WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Gina Forgione took tips on how to harness social media to market her Larchmont-based small business from Ellen DiPasquale of Constant Contact at the White Plains Library Wednesday afternoon.
Forgione, of New Rochelle, operates the Diet Center of Larchmont. She attended Wednesday's presentation and expert panel to see how she could reach more prospective clients.
The key, DiPasquale told Forgione and a room full of small business owners, is engagement marketing.
"I was an entrepreneur for 20 years and I never considered myself a salesperson," DiPasquale said. "You're not selling them something, you're asking, 'can I give you more information?' "
After establishing a contact, you must give them a way to keep in touch, then keep them engaged, she said. That could be by adding them to your newsletter, which Constant Contact provides templates for, or telling them to find you on Facebook or some other method. Then the key, she said, is maintaining fresh and engaging content on sites like Facebook and responding to comments and other activity on your business's page.
Constant Contact helps small businesses, associations and nonprofits connect with their customers, clients and members. DiPasquale often gives presentations to small businesses in Westchester.
Phil Rosengren, of Rye, went to the presentation looking for clarity on how best to use social media to market his business, Better Pitching.
"There's a lot of information out there and a lot of confusion about how to use Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media," Rosengren said. "I'm looking into doing all of that and that's why I'm here."
Wednesday's presentation also included a panel of small business owners who Constant Contact has named "local experts," like marketing consultant David Fischer. Like Rosengren, his clients often don't know where to start and said he tells them to focus on a limited number of areas, such as creating a website, printed materials and a social media presence.
Nancy Shenker is another marketing strategist and Constant Contact "local expert."
"I'm proof positive that small businesses can use these tools to generate actual revenue," said Shenker, who added she can trace six figures of revenue to connections and customers she made using social media. "Although this is no substitute for in-person networking, it can act as social lubricant."
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