It's Here and We Warned You

The First Quarter is here. For many businesses it's a sobering reality for others it is full of First Quarteropportunity. Those businesses who remain aggressive in their marketing efforts will continue to build on past success. They know now is not to disappear from the consumer radar. So, how about some tips on how to better stay "top of mind" and turn the First Quarter positive:

Stay in the Game - I was visiting with a radio media professional last week who told me advertisers are starting to understand that taking the First Quarter "off" is a self fulfilling prophecy of doom. "I think the recession taught advertisers a lesson", he said. "Those advertisers who stayed in the game and continued to market their goods and services picked up market share from their competition. It used to be that, in our business, I could take a couple of weeks off in January. Today I'm at the office scheduling advertising and filling our radio inventory for January and February. These advertisers have learned that it's now a 12 month season."

Use Video - We are strong believers in video, always have been. Consumers eat it up like crazy and today there are dozens of ways to create and use video content. Studies have shown that consumers who view video are 1.81 times more likely to purchase than non viewers. And, because of social media your video can be viewed and shared across a wide range of channels. If you are doing email marketing you should also be aware of the fact that when the word "video" is posted in the subject line there is a massive increase in the open rate.

Visual Content Wins - We've said it for years, "Less is More" when it comes to marketing. Consumers don't have the time (or interest) in reading long pages of copy in your print ads, on your website, in your newsletter. Use images as often as possible to drive home the point of your message. And, if you can, use organic visuals rather than stock photos. It shows you have taken the time to tell your story rather than "buying" it.

Stay Connected - You already have a firm client/customer base. Stay connected to them through your blog, newsletter and an occasional hand written note of appreciation. Staying "top of mind" means that you need to stay connected to your best customers.

Start Your Referral Marketing Campaign - I recently wrote about how to get started in referral marketing. Once again, you already have "brand warriors" out there. Now is the time to weaponize them and allow them to help influence consumers who may not know how your product/service can benefit them.

While it may be the first month of the New Year it does not mean you are too late to capture more market share in the First Quarter but...you better get started.

Thanks for reading and for more on business check out our long-form business interviews from Insight on Business the News Hour our Monday - Friday 5:00 PM broadcast.

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Referral Marketing - Just Ask

This week Mike Colwell, a guest on the Business News Hour, and I had a conversation about Mike Colwell MPL 14 Dec 2016referral marketing. If you want to check out that podcast, here is a link. Referral marketing works really, really well and to get there you don't have to buy fancy software or a third party platform. Much, if not all, can be done on your own. But there are some critical steps to help you get there.

  • Know Your Best Customers - Small and large businesses know who their best customers are, or you should. The first step in referral marketing is to identify who these people are. Who has made your business their favorite? Who is already a brand warrior for you? You may have five or five hundred, it doesn't matter...just know who they are;
  • Ask Them - Once you've identified who your best customer is simply ask them why they love doing business with you. Is it service, selection, price, location??? What? Reach out with a phone call or in person the next time you see them and just ask.  You are already halfway there;
  • Share the Love - The next step is to ask them to share, what they have already told you, with their friends and family. And, if they really do love your business they will not feel put upon to do so. After all they have already told you they love doing business with you now all they have to do is share it.

Because we live in a sharing world (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram...) there are plenty of ways for your best customers to share why they love doing business with you. Imagine the impact of a customer doing a thirty second video on their phone telling the world why they love you. You can then post that to your website and share across several of your social media channels. Other ways to share the love:

  • Remind them to rate you on Google or Yelp or Facebook;
  • Ask them to do a selfie with your logo or your product then post it and tag your business;
  • Ask them to re-tweet a message or two each week;
  • Share the love on Instagram;
  • Have them write a recommendation on Facebook, LinkedIn or just have them send you the email and use part of that...with their permission.

Remember, people do business with people they know and trust...your best customers can be your best marketing asset if if you do just two things: Identify and Ask

Thanks for reading...

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Six Retail Marketing Tips - Small Business Saturday

Coming up on Saturday November 26th is National Small Business Saturday. If you own Small-Business-Saturday-Header-Undated that brick and mortar business allow me to offer up some marketing tips that will help you beat out the Big Box.

First, let’s consider what the impact of Small Business Saturday is for business. Check these numbers! According to a recent Sales Fuel survey last year 23 percent of U.S. adults shopped at a locally owned business on Small Business Saturday. While that is lower than the 33 percent of adults who shopped online during Cyber Monday more than half of those online shoppers said they would rather shop at small, locally owned businesses if the price and product quality is similar. And get this… Millennials aged 25 to 34 make up the single largest segment of Small Business Saturday shoppers at nearly 25 percent…  So quit worrying that all this demographic does is shop online…they don’t. 

So, how can you grab their attention from Millennials to Boomers?  Let’s go!

Start now. More than half of last year’s Small Business Saturday shoppers also shopped at brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday. This behavior means they might be tapped out and less motivated to shop on Small Business Saturday. To avoid this, create a marketing plan that includes consistent outreach from now until Small Business Saturday. What should that plan include?

  • In-Store Signage – Reminding shoppers that Saturday is Small Business Saturday and you’ve got even more deals coming.
  • Social Media Outreach – Do the same here remind folks that dollars spent locally stay local…it matters;
  • Photo Op – Take a section of your store and decorate with fun stuff so folks can take selfies of their shopping experience…they will share and you can also share on Instagram and Snapchat;
  • Traditional Marketing – If you’re buying ads to promote Black Friday also mention Small Business Saturday.

Make it mobile - Small Business Saturday shoppers will be turning to their smartphones to locate local stores, find product information and reviews, and compare prices. If you have free Wi-Fi let customers know. If you are doing email marketing make sure those messages are mobile friendly and any links go to mobile friendly landing pages that speak to shopping opportunities in your store. If you are doing text message marketing because nearly 36 percent of Millennials in the study say they took action base on such advertising.

Give your business website and local search presence a going-over - Your store should be listed on local search directories; check to be sure that the information listed there and on your business website is complete and accurate. In particular, your store’s address, hours and phone number should be easy to find. If you have special holiday hours, keep them updated or post a list of daily hours throughout the holiday season.

So…does it matter?  Just this past week I was looking for a phone number of a small business in the Des Moines Metro…on the business website. Not only was the website not mobile friendly but I could not find a way to connect by phone…no phone listed!  ACK…

Be social - Millennials are 57 percent more likely than the average shopper to take action based on an ad on a social network. Getting attention with organic Facebook posts has become more difficult, but Facebook advertising is quite affordable and effective. You can set a budget, monitor results and target your advertising very narrowly to people within your local community. Pair your Facebook advertising with a strong presence on Instagram and maybe even Snapchat.

Send the right message - Savvy shoppers crave the unique and individual. Your marketing messages should emphasize what makes your store stand out from big-box retailers. In addition to personal service and a friendly greeting, one-of-a-kind products, a carefully curated selection of items and gifts that people will find not only appealing but also priced right. Entice shoppers into your store with the back-story of why your business exists…

If you do a google search for Small Business Saturday you’ll find a page dedicated to specific free printable items you can use to help market your small business. If you are reading this piece on our blog here is that link.

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Marketing Banks - What You Need To Do

If I were running the marketing department at my locally owned bank or savings and loan I Bank Imagewould crush "Big Bank Competition" and it would be so easy they would write books about it. 

Let me set the stage for you.

Since the Great Recession banks had been trying to rebuild their reputation among consumers and some had turned the corner. But then the Wells Fargo scandal erupted and it's been a Big Bank Nightmare. Case in point, Wells Fargo, last week, said that in September the number of checking accounts opened fell by 25 percent and the number of credit card openings have dropped by 20 percent compared to a year ago.

But, Wells Fargo is not alone. An Accenture survey found that only 30 percent of bank customers say they're loyal to their bank, and about a quarter were shopping around for another institution.

A Gallup poll conducted in June, before the Wells Fargo scandal broke, found that Americans' trust in banks plunged 22 percentage points from 10 years earlier. While nearly half of respondents said before the recession that they trust banks, just over one in four say the same now.

Take a moment and review those numbers.

Now, let's steal Big Bank Customers...ready?

  • Meet The Decision Makers - Tomorrow I would scrap all the glitzy ad stuff and focus on having consumers meet the people who make banking decisions. We'd do this with video, blogs, social media...get out from behind the desk and get in front of the consumer;
  • Mr. President You're On - The bank president might have the corner office but it's time to get out and head to where the people are. If you were our client the bank president would be out of the office twice a week visiting with consumers at everything from Chamber Functions to High School Football games;
  • Record the Action - If your bank or savings and loan were my client we'd send a staffer with you to record video and still images of you being with consumers and potential customers and then share that in your Bank Blog;
  • Ramp Up Cause Marketing - Pick a charity...better yet...pick three and then make some serious donations of time and money to those local charities...and don't pick the "fancy" charities that EVERYBODY gives to...match the community need to the target consumer. BTW critters and kids always work best;
  • Forget About Yield - Please don't tell me that I'll get zip on my savings or that I am insured by FDIC (OK ya gotta do that) talk to ME..recognize that we need to build a relationship outside of earnings;
  • Formal Listening Posts - Get focus groups together, hold listening posts on a number of hot topics from credit repair to student loans to saving for college to business start-ups and then hold public meetings to offer solid advice. And, don't sent the marketing department...you Mr. President...go!

I promise you that you'll make a significant impact in your community and in your bottom line. But, more importantly you will become part of the community who is searching for...integrity.

You are welcome!   

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It's Nearly Here - Are You Ready?

Let's not "beat around the bush" the critical 4th Quarter is nearly here and for many businesses Time Hour Glass it's make or break time. Are you ready to take advantage of what could be the best quarter of 2016 for just about any business?  Let's roll through some opportunity areas:

Traditional Broadcast Media - As they say "Fa-git about it!" It's an election year and if you have not secured your broadcast slots by now...good luck getting airtime between now and November. Many broadcast outlets will bounce your ad in response to political advertising. Make sure you well understand the conditions before you buy.

Traditional Print Media - Depending on what you are selling and even though traditional print media is in a major slump there are still opportunities here with your newspaper. If you are a local business some of the "neighborhood" magazines are still a buy. Word of caution: Remember "Less is More" when it comes to print advertising. Use color, buy at least a half page and be very image focused with a minimum of words...trust us.

Facebook Specials - Start your planning now for your Facebook Ads and Facebook Rewards for your most loyal customers. Make sure your graphics stand out and that the call to action is clear. And, don't bother with a 10% off reward. People don't really start to get motivated unless it is 20% or higher.

Back-Story Blog - You do have a business blog...right? This week start writing down what you are doing to prepare for the 4th Quarter. Give your readers/customers a look behind the scenes as to what is going on as you prepare for THEM a great shopping season. Even if you are not seasonal but a professional business; people love to "look behind the curtain".

Social Media Efforts - Planning is key. First you must know WHERE your target market is spending time. If your target is young consumers try Snapchat and Instagram. Don't forget about targeted geo-marketing using digital and if you don't have an active social media presence now is the time to start...like today.

YouTube - If you can't buy television time because of the election cycle...create your own television station on YouTube and share your creative videos across several social media channels. You won't get the coverage but...it can build sales.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys - The business that cares about how they meet or exceed their customers needs wins. Look, all you have to do is ask. Use your email list of customers (you have one right) and design a quick survey and in that survey do not forget to have at least one "call to action", "If you were pleased with our service what is it we can do for you now to help you and make your day better?"  Gotta ask for the order.

Website Update - Update your website with images of fall and change some wording around. Remember, even on your website you should have a call to action...

There are all kinds of ways to take advantage of the 4th Quarter but it takes time and effort. This is not an exhaustive list...but it's enough to get you started.

Thanks for reading!

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How Much Should I Spend on Advertising/Marketing?

Some time ago I wrote about this topic and said then the answer to the question..."depends".
It depends on what you are selling, to whom you are selling and where you are selling. There are so many variables that it's difficult to answer the question without more information. Man Wine Guessing

This week I read a piece authored by John Heenan who assists advertising agencies in marketing themselves. That brought to light some interesting statistics that I think you'll find interesting as you attempt to advertise/market your company B2C or B2B.

When we look at some numbers we find the percentages are all over the board. According to Heenan, "Apple spends 7% of their revenue on sales and marketing, Tempur Sealy spends 15%, Oracle spends 20%, and Salesforce spends a whopping 56%. For B2B companies the simple answer is 6%. But it’s never simple."

Notice that last line..."But it's never simple."

Heenan goes on, "According to a 2014 AMA and Duke University study, 10% is the average for B2B. Does that mean 10% is the right number for you? Not necessarily. There are many factors to consider..."  So let's break them down:

  • Your Market - Who are you trying to attract to your product or service? If you are a retail business the answer may be very broad. If you are selling products or services to farmers your market gets less broad. If you are selling a service and you know the dominant decision maker your market gets less broad;
  • Your Market Hangouts - Where are your people? For example over 1 million people attended the Iowa State Fair in August if you are marketing to a broad range of people maybe you should have been there. Conversely, perhaps your target market is teachers in that case you need to be where they gather for events;
  • Your Current Customers - They are already coming in your door make sure they don't forget about you and continue to massage them with personal notes, calls and/or events. Just because they purchased what you are selling once doesn't mean they will be back unless you continue that relationship. Remember it costs less to keep a client than to find new clients;
  • Your Cost Per Customer - What does it cost you now to land a new customer and where did they come from? Do you know or do you think you know? "Word of mouth" is a common answer as to how they heard about your product/service however that answer isn't always right...but it is the easiest. 

Those four areas will help you start to define where and who your target market is and those are the first steps before you spend one dime on advertising. Remember finding out the answers to those questions all have a cost associated with the research...don't forget to include that in your base number.

See, told you "it depends".


The Other Universe

I was visiting today with a company that has been in their space for over 60 years. It's a good Man Older Social Mediacompany and known nationally however their brand needs to be adjusted. Consumers and business professionals know them as something that there were...not what they are today.

So, how do you re-brand a business and make that brand reflect what it is today vs. what it was thirty years ago? Oh, and their budget is limited but they have lots of people working for the company.

I introduced them to "The Other Universe".  Some of us call it social media.

Trouble is they don't understand how to make it work. Sure, they have heard of social media and yes they have a Twitter account and a business Facebook Page however, as is the case with most businesses, it is anemic. 

How do we fix that?  We start with a plan. An honest to goodness written down plan of action to make all of this work.  In that plan we must write down what our goal is and how we will measure success. Oh, and one other thing; we need to outline exactly who our target is and how we will reach out.

All of that needs to be done before they hit the keyboard.

Any bets it will get done?

It better because, in that "Other Universe" businesses, who have not been in the game as long, are figuring it out and I wouldn't want my friends to lose market share to some upstart.

Right?

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Yesterdays News

In the fast-paced world in which we live and with the myriads of information outlets available People Fast Pace Twodo you notice how fast yesterdays news gets forgotten?  Not that it was not important but people move on...quickly.

If you are a business and you are using social media to communicate with consumers doesn't it make sense to continue to drive your message...often and at different times of the day?

We think so and here are several tips to help you on the way:

  • Post Often - You work on your blog post and put it on Facebook and Twitter once. Chances are very few people will actually see what it is you took time to create. It is not bad form to re-post your piece several times during different day-parts; 
  • Mimic the Media - To that point start, on Twitter, to follow several news outlets. You will find they re-post news stories often and, in doing so, they change up the wording so that it is fresh;
  • Use Images - Doesn't matter if it is Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Snapchat make sure your image is included and the caption matches the image. It is more difficult with Twitter and 140 characters but worth it because the click through rate goes up;
  • Use a Service - We have used Hootsuite (there are others) for several years. It offers us the opportunity to schedule Tweets over a wide period of time. So we can send out the same story, with different words and sometime photos over various time periods and it takes just a few minutes;
  • Respond - If somebody likes what you are sharing make sure you respond with a "Thank you" or better yet feel free to ask a question about why they liked or re-posted what you have written.  Remember, social media is not just a broadcast tool it is about building relationships.

Five pretty simple tips that will help you boost your engagement.  After all, that is what we are all hoping for...right?

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Got a Mobile Strategy?

When we saw the headline in Advertising Age it was stunning: "Even as Mobile Gobbles Up Web Traffic 80% of Companies Don't Have a Long Term Strategy" Man Confused

Let that one sink in for a moment.

And, we're not talking about "Mom and Pop" brands or small business this was a survey among 4,000 seasoned marketers from around the world who admit that 37% of their digital traffic is coming from mobile, up from 31% in two years.

When we talk about mobile traffic here in the United States get this...according to SimilarWeb, 56 percent of traffic to the leading U.S.-based websites was from mobile devices in 2015.

This all poses two very important questions for you and your business:

  • Are You Mobile Friendly - Just yesterday I was directed to a media relations company website that was still not optimized for mobile. They are not alone. Why cut out over half of your potential client base. Get your website mobile friendly this week;
  • What is Your Digital Game - Consumers want to hear from you on their terms and they want to do that wherever they are. Failing to understand digital applications for business is shutting out consumers and that's bad for business.

There are all sorts of folks who can help you adapt to this technology but you need a plan, a starting point. You need to know how and where people are finding you and how they interact with your business. If you don't know...start asking. But, remember, you must replace customers on a regular basis so just because the majority of consumers may now find you outside of mobile...don't bank on that for the future.

There's much to learn and do to remain relevant. Go! 

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Share Power and Social Media

Let's say you have a business and somebody, on social media, writes something really positive Facebook Shares Image about what you do. Or, in this case, our Business News Broadcast does a long form interview with a business (Repinned) and following the radio interview we share the broadcast (as we always do) with our guests. 

What YOUR business does next will either extend your voice and market share or...not.

In this case our guests Riana LeJune-Copeland and her husband Justin made the decision to post to their Facebook Page, with some nice wording and then THEIR followers re-posted the link for their friends to see. The result: In less than 22 hours 13 people shared the interview, over 1,800 impressions and the downloads of the interview (because we keep track) was in the hundreds.

No fancy media buy, not a bunch of graphics and near zero cost...other than the time Repinned has spent in building their social media audience.

Three tips for your business"

  • Building Your Audience - In social media audience building takes time and talent. It's not like buying radio, television or print where you attempt to hammer home your message and HOPE somebody buys. This is about sharing and engaging and letting people in on your back-story. It takes time but in the end people actually feel CONNECTED with you and your business. 
  • Sharing Your Story - Why business people have a problem in sharing who and what they are is astounding to us. Hell, you want people to know you and buy stuff from you...right? With social media you have the tools at your fingertips to be able to do that...daily. Get busy.
  • One and Done - This is not about doing a post and walking away. It is about the message and extending the message. Had Riana not been paying attention to her Facebook Feed and simply posted the story would her followers have shared the message?  You must stay in the game...every day.

Done...now go do it. If you don't know how ask for help. There are dozens of social media agencies out there. Pick one or, better yet, learn how to DIY and win.

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