The Wrong Messenger?

In my presentation "Five in 24" there is a section about the three reasons people are not buying what you are selling. Yes, there are only three.

One of those reasons is that you are using the wrong messenger to communicate with your customer. It may be that your core customer is Megaphone Vintage not in that communication channel or it might be that the channel is antiquated yet still around soaking money from the unsuspecting advertiser.

We see both of those issues all the time. A trendy new restaurant with a focus on young professionals advertising in a regional newspaper or a high-end jewelry store advertising on a cable channel where the viewers simply are not in their demographic.

So, how do you fix it. Better yet, how do you stop the outflow of marketing dollars that's not returning on your investment?

Well, you could ask a professional...somebody that is a trusted source of information. But, you can also do it yourself. Here are some ideas to get you pointed in the right direction:

  • Know Your Customer - Seems pretty simple but not every human out there is your target customer, unless you are selling a commodity. Then you've got other issues. So learn as much as you can about your current customer. What they like, don't like. What they are buying or not buying. This takes some time and some interaction but it can be done;
  • Understand Trends - The newest, hottest social media channel may not fit your current or future core customer. I've seen people spend loads of time and money chasing a trend only to, finally, learn it didn't work;
  • Watch & Read - What are other successful businesses doing that are in your space? What do your association magazines and communications say about how to best reach core customers?  Spend some time thinking, really thinking and learning more about how to market successfully;
  • Trust but Verify - Every media sales person who comes through your door has "the answer". But, remember, what works for one may not work for you. I once had a broadcast outlet tell me their audience was made up of thousands of people but when we went digging learned it was more like several hundred in our client's prime demographic.

Let me offer one other piece of advice, and this came from a conversation just this week. If you are a small business seeking to do business with another small business wouldn't it make sense to market in something that is directed toward small business owners?

Let's say you have an accounting firm or a office cleaning firm or a business law firm and your prime customer group is made up of other small businesses. What the heck are you doing in an advertising channel that is marketing to the masses? Doesn't make an ounce of sense.

It doesn't but, man, that sales person had a good story.

Thanks for reading...

 

 


Should I Start My Business Podcast?

I get this question from clients and non-clients every week. Businesses from start-ups to established corporations are often, just now, Insight-on-business-news-hour finding out about podcasting and thinking that it may be the perfect answer to an ever increasing number of media opportunities in which to connect with consumers.

The answer to the question is, as with most answers, it depends.

The number of podcasts that are now being done is stunning. Research from June of 2018 puts the number at 550,000 in more than 100 languages. That is a ton of competition but it also isn't a complete story. However, if you want to deep dive into the numbers like who listens, how often do they listen and more here is a link to PodcastInsights.com that we found to be enlightening. 

Bottom line is the people are there and they are consuming hours and hours of podcasts.  But, the question remains..."Should I start my business podcast?"

Linda  Harmon MPL Feb 2 2011I've been in this podcast/webcast world for nearly ten years. We started out in a closet at a local bar (no, really!). We put in a "studio" of sorts and I was one of 60 people doing a podcast/webcast from that location. We moved from there into a real studio and launched something called Webcast One Live. It was all years ahead of its time. 

Six years ago we launched Insight on Business the News Hour a daily business news broadcast/podcast that covers national, regional and some local business news plus long form business interviews that run between 15 and 20 minutes. So, yep, been there. Here are some considerations you've got to think about moving forward:

  • Do you really, really have something to say? - This is an important question because it's really about the long term. To simply launch a podcast and then, within two months you run out of material. Not such a great place to be.  So, be honest;
  • Do you have the talent to carry it off? - This is so critical. To just sit in front of a microphone and talk is a world away from having the talent to make it work. Talent goes to the ability to carry on the conversation, a voice that is listenable and the technical issues that go into creating a successful podcast;
  • Do you have the technology? - True you can get into podcasting pretty cheap and that's why it's attractive to some. But when you start adding up the costs and the knowledge it can get expensive. So, if you are willing to to make a commitment to and you don't mind learning and working...it can be done;
  • Do you have the time? - I do a daily business news podcast. It takes me roughly two hours to write the news another hour to record and edit and another hour to polish the finished product and start to share across multiple channels. But in our case we also do business interviews so there is another hour per interview. But if you're not doing that you can figure at least four hours a day. True you can do a weekly podcast and your time will be much, much shorter;
  • Do you know social media? - Yes, you can put your podcast up on one of many podcast platforms but how do you let people know that you exist. If there are over 550,000 podcasts out there how do you let folks know about yours?  Social media is key and you've got to not only understand it but be pretty darn good at the art of engagement;
  • Do you know how to measure and how to monetize? Measurement is sort of like the "wild west". We do track the number of downloads but some of the platforms we're on don't track them. Also, is this going to be a marketing expense or is there a plan in which you can make a little money and how do you do that?  Sponsorship? Pay to Play? If you are investing hours of your time how do you pay for it?
  • Do you have staff? - Yes, you can DIY your podcast but if you don't know how or lack the equipment and the ability to share the show you are going to have to count on hiring others. That, friends, can be really expensive and cost hundreds of dollars an episode. Who will line up guests, will you do remotes, what new items will you bring to the effort?  Us?  We find we are always evolving. 

Final thought. Podcasting is a bunch like blogging. I've known businesses and individuals that are all HOT on creating their blog for...maybe a year but then they don't see the value or the return on investment so they quit. It's taken us years to be financially secure with our format. 

Your thoughts?

 

 

 


Feeding the Beast

We tell all our clients how important it is to stay current with your social media efforts. Current and Consistent. That lesson came home last Man Angryweek as we closed the office and went on vacation. We do that from time to time...everybody needs a break. Sure, we did our daily business news broadcast Insight on Business the News Hour from Anna Maria Island and yes we did do some Tweets and kept up (sort of) with our broadcast Facebook Page and we (sort of) fueled my LinkedIn Page and, yes, we posted "some" to Instagram.  

However...when we looked at the numbers upon our return we saw we were lagging. Not as much interaction, re-tweets, Facebook comments and loving gazes toward LinkedIn or Instagram. 

It was a great lesson in Feeding the Beast.

Once you are in that space, no matter what platform you use, you've got to be consistent. And that, my friends, is where so many businesses (product or service) fall off. It takes time. And, if you are on vacation or away to a conference and YOU are responsible for the social media activity of you or your brand...you've got to stay on your game. You've got to find the time.

If not, individuals that have come to expect a particular amount of social interaction go away or disconnect. Remember, our attention span is less than a goldfish. Staying current and being consistent is just another demand of The Beast.

And, The Beasties. (Meet my grand-daughter Jovie...pretty good huh?)

 

Thanks for coming by and your comments are always welcome!

Michael

 


QR Codes - Hello Again...

It may surprise you to know that the QR Code (you know that funny looking image you may have seen on products and print ads) has been around for a very long time. In fact it was developed in Japan back in 1994 to track automobile production. IOB QR Code

Over the years we’ve used QR Codes (QR is short for “Quick Response”) for a number of our clients. Pet food clients put QR Codes on their pet food bags that points to short videos about the product, lawn and garden clients do the same. We’ve put QR Codes on shelf tags so shoppers can access short informative videos about what they are looking at.

Sadly, the QR Code fell out of use mostly because businesses that used them didn’t tell consumers what would happen when they scanned the code and, perhaps more importantly, you had to download a QR Code Reader for your smart phone. Many consumers didn’t know that or didn’t want to be bothered.

Welcome Back!

The QR Code is back and this time it’s due to the help of Apple. If you have an iPhone and you’ve downloaded the recent IOS update you can now go to your camera, point your phone at the QR Code and the camera will recognize it as such and ask you if you want to open the website in your browser. Android phones still have not made this as part of their update but that could be coming in the near future.

Now that QR Codes can be scanned without having a special app watch for more business and marketing applications. Like go ahead and check our our daily business news radio broadcast page. 

Go ahead, give it a try!


What Your Customers Want...

Companies large and small spend lots of time and money trying to attract new customers. Heck, we help them and know what they are Woman Shopping Cartspending on everything from packaging to web-design to social media. Even for a small business it can get expensive.

But, are you doing the right thing?  Are your current customers satisfied with what you are doing/selling/providing?  Or are you scrambling to always find "new customers" because your current crop is leaving?

Tough questions and let me offer some suggestions:

  • Be Customer Friendly - This starts with communication. In a recent study from Pegasystems 69% of consumers believe “being available when I need help, in the way I need it” is critical to retaining your customer base. But how do you know if you are not being focused, along several channels, to what help your customer needs? That's why we urge our clients to use organic social media so you can BE THERE when the call comes. That is also why we abhor the use of automated phone answering systems and always suggest that a real human answer your phone. Don't make the customer wait, guess or go elsewhere;
  • Connect With Your Customer - In a recent Forbes article we read this:  "71% of consumers believe that companies should do a better job of creating more attractive loyalty and rewards programs. Unfortunately, companies have yet to receive the memo: Less than a quarter—24%—are focused on creating loyalty/rewards programs. Instead, 69% of companies are conducting outbound messaging to improve customer engagement." This isn't about "piling up points" this is about connecting in real and specific ways. Having the ability to deliver personalized service, being truly helpful, understanding and working for...them;
  • Respond Quickly - There is a reason why Facebook bumps your engagement and tells others how quickly you respond. You see, it matters to consumers. Yet we've seen businesses from restaurants to professionals who only use social media to push their message rather than engage the consumer and ignore the questions or calls for help. Responding quickly requires you to monitor your social media.

I get it...all of this takes time but retaining a customer by delivering what he or she wants when they want it matters.

Thanks for reading!   


Are You Open for Business?

Those of you who follow us know that we believe in the Business Blog for several reasons: Open Sign

  • Fresh Web Content - Each time you do a business blog you create fresh content for your website and that is important for what is called Search Engine Optimization so people can find you;
  • Owning Your Voice - When you write a business blog you are creating a voice for your business. You can explain in a short and direct manner what you do, how you do it and more. But, remember to break it up and not write "War and Peace";
  • You Are Open for Business - If you blog on a regular basis people know that you are still around and still accepting clients and still in business.

It's that last point I'd like to address. This afternoon we were searching for potential news stories and individuals we might interview for Insight on Business the News Hour. We went back into our files a couple of years to see what stories were out there that we thought might be worth a follow up. We found one on care-giving, Alzheimer Disease and aging. Two weeks ago we had a piece on the Alzheimer Tsunami from Iowa Watch we thought a follow up on an old story might make sense.

So, we went to the website for contact information. (There was none. No phone no email...just a form to be filled out if we wanted to reach out.) Next we looked at blog posts to see what might have been new and, really to check and see if this business was still in business. The most recent blog post was authored well over a year ago.

What!?

We are now led to believe this company is out of business. No contact information and an outdated blog post. We moved on...and wrote this piece.

It's critical that potential customers/clients be able to reach you and your business quickly so make sure you have contact information available. If you do a business blog and it is part of your website make sure you continue to do so. It doesn't have to be every week (if you are well established) but at least once a month let's us know you are still...open for business.

Thanks for reading! 


The Power of Repeating Stuff

Who doesn't like repeat customers? Who doesn't like being told...a couple of times...that you've got a great logo or uniform or...heck a great haircut? Just as much as we enjoy repeat customers and repeated complements so too should we learn that when we repeat Repeat Customer something over and over it has real power.

In marketing and advertising it is what is called "Top of Mind Awareness". Making sure your product or service is at the top of mind when it comes to somebody buying what you are selling. In other words, "One and DONE" doesn't cut it. It takes an effort to make sure you repeat your message over and over.

Here are a couple of examples and, while they are for national brands, we think you'll get the message:

"Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should" - Winston has been out of television and radio for decades...yet we remember the tag line;

"The Champagne of Bottled Beer" - Miller used this slogan for years, abandoned it and this year brought it back...for good reason;

"A Diamond is Forever" - DeBeers debuted this way back in 1948 and they are still using it because...it works;

"Breakfast of Champions" - Who doesn't know this 1930's Wheaties slogan;

"It's the Real Thing" - CocaCola hit it out of the park with this from 1970;

"Say it With Flowers" - This will surprise you, the slogan dates back to 1917!

You get the idea... True, each one of these slogans had real dollars behind them to push the idea and the brand. Maybe your business doesn't have that sort of advertising budget but you don't need all that cash to accomplish much the same thing.

Think of your value proposition and what you bring to your customers and then put that in words. Not a bunch of words but short and sweet. We know of a law firm that has the tag line, "We get things done!" because the number one complaint among legal clients is that far too often law firms don't get things done and clients have to wait...and wait. The firm went so far as to register the slogan and they use it...everywhere.

Find your value proposition and then repeat it...often and everywhere. The goal is to have your customers hear or see those words and identify you and your unique value.

It very well could bring you…repeat customers.


Do It Yourself!

The other day on our radio broadcast, Insight on Business the News Hour, we talked about DIY for social media and why that works better than hiring somebody to do the work it takes to engage consumers...your consumers. Don't get us wrong, there are lots and lots of very Keep Calm and DIYtalented people out there who will Tweet, Facebook and Blog for you but...they will never be as good as you.

The push back we get is, "I don't have time to write a 300 word post every week" or "I don't have time to Tweet ten or twelve times a day". The fact is...you do. Let me help you break it down.

If you are spending time with an outside contractor telling them your story, telling them about the impact you had on consumers last week telling them what is hot in your business then you've got time to write it down. It's not that you "don't have time" it's that you simply don't believe in the tools of social media and consumer engagement so you don't MAKE TIME.

I can share, from years of experience and collecting fees for doing social media for others, it is often painful. While we can write and communicate we are not as invested or know the details you know about your business. That is unless we have daily or weekly conversations and then we simply parrot back what you've already shared with us.

So, yes, you have the time.

So let's get started with the a simple three step process to get you to engage your customers in your business blog:

  • What is your Competitive Advantage? - Don't write stuff that doesn't matter to your customers...write down why your customers do business with you. Take fifteen minutes and think of the reasons they have built a relationship with you. Forget about "fast" and "free" focus on how you have built value into the business transaction; 
  • No Weeds - Don't get caught up in selling the steak...sell the sizzle. Far too often business wants to list out the details...all the details. You are miles ahead if you keep it simple and direct;
  • Solve Problems First - What is it that your business does to make your customers or clients life easier, less complicated more enjoyable. You, after all, are the expert in what you do. Now go and share those stories with others who have the same business or life issues. 

Three topics and fifteen to thirty minutes a week and you're in business. DIY Social Media is real and important to consumers they would love to hear from you. Once you've got this down then it is on to the tools that make organic social media work better.  That's next.

Thanks for reading...


National Small Business Week - Marketing Tips

All this week, in the United States, there is a celebration of National Small Business Week. Since 1963 the federal government has set aside a week for a Small Business Week Imagecelebration that is critical to our economy. A few Small Business Facts:

  • There are roughly 29 million small businesses in the U.S. which account for 54% of all sales in this country;
  • Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs in the U.S. and 66% of all net new jobs;
  • There are 600,000 franchise operations here that employ over 8 million people;
  • The American small business sector occupies nearly 50% of all commercial space up to 34 billion square feet.

Astounding yes?

Many of you have a business that has under 500 employees so, this week is also your week. What can you do to take part in Small Business Week?  Some thoughts:

  • Share Your Story - Contact the local newspaper, radio or television station. Let them know this is National Small Business Week and share your small business story. Take a moment and share what your small business means to your employees and customers and how money spent with you stays in your local community. Believe us, reporters are looking for stories they can use all week long;
  • Get Social - Grab the National Small Business Logo from this post and share it on your social media channels...and tell your story there as well;
  • Say Thank You - Remember your customers...they are the people that keep your business in business. Post a note on social media, send a note to customers, enclose a note in your shipping items...let people know how important they are to your small business;
  • Email the Message - Send out a coupon or at least a thank you reminding your email list that this is National Small Business Week...many of your customers are also small businesses.

Happy National Small Business Week!


The Inside Marketing Team

There are plenty of reasons big corporations...and small businesses...use an "inside marketing team" or Marketing Department. You know, the folks who work where the product or service is being delivered also do the marketing. The common reason is "They know what we do so we don't have to train Man Shock them." or "Rather than have the expense of an outside marketing specialist we save the money and do it ourselves."

We get it...sort of.

But, when the stuff hits the fan because the "inside marketing team" was too close to the product or service and not connected with the consumer it can be a problem.

Don't believe me?  Ask Pepsi...

They rolled out this hideous piece linking Pepsi to calming civil unrest. But worse, they co-opted the Black Lives Matter Movement and were forced, by consumers, to pull the effort less than 24 hours after launch:

 

Ouch...

Then there is this which started this week from Nordstrom, "Muddy Jeans" for $425. Just how out of touch can a company be? Celebrating Muddy Jeans Nordstrom the rugged American Worker at a price...they (we) can't afford. 

Ya want some muddy jeans?  Come to Iowa...we've got the real thing.

But, on the positive side check this video clip from Heineken. 

 

While it doesn't convince me that Heineken really cares about transgender issues, feminism or climate change it's much more thought provoking than...the other two.  And, yes, it was created by an "outside agency".

So, why use an outside agency? Because we're often the folks who, perhaps, know consumers and can be much more focused on a positive outcome. Truly had Nordstrom or Pepsi come to us and asked, "So what do you think of this idea..." We would have saved them...millions in "brand hurt".

Just a thought....

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