Archive for the ‘Learn More/Resources’ Category

Learn more about Social Marketing for Small Businesses

These are some of our favorite resources for online marketing information and case studies.  Check back for new resources, added as they’re discovered.

Subscribe to blogs and newsletters of these online marketing gurus:

Some individual articles:

And 3 recommended books about blogging and social media:

What does it take to have a successful garden center blog?

Susan’s Guest blog post for  Garden Center Magazine’s blog.

Independent garden centers – listen up! Lowes, that big box down the street, has hired reputable garden writers in eight regions of the U.S. to post weekly about their gardens. That’s right, they’re stepping up their online marketing to do what blogs do so well – create community and customer loyalty – despite their being, you know, a big box. (The Lowes blog is called Garden Grow-Along.)

The point is they’re doing what gardeners would rather see YOU doing. Real gardeners would rather get their gardening info from a local store with knowledgeable staff and plants that, you know, live.

Garden centers are blogging, but…
By now you’re all being told you MUST blog to survive, thrive, and win those new, young customers, and it’s true. (If you haven’t seen the reasons, here’s a list.) Garden center owners and staff simply don’t have the time or the blogging and social networking expertise to blog successfully, which requires several new posts a week, every week, plus ongoing promotion. I’ve surveyed all the garden-center blogs I can find, and generally found:

  • Blogs full of advertising copy – an instant turn-off for every single reader. Successful corporate blogs avoid ad copy altogether in favor of offering useful and entertaining content.
  • Lots of abandoned-looking blogs. To the average reader, if your most recent update was a month ago, the blog’s dormant and not worth checking in on. Successful blogs are updated at least three times a week, and five to seven times a week is ideal.
  • Lots of blogs with seriously out-of-date designs.
  • Too many deadly treatises about plants, sometimes with no photos.
  • Visually, not enough photos and lots of bad ones, too. Too small, too dark, not displayed well.

The list could go on but the bottom line is that most are failing to win traffic or meet any business objective, like attracting customers. Read the rest of this entry »

Best Practices for Corporate Blogs, Especially Garden-Center Blogs

I compiled this information for ANLA, and it’s now here in their Social Media Guide.

GOOD EXAMPLES

The most successful corporate blogs avoid marketing language and simply provide a service to their customers – great content being key.  Examples of the best include: KodakWhole Foods, Fiskars’s craft blog ,  and  American Express.

Garden Centers:

Homestead Gardens – has a lively multi-author blog and identifies all its writers clearly.  There are gobs of photos, and the header is changed seasonally.  Note the sidebar shows dozens of regional links – that’s the online community we want to communicate with.  (I contribute three articles each week to this blog; other contributors include their education coordinator , a food blogger, and guest bloggers.) Read the rest of this entry »