During National Small Business Week, I remind you – small-business owners – of Verizon’s many free resources, which can give you an edge over your competition.
Tomorrow, Wednesday (May 23) at 2 p.m. ET, the Verizon Small Business Center (http://business.verizon.net/) will present another free webinar, offering tips to protect your business in the event of a disaster. The webinar will feature two executives from Firestorm, a leader in business continuity planning vulnerability analysis, risk mitigation and crisis management: Jim Satterfield, co-founder, and Oz Hill, principal. No worries if you can’t catch the live webinar, all of our webinars are available for on-demand replay(to see the full list go to http://bit.ly/vinvUO).
In addition, the Verizon Small Business team has sponsored Melinda Emerson’s weekly live Twitter chat (@SmallBizLady) held tomorrow evening at 8 p.m. ET All participants will receive a free book from Verizon, so join the chat -- #smallbizchat. Emerson will chat with Jennifer Abernethy (@SalesLounge), who will share tips for using Pinterest to promote small businesses.
For those new to the Verizon Small Biz Blog (www.verizon.com/smallbusinessblog) do subscribe to get tips and insights from leading experts. And if you haven’t created a profile yet, please do at WeCommerce (http://on.fb.me/JNDUvH), a free community for small business owners to network, find partners, new opportunities, and more.
If you are on Twitter please follow @VZSmallBiz (or www.twitter.com/VZSmallBiz) for news and insights (and if you are not on Twitter, you should consider getting your business here to engage with your existing and potential customers. We have a webinar on how to search in Twitter for new business!) Same with Facebook, please “fan” Verizon Small Biz (www.facebook.com/VerizonSmallBiz) then upload a photo of your company to get the chance for us to promote your business on Verizon’s various platforms.
It’s your week, how will you celebrate your business? What change will you make to give your business an edge? What other topics would you be interested in a future webinar? How can we help your business?
This post is from members of Verizon’s small business team.
Whether it’s your friends sharing pictures on Facebook or watching that new viral hit on YouTube, it seems like you can’t go a day without hearing about some sort of social media. As a small business owner, you probably wonder how you can utilize these sites to improve your business. Fortunately, Twitter has become an extremely beneficial tool for small business owners. Businesses like The Coffee Groundz in Houston saw their sales double after three months of strong user engagement on Twitter. Even with all the potential benefits, as of last November only 10% of small businesses have made the micro-blogging platform a part of their social media marketing strategy. So if you follow these tips, you’ll be way ahead of the curve.
Find New Customers
As this article from Search Engine Land recommends, using Twitter’s search bar can help you locate potential customers.
The key is in knowing what to search for. Let’s say you own a Thai restaurant in Seattle and you’re looking for some hungry people. You could type in words like “hungry,” “starving” or “lunch” but the results are likely to be completely unrelated. You’re much more likely to get better search results if you type in phrases like “anyone know.”
People use this phrase all the time to get their fellow Twitter users’ opinions. Now if you make that search something more like “‘anyone know’ Thai Seattle,” you’re much more likely to pull up a tweet that says “Anyone know any good Thai restaurants in Seattle?” That’s your opportunity for engagement and let them know you exist with a friendly tweet. Then you can start a conversation and let them know where you are and maybe offer a discount to entice them to stop by.
If you want to go even more in depth, you can use Twitter’s Advanced Search. This search tool enables you to get extremely specific, allowing you to pick what phrasing to include and/or eliminate the location of the tweets, and even their sentiment (i.e. negative or positive).
Improve Customer Relations
Twitter is a fantastic forum for managing relationships with your customers. These days, customers expect a response almost immediately, but if you’re a small business owner, you probably can’t afford to have people manage the phone lines 24/7. You might not even need to. It might just be an infrequent request or complaint after hours. But you don’t want to wait to address it until you’re back at the office. That just gives them more time to complain about you to their friends.
Twitter is always on (apart from instances where the fail whale pops up, but those are getting more and more rare) and you can access it anywhere you have an Internet connection. Respond in a quick and friendly manner and you might turn complaints into praise.
Tell People Where You Are and Who You Are
Having a mobile business has its own set of challenges and for food trucks everywhere, Twitter is just as essential as the tasty treats they serve up. In fact, last summer, Mashable posted an article about 16 Different Food Trucks using Twitter. Not only are they able to let all of their followers know where they are at any given time, they can also tell them about specials and new items on the menu. The freedom of Twitter also allows you to add some personality, which makes following your business – you – a much more enjoyable experience too!
So, there you have it. Not as scary or difficult as you may have thought. Remember, this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are plenty of other ways to use Twitter to grow your small business. The key is to be friendly, persistent and creative. The biggest pitfall novice social media users fall into is when it doesn’t work for them immediately, they throw up their hands and quit. Don’t give up! Use these methods and stick with it and Twitter can be an excellent complement to your existing marketing strategy.
For more tips go to our free on-demand library of webinars presented by the Verizon Small Business Center. John Jantsch, small business owner, marketing consultant and expert offered some great tips to search for potential customers on Twitter, click here (http://bit.ly/KbPdfX) to see this webinar.
Now go to Twitter and follow us http://www.twitter.com/VZSmallBiz) then tell us if this article was helpful.
Guest post by Craig Staley, Verizon's small business digital communications specialist.
At Verizon, we’re always striving to bring additional value to our small business customers whenever and wherever we can. That's why we're committed to helping small businesses to save money through the Verizon Discount Program. With partners such as FedEx, Office Depot, SuperMedia.com and more, we're helping you to save money on the things your business needs to function every day. The benefits of being a Verizon small business customer is that you can sign-up for any of the offers by visiting www.business.verizon.net; look for the Verizon Discount Program link (under ‘Quick Links’).
If you haven't bookmarked the Verizon Small Business Center website, please do so, as we're adding new small business-related content and offers all the time. In fact, why not just make it your homepage!
Just as we're adding new partners and new discounts to the Verizon Discount Program, we're also creating new offers from Verizon from time-to-time for our small business customers that can save time and money for their telecommunications needs.
Most recently, we launched a wireless discount for our small business customers. If your company is an eligible business and activates 5 new lines of Verizon Wireless service, you may qualify for an 8% discount off of your monthly access fees.
These discounts are being made available to business customers so that "as your business grows"--so can your discounts! Plus, you'll be able to receive a 25% discount for select accessories and business pricing on wireless equipment. Even better, your employees may qualify for these same discounts.
To see if you qualify for this discount, click here (or copy and paste this URL to your browser http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/businessSolutions/contactUs.jsp), or contact a sales representative at 1-800-899-4249.
We're proud to make this exceptional offer to qualified small business owners, and their employees, because we know how important it is for you to stay connected to your business and your employees, no matter when or where your work happens. Plus, today's smartphones can keep you connected to your customers, your business and personal email accounts, your calendar, and so much more! And remember that with wireless service from Verizon, you're conducting your business on America's largest and most reliable wireless network. So, call 1-800-899-4249 today to see if your business qualifies.
Have you taken advantage of any of the discounts through the Verizon Discount Program?
Guest post from Marcia O’Toole, manager of the Verizon Small Business Center.
In a recent analysis conducted by Compass Intelligence in 3Q 2011 Verizon once again ranked highest among leading small business portals. This is the fourth consecutive quarter where the Verizon Small Business Center was judged to offer the best online experience for small business owners.
For more information on this report click here (or go tohttp://bit.ly/sYNmWM). Strengths of the Verizon Small Business Center cited were its “elegant, consistent design; engaging content; self-learn training; and business-specific news.”
The report continued with, “a user is spoilt with choice.” Additionally, the report praised Verizon for its special offers prominently displayed on the main page, clearly noting top features and prices. The comparison charts and the solution finder features were also praised. With regard to support, Verizon was one of the most capable, offering a number of options to small business customers – including self-serve knowledge base, user tutorials and click to chat options.
Forty-nine (49) top sites were evaluated on more than 20 portal capabilities and ranked on their ability to provide a relevant online experience to small business decision-makers. The analysis considered online learning, site design and messaging, as well as ecommerce capabilities, among other attributes. All portals had to tailor specifically to decision-makers in small businesses (<100 employees) to be considered for this ranking. The ratings and rankings were based on Compass Intelligence’s monthly research on small business decision-makers.
If you are a frequent visitor to the Verizon Small Business Center please click here(and click on “Site Feedback”) to complete an online survey and give us your feedback – it’s the only way, we’ll improve and make the experience even better for you. Of course, feel free leave your comments below.
Thanks in advance for your feedback!
Guest post from Marcia O’Toole, manager of the Verizon Small Business Center.
During the holiday season, many small businesses experience a reduction in work or planned vacations. This is a great time to launch or update your professional online profiles, network with new and old colleagues, and get updated on your field.
If you haven’t joined, check out Verizon Professional Networking, launched in April 2010, this community recently reached more than 10,000 subscribers. Developed as part of Verizon’s Small Business Center website, this powerful resource connects thousands of business professionals in a diverse number of industries, including finance, manufacturing, and technology, who want to:
- Network with other industry professionals;
- Create and search business profiles;
- Participate in forums, polls, and more.
Registered users are also able to personalize their home pages. The Verizon Professional Networking community is open to everyone – even non-Verizon customers. This is a great viral community to find other small business owners or professionals… perhaps you need the services of an accountant, or want to team up with a similar business to buy in bulk or want to barter services… this is a free platform for you to network.
Additionally, Verizon’s Professional Networking area and Small Business Center Forums provide answers to the challenges and questions faced in starting and running a small business. Some of the discussions included in the Verizon forums are:
- Starting a Small Business
- Small Business Management
- Small Business Advertising & Marketing
- Find Small Business Resources
Sharing expertise with others in the community is not just a way to assist someone else, but to build credibility and develop business relationships. If you seek additional insights to help you run your business better check out some of the free resources we offer including past blog posts from small business experts and the free webinars brought to you from Verizon.
So, if you haven’t joined the professional networking community, sign up – it’s free! If you are a member and haven’t updated your profile lately or networked with others, take a little time to do that. A few minutes invested can position you for a progressive year ahead!
Click to register or sign into Verizon Professional Networking.
Have a Happy New Year from the Verizon Small Business Center team!