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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It Took This Long...

This is a message of hope to those of you who have not updated your business website or the Update Image internal pages because you "don't have the time".  This week we updated our agency website to show the radio broadcast of Insight on Business the News Hour in the header bar. Three years after we started broadcasting from the Des Moines Radio Group.

Three years...

It's not that we didn't WANT to make the change. It's just that it was a secondary issue...but, in reality it's not. You see when you fail to adjust your home page or internal pages to add new content getting "found" by the search engines is more difficult.  Some tips from "The Procrastinator":

  • Your Blog - If you do a business blog (you do...right?) make sure you tie it to the home page of our website. Why? Because when you are posting you are automatically adding fresh content to your home page. Ask your Web Developer to make it happen;
  • Change Wording - At least twice a month alter the wording on your home page and your "About Us" page. You can keep the same general theme and intent but changing the words around offers fresh content;
  • Stuck? - Sometimes we get so busy or we get stuck on WHAT to write about. Take a few minutes and reflect on what changes have happened to your business. What are you doing that is new, that might be of interest to your customers...then make an adjustment to your wording;
  • Non-Static - The most important thing to remember is that your website should not be a "static brochure". You have the power to adjust images, wording and more. If you don't KNOW how to do that just schedule the changes with your Web Developer. Static is bad...change is...good.

Hope that is helpful. Even we need to be reminded from time to time.  

Thanks for reading!

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Ad Blocking - What it Means for Business

Hang on because those of you who are spending money on popup or banner ads on websites Road Closedare in for a bit of a shock. The use of ad blocking is growing rapidly. A full 25% of internet users currently use ad blocking software and that number is expected to double in 2016. Double... Here's the story from eMarketer.

We already know that people are skipping through ads on broadcast television. We already know that people tune out ads on the radio. We already know that click-through rates on internet ads is dismal. We already know that most email marketing has a lousy click through rate IF it gets past the "Junk Mail" folder.

Why?

Because most advertising done on a local level is just plain...bad. There is no incentive to NOT block or skip or open the marketing message because...it's usually done poorly.

What to do?  Here are some solid tips to help you and your business get noticed:

Get Creative - Yes it costs money for good creative but you want your message to be seen/heard...correct? Lousy creative means lousy response. Give consumers a reason NOT to BLOCK your message. It makes no sense to spend $5,000 on an advertising campaign and spend zero on creative. It's called "burning money";

Get Social - If your marketing is not correctly using social media you are not going to be successful in reaching consumers. It takes planning and thought and work and consistency to pull off a successful social media campaign...not some "intern" who "knows the internet". Sit down and think...think about your message, your customers, where they hang out, what they want and then communicate with them...socially.

Get Busy - Reaching out to your current or potential customer requires you to know what is hot and what is not. There are, according to my good friend Mike Wagner, only three reasons why people are not buying what you are selling: 1) Wrong Product, 2) Wrong People, 3) Wrong Message.

There is help available. I know dozens of professional advertising/marketing people in the country. The question to you is...do you want the help or are you blocking this message?

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Best Ad of the 20th Century

Last week we attended the Des Moines Art Festival, named one of the best in the nation, and VW Imagewalked into American Dream Machines a vintage car restoration and sales business that was lucky enough to be on the edge of the festival. (Go ahead and click through, you are in for a treat!)

Tucked inside was this vintage VW sitting in their photo booth. I had to snap a picture. Look familiar?

Whoever thought this up knew about what Ad Age called the best advertising campaign of the 20th Century the 1959 Volkswagen print effort.  The art was directed by Helmut Krone and the copy for "Think Small" was written by Julian Koenig who worked for the Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) agency.

Think Small AdI use this visual when delivering "Five in 24 - Five Things Any Business Can Do in 24 Hours to Sell More...Stuff."

Why? Because it is so central to the theme that "Less is More" when it comes to advertising. Even in 1959 they realized the impact had to come from the visual and not, so much, the wording.

People simply don't want to be reading loads of copy or hearing ads full of wording or watching TV commercials that are so complicated it takes thought.

Keeping it simple works.  Just a reminder when you are planning your next campaign. 

Thanks for reading!  

 

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Tips on Scoring Earned Media

It is called “earned media” when you get publicity through promotional efforts. You know, the Earned Media Boy reporter shows up at your business and does a great job in sharing your message/brand/effort.  It happens every day right?

It does but the promotional effort has to be something amazing.

While you think your promotion is really cool and fun and interesting you need to understand media outlets get pitched all the time and they only have so much inventory.  And, remember, media outlets survive on “paid media” or advertising.

Some Tips on Scoring Earned Media

  • Think and Plan – Sure, sometimes a promotional event goes viral on its own but to get to that point there must be some serious planning. You must take into consideration not just “the event” but how it will play with the public. Will they get it and will it make for a good “news bite”?
  • Wacky Works – Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014? It was wacky, different and fun. The ALS Association scored international media attention and even offered up Ice Bucket Challenge 2.0 in 2015;
  • Celebs – Hooking your promotional event around “a name” is always a great way to induce the media to your cause. Some celebrities will pony up their time because they have a relationship to the cause or event but you need to know not just ask;
  • Broad Appeal – Even though your promotion is meant to drive your brand the event needs to be broad enough to garner wide appeal. Otherwise media outlets will ignore you;
  • Social Media – If you fail to get social with your promotion hoping the media will carry the ball for you…forget it. At the same time if you are not NOW working social media for your business but ramp it up for one event…ain’t gonna work. You must be in the space before, during and after;
  • Keep Pitching - Once and done is not a good media plan;
  • Be Timely - If you can tie your event to something that is already hot or something that is starting to bubble up, so much the better; 
  • It’s Not Free – Getting earned media is not free. It takes time, talent, planning, execution and a relationship with the media. All of those factors cost money…
  • The Relationship – I can’t stress this enough…if you and your business has created a media relationship either through paid advertising or personal it is golden. Likewise if you and your business is already seen as a leader in your vertical so much the better.

The bottom line is that earned media doesn’t “just happen”

Now, go think and plan!

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