Jun 29, 2015

How to Fight Writer’s Block on Your Business Blog

business blogEven when it might not feel like a priority, business blogging is a critical component of your business’ success. At times it may be tempting to give up on your business’ blog, but don’t do it — Hubspot reports that marketers who use blogs receive 67 percent more sales leads than those who don’t.

Here’s how you can sustain you blog easily while still juggling the other aspects of running your own business.

Get Focused

Sometimes, it’s all the little distractions that make creating content for your blog feel like a chore. If you are the sort who is easily distracted or tries to multitask while blogging, it’s time to cut out the distractions. (more…)

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Jun 8, 2015

Google vs. Yahoo: The Local Listings Battle

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By Dina Ely

I recently had the “pleasure” of having to update approximately 60 business local listings for a client across the Google and Yahoo local business networks, and what I experienced working with both companies on this was an eye-opener. In the end, I think I’ve figured out why Google will always trump Yahoo, and how out of touch Yahoo is with the needs of small and medium businesses. (Marissa Mayer, take note – there are a few things I think you’ve forgotten since the Google days.)

For this grand adventure I worked in the dashboards of both sites as well as extensively on the phone with support. Let me compare and contrast the overall experience and discuss a few takeaways.

Yahoo

Both Google and Yahoo play an important role in local search (as do a few other players – but that’s another post for another time). Google is used more by customers in local searches, but to ignore Yahoo altogether would be foolhardy. Especially since Yahoo, like Google, offers free business listings. What they also offer, and pretty much give you no choice but to use, is a variety of subscription-based services including Localworks, which starts at $29.99/month per listing.

Here’s where I hit my first road block. In order to do anything substantial with these 60 some odd listings, I really had no choice but to pay for a Localworks package just to get a fully-featured version of the marketing dashboard. If you try to go the free route, the tools available to you are minimal and it’s virtually impossible to do anything on the kind of scale I needed. I claimed and prepared to edit every outdated listing, but everything came to a grinding halt when I hit the log jam of verification postcards. (This will come up with Google too, in just a minute.) (more…)

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Jun 4, 2015

Unleash your inner detective for IMC measurement

IMC measurementIMC measurement doesn’t seem like a very sexy topic but it’s really important for a lot of reasons.  At a micro level, testing tells you when linked tactics are working or not working. At a macro level, measurable objectives give you a concrete way to say whether your campaign succeeded or fell short.

Measuring within integrated marketing is a little different. You want to take quantitative IMC measurements throughout the entire campaign so you can tinker and adjust as you go. (This is my favorite part.) Objectives need to be created that measure a customers’ progression through the buying cycle. You have to really know audience behavior to break down all the teeny tiny conversions you can influence along the way –  and measure how you’re doing. You might be looking at the time of day a certain social network encourages the most downloads of your white paper. Or you might be looking at how certain types of influencers improve you engagement.  You could be measuring the things Google calls “micro-moments” or what Brian Solis calls the “ultimate moment of truth” post-purchase.

Go back and take a look at the last few purchases. If you’re B2B, make sure you know how the client found you, what the process was, ask them what they read when they researched you, all that stuff. If you’re selling B2C it should be easier to take a group of buyers and look at their online behavior. Did they come through social media, off an ad to a landing page, really look at the details. If you’re looking at post-purchase behaviors, find out what reviews or recommendations are driving more sales and see if you can learn more about the reviewer. (Then go find more of that guy.)

We have enough information to research past consumer behavior and review how our audience engaged. You just have to get all Encyclopedia Brown on it.

I’ll give you some more pragmatic advice in the next few blog posts, promise.

 

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IMC measurement
May 28, 2015

IMC Campaign of the Month: Starbucks, Well, Everything

Starbucks Integrated Marketing CommunicationsFew brands have truly harnessed the power of integrated marketing communications as well as Starbucks. They embraced the concept of integrated and multi-channel marketing techniques well before most other brands, recognizing early on the value of, for example, a direct mail campaign that’s supported by e-mail and echoed in social media. When it comes to the holistic picture of integrated marketing communications, Starbucks continues to blaze a trail that other big brands – and small businesses alike – should carefully examine.

The foundation of Starbucks’ strength in IMC is twofold: consistent branding and consistent customer recognition. Visually, the Starbucks brand is undeniable. Travel to any major city around the world, and quite a few less major ones, and you’ll see the familiar Starbucks face peering at you from coffee cups held by passersby. You’ll identify a place to get the coffee you love in an airport, or wandering down some strange new street. There are other brands for which this phenomenon also occurs – like McDonald’s – but whereas the reaction fast food creates can be mixed (especially when the restaurants are very close to historic or religious landmarks, which seems tacky), the concept of a soothing cup of coffee or cooling Frappucino is almost universally well received.

Starbucks is also meticulous about getting to know their customers, and maintaining long-term relationships. They’ve always understood the value of perks like birthday gifts, delivered via postal mail to customers like an actual present. And they have a website dedicated entirely to customer feedback. My Starbucks Idea brings together a global community of Starbucks lovers. Customer ideas can be voted upon by others and the company provides feedback. Some ideas have even been implemented. At this time, 214,553 ideas are cataloged on the site. My Starbucks Idea is powered by Salesforce, so there is a huge CRM component behind it. (more…)

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May 26, 2015

Creating and measuring linked tactics

Most people in communications and marketing are already performing simple linked tactics. The idea is to become conscious of these tactics and to try to accelerate performance by adjusting and tweaking the timing of them. For my dermatologist clients, for example, I know if I send an email to patients and follow up about a week later with information on the monitors in the offices, I get a pretty strong result. I also know that although the monitor information is there, I also need signage in the office to appear at about the same time. I’ve examined and tested the timing of email, monitor and posters  to understand how I can achieve the best result with the least effort and money.

As I mentioned in the previous post on linked tactics, posting earned placements on social media is something communications people do every day. If you haven’t already, start looking at the timing of your social media posts to determine engagement. Now see if you can add something to boost your results. I’ve begun to get really serious about Pinterest and Reddit when I’ve seen the boost they can give to website traffic. I also know the timing to use – how soon after the initial post, time of day and day – that gives me the best results.

© Wany0003 | Dreamstime.com

© Wany0003 | Dreamstime.com

Direct marketers have been using landing pages for a long time. QR codes were a great hope, but haven’t really worked much however other promotional codes seem to still work well. I like those that are branded and include a bit of messaging as well. (As a side note, you can include a bit of branding with unique bit.ly shorteners, another micro tactic that works well for me.)

Don’t ever underestimate the power of traditional and online tactics combined. They provide some of the best results I’ve gotten for my clients. Another example of this are combining print ads with online channels. Print ads have become more of a “boost” mechanism for me and less of a direct draw. In fact, we’ve reduced the spend on print ads by half for one of my clients, and still increased our results. That’s because the print ads are now supporting many of the content marketing and digital tactics we’re using. The lesson there is that for this client, traditional tactics have become the “boost.” Not the primary vehicle for messaging. (Don’t forget, we do a recap of a great IMC campaign every month. This is a great place to find examples of linked tactics. The BJP Party campaign, for example, linked a lot of bleeding edge stuff with traditional media. )

Finally, we need to measure our objectives at the end of the campaign of course, but there are many ways to measure how your tactics are responding on an iterative basis. (more…)

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May 22, 2015

Lower Your Startup Costs With These Online Tools

shutterstock_172529708Although Facebook may be the inspiration for startups around the world, the company nearly bankrupted itself with monthly utility bills, bandwidth, servers and a rapidly growing payroll. In 2008, the social media juggernaut burned through its startup funding by spending nearly $1 million on electricity each month, reports TechCrunch.

While it may not cost you a million dollars to keep your own startup going and the lights on, even modest estimates by Babson College puts startup costs around $65,000. To keep your eye on your bottom line and put more profit in your pocket, use these online tools to slash your overhead and save a bundle:

Cloud Storage

Skip paying for expensive storage systems and servers by storing your important documents, files and images in the cloud. Systems like LiveDrive save startup founders time by sharing files quickly and offering unlimited backup plans. And instead of panicking over a water-logged laptop or server outage, you can access your files from any computer at any location. Compare features and price points with a site like Top10CloudStorage to figure out the best option for your business startup needs.

Social Media Scheduling

(more…)

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May 20, 2015

Build your toolkit of linked tactics

© Kurhan Dreamstime.com

© Kurhan Dreamstime.com

You may or may not have heard the term “linked tactics.” I consider it so important that I’m going to devote the next couple blog posts to it. First I’ll explain it. Then we’ll talk about how to derive your set of linked tactics, and how to build your IMC toolkit. Then we’ll talk about how to measure those tactics and keep the momentum going.

First, what do I mean by linked tactics ? Marketing people argue about the real power behind the results we see in integrated marketing. Personally, I think linked tactics are the heart of IMC.  At a minimum they provide the fuel that accelerates IMC campaigns way past their traditional counterparts.  When you link tactics, they become much more powerful than merely executing components in a silo’d fashion.  When planned well, the synergy between a set of two or more tactics boosts the results of a campaign astronomically. It’s a simple idea –  but like so many simple things, it’s not so easy to implement.

Why so hard? Because every brand has a unique set of linked tactics. (more…)

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May 13, 2015

10 tools for online marketers

tools for online marketersBy Bryce Colquitt, Small Business MBA 

In 2015, it can be harder than ever to stand out. There are so many marketing channels, and so much noise. There are also a ton of decisions to make – what to write about, how to get your content out there and who to talk to.  Fortunately, there are more tools than ever for online marketers to make our jobs easier and make us more effective. Here are 10 tools for online marketers that you should definitely know about:

TOOLS FOR INCREASING TRAFFIC

1. BuzzSumo

Use BuzzSumo to find out what content is resonating with your audience. This tool shows you the most popular content about a topic, or the top performing content of a certain website. It will also list who is sharing this content and on what platform.

2. Google Trends

With Google Trends, you can see what everyone else is searching for. This tool is good for figuring out what’s current. Wondering if people are still interested in a certain topic? Google Trends will let you know. Deciding on what keyword to use? Google Trends will tell you which one is searched for more.

3. Canva

What makes Canva so great is that it gives anyone the ability to create gorgeous graphic designs. It can be used for all sorts of things (like making PowerPoint presentations more interesting), but for a marketer, it’s perfect for creating marketing graphics, infographics, and images to be shared on social media.

4. Open Site Explorer (more…)

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May 7, 2015

Connecting with customers organically OFFline

People at the conferenceAccording to Aberdeen Research, 84 percent of marketers use some form of social media today. And, the number of businesses that say social channels like Facebook are important to their business has increased by 75 percent.

But in a time before the birth of social media, both marketers and businesses were generating leads by passing out business cards and connecting with customers face to face. It’s time to get back to the literal reality of organic connecting. Here are four ways to successfully promote your business offline:

Seminars

Seminars are one of the most popular lead generators and they are great for attracting and connecting with customers. Don’t go to a conference or seminar with the assumption that you have to sell yourself and your business to other attendees. Networking at events is all about making connections, not prospecting. Kevin Stirtz, writing for Business Know-How, suggests asking people about their businesses, and says to be friendly and relaxed. Stirtz also advises against giving everyone you meet a business card; instead, he recommends passing out your business cards when others ask or when you make a good connection.

Trade Shows

Setting up a booth at a trade show gives you the opportunity to connect with new customers who are interested in what your business has to offer. Companies like Apple Rubber, a leading designer and manufacturer of sealing devices, have found success by attending trade shows. The company sets up booths at trade shows in cities from coast to coast and lists each show’s date and location on their website, merging both offline and digital marketing.

Mark Krenn, founder of Coastal Creative Reprographics, writing for Business 2 Community, says that you need to stand out from the crowd. Your business will be alongside other industry competitors, so you’ll have to get creative when connecting with potential customers and designing your booth.

Giveaways

(more…)

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People at the conference
Apr 30, 2015

30 Sample marketing strategies

sample marketing strategies

Me when I had my big corporate job.

Okay, this promises to be the most boring blog post ever. But whenever I look for examples of strategies I can never find them, so here’s a list of sample marketing strategies. I’ve grouped them by objectives too. This is not necessarily a complete list, but it’s the one I use when I need to brainstorm. Consider this your laundry list of sample marketing strategies and let me know if you have questions. Feel free to add your faves in the comments.

  • Brand marketing strategies create awareness of a new brand, change perception of an existing brand or create a brand extension.
    • Earned media
    • Word of mouth
    • Cause marketing
    • Thought leadership/education
    • Sponsorships
    • Celebrity endorsements
    • Brand journalism
    • Online marketing
  • Content strategies are used when with a longer sales cycle, the client or customer is sophisticated and the brand needs credibility.
    • Brand journalism
    • Native advertising
    • Social media
    • Influencer marketing
    • Multimedia messaging
    • Education/Thought Leadership
    • Contests/Quiz
    • Ambassadors/Celebrity
    • Testimonials
  • Promotional strategies are used to influence the later steps in the buying cycle, including post-purchase behavior.
    • Events
    • Sponsorships
    • Contests
    • Events

(more…)

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