Small business owners and sales people are usually very good at summing up the benefits of their products/services in a way that triggers the start of a more in-depth conversation. This skill, also known as "the elevator pitch," has been in practice for many years, and it can pave the road to successful business development that is, if you have a winning message.

The main purpose of an effective elevator speech is to capture your audience's attention quickly. Following are some ideas to help you craft a new elevator speech or check if your current one is as good as it can be:

1. Always begin with your name, job title and affiliation

2. Explain your business offer and how your audience could benefit from it think value or solution to a need.

3. Explain with carefully chosen words what sets your business apart from the competition what makes you unique, and why should the listener care?

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There is a belief in the business world that if you give too much information to potential customers, they will not have a reason to inquire about your products or services, which in turn might lead to a decrease in sales.

Another fear some organizations have is in regard to delegating content marketing to a third party. They feel that their content needs to be on-topic and written by an expert in the field. However, because content writing is time consuming for their staff, new marketing content is rarely produced.

In reality, a good content writer can write about nearly any topic. In my career as a marketer, I have often been amazed by the quality of content that gifted writers can produce in fairly short notice. Skilled writers are capable of doing the necessary research and writing with a fresh and engaging perspective, leaving out the jargon and technical acronyms frequently used by people highly immersed in a specific topic.

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In today's increasingly social media-driven world, user endorsement is key. Sure, a well-targeted and attractive advertising campaign can increase your brand's exposure and promote growth, but nothing inspires action in a person as well as an endorsement from their friends, family or co-workers. In fact, it's one of the primary ways people differentiate between truly valuable content and spam in an online realm that has become saturated with promotions, promises and often-desperate sales pitches. This is the principle behind viral marketing and business growth: Users share content through social networks and content aggregators, and that content becomes popular because of already-established trust between the people sharing and the people seeing what their friends have shared.

Facebook, understanding that user-driven connections have the potential to produce more successful advertising campaigns (and therefore happier advertising customers) than general targeted ads, expanded its feature set to include what they call Sponsored Stories. But how do they work? How can you best use them to promote your brand? In order to answer those questions, we need to take a look at the four types of Sponsored Stories Facebook offers: Domain, Page Like, Page Post, and Check-In stories.

Domain Stories are intended to drive traffic to your business's website. When a user is logged into Facebook, visits your website, and 'likes' it, Facebook generates a sponsored news feed (or sidebar) story announcing the 'like.' Because Domain Stories take users directly to your website, they are a great way to boost online sales and generate leads.

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The job of a tagline is to communicate what your brand represents in a clear and concise manner. Therefore, creating a memorable tagline is very important step in positioning your brand and of course, it can evolve along with your business to reflect changing market trends and industry focus.

Taglines are extremely valuable. An effective one can be a great marketing tool that helps keep your brand on peoples' minds. A few examples of memorable taglines include:

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The marketing world is changing at very fast pace, and many organizations - including marketing agencies - are struggling to catch up. I recently attended a marketing seminar where I noticed that many of my peers were talking about being challenged by their current and prospective clients about cost and performance.

It seems that being a marketer has become fashionable - perhaps even a fad - lately. People with little or no qualifications have opened their 'agencies' (often in their homes) and are promising the world amazing returns - typically via social media. But how can a customer have confidence that they are doing business with qualified professionals if a marketer has no credentials? Of course, one can learn on the job, but would you trust a doctor without credentials? How about a lawyer? Prior to becoming a marketer, I spent eight years of my life in a university classroom pursing my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and have continued to invest heavily in my professional development over the past 15 years.

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We all hate being nickel and dimed by service providers. I am one myself, and yet I still cannot see a justification for excessive charges. I often tell people about my experience with a daycare center in Massachusetts. This particular facility had a late pick-up fee charged in increments of 5 minutes, no questions asked. If we were late for any reason (stuck in Boston traffic, or if there was a car accident in front of us) even if we called and explained the situation the owner of the daycare center would promptly place a bill for the late fee in my child's cubby the following morning. It drove my husband and I nuts, as we both had extensive commutes to and from work and made every effort to be timely.

In the past, I have struggled with a few service providers over the high charges they levy for emails and phone calls. If you ask someone a question via email, does their response merit an invoice (sometimes for a full hour at their going rate)? You would think not and yet many providers do just that. It seems to me that this behavior teaches customers not to reach out to their service providers for fear of excessive charges, which in turn leads to less work for those same providers.

Published in The Marketing Edge
Wednesday, 19 October 2011 11:39

Website Design and Development 101

Part1: Do HTML and CSS websites still have a place on the web?

Business owners and managers looking to update, redesign or develop a new website are faced with some basic, yet essential, questions before starting the project. In my agency, we help many current and prospective clients understand what the best course of action is for their business goals and budget. In this article and the next three of this series, I will attempt to clarify some basic questions with the help of my Web Designer, Ian Marquis. So let's start with the very basic option first: HTML/CSS.

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