20 Beginner Twitter Tips for Small Business

twitter logoMaybe you’re a veteran Twitter user.  Maybe you’ve tried Twitter and think it’s stupid. (Been there!) Or, maybe you’ve heard of Twitter but have never given it a look.  If you fall into either of the latter two categories, there’s a post on the TwiTip blog that you might want to check out.

Personally I’ve found that Twitter can be a great tool for your business or a gigantic time-suck, depending on how you approach it.  If you’re goal is to garner hundreds or even thousands of followers, you’ll be spending a lot of time for minimal results.  On the other hand, if your goal is to find smart, interesting people who can point you to important/interesting information in your field, then Twitter is a great tool.

I’m not going to repeat all twenty of TwiTips tips, you can read them on the post.  But I would like to point out a couple that I find particularly good.  For example, tip number 2, “Define your goals”, is a good one.  Don’t just jump in and start telling everyone that you’re going to lunch.  If your goal is to learn more about your business, do a twitter search of important key words.  Identify the tweet leaders in your field and follow them.

Number 10 says, “Always follow Jeff Pulver’s rule of giving 95% of the time and asking only 5% of the time.” Some folks will follow you just because you follow them.  But if you really want to exchange meaningful tweets, you have to post some good stuff yourself.

Finally, you might want to put tip number 20 on a Post-It Note and stick it to your monitor.  “It takes a long time to build up a following and develop trust, but it only takes one tweet to alienate every one of your followers.

By the way, Twitterer @EFranz13 posted a link to the TwiTip post via Twitter.  She doesn’t have a picture on her Twitter home page  (Tip # 6)

Also, if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, I’m @MichaelBuckley.

End of Summer?

This has nothing to do with small business, but sometimes you just have to go on a rant.  Sorry for getting so far off topic, but things will be back to normal next week.

Maybe it’s just me, but summer seems to be getting shorter every year.  I seem to remember that when I was a lad, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, we got out of school right after Memorial Day and went back on the day after Labor Day.

Not being particularly fond of academia (I cried the day my mom first took me to kindergarten and it was all downhill from there.) I relished every day of those wonderful  months of June, July, and August.

Now I’m hearing that some schools are already back in session and many more start next week.  What’s the deal?  There are more than two weeks left in August and a full twenty-four days until Labor Day.

Who’s responsible for this outrage?  Is it the government?  Or is there some super-secret organization of parents who’ve somehow gotten to the school boards around the country and convinced them to take the little darlings back nearly a month ahead of time.

It would be different if our kids were getting smarter as a result of the longer school year, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  If anything, we’re losing ground in the global competition to raise better-educated offspring.

Like I said, maybe it’s just me.  Maybe the total number of days of school per year hasn’t changed at all.  It’s just that I love summer and somehow when I see those big yellow buses running around, that seems to mark a change in the seasons, and not a change for the better.

At least in my mind, school means fall, fall means Halloween and then Thanksgiving and the next thing you know the snow is flying.  Yikes!  I still haven’t taken the snow scraper out of the trunk of my car and it’s almost time to start using it again.

Anyway, I apologize for going off on such a tangent, but sometimes you just have to vent.

Meanwhile, enjoy the nice summer while you can and have a great weekend!

Small Business Search Using Google Local

I’ve posted here before on the subject of Google Local Search.  Rather than go into too much detail again, you can review Free Advertising for Your Small Business.

But, here’s a video from Google that might help you, especially if you haven’t listed your business yet.

Thanks to Krishna De and her guest, Ken O’Connor, for pointing out this resource on Krishna’s Business Growth Live podcast.

Rethinking Your Small Business in a Tight Economy

Happy Monday!

To begin the week I thought I’d share some insight from the world of kitchen and bath design. In the August issue of Kitchen and Bath Design News, Jerry Johnson offers some thoughts on expanding your product offering. [Note: The link is to the “columns” page on K&BD’s web site. As of this morning the site was still featuring July columns. Jerry’s column should be up there soon.]

He tells of meeting a customer who had just purchased a new kitchen from his company.  He asked her, “Can you tell me why you decided to buy your kitchen from us?”  She responded that a few months earlier she had been shopping for some small items and that Jerry’s showroom was the only one out of four that she visited that would take the time to help her.  She decided then and there that this was the company that would get her remodeling business.

There’s no doubt that customers today are taking much longer to make a positive buying decision, and they are visiting more companies to see what they offer and how they work.  The dollars are not as easy to get.

That annoying small-ticket customer, you know the one who takes up your valuable time for a few dollars profit, could be your next big sale.  Or she could refer her friend(s) to you for their large purchases.   Rather than spurn those small transactions, maybe you should cultivate them.  Get the word out that you’re the store that’s willing to go the extra mile to provide parts, accessories, and complimentary items.  Become the place to shop for anything related to your core business.

Quoting from Johnson’s article again,

If you’re just going to be the cheapest bid, well, good luck.  You will never outbid the lowest bidder.

And, why would you want to anyway?  Making a few low-profit sales now, establishing your business as the one who cares enough about the customer to give world-class service on a $10.00 sale, will make you the go-to place for high dollar, high margin business later on.  Doesn’t that make more sense than passing on the little sales and having to compete on price for the big ones?

I’m just sayin’…………

Land of the Free?

I’ve noted here before that I don’t want Mining the Store to turn into a political blog.  We’re here to help you grow your business.  But you can’t run a business in American today and not be concerned with what’s happening in Washington D.C. and in your state capital.  Case in point:  the current debate over health care.

You may have seen this on your national news, but in case you haven’t, our local congressman, Russ Carnahan (D, MO), held a “town hall meeting” here in St. Louis last night.  I put “town hall meeting” in quotes because my understanding of the term is that it’s an open forum for people to discuss the issue at hand.  I also question the term because this meeting was one of the area’s best-kept secrets until news of it leaked out on conservative blogs and talk radio.

In this particular case, the congressman answered three pre-approved softball  questions then snuck out the back door with no further discussion allowed.  The event was held at a local elementary school.  My wife and I tried to go, but hundreds of people, possibly as many as one thousand, were denied admission.  Some “town hall meeting.”

Apparently these meetings are being held all over the country with similar results.  This one has made the national news because a black man distributing “Don’t Tread on Me” flags outside the school was attacked and beaten by a group of men, some of whom are alleged to be paid Carnahan supporters.  [Watch the video.  Warning:  X-rated language]

Now I don’t care what your politics are.  You can be as far to the left or to the right as you want.  It’s none of my business.  But when American citizens show up at an event called by one of our elected employees and end up in the Emergency Room after being beaten senseless by a bunch of thugs for passing out flags, then we’d all better start worrying.

What’s next?  Blacklisting?  Boycotting honest business men and women for their political views, or worse?   We’re on a slippery slope, folks, liberals and conservatives alike.

Here’s a quote from a recent post on the White House blog:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care.  These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation.  Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

If this doesn’t scare the hell out of you, I don’t know what will.  The President of the United States is asking us to turn in anyone who posts something “fishy” i.e. contrary to his positions.

Here’s the video.  Make up your own mind.  And if you want to turn me in to Big Brother, be sure you spell my name right.  We’ll see if my taxes get audited.

Have a great weekend.

Winning on the Uphills

We haven’t heard from Seth Godin in a while but here’s something I can relate to.  He writes,

“I used to dread the uphill parts of my ride. On a recumbent bike, they’re particularly difficult. So I’d slog through, barely surviving, looking forward to the superspeedy downhill parts.”

No argument here.  Uphill is work.  Downhill is easy.  But as Seth points out, you never get bettere going downhill.  That’s just gravity at work.  In fact, I suppose that as I lose weight I’ll actually lose downhill speed.  Bummer!

The way to get better is to focus on the uphills; the hard part.  That’s where you pick up time.  That’s where you get stronger.  That’s where the real improvement comes.

The thing that separates the winners from the losers in professional races like the Tour de France is the ability to climb those Alpine mountains, not the ability to coast downhill.

Of course Seth applies the lesson bo business and you can too.  Anybody can handle a happy customer.  It’s the unhappy ones that are a real challenge.  And they’re the ones who make you better at what you do.

Check out Seth’s blog for his take on this and other topics.  Always a good read.

What the @&^#*?

I know you’ve heard a lot about the “Cash for Clunkers” program recently.  The idea, of course, is to get consumers to trade their gas guzzlers for new, energy efficient cars.  The idea is to (1) get the guzzlers off the road and (2) to stimulate the auto business.

IMHO, the porogram asks more questions than it answers.  For example:

  • Why is there no similar program for refirgerators; or lawn mowers; or speed boats; or vacuum cleaners; or anything else?
  • Is it really necessary to destroy all these vehicles, especially when there are so many small business owners who could use some of the vans and suvs being turned in as work trucks?
  • How many people are taking advantage of this program to finance new cars that they aren’t going to be able to pay for?
  • Doesn’t this bailout discriminate against the poor since they may not be able to afford a new car, even with the $4,500 incentive?  And, doesn’t this program take cheap cars off the market that the poor can afford to buy?
  • Where is the government going to get the money to continue the program given that it was supposed to run for months and it’s out of money in a matter of days?
  • But here’s the thing that really gets my goat.  As I was riding my bike yesterday is passed a Toyota dealer with a huge “CASH FOR CLUNKERS” sign.  Why the $#^@ is the government spending our tax money to get people to buy foreign cars?

Am I missing something here, especially given the government’s recent investment in General Motors and Chrysler?  If the idea is to stimulate the economy (Can a mere two or three billion dollars really make much difference?) shouldn’t the objective be to create American jobs at American car plants?

I’m just saying……