Internet Marketing 101 with Amy Vernon [Interview]
The internet is a marketing tool with an overwhelming number of options. Where should a small business owner start? That was one of the main questions we asked in a recent Smart Hustle interview with Amy Vernon, content and social media guru and founder of Predictable.ly. In the interview, Amy shared insights on this question and gave us Internet Marketing 101 tips and advice based on her entrepreneurial hustle.
BUSINESS 101 WITH AMY VERNON
Amy worked as a newspaper journalist for 20 years, and then as an editor until she was laid off in 2008. After being laid off she embarked on a number of different adventures in social media and, as she describes herself, is a gal that 'does stuff on the internet'. In 2014, she branched out to start her company. Predictable.ly launched in January 2015 as a predictive analytics tool for news publishers, which helps publishers figure out what stories to write and what topics to cover that will resonate with readers and drive steady traffic to their website. In our interview, Amy shared some advice for entrepreneurs based on her journey.
Dealing with Challenges
One challenge that Amy has dealt with over the past couple years is the zigzag of emotions regarding the business – one day everything seems perfect and then the next day you’re thinking, “What am I doing? Maybe I should just go out and get a job.” What Amy has learned – and what she wants to remind all budding entrepreneurs – is that these feelings are completely normal. Just knowing that it is a normal thing that every entrepreneur goes through can help you make it through these lows. On top of that, even on bad days she says you need to be positive and put on your brave face for not only the world but also for yourself. On a deeper level you should always feel confident and hopeful about your business, and letting that positivity shine through can help you through the tough times.
A Trick to Easier Sales
Like many other entrepreneurs, Amy does not like the sales end of business but understands that it’s a crucial element to success. Her trick to making sales easier is to focus not on yourself or the product, but on the customer and how the product can help them. When she speaks with potential clients she focuses only on telling them what the product is and how it can help them. If they are interested, she hands dealings over to another team member whose strength is sales. Not only is this a great tip for dealing with awkward sales meetings, but it also demonstrates how her company best utilizes the skills of its team members. Each team member has a specific area of expertise where they can shine, and they also contribute to range of other areas that they are good at.
Get more of Amy’s advice by listening to the interview below.
CONTENT 101 WITH AMY VERNON
In addition to Predictable.ly, Amy is also a social media guru (or as she humbly describes it, “I do stuff on the internet.”) She got into social as a journalist looking for how to bring traffic to the news site. Although she discovered Digg as a late comer, she became the top female submitter of all time, then went on to other social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. This experience led her to become a content consultant for a number of clients including Verizon Wireless and the American Museum of Natural History.
Expand Your Definition of Social
When you think of social/social media you likely think of Facebook and Twitter, but Amy encourages us to expand our definitions of social. Email, blogs, review sites, and other internet tools are also social media and can be part of your online marketing strategy to spread the word about your business.
Social Media – Where Do We Start?
Big companies have big budgets so they can hire out for all of their social needs, but what about small businesses who are, for the most part, performing the work themselves? Here are Amy’s tips:
- Don’t try to be everywhere – if you do you’ll lose your mind and spend all your time on social media instead of running your business.
- Figure out which social media options make the most sense for your business. This is based on your business topic, the sort of things that you want to share (articles, pictures, videos, etc.), where your audience is, and where your desired audience is.
- Do the best you can in the simplest way possible – don’t try to overcomplicate things.
- Set up Google Places, Facebook Places and be aware of other relevant websites where people find out about your business, such as review websites.
- Monitor social media to see what other people are saying about you.
- Make sure that whatever you post (whether it is your content or content from other places) is shareable.
Regarding shareable content, Amy points out that there are two aspects of being ‘shareable.’ One is based on interest – is this something that helps your audience out? Is it something that will interest them? The other aspect of being sharable is functionality – make sure that your audience can easily share the content with the click of a button.
Amy’s practical advice proves that every small business can be involved in social media in some way. Her journey through the highs and lows of entrepreneurialism also gives us hope that we too can make it out successfully.