8 Ways Lists Will Improve Your Business Presence in 2014

Cringing at the headline. Is that the purist in me, or Mrs. LaCroix’s voice (my 5th grade teacher)? “Egad”

List for LessonLove ‘em or hate ‘em, writing lists work.

They are a form of writing. From your to-do list to your grocery list – putting things down in a list format is a helpful writing tool. It’s also a … well, let’s list these out, hmm?

  • Quick to Write – For the business owner who is too busy to write new content, lists are a time-saver. Each bullet point can be one or two sentences (and should never be too much longer than that).
  • Easy to Scan – Lists are a gift to the reader scanner, because really, who reads anymore? Yes, we all want to read – prefer reading, even – but nowadays, we scan.
  • Rememorable prior to Remarkable – I know “rememorable is not an official word – but it sings in this context (consider it: poetic license). List items are easy to remember. If you want to get remarkable, use list posts as a way to expand thoughts.
  • Expandable – Each point in a list can be expanded into that the writing that Mrs. LaCroix (my 5th grade teacher) so desired. Because it first appeared in a list, better chance the expansion will be read.
  • Sharing more Likely – Lists, or at least some of the items on a list, are more likely to be shared. And in this time of content curation, people sharing content is great for the writer, the reader, and the one sharing.
  • Invitation to Engage – A reason lists are easy to share is how they invite agreeing or alternative opinions. Every one becomes connected. Each has a role.
  • Digestable – Bits are easier to digest. And who wants to get fire-hosed?
  • It’s in the Bible – From the Commandments to the Beautitudes and many places in-between. Likewise (as HubSpot also practices in this preaching).

Look, I know a lot of folks say they hate lists. But, a lot of folks say they hate Barry Manilow songs too – yet, we know the words and often sing along. See third item above.

In some ways – probably 11 or 12 – it’s a lot of what SmallBizTracks works on: “Dividing things into small, potentially repeatable tasks for the purpose of continuous growth.”

As we approach the end of 2013, I’ll be sharing a lot of lists on the SmallBizTracks twitter. There, we share lots of helpful links – and it’s what folks write this time of year – and they are often great helps.

We’ll also be taking a look here on this site at different areas so you can be building a better business presence for 2014 – and they will be delivered in list form now – and expanded form later.

The image on this post is from an iOS app I use to scratch out lists. It’s called Clear. Photo taken with another favorite app - Pressgram.

Giving Back 2014 Campaign

Giving Back: A 13-Track Pack Gift to a Non-Profit Organization

gifts wrapped and readyDo you know of a church, ministry, or other non-profit organization in need of a boost to their online presence?

As a way of giving back to the community and to those who do such important work, SmallBizTracks is offering a 13-track pack of services to one organization. A year’s worth of work as a way of support and gratitude to a non-profit organization.

Some details

  • The organization can be located anywhere in the world (language: English).
  • A consultation via phone, Skype or Google+ Hangout must precede any work.
  • The tracks will be completed between one-to-three each month until the 13 tracks have been completed.
  • Any additional tracks would need to be purchased at posted rates.

We’ve worked with churches, rescue missions and recovery programs, children’s charities, ministers, and para-church organizations, and we consider it a privilege to be in position to offer this 13-track pack of services.

For more information on tracks and services, please see our growing list of services as products in the SmallBizTracks Store in the menu at the top of this page.

Simply have someone who represents the organization fill out the form on this page. Filling out a complete form (including valid email and phone number) gains entry for consideration.

Deadline for entry is January 8, 2014. Award announcement will be first to the organization on January 13, 2014 and to the public on January 17, 2014.

Many thanks to Drew McLellan of McLellan Marketing Group for leading by example in his extraordinary work with non-profit organizations.

Photo on Flickr by Steven Depolo

Gift for the Power Traveler: MagicStick from Powerocks

Magicstick by PowerocksAs travel picks up for many of us during this time of year, there are a lot of people I know that travel all year around. As one who used to do a lot of airport hopping, I know a vacant electrical outlet is sometimes difficult to find.

Even now, with driving as my preferred way to cross state borders, there are times I wish I had a device that I could charge my phone or other gadget.

I’ve found the coolest tool – a Magicstick by Powerocks. Small enough to fit in your pocket, it will hold two full phone charges.

Having lived in Colorado last year (and through the floods), I can think of a lot of climbers and hikers that would dig this gadget.

If you’re look for a great stocking stuffer – choose this one. Free Shipping? Yes.

Just to let you know, they sent me one to test (I’m not an affiliate). I’m thankful they did. And so will any person who gets the gift of power. Get them a Magicstick!

Sharing and Content Curation – Remember Your “Who”

What is Content Curation?  Sharing Content to Benefit Others

Just remember who is your “who” – as in who is your intended audience.

If you know your audience, you should know what makes them smile, or have peace-of-mind, or keeps them coming back to you. What’s that saying about the tools guy who has drills for sale?  He wasn’t selling drills or bits – he was helping people get to their holes.

Think about this: How much of Oprah Winfrey’s content is her own?  Or Larry King? They bring people in front of their intended audience and ask great questions. They extract content for the purpose of sharing it with their audience. Even Reader’s Digest is well-practiced in curating more content than it creates. Content that others enjoy.

Remembering Your Who

It’s important to remember who your intended audience is and what they are all about. This is where developing a model for your core customer becomes so important.

We’ve been talking a lot recently about Pinterest and curation, but it happens on Twitter too. And in person at your store. Recommending and referring. Being the go-to-person. Be the resource.

What is Content Curation?  Sharing Content to Benefit Others

sharing cake and ice cream

We’ll be talking more about Content Curation on BlogTalkRadio today.


Get Whistle Stops Weekly

 Photo on Flickr by Lars Plougmann

Content Curation on BlogTalkRadio: Friday 12/13/13, Noon ET

SmallBizTracks-BlogTalkRadioWe go “on air” at BlogTalk Radio each Friday at Noon ET with a 15-minute delivery of tips, tools, and hot topics.

On this week’s show, we’ll discuss some of the reasons why a small business would even consider putting someone else’s work in front of their customers and prospects. Especially with time such a valuable commodity. We’ll share proven and profitable practices – including the tools, timing, and tiny steps to take so you can still focus on your business.

Once the show is finished and “in the can” – we’ll post the archive below so you can listen at your convenience.

Update – Here’s the archive of the show:

More Marketing Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Mike Sansone on BlogTalkRadio

We’re still toying with the idea of doing a Google Hangout after the show – but I don’t think that’s going to be sustainable. Our goal for 2014 is a monthly Hangout.

Coaching Services

If I Had a Nickel For Every Time…Listen to Your Day

Coins Stacked Photo PosterThat’s what he said when he got off the phone.

“If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me that question, I could retire.” He looked back at the phone, shook his head.

There’s some gold nuggets in that question. It’s not just the kind of question that keeps us in business, either. It’s the kind of question that could keep rewarding you – even while you sleep.

If you listen to your day, you’ll hear your “nickel question” too. Maybe in your business, you have more than one.

I asked the owner above if he’d put that question and its answer to work online. A page on his website, or a blog post. Pinterest wasn’t around then, but it is now.

These nickel questions stack up and make for some great content – with depth.  They’re insights to what folks are Google-ing. And if one is asking the question, you can bet 20 are thinking it.

Isn’t it time to start making those nickels pay off?

Here’s how the image above appears in my Pinterest boards as I practice One Pin It to Win It. #1pin2win

Planning Pinterest for Your Business

Photo on Flickr by Au Kirk


Example of “One Pin It to Win it” or #1pin2win

What’s the mantra?  One Pin It to Win It.

We’ll look at more tools in a near-future post, but here’s the tools used for this one:

Here is the image about to be pinned to our Mantras and Metaphors board:

Mobile Device ready to be searched by driver

Picjumbo is a great place to find and use photos (remember to give attribution – more on that practice). PicMonkey is very easy, allowing you to crop, resize, overlay text or images (like the logo in bottom left corner) and save.

Once I post this article (or if I’d used Pressgram, the image would already be in my “quiet” photos category), I’ll use QuickPin by right-clicking the image and posting to Pinterest.

Start-to-Finish takes maybe 15 minutes if I’m not too picky with image or fonts. Easy.

One Pin It to Win It. Maybe that could be a hashtag - #1pin2win

Planning Pinterest for Your Business

Image from Picjumbo by Viktor Hanáček

One Pin It to Win It on Pinterest

one pinHere’s our mantra. Repeat after me, please: One Pin it to Win it.

One Pin each day. That’s the small victory of Pinterest. If you’ve got a good lineup of Pinterest boards, and follow good community-building practices, One Pin it to Win it.

Examples?  Sure thing:

As best as you can, practice One Pin it to Win it. The better you can find value or interest for your customers and prospective customers, the bigger the victory for everyone.

Remember, the mortgage broker may push paper – but they sell a dream home. They could be pinning dream homes.  Or dream rooms within the dream home.

Provide value for your customer, your prospect, and those browsing around Pinterest. Doing so will attract them to your boards — and your business.

Planning Pinterest for Your Business

Photo on Flickr by 24oranges

Reputology: Review Monitoring Within HootSuite

Reputology App ExampleOne of the things small town restaurants and roadside motels ask about is how can they monitor and resolve some of the reviews they are getting on services such as Yelp or TripAdvisor.

It’s a much better question than the head-in-sand approach of a few years ago.

And as one Boston-area sandwich maker can bear witness to, is how a flurry of great reviews on Yelp can lead to national exposure.

Recently, Reputology launched its app within the Hootsuite toolset, allowing you to track in real time when reviews are posted and begin engagement right away.

Reputology allows you to track singular or multi-site locations, forward and delegate reviews by location or responsible person within your operation.

Not just for restaurants and hotels, but other markets having reviews are or soon will be available too. Auto Dealers, Spas, and Wedding Planners, can also use Reputology to track their reputation.

More? Here is an FAQ-like page from Reputology, Shane Barker’s recent review, and Douglas Karr’s thoughts on the app.

The rapid growth of social, mobile, and local – and the combination of SoLoMo – makes tracking your reputation and reviews an important piece of building your business presence.

Whether you’re in Chicago or Chico, Braintree or Broken Arrow, and all roadsides in between – it’s always good to know what they are saying about your business.

Location Based Services Ad for SmallBizTracks

Pinterest Board Planning for Your Business

stack of colored post-it notesWhat Pinterest boards would be best for your business?

Better question: What Pinterest boards would be of most interest to your customers and prospects?

Get out a few Post-it notes, this can be a quick, fun project. We just did the same as we recently started a Pinterest page for SmallBizTracks.

Just as we do with business blog categories as a Table of Contents, at first, let’s look at our Pinterest boards like a Table of Contents. What should we include?

Titles below are not suggestions, simply generalizations for descriptive purpose across different types of businesses:

Benefits Realized: If you’re a mortgage broker or an accountant, you have great possibilities for Pinterest. Not because you’ll post pictures of paperwork or numbers. What are your customers realizing because of your great work? Dream homes? Vacations? Peace of mind?  What color is that? Pin these things.

Finished Product/Project: Images with your finished work can be valuable to both you and someone visiting your Pinterest pages, especially if they’re in a shopping mode. Whether a landscape design, a before/after shot of a repair, or magazine-quality dinner – a finished product or project is a great board to have. If possible, grab photos from your site, so the “pin” links back to you.

Backstage Pass: Customers – especially your most loyal fans – are fascinated with the often unseen backroom. Like a backstage pass, give them a taste of what happens in the back or at your desk. Using Pressgram for these images so it publishes quietly to your site is a great way to do this.

Your Online StoreWith “rich pins”, your pins can be more useful to you, and even easier for the Pinterest community to find you and share your pins. Even if you haven’t created an online store yet, you can place a price label on your pins. Even if you don’t have products to sell, or services as products (yet) – you can pin your articles using rich pins.

Local Looks: Recently, Pinterest launched “place pins” so you can map a board. If you have an office or store front, take photos of the neighboring area. Celebrates your location, gives customers landmarks and ideas on doubling-up a reason to stop by. Do you work from home and meetings at coffee places? Use photos of public places you meet and give them a shout with a pin. Again, Pressgram is a great tool for these photos.

Character & Ambience: If there’s a conversation piece at or about your business, whether it’s your Irish Setter or your love affair with charcoal drawings (they’re all around your office), celebrate with images of similar and invite your fans to send them your way. Maybe you’re located in a town square – you can collect town square photos from all around the web.

That’s a good start.

If you create too many boards at the beginning, you’ll look like a ghost town to your visitors (and it becomes a bigger project than a “track”). Pick three or four, build out, and then you can add new boards.

Here are other great ideas for boards:

Wow, there are 200 additional ideas up there.  What happens when you have some boards?  We’re talking Pinterest all week, but here’s the mantra: One Pin it to Win it. In other words, one pin a day.  And we have a shortcut to share for that task too. It’s a cool tool.

Want more cool tools. They appear weekly in Whistle Stops:

Get Whistle Stops Weekly

 Photo on Flickr by Liz Marion