Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Social Media Buzz

The Social Media Buzz
There has been a lot of talk about social media in the past couple of years, and names like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn have become very common among everyone.
So, why is there so much talk about social media? Is social media word of mouth? Word of mouth has been and will be the basis of human communication. We all love to talk. Talking makes us looks well-informed, smarter than others, helps in selling and helps us be successful in life. People used to talk before the advent of traditional media like radio, newspapers, magazines, TV etc. The media added a layer between corporations and people, and we all tuned in to hear news and the latest buzz from these channels (whether we believed all of it is a different story).
Social media is changing the entire ballgame and providing a set of tools and technology so that media can come back to where it belongs – in the hands of people. People now have the capability to express their thoughts in their own words, and the new tools enable them to share these thoughts with friends, family and everyone else with the greatest of ease.

Companies can take advantage of social media by listening to their customers and using that feedback to improve products or services, create brand advocates, create communities, innovate, recruit and communicate.
The above projection highlights the fact that companies are flocking to the possibilities of social media, but they should be cautious: Social media can be the most effective component of their marketing strategy, but it should not be their only means of reaching customers. Social media includes the following: blogs, discussions forums, social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), social bookmarking, video sharing and microblogging, etc.

The heart of any business is word of mouth because that’s how most businesses got started and grew. Using tools provided by social media can take us back to our basics and enable us to start connecting with our customers — like one of them, not as a corporate entity. And the number of people who might be discussing your product or service at any point of time using social media tools is simply mind-boggling!

To give you an idea of the power of social networks, Facebook became the most-visited site in the U.S. for the first time over the 2009 Christmas holidays, pushing past Google:

A question many businesses might ask is “My customers are not engaged in social media, so why should I join?” Well, the answer is that the power of social networks will continue to grow. Facebook currently has more than 350 million active users and is proud of the fact that it has “real users.”

Here are some benefits of using social media for your organization:
a) Your customers might be using social media, but you are not aware of them.
b) Prospective customers might be on the social platforms, and the best way to reach them is to start interacting with them on their platform of choice. c) Customers will start to expect presence on social media platforms. Many other companies are doing it, and it will become a standard just like e-mail, e-newsletters and websites.
d) Listen and learn what is being talked about regarding your brand and industry and see if there is something that can help your business.
e) Mingle and connect with people in the media, vendors and prospective employees and be part of their network.
f) Being in social media means that you are an authentic, honest and transparent company (otherwise you won’t survive), and that goes a long way.
g) Your employees might already be using social media, so why not leverage their knowledge and give proper guidance so that it can benefit the organization?
According to Forrester research findings, social media will be a bigger marketing channel than both e-mail and mobile by 2014, but still just a fraction of the size of search or display advertising ($31.6B and $16.9B, respectively).

In closing, social media is the latest buzz. It’s exciting, and everyone is doing it. But that doesn’t mean that ‘Everyone is doing it so we should, too’ is the best approach for using social media.
Well-laid-out objectives, understanding of social platforms, your organizational culture, metrics on objectives, and learning and adapting will be the difference between success and failure for any social-media venture.

Ajay TejwaniSocial Media Strategist – USAA
Fun Social Media Cartoons:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Defining Your Unique Value Proposition

Value is defined as the quality that renders something (or someone) desirable.

In an economy where many seem to be watching every penny, some think that the lowest bidder is always going to win. Think again. Best price does not always mean best value. Remember, people are still spending money on things that are necessary and important to them.
Many companies are now resorting to deep discounting in order to try to win more business. With the tightening of budgets and reduced spending, some get drawn into bidding wars, only to de-value their product, cut their margins and reduce their commissions.
Those companies which have been most successful maintaining consistency through these tough markets can attribute their success to two key factors:

1) They have a unique value proposition and can clearly articulate it to their customers.

2) They are effectively communicating their value message to their target market using a range of effective marketing techniques.

What is your value proposition? What makes your business different than your competitors and why would customers want to do business with you? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, I suggest you define your unique values immediately. If you have a value proposition and have not thought about it in a while, revisit it. You probably provide much more significance now than you did when you first got started.

Some of the most popular and effective means of communicating your message are through the use of social media tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. These tools enable you to articulate your value proposition through building a profile focused to a specific market. They also allow you to broadcast your message to millions of potential customers to which you would not otherwise have access. Another great feature of these tools is that they are FREE.

Do your customers know what makes your business unique? Are you the “best kept secret” around? Try taking these tips to get your business noticed.


The Farst Group, headquartered in Brooksville Florida, offers sales and marketing consulting services to companies nationwide.

With over 40 years of combined experience in business to business sales, technical marketing and graphic design services, our team understands the nuances of building an effective brand and delivering a compelling message for companies selling all types of products or services.

Additionally, The Farst Group offers a free, networking opportunity to our clients. Our clients are also our partners, and we continue to work together, even after the project is finished. We combine to promote our businesses through website links, social networking sites and feature pages on our E-zine Newsletter. The Farst Group would like to earn your business and add you to our network.


Eric Farst - President

Phone: 352-238-1642


Kim Sinatra - VP Sales & Marketing

Phone: 419-610-6222


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Monday, March 8, 2010

Attracting Clients to YOUR Business

One of the most exciting challenges that small businesses face is attracting clients. Do you agree? Sometimes the challenge is fun, and other times it’s daunting. With the right mix of marketing, branding, and promotion, you can create a repetitive process for your company that guarantees clients will be coming to YOU. Below are a few of my favorite (and often overlooked) tactics for creating a buzz around your company and its expertise:

  • Speak at an industry event – this will position you and your company as an expert. In the eyes of a prospect, you are now a resource and not a sales person.
  • Ask for referrals from satisfied customers – if they can’t give you a referral to someone they know, ask if they will write a testimonial for you to put on your website.
  • Create a press kit – this is the first step to successfully distributing a press release and networking (as well as influencing) reporters.
  • Swap articles with a complimentary company for your e-zines – this is easy and will get your business immediate exposure to new prospects. Don’t place an advertisement in their e-zine, write an article that readers will care about!
  • Send cards to your current prospects whenever you can – nowadays, this is a forgotten art and sure to set you apart from other companies!
  • Keep your head in the game – do whatever it takes to keep your attitude in check!

For more information about any of the topics above, or to learn about 100 more ways to attract clients, contact The Farst Group today!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Each month, The Farst Group provides valuable sales advice to help your business be as successful as you can imagine. Below is this month’s tip on what you can do TODAY to drive sales to new clients.

Find a niche and target the businesses or individuals in it
For example, suppose you’re a business attorney. Anyone can hire you, but when you deliberately choose a niche you are marketing your specialty to a specific group. The idea of this concept is to set your business apart from your competitors by being a specialist in a particular area and appealing to your prospects by providing a solution specific to their business. Your niche can change as often as you’d like, as long as you can truly provide expert service to the targets you choose. To ensure this technique is successful, below is a quick process you can use to get results fast.

1. Using a free online tool such as Reference USA (available at most libraries as well as on the library’s website), create a targeted mailing list. Reference USA allows you to enter very specific demographics to produce a mailing list that only contains businesses or individuals within your niche. Reference USA also provides names of many individuals within a company, as well as their job title, so you can be sure you’re reaching the proper person.

2. Create a flyer that targets your niche. It’s important that the flyer specifically addresses the business concerns of the niche you have chosen and how your company can provide a solution. This will ensure the reader understands why working with you is different than working with one of your competitors: You’re a specialist and you understand their business!

3. About a week after you mail the flyer, make follow-up calls to ensure the addressee received the flyer and ask if they have any questions or how you can help. Many people may not have seen it, or don’t remember it. That’s GREAT! Get their e-mail address and send it to them immediately!

4. It’s important that during this call you have a meaningful conversation with your prospect, so don’t try to sell anything. Remember, you’re an expert in their field so you can have a peer-to-peer discussion instead of a prospecting call.

5. Before you close the call, ask what your next step should be.

If you have questions about any of the steps listed above, be sure to contact us at

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blogging For Kids Too?

I get asked this questions a lot – by companies, individuals, friends, and family. “I don’t have a company. Should I blog?” My answer every single time, reguardless who asks, is YES. I even think that children should start a blog. Now, before you crucify me, let me explain.Everyone blogs for a different reason. Companies blog to inprove search engine optimization, generate leads, corporate PR, and additional marketing. Individuals will blog for a various of reasons: voice an opinion, personal brand marketing, to vent, and others. One thing they all have in common – blogging is for adults only and around a particular topic. For example, Saving Every Day ( is all about saving money – discounts, coupons, and offers.

So back to my comment about children blogging. I believe everyone who has family or plans to have a family should start a blog. I have a friend that her mother died when she was still a baby. Except for stories from her family, she didn’t get to know her mother. Then, when she was 22, she was helping her grandmother clean the basement and found a stack of journals her mother had written starting in high school and all through college. Through these, she got an in-depth knowledge of her mother that still influences her today.This is why I started my own personal blog. I know I will not keep a written journal. Plus, actual paper journals break down over time and can be lost. My blog, on the other hand, will be around for virtually forever. Thus allowing me to influence not only my own children, but my grandchildren, my great grandchildren, and generations ahead.My personal blog is behind a password so only those I have given the password can read it. So it giving me free reign to post freely with personal content. I have also started blogs for my godchildren (I currently do not have children of my own) which are secured. This has improved their spelling, grammar, and funny enough, reading abilities too.

The hardest part of doing a journal blog is remembering to post! With the kids, we made it a weekly chore – like taking out the trash. Funny thing is that it is easier to get them to post then to actually take out the trash! I have freshness reminders to remind us to post every week. Also, I keep a list of topics on my phone when I think of something I want to blog, I jot it down.I look forward to reading everyone’s post now and in the future. What could you have posted when you were a teenager that now you may want to edit? Either way, I’ve started my life story for my generation. Have you?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Blogging 101: Engage Your Audience

By definition, a blog is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. But how do you use this medium to really engage and connect with your readers, as well as attract new ones?
  1. Know your readership. It is important to keep track of those who subscribe to your blog, so that you are always aware of whom you are reaching when you make your posts. This will help you select relevant topics.
  2. Selecting topics: “Dig deep and make it sexy.” I have a client who uses this saying, and I love that she does. Sometimes when you write your blog post, the words will flow out of you, onto the screen and capture the attention of the reader very easily. But sometimes you have to research topics relating both to your business and the reader. When that is the case, look to the web and other media outlets to provide ideas that not only attract your attention, but move and stir you. If you know your readers, this will make it easier to decipher what will move and stir them, reinforcing why they read your posts, creating loyalty to your blog and your business because they feel connected.
  3. Post often, if not daily. A blog is different than a newsletter. Blogs are meant to be a medium for daily commentary. If you leave your blog unattended your reader will not be engaged. Your reader will most likely think you don’t take your blog seriously, and therefore they won’t take you or your brand seriously. If you don’t have the availability to write every day, you can “cherry pick;” meaning that you can share information from others that is relevant to your blog and readers, as long as you give proper credit to the original author.
  4. Ask questions. Everyone likes to be heard, so ask your readers thought provoking questions and encourage them to answer. It’s a nice touch if you involve yourself in the commenting as well. Not only can your blog can be a place where people go on the web for industry news and information, but a place to learn from your expertise and from other professionals as well by sharing thoughts, ideas and information. These comments can spark conversations that will lead you to even more interesting and relevant topics, as well as building a community around your blog.
  5. Change it up. Sure, you may find a good rhythm to your blog. You may be seeing lots of traffic, and even business growth due to your marketing efforts by way of your blog. But don’t get comfortable. Now, don’t fix what isn’t broken, but always be on the lookout for ways to improve, revamp and refresh: add video segments, make your blog more user friendly, create new visually stimulating art, ask for suggestions, hold a contest, poll your readers, interview relevant experts. It is important to occasionally make changes that will keep your blog fresh and interesting to your readers, as well as attract new readers.

Blogging is an easy medium to help you strengthen your brand. Use it effectively to stay in front of your customers, contacts and prospects, and it will create customer loyalty, help develop partnerships, establish you as an expert and improve your SEO, ultimately driving your business toward continued success.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Blogging for Business

I was recently speaking at a sales and marketing summit and was asked why you should blog. My first response was, “Why not?” I received all the usual reasons – no time, too difficult, don’t know what to write about, and my favorite, “will it help my business?” The answer is YES! I believe everyone should have a blog – even if you are in the same industry! No two businesses are the same, even if they do the same service. What makes your business different? Why should I hire your company?

A blog gives you a public forum for you to tout your difference and actually explain them. You can “talk” about your competitive differences, your customers, YOUR COMPANY. And more importantly, a blog will actually help you drive more business. A study was done comparing over 1500 business – 795 had blogs. The results were overwhelming.

The companies that had blogs had 55% more visits to their website which translates to more prospects and opportunities for you. Those with blogs also had 97% more inbound links. This translates to more direct traffic and ranking higher in search engines like Google. Then the biggest difference was companies with blogs had 434% more indexed pages. This is the holy grail of search engine optimization. When Google indexes a page, it will then tie the key words to that web page.

For example, if you do a blog that talks about plumbing, pipes, and repairs. When Google indexes that page, it will tie the keywords used most on the site (plumbing, pipes, and repairs in this example) and will tie your website with those key words. Then someone that needs a plumber does a search on Google. Google will pull up the sites that have the keyword (plumber in this case) associated with their website the most.

There are many different tricks to help improve your search engine rankings. Many of them require coding or special programs. Blogging is an easy way to promote your business, increase your business, and improve search engine optimization. So again I ask, “Why not?”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Focus on VALUE Through Tough Economic Times

I would contend that selling, as well as exceeding customer expectations, is never easy. But during tough economic times, it gets even more difficult. Try as you might, you still can’t escape the economic reality that your customers are facing.

Are you taking for granted that your normal business processes are effective?

Sure, you may need to advertise or prospect more than usual during these tough economic times, but what else are you doing? Is it possible that the future will come and you will find that you’ve lost business to competitors who have focused on adding value, versus reaching more prospects?

Here are three essential practices for adding value for your customers during tough times:

  1. Stay close to your existing customers- While this habit is always important, it is even more so during tough times. Not only can you help them by adding value during difficult times, but that assistance gains you more loyalty at a time when your clients may be forced to re-examine everything. You may not get new business in the short term from these efforts, but it may keep you from replacing lost business in the future. The long term effect of this renewed focus may very well be eventual business growth within existing accounts.

  2. Work your relationships — People still buy from people. The tighter things become, the more importance placed on every purchasing decision. When you can’t afford to make a mistake, buying from someone you trust is even more of a must. These are the times to work your personal relationships and business networks harder than ever. Networking into an opportunity as someone who can be trusted may be the edge you need in earning new business.

  3. Focus on the positive- It is easy to become discouraged, especially when trying to sell and serve customers through tough times. Keep focused on the fact that not every company out there is just trying to hold on. There are many companies, just like yours, which are committed to growing while others are wringing their hands. Go find them!

If your company needs ideas or advice on how to add value for your customers, please contact The Farst Group. We’ll be sure that your business thrives through tough times and beyond!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Inexpensive MUSTS for our Marketing Program

The world is changing, and so are the methods to get in front of new customers. Cold calling, mailers, telemarketing, and flat websites, although still effective, don’t always do the trick. Technology has taken over; is your business leading the pack, or falling behind? Now, more than ever, it’s of utmost importance to do what your competition is not. Utilizing new resources, most of which are inexpensive or free, can set your business apart in a big way.

Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter and LinkedIn, when used properly, can quickly spread the word about your brand. This personal, one-on-one communication should be transparent, developing trust between your business and it’s prospects.

Blogs and E-zines are also a great way to stay in touch with prospects, as well as interact with them in a new way.

Public relations efforts are free…is your business taking advantage of this media outlet? Do you know how to present yourself as a subject matter expert to give the press a reason to publish information on your business? Have you provided relevant “news” on your business that is intriguing enough to be published or appear on television?

Does your business have a unique selling proposition, which concisely allows prospects to understand why your business is unlike your competition?

Contact The Farst Group today to learn more about these tools, as well as many others, that will increase your presence in the marketplace…ultimately increasing revenue and making your competition wonder “What Happened?” !