over that too few targeted sales leads is a major concern. Bottom line, there’s little going down that wouldn’t pale in light of simply finding more business. If we’re truly seeking more customers, why not aim for targeted sales lead? By describing your buyer personae in great detail, you paint a clear picture of exactly who really needs what you offer. Anticipate eager buyers shopping for exactly what you offer and you can place yourself in front of them everywhere they look. Sufficient targeted sales leads are as simple as knowing who they are and be found where they are looking.