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Powerful social media fundraising tool

simple graphic salvation army cereal drive fundraising social media

The simple social media tracking tool that helped my team raise $15,000 in just a few days!

By Danni Eickenhorst

A few years ago, I did extensive work with a national nonprofit, The Salvation Army, helping them get their hands around social media as a part of their marketing strategy.

In one instance, we had a particularly successful social media campaign, thanks to some long-term strategy planning that came to bear fruit over the course of one week.

Here’s what happened

One food pantry location in Missouri saw a tenfold increase in need, going from feeding 50 families each month to 600 families per month in a one year period. While experiencing such a significant increase in need, they also suffered an 80% decrease in food commodities, which they depended on from the USDA and other government sources. The pantry reached out to me with an urgent need for nutrient-rich food items.

cerealdrive captain paul ferguson salvation army social media fundraising

Captain Paul Ferguson stands with 2 of 15-16 pallets of cereal raised through social media campaign #CerealDrive.

Here’s how I did it

I worked with their staff to determine the need. We made an ask for cereal, as it packs many nutrients in one simple meal and is rarely donated because of its high cost when compared to canned goods.

I launched a collaborative strategic social media with local influencers that garnered major media attention to fulfill this need, which I executed that same day. Over a 4-day period in March of 2012, the campaign raised more than $15,000 and 16 pallets of cereal for Salvation Army food pantries in St. Charles County.

How you can replicate this success

This list of influencers was something that I built over several months managing their social media and marketing strategy. I took note of various influencers and the topics they were passionate about. When an opportunity for them to assist in this area came about, I reached out to them by direct message on Twitter AND via email. The tool that I used was literally a piece of paper written on in Sharpie, tacked up on my desk. On that paper, I listed influencers under each area we worked in.

For The Salvation Army, it was areas like food insecurity, homelessness, holiday support, youth programs, etc.

My version of this for my company today includes our three areas of service – marketing, business consulting, and accounting.

You can adapt this super simple strategy to your business by identifying your core area of business, then printing off as many copies of the guide as you need to cover them. Subscribe below to get the simple influencer worksheet!

Tack it up on your wall, pull our your sharpie and get to work!

I hope this super simple tool works its magic for your work too!

For more insanely simple, totally doable strategies that you can use to move the need on your marketing, register for Universal Marketing Theory for Small Businesses (and nonprofits) by 11/23! Use code “smartypants” and save $50 on your registration!


PS – I’m a huge fan of the work of The Salvation Army. I’ve seen their impact up close. Please consider them in your giving over the holidays. 

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Webinar 11/17: Secrets to creating content that connects

By Danni Eickenhorst

I always was pretty terrible at keeping a secret… and it looks like nothing has changed. 🙂

On Tuesday, November 17th, I’ll be hosting a FREE webinar that shares my secrets for creating content that connects with your audience.

In today’s social economy, every brand out there is fighting for your attention on social media. Do you find yourself struggling to stand out and be heard? 

The key, you will find, is in the content you create.

What will make the difference between you and your nearest competitor is your message, and how you choose to connect.

During this FREE webinar, we’ll discuss 10 techniques to help you create more thoughtful, beautiful, effective content that drives your audience to engage, share, and bond with your brand.


PLUS, (shhh! another secret!) you’ll get a sneak peek of my upcoming course being released November 23rd – Universal Marketing Theory for Small Businesses!

Register now to save your spot and you’ll receive my BONUS GUIDE3 Marketing Tools Every Small Business Owner Needs – which includes 3 tools that I use absolutely every day to streamline my work and to make it more powerful.

I look forward to seeing you! Bring all of your questions for the LIVE Q&A!



marketing class online universal marketing theory inbound marketing danni eickenhorst

3, 2, 1… LAUNCHING small business marketing theory classes! Enroll now!

marketing class online universal marketing theory inbound marketing danni eickenhorstSince 2007, I’ve been working to help nonprofits and small businesses find a way to master social media – first as a freelancer, and now as the head of a growing agency. What a journey!

My career leveraging social and digital media for small business and nonprofit growth began with me being the one ODDBALL in the office that saw potential in the new medium, then trying to persuade others to give it a try.

My pitch for getting them to use social was something like, “It’s FREE. Everyone I know is trying it. I think we should see what we can do with it.” 

Today, I can say that my instincts were spot-on.

I’ve been able to realize:

  • More than $500,000.00 in funds directly raised for nonprofits
  • More than $2,000,000.00 in funds indirectly raised for nonprofits
  • More than $150,000.00 in in-kind donations and media exposure donated to nonprofits and small businesses
  • Multiple political & community-building campaign successes
  • 2 years and around 50 happy clients through my agency, Blank Page Consulting

One area where I’ve struggled as an entrepreneur and a marketer is being able to give enough of my time and my knowledge to make a difference. For two years, I’ve donated 10-20 hours of my time each and every month to local nonprofits and startups in order to provide them with the support and tools they need to market more effectively. While I know I’ve been able to make an impact, I’ve never felt that I could give them all of the tools they needed in our brief encounters.

To remedy that, I set out to develop a fully formed course that would provide them with all of the insights and knowledge they would need to successfully market their businesses with limited time and limited funds.

Yesterday, I officially (and quietly) launched that course! 

Universal Marketing Theory is a 6-week course that provides entrepreneurs, nonprofits and startups with the basic foundational knowledge they need to succeed.

Registration is open now and the self-paced course will kick off with lessons delivered weekly, starting November 23rd! In lieu of our hours donated each month, we will now provide a limited number of organizations with free access to this course each month, starting in 2016.

Looking to register now? Lucky you! Those who register before the official open date on November 23rd can save $50 on their fee by using promo code “smartypants.” 🙂 You can register at

I hope to see your name on the list! Can’t wait to hear all that you do with what you learn!

The 6-part course offers the following with each lesson:

-Video lecture/instruction by yours truly

-A case study that demonstrates the principles in action, and

-A takeaway tool that you can use in implementation.

Lesson 1: Inbound Marketing Theory – Basics & Goals

Lesson 2: Attracting the right audience

Lesson 3: Motivation & Methods

Lesson 4: Converting prospects

Lesson 5: Measuring success

Lesson 6: Tools & Tricks for lasting success


Basic Course: Lectures Only $199

Next Level: Lectures + Case Studies + Materials $299

Premiere Package: Lectures + Case Studies + Materials + 30 minute consultation with Danni Eickenhorst $399



Free Restaurant Advertising: Social Media Engagement

Photo of Ed Aller Design by Monica Mileur.

Photo of Ed Aller Design by Monica Mileur.

Restaurants can’t afford to miss out on the value of customer social media engagement. Having a strong social media presence can expand your reach beyond your neighborhood, while keeping your customers in mind when developing your social media strategy will build customer loyalty. Utilizing the following practices across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will increase awareness of your business, generate social media engagement, and attract customers.

Increase Visibility

Use a combination of trending and niche hashtags to increase the visibility of your online content and, ultimately, awareness of your restaurant. For example, if local business Strange Donuts is hosting #strangedonutday to celebrate #nationaldonutday, include both hashtags in your post to increase the visibility of your content like food enthusiast, Chowchief. If your expertise is #craftbeer and your region also uses #stlcraftbeer, always use both hashtags like Urban Chestnut Brewing Company. Pizzeoli incorporates hashtags for the style of pizza they offer in order to increase visibility beyond St. Louis, in addition to event-specific hashtags such as #stlcraftbeerweek to promote a beer and pizza pairing at their restaurant as a part of the week’s festivities.


Increase Social Media Engagement

Social media interactions help to sustain the relationships customers build with your restaurant. Executing a presence creatively can increase the impact of your content and even attract first-time customers.

Start conversations with your content. Using captions that encourage discussion and responding attentively to comments will promote traffic as well as loyalty. Additionally, regramming customer photos helps to promote your restaurant. It’s flattering for the customer and it communicates what that customer enjoys about your restaurant through his or her own unique Riseperspective. Conducting contests can boost event attendance or promote your business. For example, Rise Coffeehouse encouraged customers to post photos of their coffee using #rise2000 for a chance to win a $10 gift certificate.

Show Your Good Side

Behind-the-scenes photos and employee images rank well on social media platforms because they allow customers to get to know a company, which ultimately builds loyalty. Presenting a balanced gallery of product- and people-focused images provides a clearer and more engaging sense of the welcoming energy behind all of the parts and pieces that combine to create your business.While dynamic branded content generates more followers, informal content makes new and existing customers feel more invested.

For example, posting employee bios will allow your customers to get to know the faces that represent your business while menu spotlights will showcase new food and drink items. Captivating images paired with detailed explanations will make the menu more accessible for all levels of familiarity with your restaurant. Both options also serve as a great opportunity to display the atmosphere of your restaurant, depending on how you stage the shot.

Ultimately, social media followers should be able to gain a sense of what a restaurant is like from their social media presence. How a restaurant presents itself on social media should be in sync with the experience customers have when visiting in person.

Facebook Beacons, Place Tips & Retail Marketing

By Danni Eickenhorst

Yesterday, Facebook began making Facebook Bluetooth Beacons available to select influential, Facebook-Active businesses. In coming weeks, in a secondary rollout, the units will be made available to most retail-style businesses upon request. Facebook Bluetooth Beacons are small in-store units, which the Facebook team will be configuring for each specific businesses, and which will allow business owners to preprogram welcome messages, menus, events, daily specials and other information to customers nearby as they arrive.

Facebook beacons will also update visitors about tips from friends who have been to the business previously as part of the recently rolled-out Facebook Place Tips feature.

facebook place tips iphone bluetooth beacon

For small businesses looking for another level of interactivity in their customer experience, active updates to their Place tips may provide just that. As the rollouts are first occurring to influential business owners, we were able to secure one for client Steve’s Hot Dogs St. Louis. Steve’s Hot Dogs holds regular events and issues a daily discount code on their Facebook page. Going forward, they’ll be able to share that information with clients as they arrive – giving them financial (coupon) incentive to check in on Facebook – and alerting them of upcoming events such as their Sunday Brunch concerts – so that they’ll be likely to return.

While not yet supporting ads, with Facebook’s prominent foothold in digital advertising, one can only image that this distribution of beacons is something akin to a land grab for future advertising plans. You can request your Facebook beacon for future shipping as they come available through Facebook by clicking here.

For help with making your marketing strategies more interactive, memorable and effective, reach out to Blank Page for a 30 minute consultation.


Images courtesy of Facebook and


Twitter profiles now rank #1 in mobile search for active Twitter users and influencers.

Google & Twitter: Reunited & Affecting Your SEO

By Taylor Bartley

Twitter profiles now rank #1 in mobile search for active Twitter users and influencers.Twitter and Google are working together again! Google has started indexing tweets in real time, meaning that your latest tweet will show live in any searches – currently on mobile, ultimately everywhere – as soon as it’s tweeted.

You may have heard the news a few months back that Twitter and Google decided to work together once again after their “breakup” in 2011. To give you the short story, back in 2009, Twitter gave Google full access to their to their tweets (which many call the “firehose”). In 2011, this agreement ended after Twitter’s COO stated that he wanted the company to have more control over their content. Now, after four years, Twitter has put the offer back on the table for many reasons, a main factor being that they realize how much the search engine can enhance the Twitter experience for users who are logged out.

What this means for businesses

When two colossal companies begin to work with one another, it takes time to iron out the details. This deal was made a few months back, and everyone knew that it would take time for everything to fall into place. Now, more than ever, you should be preparing your business’ Twitter account because it can affect your SEO in great ways. Once Google gets its algorithm in place for real time tweet searching, the amount of your tweets Google indexes will undoubtedly increase… as long as you know what Google is looking for.

Tips to increase your SEO via Twitter

Experts speculate that the more tweets indexed by Google, the more traffic will result – especially for active Twitter users and influencers. Those who spend time building their Twitter presence will be rewarded with higher search visibility. The larger a Twitterer’s audience and influence, the more likely you are to have a higher index rate for your tweets.

A few areas to focus on in order to build your Twitter influence are:

  • Twitter ads: Consider promoting posts and profile to build followers and interest for your brand.
  • Influencers: Twitter is an amazing place to connect with influencers and industry professionals, who can help push your content and profile.
  • Hashtags: Harness the power of hashtags to get your content seen by more interested people.
  • Quality Content: Create content intended on engagement with your audience – relevant, interesting, timely – the kind of content that invites shares, comments and retweets.

We suggest taking a look at your own clout or “klout” by going to This site allows your to connect all of your social media channels to see how influential you are in your field. This is also a great tool to search and identify influencers. Your klout score is certainly something you do not have to live by, but it is good to check in from time to time in order to see how you are doing. Did we mention you also get perks from other businesses that see you as an influencer in their industry?

Now you need to know what other specific things Google is looking for when indexing a tweet. Not all of your tweets need to follow these rules, but make sure that important tweets have these attributes.

  • Strong images – be sure that your image fits the preview box Twitter gives, so people are more likely to click on it and engage. Images are known to be engaging, so take advantage of this. Using sites such as canva allow you to create a powerful image with the dimensions already laid out for you!
  • Hashtags – including popular industry hashtags will not only increase engagement, but will help in getting noticed by Google as well.
  • Strong links – if you are linking to something in your tweet, make sure the link is a source that has a large following and viewership. The weaker the links you refer to in your tweets, the less likely Google will index.
  • Length: Some studies claim that 100 characters is your ideal length for a tweet, while others say that longer tweets result in more engagement. Experiment with your content format to see what works for YOUR audience, and then implement your own best practices.

For more specifics on this deal, check out this helpful FAQ. If you need to ramp up your Twitter presence and need assistance, give us a call at 314-300-6675 for a free consultation.

small business marketing st louis blank page consulting

Realities of small business marketing in 2015

By Danni Eickenhorst

At Blank Page, we are constantly working to stay ahead of the curve on marketing changes – to help our clients know what’s to come, and to help them plan accordingly. Because we work primarily with small-to-medium sized businesses and non-profits, we work to stay ahead of these changes so that our clients can be prepared in ways they wouldn’t be without our help. We’re always looking for trends and shifts in marketing tactics to help our clients be more prepared to be competitive.

Two clear trends we’ve seen across every platform are that digital marketing efforts are increasingly taking time and money to be successful. From investing in a marketing consultant to budgeting clearly for digital advertising, every small business should understand early on to allow for both of these precious resources when they work through their business plan. These are the two most critical pieces of small business marketing in 2015.

Marketing takes time…

One trend we’re seeing is that Projects we signed on to work last year now take more man-hours than they did a year ago because of the ever-increasing chatter on social media channels. SEO projects now see stiffer competition. Relying on social media for your end goals solely is becoming a riskier strategy, if you’re not serious about devoting the time to creating compelling content and then using it for its highest potential. For some companies, this means taking a hard look at their success rates for each channel they are marketing on and pulling back on the number of platforms they’re using in order to be EXCELLENT at just one or two.

When budgeting your marketing time and that of your staff or consultants, consider these trends we are seeing:

  • Many companies now post on Facebook multiple times per day – some as often as once per hour – in order to be seen.
  • Blog content may take several hours to write and even longer to appropriately distribute.
  • Companies that choose to use Twitter may post 7 or more times per day, and should allot additional time for content curation, creation and social listening.
  • Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring. A well-managed SEO strategy will include periodic reviews of progress and adjustments to strategy.

…and money

Last year, companies adjusted to the changed Facebook “Pay to Play” landscape. In 2015, the companies that will succeed are those that accepted this change and budgeted accordingly. The Salesforce 2015 Facebook Ads Benchmark report showed that CPC (Cost Per Click) on ads ranges from $0.08 to $0.25 on average, depending on your industry and ad targeting. We tell our clients to make sure they think through these two things when embarking on Facebook advertising:

  1. Multiply the average CPC for your industry (see the report) by the number of people who need to view your site in order to convert – and make sure that you have sufficient budget.
  2. Add a contingency budget for future Facebook ads changes.
  3. Take a look at your site and consider whether it’s built to convert your visitors from interested passerby to warm lead – or better yet, to active client. Do you have email subscription options visible? Do you have simple “Contact Us” forms in place? Have you answered the questions a lead might have effectively?
  4. Is your site mobile-friendly? Google’s recent changes mandated mobile-friendly changes – but if that wasn’t enough to get you to make the changes you need on your site, consider that over half of Facebook’s traffic comes from mobile.

We share this with you so that you can plan accordingly and set reasonable expectations for your team, your leadership and your marketing and business goals going forward in 2015. Consider where you can reasonably spend time and money, and then consider if your team needs help. At Blank Page Consulting, we work with our clients in a number of ways – from total marketing management to co-management with their team. We even offering marketing coaching and consulting to help empower small business owners and their teams to do for themselves. We’d be honored to work with you to achieve your business goals in 2015. Consider scheduling a free 30-minute consultation below to learn more about what we can do for you.


Twitter for Business, Simplified

By Danni Eickenhorst, President & Marketing Consultant

Several times a month, I run into business owners who have heard that Twitter is a powerful tool for them to harness, but who have chosen not to try it out for a variety of reasons. The most common? They’re intimidated. It’s confusing.

While I remember feeling that way the first time I tried to use Twitter, it truly couldn’t be farther from the truth – if you look at it just a little bit differently.

Below, we’ve provided some hints and steps that you can take to begin to find a comfort level with this powerful platform. This is a very cursory level introduction, and at the end, we provide our Easy Twitter Start Checklist. For more detailed, higher-level strategy, schedule a one-on-one consultation with our team, follow this blog or attend an upcoming social school class.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is simplicity. It is a continuous conversation in a global room full of people in short bursts. Done correctly, it may be the most powerful tool in your arsenal.

It is a social network where people share “microblogs” or status updates of 140 characters or less. People who follow you or who search for a particular keyword you may have tweeted about, will see your status updates. Anyone who views your profile may see your status updates. Twitter differs from Facebook both in the length of your updates and in that the community available to you through Twitter is very motivated, outspoken and powerful. They are willing to share value when it’s provided, so consider that as you begin crafting your updates. This group is more likely to show up, share, advocate, purchase and engage with your brand than most others, and therefore, provides a unique opportunity for many businesses and individuals.

At first glance, it may seem that Twitter is moving at a breakneck pace, full of spam and self-promotion. All of these are accurate assessments, but while content seems to have a 2 second shelf-life, and it seems that with the large amounts of content coming at you, this platform may need to be continuously monitored, there are some things you can do to make Twitter more manageable:

Keep Twitter in Perspective

Twitter is simply a community. Just like any community, there are ups and downs, and just like every community out there, you will find lurkers, haters and supporters, all there for one reason or another. Just as you work to build community in your neighborhood or place of worship, you cannot get to know your community if you’re isolated and uninvolved. Twitter will only help you find success if you are social, and choose to engage.

Use & Search Hashtags

What is a Hashtag?Just as the graphic at right says, hashtags are merely a form of organization for the content that you share. They allow others who may not be familiar with you or your brand to search for content on a topic and to become connected with what you’re sharing. A few tips for using hashtags:

  1. Don’t overuse hashtags. Try to limit your tweets to 1-3 hashtagged words or phrases.
  2. Don’t string too many words together with a single hashtag, if you want it searchable. Many folks do this for comic effect, which of course, is fine – but, they don’t expect much return in search if they do. The best hashtags are short, to the point and reflect the way others typically search for something.
  3. DO use hashtags for events. A simple hashtag that is shared with event attendees may expand the reach of your local event to a global audience. A few years back, we added the hashtag #TweetTheMostGood to a Salvation Army event, and while there were only 150 attendees at the party we held (max capacity), more than 230,000 people were exposed to the brand and the conversation that night by asking attendees to use the hashtag on all of their tweets, check-ins and photos.

Make Twitter work with your schedule.

Social media can be extremely time-consuming – research, conversations, crafting content. For that reasons, we recommend setting aside time each day to update your channels, and to create a blend of updates that are both live AND prescheduled. One tool we absolutely love is Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a free tool that allows you to monitor the vast amount of information coming through Twitter, and to preschedule content so your account never goes “quiet.” It allows you to monitor any mentions of you or your brand, to search for sentiments or new business and, perhaps most importantly, it allows you to schedule content to post while you’re busy doing other things. Check it out at

Find your tribe + Engage.

TWITTER 101As you’re first building your audience on Twitter, it helps to consider what you wish to achieve or what your brand (personal or professional) is looking to connect with. Find others in your space who are utilizing Twitter, and are doing is well and take note of:

  • LISTS: Visit their profile and look at their lists. (Next to Followers, Following, you should see “Lists.” Click on this.) These are curated lists of other people you should probably also be connected. Follow those folks and engage with their content. Reply to their tweets, retweet their best stuff and become a part of their community.
  • CONTENT STYLING: If you’ve found someone worth watching as a mentor in your industry or interest area, watch what works best with their content – from style and language to best time of day, and begin by applying some of their styling to your own content.

What do I tweet?

“No one cares what I had for breakfast,” is the #1 complaint I hear from folks looking to harness Twitter for the first time. I tell them to “fake it until you make it.” Think out loud. Share until it becomes more natural.

Here are some possible ways for your to engage on Twitter:

  • Live Updates: Attending a conference or knee-deep into a new project? Share that. Many events have hashtags that you can watch, use and share with.
  • Questions: My tribe of followers on Twitter have incredible amounts of experience and collective knowledge in areas that I will never have. I frequently throw out questions to take their temperature on issues, or when I’m stumped and need help. You’ll find that folks on Twitter are quick to help, and motivated to connect and make things happen.
  • @Replies & Retweets: The best way to connect with people is to take that first step. Reply to an interesting tweet, or better yet – make a friend & retweet their content.
  • Blog Posts & Articles: Whether you’re sourcing them from your site or someone else’s (known as “Content Curation”), one way to provide quick updates while showcasing that you’re engaged in an industry or interest is to share an interesting, up-to-date blog post or article on the subject.

and finally…. if you’re looking to use Twitter to bolster your business, then share what you do. Twitter should never be used for OVER-promotion, but if you shoot for 80% non-promotional, 20% promotional to start, you aren’t likely to alienate your hard-won audience.

More Resources to Continue your Twitter Mastery

  • Twitter Growth Domination 2.0: Kim Garst, one of our favorite Twitter marketers, has launched an online course that boils down Twitter to its simplest parts. She has developed an online learning course, which is available online for a short period of time, but which is definitely worth your time. In her mini-course ($9), she shares a smart growth plan that helps you to target your audience on Twitter, and to engage them in just 15 minutes a day.
  • Easy Twitter Start Checklist: We developed a super-simple checklist to assist small businesses in getting comfortable with Twitter. Enter your information below and we’ll email it to you in just a few minutes. Try it out for two weeks and let us know what you think!

Request our Easy Twitter Start Checklist

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facebook marketing strategy st louis Blank Page Consulting donated service

If you haven’t found success with Facebook, you may have skipped these important steps

 By Danni Eickenhorst (@STLDanni)

Facebook has the potential to be a game-changing social platform for businesses of all types, but as it grows in popularity, it also grows in complexity. For that reason, many businesses making the leap from traditional marketing to digital marketing find themselves overwhelmed. As corporate trainers specializing in guiding individuals and companies through the digital and social marketing realm, we are always looking for ways to simplify social media and the best way we’ve found to do this is by making people take a step back and consider the guiding principles apart from the ever-changing technology.

The principles of marketing have not changed – the methods have. Your marketing plan should be less tied to technology and more centered on the value and messages you’re providing and the behavior and needs of your audiences.

Consider for a moment the position of someone viewing an ad to like your page. Chances are that they fall into one of these categories:

  • A friend is connected to your page and in their mind has endorsed your brand
  • They have already had a brand experience and just realized they hadn’t connected to your page and want to stay in touch
  • Your page was served up to them by Facebook based on interest-targeting
  • They’ve generally heard buzz about your brand and would like to know more

Each of the categories above represents a different degree of connection – a different level of warmth to that lead. Studies consistently show that former customers that opt in to stay connected are going to be your warmest lead. They’ve purchased before and are likely to purchase again. These people are also most likely to convert into a brand advocate – liking, sharing and pushing your content on a variety of platforms because they love what you do. A 2012 study by Hubspot showed that people are 71% more likely to purchase a product or service when they are connected to your brand through social media. Yet another study revealed that that number increases to 80% if a friend or acquaintance has endorsed or reviewed your product or services positively.

When you are logged into your own Facebook account and you choose to connect with a brand’s page, whether you know it or not, you are saying, “I am cool with being passively marketed to.” Maybe you believe their information will provide some sort of value to your life, professionally or personally, but on some level, you’ve taken the next step to learn more about what they are offering.

Developing the Most Effective Target Profile

We mentioned earlier that, separate from a technological platform, your marketing strategy should focus on the needs and behaviors of your audience. This can be done by developing detailed profiles of your audience. These should include psychographic, demographic and community details. Without undertaking this exercise, every step you take after will likely be flawed, or less effective than it should be. This is the foundation of your marketing strategy. People often report that they don’t always see the return on investment (ROI) that they’d hoped with their Facebook outreach and this is in part because they did not spend the time they needed at this level, considering and developing an understanding of their various audiences’ needs and what value they are perceived to have – how they would go about providing a solution for those audiences through their product or service. <itemprop=”articleSection”>Community snapshot

Psychographic profiles

By psychographic, we mean that you will spend some time thinking about your audience’s experience and emotionally putting yourself in their shoes. Better yet, if you can feel what they are feeling, you will have a better chance at communicating a message that evokes an emotional response. A deep psychographic profile of your audience focuses on feelings, rather than facts. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of an emotional exercise, another option is to attend an industry event where many of your targets are in attendance and then to LISTEN. Hear the problems they’re working to solve. Decode the underlying needs they hint at it in conversation. Investigate to find out what keeps them up at night. Ask questions – but most importantly, LISTEN.

Demographic profiles

A demographic profile will consider their age, race, gender, occupation, interests, connections and relationship with your company. This will be key in Facebook advertising, which we will go through in depth later on today. This profile will tell you where you are most likely to find these customers. This data can be gathered from your Google Analytics Tools (Audience > Demographics) if you have them configured to gather this data. (If you don’t have that feature enabled, go enable it now for a future check!) Facebook also provides this information in the “Insights” area at the top of your page. Google’s information will be your strongest source, because they do a deep-dive into interests, technologies preferred, and more, in a way that Facebook does not yet offer outside of their paid tools. Your website data will also be stronger, because it will be more likely to paint a picture of a more interested consumer who has searched for your information and taken the time to engage with your brand on a deeper, more focused level.

Community snapshot

Finally, one tool that will help you develop an idea of where your ideal consumer “lives,” in terms of community, interests, businesses frequented, etc is Facebook’s Graph Search. This is a free tool provided to all Facebook users – and it’s likely one that you didn’t even know you had access to. Graph Search allows you to search phrases such as “Favorite interests of people who like PAGE NAME,” “Restaurants visited by people who like PAGE NAME.” and more. This will give you a sense of the communities they hang out in, what events you’re most likely to find them at and likely other insights, such as their general political or social leanings. This information can be used in a number of ways, including ad targeting. For more on Facebook Graph Search, click here.

Once you have taken the time to develop a well-rounded picture of your various audiences, you are ready to engage in marketing. You may also have a better sense of whether Facebook is where you will find that audience.

Truly impactful Facebook content marketing can be difficult to achieve and sustain. Just as with any other type of marketing, it’s all about being in front of the right people with the right message at the right time – but unlike many other forms of marketing, today’s digital platforms and the level of engagement are at the mercy of the platform developers and their overarching philosophy for what their channel should be used for – such as Facebook and Google., which both seek to provide users with the content they are looking to  The principles you followed to develop these profile are foundational for any marketing strategy, but they will remain the same, regardless of what changes Facebook, Google and other platforms will make in the future.

Developing an effective marketing strategy is an emotionally exhausting exercise at its best – a constant guessing game of intentions and actions, which we now must blend with data and analytics. Chasing a constantly-changing algorithm doesn’t make it any easier, but it is crucial to keep in mind that regardless of the way you format a post or how often you post, the most important part of your Facebook engagement is the value you provide and the way that you target that message. Rather than grumbling about the changes that are coming your way, it would the most productive use of your team’s time to roll with the punches and take the challenge to continuously develop stronger content. At the end of the day, their cousin’s cute baby will always out rank your customers’ interest in your brand – ALWAYS –  but Facebook is still an amazing tool to demonstrate your expertise, grow a brand – and, maybe as important as those – have some fun.

So, how does Facebook’s strategy of content delivery to their users affect you and your marketing strategy? I mean, right place, right time – right? Right – BUT if you take this thinking to the next level, you’ll quickly realize that Facebook users are primarily on Facebook to engage with their friends and family and to memorialize their own life experiences. They engage with brands because it is part and parcel of the Facebook experience – but a picture of someone’s adorable baby is always going to beat out your brand’s latest thought leadership blog. ALWAYS.


4 Small Business Lessons Learned – Episode 2 Social School Podcast

4 Lessons Learned from One Year in Small Business: AUDIO TRANSCRIPTION

Please excuse any typos as this was completed with audio dictation.

Welcome to Social School.

My name is Danni Eickenhorst, and today we’re going to talk about the first year of a small business. I wanted to talk a little bit about Blank Page Marketing,  because last week we hit the one year mark for Blank Page and it was a really meaningful moment for our business and our team. Next week, we get to have a party and celebrate (because I’m big on celebrating milestones).

It really got me thinking about the sharable lessons that I’ve gotten from my first year as an entrepreneur and what would I share with others thinking about taking some of the same steps. A little bit of background: when I first decided to go out on my own it was 2007 and I had my own company, and the first time around it was mostly content focused. I’ve been given some freelancing copywriting and SEO writing things from people in my life, professors and friends, and I realized that you can make some money with it.

I tried my hand at writing content for a living and I found that it was really, really hard and one of the things that I did that certainly didn’t make my first year any easier was inviting friends and acquaintances to jump in on projects with me, thinking I could blend these great friendships with doing what I love professionally. Despite the number of gifted and talented people I folded in there to work with me, it was a matter of me realizing that I’m not a great supervisor; I have really high expectations of people and I don’t always communicate what I want very well. I’m much more of a big picture dreamer and much less of a tactical kind of manager. I’m happy to get in the zone and code out something on my own or execute a big project on my own, and I like working collaboratively in teams but for some reason supervising is not my thing.

I find that I don’t like being viewed as the Almighty Overlord of the project and I really didn’t know how to manage at that point in my life. So, I ultimately took a contract that turned into employment and left that behind. At that time, that was a really good choice then. A few years later, after having got a lot more supervision under my belt and learning how to empower people that work with me and how to support them in their own creative rights without feeling like a terrible supervisor, I thought, “You know, I’ve worked with some really creative people. I really do enjoy the freedom of working for myself and it’s time to approach this idea once again to see if I can make it work.”

I’ve had the good fortune at this point where I decided to make the jump working with some amazing amazing people in my career, who I knew would deliver quality work and to live up to my expectations and who I would also enjoy working with, who were incredibly professional and so far it’s been really great. I announced my big change through LinkedIn and social media and it was really well received. It was scary doing that because you don’t know what people are going to think; if they’re going to support you, if they’re going to ask you if you’re crazy because you’ve got kids and all these things, but it was a great response.

And most of my first year of business I can draw a line back to the moment that I announced on social media. A quick shout out to Janice Branham who was one of my first clients that took a chance on me and saw the work that I’d done up until that point and gave me a shot to work with the Oasis Institute nationally to help them with their strategy and various projects. I’ve been so grateful because this year so many people have supported the work that we’re doing and I certainly wouldn’t be talking here today on a Monday in the middle of the morning to you guys if it wasn’t for them. So, I would say the first thing that I learned this year was that being socially authentic can pay off.

Lesson #1: Being socially authentic can help grow your small business

I was worried; I guess I’ve always been a bit of an oversharer on social media. Most of you probably already know that I’m never going to run for political office any day soon because it’s already out there; everything I’ve ever thought I probably tweeted or blogged. So it never occurred to me not to share every step along the way of growing a small business, and at one point my friend Jen pointed out that that was kind of a gutsy move on my part sharing each and every client we got because people would be watching, and if we failed they’d see that too. But pretty much every contract we’ve gotten this year I’ve shared that on social media because I’m truly excited to jump into these products and I’m really thankful to the people that have chosen to put their faith in our work and so all along the way we kind of announced when we start with someone and people watch the work that we’re doing and luckily we don’t fail so far and we haven’t had that situation arise yet, and so we’re good to go.

I think that we’ve been really authentic and open this year about the highs and the lows and there’s nothing more emotionally draining, I’d suppose, than owning your own business, but at the end of the day I can’t imagine doing anything else. So, I’m a big believer in gratitude and celebrating every milestone along the way and so we have done that very publicly with everybody and in this beautiful way people have gotten behind us and really been a rallying team for us. People that I really respect and whose work I really admire have come out and offered to do work with us, people who I have long wanted to work with have also hired us for projects and so what a year it’s been. So I would say the first lesson right out the gate that we learned was just being open and honest and sharing our experience, not everything has to be sugar coated we certainly haven’t aired any dirty laundry. There are days where it’s a little more difficult than other days and you know we ask for help on those days and we throw out our questions and we seek support. We’re never afraid to ask questions, we’re growing a business like so many people before you, and people want to know what that’s like because so many of you are also considering something similar and if we can share some of our wisdom, our experiences along the way and help you avoid a stumbling block or get you in a stronger position when you’re a year into your small business, then that’s totally worth it because we ’ve had the benefit of learning from people like Seth Godin and some of the other thought leaders that have written it down or  developed their own book and everybody’s experience in launching a business is going to be uniquely different.

There are some common threads that you and I have that perhaps I can help you get a little farther, a little faster with fewer headaches.

Lesson #2: Learn to value your time

It was pretty quick out of the gate that I had my first request for a cup of coffee and pick my brain and all that I normally would get. And it was really difficult for me to say no because when somebody comes to you and they’ve got a non-profit campaign and they need some help or a small business and big dreams and to say no to that, it’s really hard, those are my people. And so I had to and I would blame it on my husband because that’s the way I was most comfortable doing it and it was the truth, and I promised my husband that when we went out on our own and I made a go at this business, I would point every minute of my time into this business, and so if I’m going to give you advice or strategy I am going to have to charge you for it and I’m sorry to do that. And so some of the people that came and asked me and I had to turn away were very very understanding; in fact I’d say all of them were. Some later told me that they totally respected my ability to say no and they knew that it was difficult for me and others ended up hiring me and those that couldn’t afford to I have since worked into one of our classes giving them a free seat when we’re pretty well booked up and maybe have a chair or two that I can give away.

I try not to just fully turn anybody away, I try to give back where we can or try to connect them with someone that maybe could help them. And so valuing my time was a huge lesson this first year.

Lesson #3: Do more of what works

The third lesson came from Travis, a friend of mine who’s brilliant, he worked at the Venture Café Foundation. He is a  brilliant business consultant. He is exactly who you  want to talk to if you’re starting a small business, or you want to look up Venture Café and see what support they can provide you. Luckily we’re friends and I was able to sit with him for a while and chat and the advice he gave me is funny, it’s the kind of advice I’d probably give a client but I couldn’t see it for myself. He said, “Okay, so here we are this far into your business. If you were to put the sources of your client onto a pie chart, what would that look like? How much comes from your website and SEO? How much comes from social media? How much comes from word-of-mouth?”

When he said that, I had this moment where I thought, “How did I not see that nearly all of our business comes from word-of-mouth or happy clients that either come back or referred someone?”

We don’t really get a ton of new business off of social media or our website. We keep those up because we want to share our journey and we definitely use those channels to showcase our knowledge and also to pass on knowledge that authentically help people who want to do for themselves. But it was near 100% of our business was just from happy customers or people that had worked with me previously in my career and that was a huge wake up moment.

The minute I stopped putting all of our focus elsewhere on blogs and webinars and all that, although we still do it just because we want to truly empower people and educate people, but when I just put that focus on the people that have referred business and the people that we do have business with currently and trying to cultivate those relationships further, then we got too much business which was a beautiful problem to have at the one year mark. So definitely take a minute as you get into your business, 6 months in, 12 months in, and as you’re considering your marketing mix and how you’re promoting your business that should definitely be the first question you ask, no matter what your business is you really need to know where your business is currently coming from and what is the path that they take to get there. It just happens that my path is a little bit shorter because it’s people that already know me and have come forward and wanted to work with me or people who have worked with me and are referring folks.  So that’s a pretty easy path to follow but truly that’s a no-brainer that took me a little while to get. There are so many things you’re considering your first year out that sometimes the obvious get missed.

Lesson #4: Rome wasn’t built in a day

The final bit of advice I would give to somebody starting out a business is don’t expect in the first week, month or few months that you’re going to have everything figured out; you’re not going to know what your business is going to be necessarily right out of the gate. Definitely make a plan and try and stay within the lanes, don’t get pulled off of focus, every entrepreneur out there seems to fall into the trap of getting distracted by the next shiny thing out there; so definitely make a plan and try to stick to it. But you’re really not going to have a sense of who you are until you have a chance to be something. And so we were nine months in when we started the business I said I want to start a company that empowers small businesses and non-profits, to get the kind of marketing help that they need, which is unique because they more than anybody else really struggled to have time, talent and resources to pull off most of their messaging and campaigns. And for a small business or non-profit the results of their marketing are absolutely critical to their survival, and so I just felt this urgency to try and find a way to serve them. And so we wanted to create marketing solutions that were scalable, that somebody could, say, come to us and say “Here are my business goals, here is my budget, how can we get from point A to point B with the resources that we have?” And we would find a way, whether that’s holding their hand and consulting with them, managing some of the pieces or giving them the education and tools they need to actually execute themselves. So that was the plan.

Nine months into it we took a moment and said “Is that what we’re doing? Are we doing what we set out to do, and if not what are we doing? And what problems are there that we’re seeing on a regular basis and how are we solving them for people?” And lucky for us we were, we largely found that we were delivering on what we hoped to deliver on all along and I think that was just because we were mindful, we sent out those channels and we tried to stay in your lane. And we could have gone a million different directions with our business, at end of the day we said no, we set out to do consulting and manage marketing and education and if it’s not in those lanes we’re not going to take it on right now, and that’s been great. By stopping and taking a look at where we’ve been and what we’ve done this year we’ve also seen that there our other areas of value that we provide to other layers, other problems that we fix all related to this work. But it gave us more of our marketing message, it gave us a  little bit of self-awareness of our work, a different perspective on what we do, and a moment to pause and look at what our real value is; but we didn’t get there overnight. My first few months I don’t know how much of my time I spent testing various project management softwares and trying to get our logo settled and getting our website just how I wanted it because I felt like people were watching and I needed to do this well. And I lost so much sleep and so much time over it and that’s fine, that’s my process, that’s how I do but if I could go back and tell me something a year ago it would be chill out, you’ll get there, just do your best. And we did and I’m really happy with where we are right now.

Our website is always a project in development, our social media ups and flows but we do the best we can and legitimately the best thing at the end of the day we really are helping small businesses.  We really are helping non-profits and there are people like 30 clients this year that have come back to us and said ‘thank you, I couldn’t have done this without you I really feel like the help you gave me went to my success,’ and that’s really what I care to measure at the end of the day, for me that’s success. It’s a book of business going forward and it’s that we set out a mission and we’re actually achieving it.

So that’s it, enough about me, you’ve had two whole episodes of just me. Next week we’re going to have Wesley Hoffman on the show, we’ve got Vernon Ross coming on; we want to talk about social skills in a digital age and how social media blends with real-life interactions and networking and kind of the pros and cons of that. And we’re also going to have Matthew Hibbert on in a couple of weeks, we want to talk about social and digital marketing for a public agency he works for, Metro, and so there’s a lot of good stuff coming up so I encourage you to keep listening, please share. And a real heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported our business this year, whether you sent us a referral or shared our podcast or retweeted something, God Bless you. I love every minute of what we’re doing and if you listen to this soon enough, the 15th we’re having a party at Plush here in St. Louis 5 PM till close and we’re going to celebrate our first year. That’s a huge milestone, it may not seem  like that to businesses that have been around for a long time, but it is, we’re so happy to have gotten to this point and it really is all thanks to you. So please send us your thoughts at @blankpagestl on twitter, blankpageconsultingstl on Facebook, blankpagestl is our website. We want to hear from you, what you want to hear. What questions do you have?  Thanks again see you next time.