Google is famous for developing new programs and then ditching them when they don’t work out. Anyone remember Google Wave, Google Buzz and now Google Reader? While many have predicted a very similar fate for Google , an addition to this may just save the day. Google Hangouts is Google’s latest addition, and one that really has lots of usefulness. (Particularly for marketers!)

Google Hangouts – So what is it exactly?

The short version is that Google Hangouts are a good way to connect with other people via a live video chat, one that can be recorded and used in various platforms and in many different ways. Joined at the hip to your Google account, a hangout is extremely easy to launch, and it has a goldmine of interesting features for marketers. You can host a hangout with as many as ten other people, and many others can view live at your YouTube channel, Google page, or a web page. Google records the whole affair, and delivers a YouTube URL to you after you’re done, that you can then easy use in your marketing in a number of ways.

How to use Google Hangouts in your marketing

There are tons of ways to integrate Google Hangouts into your marketing. Here are 10 ways people are using effectively.

  • Webinars - Sick of expensive GoToWebinar fees? Now you have a no cost alternative!
  • Conferences - Simple to setup teleconferencing makes a Hangout a no-brainer for sharing a conference experience.
  • Meetings - Hold meetings for clients, customer, prospect or affiliates on an informal, yet immediate platform.
  • Product Launches - A creative way to create positive buzz on launch day. (Or before!)
  • Interviews - Interviewing people made easy with Hangouts! Recorded, and transcribed.
  • Product Demos - Show people what you’ve got, live and in person!
  • Virtual Press Conference - Share newsworthy items via Hangouts.
  • Live Streaming Events - Many marketers are now using Google Hangouts as their own live TV station, broadcasting weekly shows.
  • Q & A with Customers - Engage with your customers live and answer their questions and concerns.
  • Podcast from your Hangout - Making a Podcast to share through iTunes is quite easy to accomplish.

If you’re not using Google Hangouts as an element in your marketing mix, you’re definitely losing out on a great opportunity to engage with your audience in a more intimate, immediate way.

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There may well be no more fundamental task for a content provider than to be persuasive with your copy. Sounds easy, right? Just up until you’ve tried it, perhaps. There is a reason top copywriters get paid the big bucks. Never fear yet. You needn’t break the budget to hire your nearby Shakespeare just yet. There are several basic aspects of copywriting with persuasion that can make a huge difference, and best of all, they can be learned!

4 Essential steps to persuasive copy

  1. Be sure it’s scannable - We hear constantly how nobody reads on the web anymore – they scan. This is however true, and since those are the cards we’ve been dealt, here are a few tips on how to ensure your copy is read by the scanning surfer set on leaving your page. Use lots of white space, bullet points, sub-headlines, bolding and color, and compelling images to reel them in and hold their interest.
  2. Write conversationally – No one wants to feel that they’re being lectured to. So even if you’re offerring ideas or a topic that you’re dead certain is either new or advanced, you need to speak as though you’re relating this to a good friend. Write just like you talk. It goes a long way toward creating the trust you need to build with your reader, particularly if you are hoping for them to complete an action in the near future.
  3. Structure for your end result - We all like to be told stories, and you can use this to your advantage almost every time. We process information most efficiently when the content is offered in a narrative stream, so don’t be shy about telling your story! Use a beginning, middle and end, lead inexorably to a climax, which would be to get the reader to take whatever action you’re requesting.
  4. Be sure to use a call to action - Don’t be timid about using a strong call to action in your writing. Many times this element is either missing entirely or so fuzzy that it may as well be! In fact if this is the case, you’re likely disappointing and in all likelihood confusing the reader. Never write anything without having a strong call to action!
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Everything comes full circle, even web design. You might not have seen it yet, but there’s a new trend in town, and its name is flat web design. It’s capturing the industry, and the thing is it’s actually existed since Microsoft unveiled it in 2006.

So why is a design “flat”?

Flat design is seen as simple, bright solid colors, plenty of white space, plus the lack of drop shadows, gradients, and textures that were a major element of a web designer’s arsenal for a while now. Often typography plays a leading role in flat web design. Flat web design is a “smooth” solution whose aim is to eliminate as many decorative elements of a “3D” type look as is feasible.

So why the change from 3D to flat design?

The reason making the most sense is that designers find it harder and harder to cram all the elements of a 3D design into a world full of mobile screens. The 4 inch limitations placed on this have made moving to a simpler, more compact and functional user experience right out of the gate. This combined with making pages load faster, and have far more responsiveness is vital in a mobile world where seconds count.

Trend or is flat web design here to stay?

The jury remains out on that, but the reality is if it is a trend, parts of it may be difficult to dismiss quickly. Apple is rumored to be considering a flat design for the next operating system, the iOS7. If it does turn out to be a fad, the simplicity and user-friendly functionality of flat web design might give it a lengthier shelf life than you may think!

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Do you SoLoMo? Yes, I realize that may sound like the newest offering from the Starbucks menu, but the acronym actually stands for social, local, mobile. What you do need to do however, is wrap your head around why SoLoMo is an extremely significant concept and marketing tool for your small business to utilize.

What is SoLoMo and how can it help your small business?

The melding of these three distinct technologies was bound to happen. As mobile devices become more and more advanced, enabling geo-location services to track every move, it was only a small step into empowering businesses to send notifications to nearby customers. Research conducted recently by the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that around 74 percent of smartphone users use them to get information, and approximately 18 percent are using them to check in on local businesses with services like Foursquare. It has brought about both an opportunity and a challenge. A growing number of mobile users are searching for local products and services, and if your company is not using its social media to connect and draw these individuals who are out there roaming the streets seeking something to do, eat or buy. It’s your task to make sure they find you before they find someone else!

3 Ways to engage with SoLoMo

  • Use social media - Through the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and others to engage and inform your customers and prospects, you’ve found a most effective and low-cost solution to build relationship and energize your brand simultaneously.
  • Be visible locally - Make use of local search directories that are suitable for your company, and actively target your local customers.
  • Don’t ignore mobile marketing - Use of mobile ads is making more and more sense these days, as ROIs are good, costs are affordable and ad inventory is high. Also, some local advertising solutions are very inexpensive or actually free, such as check in deal on Facebook or FourSquare.

One terrific demonstration of a company that gets SoLoMo is personified by Walgreens. Checking in with Foursquare gives their customers coupons and much more! SoLoMo isn’t going away anytime soon, so make sure you make it happen before your competition does!

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If you’re like many a newcomer to social media marketing, and especially Twitter, you may not have a keen understanding of exactly what a #hashtag even is. Let’s clear that up from the start. A hashtag is a convention used on Twitter, (although it can be used in other social media platforms to lead to Twitter) that organizes and categorizes conversations. They’re represented by a # followed by a keyword with no spaces.

#Hashtags guidelines

Be sure to do your standard research and see if the keyword you’d prefer to use is not employed somewhere else. This is as easy as conducting a little research (a search on Search.Twitter.com) to find out whether or not that #Hashtag is a wise choice. Also, don’t try to make hay with misleading #hashtags, even if they are seriously trending. This will almost assuredly blow up. One more thing: be sure to proofread before you make that #hashtag!

4 Ways to market with #hashtags

  1. Keep them short and simple - Making your #hashtag brief and to the point is your best bet. Include a couple if need be, such as #apps and #smallbiz, but avoid stringing together a half dozen: it just appears you don’t know what you want to say.
  2. Make them #hashtags to not forget - Remarkable #hashtags are far more likely to be shared widely. Give consideration to this and you might get your wish and have it go viral.
  3. Use them on multiple social media channels - A #hashtag isn’t much use if it’s not shared. Although started on Twitter, #hashtags have become employed across multiple social media channels including Facebook, Google , LinkedIn and Pinterest. This assists to instill the #hashtag into the minds of their audience.
  4. Make use of keywords - If possible, work in your brand or major keywords. This isn’t always feasible, so choose judiciously.
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While on the surface it would make perfect sense that the smaller, more agile entrepreneurial companies among us would be the most innovative. You would think this is true. And you also would be wrong. It’s not for a lack of trying or desire. It’s simply that smaller businesses do not have the R & D budgets, the staff, and the vision that larger companies can commission. Needless to say, the challenge for small business innovation is to break past the glass ceiling keeping it from innovating, and actually get into the game! Fewer than half of small businesses were brought into being as the result of a new idea according to a study by Erik Hurst and Benjamin Wild Pugsley of the University of Chicago. They state that most new business is another Me-too venture, offering the already crowded marketplace another grocery, plumber or florist. Little innovation required, and consequently little growth.

So how does a small business get from the morass of just another business to one that is offering new and exciting products and services people are clamoring to try?

4 Methods to develop a culture of innovation in your business!

  • Reward and encourage innovation - Give your staff perks and tangible rewards for identifying and helping to implement new and innovative initiatives. Creating some excitement around finding new and better ways to run your business ought to benefit them also.
  • Understand your markets’ desires and needs - Keep abreast of the latest trends and ideas within your market. Make sure to be hooked in to all the news and views that are effecting your business, and take action on what you hear and see!
  • Be sure to connect with your existing customers - Listening and taking into serious thought what your customers say about not only your business and products, but about what their wish list would contain is vital in helping to understand a direction you may want to explore. Keep the conversation centered around the customer’s problems, and use those to help fashion solutions!
  • Be willing to try something new! - Don’t be afraid to be innovative. A great example of a company ready to fill a need is Behance.net, a Web-based platform for creative works, where artists can show their work regardless of their resumes, hoping to turn more ideas into reality.
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