Apr 14, 2014
Every time I start to write a blog post, it seems like Copyblogger gets there first.
Which is ok by me it’s less work and I’m pretty lazy. They posted a great piece on native advertising (fancy new word for advertorials) today. Here’s a quick excerpt and a link for your convenience!
12 Examples of Native Ads (And Why They Work)
Despite all the hype, native advertising remains a fuzzy concept for most marketers.
According to our 2014 status report:
- 49 percent of respondents don’t know what native advertising is
- 24 percent are hardly familiar with it
- Another 24 percent are somewhat familiar
- Only 3 percent are very knowledgeable
So, given the lack of awareness (and people mistaking it for other things, like sponsorship), we thought it would be a good idea to walk you through about a dozen examples of native advertising — and why they work.
Let’s get going. Click here for the rest of the article.
Apr 1, 2014
By Patricia Rogers - Newlywed, blogger, interior designer
When you’re searching for great new design features to include in your next gig, social media may seem like a daunting place to turn. It’s all too easy to think, “Oh, I’ll just check out a couple of ideas on Pinterest,” and find yourself browsing three hours later without any concrete plans. Despite these potential pitfalls, social media for interior designers has emerged as one of the most important places to gather ideas. Making social media work for you is a great step in advancing your career.
Create a Strong Professional Social Media Presence
You’re not likely to feel inspired if your social media feeds consist of random friends, family and a handful of designers you admire. Instead, consider creating a separate professional social media presence. Set up a Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter account with your company name and begin making professional associations.
To start, make a list of your top 10 favorite designers and interior design magazines. (more…)
Mar 27, 2014
By Kate Connors, Senior Account Manager & Social Media Strategist at Media & Communications Strategies
Although I was born in the 80′s I consider myself to be a full-blown 90′s child. The TV show Wishbone™ was where I first developed a love of history. If someone uses the word “bop,” my mind immediately goes to my first Bop It™ game and I want to yell back “Twist it – Pull it – Flick it!” When parents complain about their kids having too many stuffed animals, I cringe and think about the multiple boxes of Beanie Babies™ living in my attic that I continue to hope will be worth something one day. But the 90’s weren’t just about all the must-have tows and wonderful TV shows. They were also a time when future PR professionals like me had the opportunity to learn a thing or two about bringing clients success. Here are a few PR tips we learned from 90′s culture and icons.
- Giving a Face to Your Brand is Crucial . We fell in love with the Olsen twins on Full House, but in reality that was only the beginning of their success. They truly owned their brand and developed movies and products that fit their target audience. In today’s world, where most interactions take place online and not in-person, personalizing and humanizing your brand is crucial to success. (more…)
Mar 3, 2014
If you think your business is challenging, think about marketing in an industry no one EVER wants to have to deal with. I thought this article about a bail bonds firm that managed to put a positive spin on their services through strong marketing practices made a great case study. Enjoy!
By Eric Granof
Imagine this – you’re jarred awake in the middle of the night by the phone ringing. A close friend is arrested and — lucky you — they’ve turned to you to bail them out of jail. If you are like most people, at this point, fear sets in. Your mind starts filling up with images from every movie, crime novel and reality television show you have read and watched over the years. You know to expect the worst, which most definitely includes a trip down to the seedy side of town where you will get lost in a sea of neon bail bond signs and dingy offices. Of course, your only option will be which bull-necked tattoo-covered brute with a cigar hanging out of his mouth you want to work with…right?
A bail bonds office is a place we never, ever want to visit. We don’t want to think about it. We don’t want to learn about it. We don’t even want to know it exists. The word itself leaves the same impression as some less desirable words such as “colonoscopy” or “crematorium.” So how can a small business person market him or herself in an industry with so much negativity attached to it? To attempt to convey a different impression would surely be an exercise in futility isn’t that so? Well, maybe not.
My team and I took on this challenge in 2010 when we launched the first national brand in the bail bond industry, ExpertBail. Our mission was to change the negative image of bail and in the process give our network of mom-and-pop small bail bond businesses a tool they could use to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. As the oldest and largest family of bail bond insurance companies in the nation, AIA has been partnering with our network of independent (small business) agents for over a century.
ExpertBail was designed to be a sort of “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for agents across the country. The primary goal was to help the public remember the name if they should ever need the service, while also re-wiring their perception towards bail. In addition, ExpertBail’s marketing efforts have focused on telling the true story of the business – and the people behind it. Through our “Agents Making a Difference” program, we’ve highlighted the real stories and deeds of bail agents across the country. From agents serving on local volunteer fire departments to agents sponsoring youth programs to bail agents providing college scholarships, ExpertBail has spread these stories through all types of social media outlets as well as through traditional media.
In the past three years, ExpertBail has developed a comprehensive social media profile with over 20,000 likes on Facebook. In addition, the website now attracts over 100,000 visitors a month through its entertaining and informative daily bail bond blog postings and stories on the bail industry. In the short period of time since its launch, ExpertBail’s network of qualified agents has grown to over 5,000, based in all 46 states where bail insurance is written. Each agency is independently owned and operated, with women compromising more than 50% of all bail agents — a figure that surprises many people, while challenging the stereotypical image of an imposing male.
The organization has also developed key partnerships and alliances with law enforcement and victims’ rights groups, including the National Sheriffs Association and the National Center for Victims of Crime. In so doing, they are not only getting their message across to the public, they are also creating new opportunities for local businesses.
ExpertBail continues with new initiatives on a continuing basis, but our story so far offers a case study on the value and importance of marketing, no matter the type of business.
Eric Granof serves as Vice President of Corporate Communications for AIA/ExpertBail. The AIA family of companies is the nation’s largest underwriter of bail and has been partnering with agents across the country for over a century. Formed in 2003, AIA is an alliance of the industry’s leading insurance companies Allegheny Casualty, International Fidelity Insurance Company and Associated Bond.
ExpertBail is a national network of bail bonds agents, which sets professional standards of integrity and conduct for agencies throughout the country. Created by AIA, ExpertBail also serves to educate the public on how bail, properly handled, supports the criminal justice system and increases public safety.
Feb 24, 2014
Public relations has changed so much in the last few years it’s hard to even define it anymore. We’re still reaching out in some fashion but the media has morphed from a handful of desirable networks and print pubs into a gelatinous mess of bloggers, news feeds, online sites, social media and podcasts.
Another thing that’s changed is that bloggers and other journalists have become much more accessible to the general public. For that reason, many people think public relations should be a lot cheaper. Which is where flinging noodles into space comes into play. If you’re considering working with a public relations person, you shouldn’t completely thumb your nose at that approach. Here’s why: (more…)
Feb 19, 2014
Trade shows provide you with countless opportunities to make new client contacts, meet up with potential business partners, and scope out what the competition has up its sleeve. Trade shows continue to grow, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. Real revenues increased by 1.6 percent, while the number of attendees is rising fast at 2.5 percent. Simply showing up at a trade show doesn’t get attendees flocking to your booth to buy your products and services, however. Instead, you need ways to stand out from the trade show crowd to get the attention you want, and the brand awareness you need.
Start your trade show marketing efforts before you even reach the convention center. At the most basic level, you’re letting existing customers know you’ll be at a particular show. Look up official hashtags and social network profiles for the convention you’re planning to attend, to expand your social network marketing to new eyes. Involve yourself on the convention page, if appropriate, to let the convention at large know that you’re going to be attending. Marketing Profs also recommends using LinkedIn to find companies you want to connect with while you’re at the trade show. Send them a message through LinkedIn, if possible, or make a personal list of companies to approach.
Consider using social media sites as well, such as Vine and Instagram, to build up buzz for your convention booth through the short video clips and photos. Hubspot reports on several companies taking full advantage of Vine for marketing, such as Animate and Create, whose Vine features an old school flipbook style animation that fit perfectly with Vine’s looping video nature.
Understanding Principles of Booth Design
You need the basics under your belt before you start making waves with something original. Start off with a standard booth basis. The booth size depends on the convention, your budget, and the location within the trade show, but generally you’re dealing with a space approximately 10 feet deep. You want room for your marketing displays, products, information videos, marketing literature, and for your booth workers to move around.
A basic booth setup has a table for your equipment, hand outs, and a grid wall for product displays or mounting signage. Spend some time in trade shows as an attendee to get an idea of the booth styles in your industry that are enticing. You want something that welcomes the attendee in and makes it easy for them to respond to the call to action. Once you have a basic, effective design, you can begin experimenting with the overall booth. Upgrading your banner stands from a resource like Postup Stand will give your booth that added pop that will catch the attention of passerbys.
Originality wins the game at trade shows, but you don’t want to have attendees wondering what your company is all about. Forbes reports on one company that took its tie-in to a level that had the entire trade show talking. Central Desktop had a bearded, smoking angel walking around in a cloud outfit. They poke fun at booth babes, do something original, and provide a tie-back to their core cloud services all at the same time. Exhibitor Online reports on the originality of the Glassdoor booth, with a cozy design that looked like a farmer’s market booth, and thousands of local peaches tied in with a “fresh” marketing campaign. Think about what your company is all about, what you’re trying to get across to the customer, then come up with a witty way to express that. It could be a play on words, your slogan come to life, or a creative representation of your company’s product.
Robert Wright is a small business coach and pet lover.
Feb 7, 2014
Even in today’s world of online and mobile marketing, trade shows still stand out as the best way to meet targeted potential customers face to face. Some companies have a much better result at a trade show than others. A few companies even rely on their favorite trade show as a primary source of leads.
Just like any other marketing channel, you must break through the clutter at a trade show in order to gain the best results. Here are 5 ways to make sure your trade show experience is the best it can possibly be:
- Make sure your trade show display really pops. There are many trade show display options available online and it’s really important to make sure your display is professional. Use a firm that has professional designers who know how to create trade show graphics. Remember your display is there to entice, not inform. You can hit them with all your features and benefits after you lure them to your booth.
- Have engaged, attractive people working your booth. Nobody wants to stop by a trade show exhibit with a bored person looking at his or her cell phone. Make sure whomever is working your booth is making eye contact and drawing people over.
- Have some kind of treat at your booth. I had a client exhibit at a materials handling trade show once. Although it was a rather dry topic, the client had a popcorn machine and handed out free popcorn. Everyone saw the popcorn and wanted to know where it came from! (They smelled it too!)
- Have materials that align with your trade show display graphics. In other words, continue the story you start on your display on your materials. A cohesive, well-designed approach to marketing makes you look organized and smart.
- Make sure you know how you will handle sales leads. Many people do drawings with business cards and you can certainly do that if you like. If you’re really engaging people one on one, you should gather enough cards anyway. But know how you plan to handle the leads after the trade show is over. Follow up quickly to continue to build on your great work at the event!
Feb 6, 2014
Tradeshows are a lot of work, but when you’re starting out your business they can be an invaluable way to make your presence known, help build your network and start to brand your service or product. Tradeshows typically work in a very targeted way, attracting visitors who are likely to be interested in your business (if you’re choosing the right tradeshow, that is.) Although many people feel that online marketing is the wave of the future, tradeshows still provide the best opportunity to meet customers one on one. Most small business owners say they’d rather do business with someone they know.
A tradeshow is the best way to “make friends and influence people” quickly when starting your business.
Many business owners start by attending a tradeshow as a visitor rather than an exhibitor. This is a great way to determine if a particular tradeshow is right for you, before you invest in displays, staff to work the booth and entrance fees. However once you’ve determined the best tradeshows in your industry, you must have a striking display in order to break through all the other exhibitors at the event, and there can be hundreds if not thousands. You can find more information about tradeshow displays online to help you determine the budget and size that’s right for you. Without a great display, a tradeshow is not going to be as effective for your business.
Tradeshows provide the opportunity to get the word out about your business quickly, both in a “one to many” fashion and one to one, as people visit your booth. Take time to choose your tradeshow carefully and it could accelerate your business success beyond your wildest dreams.